Shrimp Tank Podcast: Aljolynn Sperber, Lady Box

Check out my latest guest on the Shrimp Tank Podcast. Aljolynn Sperber went from a successful marketing career in Los Angeles to starting her own business back in her home town.

Watch the video wrap-up above and listen to the entire podcast here! You’ll learn how she talks about the difference between hard work and hustle!

P.S. She has a special offer for Shrimp Tank Podcast listeners and viewers. Watch the video to find out how you can take advantage!

© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Like a Dog With a Bone

JackYou’ve heard that old axiom, “like a dog with a bone.” It means holding on to what you love with a ferocious intensity. Maybe the person that coined the phrase owned a Jack Russell terrier.
Captain Jack has two speeds: Off and Jack modes. When he’s in “off mode,” he appears to be the sweetest, most serene dog you’d ever like to see. He “attacks” his rest period with the same level of concentration that he exhibits when he moves to Jack mode.
Jack mode is an intensity, desire, and ferocity that is unrivaled. The key attributes of it is are steely stare, a body position that appears ready to strike after a snake or rodent, and a dogged indefatigability that refuses to give up regardless the odds against. As I write this missive, I just watched an Under Armour commercial that declared, The Only Way Is Through. That’s Jack Mode.
In business, we often start our careers and businesses out in full “Jack Mode.” We have everything to lose so tenacity is our mindset. All too often, it’s easy to lose that mode subsequent to some success and comfort. The problem with this trap is that it’s really difficult to escape once ensnared. Falling into a “comfort mode,” like a dog who has given up on bones, may be one of the top financial and viability risks to any business. And there’s no insurance to cover it. Once in this mode, stagnation and decline follow. Morale drops, revenues, drop, and before one knows it, company valuation and wealth are all chewed up.
The goal is to have a healthy balance of “Off and Jack” modes. We need to approach our businesses and careers with that high level of determination and resilience; in other words moxie, grit, and doggedness. This means a steely focus on revenue growth, marketing, profitability, employee morale, brand and reputation, and (this one is really important) emerging opportunities and risks.
The balance part means to know when to be like Captain Jack and turn it off to refresh and rejuvenate. Dogs are innately aware that rest is critical to being on top of their games when the time to “work” comes. We should do the same. Practice your own balance activities to make sure when it’s “Jack Mode,” your way is “through.” That will lead to dog-gone great results for your business, career, and life.
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“The suspense is terrible. I hope that it will last.”
~ Oscar Wilde
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Love: Let Me Count the Ways

Dan_Weedin_022As we approach Valentine’s Day, it got me thinking about how we show love to those we care about. There are the normal signs of “affection,” from flowers, to chocolates, to dinner out (or maybe even a home cooked romantic dinner!). I’m not going to wax poetic on what you should concoct for your spouse or significant other. What I do want to discuss is ways to really express love for your company and your loved ones. Let me count three ways!
First – A current personal will and Buy-Sell Agreement: Everyone has a will; some have a formal one that has been legally created and vetted with your exact wishes cleanly laid out so that nobody can misunderstand your intentions. The others who don’t have this legal document; their will is presided over by the government. The state will be the judge of how your estate gets transferred and how long it will take. How do you feel about that?
A Buy-Sell Agreement is a business will for the partners of a business. Even in a closely-held family corporation, a Buy-Sell Agreement will detail what happens in the event of one of the four “Ds:” Death, disability, divorce, and disengagement (including retirement).
In both cases, it shows “love” to your heirs and company that you cared enough to leave nothing to doubt on how your estate and company will financially deal with your demise. While not everyone may “love” your final wishes; they won’t have to guess at what you want.
Second – Lifestyle insurance (aka life insurance): Yeah, I know; nobody likes to talk about life insurance. The reality is, that for both loved ones and company, the benefit left to beneficiaries might mean the difference between financial freedom and disaster. My guess is that in the history of life insurance, no beneficiary ever said to an insurance company, “No, that’s way more money than we need. Go ahead and keep it.”
I call life insurance “lifestyle” because when done properly, it assures your loved ones their current lifestyle for the remainder of their lives. In business, life insurance “funds” the Buy-Sell Agreement. In other words, in the event of the death of the CEO or business owner, the company will be able to deal with the financial challenges that come from that without worrying about getting loans or using cash reserves. Now that’s love.
Third – Long-Term Care: This one hits close to home for me as both my parents required long-term care at some level for nearly five years (at the same time). They didn’t have the same opportunities to purchase insurance like we do today.
Here are some facts: First, there is the growing population of elderly. By 2030, it is projected that the number of individuals age 65 and older will be more than 71 million, almost twice the number today. Second, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 70% of individuals over age 65 will require at least some type of long-term care services during their lifetimes. Over 40% will need care in a nursing home for some period.
Of men turning 65 years old, 58% will need some long-term care. Women are more at risk than men once they turn 65 years of age; 79% of women will need some long-term care at some point before death. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
P.S. Men are now living longer than in past generations. We will catch up…
We are living longer than ever before and we have four options to pay for our long-term care, if needed: The government can offer limited assistance, if you make under $10,000 per year; your personal investments and savings (though I’m guessing you might have wanted those for your children and grandchildren); your children’s money, and insurance.
Long-Term Care is starting to become a bigger topic in political campaigns, however my crystal ball never sees it as something that can be funded by taxpayer money. The cost of skilled nursing today is about $120,000 per year. Think about what will happen in 30 years. How will you pay for it if you need it? The money you worked so hard to accumulate over decades? Your children’s money? I encourage you to “show the love” by putting the financial burden of your elder care needs on a faceless insurance company and let your money be for you and the ones you most care about.
Bottom line: Love is expressed in many ways. The normal commercialized forms work great for Valentine’s Day. However, your life and your business loved ones need some love, too. You can show that love by making sure their financial futures and lifestyles are safeguarded. Now that’s a love that will last for generation…
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Groundhogs Day

IMG_2123Groundhogs Day seems to trigger one of two (or maybe both) visuals. The first is that little furry creature named Punxsutawney Phil who tells all about the upcoming Spring season based on if he sees his shadow or not. The second is the face of Bill Murray in his classic movie where he lives the same day over and over. So will this missive be about coming out of the shadows or living the same day over and over? Well…both.

Legend has it that on the morning of February 2nd, if a Punxsutawney Phil can see his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he cannot see its shadow, spring is on the way. At the time I write this, Phil hasn’t come up to check out the day, so I don’t know what 2020 holds for us yet!

That being said, people allow other “groundhogs’ to influence their thinking about their business and lives. Predictions abound from pundits about the economy, politics, the financial marketplace, world events, sports, and business. These “groundhogs” don’t always live within social media. All too often, those most close to us can become the predictors if we allow them. It can be well-meaning family and friends, competitors, and other “experts” that can influence thinking. And the worst offender…might just be ourself. We can become prone to allowing negative thinking, bad experiences, bad luck, and bad timing cloud our perspective of the future. The consequences are far worse than additional six weeks of winter. Which brings me to Bill Murray…

In the move, Murray’s character lived the same day over and over. It’s human to nonchalantly fall prey to the daily grind of “same old, same old.” If that daily grind becomes focused on the negative attitude and poor prognostication of the future, one can start dreading the next day, the next month, and the next year.

The biggest risk to business and financial success is allowing the negative groundhogs in our lives (including us) to prevail. We all have those positive groundhogs in our lives that will keep us focused on a course for bright future days. We should listen to those.

Bottom line. Don’t believe all the prognosticators who forecast cloudy days. They likely don’t know what they are talking about. Heck, Punxsutawney Phil probably wonders why he is forced from out of a warm sleep early every February 2nd. Don’t get stuck seeing your own shadow and racing back into your den of fear; instead keep that inner groundhog speeding ahead towards new opportunities for your business, career, and life.

Be Unleashed!

Quote of the Day:

“Every failure is a step to success.”
~ William Whewell (19th Century English Philosopher)

© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Creating a Clear Vision for Your Business

He is ready to fight for success

I have a new “toy” as part of my office equipment. I’ve wanted a stand-up option for my computer because I always felt tired of sitting so long during the day. I’m now the proud owner of a standing desk so I can stand and sit when I want. This is an extremely valuable addition to my work process.

An interesting adjustment has been with my glasses. I wear progressive lenses when working on a computer. I’ve found it works well for moving my gaze from the computer to the keyboard and occasionally to the television in my office. It can also turn around and keep a focus on what Captain Jack is doing behind me!

My progressive lenses work fine when I’m in the sitting position, but when I stand, they become blurry and more than a little annoying. The lift in the desk creates a different eye angle. That angle requires a different pair of lenses, so I use my cheap readers. The adjustment I had to make was important because without a clear vision, I couldn’t effectively work, and my results would suffer.

What pair of glasses are you peering through for your business? Isn’t 2020 the perfect time to make sure your vision is crystal clear?

Every business requires specific vision and clarity to improve performance and productivity. Without this specific and clear direction, then nobody in the organization would be seeing the path to success, and results would be less than expected, morale would be lower than desired, and the financial risk to your business would increase exponentially.

Every January, I visit my optometrist to get an exam. This exam clarifies the health of my eyes and resulting vision. Let’s do a quick check on your vision. Here are my five best practices to improving your corporate vision and clarity.

1. Get a new “exam” on your company mission, vision, and values (MVV)

Some of you may not have a written MVV which means you are long overdue for your exam! The MVV is critical to clarity because without it, you’re flying blind. If you do have one, congratulations. Now check the expiration date. If you haven’t reviewed or worked on it for more than two years, you’re overdue. Just like your eyes can change over time, so can your mission and objectives around it.

A review shouldn’t be painful; it does need to be honest and involve other key people in your organization.

2. Focus on activities and results

Too many MVVs suffer the same fate as New Year’s Resolutions. The resolution is to “lose weight;” yet misses the daily activities, disciplines and accountabilities required for positive performance and success.

This is where reverse engineering success comes in. What’s your objective? Is it to increase gross revenue by 15%? That’s a good quantifiable metric, but how will you do it? Reverse engineer your sales process. What do you need to do to improve from the year before? Is it more sales calls, more referrals, new equipment, an improved social media presence, or something else specific to you?

Your MVV must include the disciplines around activity that are required to achieve ultimate success.

3. Accountability

Someone must be responsible for all these daily disciplines or they won’t get done. We are all human; very few of us can robotically work through our action plan daily. We all need someone to hold us accountable.

While accountability is easy to understand conceptually, the hard part is the process. Most accountability requires some level of consequences for not getting done. In decades gone by (and unfortunately in some businesses even today), the old “control and command” method was in vogue. I tell you what to do and you do it, or else you’re demoted or fired. I prefer a more collaborative approach, but still with some level of consequences. The consequences might small at first; however, if they persist, it may become apparent that someone might be self-selecting themselves out of the company! If the accountability is on us as the business owner, then vision might be the problem. That would require a re-commitment to a new vision with better clarity.

4. Get a different perspective

The most successful business owners I know all invest in some form of advisory or coaching. This is important for two reasons.

First, we all need someone to examine what we are doing and challenge us. It’s easy to get myopic and start breathing our own exhaust. Those results are deadly! A coach will be able to expand your worldview and make you do your own vision testing to become more focused on your goals.

Second, everyone needs another person to share both failures and successes. While spouses, children and the family dog (all of which might be part of your company structure, by the way!) might offer a sounding board, a coach offers both sounding board and next steps.

5. Make this process fun

If you’re like me, you like to do fun things. While we all have parts of our work that aren’t quite as enjoyable, what we do better be fun or else we are in the wrong business. Life is too short to waste on going through the motions.

While “process” sounds daunting, it’s not. Think of it as the building blocks to the ideal business and lifestyle. Just like going to the optometrist on a regular basis improves the likelihood of lifelong eye health, investing time and finances into this process will have the same results for your business. You have control over the process and if it’s fun. There is a correlation to fun and success.

Bottom line: The concept of a specific and clear vision isn’t new. It starts with leadership and moves through the organization. Regardless of what you have in place today, invest the time in creating or updating your Mission, Vision and Values. Your vision will immediately be better and brighter!

© 2020 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved

My February column for the Kitsap Sun, part of the  USA Today Network