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It’s Not About You Stupid!

July 14, 2017 Leave a comment

031A6785My July column for the Kitsap Business Journal (Kitsap Sun)

While cleaning out the spare room to make space for my wife’s new home office, I found a box full of old books and work from college. Why it’s still with me 34 years later is beyond me, but I’m glad it is.

I pulled out a notebook I was asked to journal in for a writing class in fall quarter of my freshman year at Skagit Valley College. I took a break and started reading through it. Of course my girlfriend I wrote of often was now my wife, who attended Skagit Valley with me. This made the discovery more personal. That evening, my daughter and son-in-law came over to celebrate Father’s Day weekend, so I showed her the journal. The rest of the evening was spent with laughter over my writing style, the contents, and a peek into my worldview as an 18-year-old!

Upon reflection, I realized that my writing indicated something that I’m sure is common with most American 18-year-old boys…a pretty healthy self-absorption. The focus of my writing was on me. While this might not sound overly insightful, I realized that my commentary on my professors, my school work, my friends, and even my soon to be wife was all about me. If I could go back on time and be given the chance to give myself advice, I’d probably begin with a slap on the back of the head with the exhortation, “It’s not about you, stupid!”

I think my maturation started with becoming a father and grew from there. The three-plus decades since September 1983 have provided experiences, challenges, and moments that shape perspective and wisdom. This tough love I’d give myself was likely attempted by my own father, but undoubtedly not listened to well! It’s amazing what life lessons teach us and how we eventually learn that we didn’t know it all.

CEOs, business owners, and business leaders, take notice… “It’s not about you, stupid!” You also don’t know it all.

Before you storm the castle with pitchforks and torches, hear me out. My experience is that business owners have a great passion for their work and great pride in their business. Over the course of years, it’s easy to become both provincial and myopic in the management and operations of the business. To be blunt, it’s easy to become self-absorbed.

Business owners that become overly concerned about their legacy, their community standing, and their personal profit start down the slippery slope often trod by teenage boys. It becomes easier to blame others for problems (e.g. the government, the employees, the customers). It becomes easier to think about profits before people. It becomes easier to isolate oneself, rather than “walking the shop floor” and engaging with people.

Fortune 500 companies CEOs are notorious for being unavailable and unaware of the company culture. Uber’s CEO just recently took a leave of absence (or rather was forced to by the board of directors) for his dreadful behavior. While Uber will likely rebound with some better decisions, small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) cannot afford that luxury of time. If you are in charge of your organization – or have direct reports and influence – then you need to slap yourself upside your head on occasion to remind yourself that the business is not about you, even if it is your name on the shingle. The business is always about the people.

Let’s define “people.” For this column, I define people as your employees and your customers and clients.

Your employees: Without them, your business wouldn’t operate. Never consider that just because you’re providing a paycheck that any additional effort to support and encourage them isn’t needed. The biggest mistake SMB owners make is putting an emphasis on profit over people. The reality is that if you put the effort on people, your profit will exponentially improve as a result. It’s not the other way around. The genuine care about the well being of your human “assets” goes a long way to building a strong culture where they care as much as you do about the business’s success.

Your customers and clients: Your business serves some higher good. You’re offering value and the improvement of the condition of someone else. If you weren’t, you’d not still be in business! I sometimes hear or read about business owners complain about customer demands and administrative burden. It’s often easy to get seduced by the sexiness of bringing in new clients and forget hat you have “at home.” Those customers and clients are potential evangelists that will shout your name to the rooftop and refer you business. They will only do this if they feel like you still care. Do you?

There’s a difference between self-absorption and self-confidence. Self-absorption left unchecked becomes isolation with consequences like poor employee morale and loss of clients. Self-confidence breeds positivity in brand and service leading to collaboration and engagement. If you occasionally find yourself slipping into an 18 year brain, slap yourself upside the head and remind yourself, “It’s not about you, stupid!” You and your company will be better of for it!

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All rights reserved

Creating a Culture of Mission & Vision

June 28, 2017 Leave a comment

I was thrilled to recently share the stage with my client, Kendra Fournier to discuss the incredibly important topic of building culture in the workplace. This program was held for the South Puget Sound Small Business Summit in Tacoma. Thanks to Paul Long from Timberland Bank for inviting us to speak.

It’s 37 minutes long, but well worth your time investment. If you’d like to learn more about how I help company’s boost their performance and employee morale, call me!

© 2017 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved

A Little Privacy Please…

May 17, 2017 Leave a comment

He is ready to fight for success

A Little Privacy, Please…
How to guard and protect yourself and your company from cyber crimes

As a first world society, I’m afraid we are becoming numb to calamity around us. Once upon a time, a global cyber security breach would have been the main news story for several weeks. The major attack that happened last week that impacted countless businesses around the world is now largely forgotten as we did into the FBI, the White House, and Russia.

We live in a growing less secretive world. The ability for a criminal with some technology skills to “break into” a small or medium-sized company and steal information is alarmingly easy. We all lock our doors at night to keep the bad guys out. The problem is that the bad guys don’t need to pick your lock; they just need to figure out your password and then they can steal information, money, and profits.

I will be brief today, but that doesn’t lessen the severity of this threat to your company and employees (including you and your family). Here are three steps you should take right now to help prevent and mitigate this risk:

  1. Create (or review and revise) a written cyber security plan for your company. I don’t care if you are a company of five or 500, you use the Internet and you need to protect yourself. Just like unprotected sex leads to bad consequences, unprotected systems could result in more serous viruses (see link to article below).
  2. Form a team. Being a lone wolf doesn’t work because you can’t possibly know everything. You need an IT expert, a risk specialist, and key employees in your company to build a strong fortification. It also supports accountability and implementation.
  3. Read this article in the Harvard Business Review written by Luke Bencie. A colleague of mine shared it on Facebook yesterday and it’s excellent. You and your employees are probably violating a lot of his suggestions. I know I am and that will start changing. Are you ready to change to match the new risk to your business?

Bottom line: This isn’t 1977 any longer. Your most valuable assets and information are no longer stored in a safe in your locked business. They live in a cloud that can be accessed by people with skills and bad intent. It’s time to re-awaken to what your most concerning risks are and do what you can to ferociously guard them.

I’m an expert in resilience, risk management, and crisis planning. I have a proprietary scorecard to assess where you are today when it comes to protecting your most important assets and your bottom line.

If these are important to you, then call and let’s talk. Call me at 360-271-1592 to schedule a meeting.

_________________________________________________________________________

WHAT’S NEW…my Private Brokerage Client program.

I’ve expanded my consulting practice to include the ability to place insurance coverage for clients. Through my affiliation and partnership with First Underwriters, I now can not only help you control your risk exposures, but finance them in a way that ferociously protects your profits.

My business model is different for two reasons. First, clients gain access to certain intellectual property and resources that before were only available to consulting clients. These resources will help clients save time, money, and frustration on their entire risk portfolio. Second, the program has a capacity limit. In order to offer this full-service, concierge style approach, I will limit the number of Private Brokerage Clients I will take on. Just since starting about 45 days ago, I’ve added five new clients.

If you’d like to learn more about how I can help you ferociously protect your profits and lifestyle, call me to see how this program might look for you.

WEBSITE

In Plain Sight Behind Closed Doors

January 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Kansas City Chief in an exciting National Football League playoff game, sending them to the AFC Championship match up against the New England Patriots. After the game, Head Coach Mike Tomlin gave a rousing speech to his team; full of praise for their efforts and encouraging them to now move on and pull off the upset of the favored Patriots team the next week.

Coach Tomlin’s inspired words included a few expletives and exhortations that are normal in post-game locker rooms at any level of play. They are normally expressed behind closed doors and private. That’s what Coach Tomlin thought they were. Turns out that star player Antonio Brown was off to the side of the locker room recording everything on the moment on Facebook LIVE for the world to see.

Aside from the fact that it’s a violation of both team and NFL rules, there are huge issues here that pertain to your business.

  1. There was a well-communicated rule about the privacy of the locker room. What’s said within the walls (before the press is allowed in) was for those players and coaches. Brown blatantly and selfishly violated that rule using a live stream social media platform. What rules do you have about privacy in your company? What rules apply to the sharing of: employee compensation, bonuses, disciplinary actions, intellectual property, proprietary information, client and prospect lists, technology, and other “classified” materials? How do you know your “locker room” is safe?
  2. If you’ve seen the stream (now playing at your local Internet), you see Brown is around the corner from the coach and other players. He’s not listening or being part of the team. He’s more concerned about preening in front of the camera for 18 minutes (45 seconds of Tomlin’s speech included). While your employee meetings may not use the same format, how many of your employees are listening when you speak? Ever see any vacant eyes, distracted stares, peeking at text messages and email under the desk? 
  3. Antonio Brown is one of the star players. From all I’ve heard, he’s a hard worker and good teammate. He got caught up in the moment, thought of himself first, and then willingly broke rules. How many of your best and brightest employees are capable of bad behavior that could damage your company in some way? Don’t say “none.” I’ve had a situation where a client’s bookkeepers stole tens of thousands of dollars from under his nose over the course of several years before getting caught. Smart and successful business owner (just as Tomlin is a smart and successful coach) who placed trust in someone.

Here’s today’s takeaways:

  1. Don’t get caught being looking behind every rock for an employee behaving badly. The majority are doing the right things for you. However, being consistent in your message about what is expected and required is critical; even if you think you’ve got it under control.
  2. Your private company conversations, resources, information, etc. are all more at risk than ever. Cyber issues – whether it be crime or just social media – can put your company and your reputation at risk. You need to have a plan.
  3. Develop strong leaders to police yourselves. Give them autonomy to be your eyes and ears.

For most small and mid-size companies, these actions rarely get taken due to time and energy constraints. This is an investment of your time, energy, and money. In order to avoid both your “dirty and clean laundry” from being exposed to the world (and your clients), then you need to create a resiliency plan. Doing this will keep you from yelling expletives in the privacy of your office!

Need help creating a resiliency plan to prevent and mitigate crisis, and protect your reputation and profits? Contact me at (360) 271-1592 or dan@danweedin.com and let’s talk.

 

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Protecting Your Profits

January 11, 2017 Leave a comment

20 Under 40 20_3This is my monthly column for the Kitsap Sun / Kitsap Business Journal. It’s Part 2 of a 3-part series but will stand alone in it’s value to you. Enjoy!

Last month’s column unveiled Part 1 of creating a strategic growth plan with eschewing the traditional business plan model and focusing on a strategic marketing plan. This month, we dive into a topic that most business owners and entrepreneurs should care a lot about – profits. A strategic growth plan better include profitable growth or you’re just messing around.

There are three components in my strategic growth plan — marketing, protection and financial. This column will cover protection, with the final one to follow next month.

Let’s face it; talking about growing profits is a sexier topic than protecting them, right? The problem is that there are so many monsters out there ready and willing to devour those profits that you need to build a fence around them.

I hate the phrase “risk management.” To me, it implies that “risk” is a bad thing. Without a healthy dose of risk, there are no rewards. Risk is simply a function of your tolerance for it. As an entrepreneur, you need a lot. That’s why I suggest you need to be resilient. My personal definition of resilience is this – the ability to take a punch; jump back up and throw two more of your own. Heck, as a business owner, this may be a daily discipline!

The “burden of reactive chaos” is a state where you’re constantly putting out the proverbial “fire” at the office. Instead of having a plan of attack to deal proactively with chaos, you’re seen constantly running around stamping out those flames with the same vigor and angst as kids hitting a Whack-a-Mole at a carnival. You are reacting to outside crisis and allowing that effort to exhaust your time, your energy, and your mindset. Left unchecked, you’ll find your profits dwindling because you and your employees are working less effectively, while also leaving gaps for those profit monsters to eat at your bottom line.

In order to avoid the “burden of reactive chaos,” you need to have a strategic resilience plan. Have no fear. I’m about to tell you how to get started with one!

How to Create a strategic resilience plan:

— Commit to investing time and money for the protection of your profits and sanity. This is the same concept as preparing your house for a disaster (which I’m certain you all have done). If you as the boss don’t commit to this investment, then who will? That’s right, nobody. Consider your ROI gobs of discretionary time, dramatically improved performance, and happier employees.

— Identify the monsters. What are the most probable obstacles to being wildly successful? The answers are bunched into four categories: physical (e.g. fire); human resources (e.g. employee issues); liability (e.g. negligence to someone else); and loss of income (e.g. brand/reputation). You can’t plan or prevent without identifying what can hurt you. This is the most important step.

— Assess the threats. Are these “monsters” lying in wait under the bed, or almost non-existent? Based on your industry, geography, and best practices, you can determine the likelihood of the chaos. You can also guess how bad it might be (e.g. lost days versus lost weeks). You can build a plan around certain calamities or create a “plug and play” model.

— Write it up. Once you’ve got a plan, write it down and share it with everyone. Create a committee or task force in charge of implementation. Make sure that everyone knows what to do in case of an emergence, especially how to evacuate. If it’s not written, it won’t be followed and your work will have gone to waste.
Practice. When I coached basketball, we would drill daily on end of game situations so we would be prepared when it happened. You need to do the same thing. Ask yourself how many employees can actually use one of the many fire extinguishers in your building. If there is no confidence in carrying out a plan, then reactive chaos flourishes and eats away at your profits like a hungry dog on a bone.

— Build a team. There are plenty of experts out there that can help you. Insurance brokers, consultants, technology specialists and more should be part of your team. Once a year, bring everyone together and brainstorm. Your resilience program needs to be nimble. Things change all the time, and your plan needs to be ready for that.
Patience. This isn’t the most fun thing you will do in your business, but it may be the most important. The main reason smart people let this slide is because they get impatient and allow it to not be a priority. In this case, patience isn’t only a virtue; it might save your business.

There are three key factors that keep otherwise savvy entrepreneurs from getting out of the “burden of reactive chaos.”  They are apathy, complacency, and arrogance. They think it will never happen to them, they’ve done all they can, or (worst) they will figure it out when it happens. Don’t be that guy or gal. Too many people need you to be profitable and open for business – your employees and their families, your clients and customers, your key vendors and partners, and your community. Invest your time in slaying those profit monsters, escape the burden of reactive chaos, and stay constantly in the pink (or in this case, the black!).

Next month: Strategic Growth Plan #3: Financial Fitness

Dan Weedin is a strategist, speaker, author and executive coach. He helps small business and middle market business leaders and entrepreneurs to grow more profitably and create a better life. He was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant™ Hall of Fame in 2012. Contact Dan at 360-697-1058, dan@danweedin.com or visit his web site at http://www.DanWeedin.com.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Enemy Within Your Walls

December 16, 2016 Leave a comment

He is ready to fight for success

This past week, Wake Forest University had to deal with a very unsettling matter. It was revealed that a former assistant football coach turned team radio analyst for the Demon Deacons football program was found to have passed on game plan information from his team (provided to him as part of his job in preparing for games) to opposing teams prior to games.

Let’s make it clear. This guy (for ease of the example) was an assistant coach for the Wake Forest football team. When a coaching change was made, he was not retained as the new head coach brought his own team of assistants with him. This guy was a Wake Forest supporter through and through, seemingly accepted his fate, and then immediately was brought on to the team as the color commentator for the games. Unbeknownst to many, this is akin to be a member of the team. He has access to practices, gets private information on game plans, and is trusted with this material.

After a game against Louisville, it was discovered that game plans had been distributed to Louisville prior to the game. Further investigation found it wasn’t an isolated incident. Long story, short, This guy was implicated and fired. We still don’t know the reasons for this betrayal, but let’s just guess.

Here’s This guy that was terminated. He was allowed to stay in the program because he was deemed “loyal.” Turns out he harbors a grudge and gets on the inside to sell team secrets to opponents. Who knows how long this would have continued if This guy hadn’t been caught.

I know this isn’t national security stuff, but let’s not minimize that these are organizations that employ people. These people keep their positions based on wins and losses. Families are impacted; students are impacted; and the university is impacted. I’ve worked with many small and mid-size businesses that have had similar issues. In fact one small painting business – about 15 employees – had their bookkeeper (acting with CFO functions) steal $25,000 over a 3 year period and used that money to fund her wedding! My client said, “I would have never imagined she would do this.” No kidding! If he had, she wouldn’t have been working there. Problem was, she had done this to a previous employer and my client had not checked references prior. (Yes. She listed the company she stole from. You can’t make this up.)

My question to you is this – could this happen to you?!

The answer is YES. It can and may be to some of you reading this now. While you can’t prevent this in totality, you can greatly minimize the risk to it. Here are three things to consider:

  1. If you terminate someone – or they leave on their own accord, like retirement – the escort them out the door nicely. Do not let them leave with anything that is yours. Cancel their log-in information.
  2. Take care of your client list and proprietary information. That means check their phones for addresses and other important information. If you don’t know how this works, call me and we can discuss.
  3. Be aware of anything that can harm you, including social media.

Bottom line – terminated and disgruntled employees can cause great harm to your company. It happens all the time, yet we rarely hear of it when it happens to small businesses. Protect yourself with a resilience plan that includes this very important issue.

You just may then be able to assure that your “game plan” is safe and secure from This Guy in your own house.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

What’s My Lie?

August 18, 2016 Leave a comment

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40It looks like the story of the four U.S. swimmers being robbed is a fabrication. If that is clarified, it takes on the impact on the grand scale of former NBC news anchor Brian Williams and his expansion of the truth dealing with his involvement with enemy fire in the Middle East. Believe me, the new “enemy fire” will be aimed right at these four swimmers and will haunt them for years, if not their entire lives.

This morning’s NY Times story – read here – is shedding light on what really happened a few nights ago in Río de Janiero.Ryan Lochte is the most well known of the quartet of athletes and he served as the poster boy for the media. His tale is all about having a gun pointed to their heads and fearing that they wouldn’t make it out alive. Well, he made it back to the United States before his buddies, who were unceremoniously dragged off the plan by Brazilian authorities for more questioning.

You can read the entire story for yourself. Suffice it to say, there appears to be some monkey business going on. This “tall tale” looks like it’s been invented to cover up for some misdeeds committed after the swimming competition was over, and the Americans shone as one of the brightest stars.

How does this affect you?

As a business leader (owner, manager, executive), you deal with people all the time that have reason to be untruthful. Your biggest concern should be with your employees. While I believe you should begin any relationship like this as trusting, you need to be vigilant on what the truth is becasue it affects your company. While you may never get into fabrications as large as this one, small white lies can cost you money. They can range from untrue resumes, explaining why someone is consistently late to work, to thievery (I have one client that had $25,000 stolen over time from their bookkeeper).

You also have an obligation not to be untruthful with employees. There’s ample opportunity to withhold information or stretch the truth for your own purposes.

Look, the bottom line comes down to trust and transparency. This incident is going to have serious ramifications on the swimming program and the United States. Lying is most often used to cover up something that is awkward, unpleasant, or embarrassing. If we are honest, at some point in our lives we have all been guilty to some extent. However, creating a culture of playing for each other (as outlined in my book Unleashed Leadership), will prevent the really embarrassing and potentially damaging consequences for you and your business.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved