Author Archives: Zen Benefiel

The Art of Delegating – A Little Leadership Goes a Long Way

The Art of Delegating

To grow a business beyond a certain point, there’s a bridge every entrepreneur must cross. You must transition from “doing” to “leading,” which means stepping back from day-to-day operations in order to oversee it. In other words, you must learn to work “on” the business, not “in” the business.

Let’s go back in time to when you first formed your company. Of course you were involved in every aspect of it. But as your firm grew, you needed help to get things done. So you began hiring employees, and delegating tasks and (hopefully) responsibility.

Learning to delegate is an ongoing journey. Half the battle is hiring people who you feel comfortable delegating to. The other half is creating infallible work processes, and defining the amount of risk you are willing take and deciding what to delegate.

Some of this comes down to good ol’ communication. In many small businesses, employees wear many hats. As a result, they’re not always sure what their most important job is. It’s the boss’s responsibility to tell them…

• What their responsibilities/tasks are, and of them, what the priority is.
• What doing a good job looks like. Don’t expect workers to instinctively know; it’s up to you to define and describe it.
• Where each worker stands in terms of job performance. How can you improve without feedback?

Even if you haven’t implemented formal job descriptions and performance reviews—and many small businesses don’t–you can still communicate this information to employees.

But what if you don’t have the right people in place? What if you aren’t comfortable delegating to them? Well, there are several things you can do.

You can provide training designed to get their skills up to par. Not likely? Then move them into a less demanding position. Some employees don’t want the responsibility of thinking; they want to work on autopilot. Perhaps there’s a place for worker bees in your organization?

But if there isn’t, and nothing is working, you may have to take that difficult step of replacing them with people who eagerly accept responsibility. That takes courage. That’s leadership at its toughest. Peer boards give support and insight to take the necessary steps.

Until you get your business to the point where it almost runs itself, you won’t be able to disengage long enough to provide that essential vision. And once you reach that point, you’ll find it’s true: a little leadership goes a long way.

If you would like a “hands on” experience of a peer board please either call/text 312 593-5133 or e-mail ray@propres.com. I would be happy to invite you to attend a meeting as my guest.

2 Small Biz Guys w Rick Murray CEO of ASBA

2 Small Biz Guys, Ray and Zen interview Rick Murray, ASBA CEO aka the Arizona Small Business Association, and travel many paths regarding small business in Arizona. Rick shares a little of his background with the State of New Mexico’s State Fair Grounds on his way to the leadership role of Arizona’s premier advocacy group.

Speaking of advocacy, we discuss the recent Crowd Funding legislation that he was instrumental in facilitating, a truly time sensitive opportunity and collaboration that met with success. It is a great win for small business owners and an example of what collaborative effort can do. You’ll have to hear the story. Look forward to further information coming from ASBA on the process and even some training on how to develop your own crowdfunding resources.

We explore various services that ASBA provides for both members and non-members, including a state-of-the-art health care coverage website that is open to anyone. You can hear more details during the interview. We talk about the ASBA Marketplace, too. We cover some critical points for the development of relationships and, of course, the follow up that is imperative for successful engagement.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, no doubt you will benefit from this interview and, perhaps, decide to engage the Arizona Small Business Association to help develop your business. Ray and Zen are both members. Ray is also on the ASBA Mentor Board, which provides consultations for small business owners. Like any smart business owner knows, accessing those who have gone down the similar roads previously often provide insight and wisdom beyond measure.

Enjoy the show and feel free to reach out to us for help, too.

ASBA Mentor and Member (Ray and Zen) make ASBA membership work for you. We offer a special opportunity for ASBA members – EXTRA TIME (2 slots for the price of one – that’s double the time). Just fill out the appointment popup (Let’s Talk in the lower right) and tell us Rick sent you.

Small Business Help – Coaching, Consulting, Peers

We tend to address things in more of a general sense when talking about small business challenges. Tonight’s show was indicative of the reflections of our insights and understanding of various tools. Coaching helps business owner set up action plans once goals and objectives are determined through a variety of questions the coach presents. Consulting focuses on specific issues within the company, creating change management scenarios that, when the employees and staff are involved, provide the opportunity for better buy in and success. Peer advisory groups allow the business owners to engage and reflect with others who have similar challenges, which often isn’t possible in more confined environments.

All businesses rely on sales, but the process for garnering them is often vastly different. There are some basic that often get overlooked. If a sales goal is ‘X’ the construction of the process to get there is all important. It is a numbers game. In the digital world, ‘X’ is achieved through generating traffic and garnering sales as a percentage of the traffic. The rule of thumb is that a .05% success rate is good. So, the question is, “How much traffic must be generated to achieve ‘X’?” That is just a first step, but a necessary one that a lot of business owners forget to address. Numbers are your friend. Don’t leave them out of the process.

Here’s the recording of this week’s show with Ray and Zen:

Bitcoin – Considerations

Phoenix Arizona November 9 2015 8:00 pm2 Small Biz Guys  interviewed Morpheus Titania on 1100 AM KFNX Independent Talk.  Morpheus is the one of the most prolific Bitcoin Traders in political area commonly known as Arizona.  Morpheus has been involved buying and selling Bitcoin since February 2013.  Since then, he has been in the trenches promoting the greatest innovation since the invention of the Smelter, the Printing Press and the Internet… Bitcoin.

The true value in Bitcoin, perhaps, is that it isn’t issued by a central bank and, by design, is available to anyone, anywhere.  You have to listen to the show, it’s engaging and enlightening with not only studio chat, but nearly a dozen callers who participated. If you’ve heard about Bitcoin and wondered… there is some excellent information in the show.

According to the Wall Street Journal recently:

Bitcoin is an odd concept – a currency not issued by any government or central bank, but instead existing on a decentralized network of computers around the world. Transactions to buy and sell bitcoin are entered in an open ledger that is quickly verified and updated. That ledger system is called a blockchain. Venture capitalists and Wall Street banks have been investing in the technology, betting it could more efficiently and securely handle things like settlements of securities transactions or cross-border payments.

Morpheus became aware of Bitcoin in February 2013, when a friend gave a talk about the possibilities available through the blockchain technology.  All money has 6 properties: Scarcity, Durability, Hard to Counterfeit, Divisibility, Portability and Storage of Value. Bitcoin had all of these properties. At that time people had already been using it as money for almost 3 years.

In fact, the first known trade was done on May 22, 2010 when 10,000 bitcoins were traded for $25 worth of pizza. Back in February 2013, those Bitcoins were worth $220,000 and today those same Bitcoins are worth almost $4 million dollars. After the presentation, Morpheus was on fire and immediately took action and found someone to sell him some Bitcoins.

The Bitcoin and the blockchain technology is more than just an invention, it is a Meme. A Meme is a self replicating idea that causes a cultural evolution. Morpheus is excited every day for the infinite possibilities this technology creates by making obsolete the 2 most unethical institutions in the world: Banks and the Governments that are designed to protect them, by simply defunding them.

“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.” ―R. Buckminster Fuller

2 Small Biz Guys w/ Morpheus Titania

The Power of Habit – Part 3

Starbucks And The Habit Of Success—When Willpower Becomes Automatic:

Starbucks has succeeded in teaching life skills to its employees,  All new employees spent at least fifty hours in Starbucks classrooms, and dozens more at home with Starbucks’ workbooks and taking to the Starbucks mentors assigned to them.

At the core of that education is an intense focus on an all-important habit:  willpower.  Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important Keystone habit for individual success.  Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.  And the best way to strengthen willpower and give students a let up, studies indicate, is to make it into a habit.

Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks told the author, “We’re in the people business serving coffee.  We’re not in the coffee business serving people.  The solution Starbucks discovered, was turning self-discipline into an organization habit.

This enabled Starbucks to effectively successfully achieve its rapid expansion.

Willpower isn’t just a skill.  It’s a muscle, like muscles in your arms or legs, and it gets tired as it works harder, so there’s less power left over for other things.

What employees really needed were clear instructions about how to deal with inflection points.  So the company developed new training materials that spelled out routines for employees to use when they hit rough patches.  The manuals taught workers how to respond to specific cues, such as a screaming customer or a long line at a cash register.  Mangers drilled employees, role playing with them until the responses became automatic.  The company identified specific rewards—grateful customers, praise from a manager—that employees could look to as evidence of a job well done.

Starbucks taught their employees how to handle moments of adversity by giving them willpower habit loops.  This is how willpower becomes a habit: by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time, and then following that routine when an inflection point arrives.  In essence, they decided ahead of time how to react to a cue.  When the cue arrived, the routine occurred.

Studies have shown some people were able to create willpower habits relatively easily.  Others, however, struggled no matter how much training and support they received.  What was causing the difference?

When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, if they think they are doing it for personal reason—if they feel like it’s a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else—it’s much less taxing.  If they feel like they have no autonomy, if they are just following order, their willpower muscles get tired much faster.

For companies and organizations, this insight has enormous implication.  Simply giving employees a sense of agency—a feeling that they are in control, that they have genuine decision-making authority—can radically increase how much energy and focus they bring to their jobs.  Giving employees a sense of control improved how much self-discipline they brought to their jobs.  People want to be in control of their lives.

The Power Of A Crisis:

Crises are so valuable, in fact, that sometimes it’s worth stirring up a sense of looming catastrophe rather than letting it die down.  Good leaders seize crises to remake organization habits.  In fact, crisis are such valuable opportunities that a wise leader often prolongs a sense of emergency on purpose.

A company with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it.  Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis—or create the perception of crisis—and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.  Rahm Emanuel stated,” You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

The Power of Habits – Part 2

The Golden Rule of Habit Change:  Use the same cue, and provide the same reward, you can shift the routine and change the habit.  Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and the reward stay the same.  But to change an old habit, you must address an old craving.  You have to keep the same cues and rewards as before, and feed the craving by inserting a new routine.

Asking patients to describe what triggers their habitual behavior is called awareness training and it’s the first step in habit reversal training.  It seems ridiculously simple, but once you’re aware of how your habit works, once you recognize the cues and rewards, you’re halfway to changing it.  The brain can be reprogrammed.  You just have to be deliberate about it.

If you identify the cues and rewards you can change the routine,  at least, most of the time.  For some habits, however, there’s one other ingredient that’s necessary.  Belief.

The precise mechanisms of belief are still little understood.  But we do know that for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible. This process makes AA so effective.  Belief is also easier when it occurs within a community.  A community can be as few as two people.

The Habits of Successful Organizations—Keystone Habits:

Paul O’Neil—1987 became CEO of Aluminum Company of American, Alcoa. His  opening address to Wall Street, “I want to talk to you about worker safety.”

So how did O’Neill make one of the largest, stodgiest and most potentially dangerous companies into a profit machine and a bastion of safety?  By attacking one habit and then watching the changes ripple through the organization.

O’Neil figured his top priority would have to be something that everybody—unions and executives—could agree was important.  He needed a focus that would bring people together that would give him leverage to change how people worked and communicated.

O’Neil believed that some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization.  Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives.  These are “Keystone Habits,” and they can influence how people work, eat, play. Live, spend, and communicate.  Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.  Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers.  The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.

If you focus on changing or cultivating Keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts.  However, identifying Keystone habits is tricky.  To find the, you have to know where to look.  Detecting Keystone habits means searching out certain characteristics.  Keystone habits offer what is know within academic literature as small wins.  They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious.  On an individual basis, exercise can be a Keystone habit.

Small Wins are a steady application of a small advantage.  Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favors another small win.  Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging advantages into patters that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

Small wins do not combine in a neat, linear, serial form, with each step being demonstrable step closer to some predetermined goal.  More common is the circumstance where small wins are scattered.

 

The Power of Habits – Part 1

All of life, is but a mass of habits.  Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not.  They’re habits.  And though each habit means relatively little on its own, over time impacts on our health, productivity, financial security, and happiness.  One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the action people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.  Only in the past two decades have scientists and marketers really begun understanding how habits work—more important, how they change.  Habits can be changed, if we understand how they work.

When you woke up this morning, what did you do first?  Which route did you drive to work?  When you got to your desk, did you deal with e-mail, chat with a colleague, or jump into writing a memo?  When you got home what did you do first?  Your actions were habits.

The Habits of Individuals:  The habit Loop—How Habits Work: 

Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort.  Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often.

“An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and eventually airplanes and video games.

But conserving mental effort is tricky, because if our brains power down at the wrong moment, we might fail to notice something important, such as a predator.  So our basal ganglia have devised a lever system to determine when to let habits take over.  It’s something that happens whenever a chunk of behavior starts or ends.”

The process in which the brain converts a sequence of actions into an automatic routine is known as chunking and it is the root of how habits are formed.  This process within our brains is a three-step loop.  First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.  Then, there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional.  Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

Over time this loop—cue, routine, reward; cue, routine, reward become intertwined until a powerful sense of anticipation and craving emerges.  The discovery of the habit loop is so important is that it reveals a basic truth:  When habit emerges, the brain

stops fully participating in decision making.  It stops working so hard, or diverts focus to other tasks.  So unless you deliberately fight a habit—unless you find new routines—the pattern will unfold automatically.  Habits never really disappear.  They’re encoded into the structures of our brain.  The problem is that your brain can’t tell the difference between bad and good habits, and so if you have a bad one, it’s always lurking there, waiting for the right cues and rewards.

This explains why it’s so hard to create exercise habits, for instance, or change what we eat.  By the same rule, though, if we learn to create new neurological routines that overpower those behaviors—if we take control of the habit loop—we can force those bad tendencies into the background.  And once someone creates a new pattern, studies have demonstrated, going for a jog or ignoring the doughnuts becomes as automatic as any other habit.

Without habit loops, our brains would shut down, overwhelmed by the minutiae of daily life.  People whose basal ganglia are damaged by injury or disease often become mentally paralyzed.  Without our basal ganglia, we lose access to the hundreds of habits we rely on every day.  As long as your basal ganglia is intact and the cues remain constant, the behavior will occur unthinkingly.

Researchers have learned that cues can be almost anything, from a visual trigger such as a candy bar or a television commercial.  Routines can be incredibly complex or fantastically simple.  Rewards can range from food or drugs that cause physical sensations, to emotional payoffs such as the feelings of pride that accompany praise or self-congratulations.

Habits are powerful, but delicate.  They can emerge outside our consciousness, or can be deliberately designed.  They often occur without our permission, but can be reshaped by fiddling with their parts.  They shape our lives far more than we realize—they are so strong, in fact, that they cause our brains to cling to them at the exclusion of all else, including common sense.  By learning to observe the cues and rewards we can change the routines.

The Craving Brain—How To Create New Habits:

Claude Hopkins, a famous marketer in the early 1900’s, was best known for a series of rules he coined explaining how to create new habits among consumers.  These rules would transform industries and eventually became conventional wisdom among marketers.  Throughout his career one of his signature tactics was to find simple triggers to convince consumers to use his products every day.  Craving, it turns out, is what makes cues and rewards work.  That craving is what powers the habit loop.

His most famous product was Pepsodent toothpaste.  This was at a time people did not use toothpaste.  The cue he related to was film on teeth and the reward was a

bright smile and the routine was to use Pepsodent toothpaste everyday.  Hopkins first rule was to find a simple and obvious cue and secondly, clearly define the rewards, and lastly to generate a craving.

Habits are so powerful because they create neurological cravings.   Most of the time, these cravings emerge so gradually that we’re not really aware they exist, so we’re often blind to their influence.  But as we associate cues with certain reward, a subconscious craving emerges in our brain starts the habit loop spinning.

Craving example—email.  When a computer chimes or a smartphone vibrates with a new message, the brain starts anticipating the momentary distraction that opening an email provides.  That expectation, if unsatisfied, can build until a meeting is filled with antsy executives checking their buzzing smartphones under the table, even if they know it’s probably only their latest fantasy football results.  (On the other hand, if someone disables the buzzing—and thus, removes the cue—people can work for hours without thinking to check their in-boxes.)

Countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last.  Only when your brain starts expecting the reward—craving the endorphins or sense of accomplish.  The cue, in addition to triggering a routine, must also trigger a craving for the reward to come.  Craving is an essential part of the formula for creating new habits.  And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.

The Golden Rule Of Habit Change:

Tony Dungy’s coaching philosophy and belief “the key to winning was changing players’ habits.  He wanted to get players to stop making so many decision during a game.  He wanted them to react automatically, habitually.  If he could instill the right habits his team would win.  Champions don’t do extraordinary things, they do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react.  They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

So rather than creating new habits, Dungy was going to change players old ones.  And the secret to changing old habits was using what was already inside players’ heads.  Habits are a three-step loop—the cue, the routine, and the reward—but Dungy wanted to only to attack the middle step, the routine.  He knew from experience that it was easier to convince someone to adopt a new behavior if there was something familiar at the beginning and the end.

Get More from LinkedIn

How to Get More Sales from LinkedIn

By Ray Silverstein

Everyone who uses LinkedIn suspects that they could get more from it, sales-wise, if they could only knew how.

So, my company recently sponsored a workshop presented by Larry Kaufman, a LinkedIn keynote speaker and one of LinkedIn’s Top 250 most-connected Americans. Larry is Chief Sales Officer and Partner of Sales Empowerment Group. He’s also a long-term member of my PRO peer groups, and in true peer group fashion, is generous sharing his knowledge.

Now, I’m paying it forward by sharing my top takeaways with you.

Polish Your LinkedIn Profile

Before anything else, make sure you’re presenting yourself at your best. This sounds basic, but it’s easy to overlook.

  • Update Your Profile – Chances are, you created your profile years ago and haven’t done much since. Things change; your profile should, too.
  • Take Your Time – A good update takes several sessions, so deactivate your “activity broadcasts” (under Privacy Settings) for now. You don’t want contacts receiving notice of every little change. Wait until you’re done.
  • Capitalize Your Name – It helps you stand out in any list.
  • Expand Your Headline – In addition to your title, add other notable credentials.
  • Use a REALLY Good Photo – First, you must feature a photo…no silhouettes. And if don’t have a great business portrait, get one.
  • Embed Keywords – Approach your profile the way you would a webpage or blog: use keywords.
  • Add Content – Did you know you can upload articles, PDFs, and videos, not to mention website links to get more exposure for your business? (Look for an icon/drop down box throughout your profile page.)

Build Your LinkedIn Presence

  • Create a Corporate Page – If you don’t have a company page, create one…yes, even if you’re a solopreneur. (This is one of LinkedIn’s most underutilized features.)
  • Use LinkedIn’s “Status Update” feature – It’s a quick, easy way to keep your name out there. If you’re excited about a new product or have industry news, share it.
  • Join Relevant Groups –You may learn something, and it’s more exposure. Plus, it puts you in touch with people you may want to know.

Start Connecting

  • Use InMail – InMail is LinkedIn-style email. The top reason to pay for an premium LinkedIn account is InMail access, but even a basic (free) membership lets you use InMail when sending inviting new connections. Instead of using LinkedIn’s default invitation, always craft a personal note.
  • Use “People You May Know” – This feature allows you to expand your network quickly. It draws from the former employers and schools listed in your summary, among other things. When you invite these people to connect, remind them of your shared history.

Leverage Your Connections to Kick-Start Sales

You probably use LinkedIn to mine information about existing prospects, but you can also use it to find—and cozy up to—new ones. Remember ‘six degrees of separation’? Well, two degrees is even better.

The idea: use your first-degree connections’ connections. Are there prospects for you there?

To find out, visit a contact’s profile and view his/her Connections box. If his/her network isn’t hidden, browse it or search it by title.

Make a list of, say, five people you’d like to connect with. Then, send your first degree connection an email, requesting introductions. Include a one-paragraph summary of yourself, and ask your contact to include it in his/her introductory emails. This makes things easy for your contact and lets you control how you’re presented.

Ask that you be cc’d, and as soon as the introduction has been sent, follow up with the prospect. You know how to take it from there. Always thank your contact, and offer to return the favor. Instead of cold calls, you now have warm, personal introductions!

Bottom line: your connections are invaluable to your sales. Tools like LinkedIn let us leverage relationships in fresh, new ways…when we’re willing to take the time to learn how to use them.

If you are interested in a great workbook I’d recommend a great one from another cohort, Zen Benefiel, who compiled it for a workshop in Phoenix. How to Grow Your Business Using LinkedIn.