Extra Points: Do Not Disturb? NOT!

Protect our planetDisturb. Disrupt. Divide.
You know how when you place a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your hotel room door when you leave for the day, you expect that nobody has come in to clean your room? That should be your expectation, and if it’s not then you need to find another hotel!
We as business owners might sometimes try to put out that same sign for our business. We want to move straight ahead with our big plans for growth and prosperity. It’s full speed ahead and damn those torpedoes, right?
The problem is that torpedoes regularly come barging through your door not clean up, but to disturb, disrupt, and divide. And if you’re not careful, to conquer you and your business or career.
The latest “disruptor” is the Coronavirus (COVID 19) that is still plaguing the world and economy. I’ve heard and read some people dismiss it as no more than the flu citing the limited number of deaths. I believe that’s too short-sighted a viewpoint. This isn’t about widespread death, it’s about disruption. While the healthy body may be able to recover, what about the business that has been adversely affected by the disruption and disturbance caused?
But we shouldn’t focus our attention on just COVID 19. The reality is that this crisis will pass, and another disruptor will follow. That’s life. The problem is that these other disruptors seem common, so we just deal with them as they come. Unfortunately, that can cause more harm than you might think.
Every crisis – regardless of severity – must attend to three areas for any company: People, Process, and Supply Chain.
People is about how your employees will be affected. Can they become sick (as in the Coronavirus or flu); could they be laid off due to lack of work; is decreased employee morale a concern?
Process is about your internal operation. Will a disruptor damage equipment (e.g. fire); will your reputation be damaged (e.g. product recall); and/or will you lose the ability to connect to the Internet or communicate with customers (e.g. loss of power for an extended time).
Supply chain is about the most critical vendors and contractors to your operations. What happens if they suffer a fire and can’t operate? What if they lose the ability to sustain manufacturing operations and your inventory will be decreased? What if they have a crisis where they can’t buy from you because they are merely trying to survive?
While most of the country was focused on Coronavirus concerns and Super Tuesday results for the presidential election, a deadly tornado near Nashville became a disruption, divider, and disturbance in just minutes. People, process, and supply chain were all impacted, not only to those poor people and businesses directly hit, but also likely to those outside the area that depend on them.
I’m going to say it again for the second week in a row. Every business needs a thoughtful, intentional, written and communicated Business Continuity Plan. I met on Friday for 90 minutes with a client to update theirs in the face of the current situation. The work we did not only will deal with the current crisis, but any similar calamity in the future.
If you just simply want to talk about your situation, call or write to me. This is too important to your people, clients and continued ability to sustain business.
This disruptor will be in the rear view mirror at some point. But another door-kicker will follow. Will you be ready to fight back?
Be unleashed.
Quote of the Day:
“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Shrimp Tank Podcast: Matt Biondi

ST Signature

BiondiYou will want to tune in today to listen to our podcast interview with guest, Matt Biondi, Principal of BiondiMedia in Edmonds, WA.

BiondiMedia has an affordable solution to growing your business, and developing business relationships.

They focuses on building online presence for our clients through website development, SEO, social media strategy and implementation, along with video story telling.

Matt also spent six years as a sports anchor at KIRO-TV in Seattle. We are looking forward to learning more about him and his great business.

The podcast will broadcast live at 3 pm PT today, March 4th. To listen live to the podcast, click here.

© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: More COVID 19 and Your Business & Life

If there is one thing that can shove politics off of the media stage, it’s a health crisis like Coronavirus (COVID 19). Last Tuesday, I wrote an article about Coronavirus and Business Continuity Planning for small and medium sized businesses. This blog post led to many calls to me by clients and business leaders.
Since Tuesday, much has transpired as I write this on Saturday. I’d be remiss if I didn’t address this issue on Extra Points. Consider this your public service announcement; please feel free to share with both individuals and business leaders.
Note: I originally wrote this early Saturday. In that time, we’ve had the first death and multiple new cases within 25 miles of where I live. A high school in King County has now closed on Monday due to a new case. In flux is an understatement! I’ve had to make several edits.
COVID 19 is neither hoax nor cause for hysteria. As is most often the case, extremes on either side of a debate or issue are problematic. In my role as a risk consultant and advisor, this crisis has garnered my full attention. In the course of writing this, the first person that has died from COVID 19 has occurred less than 60 miles away from me. I like to listen to scientists and medical professionals that have no dog in the political hunt. In fact, if you want to skip the US political football, check out news on COVI 19 on BBC. Just saying. Here’s what you need to know…
You don’t need me to recount all of the facts about COVID 19; you can find these in legitimate news sites that recognize scientists and doctors that have the expertise to speak knowledgeably. This missive is to offer preventative measures and best practices to both individuals and business owners to help safeguard people and protect business continuity and growth.
  1. Take the same preventive measures you would for the flu or other viruses transmitted through the air or close contact. Wash your hands more often with soap and water. Like more than you think. After all engagements with people, either wash your hands or at least use an alcohol-based (60% or higher) hand sanitizer. You can’t overdo this.
  2. Shake hands less. Seriously. While it’s a large part of our culture – especially in business – it’s a really good way to spread any disease. While I know this is extremely hard to do, even an occasional head nod, wave, or bow can reduce your risk because you have no idea where those other hands have been.
  3. Avoid touching your face. As a guy who often struggles with allergies, this is hard for me. However, it’s been clearly stated by medical professionals that touching your face increases the risk of contracting any virus, including COVID 19.
  4. Stay away from people that are sick – coughing, sneezing, etc. Business owners, encourage employees to stay home if they are sick. No matter what the situation (pandemic or not), sick people make others sick and your workforce can’t afford that…literally.
  5. You don’t need a mask, unless…you are showing symptoms of being sick or are a health professional. Health professionals are a given; the mask might actually be more dangerous if worn by healthy people who don’t know how to properly use them. Why? They are touching their face more to eat and talk by phone or to others.
  6. In business, consider how even a small local outbreak might affect your business. Do you hold or attend events? Should you increase inventory or stock in case something happens that could prevent deliveries? Are you in retail or hospitality and would be hurt by people limiting their excursions? Every business owner and executive must consider and thoughtfully create a plan for business disruption.
  7. CEOs, add pandemic to your Business Continuity Plan. If you’re my client, you’ve either already heard from me or will this week. If you’re not a client, call me and we can at least have a conversation on how you get started – no obligation. The need to safeguard the health of employees, assure that they can keep working, and to protect your balance sheet is critical. Many of you reading this don’t even have a Business Continuity Plan. Now is the time to create one to include all risks that threaten the value and viability of your business. I’m happy to help provide guidance. Email me if you’d like to discuss.
The “probability” of contracting COVID 19 in North America being low is not conclusive. There simply isn’t enough data or time to be credible. As a risk professional, I’d consider this a moderate risk, which is equivalent to many other perils we take for granted daily (including driving your car in any major metropolitan area). This isn’t a time to hide in your house and not go out. It’s also not a time to be reckless. There is a difference between “survivalist” and preparedness. Choose the latter.
Qualitatively, this crisis feels different to me. We’ve seen other pandemics in the past, yet this one creates a reasonable level of concern because at this timing and uncertainty of how it spreads.
Don’t panic; be proactive. Talk to your employees. Allay their fears. Educate them on best practices. Create a plan just in case it gets worse and could negatively impact your business. Look at near term air travel and hotel stays thoughtfully. Consider the priority for your business and your level of risk.
Pandemics are like any other broad crisis. Be prepared and ready. Identify ways to prevent, respond, and recover as both a business and as individuals.
Be unleashed – and safe.
Quote of the Day:
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
~ Robert Byrne
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

The Coronavirus Crisis and Your Business

Risk Vs Reward Pyramid Balls Return on InvestmentThe Wall Street Journal and every other major news service is reporting that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) expects the Coronavirus to spread in the United States. The agency expects “sustained spread” and calls for efforts to “prepare for diagnosing and treating a large number of cases.” They caution it’s not a matter of if, but when and how bad. US officials say a vaccine is 12-18 months away. It’s been a major topic for both federal and state lawmakers, and it must be one for you both individually and as a business owner or leader.
This article is meant to provide business owners with some immediate steps to take to best prepare your organization and employees. Please share with anyone you think might find it valuable.
To begin with, this concern cannot be taken lightly. While pandemics in the past have fallen short of predicted spread, we have to believe that this is a credible threat to our continent with huge personal and business ramifications. This morning, I read that the first confirmed case in Brazil occurred from a man traveling in Italy. The amount of global travel done by North Americans to Asia and Europe dramatically increases our risk, regardless of who the travelers are. Because of the ease of spread, you or an employee might just need to be sitting near someone in a movie theatre.
While this sounds frightening, we can only control what we can control. The duty of a business owner and leader is to best prepare their people and company to deal with a serious situation. To that end, I’m offering three immediate steps to take for that readiness and preparation:
First: Identify what products and services are most and least at risk. Create a spectrum of exposures around the issue with a prevention, response and recovery for each. The more “hands on” your business is (restaurant, hospitality, retail, medical practice, real estate, etc.), the higher the direct risk. This identification should be done as a leadership team to brainstorm the most risk. Example: A restaurant might say the biggest risk is having a local outbreak that keeps people at home and not going out to eat for an extended period of time. While that peril might be impossible to prevent, a response and recovery might be to create a delivery service planned (with appropriate prepared marketing), to keep some revenue coming in.
Second: Now is the time for employee education. Don’t ignore this issue; everyone knows about it. Talk with your employees about best practices surrounding personal hygiene and health, especially while traveling. This isn’t about generating fear; it can be part of an overall best practice of safety that includes CPR, First Aid, and other emergency training. Bottom line: The better you train your employees, the more reduced your risk becomes.
Third: Your Business Continuity Plan MUST contain a plan for a pandemic, or in this case the Coronavirus. The consequences of a population spread as predicted would be damaging for any business; employees can be adversely affected, events might be cancelled, and the financial marketplace can be influenced (as we saw on Monday).
If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan, then now is a great time to create one. At the very least, you can start by creating an organizational plan around this current Coronavirus crisis. A Business Continuity Plan is your organizational guide to survival of a peril that threatens your ability to operate. This crisis has already had massive financial and impact due to reduction in travel alone. If it spreads here as feared, every business can and might be affected. Being ill-prepared is negligent.
I hope you find these three steps of value. If you have questions or if you’d like to discuss your situation, email or call me at (360) 271-1592. We can discuss how to create a robust Business Continuity or crisis plan to deal with this and any other crisis situation that threatens your company’s ability to operate and your financial risk. By assessing your company’s Daily Risk, we can prepare a plan to minimize any loss.
Final thought: I fervently hope the prognosticators are wrong. This is an incredibly frightening situation for people. Even if they are not, as business owners and leaders we must be ready to prevent, respond, and recover from any crisis event. We owe that to our employees, clients, and communities. Let’s be ready for anything.
© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Hard Work vs. Hustle. Which one are you?


I’m the co-host of a nationally syndicated podcast called The Shrimp Tank. We interview CEOs and entrepreneurs from the Puget Sound area. Last month, one of our guests was Poulsbo-based Aljolynn Sperber, CEO of Lady Box, Inc.

She founded a startup subscription-based business after 10 years as a marketing executive in the Los Angeles area. We asked her what one of her early revelations has been. Her answer was gold. She said she called her former CEO and said she finally understood the difference between hard work and hustle. She told her, “I worked hard for you every day, but you hustled.”

Aljolynn explained that employees who “work hard” invest the energy while at work and can then go home and unwind. Entrepreneurs that “hustle” are constantly thinking about ways to improve, grow, and build their business.

I thought this was brilliant and would like to expand on the concept.

Listen to the entire podcast

This is not a message that besmirches the concept of “hard work.” In fact, it’s a compliment to any employee who invests maximum effort into what they do. Organizations are dependent on it.

Research shows that “hard work” is not as prevalent as it used to be. “Presentism” has become a norm in many businesses, especially those that are office oriented.

According to a 2018 study by Udemy, more than 70% of workers report feeling distracted on the job, with 16% saying they almost always feel unfocused. The average worker checks their email 36 times an hour and takes 16 minutes to refocus after handling a new email. Social media, now available easily by personal mobile devices, is constantly accessed during a business day. According to the study, all this lost “hard work” is costing American businesses upward of $650 billion per year!

If you as an employer get consistent hard work from your employees, you are not only fortunate, but also incredibly more profitable. If you are an employer that feels might be a contributing part of this research data, then your job is to find ways to influence a change.

My focus for the rest of this column however is on those who “hustle.” Aljolynn’s assessment of the difference is compelling because it provides all of us who are CEOs and entrepreneurs a road map to harnessing that hustle, so it not only is more lucrative, but also that it doesn’t burn us out. To that end, allow me to share three ways to maximize the hustle and protect your life balance.

First: Create metrics of success. All hustle without a goal results in becoming that crazy hamster running on the wheel. You will exert a ton of mental and emotional energy, with little to show for it.

Your daily activities should have some metric for success. Examples include: How much time will you be investing in marketing activities? How many people will you be meeting with that will directly lead to new business? Are you focused on tasks someone else can do or on priority projects that only you can do?

Setting up your daily activities focused on your strengths and what you bring to your company is critical to maximizing your time and effort. If you are the business as just yourself or less than five employees, this focus is even more imperative for profitable investment of your resources.

Second: Learn to say no. This is a hard one for many entrepreneurs. However, you must understand the resource of time is finite. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time.

By identifying my “5 Priorities for Profitability,” you will be able to not only maximize your time, but also create more discretionary time for yourself. The “5 Priorities for Profitability” are:

1. Prioritize your time on what you most contribute to the company (e.g. sales, relationship development, strategy).

2. Prioritize your time on acquiring new business.

3. Prioritize your time on managing and controlling cash flow.

4. Prioritize your time on developing relationships that produce positive results.

5. Prioritize your time on people that bring you delight rather than drama.

Third: Stay in the moment…always. Easier said than done, and the one I personally work hardest on as a daily discipline.

It’s easy to do two things, bemoan past failures and be anxious about future uncertainties. As those who must hustle to create lifestyles for ourselves and loved ones, it’s easy to fall into both traps. We all make mistakes. While we learn and move on, sometimes are minds don’t really let go. We can get caught becoming despondent over mistakes and blaming ourselves. If you recognize this in yourself, two words for you: stop it!

If you’ve ever woken up at 2:30 in the morning drenched in anxiety and stress, welcome to the club. It’s not just money; this includes your reputation, your brand, your employees, and a million other things. If this is you, go back to sleep!

It’s hard. It happens to all of us. The solution is to become ultra-focused on the moment. While you can learn from the past and strategize for the future (and you should do both), where you are today must be focused on who you’re with and what you’re accomplishing right now.

We all have an expiration date that’s invisible until it’s upon us. We might as well love what we are doing, enjoy who we are with, work with people we like, and focus on what’s right in front of us.

Bottom line: Hard work and hustle aren’t synonymous. If you work hard as an employee for someone else, good for you. Your boss will thank you. I hope you appreciate the hustle they have to go through to create job opportunities for others. If you’re the business owner, you live the “hustle.” Make sure that the process is exhilarating and the results truly gratifying.

P.S. Subscribe to The Shrimp Tank Podcast (Seattle) on iHeart Radio, iTunes, or Google Podcasts!

© 2020 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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.