Extra Points: Abandon Ship

Dan_Weedin_022I was on the ferry over the weekend when from my car I heard the announcement by the captain that the crew would be performing an abandon ship drill. They were recruiting passengers to help; I now wish I had volunteered since it might have helped this missive! Next time.
It dawned on me as I heard the drill being played out on the speaker, that the only way to really simulate an abandon ship scenario was to pressure test the crew on a regular run that includes real passengers. Of course, nobody was actually going to leave the boat, but the process of using real passengers on a real run makes the exercise as real as possible to prepare and train.
When was the last time you pressure tested your business continuity plan?
My question first assumes that you have a plan in place and that you’ve at some point run a crisis simulation exercise. In my experience, neither plan or past simulations are often in place for small and medium sized businesses. Why? The major reason is the age old excuse of lack of time.
It was important enough for the ferry system to run an exercise in the middle of a crowded weekend run. While they are required to do this, the point still stands. If a crisis like an emergency evacuation needs to be done well, it must be practiced and tested.
You have the same obligation for your business to protect property and more importantly, people. If you never pressure test your people to deal with a crisis, why would you expect they can do it?
I’ve helped many clients perform these exercises and without exception, each one comes away with areas to improve and an awareness of the critical nature of this practice.
So what’s stopping you from running your own “abandon ship” drill this summer? Here’s what you do. Schedule a time. Find someone to help you create and facilitate it. And then do it. Learn from the experience and reduce the chance of exacerbating a calamity because you weren’t prepared.
Bonus: Don’t run or operate a business? Do you have a home? When was the last time you pressure checked your personal evacuation plan to assure you and your loved ones (and pets – Captain Jack wanted me to remind you) are prepared to save lives?
Are you and your business prepared to abandon ship? How do you know?
Quote of the Day:
“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
~ H. Jackson Brown Jr. – 20th century American author
© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: En Fuego

Dan_Weedin_022This past Saturday, ten of us from our neighborhood got together on a beautiful night to sit outside around an open fire and enjoy each other’s company with a few adult beverages and lots of food. It’s one of the things we love about our neighborhood.
As the evening went on, I found myself interested in the fire. As a couple of the guys kept feeding it with wood they brought over from home, the fire would suddenly get bigger and hotter. This sequence repeated itself over the hours we were together. The heat and “vibe” of that fire created energy and life.
Is your business “en fuego (on fire)?
Every business has a vibe (energy) that is needed to keep alive. All too often, business owners lose sight of the fire beginning to go out. It can be a very subtle thing; and if left too long takes a whole lot of extra wood (in your case energy, effort, and money) to get the fire burning with the same vibe again.
So what are the signs that the fire is being extinguished?
Apathy and low morale in employees; increased turnover; decreased sales; stagnant leadership and management; lack of innovation and ideas; overlooking areas around safety and security; and increased client and customer complaints.
Your job is to stay en fuego. That means you have to take charge like my two friends did to ensure everyone is not only staying warm, but being invited to stay and create the energy. Being a business owner requires the ability to be vigilant on the health of the fire burning in the organization, assuring it doesn’t become the wrong type of fire!
Be on the lookout for stagnation and combat it with a collaborative environment that encourages innovation and growth for it’s people. That way, your company and it’s people will continue to stay en fuego…
Quote of the Day:
“He who clutches desperately to security, to every day habits, work, organization, friends, family; no longer lives. More than security, life needs adventure, risk, dynamic activity, self-giving presence to others.”
~ Jean Vanier (Canadian philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian 1928-2019)
© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed is the registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Close Calls

Dan_Weedin_022The time-frame to walk down 20 floors of a hotel, discover the emergency is a false alarm, and then take an elevator back to your room is 15 minutes. I know. Just did it.
I was in Las Vegas to teach a class last week, staying in a nice casino on the strip where the class was to be held. I was happily surprised when my room was upgraded to a suite on the top floor because of my single night stay. Of course, as luck would have it, at 11:30 pm as I’d fallen into a deep sleep, the fire alarm went off.
I did what I was initially trained to do in grade school: checked the door to see if there was fire directly outside; grab my keys, phone, and wallet; and find the nearest exit by stairs and start descending. I was part of a group of people all doing the same thing.
When we got down to the ground, we noticed that Vegas was still Vegas. No fire trucks, no throngs of evacuated guests and customers. As it turns out, it was a false alarm and 99% of the hotel had no idea what happened. Thankfully for me, the elevator to my tower was operational and I ascended happily knowing that taking the stairs back up would not be required!
False alarms can at first blush be considered an annoyance. In reality, they are a great learning opportunity. In my consulting practice, I discuss the concept of “close calls” with my clients. A pattern of close calls generally turn into a crisis if left unattended to. This concept is real in operations both physical (near collision by forklift or vehicle) or mental (data input errors).
We all deal with close calls professionally and personally. I encourage you to not brush them off as happenstance, but to add one important activity – to consider what was learned to be better prepared.
What was my lesson in the evacuation from the 20th floor, you may ask?
While I did seemingly bring the most important things with me, one more thing could have been included. It would have taken no more time to throw my laptop into my bag and bring the entire thing with me. There’s important information stored there and in the event of a real emergency, would have taken extra time to recover.
Bottom line – in your next close call – whether it be a near miss in traffic or a false alarm at work, make sure that you take advantage of the lesson it will offer you.
Post script: The exact same thing happened to me exactly 10 years ago except it was January in Providence, RI and about 70 degrees colder outside. That time, I didn’t bring my cell phone with me, so I’m getting better at it!
Quote for the Day:
“Experience is simply the word we give to our mistakes.”
~ Oscar Wilde
© 2019 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed® is a registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: What You Keep

Dan_Weedin_022You may have noted the change in the format of this newsletter. I’ve made a change to a different provider. It’s part of a process I began last year to really examine my business costs.
I realized that I was paying a premium price for a service I wasn’t nearly coming close to optimizing. While the platform was fine, I was utilizing only about 50% of the capabilities and wasn’t in need of what was being missed. Even though the transition has had come short term “pain” from a labor standpoint, it will ultimately result in at least a 40% reduction in costs without sacrificing any benefit. It’s worth the pain and should have been done long ago.
It’s not about what you make, it’s about what you keep.
I was at an annual meeting of the economic development association in my area and an entrepreneur that was being honored talked about a new $4,000,000 contact her company received. She quickly quipped that she had to remind her employees and family that the net would not be that amount!
Part of a proper business continuity and disaster recovery plan is proper accounting for profitability. New business is hard to acquire; and keeping your best clients takes effort and attention. Allowing your bottom line to drain money when you can control operational costs can be insidious to your success. Any expense that returns and investment (e.g. leadership development and marketing) is a good thing; costs like utilities should be monitored.
Bottom line: your bottom line is a critical part of your profitable growth and business value. Protect it as diligently as you do your property and people.
Quote for the Day:
“Tact is the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
© 2019 Toro Consulting. All Rights Reserved
Unleashed® is a registered trademark of Toro Consulting, Inc.

Extra Points: Are You Prepared to Get Paid Fast?

Dan_Weedin_022On the most recent podcast of The Shrimp Tank (see link to listen and view below), our guest Pat Larson discussed his business of being an accountant for those investors who dabble in cryptocurrency. Most people know the more popular cryptocurrency brand, Bitcoin; but there are many others. It’s an emerging method of investing and ultimately paying for services.

JP Morgan made news this past week as they announced they will be offering their own private cryptocurrency. It will be fascinating to see how this accelerates the process. Bottom line, you need to be prepared to one day be asked if you accept cryptocurrency as a method of payment.

Consideration for services or products has changed drastically over the past decades. From cash or check only; to credit cards; to Square and ApplePay and Venmo. I just purchased my groceries today with my mobile device (not really a phone, is it?) on ApplePay. Still there are business owners that don’t accept American Express and in some cases, no plastic at all. These are savvy business owners that don’t want to pay extra fees.

Here’s my opinion: You as a business should never get in the way of being paid. Instead of being an obstacle, be an open road. While fees exist today (and they are a cost of doing business), those may be going the way of the dinosaur as there are now growing ways to bank and to send money with no fees.

So where does cryptocurrency come into play?

Listen to the podcast and hear Pat explain that one day there will be a way through some function (e.g. Quick Response or QR codes) will rapidly deposit cryptocurrency into your account, which you can then as quickly transfer into cash. He accepts it as a form of payment. Will you one day do the same?

We are in a rapidly changing world of commerce. Don’t get stuck in the tar pits because you didn’t want to accept a form of payment because I guarantee your competitors will. You be the leader and become a gateway to business and profitability.

Listen to podcast

Quote of the Day:

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

~ Muhammad Ali

© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: The Flash

Dan_Weedin_022As a kid, I loved comic books, and some of my favorites were of super-heroes. I was mostly into DC Comics which featured Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. My favorite was a guy who had the super power I most wanted. The Flash. The fastest human on earth wearing a cool red suit with a lightning logo on his chest. I wanted to be fast and The Flash was the guy.

Speed is a great super power for a super hero like Barry Allen (aka The Flash). It’s also a super power for those heroes called entrepreneurs. If you’re a CEO or President of an organization of any size (including just you), then you should be striving to wear that lightning bolt on your chest. Because in business, speed is everything.

  • Speed to market gets you to your target market first, so you can optimize your brand and value proposition. If you’re there faster and with more fury, you become the thought and brand leader.
  • Speed to cash in the bank is crucial to cash flow management. I’m always amazed when a business eschews taking credit cards (or charges the fee). Getting money in your bank account fast is more important than ever to surviving and thriving.
  • Speed to respond is often curiously undervalued by entrepreneurs. The “I will call you back at my earliest convenience” line is time-worn and transmitter-biased. With today’s technology, if one can’t respond to a voice mail within half a day, or an email within 24 hours, then they either are time management challenged or don’t care. Current and potential clients care.
  • Speed to recover means the speed to bounce back from a crisis. I’m talking to two potential new clients this week about creating or improving business continuity plans because they want to be able to reduce their “recovery time objectives.” The per minute improvement can result in tens of thousands of dollars…per minute. That’s real money.
  • Speed to human recovery. Yeah, this is different. Bad stuff happens to us all the time. Personally, we have to recover to crises both professionally and personally. How do you respond? The faster you can find your emotional and mental “sweet spot,” the sooner you return to peak performance. This is critical to how your business and company perform.

Here’s your challenge for the week. Pick one of these “speed,” or find one of your own. Then become The Flash. Work to accelerate your speed to improve your business, your profitability, and your lifestyle.

Quote of the Day:

“Kites rise highest against the wind – not with it.”

~ Winston Churchill

© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Workarounds

Dan_Weedin_022This past week, I attempted to purchase a business license for a new LLC we formed as part of our insurance brokerage practice. I thought it would be pretty simple. I was wrong.

First, I was forced to wait two weeks because the state doesn’t allow me to get a business license on an LLC prior to it’s formation date (although they were happy to take my money and form the LLC in advance). Seemed odd, but I played along.

On January 2nd (LLC formed effective January 1), I went online to finalize the business license. To my frustration, the system still didn’t recognize the UBI number and wouldn’t allow me to proceed. I called and spoke to someone in the Department of Revenue to get help. She determined that it was a system glitch and would call me back, which she did promptly. She told me that the only way to fix the situation was through a workaround. Those of you familiar with workarounds know this is a secondary method or process to use (often in technology) when the primary way has an issue.

The workaround suggested was using paper. That’s right, paper. She wanted me to print out an application, fill it out, stick it in an envelope, mail it, and then wait for six weeks for approval (online applications take a few days). This isn’t a workaround; it’s a failure. Ultimately, we were able to contact someone that was able to help me deal with this more mercurially. But the point was made…

I had knowledge of the process, as I’ve done it before. I feel bad for those who are attempting it for the first time and don’t know who to ask, or merely succumb to a failed workaround.

Primary methods and processes will fail; sometimes for reasons outside of your control. How effective are your workarounds? If they are as bad as the one I shared, then you have a problem. Your employees will waste time and effort, and consequently lead to lost profits; your clients and customers will become frustrated and ultimately may leave; your brand and reputation will be tarnished as others might think you’re ability to deal with crisis as ineffective, undisciplined, or antiquated.

Here’s the deal – crises happen. They may not seem enormous but when a calamity that impacts your operations in some way rears its ugly head, you’d better be prepared with a good workaround. Regardless of whether its related to technology, employees, or any other critical business factor, your ability to manage workarounds is crucial to your success and viability.

Quote of the Day:

“The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.”

~ Henry Ward Beecher

© 2019 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: What’s That You Say?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As the Youth Exchange Officer for my Rotary Club, I get the honor of helping to pick up our inbound exchange student every summer. This student will stay a year with families from our club and have an exciting time. This year, we have a young man from Thailand.

I was speaking to my colleague in the club who is hosting our student to see how his first week went. He said things were great, and that the young man’s English was very good. As with all languages, we have idioms and slang that don’t translate very well. He laughed when he said, “I had to teach him what ‘I’m just messing with you’ means!” I’m sure this learning curve will continue as the young man starts school next week. 

There’s a language to business, both holistically and by industry. While one may have studied the language of business, they may may get stumped with the acronyms, slang, colloquialisms, and insider humor that is prevalent in all businesses and vocations. It’s as if someone were messing with them.

This is actually quite simple to fix; keep it simple.

Never assume someone else knows shortcuts and acronyms; avoid making things more complicated than they need to be; be pithy and clear; use strong vocabulary to clarify and define. In other words, make it easy to do business with others.

We are now a global economy and must be able to quickly communicate ideas and concepts with each other, whether it be with clients and customers next door or halfway around the world. The better you are able to accomplish this, the more rapidly you’ll be able to leverage success and build relationships.

And I’m not messing with you…

Quote of the Week:

”We cannot forever hide the truth about ourselves from ourselves.”

~ John McCain

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The key to personal and professional improvement is accountability. My mentoring and coaching program has availability. Contact me at dan@danweedin.com or (360) 271-1592 to apply.

The 100 Deadliest Days

The 100 days between Memorial and Labor Days are the deadliest on American highways. You likely know the reasons: more cars, more drinking, more impatience, more rage, more distractions.

As a risk management expert, I promise you that the greatest risk you take daily is getting in your car and driving. As your public service announcement (and because I care), please don’t drive distracted meaning: texting, intoxicated, angry, eating, stupid, medicated, with a dog on your lap, shaving, putting on makeup, dialing or answering your phone, or complacent.

I have plenty of reasons to avoid doing any of these, and these are two of the biggest ones.

Nothing is so important that the risk is worthy it. Be safe out there this summer.

IMG_1877

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Plan B…C…and D

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As we begin a new calendar year, businesses and organizations are fervently putting together and starting to implement plans for success. Metrics and mileposts have been set, and hopes are high for a better year in 2018, regardless of how 2017 turned out. The problem is, the majority of businesses and organizations (especially non-profit) fail to take into account one thing…how to respond when the bad thing happens. And then what to do when Plan B doesn’t work. Let’s discuss…

Most every business has plans for growth over the next 12 months. The savvy ones have strong metrics to keep track of the growth based on sales, marketing, and performance objectives. The most sophisticated companies also take time to figure out what obstacles stand in the way. To that end, they figure out a Plan B if Plan A doesn’t work. And then they figure out a Plan C and often a Plan D. Redundancy in strategic crisis planning is crucial to resilience and business continuity.

What are common obstacles your business might face to hamper your biggest dreams for this year?

A physical loss (e.g. fire) that forces your from your building. A cyber attack that compromises your data and reputation. The loss of a key employee or owner. Loss of business knowledge through lack of pre-planning and documentation. A new competitor emerges in you territory. A weather-related calamity that causes you to stop operations for an extended period of time.

While insurance may reimburse you for some of these, it’s negligent not to have a plan to immediately stay open for business to reduce the financial and emotional impact. Too much damage can result that is not protected by insurance. It’s incumbent on you to make sure your plan to mitigate the damage and reduce financial risk to protect your property, people, and profit. The consequences of not doing so will result in loss of profit, damage to people, and going out of business.

Bottom line, I believe you’re resilient. That’s part of the makeup of an entrepreneur and business leader. The problem is that if you’re a “brawler,” you might win the game but come out battered, bruised, and bloodied (bleeding profits). If you fight like a boxer – with a planned strategy that includes obstacles to success – then you’ll come out of the next calamity (and they will happen) moving full speed ahead toward higher profits and business wealth.

P.S. This concept applies to your personal life, too. What are the obstacles that can derail your personal goals, dreams, and lifestyle? You need to create contingencies for your family to assure that your personal hopes and dreams all come true both now and in the future.

© 2018 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved