Extra Points: The Thing About Windshield Wipers

Dan_Weedin_034Many of you are probably like me and have at least two cars. Our two cars have several differences; one is an automatic transmission and one is a manual (which I love); one is a sedan and one is a compact (guess which one? That’s right, the manual!); one has the gas tank on the driver side and the other on the passenger side.
The one minor difference which is less distinguishable but more of an irritant to me, is the direction required to engage the windshield wipers. The car we’ve had the longest requires a downward nudge, while the newer car requires a tap up. Muscle and mind memory often kick in and then I don’t know if I’m turning the wipers on or off! It’s so annoying that it sometimes gets me to start muttering to myself in unpleasant words.
Why would I regale you with this seemingly insignificant observation? It’s because I think you can learn three things about yourself and your business. Let’s find out…
First: Note that I said that the older car has engaged more muscle memory for me. In other words, we get a false comfort of doing the same thing over and over again. We don’t even think about it anymore.
Just like I mindlessly flip down at the controller which starts the wipers, we in business might continue to invest in marketing and advertising that hasn’t worked for years (or ever). We might overlook inappropriate on-the-job behavior by some employees, which causes unneeded anxiety and poor morale for others. We might also fail to maintain equipment and facilities, thus leading to an increased likelihood of calamity. The uninterrupted sequence of habits might not be an issue for many things, however it only takes a few to become a serious issue for profitability and success.
Second: There is more than one way to proverbially “skin a cat;” or get your windshield dry. While sometimes irritating to the operator, both the upward and downward motion on separate cars gets the job done. Patience is a virtue; and many times that patience leads to thinking about multiple forms of success and growth in business. Don’t get married to any one way of doing things; be open to change and innovation.
Third: The same result requires a different process in different cars. I can try as hard as I want to make the downward push work on the Volkswagen, but it never will. I have to understand the cars have different processes. I’ve heard business owners say that every employee gets treated equally. We know that’s not true. While everyone should be treated fairly, we know that equal is a fluid situation. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned in coaching high school basketball is that I needed to treat people differently in order to influence them to be their best.
People learn differently (e.g. visual vs. kinesthetic); they respond to criticism and praise differently; and they all have different levels of confidence, courage, and skills. Treating employees fairly is the right thing to do; discovering the best means to influence and motivate employees to be their best for themselves and the company is good business.
Doing these three things will increase your ability to avoid rainy days and assure that you can see clearly through any tough weather.
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
~ W. Edwards Deming (20th century American scientist)
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

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

Extra Points: 84 for 32

cropped-dan_weedin_034.jpg
I didn’t know Kobe Bryant personally. But I knew Kobe.
I watched him break my heart as a Seattle SuperSonics fan. I watched him compete at the highest level as an athlete and be a role model for that competitive fire when I coached both youth and high school basketball over a 10-year period. And in what was becoming a dynamic second act in his life after the NBA, he was a business leader while at the same time showing that you could also be a terrific father at the same time. His tragic death – along with his 13-year old daughter and two other people – in a helicopter crash in Southern California Sunday was a tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to all family and friends of everyone involved.
At the same time, those same prayers go to the family of the poor woman who was shot and killed in a random act of violence in Seattle on Friday when gunfire among gang members right at rush hour by a primary bus station erupted. And then of course, there are those we love and mourn who sometimes live into their 100s and pass away peacefully, yet still leaving a hole in the hearts and spirits of those who love them.
If you regularly read this weekly missive, you know it spans more than just business. It’s about life. Kobe Bryant’s high profile death that includes his 13-year old daughter is a stark reminder about the fragility of life. It’s easy to stay in a routine that makes one think that people will just always be there and live forever. Intellectually, we know that’s not true, but in the daily routine, it sure feels that way. Even though my parents lived to what would be considered an age where death would normally occur, I wasn’t ready to see them go.
When I coached high school basketball, I picked up a phrase from a good friend and assistant coach. It was 84 for 32. This saying became our goal as a team. Here’s what it means…
A high school basketball court is 84 feet long. A game is 32 minutes. Regardless of the results of how the game is going for our team, we committed to playing hard for all those 84 feet over 32 minutes. 84 for 32 isn’t just for basketball players. It’s about life. While we don’t know how many “minutes” our game gets to last, we do have control of how “hard” we run that 84 feet up and down our own basketball court called life.
As I write this, the irony of remembering 84 for 32 on a day when an iconic basketball player was tragically killed is not lost on me. When I’m pensive about something, I write because that’s what I am, a writer. And I wanted to share these final thoughts with you…
Commit to playing 84 for 32 every day. Some of those days may it might be easy, yet for most of us humans, the majority will require discipline, thoughtfulness, and courage to compete. But it’s worth it. If Kobe lived his life like he played basketball, he lived 84 for 32. I’m committing to remembering my commitment. How about you?
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.”
~ Carl Jung (20th Century Psychologist
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Ready for the Storm

Dan_Weedin_034Last week, the Puget Sound area had its second straight year of significant snowfall. For us, it’s between 8-12 inches and that’s enough to create suspension of operations for many businesses.
I received a phone call from a client in the hospitality industry asking if snow was enough to make a claim for loss of business income. I had to explain that for any loss of income claim, there needed to be direct damage loss from a covered peril, like a fire.
It was a good question to ask. It also brings to light the fact that insurance isn’t the only answer to calamities that can negatively impact business. While properly programmed insurance is a huge help when property has been damaged, there are many perils to be concerned about and prepared for.
If you own or are a key business leader, here are a few obstacles that are very real and can damage a business:
Suspension of operations due to weather; loss of power and connectivity; bad behavior by individuals causing reputation damage; loss of primary client or supplier; loss of key person, including the owner. Too often, business leaders focus on only growth and forget what impact to growth a suspension or reduction in operations has.
While some may be eligible for insurance help, it’s best to create a plan to prevent and recover. Not doing so – in advance – can kill a business, even if insurance is in place.
Your assignment is to make prevention and disaster recovery a part of your overall strategy. That way, you and your business are prepared to thrive in any situation.
P.S. If you think this only applies to a business, you’re sadly mistaken. The same is true for your personal life. Consider yourself the CEO of your family, however that may be structured. Take on the same assignment!
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies within you.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Is Your Company Eating Cheetos?

Dan_Weedin_034One of my regular modes of transportation is the Washington State Ferry service. The crossing time is about 30 minutes, so while I often will catch up on emails and other correspondence, I try to take advantage of the time by getting my “steps” in.
Walking the ferry is a very popular thing for ferry travelers. You can often see half a dozen or more walkers circling the track. We pass by each other and sometimes nod or smile knowingly as we cram some exercise in our day.
In the last ferry walk I did, one of the other walkers whom I had passed many times over about a 10 minute span, stopped at the vending machine. My first thought was that I didn’t know of any healthy alternatives in that machine. Sure enough, on the next lap I saw her walking and chomping on Cheetos. Cheetos!
Yes, this woman was showing some commitment to exercise, but the action of eating something that is certainly not a healthy snack was incongruous with the first activity. In other words, one action didn’t line up with the other and – at least in my opinion – eliminated the value of the good action.
How many companies do exactly the same thing?
Have you ever been in an organization that publicly espoused that they cared about company culture but their words and actions said something else? Rather than foster collaboration, the company didn’t listen, didn’t develop people, and didn’t keep promises the result is low employee morale and high turnover.
Have you ever seen companies that said they care about client service, yet offset that with long wait times for service, lack of communication, and not using technology to improve service.
Here’s the deal: If ones words and actions don’t align with what they assert publicly, then no one believes they are genuine and all of the positive stated is lost. Just like I didn’t buy the walker’s commitment to health because of her subsequent food choice, employees, clients, and community will see through duplicitous words and actions.
Here’s your assignment: Check your own company, regardless of whether you are the boss or employee. How does your mission, vision, and value align with what happens daily with your company?
What we say matters. Our actions matter more. Make sure your mission, vision, values, and actions all are in concert. That will lead to a very healthy organization!
Be Unleashed!
Quote of the Day:
“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”
~ Bernard Baruch
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.