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Risky Business ~ Smart or Stupid

July 23, 2014 Leave a comment

umbrella_riskI was recently interviewed by a freelance journalist working for a major online publication. His question was about “smart and stupid” business risks. He wanted to use an angle about how to tell which risks fall into which class – smart or stupid. Here was my written response to him and I thought I would share with you…

There aren’t smart or stupid risks. There are simply just risks.

All football plays are designed to score a touchdown…it’s the execution that determines the success. Similarly, risks that go sideways (or deep dive staring down) happen due to poor planning, lack of guidance, lack of self-confidence, and just bad “execution.”

In fact, the biggest risk might be not taking the risk at all.

How can you take that theory and implement in your business life?

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Categories: Business Strategy Tags: ,

Here’s Your Sign: 7 Signs That You’re Part of the Problem, Not the Solution

June 18, 2014 2 comments

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go. ~ Oscar WildeCoach from NK Herald Feb 2006

There are problems, then there are solutions. I know that’s really “deep,” but bear with me. Problems, crises, and challenges are inevitable in business, in life, and most notably in team dynamics. There are many consultants and experts out there talking about team building, motivation, performance, and communications. There is a really good reason for that. People and organizations are still challenged with it. The “problem” is that it keeps many a business owner, manager, executive, and parent up at night trying to figure out the solutions. The first thing that should be determined is to avoid being part of the problem!

I’ve been involved in politics (school board), non-profits (Rotary), business (both as employee and consultant), and sports (coaching). My wife thinks I’m some sort of a demented crisis seeker, and she might be right. I’ve seen problems coming a mile away and I’ve also seen them sneak up on you. People deal with conflict differently. Some are wired for it, and some just aren’t capable of managing it well. What we are all able to do is be a part of the solution to overcoming issues, rather than being the gasoline that’s poured on the fire. Here are my 7 Signs That You’re Part of the Problem for you to do a little self-assessment. If you don’t resemble any of the signs, keep up the good work and be on guard for those that do. If you see yourself in some of these, then make changes. To be candid, we all can slip into these areas at times. The key is to recognize, be in the moment, be humble, and be nimble enough to slide right back out.

(Note ~ These apply to everyone ~ leaders, managers, employees, coaches, parents, young adults, and community citizens. We are all capable of being a problem child.)

1. You are a perfectionist. Perfectionists tend to micro-manage, over think, and dwell on the negative. Life is about success, not perfection. The people who claim that “practice makes perfect” are misinformed. If you’re “practicing” the wrong thing, it just makes you worse faster. Stop trying to be perfect and focus on improvement.

2. You have an agenda. If you have a dog in the hunt, then you often are too biased and can tend to focus on your outcomes, rather than the good for all. You may have to recuse yourself, or find a way to become more objective. The problem is you, not everyone else.

3. You seek power. Maybe the ultimate problem creator of all time. We see this run rampant in politics and organizations. Climbing the corporate ladder, seeking out leadership roles in associations and unions, and moving up the government chain of command are just a few examples. Whether you’re goal is CEO or Governor, you’d better be doing it to serve others or the power bug will grab you and not let go.

4. You talk to be heard, not to influence. This is the proverbial “squeaky wheel.” I’ve run into many people that feel being negative, being annoying, and being loud equals influence. Actually, it’s really more of a power play. Being contrarian is fine; being obnoxious isn’t. If people are rolling their eyes when you get up to speak, then you might get the signal that you aren’t being successful in solution finding.

5. The Chicken Little Syndrome. Negativity is a burden to everyone. I’m convinced there are people out there who thrive in creating a countenance of gloom, regardless of the situation. This is the classic victim mentality. It’s always someone else’s fault; someone else’s responsibility. People are influenced more by those that are positive, upbeat, happy, and seeking solutions. If you’re in any type of leadership position, the latter position is where you need to live.

6. It’s not me, it’s you. If you find yourself offering unsolicited advice on trying to “improve” someone, that’s a sign. If you resort to passive-aggressive behavior and language, imply incompetence, use bad language, call people names, or exhibit a “holier than thou” image with peers, then that’s a sign. When working with a team for a common goal, there is no room for bullies.

7. You publicly embarrass people. When I coached basketball, I could get pretty upset in practice and call players out when they weren’t working hard or hurting the team with their actions. I would never publicly embarrass them during a game, though. Calling out someone in public is never appropriate. If you find yourself doing that, take a good hard look at your motives. People who resort to labeling and name-calling in public usually have an ulterior motive. And, it generally says more about them, rather than the person they are calling out.

Make no mistake, I am all for being contrarian, holding people accountable, and asking hard questions. These can all be done professionally and with the greater good in mind. When it’s not done in that way, then you are the problem. When it’s done in a manner to improve the condition of someone else (organization, business, clients, employees, members, etc), then you’re part of the solution.

Bottom line ~ You are either going to use your talent and skill for good (solution) or bad (problem). The common denominators for the problem side are negativity, power, control, and selfishness. The common denominators for the solution side are positive attitude, collaboration, responsibility, and accountability. Which side do you fall on?

Important Note ~ Do you own self-assessment as you wish. You also need to assess the people you employ, work with (including clients), collaborate with, and hang around. If they are the problems that can’t be rehabilitated or trained, dump the baggage. That light at the end of the tunnel may just be a truck coming your way. You have a responsibility to surround yourself with people that will make you better, not become a burden. Life is too short.

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

Creating Your Own World Cup Experience

June 17, 2014 Leave a comment

Calling me a casual soccer fan is like saying Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is understated. World Cup

I watched the first USA match in the World Cup on Monday with my daughter. Of course, like everyone else I root hard for the home team. As a novice when it comes to soccer, I’m just guessing at what’s going on and know that when we score a goal that’s good, and when the other guys do, that’s bad. On Monday, we had just enough more good than bad!

I will continue to watch this monumental event that captivates the world for 30 days. And then I doubt I will watch anymore soccer again until maybe the Olympics or the next World Cup in 4 years. I’m just not a fan of the sport. So what compels me to spend any of my time actively participating? Two things ~ national pride and the stakes.

To get casual fans interested in these games, both are required. With only national pride and no stakes, it’s simply a novelty. While I would be happy with a USA win, I doubt I would do more than have passing interest when the news pops up on my iPhone. It would be very similar to my interest in pre-season NFL games and I’m a huge football fan. With only high stakes and no national interest, it’s invisible. If the USA weren’t competing in the World Cup, I might not even be aware it was going on. The combination of the two catapult it into my stream of consciousness and creates deep interest.

The same is true with your business…

In order for a casual “fan” to consider you an object of interest, you need to generate two things ~ emotion (i.e. national pride) and a valuable return on investment (i.e. stakes). Without both, you will be nothing more than a novelty or worse, invisible.

Too many business owners and entrepreneurs try to use logic as a base for creating interest and making sales. That’s a mistake. Logic makes people think. Emotion makes people act. People buy Mercedes cars, Rolex watches, and Prada handbags because of how it makes them feel about themselves, not becasue they are practical. Emotion is the first and foremost response you need to create in your target audience. You do that by showing dramatically improved condition.

In my marketing for coaching and mentoring business owners and entrepreneurs, I focus on my ability to help them rapidly realize an improved and more joyous lifestyle through accelerated sales and revenue, more discretionary time to do things that they enjoy, and increased peace of mind. I could focus on the methodology of getting there, but that’s boring. In the end, people want to be happier. What makes them happier is all individual, yet in my experience they tend to focus on money, time, and peace of mind. That’s where I focus my energy on the intellectual property (writing, speaking, presenting) I generate.

What about you? What is your product or service that improves the lives or conditions of people and businesses? Do you spend your time boring them with details or exciting them with how you make there life better? How can you assure that you keep that momentum rolling and sustainable?

I undoubtedly will never be an avid soccer fan, but I am certain to sustain my interest in the World Cup as long as I have a rooting interest and the stakes are high. The event has captured my attention. You have the great opportunity to do the same thing in your business. If you’re successful, then you will spend the foreseeable future with the ball landing safely in the back of the net.

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

 

Soup of the Day

June 11, 2014 4 comments

My June column for the Kitsap Business Journal….

Last month, I found myself sitting at an Applebee’s in Hurricane, West Virginia. I had made the trek with my family to this central West Virginia town to visit my 85-year old aunt. It was a 3½-hour trip from where our daughters live, but you never know how many more chances you get to visit aging relatives, so we took it. My cousin and his wife joined us and suggested we eat there.

When we got around to ordering, my wife queried the waitress on something quite normal for a restaurant. The response was bizarre. Barb asked, “What’s your soup of the day?” The response (after about a 2-second pause) was, “I don’t know.” And that was it. No apology. No attempt to find out what the mystery soup was. Just a simple statement of ignorance that spoke volumes about her work ethic and her employer’s training system. Barb ordered the chicken.

Earlier in the week, we had traveled to Cleveland to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For dinner, we chose a restaurant that came recommended by several friends from the area. The restaurant is called Lola (owned by celebrity chef Michael Symon) and is in a trendy area in downtown. When checking in, we were told it would be about 20 minutes, so we went into the bar area for a cocktail. There wasn’t enough seating for all of us, so Barb and I were going to stand and let the girls sit. Within about 45 seconds, the hostess showed up with a bar stool for Barb to use. It was a small and subtle gesture, yet one that carries long-term impact leading to loyalty and testimonials.

While we may look at the first story with disbelief and amusement, we may need some level of introspection before we chortle too much. While the waitress at Applebee’s clearly missed the boat on customer service and creating a positive experience, how often do we in business do the same thing without even knowing it because it’s not as obvious? Allow me to offer some examples:

• Do you promptly return email correspondence? My experience indicates we always do when the other person is a priority. How about when they aren’t, or when it’s uncomfortable or embarrassing? Does the onrushing flow of messages cascading into your inbox thankfully swallow up that email?

• On the same note, how about those voicemails? What does the phrase, “I will call you back as soon as possible” really mean to you? I actually know business people that don’t use voicemail at all. What message is that sending customers?

• Is the receptionist at your office or front desk friendly and inviting? Always? Or are you like a growing number of businesses that simply put a bell out on the front counter and ask you to ring it when you get there? What kind of environment are you welcoming your clientele into when they show up at your door?

• Do you make callers to your business go through seven steps required by some horrid electronic answering system? Are they hammering away at numbers and “pound” signs trying in desperation to reach a live human being, only to be disconnected at the end?

• Do you make anything confusing to your clients and customers? How do you know? Do you provide them with easy access to you to ask questions and gain clarification? Do you ever ask them to evaluate your services and products?

The reality is that customer service is as obvious as a ham sandwich (with or without the soup of the day). The problem is that technology, complacency, and plain laziness have too often become obstacles. When we are the customer, it’s discernible. When we are knee-deep into it, we disregard it like the waitress and the soup.

Here is my simple 3-step program to assuring you avoid this trap.

1. Communicate as if it’s the most important thing you do, because it is. This means return calls and emails quickly. Create a standard for your company and yourself. Be accessible within the business day. Use technology to help your clients communicate with you on what they like and don’t like. Constantly search for better and more creative ways to communicate.

2. Surround yourself with a customer service team that is pleasant and positive. These people are the face of your business and are constantly being asked what your “soup of the day” is. While they might actually know, make sure they are responding in a way that brings a good experience (see our hostess at Lola), rather than a negative one. While this seems like a given, you and I both know it’s easier said than done. That’s why these people are in so much demand.

3. Be the leader. There are too many times that owners and executives delegate away management and customer service and lose track of them. If you’re the boss, it’s your job as a leader to be vigilant on this issue; to train your people; to inspire and motivate them; to confront and deal with adversity; and to assure the positive experiences of your clients and customers.

Bottom line — We can all work to improve our service and the value we provide. Keep it a high priority by always remembering to offer your clients that comfortable bar stool. That way, they will keep coming back for more soup!

14_02_DanCapJackRetouch_001Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps business leaders and executives to become stronger leaders, grow their businesses, and enrich their lives.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his website at www.DanWeedin.com.

Weedin Unleashed Video from June 2

June 3, 2014 Leave a comment

Topic is on Team Building and how your “stars” create great teams. Perfect for CEOs, solo practitioners, sales manager, and executives. And you!

© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

On Being Johnny Cash

May 17, 2014 1 comment

From my May column for the Kitsap Business Journal…

Last month, I was in Bogotá, Colombia, to speak at a conference. I stayed an extra week to visit with family, as I am half-Colombian on my mother’s side. I have five aunts still living and scads of cousins. It’s always a joy to mix business with pleasure, especially in such a cool city as Bogotá.

I was sitting with my aunt and two cousins on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in her living room that overlooked the mountains in the distance. The view was spectacular and I had that feeling of being a continent away from my normal world. That changed suddenly when the radio station we were listening to made a switch in programming from its Latin music to one I was very familiar with. As I was absorbing the ambiance of the classic South American city, I recognized the unmistakable dulcet tones of … Johnny Cash. I literally did a double take. Here I was in Bogotá and the voice coming from the radio was a legendary American country artist. I might as well have been perched in Nashville.

It doesn’t matter your age, the area you live in, or your taste in music. If you’re an American over about 20 years old, you know the name and the sound of Johnny Cash. Although he passed over a decade ago, Johnny Cash developed a symbol so powerful, that millions of Americans can picture him in their mind by just listening to his music. Now that’s brand.

When I say Johnny Cash, you probably picture the ruggedly handsome man in black, with wavy jet-black hair and a guitar slung over his shoulder. You hear the deep, rich, baritone voice with a slight twang that drips with heart and soul.

How badly would you like to create a brand like that for your business?

If you’re smart, then pretty badly! We all want to be “top of mind” when it comes to our profession, whether we offer a product or service. The question becomes, how can we become like Johnny Cash?

Without belting out a rendition of “A Boy Named Sue,” I’ll share with you my five strategies and tactics to Being Johnny Cash …

1. Create a Look.  Johnny Cash was “the man in black.” Heck, he had a song by the same title. He became synonymous with the bad boy image of his time by always being dressed head to toe in black. What “look” can you create through consistency? Consistency in marketing is critical. It includes your logo, your signage, your documents, your letterhead, and your social media presence. When people see your work, they should immediately be able to identify you.

2. Create a Sound. Johnny Cash’s voice is so unique, once you’ve heard it, you will always recognize it. How are your products or services unique? What separates you from your competition? If you aren’t unique and an object of interest, why would anyone do business with you over someone else? Cash’s voice drew people in. How does your exclusivity and image of difference do the same?

3. Create a Following. Johnny Cash certainly wasn’t the only country-western singer of his time, yet he created an immense following of loyal fans. Do you have that? What kind of a business community are you building? What value are you providing so that people will follow your writings; listen to your speeches; buy your products at any cost; or seek you out because of the experience of others? Entertainers are skilled at creating “groupies.” Maybe you need some, too.

4. Create a swagger. JC was one of the original entertainers with “swag.” The term swag comes from the hip hop music industry and means superlative style. JC had superlative style based on the machismo that he exuded. Do you have swag in your persona? Now, I’m not talking arrogance; rather a powerful self-confidence. If you don’t have supreme confidence in your ability to help others with your products and services, then why should they? The first sale is to yourself, and you need to buy in big-time.

5. The Music. Johnny Cash reached into people’s souls with his music. It was often describing pain, sorrow and loss that his audience could identify with. He also sang with humor to lift spirits. What’s your message? Don’t have one? You’d better get one then, and a good one. Your message is about how you improve the conditions and lives of others, and you’d better “sing” it in a way that causes an emotional response. Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act. Too often, business people like to express themselves logically, and lose the attention of their audience because they couldn’t uncover the emotion.

Bottom line — People of all types are hugely successful in this world when they have a consistent message that engages the masses and do it in a confident manner that touches people’s emotions. Johnny Cash did that. So did Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Mark Zuckerberg. If you’re not doing it, you must start. Take a look at my list and start moving boldly forward. If you are doing it then keep learning, growing, and developing your brand so one day, you will be as legendary in your world as Johnny Cash is in his.

14_02_DanCapJackRetouch_001Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps business leaders and executives to become stronger leaders, grow their businesses, and enrich their lives.  He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at dan@danweedin.com or visit his website at www.DanWeedin.com.

 

Weedin Unleashed Video – April 28th

April 29, 2014 Leave a comment


© 2014 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

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