Extra Points: Avoiding Organizational Amnesia

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40I was having a conversation with a client last week on the incredibly important topic of transferring knowledge. We were discussing the concept of “organizational amnesia” from my book Unleashed Leadership, and the upcoming development program I will be conducting for his company. Here is the crux of our conversation:

Organizational amnesia is best avoided when a company can successfully transfer organizational “smarts” to new employees. Development of skills – be it tactical, leadership, or proprietary – through a process of transfer from the veterans to new employees assures that a company doesn’t simple lose it’s memory when employees transition out.

While that all sounds fine, the transfer mechanism is a little more complicated.

I’ve witnessed organizations trying to transfer skills through infrequent seminars, trainings, and lectures. The information gets stored somewhere and made “available” for future use. Here’s the problem: the newer and younger employees don’t retain and retrieve knowledge that way. I’m sorry to tell you that the plethora of thick binders in your resource library are useless. When someone needs to get information quickly, especially in a crisis, the last thing they will do is seek out a binder and start looking for the answer. This process is as outdated as encyclopedias.

What organizations need to do is find how employees (especially the ones that are now being hired) best learn and retrieve information. The answer is quite simple: this generation and future ones use their mobile devices to quickly get information. They utilize videos and checklists stored in a place they can access without thinking twice. The solution is to assure that you are maximizing your investment in knowledge transfer by making certain it will be utilized in the future in the fastest and easiest way possible for the employee.

Stop using 20th century tools for 21st century employees. Make your knowledge basis easy to access and avoid organizational amnesia.

Quote of the Week:

”We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

~ John Dryden

© 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.

Extra Points: The Thrill is Gone

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40This past weekend, Barb and I watched the movie, Lion on Netflix. Great movie and I highly recommend. No spoiler alerts, so no worries. The only mention of the movie is that the protagonist in the story used Google Earth to do his research on searching his family in India. It was 2008 and at the time, Google Earth was a new concept, and thought to be remarkable. While it was and is still today remarkable, it’s also now become pretty commonplace a decade later. It’s lost it’s initial appeal of wonder and awe.

The same has been true of a lot of technological advances in my lifetime. In listening to music, I’ve gone from vinyl record, to cassette tape, to compact disc, to iPod, to streaming on a mobile device. At each jump in technology, the same wonder and awe existed, soon to be replaced by normalcy. You can see the same sequence in video games, computers, and mobile phones. The “thrill” of each new discovery when it comes to technology is fleeting, with anticipation of the next iteration.

I wonder if the average person’s career – both business owner and employee – doesn’t go through the same process. In the examples I gave, we go from wonder; to excitement; to normal use; to impatience and agitation; to anticipation for the next level of wonder. Any time we start a new adventure, it’s easy to fall into that same trap if you’re not careful. My professional mentor, Alan Weiss refers to it as “the success trap.” Over time, one ends up being so good at what they do that without change boredom, complacency, animosity, and dreaming of greener grass takes hold.

If you’re the business owner and the process looks familiar for you personally, it’s likely that you’ve gone from loving what you’re doing, to doing work that you no longer want to do but feel you’re supposed to. It’s time to start delegating, training others, and focusing in on what you do best and enjoy the most so that you don’t get caught in the quicksand of bitterness. If this is happening to your employees, then the consequences will be poor productivity, low morale, and high turnover.

If you’re a professional that starts feeling like you’re hating your job and just going through the motions for a paycheck, I’ve got news for you….life’s too short for that. It’s time to assess whether the problem is the job or you. Mindset is a crucial component to enjoying your life, and if you’re spending a large part of your life working, you’d better find a way to love it or find a new adventure to love.

For everyone, you need to find that thrill in life every day or else it makes for very long and distasteful ones. The process starts with your own self-assessment and continues on to making implementation of positive changes. Before you know it, your next personal iteration is better than ever.

Quote of the Week:

”Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Do you need help gaining control of your business or career? Call me and let’s schedule a meeting to talk. I’m confident I can help you and your business unleash your potential and profits.

The Power of the “POP’

punch

(My real home gym where the bag lives!)

It’s easy to get bored with a workout routine if you don’t change things up. I found myself in that predicament a few months ago. I started taking a class that included punching a heavy bag as one of the circuits. It scratched three itches – it was different, it was great exercise, and I got to hit something really hard without the peril of being hit back or sued! I became so enthralled with it that I asked for – and received – my own heavy and speed bag combo unit for my birthday.

When hitting a golf ball or baseball squarely, you hear this sound of perfection – POP. It’s the sound of the ball being hit perfectly off the club or bat. Likewise, when you hit the heavy bag squarely with your fist, you both feel it and hear the same POP. It’s an exhilarating feeling of adrenaline and keeps me going back to the golf course and heavy bag for more. I want to keep hearing and feeling that POP.

In this final segment of my 3-part series on profitably growing, developing, and protecting your business and people, we will examine a topic you should be very interested in – Growing the equity value of your business. The result of successfully doing this should give you the same adrenaline rush of squarely landing a punch on the heavy bag…. that POP should equate to the financial reward you’re receiving for the risk you took in starting a business.

I speak regularly at events where business owners are in attendance. I’m no longer surprised that many of them have never heard of EBITDA (if you say it fast three times, it reminds you of Porky Pig signing off!). EBITDA stands for Earnings Before Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization. Your CPA and financial advisors know what EBITDA is and so should you. In essence, it’s your real profit and one of the factors in what you can eventually sell your business for.

This column can’t adequately explain EBITDA, so I encourage you to discuss how yours is derived and what it actually is with your CPA. Here’s what you should know about it for today…

Most business owners will eventually sell their business in order to use the proceeds to fund the lifestyle they desire for their “golden years.” They may sell to children or other relatives; an employee (or a group of them); or to a competitor. Regardless, just like with your house, you want to get full value for your blood, sweat, and tears. You want to maximize the equity.

For every $100,000 of profit increase, your small business (and your wealth) will be more valuable by a range of $300,000 to $500,000 based on valuation multiples of three to five times EBITDA. If you’re a company in excess of $10,000,000 annual revenues, that multiplier is probably closer to five to seven times EBITDA. That’s real money. Do you see now why you as a business owner need to stay apprised of what your EBITDA is?

So why don’t so many business owners pay attention to this, when it’s as important as their 401K and/or stock investments? Because many small and mid-size business owners get caught up in a “success trap.” In other words, they get trapped in your business doing “stuff” that they think they should be doing because it’s their business. While this “stuff” may be important (and at one time you needed to do when they were starting out), much of it can now be delegated by training others or allowing them to do it. Ask yourself this question – Are you optimizing your personal value to the company or are you really an employee with a fancy office?

You can maximize your value by developing leaders and focusing on tasks that improve the value of your company. It’s better both for you and your employees. One of the areas you should focus on is your profitable growth and the valuation of your company because if you wait too long, you may not be happy with the results.

You may be thinking, “I’m not a financial expert.” That’s not a problem. That’s why you build a team of experts – your CPA, wealth advisor, business consultant, insurance broker, attorney, etc. If you invested a couple hours a month to stay current on the equity of your company, you’d be able to strategize how to move forward in regards to growth, scalability, profitability, employees, and clients.

The financial piece of your puzzle is undoubtedly the most complex, and that’s why you must be confident enough in yourself to ask for help from smart people. It’s worth your time and financial investment.

Final thoughts on increasing your business value: While EBITDA is important; it’s only one factor. The topics and concepts we discussed in the past two parts of this series are equally important. The valuation of your company when you’re ready to sell it will be based on three factors:

1.    How attractive you are to an ideal buyer.

2.    How scalable your business model is beyond your existing market.

3.    How many buyers are interested.

If you’re successful in the first two of these, you may not even need the third. Maybe you don’t sell it; maybe you put yourself in a position to sell and keep it or become an acquirer yourself. In the end, you want to create a legacy for your business and build the equity to make decisions on your terms, not someone else’s. And when you do that, you’ll hear the sound of perfection and feel the power of the POP over and over again!
This article appeared in the February edition of the Kitsap Sun/Kitsap Business Journal as part of my regular monthly column.

© 2017 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: The Burden of Reactive Chaos

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Dogs aren’t normally proactive. Captain Jack and Bella are constantly reacting to sights, sounds, and opportunities happening around them. For example, Captain Jack hates the sound of electronic noises emanating from phones (even if they are on TV). His immediate reaction is obnoxious barking, pathetic whining, and a seek and destroy mentality on the object producing the noise. Dogs have no great concern for their future (at least mine don’t), so reacting is simply a part of their instinct.

Many of us humans choose that same instinct. We use terms like: putting out fires; running around like a chicken with their head cut off; and constantly running. The consequences are working late hours, reducing time with family and friends, lack of productivity, and health problems. I’ve witnessed people defend this behavior as a badge of honor, implying that they perform best under crisis.

That’s just dumb.

There is a very real burden of being in constant reactive chaos. It’s mentally and physically fatiguing; it leads to bad decision-making; and it creates anxiety for employees, co-workers, and family members. I believe if given the choice of being in constant crisis reaction mode versus cool and calm, most people will choose the latter.

Here’s what you can resolve to do this new year to reduce your reactive chaos: Identify areas of recurring and constant chaos or adversity. Find ways to eliminate them, rather than constantly putting bandages on them. Take necessary (and often unpleasant) steps to implement your strategy. Be nimble. Set priorities. Stop trying to please everyone. Get outside help. Be resilient. Enjoy the moment.

Note that crisis will occur when least expected and you’ll need to deal with those unexpected setbacks and adversity. However, if you’ve drastically reduced the amount of chaos through proactive behavior, you’ll ultimately be more resilient and happier.

If you’d like to discuss how I can help you and your company reduce your own reactive chaos and unleash your potential, then please call me at (360) 271-1592 or email me. We can all use help in stopping chasing our tails!

Quote of the Week:

“Errors are the consequence of a complicated life.”

~ Alan Weiss

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: So Who Are You…?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40These lyrics are from the song made famous by The Who during my high school years. It remains prominent on the airwaves, especially as it’s also now a famous theme song from a popular television show. It also should act as a reminder that who you are perceived to be is totally in your own control. Your personal brand and reputation – not to mention that of the company you own or work for – are also controlled by whom you proclaim to be though your words and deeds. To that end, since we creep closer to the holiday season and promise of a new calendar year, allow me to offer a few thoughts for your consideration…

  • Be careful what you write in public domain (e.g. social media). If you are about to use bad language, denigrate someone or a group of people, or embarrass someone publicly, then pause and consider hitting the DELETE key, rather than POST. Social media is a a dangerous Wild West when used recklessly.
  • Smile when you greet people and for goodness sake look them in the eyes. Nothing is worse than feeling someone is looking past you, waiting to meet the person behind you. A smile costs nothing, but adds tremendous value to your personal brand.
  • Don’t jump to “hostile intent” with people, especially in two-dimensional conversations (email, text, social media). I did this just recently and found myself apologizing in return. Most people that you consider “friendly” to you, don’t want to hurt you.
  • Say please and thank you. It seems to be a shrinking art form. If you had a mother like mine, this was drilled into you.
  • Speaking of lessons from Mom, watch your table manners. It says a lot about you and your respect for the people around you.
  • Show genuine interest in others. If you’re in business, offer to find ways to help them, not simply because you want money, but because you have the skills and perspicacity to improve their condition. They should know that and might later thank you!
  • Be giving. Find a way to give to others who may not be as fortunate, and not just during the holidays, but always. If you’re like me, someone helped you when you needed and weren’t expecting it. Do the same; you might just be more rewarded than they are.

Here’s the deal. folks. We all live on this planet together. While we may all have different ideas around faith, politics, global warming, and favorite sports teams, we do share the fact that we are all here together at this time and place. We all have unique talents and gifts to share. It’s a renewed time to focus on unleashing our best selves every day. When we do that, we will all know the answer to the question of, “Who are you…”

Join in on the conversation on my blog

Quote of the Week:

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

~ Confucius

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Make a Decision Already

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As we begin the closing quarter of another year, it seems to me that this century is more and more being defined by the ability to make decisions.

Technology is becoming more adept at running tasks. I would venture to guess that in my lifetime, most (if not all) business functions that can be done by a robot or machine, will be. You can see it prevalent already in manufacturing, traditional office functions (e.g. answering phone, taking messages, and dictation) and health care. Jobs that require mere physical ability will be dying away; you’ll need to use your smarts.

“Smarts” is critical in making decisions. Note that I didn’t say all decisions must be right, because that’s impossible. However, the process of rapidly assessing a complex situation, breaking down the upside and downside, trusting your brain and instinct, and then implementing will be more important than ever as we race through this century. We learn through decisions that both succeed and fail.

We need to be teaching our children to think; to be problem-solvers;  and to be resilient (overcoming failure and adversity and turning it into opportunity). We are going to need them when we get old! That means we’d better be good at it ourselves.

As a post-script, assess your business (whether you own it or not). Is your organization full of decision-makers and problem solvers, or do you have a bunch of human robots mindlessly performing tasks for a paycheck?

The age of decision-making is upon us…you might want to rush through that open gate and be unleashed into it with a full artillery.

Quote of the Week:

Start by doing what is necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.

~ Saint Francis of Assisi

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: Are You Available?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40As the National Football League season kicked off this past weekend, it’s a reminder that unlike many high school and college teams, the NFL is a “cut sport.” In other words, not everyone makes the team. All 32 teams must cut down to 53 players (with a few extra for a practice squad). One of the critical factors in one player making the team over another that might be as equally qualified is availability.

My favorite team the Seattle Seahawks, cut a player that had been a member of their squad for the past three years. He lost his job to a rookie. When asked to elaborate why the veteran was released, Coach Pete Carroll indicated that he was just never able to get over an injury and get on the practice field…which had also plagued him the three previous years. Carroll said, “he just wasn’t available.”

Are your employees (or those that directly report to you) “available” at work? I’m not referring to injury or illness. Rather I am wondering if they are mentally available to giving full effort while they are working. It’s probably to most insidious of categories related to absenteeism, because the person is there…sort of.

Are you an entrepreneur or employee that isn’t “available?” Sometimes, we need to look in the mirror and make sure our own focus and attention is where it needs to be. Granted, there are days we all are not as available as we should be. The problem is if it becomes chronic.

Leadership, culture, and observation go a long way towards assuring that your employees and subordinates are available. Self discipline will take care of you.

Quote of the Week:

Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative.

~ H.G. Wells

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Why You Hate Your Boss

20 Under 40 20_3This is the second of a three-part series for my Kitsap Sun business column…

This is the second of a three-part series on running a family business profitably and equitably. Over the past 27 years, I’ve worked with hundreds of family businesses. Even though the industries differ, the challenges surrounding them are very common. In the next two columns, I will draw attention to the three most critical topics that all family businesses need to address for both profitability and family bliss.

So you work for “the man,” do you? Or maybe, “the woman?”

So much of our popular culture revolves around the conceptualization of the persecuted and overburdened employee who works for a horrible boss and uncaring business. A modern day Willy Loman character that is doomed to a dreadful employment while the boss lives a carefree existence carousing on their yacht and mansion.

When it comes to small family businesses, the true picture is often very different.

I find that a very high number of business owners fled one horrible boss for an even worse boss…themselves! So many of you — yes, you — have started or inherited family businesses and find yourselves being treated more contemptibly than you’d accept from any other employer.

Let’s do a quick check:

Do you start work at 6 a.m. and then stop at about 8 p.m. (or later)?

Do you take fewer vacation days than your employees?

Do you accept and return work calls and email until you go to bed?

Do you go to work sick, even when you’d not allow employees to do the same?

Do you fear leaving your business unattended by you for more than a week? So much so that you constantly are checking in when you’re away?

Do you hate your boss?

Let’s be clear. I’ve seen all of these iterations in small family-run businesses over the past 27 years. I’ve heard all the usual excuses:

“I have to make sure the work is done to the company standard…”

“No, I really thrive when working in chaos for 12 hours a day…”

“I have to set a good example of work ethic or else nobody would work hard…”

“I’m not a micro-manager; it’s just that I need to know everything that goes on in my business…”

“My employees feel empowered when I’m always around. They hate it when I’m gone…”

“Oh, I’m only being controlling until (fill in the blank)…”

I could go on for the entire column. In fact, you may have others to share, especially if you are employed at a family business!

Here’s the stark reality of the situation — if you own and operate a small family business and can’t walk away for two months without touching it, then you don’t have a business, you have a job! In my experience, entrepreneurs start their businesses not to have a job, but to create jobs; create value; do what they love; and eventually sell that business to fund the rest of their lives. If you work yourself to the bone and create a condition where you’re always stressed out, burned out, and dreading your work, you may not have a much of a life left to enjoy.

The answer is to stop hating your boss. Here’s my five-step process to doing that quickly:

1. Empower your employees: That means train and then trust them. They want autonomy and the permission to fail and learn. That means delegate things that you shouldn’t be doing anymore. It means that you must create a culture and operation where you’re working yourself out of a “job!”

2. Take time off: Force yourself to take vacation time. You can still make yourself accessible in the event of an emergency, but in most cases it won’t happen. Your life balance requires relaxation and recharge. Take it.

3. Give yourself a break: Too many CEOs by their own actions seem to require perfection in themselves. If you do that, stop. You don’t require perfection from employees (and if you do, stop that, too). Allow yourself to be human, to make mistakes, and to be resilient. By doing this, you’ll alleviate stress and anxiety in yourself and your employees.

4. Ferociously guard your time: I cover this in my book, Unleashed Leadership. Learn how to prioritize by triaging what is urgent, important, and normal. The bulk of the time will actually be spent on the last one. Your time is extremely valuable. Save it for what only you can do and what you want to do.

5. Commit to having fun: That’s right. You can have fun. What does this look like? For the savvy CEO of a small family business it looks like actually enjoying what you do and manifesting it through your self-talk, your behavior, and your leadership. You must have a passion for your product or service; must enjoy people; must be a lifelong learner; must be a risk-taker; and must be an encourager. You must be able to reward and forgive yourself; seek out new challenges; create and innovate; and be a positive influence in your company.

People don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. You’re stuck with yourself. You’d better come to a lifelong “employment agreement” where you wouldn’t even dream of working for anyone else.

Next month, Part 3: Dysfunction junction — What’s your function?

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Extra Points: One Life, Right?

Dan Weedin Unleashed-40Don’t blow it…

Have you seen the new Kona Brewing Company television ads featuring two Hawaiian brothers waxing poetic about beer, but mostly life? These guys are the modern day Bob and Doug McKenzie from the Great White North. Instead of wearing parkas and exclaiming “Eh,” these guys are chilling on the beach and signing off with, “Mahalo.”

The commercials are brilliant. Not just because it’s good beer, but it’s incredibly accurate wisdom. The concept is about slowing down; discarding the “fear of missing out,” or FOMO; and enjoying where you are now. Of course, Kona wants to sell beer; I get it. I’m challenging you to take a look at your life and heed there wisdom, “It’s one life, right? Don’t blow it.”

We’ve all at times been guilty of “blowing it.” It’s easy to do. We ruminate about things that have happened in the past; we worry or dread the future; fear paralyzes us and we don’t take risks; and we can become overwhelmed by the current events of the world.

“Blowing” your one life is deeper than making stupid and reckless decisions. It can be as simple as wasting away time worrying about what you will (or did) happen and/or scurrying around in the constant headless chicken metaphor that you miss golden life opportunities.

Let’s take a cue from my two new favorite TV brothers. Relax. Enjoy today. Keep perspective. Rinse and Repeat. One life, right? Don’t blow it.

Mahalo!

Quote of the Week:

Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”

~ Dr. Seuss

Haven’t seen the commercials? Watch FOMO here – LINK

P.S. Are you a small or medium-sized business owner that would like to inculcate this concept into your life and company, email me and let’s talk. You started a business to have fun, not to become it’s captive. Let me help you change that for you and your employees.

© 2016 Toro Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved