Archive for the ‘Business Strategy’ Category

The Open Gate Redux Edition…

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

Writing a post for a blog I contribute to…thought I would share it with you…my faithful readers. Enjoy…Captain Jack

Dogs don’t wait at open gates…

We don’t have a gate at my home. We have a beautiful greenbelt behind us, and due to the uneven slope, it’s impossible to have a regular wooden gate. My friends tell me that electric fence works well for dogs. They obviously don’t own a Jack Russell terrier.

My JRT (aka the Jack Russell) is named Captain Jack for a reason. During his nearly 6 years with us, he has encountered open doors rather than gates. He has made the most of these opportunities to dash out. An open gate to a dog means new adventures, new smells, and boundless fun. All dogs are wired the same for this. Can you imagine a dog approaching a gate that is left far enough ajar for him to make a break for it – pause deeply – consider the consequences of his actions – and sit silently contemplating if the move has enough upside to run through it? Me neither.

That’s exactly what many executives do on a daily basis. They see a wide-open opportunity out beyond a “gate.” That opportunity looks enticing and full of opportunity; yet it also involves risk. They make an initial sprint to the edge of the gate to get a better look, and then stop to pause and ponder. “What if things go wrong?” “What if I get hurt?” “What if I get lost?” “What if I get blamed?”

The problem is that while they sit and wait, opportunity at that moment is either lost forever or (worse) taken by someone else.

I’m pretty sure that if Captain Jack had an electric fence, he would know the ramifications of breaching that barrier. He’s smart that way. Based on my experience with him, he would take the pain to gain the reward. The shock and pain is short-lived and not fatal. The reward is forever (or until I wear both of us out tracking him down). But even then he would have gained through this new adventure and surely risk the open gate again.

You will likely tell me we aren’t dogs and that risk needs to be contemplated, assessed, and prudent. Yawn. At some point you burst through open gates to where you are now. Unfortunately as we age we get more tethered to the yard. Comfort and fear keep us from taking the still smart risks we took before when we weren’t as careful. Don’t turn into an old dog, no matter what your biological age. That actually carries more risk than the alternative.

That’s part of the concept of being “unleashed.” Don’t get caught inside the gate staring wistfully out at opportunity. Life is short and our professional careers even shorter.

What’s out there waiting for you?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Qué Dijo? (What did you say?)

January 26, 2014 2 comments

This morning I was eating breakfast at a hotel in Somerset, NJ getting ready to head back home after a long East Coast “tour.” I heard my waitress speaking in Spanish with the hostess and an idea struck me. I’m looking to improve my conversational Spanish. What a great way to practice by speaking it with my waitress!

I asked her when she returned and she graciously said she would be happy to speak to me in Spanish. The problem was, she didn’t follow through. When I would talk to her in Spanish, she would respond to me in English. That doesn’t help me…I’m pretty good in English! Now my Spanish is not so bad that she didn’t understand me because based on her responses she did. After a few attempts, I just gave up and figure I will try it again sometime in the future.

Does your business have a language that is hard to understand for your clients and customers?

Just like I did with my waitress, if the lines of communication are foggy, they will just give up. That means less retained business, less new business, and increased frustration, anxiety, and stress. As business professionals, it’s easy to default to the gibberish that dominates the industry we are in. Acronyms are the worst! Like my waitress, we may not realize we fall into that default language, and the danger is that our clients don’t tell us. They often merely nod their heads and move on…to someone else!

Turn your language into one that is easy to understand for a 3rd grader. I’m not talking about dumbing down your vocabulary. I’m talking about making communications easier for those you are trying to influence. The better you are at that, the more they will be helped, and the more success you will achieve.


Copyright 2014 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved

The Deep Throw

January 25, 2014 Leave a comment

Football is a game of risk and reward. Calculated risk and reward.

If you’re a defensive coach, you must make calculated decisions on when to blitz the quarterback. Your upside is a sack and loss of yardage. The downside is your weakness is exposed and the quarterback beats you with a deep play. It comes down to who executes the best. Most championship defenses are willing to take chances to gain the upside. If you’re familiar with the prevent defense, it’s a passive strategy for when a team has a lead. They play everyone deep to avoid a big play, yet invariably by playing not to lose, they give up too much ground, too many points, and lose momentum. The very best defenses are ones that will take chances because they trust in each other and are willing to bet on themselves.

If you’re an offensive coach, you can also choose how you want to play. Many teams take the less risky route by throwing all the short routes and “check downs.” While often effective to move the ball, they frequently get bogged down in the red zone (20 yards out from the end zone). They often must settle for less points. The successful teams mix in a good amount of riskier, downfield throws. The chances for interceptions and sacks increase, but the upside is a game changing and momentum shifting play. They take prudent risks, based on their skill sets and ability to execute.

What’s this mean for you?

Do you play prevent defense? Do you settle for moving the ball between the 20 yard lines but avoid the big mistake? Championship business professionals are the same as championship football teams. They learn to be smart, cunning, and aggressive when betting on themselves. Being in business is a “game” fraught with peril. It’s not for the faint of heart. You will run into situations where you will have to take risks in your language (how you talk to clients and prospects to be influential); your skill development (investing in professional development and coaching); and new initiatives (products/services). The championships in this game are won not by those that play a prevent defense or a conservative offense. They are won by those that bet on themselves and make bold moves in the spirit of winning the game.

The Super Bowl is next week and the two teams playing (including my favorite team) have done this and look at the results. What about you?

P.S. My previous post was about the “open gate” and what it means to be “unleashed.” This is a great example of running through that gate…

Copyright 2014 Dan Weedin. all rights reserved


When It Rains It Pours

January 22, 2014 Leave a comment

I was having a drink with a couple colleagues at a nice place in Miami Beach prior to dinner. We had spent the day with our mentor and with full brains were ready to enjoy the evening. The place we were at was classic Miami Beach. Nice outdoor seating area (where we were) adjacent to a covered patio area with an indoor restaurant. The place was full both in the patio and the outdoor area, even with a light mist falling.

The light mist turned into a heavy spray…

Out of the blue we heard a sound akin to when you turn on your shower, followed by a few shrieks. The sprinkler system inexplicably turned on (apparently confusing the heat of the Miami night scene for a fire) and showered the guests directly underneath sending them scrambling. The people just on the other side of the sidewalk from us caught some “collateral damage,” but other than a sudden jump, didn’t need to vacate. We got nothing except the resulting flood of water cascading down from the patio area. Thankful I had shoes on rather than sandals!

I talk all the time about a crisis in business. While this might seem minor, it wasn’t at that moment. Spraying your clients with water while there eating rarely is good for business. The ensuing costs of the food, the employee efforts, and the clean up are part of the hidden costs of a crisis. This restaurant did an exemplary job of getting things back to normal quickly. Are you prepared to do the same if your version of a sprinkler crisis occurs?

Do you identify your own exposures (e.g. Sprinkler system)? Do you analyze the potential hazards (malfunction)? Do you prepare to respond to perils (getting everyone or everything wet)? What if this happened in your computer room, for example? In my experience, too many business owners and leaders settle for reacting in real-time to crisis. Savvy business owners are intentional about crisis strategy and use the system I describe for both preventive (avid the peril from ever occurring) and contingent (response) actions. What about you? What are you doing to assure you never let the “rain” ruin your day?

Copyright 2014 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved


The Open Gate

January 21, 2014 2 comments

Dogs don’t wait at open gates…

We don’t have a gate at my home, but if we did, neither Captain Jack or Bella would be bound by it. An open gate to them means new adventures, new smells, and fun. All dogs are wired the same for this. Can you imagine a dog running up to a gate that is left far enough ajar for him to make a break for it, then pause, consider, and sit silently contemplating if the move has enough upside to run through it? I can’t either.

That’s exactly what many business professionals do on a daily basis. They see a wide open opportunity out beyond a “gate.” The opportunity looks promising and fun, yet it also involves risk. They make an initial sprint to the exit to get a better look, and then stop to pause and ponder. What if things go wrong? What if I get hurt? What if I get lost?

The problem is that while they sit and wait, opportunity at that moment is either lost forever or (worse) taken by someone else.

I’m pretty sure that if Captain Jack had an electric fence, he would know the ramifications of breaching that barrier. He’s smart that way. Based on my experience with him, he would take the pain to get the reward. The shock and pain is short-lived. The reward is forever…or until I track him down and he gets punished! But even then he would have gained through this new adventure and surely try again.

That’s part of the concept of being Unleashed. Don’t get caught inside the gate staring wistfully out at opportunity. Life is short and our professional careers even shorter. What’s out there waiting for you?

Copyright 2014 Dan Weedin. All rights reserved


Being Bilingual is your Key to Becoming Influential

December 11, 2013 Leave a comment

Dan WeedinFrom my December column for the Kitsap Business Journal…

Hola. Me llamo Dan Weedin. Como esta usted?

Okay, that’s NOT the bilingual I meant, but I wanted to take this brief opportunity to show off and grab your attention.

Being bilingual is critical to your success as an executive, business leader, entrepreneur, and sales professional. Unfortunately, most of you only speak one “language,” and in so doing leave others confused and money on the table. Allow me to explain…

Coming out of the insurance and risk mitigation world, we have our own special jargon. We like to talk about exposures, hazards, perils, exclusions, redundancy, and coinsurance. We reference ITV, ACV, BI, RC, BOR, and DIC. It’s clear to us, but gibberish to normal people. Unfortunately, I’ve watched professionals in my industry use terms and acronyms like this when speaking with current and prospective clients. To say this is painful for their listeners is an understatement. What’s worse is that important information is being misinterpreted and rejected because the message is flawed. They are speaking the wrong language.

I am on the school board in my community. In the beginning, I was inundated with academic-speak. I thought that insurance jargon was confusing. Hang around a school district for a while and you’ll feel like you’re in a different country! The perceived lack of “transparency” and communication to the public is really a misnomer. They are speaking the wrong language.

This affliction is rampant in all industries, yet gets pervasive when the content gets more complex. CFOs, financial executives, financial planners, insurance agents, and attorneys may lead the pack. In an effort to be influential, they lead with methodology instead of results; and speak in their language rather than the intended audience’s. The results are misunderstandings, frustration, extra work, lost time, lost opportunity, and stress. If you want to be influential, you need to become bilingual. You must speak in a manner that is easy to comprehend and clearly states your call to action.

So let’s get started on getting you a quick and simple Business Language 101 lesson! Here are my seven techniques to becoming bilingual and influential:

Translate your language into their language. Stop using jargon that only you know. Find other words to be descriptive. If you must use industry jargon, take the time to explain it. Drop all acronyms, even if you think they know it. If it’s highly technical, make it simple. You already have credibility; your goal is now results.

Strategic or tactical? If you’re speaking to the CEO or business owner, you need to be strategic. Strategic is the WHY. This means big picture; visionary; results; and ramifications. If you’re speaking to vendors, direct reports, or employees, you need to be tactical. This is the HOW. This means techniques, specificity, and instructional. Know your audience and what motivates them to act.

Be results-oriented. Too many of my colleagues get caught up in their methodology. Most people don’t care about the intricacies of how the car starts. They only care about the results of the car starting. Change your language to results — increased sales; reduced risk; improved morale; decreased drama; enhanced product. If you stay focused on results over methodology, people will be more engaged.

Become a storyteller. Since we were children, we humans have always cherished being told a story. This is even truer in a business environment. Become adept at taking personal stories and using them as a metaphor for a business outcome. I promise that people will remember your message more clearly if you have a witty story attached to it. The best speakers in the world always use stories. You should, too.

Add humor. No cheesy jokes; I’m talking about light and appropriate humor to add sizzle to your steak. Stories are the best way to uncover your humor. People learn when they laugh. That’s why advertisers use it. Have some fun and practice this. You will become an object of interest if you do, and that is part of being influential.

Limit technology. Only use a slide presentation if it adds value to your presentation through images. Images. Don’t fill space with bullet points and text. Don’t read to people. I guarantee they already know how! The focus should be on your words, not words on a screen. Simple graphs, charts and images can enhance your message. Use technology for good, not evil.

Call to action. Always leave with a call to action. Even in a one-on-one conversation, you need to be direct and specific about what you want to happen next. Never assume that your verbiage implied next steps. Be clear, concise and direct.

My professional mentor Alan Weiss espouses that language controls conversations; conversations control relationships; and relationships control business. If you’re going to maximize your influence in business, you must maximize your relationships. The best way to do that is to be influential. You can’t be influential if you’re not understood. Become bilingual by turning the complex into simple, and your results will be increased influence, enhanced credibility, and improved outcomes.

Hasta la vista, baby!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Follow on Twitter – @danweedin

Distinct Client Relationships

December 5, 2013 Leave a comment

I took Captain Jack and Bella out for our midday walk and when I returned I saw that I had received a call from my business bank. It’s unusual to get a call from your bank that you think has good news. I had visions of identity theft dancing in my head (that’s the risk manager in me, I guess).

When I listened to the message, I was bowled over. The lady on the other end identified herself and the bank and then proceeded to wish me and my family a happy holiday season. I replayed it just to make sure I heard it correctly. I did. A very pleasant holiday wish expressed by voice as opposed to email. That’s uncommon client relationship building. I would say that moves to a “distinct” level of client care.

What are you doing to show your clients you care this holiday season? Even more importantly, what are you doing when it’s not even expected during the year? Little things like what my bank did go a long way to evoking evangelist clients. We can all use that!

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Categories: Business Strategy Tags:

Crisis at the Top

December 3, 2013 Leave a comment

On Monday we learned that my Alma Mater’s head football coach was taking a new gig. Steve Sarkisian announced his move from the University of Washington to USC just days after a huge win over arch rival Washington State in the Apple Cup. Although the possibility of this move had been swirling around the periphery for the last few months, it seemed that he wasn’t the first choice. Turns out after a couple of folks ahead of him declined, he jumped to go back home. Now the Huskies have their eyes on other had coaches and so the dominoes fall.

Let’s face it, college football coaches are hired guns. So are CEO’s. As I write this post, their is news in my neck of the woods that Microsoft is putting the full-court press on Ford’s CEO, Alan Mullaly (former CEO of some little company called Boeing). Unlike their small business brethren, CEOs are generally not the founders of the business. They are brought in to accelerate growth; fix problems and raise the stock price. College football coaches are supposed to do the same thing. Because of that, movement is rampant in both businesses. This isn’t loyalty. It’s business.

But what is always left behind in these moves are the colleges and the kids; the businesses and the employees. Athletic departments and board of directors better have a plan in place if and when their hired gun leaps to new pastures. If not, they are in the cross hairs of a crisis. This goes all the way from communications to operations to reputation.

Part of identification of risk should involve the losing of the top boss. And, that should not only go for CEOs, but for the sudden loss of a business owner. How well is your business prepared for the loss of leadership due to a variety of reasons? What plans do you have in place to prevent and avoid this crisis?

If you don’t have one, now might be a good time to put one into place. You never know when your number is called…

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


Crisis Prevention 101: The Workplace Bully

November 26, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m sitting in my family room this morning sipping my coffee and watching NFL AM (yes, I’m a football geek), and watching a bully do his thing.Captain Jack

Bella (the Diva) has made herself a very comfortable place to sleep on the couch. She has managed to choose her favorite blanket and completely encircle herself within the blanket for her post-breakfast nap. Captain Jack, (the precocious one aka The Bully) has decided to pull the blanket off of her. I’ve watched this routine before. He doesn’t really want the blanket as there are others around for him to use. He solely wants to be a bully. He wants to irritate, anger, and put himself in the spotlight.Even as I (the boss) cajole him to stop being a bully, he persists when I’m “not watching.” Captain Jack probably can’t be reformed, as he knows he will not be dismissed from the family. He ha the upper hand.

In your organization, you just might have your own bully that operates outside your vision. Workplace bullying has exploded on the national scene thanks to the Miami Dolphins saga with Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. At some level, regardless of the number of employees you have, there is some level of “bullying” going on. If you allow it to persist (like I do with Captain Jack) then you risk a number of bad things happening – losing a good employee, loss of reputation, poor morale, loss of productivity, and maybe even a lawsuit.

What does bullying in the workplace look like? Here re some examples that I’ve seen in my life of working in multiple organizations:

  • Passive-aggressive behavior and language
  • Nastiness and rudeness
  • Crude and inappropriate personal jokes
  • Refusal to work with others
  • Bad language
  • Intimidation

Don’t think your employee family is exempt from this behavior. In smaller organizations, it might even be worse and you might be more reticent to take action for fear of losing employees. You need to keep your eyes open and be alert for this type of behavior. You need to create written policies and communicate them to your employees. You need to be swift to reach and tough with your discipline. The consequences today are serious. With a raised awareness (just as with Employment Practices Liability) you must be more vigilant.

Otherwise, your bullying dog may just bite you in the butt.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Going 1-0 Every Day

November 19, 2013 Leave a comment
Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll

One of the mantras that Seattle Seahawks head coach Peter Carroll enjoins to his team is that they must have the mindset every week of going 1-0. In the National Football League, you can get beat “on any given Sunday” because the competition is so good. Even the bad teams have enough talent to upset a favorite if they don’t play with a razor sharp focus. Coach Carroll has so drilled this into his players, that I’ve heard many of them express this concept when being interviewed throughout the season. That’s become their culture.

I had a recent conversation with a consultant that I coach. We discussed at length this same concept because she was finding that outside forces were distracting her. These forces (some of which she had no control over) would frustrate her and cause anxiety. The results are the same as losing a football game in the NFL. Anxiety and frustration mask talent, and when that happens you begin to press, put too much pressure on yourself, and ultimately never reach your potential.

You need to create your own culture for yourself of 1-0. This means that each day deserves your complete focus and attention. Planning ans scheduling is fine; but undue focus isn’t. This is a challenge for me. I tend to get distracted from things both in the past and future; work related or not. I recently have found that even my volunteer work has caused distractions that I have to work hard to shake. This requires focus and discipline.

Go 1-0 every day. Set your daily goals and priorities and compete with yourself to achieve them. If things happen that are unplanned for, don’t freak out. Just do what Russell Wilson does and call an audible. Stuff happens, you know? But your end goal is to always end the day with a win and then start over the next day. My coaching client emailed me today saying this concept worked for her and she was adapting the 1-0 mindset. You can, to..

Regardless of your vocation – solo practitioner to CEO to stay at home parent. Each day affords you the chance to go 1-0. Take that challenge and win.

© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,054 other followers