From my monthly column in the Kitsap Business Journal…
When I think about tools, I am one of those unusual guys who don’t think of fixing things. I’m not a “tool guy.” I carry 14 “tools” in my bag… my golf bag. I equate this to business. Toolboxes are for fixing things. I believe business owners need to make things happen, just like on a golf course. And, like in the game of golf, sometimes when you try to make things happen, bad things are bound to occur. I have tools for those situations, too! For this special section on “Tools for your Business, ” I offer to you a golf bag full of 14 “clubs” that you can immediately use in your business.
1. Self-Confidence. You have to be able to have the self-confidence to be courageous, overcome adversity, persevere, make tough decisions, and lead people. Not everyone is wired that way. It’s the most essential tool for entrepreneurs.
2. A Marketing Plan. Don’t waste your time on a business plan. The problem is that you might hit it. Invest in a strong marketing plan. That’s what will create revenue through new clients.
3. A Killer Website. The Internet is here to stay. More and more people use the Internet to solve their problems, check out credibility, or simply search for a business. If yours is old, outdated, wrong, boring, or looks like your 13-year-old nephew built it, you’ve got a problem. Have a website that you can be proud to have people visit and will prompt people to pick up the phone (or email you) to solve their problems.
4. An In-House Tech Wizard. I just facilitated a strategy session for a client in the insurance industry. The technology guru was the most important person in the room. She received all the praise and adulation from her peers because without her, they can’t do their job. If they can’t do their jobs, no revenue flows in. Technology is too critical to not have a dedicated person ensure your business continuation.
5. A Coach. If you read my column in July, you know that superstars get coached. As a business owner, you need a sounding board, a second opinion, accountability, humility, and education. You won’t get that from your employees or even a peer group. Find a coach who will keep you focused moving forward professionally and personally.
6. A POV. A point of view. A value proposition. How do you improve the lives and conditions of others? Be clear. Be concise. If you don’t know, how will others?
7. Communications Prowess. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest public speaker, but you’d better be able to communicate your vision to your employees, clients, and community. Competence doesn’t automatically ensure competence. The best leaders are the ones who can clearly represent their POV.
8. A Crisis Response Plan. Disaster recovery isn’t the sexiest thing to talk about, however it impacts the most people. Consider your financial future, your employees’ jobs and financial outlook, your supply chain, your investors, and your community. Not knowing exactly what to do in the event of a crisis is negligent.
9. Human Redundancy. Are you prepared for transition of people? Do you have human backups when someone leaves, is terminated, or is even on vacation? If you don’t have a plan, your employees have no clue. Reduce your stress and deal with human redundancy in your business.
10. A Community of Peers. Might be a Mastermind Group; a group of industry peers; or an online professional forum. You need to have a support group; positive thinkers; and smart people to help you solve issues. You also gain value and knowledge by helping them. In this technological world, community has become a more relevant word.
11. A Sense of Humor. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Bad things happen and sometimes you hit it into the woods. How you react will dictate how others around you react.
12. Good Health. Owning a business is a marathon, AND a sprint. If you’re not physically up to the task, you will personally begin to break down physically and mentally. Learn how to eat well, exercise right, and sleep more.
13. A Whack a Mole in your office. Trust me on this one!
14. A Life. If your personal life is “out of whack,” it will seep into your business life. Gain perspective and take care of yourself and your family. Happy business owners are successful business owners.
Golfers don’t hit the links without a full array of clubs (tools) in their bags. You shouldn’t hit the day, the month, or the year of your business without a full set of tools to lead you to success.
Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally, and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills. He is one of only 35 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. You can reach Dan at 360-697-1058; e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his web site at www.DanWeedin.com.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Dogs sniff everything. Often multiple times to make sure. It often drives me crazy when I take the dogs out at night in between commercials, hoping for a quick turnaround. Bella especially has to find just the right spot.
As is often the case, dogs probably have it right. They understand their surroundings. They have a clear picture of who has been where; how long ago they were there, and what they did. They are poised to and prepared for that rabbit, squirrel, or snake to pop out of nowhere.
How well do you understand your surroundings? When you walk into a prospective client’s office for the first time, are you walking in blind or do you know something about them? When you have to have a tough conversation with an employee, have you thought it through in your head before you start talking? At a ballgame, do you shout out an expletive-laced tirade before realizing how you are affecting others near you? The bottom line is that we don’t do as good a job as dogs in understanding our surroundings and being prepared for the unknown or the consequences of getting it wrong.
Perhaps we should do a better job of sniffing around before we start barking!
This week’s quote – “Go back a little to leap further.”
- John Clarke
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I am always intrigued by lines out the door.
Last week, I took my family to Pike Place market in Seattle. There are several small, hole-in-the-wall type restaurants and cafes that literally had Disneyland-style lines waiting to get in. Contrary to what you might think, I develop a great desire to go stand in line and buy something! Why? There is a reason for the long line!
Mercedes-Benz is not even close to inexpensive, yet people with the means to pay for them do so in droves. Apple is more expensive than it’s PC competitors, but Apple stores are always packed and the evangelists are all over the place singing their praises. Nordstrom is not known for cheap suits and purses, but it’s built a clothing empire.
You know the reasons as well as I do. Quality trumps price all the time. You gotta’ have it. The best is worth the wait and the price. The return on investment is great.
How do people view your business, and most specifically you? No matter what you do, you are the brand. Will people ask for you, stand in line for you, and pay more for you? What is the image you want?
It still amazes me. We all know this to be a reality. Yet so many still try to build a business based on cheapest price. When you have tremendous quality; great service; and become an object of interest, you will be sought out. Once you are sought out your value increases and people are willing to compensate you well for that. Why? Because they view their return on investing in you worth it!
Business is about relationships. Period. Do you think people standing outside the door at Starbucks are all about a cheap cup of coffee? Nobody wants cheap. They want value; they want to feel good; they want to be taken care of; they want to shine. Do you do that for your customers and clients?
Once you do, you will soon find the line out your door, too!
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I enjoy watching professional sports on television, not only for the pure enjoyment of the sport, but for the great parallels and lessons it teaches us. Last weekend’s Wimbledon Tennis Championship is an excellent example.
In the Women’s Championship match between Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska, Williams found herself in a precarious situation. She had easily won the first set, stumbled in the second, and now had lost focus in the third and decisive set. Down 2 games to 1 and serving, Williams decided to just focus on her strength…her serve. Throughout the tournament, she lapped the field in aces. In this pivotal game, she served up 4 straight aces. Radwanska never recovered and Serena cruised to her 5th Wimbledon title.
How often do we get caught up in minutia and lose focus? How many times do events derail us and we panic or lose direction? In my experience, the answer is too many. In a world where we desire self-help books and looking to improve our weaknesses, we should instead focus on our strengths.
Athletes over-think in pressure situations. The true champions actually turn pressure into an ally by simplifying the situation and going with what got them there. For Serena Williams, it was her dominant serve. What is it for you?
Where do your strengths lie and what can you do to enhance them? Your focus should be on making what you do really well even better. Don’t spend time and effort on weaknesses. Delegate, subcontract, or simply don’t worry about them.
As an example, one of my strengths is public speaking. One of my weaknesses is setting up and organizing speaking events. So, my focus is on making myself a better speaker. I like it and it’s what I’m good at. I hate making arrangements and doing the heavy lifting of administration. I delegate this to my assistant who likes to do it and it’s her strength. This produces a win-win situation.
Your time is valuable and finite. Your energy level and passion needs to be focused and strong. You can only be passionate about what you like and what you’re good at. Build on your strengths. It will come up aces for you!
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
I love watching Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. Just like with the food channel reality shows, I get a lot of entertainment value and I pick up a lot of tips. I also am constantly amazed at the business lessons that come out from them.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver took home the Mirror Ball trophy on Dancing with the Stars. He had been good all season, but probably not technically the best dancer. The two other finalists, Katherine Jenkins and William Levy were probably better technically. That being said, it’s hard to out-poll a dude who plays for the Packers and is getting promos from his pals Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews. Similarly, on American Idol, Phillip Phillips was probably the leader in the clubhouse all year, but Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet may have been better. When Ledet got bumped, Phillips probably scored the teenage girl to twenty-something vote to get him the title. People get mad. They thinks it’s not a real contest; just a popularity contest. Really? You’re just figuring this out now?
Of course it’s a popularity contest. When you ask the world to phone, text, or go online to vote (multiple times mind you), it’s basically stuffing the ballot box for your favorite. These aren’t truly “competitions.” They are popularity contests and to the victors go the spoils.
Think about how this relates to acquiring business.
You may be the smartest person when it comes to your product or industry. You can spout off methodology, process, and product knowledge while falling out of bed at 2 AM. You’re a walking encyclopedia of facts and any client would be fortunate to have your knowledge on their team.
But, if you have no personality; no selling skills; no ability to persuade; can’t deal with objections or rejection; and no ambition to market yourself – then you’re not going to get the business. Sales isn’t about who has the most technical “smarts.” It’s not about who has the broadest markets, the fanciest graphics; or the most credentials behind their name. It’s about who the prospect likes; who they trust the most; and who can be the most persuasive and influential. It’s about how popular trumps brains only. You need to have both. And if one is stronger than the other, if you’re in sales it’s about your ability to persuade people to “vote” for you!
Don’t get me wrong. Product knowledge is important. You have to be credible. However, I’ve met plenty of credible sales people who couldn’t convince a starving man to eat. There are roles for everyone and finding those is one of the most important things an owner or executive can do.
Final thoughts. If you are in sales and want to increase your business through professional development, invest more time and money into professional sales skills rather than methodology and process. Spend time improving your language skills, presentation prowess, marketing skills, networking strategy, and writing skills. In the end, your innate ability to persuade and inspire will earn you more business and reap greater rewards for your business.
Time for the next dance…
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
This is an excellent excerpt from my professional mentor, Alan Weiss on the difference between confidence and arrogance. Really pertinent to all business professionals. It comes from his weekly Monday Morning Memo. It takes about 20 seconds to read and well worth it…
This week’s focus point: When you hold firm opinions and defend your belief system, people who can’t debate well often resort to calling you names, typically “arrogant.” Don’t let it bother you. True arrogance is the belief that you have nothing left to learn, while true confidence is the belief that you can help others to learn as you continue learning yourself. (Smugness is arrogance without the talent.) Arrogant people often try to “sell” and “pitch.” Confident people share value, often providing their intellectual property for free in so doing. If you think you’re “selling,” you tend to believe someone wins and someone loses and you must overcome opposition. If you’re providing value, you tend to think that you’re trying to help others and would be remiss not to, since it’s a “win/win” proposition.
Monday Morning Perspective: When the house is finished, death comes. — Thomas Mann
I am heading out for New York to meet with my professional mentor, Alan Weiss. It’s my turn to jump in the “total immersion” pool. I have a ton of new “irons” percolating in the fire and I need help to get them moving in the right direction. You can’t be brilliant by yourself.
The timing is right. I’ve had a terrific first quarter, but the game is just starting for the year. Forward momentum is crucial for business. When I coached basketball, my biggest in-game concern was always momentum. I always substituted and made changes based on who had the momentum, which can change in an instant. In fact, we had specific practice drills to emphasize momentum. It was that important. It’s that important for your business, too.
What are you doing in the 2nd quarter of your game to build momentum, not just try to maintain? The end of halves are vital in basketball games, and in business games.
If you’re not careful and become complacent, you’re in danger of having the pendulum swing. It becomes really hard to turn it back, and requires effort, time, and often money.
I hope you will be keeping track of me as I bounce around the Big Apple. I am happy to be taking Barb for her very first trip. Pictures, posts, and surprises to follow on this blog right here! Stay tuned!
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Do you remember choosing up teams to play baseball insert your sport) as a kid? Two captains would be “appointed” or “anointed” depending on the social structure of the playground. They were normally the two best players and their leadership role had nothing to do with their ability to lead the team or even pick good players (this is true in many of our adult playgrounds called “the office”). The remaining athletes would be lined up opposite the captains, staring intently at them trying to be the next person selected. The ultimate humiliation was being in the final two, knowing only one would be the infamous last pick. Sounds a little like American Idol, huh?
I’ve been watching AMC’s hit television show, Mad Men on Netflix. I just finished Year 3 (two years old so consider this your spoiler alert) where Don Draper leads a group of people from the firm, including two partners, to form their own agency. They take drastic and covert action when they find out that their old agency was being sold and they didn’t want to play along. At the end of the episode (and season), you see Draper standing in the hotel room being used as the new office. He is gazing at the 7-8 people he hand picked to “play ball” with the new agency. These were the ones he wanted to move forward with. He had a choice to pick the best of a larger field and he chose them.
Four years ago, as I was preparing to take the presidency of my 130-member Rotary Club, one of the guest speakers in my workshop asked a compelling question — “If your club had to whittle itself down to only 25 members, would you be one of them?’ Thought-provoking.
If you had to choose 5 people to move forward with a new organization, whom would you choose? Why? Would you even be one of them?
Not everyone in your organization work and perform at the same level of excellence. Are you spending too much time trying to “fix” them at the expense of enhancing your best performers? Unfortunately, many executives and business owners spend too much time with the squeaky wheel. The same thing happens in our schools and non-profit organizations. In the end, it only hurts them. The best path is to work on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
If you are the “captain” of your business, your non-profit organization, your school district, or your association, you have been given the opportunity to choose your team. Here are five characteristics to cogitate on…
- Does this person have the skill set for the task or job at hand, or are they merely being promoted due to longevity?
- Does this person care about the organization’s well-being or is it solely “what’s in it for me?”
- Does this person have a high ceiling to success or do they have a giant bump on their head from smacking their ceiling?
- How well do they play with others?
- Are they “coachable?” In other words, are they willing to constantly improve their skills, or do they think they have mastered it all?
Too many executives and business owners waste time and money on trying to fix the unfixable. You’re better served enhancing your strengths by empowering your strongest performers. Less labor intensity and more return on investment. Find ways to build on your strengths, rather than fix your weaknesses. It’s about success, not perfection.
Final thought — Look at yourself in the mirror. Should you be on the team? Are you providing leadership with passion, skill, and inspiration? Would your employees or your “team” trade you at the trading deadline? Are you enhancing or detracting your organization’s performance? Honest evaluation needs to be done on the entire team, including you.
Bottom line — Who would you go to war with if you only had four other people to choose? What characteristics make them your choice? What role do you play in best igniting their talent?
Take those answers and instill those values in your strongest performers and watch your organization prosper.
(Editor’s note: Dan Weedin is a Poulsbo-based management consultant, speaker, and mentor. He leads an executive peer-to-peer group in Kitsap County where he helps executives improve personally, professionally, and organizationally by enhancing leadership skills. He is one of only 32 consultants in the world to be accredited as an Alan Weiss Master Mentor. Reach Weedin at (360) 697-1058; email@example.com or on the web site www.DanWeedin.com.)
One of my clients recently suffered a tragedy. An employee had a heart attack and died in the office. He was in his mid-50s and this came as a shock. To add to it, the spouse also works for the company. My heart went out to them as individuals and as an organization.
As tragic as this is, it does bring to light a serious business situation. What happens when you, or an important member of your team, gets hit by the proverbial bus? Are you prepared as an organization to respond to the imminent emergency and the long-term ramifications?
We hear the word “redundancy” all the time in business, particularly for technology. We have back up systems, back up to backups, risk management plans, and other fail safes. What we often overlook is human redundancy.
Take a look at your organization and answer these questions honestly…
- As owner or chief executive, what happens if I can’t show up for work tomorrow (unexpectedly)? Who knows what I do and who can step in?
- What if you lose your best sales person, executive, manager, or technology guru? Who holds the extra keys; passwords; or other important business tools and strategies?
- How do you deal with the trauma of losing a part of your family? What emotional help do you need to provide?
- Are you prepared for emergency? Do you have first aid kits and a defibrillator?
- Do the people next in line know that they are next in line? How good is your communication with them?
- How good is your communication system for the entire organization? Do you leverage technology for this or still use a phone tree?
- Have you ever practiced for a disaster like losing someone? If not, how do you know it will work?
- Are you afraid to find out what you don’t know?
Bench strength is critical for sports teams. The ability to plug someone in when injury occurs is critical to success. Teams know this, so they plan accordingly. You should know this, too. People leave; get injured; switch positions; and maybe even win the lottery. Some also get hit by that bus. How good is your bench strength and are you prepared to survive?
How you answer that question will go a long way into helping you become a better crisis leader.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Last week, I visited a grade school to talk to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders about writing. They were studying writing skills and stories in class, and their teacher thought I could bring some perspective on how and why I write for business. Let’s just say, they brought me perspective.
I know I wasn’t that smart in 3rd-5th grade. These kids have a vastly larger vocabulary than I remember having. They were disciplined, well behaved, and followed instructions. Maybe it was partly to do with me being there as a guest, however kids are pretty transparent. It was impressive.
Here was my big takeaway. These kids put what they learned into practice. They asked hard questions, they gave thoughtful compliments, and they worked with each other. Any time a question came up, the teacher would say, “Heads together,” and they would collaborate. It was astounding. Just think what adults could accomplish if we did that!
So, why can’t we? What holds us back from a desire to learn and improve; to put into practice what we do learn; to collaborate with others; and to seek out the best for everyone involved? Maybe we need to go back to being kids. I often think the transition from childhood to adulthood loses something in the translation. Perhaps if we find it, we will all be better off.
Okay everyone, “Heads together!”
This week’s quote – “Failure stays with those who stay with some success made yesterday.” Don Meyer – college basketball coach