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Avoiding Growing Pains

How to Avoid Organizational Growing Pains

By Ray Silverstein

When it comes to growing a business, is it possible to experience too much of a good thing? Yes, it is. And while you might think this would be a good problem to have, think again. Many times this can put you out of business.

Too-rapid growth is actually more dangerous to a business than no growth at all. While we tend to envy ‘overnight successes,’ research shows that growth exceeding 25% per year puts a business at risk of failure.

Just consider all the demands that an unexpected growth spurt would place on the various facets of your business:

Financial – Suddenly, you have big orders to fill, but not enough inventory to do so (or people-power if you’re in a service industry). Nor do you have the cash on hand to purchase what you need (or to hire who you need). Plus, getting credit is trickier these days (especially for service businesses that don’t have hard assets to offer as collateral). Purchase order financing is a possibility, but it is almost impossible to obtain and very expensive.

Personnel – Regardless of what you sell, you’ll need more workers to push your products or services out the door. But you don’t yet have the dollars needed to meet a rapidly-expanding payroll, not to mention the acquisition costs of bringing on new employees. Speaking of which, you’ll be so busy, you won’t have the time to make wise hires or train your newbies properly.

Morale – Because you’re short-staffed, your employees are constantly under the gun. Even dedicated workers can only give so much for so long before they start to burn out.

Workflow – If you don’t have adequate technology and processes in place when business explodes, what you do have will short circuit your ability to service or produce. Now you have a new fire to put out, and even less will get done.

The end result is: orders will go unfilled, and service will suffer. Customers will lose patience and walk. And remember, business that’s lost due to service issues is very hard to win back.

Picture a tiny, start-up restaurant that unexpectedly receives a great review from a trendy food critic. Suddenly, it needs five or six servers to wait on the nightly crowds, but it only has four on staff. Service plummets; waiting time skyrockets…and unless management makes some quick fixes, soon it will only need three.

Manage Potential Growing Pains

You may think this will never happen to your business, but it may be sneaking up on you, on a smaller scale. My point: keep a pulse on your activity and plan ahead. Know Thy Business. Build on your strengths, shore up your weaknesses, and attend to these key areas now:

Financial – Lay the groundwork for acquiring credit in advance. Develop a relationship with your banker. Build a good credit history. Study your numbers and get them to a healthy place.

Personnel – Always know who your next hires may be. Think of your workforce as a major/minor league system. If you’re continuously scouting for talent, you’ll be halfway there when it’s time to hire. Your minor league is a list of people you believe have the right attitude and skills to do the necessary work.

Morale – Nurture it always. Build good communication habits with your employees. And remember, a little personal appreciation goes a long way.

Workflow – No one wants to incur the expenses of upgrades until they’re absolutely needed. But every new system has learning curves to master and bugs to work out, so who can afford to wait until crunch time arrives?

Finally, learn to recognize the symptoms of growing pains. An easy way to get started: use my Growing Pains Diagnostic Test to conduct a DIY five-minute checkup. Just email Ray@propres.com and request a copy. Do something easy and healthy for your business today.

 

About the Author: Ray Silverstein is President of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. He is author of “

President's Resource Organization - Duct Tape Marketing

Duct Tape Marketing

Duct Tape Marketing

      John Jantsch, reviewed by Ray Silverstein

Michael Gerber states, “This book is just like its namesake–Duct Tape–it’s good, incredibly smart, amazingly practical, and immensely sticky stuff.”  I found the book to be a good basic outline of a marketing strategy and it had many useful hints.

Everyone thinks their plight is unique, “Why is it so hard to market my business?”  “But what if I told you, no matter what your business claims to do or provide, you’re actually in the marketing business.  That’s right–every business is actually a marketing business.”  “You simply can’t afford to be no good at marketing if you plan to stick around and grow your business.”

“Marketing is getting people who have a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you.”

Many small businesses do copycat marketing.  Copycat Marketing is a surefire way to guarantee that your marketing will fail.  Copycat marketing simply reinforces that you are the same as everyone else.

Another practice by small business is Ostrich Marketing.  Ostrich marketing is practiced by owners who simply have no idea what to do with marketing, so they do nothing–they stick their head in the sand and hope.

The primary activity in Duct Tape Marketing is to narrow and focus.  The lead generation is a two step process.  What do you think it would mean to your marketing activity if you had just five hundred highly qualified prospects and your only job was to get them to know, like, trust, and contact you?

The following are the steps for Duct Tape Marketing:

Step #0.  State Your Primary Marketing Goals for the Year.  Until you can get very clear about what needs to happen in order for your marketing system to be successful, you will never get there. One year from today, what will your business look like?  How will it change?  How will it grow?

Step #1.  Describe Your Ideal Client.  Carve out a narrow target market or narrow market segment and find out everything you can about what people in that market segment want to buy and why they want to buy it.  Build a marketing strategy just for this market and make sure that the world hears that you are better at serving that market than any other business.  Describe the ideal client and market as though he or she is sitting across the table from you at this moment.

You can choose to attract clients that value what you offer, view working with you as a partnership, and want you to succeed, but only if you have a picture of what that ideal client looks like.  Identify, describe, and focus on a narrow target of clients or segments that are perfectly suited for your business.

One of the easiest ways to start to get this picture of who or what makes an ideal client is to take a close look at the customers your business has attracted to date.

Physical Characteristics:  Are, Employment Status, Gender, Occupation, Income, Education, Industry, Number of employees, Type of business, Geographic scope of business, Revenue levels.

Emotional Characteristics:  Discovering common emotional characteristics is more of an art than science.  What you are looking for are things like values, fears, desires, and goals.  What do they want out of life?  What are they not getting?  What do they need to know to feel comfortable?  What is holding them back?

One of the best way to accumulate this type of information is to retrace many of your sales calls, including the ones where you did not get the results you had hoped for.  Another clue is to understand lifestyle patterns of your Ideal Prospects.  Find out about their hobbies, interests, books and magazines they read, musical preferences, and travel tastes.  This can provide a deeper glimpse into what your Ideal Prospect really cares about.

Know, Like and Trust–It’s a fact that people often like people who have the same interests.  All things being equal or unequal, a buying decision will tip to the business or salesperson who the buyer likes the most–It’s called human nature.

Without a need or problem, you don’t really have a market.  So, what’s the problem?  What are your customers attempting to solve when they buy your products or retain your services?  You don’t sell goods and services, you sell solutions to problems.  What you really sell is peace of mind, status, pain relief, etc.  State this revelation as bluntly as possible, and your marketing business will benefit immediately.

A guiding principle of marketing is the ability to charge a premium for your products and services within a chosen target market.  You must determine if this market values what you have to offer enough to pay a premium for your expertise and understanding of this given market.

Factors to consider if it is a viable market:

  • Is the market large enough to support your business growth goals?
  • Can you easily promote your business to the decision makers in this market?
  • Does this market value what you do enough to pay a premium?

When you are searching for a target market that is hungry for a solution, there are three questions that must be considered:

  • Do they want what I have?  It does not matter if they desperately need what you have.  If they do not want it for one reason or another, then you are sunk.  People rarely act to their own benefit unless they want to.
  • Do they value what I do?  You must look for people who are already investing in the type, or at least the category of service you have.
  • Are they willing to pay a premium for what I do?

The Ideal Prospect Profile:  Using the information you have gathered about an ideal customer you create an Ideal Prospect Profile.  This is one or two paragraphs you write that describe a picture of your ideal client, almost as though you were describing someone sitting across a table from you.

Try this formula:  Physical description+What they want+Their problem+How they buy+Best way to communicate with them=Ideal Prospect.

Action Steps:

  1. Look for common characteristics such as age and gender among your best clients.
  2. Uncover a common frustration among your target market.
  3. Write a description of your ideal target market in terms that are easy to communicate.
  4. Determine whether your ideal target market is large enough to support your business.

Step#2.  Write Your Core Message Points.  Uncover three or four unique benefits that your business or product can provide to your ideal target market, and then make these points of difference your central marketing themes.  If need be, change your entire business model to take advantage of an opportunity to serve a narrow market.

Get  Out of the Commodity Business.  You’ve got to uncover and communicate a way in which your business is different from every other business that says they do what you  do.  You’ve got to find a way to stand out and stake your claim on a simple idea or position in the mind of your prospective clients.  This claim must be powerful and intentional.

Find something that separates you from your competition become it and speak it to everyone you meet.  Quality isn’t it, good service isn’t it, fair pricing isn’t it.  The difference needs to be in the way you do business, the way you package your product, the way you sell your service, the fact that you send cookies to your clients, the fact that you show people how to transform their lives–It’s in the experience you provide.

The Core Message Process:

  • Discover capture, and commit to a unique position.
  • Create a Marketing Purpose Statement.
  • Turn your purpose statement into a Talking Logo.
  • Craft a simple Core Message to use in all of your marketing.

It’s worth noting that being different for difference’s sake isn’t enough.  An identifiable target market must value the difference!  Example:  Trust With Your House Keys.”

These are some ways to communicate your core message:

Unique habit, Customer service, A way of doing business, A memorable personality.

The best way to get your positioning is to ask your clients.

  • Why did you hire us in the first place?
  • What do we do that others don’t?
  • What’s missing from our industry as a whole?
  • What could we do that would thrill you?
  • What do you find yourself simply putting up with in this industry?
  • What would you do if you owned a business like ours?

What you really sell is what the eventual buyer think they are going to get from your product or service.

Your Marketing Purpose Statement:  This statement is not meant to be communicated to your clients, but rather is meant to be the basis for your marketing and customer service activity.  Your Marketing Purpose Statement should become not just a goal but the overriding purpose for the business.  A powerful Marketing Purpose Statement should give you and your staff a vision for the future of the business.

Create a Talking Logo:  This is a short statement that quickly communicates your firm’s position and forces the listener to want to know more.  The Talking Logo is created in two distinct parts.  Part 1 addresses your target market, and Part 2 zeros in on a problem, frustration, or want that market has.

Example:  I show small service professionals how to triple what they charge.

Step one:  Create a compelling answer to “What do you do for a Living?” one that focuses on a benefit or solution and forces them to want to know more.

Step two:  Prepare a simple supplementary answer that tells them the unique way you get them that benefit or solution.

Your Core Marketing Message:  This is the message all of the activity you have performed to create. Now that you have discovered the marketing purpose for your firm and answered what you do for a living, it is time to fashion the creative marketing messages you will use to communicate your purpose in a way the clearly demonstrates the benefit of doing business with your firm. Example:   Electrical contractor: Marketing Purpose Statement:  We want to be known as the one electrical contractor who will show up when we say we will and do the work right the first time.

Talking Logo:  We help homebuilders eliminate callbacks.

Core Message:  Wired Right on Time.

Step #3.  Develop Educational Marketing Materials:  Create a list of the educational marketing materials your ideal client might find helpful in an attempt to understand the value that your firm has to offer.

Attempt to move your target prospects along a logical path toward a group of offerings geared to addressed the various stages of client development.  This gradual, trust building approach allows businesses to charge much more for their products and services while enjoying a much greater relationship with their clients.

Step #4.  Outline Your Lead Generation Strategy:  Create a list of every conceivable way you can reach your target market.  This is not limited to mail, public relations, referrals, e mail or advertising.

The Client Stages Defined:

  • Suspects–     The list of people who fit your target description.
  • Prospects–     The list of people who have responded to an offer for more information.
  • Clients–     The list of people who have tried your product or service.
  • Repeat Clients–     The list of people who have upgraded or purchased more.
  • Champions–     The list of people who tell others and sell for you.

Marketing Offer for Suspects:  Your suspect database responds to offers of complete information designed to help them solve a problem or answer a question.  These take the form of free reports, tips, white papers, workshops, demonstrations, evaluations, newsletters, books, guides and checklists.

Example:  10 Things You Must Know Before You Hire a Roofing Contractor.

Marketing Offer for Prospects:  Once your suspects raise their hands and request your fee report, they are giving you permission to market to them.  Your prospect list is now ready for an offer to become a client.  In many cases this requires a low cost or trial service offering to gain the ultimate trust needed to become a premium client.  You may need to create an introductory product or version of your service that can be priced low enough to offer a low barrier to becoming a client.

Your Clients Become Premium Clients:  Once your clients move to premium status, the focus is to also find specific ways to turn them into a referral source.

Premium Clients Become Champions:  Some amount of your clients will automatically become champions.  These are repeat clients who voluntarily look for way to promote your business.  In effect, this potent group can become your informal sales force.

ACTION STEPS:

  1. Understand the client stages.
  2. Develop marketing, products, and service offerings that address every aspect of the marketing funnel.
  3. Map every point of customer contact and look for holes in the funnel

Produce Marketing Materials That Educate:  Done well marketing can eliminate the need to sell.

Educate, Don’t Sell.

Create a Marketing Kit.  This should include your case statement, your difference summary, your ideal client/customer description, your marketing story, and your offerings.

Your Case Statement should address the following:

  • A statement of a challenge, frustration, or problem that your target market experiences.
  • An image of what life is like when the problem is solved.
  • How they got here in the first place.
  • A path for them to follow.
  • A directed call to action.

Your Difference Summary:

Don’t tell them what you do; focus on how you do it.  Tell them about your unique approach, your processes, and the little things you do.  If you have studied your competition and you know what your target market craves, make a point to summarize you solution.

Your Marketing Story:

Tell them your story in an open, honest, and entertaining way, and you will win their hearts as well as their heads.  The ability to connect by way of personal stories is one of the greatest advantages that small businesses possess over big businesses.  Most importantly—stories build trust.

Your Product/Service Offerings:

This page should outline the various services, products, and packages that you have available.  Clearly describe and detail the benefits of each.

Your Marketing Kit may also include Case Studies, Client experiences, Testimonials, FAQ, Processes and Checklists, Articles, and anything you believe would be of value to the prospect.

Marketing kits are not intended for mass, direct-mail campaigns.  They are much more effective once you have generated a lead and want to proceed to fully educating the prospects.

MARKETING IS MOSTLY YOUR JOB, BUT GET YOUR ENTIRE COMPANY INVOLVED.  EDUCATE THEM!

LEAD GENERATION PROGRAM:

Use a two step lead generation program whether it be advertising, direct mail public relations, web, etc.  This is simply to set into motion by advertising an offer, such as a free how to report, tip sheet, industry insider scoop, or survey results.  The goal is to have suspects request information and thus giving you permission to market to them.

Step #5.  Describe Your Sales/Education Process:  Write down the steps you will take when a prospect contacts your business by way of one of your lead generation strategies.

Have a process for Discovery, Presentation and Transaction.  Sales should not be off the cuff, but a planned process.  Create several questions you will ask prospects during the discovery phase that will allow you to get a feel for how ready they are to understand the need for your products or services.

The Discovery phase may be done over the phone.  The Presentation or Internal seminar is a planned approach.  When you take control of the meeting and present your points in a structured way, you will either connect or you won’t, but when you do it will be the right connection.

The Presentation consists of weaving the key elements into a concise message that includes:  The Problem, Your Solution, Your Core Difference, Your Story, A Real Client Example, How You Work and The Expected Results.

Market Research Benefits

Will Market Research Benefit Your Small Business?

By Ray Silverstein

Wouldn’t you love to get inside your customer’s head and take a good look around? To see his or her wants and needs revealed in stark clarity? To view your products through his or her eyes, unclouded by your assumptions?

As entrepreneurs, it’s our responsibility to understand and anticipate our customers’ mindsets. It’s what keeps us in business and allows us to grow.

That is the essence of market research. Over the last 60 years, market research has evolved into a powerful marketing tool. But while big companies embrace it, many entrepreneurs tend to steer clear. Yet there are aspects of market research of great value to small businesses, if we’re open to them.

For this reason, my company, PRO, recently sponsored a workshop, “The Guerilla Approach to Knowing Your Customers.” Our presenter was Bob Kaden, a long-time market research expert and author of the Guerilla Market Research books. Bob gave us a lot to think about, some of which I’m sharing here.

Market Research in a Nutshell

In short, the objective of market research is to get as close to the customer as possible, so you can understand and influence their buying behaviors, maximizing your opportunities for success.

There are two types of market research: primary, which focuses on your particular business, and secondary, which focuses on information available in the public domain.

Every time you read a business publication, visit a competitor’s website, or search an industry topic online, you’re engaging in informal secondary research. You can learn about your market, industry, and competition this way, while staying up to speed on consumer trends. We should all be engaging in some secondary research daily.

Primary research is a different animal. It’s personalized and proprietary. It may take the form of focus groups, interviews, or surveys, but however you conduct it, you do so with a specific goal in mind, targeted to a specific type of customer: yours.

When Do You Conduct Primary Research?

The time to conduct in primary research is when you want to learn something specific about your market. Maybe you need clarity setting your product development strategy. Maybe you’re about to rebrand your company. The bottom line is, you have to be ready to take action as a result of what you learn, or the research isn’t worth doing.

In addition, you have to be open to whatever the results reveal. We all have pet theories. If you’re not willing to let them go—which isn’t always easy for entrepreneurs–now is not the time to invest in research.

How Do You Conduct Market Research on a Budget?

Big companies use big market research firms, but that’s not the only alternative. If you want to have a pro do the work for you, look for a one-person firm or perhaps a local professor. They’re more affordable.

And more small businesses are engaging in DYI market research. If you have the temperament, you can conduct your own focus groups or interviews. Or, you can use Survey Monkey (SurveyMonkey.com), or ask simple questions via social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter. But if you are going to do it yourself, take the time to learn how to do it right.

Maybe market research makes sense for you; maybe it doesn’t. The bottom line is, business is more competitive than ever, and we need to be open to new ideas. When you become aware of a tool that’s available, consider it objectively. Never say never, to market research or anything else.

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Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is 2 Small Biz Guys business radio show, specialized for emerging businesses, solopreneurs and those who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

Thinking Fast and Slow

Thinking, Fast And SloThinking Fastw
Daniel Kahneman

reviewed by Ray Silverstein

Daniel Kahneman won the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his pioneering work on how human judgment sometimes defies logic or probability—and how even supposedly scientific decisions are influenced by human bias and irrational assumptions. This was alarming news to economists.

Kahneman spend decades of research digging deeply into the human brain and the often-flowed way in which we make decisions and arrive at conclusions supported not by objective fact but by subjective assumption.

The brain thought process switches between automatic response or kneejerk reaction, System 1, and System 2, which involves concentration and deliberation. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book, according to Kahneman.

He argues that overreliance on System 2 can result essentially in tunnel vision. System 1, however has a bias to believe and confirm and neglects ambiguity and suppresses doubt.
He also shows that “hindsight is 20/20” is more than just a cliché’ in revisiting past beliefs and opinions. People tend to paint a much more flattering picture of themselves

Research in the areas of risk aversion and prospect theory to learn more about the ways in which humans make decisions and weight risk. Research suggested that the negative often trumped the positive; that is, if presented with data that a 50 percent positive and 50 percent negative, the general tendency is for out brains to come away with an impression of “negative.” Even though the positive/negative factors are equally divided.

Similarly, people tend to overestimate the probability of unlikely occurrences. In a business setting, that may mean failing to take a smart risk because of an unlikely hypothetical scenario. A gambler may refuse to cash out on a hot hand because he or she has a “feeling” that it will continue. The fear of regret is a factor in many of the decisions that people make.

There is also the relationship between the “experiencing self” and the “remembering self.” Taste and decisions are shaped by memories and memories can be wrong. We sometimes feel our preferences and beliefs so strongly that they can seem to be somehow rooted in fact; this however, is often not the case. This applies even to our choice of vacation. For many people, the value of a vacation is not the experience but the anticipation beforehand and the memory afterwards. Kahneman sums up, “I am my remembering self, and the experience self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

Key terms and concepts:

Anchors: are related to how people try to estimate an unknown quantity. An example, the amount of money you will offer to pay for a house is in large part influenced—or anchored—by the asking price.

The Certainty effect: describes a process where your chance for success escalates from very high to certain. An example, if you are bidding on eBay and knew you had a 90%^ chance to win an auction with a $20 bid, would you still be tempted to use the “Buy It Now” option for $25, thus paying five dollars more to offset the 10% of chance of losing your bid?

In his study of decision making related to gambling Kahneman found that people tended to overvalue small risk, again showing that people make calculations and conclusions that are not aligned with probability.

The Halo effect: can be seen whenever a person makes assumptions based on a factor. An example, a beautiful stranger at a dinner party may be automatically assumed to be successful and confident. The Halo effect impacts not just social situations, but economic decisions as well.

Loss aversion: is a term that reccurs repeatedly throughout the book. Case studies show how people tend to be more driven by fear of failure than by the promise of success. This is loss aversion.

Optimistic bias: explains the decisions that we make or the beliefs that we should in the face of ample evidence to the contrary.

The major theme of Thinking, Fast and Slow is that our brains are divided into System 1 and System 2. System 1 houses our emotion and intuition, and it processes information making decisions automatically. System 2 describes the part of the brain that gets wrapped up in rationalization and concentration and value based judgments. While System 2 saves us from many of the unchecked kneejerk idiocies of System1, its decision-making capacity is more limited than we often think.

WYSIATI—“what you see is all there is.” WYSIATI basically describes our minds jumping to conclusions, drawing simply on what is in front of us without looking for missing evidence or data.

Interesting observation: studies on the impact of money on happiness, Kahneman found that there was a predictable dramatic difference between people living in poverty and people making 69K a year. Beyond that, though, the studies offered some surprise: Millionaires didn’t show any greater emotional happiness than people around the 50K zone.

The general conclusion is “We have a very narrow view of what is going on. We don’t see very far in the future, we are very focused on one idea at a time, one problem at a time, and all these are incompatible with rationality as economic theory assumes it.”

Wall Street Journal: “One major effect of the work of Messrs, Kahneman and Tversky has been to overturn the assumption that human beings are rational decision-makers who weigh all the relevant factors logically before making choices.”….”What Messrs. Kahneman and Tversky argued that, even when we have all the information that we need to arrive at a correct decision, and even when the logic is simple, we often get it drastically wrong.

Build to Serve

Build to ServeBuild to ServeBuild To Serve

Dan J. Sanders – Reviewed by Ray Silverstein

Leaders have spent far too much time focusing on fiscal resources and not enough time focusing on human resources. Long-term success is a result of putting more effort into building a positive, people-centered culture than poring over profit and loss statements.
The bottom line is not about price and profit; it is about choice and culture.

The author, Dan J. Sanders is president of United Supermarkets. One reason for its success is the United’s team members are genuinely considered family and United’s workforce displays the rhythm and innovation of a seasoned team. The company’s mission is defined by just six words: Ultimate Service, Superior Performance, and Positive Impact. The company is sustained by a culture-driven, people centered approach to business. The team members recognize personal relationships are their business.

The author believes the global culture that prevails today is broken. What is needed is a radical transformation—a monumental paradigm shift that will reshape our present understanding of the true purpose of work. This transformation begins with accepting the idea that an organization’s culture is the wellspring of sustained success. When the culture models this kind of vibrancy, such positive elements as growth, profitability, and good corporate citizenry are natural by-products. People are fulfilled professionally and personally, and organizations find deep meaning, resulting in a positive impact on the communities they serve. This is a business model that places people ahead of profits and service ahead of statistics.

A sustainable culture is built from the inside out. It starts with leadership that places the highest level of importance on human beings and a corresponding premium on recruiting, hiring, and training—both academic and experiential training—to equip and empower. A people-centered culture does not comprise values; rather, it seeks to remain faithful to values—even when remaining faithful means doing things differently from everyone else.

A leader’s actions, not words, form the basis for learning and eventually handing down a culture. People centered cultures are focused on marketing the work, not on advertising work that needs to be done. Example, rocks to be picked up (advertising), making a game of picking up the rocks (marketing). We all know unglamorous jobs exist in any profession, Even so, the successful completion of the work is largely the result of our mental approach to the task.

An organization’s ability to serve will be the last tool that can provide a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace. Organizations desiring sustained success simply must embrace culture-driven, people-centered philosophy.

Understanding Higher Math:

Higher math requires an emotional alignment of the leader with all levels of the workforce. It is about building trust and having a positive impact on people. Financial statements are only a small part of the story. Spreadsheets fail to convey the emotional status of an organization’s leadership. They are tools and nothing more—fine when it comes to numbers, of limited use when it comes to the human factor. Simply put, engaging people in a manner meant to maximize their contributions makes a difference for both the organization and its people. People-centered organizations speak the language of potential—not so much as it relates to a sales number, but rather as it relates to the workforce itself.

Are people in your organization considered an expense or an asset?

People-centered organizations connect the work they are doing with the mission they are committed accomplishing. A sustainable culture-driven, people centered enterprise exists when team members take ownership of what they are doing and realize it is important and essential to the higher purpose. Cultures focused on people unleash the imagination and lift performance to new heights—to a higher purpose. Example. Medtronic, assembly of heart values… higher purpose, saving lives maybe a co-worker or family member.

The Emerging Career Model:

The people-centered culture relies on leaders who genuinely connect with team members.
Connected team members understand the organization’s vision and mission. Because of that, they recognize the unique importance of their own specific role. Everyone is empowered in a culture-driven, people centered organization.

United Supermarkets calls human resources, talent management. It is customary to base cash compensation on performance, however, consider alternatives where the psychological value is not lost. Trips and special events are a great way to recognize achievement and acknowledge team members throughout an organization.

Making Winners Fail:

As the leader, you can delegate authority, but you can never delegate responsibility. Successful leaders truly belong to their follows. The leader’s ability to understand servanthood and friendship is the difference between a career that flounders and a career that flourishes. Friendship means much more than simply what one person can do for another. It is an emotional investment in each other’s lives, creating a special bond, a common journey. Without investing the time necessary to establish relationships, an organization’s leaders will never realize that difficult-to-reach level of trust and peace..

Fortunately, once the relationships are established, the friendships are formed, and the teaching is under way, a leader learns the important lesson of letting go. Great leaders understand servanthood comes first, before mentoring and friendship. In sustainable organizations, connecting what people do on a daily basis with the higher purpose is paramount. The degree to which that connection resonates with the workforce is directly proportional to the degree to which the workforce feels a part of the community. The word community implies a sense of sharing in common—a sense of family.

People are promoted not for what they have done but for what they can do. When promoting someone to a new position, do so with the confidence that the person has the skills to succeed in that position. It is not enough to say someone was good in the past; the person has to be good in the future.

As leaders, we must resist the temptation to promote winners before they are ready. The success of team members rests on our willingness to take the time to forge relationships by first exhibiting servanthood—a genuine desire to help others make the most of their potential. Therefore, leaders must discern when team members are ready for promotion. And it is the leader’s job to ensure winners on the team win.

Telling Players From Fans:

Organizations are like teams. In fact, teams are composed of players and fans. Players represent the team every day of the week because, whether or not they are playing, they are still a part of the team. Players are apprised of the team’s strategies and tactics, know the “playbook,” and take ownership of their role in the overall success of each play. They rely on one another for support, and they recognize and embrace their teammates’ strengths. They win together and lose together. They exude camaraderie, loyalty and unity.

On the other hand, fans are fickle. If the team is winning, they are happy. If the team is losing, they are unhappy. Fans can actually infiltrate the team, interfering with the players focused on getting the job done.

Far too many organizations subscribe to a “needs-based” approach to hiring. In other words, no serious recruiting, interviewing, or actual hiring of talent takes place until a specific need arises. This is especially popular in numbers-orientated cultures.
Hiring “warm bodies” allows impostors to penetrate organizations. Too often, “warm bodies” fail to appreciate the organization’s vision, much less its values. Culture-driven, people centered organization adopt a healthier approach. They are always looking for players, even if no need exists.

The model begins with a vision of who you are and mission of what you want to achieve. In culture-driven, people centered organizations, values serve as a litmus test for a leader’s vision. Players with a clear vision will make great things happen. Players who have lost the vision creep over to the right side of the life-cycle curve. It begins with nostalgic thinking. Saying, “Let’s just go back to the way it used to be.” The problem with nostalgic thinking is it presents an impossible solution.

Stage two of the journey prompts unproductive questioning, which tears down a healthy organization. Often, these are complaints disguised with questions. Such as, why do have to keep this area so clean? If we are lucky, team members who reach state three will eventually move on to stage four and quit, but remarkably, people in stage three tend to hand on forever.

So how does a leader move people from the right hand side of the curve back to the left hand side? First , in a culture-driven, people-centered organization, it is the leader’s responsibility to remove impostors—to get the fans off the floor. Second, everyone creeps over the right-hand side of the curve from time to time, but most of us choose not to stay there. When we find ourselves distracted, the answer to getting back on the positive side of the graph is to refocus on re-embrace the vision—this is the key, the answer. The vision is everything when it comes to moving team members from ineffectiveness to effectiveness. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations never stop talking about their vision.

Defining The Who: See The Vision:

Vision matters. An organization’s vision represents the purpose of its existence—the heart of what it is an entity. Knowing and understanding the vision creates a level playing field for an organization’s team members and partners. In culture-driven, people-centered organizations, training manuals and checklists may have a role in standardizing policies or programs, thy they do not take the place of the organization’s heart and soul.

A clearly communicated and understood vision statement empowers team members to make decisions that support the organization’s higher purpose. Since leaders cannot delegate responsibility, they must rely on delegating authority ot get much of the work done. It is impossible to equip everyone with a list of action steps that will cover every conceivable scenario. What is compelling about a great vision well communicated is people will do almost anything to keep from compromising it.

In culture-driven, people-centered organization, leaders celebrate actions that support the vision, even if people occasionally bend or break some rules or policies in the process. In culture-driven, people-centered organization, leaders spend more time building relationships and communicating the vision to people and less time devising way to catch people intent on disrupting the process. Communicating the vision effectively allows supervisors to present disciplinary steps in the context of the higher authority.

The psychology of gains and losses and the finding that there is greater fear of loss than desire of gain. This is particularly true in Western culture because ego plays such an important part of self esteem. Business leaders capable of exchanging their ego for humility are more likely to see upside potential and gains than people are imprisoned by fear.

Many business leaders will not seek opportunities that require risk because they do not want to fail and suffer a hit to their egos. Failure to keep people informed leads to fear, the second-biggest obstacle to successful vision attainment. The first is pride.
Leaders must never grow tired of talking or modeling their vision. They may change it from time to time, but they must constantly remind their followers of the vision.

To develop the vision:
1. Think big. Ask stakeholders to share ideas regarding the need for the organization’s existence. Ensure the emphasis is on culture and people.
2. Identify what sustainable difference the organization will make for humankind that will transcend time.
3. Focus on the vitals—those deep seated values the team is unwilling to comprise.
Keep it short, less is more when it comes to articulating who you are. An effective vision statement has more to do with significance than with success.

When Things Go Bad (And They Will:

At no time is an organization’s sustainability more important than when bad things happen. Sometimes the pain is self-inflicted, and other time external forces deliver the blow a culture-driven, people-centered organization allows it persevere and rebuild.
Leaders must radiate positive energy throughout the organization when things are going well, and especially when they are not. Leaders should never deplete their team members’ energy; they should create it.

“Be Here Now.” The importance of living in the present moment.
Have you ever been with someone who was not there?
Have you ever been with someone and they were not there?
Have you ever been at a meeting and no one was there?
Have you ever gone home and left your brain at work?
When things go bad, leaders need a place where they can talk, listen, and remove themselves from the day-to-day chatter work. In culture-driven, people-centered organizations, human beings communicate with human beings. Progress is cultivated through a common understanding that solutions are ongoing dialogues for transforming relationships. Even when problems exist the best course of action is to communicate those issues openly and honestly.

Albert Einstein once wrote, “In the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity.” Opportunities abound because we have choices to make. Healing starts where pride stops.

The 4P Management System:

The 4P’s of Management system required manager to address issues related to people, process, partners and performance with equal interest. Understanding the 4P’s starts with the observation that management begins and ends with human beings—people and partners. In misaligned cultures, organization prefer the opposite, beginning with performance and ending with human beings.

The 4P’s begins with the people inside the organization—the team members responsible for carrying out the day-to-day tasks necessary to operate the business. The next element of the model is process. Everything that happens inside an organization is a process. The key to improving performance is the elimination of as many obstructions in the process as possible. The further removed leaders are from the actual process, the harder it is for them to determine what is causing the obstruction. The sources of that information are the teams that use the process every day. They know precisely where the obstructions are located because they must work around those obstructions to carry out their duties.

Great ideas can spring from anyone in an organization. The culture of the organization dictates whether they surface. The third element in the 4P’s is partners, a term used to identify the importance of suppliers and buyers—customers, and users of the products and services sold by an organization.

During the past 50 years, customers have become a necessary inconvenience for many organization. Rather than embracing and celebrating the people who purchase their products and services, such organization merely tolerate them. When this happens, few, if any, organizations realize sustained success. Treating customers like partners is often overlooked, but it is important to culture-driven, people-centered organizations.

Culture-driven, people-centered organizations recognize poor performance is symptomatic of deeper problems—problems that require engaging people and changing processes. In this view, performance measurements are mere indicators—tools that prompt additional investigation and productive questioning. Performance measurements alone prompt more questions than they answer.

Humility Trumps Pride:

The biggest threat to an organization’s success is pride. In a culture-driven, people-centered organization, honest feedback is a must.

Pride is an interesting word. It has multiple meanings, some of them in direct conflict with one another. For example, one definition of pride involves a feeling of elation or satisfaction over one’s achievements, while another suggests a high or overbearing opinion of one’s own importance. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations seek to maximize the feeling of elation and satisfaction, derived from achievement and minimize any high or overbearing opinion of one’s worth or importance.

To accomplish this, first, organizations must keep people focused on the future, not the past. The destructive nature of pride is reinforced by what people have done, not what they have yet to do. Culture-driven, people-centered organizations are always moving toward what they want to become, as opposed to basking in their accomplishments.
Second, organizations must keep people focus on the pursuit of excellence, not the path to mediocrity. The pursuit of excellence forces people to confront their weaknesses, adapt their thinking, and keep their egos in check. Organizations must also keep people focused on the right kind of role models.

How to Recruit Top Talent

recruitingThe Smart, Easy Way to Recruit Top Talent

By Ray Silverstein

Recently, we discussed how the key to making successful hires is to target applicants who share your core values.

Today, we ask: why wait for those hires to come to you?

The smartest, easiest way to identify great potential employees is ‘24/7/365 recruiting.’ It’s simple: even when you’re not actively hiring, keep your eyes open for people who impress you, and get their contact information as you go.

It’s like you’re building your own major league baseball team. You’re always scouting at some level, and you keep a running roster of possibilities. So when it’s time to trade-up, you have a leg up.

24/7/365 recruiting comes down to being observant and building a few good habits, which include:

• Always carry business cards. When you meet an exceptional worker, give him a card and request his. Tell him upfront that he impressed you, and while you don’t have openings now, you’d like to explore future possibilities. At the very least, you’ll make someone’s day.

• Keep your eyes open at trade shows, chamber of commerce meetings, not-for-profit gatherings, etc. At these events, you have a golden opportunity to observe a potential candidate’s skills, work ethic, and communication style, without a formal interview or aptitude test.

• When calling on customers, take a peek at the sign-in book. It’s a goldmine. You just may find an experienced sales pro or two who already know your client or target market.

• Review your company website. Does it do a good job of reflecting your goals, culture, and core values? Make sure it does, because it will draw the kinds of candidates you seek to you.

• Research your market. Visit the websites of competitors or firms that resemble yours in terms of distribution or skill sets. Some companies list key employees on their sites. Use the wonders of LinkedIn to learn more about them.

• When you come across finished work that impresses you—say, a highly-effective website or print marketing piece—find out who did the work and take note. When you’re ready to start a project like that, you already have someone in mind for it.

I have a great example of the benefits of 24/7/365 recruiting. One of my peer group members, Joe, often grabs lunch at a sandwich shop near his company.

Over time, Joe became impressed by one of the shop clerks, Adam. Adam was very careful, and cordial, and took his job very seriously.

At the time, Joe was dissatisfied with the performance and attitude of one of his employees. He found himself wishing he could find more employees like Adam.

Then Joe realized that, instead of finding someone like Adam, he could hire the young man himself.

Out of courtesy, Joe asked the sandwich shop owner if he would mind if he approached Adam about a potential job. As it happened, the owner was all for it. The young man’s wife was pregnant and he knew Adam was ready and eager for a bigger job and paycheck.

So Joe was able to let his non-performer go and hire Adam without missing a beat. Thanks to his proactive recruiting, what could have been a setback turned into an opportunity.

And that’s how 24/7/365 recruiting puts you ahead of the curve.

Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is Propelus, a specialized peer group for business advisors and achievers who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

Most Important Hiring Question

Job_interview_0001The Most Important, Most Overlooked Hiring Question

By Ray Silverstein

Good news: it seems like more small business owners are shifting into hiring mode. That’s a good thing for everyone.

Now, the bad news. Many small business owners don’t really know how to hire the best candidate. And making a bad hiring choice is one of the most costly mistakes an entrepreneur can make. Consider the recruitment costs, training costs, and lost opportunity costs incurred when an employee fails.

In my experience, most small business owners dread the hiring process. So they adopt a classic HR-type approach, focusing on background, skills, and experience. They come up with tricky questions to pose to applicants.

Background, skills, and experience are important, to be sure. But they are not the most important thing. So what’s the #1 factor that drives a new hire’s ultimate success or failure?

What are the applicant’s core values…and do they match our company’s?

Think about it. Skills can be sharpened. Knowledge can be acquired. Processes can be learned. But the kind of person you are in your heart isn’t likely to change. If you hire someone who’s competent but doesn’t share your values, you’re almost predestined to part ways down the line.

For example, if your company prides itself on its ethical dealing with customers, you can’t accept an employee who places profits or efficiency over quality service. An employee who takes shortcuts when he can get away with it isn’t the kind of employee you can build your business on.

Or, maybe it’s the other way around. It’s not about right or wrong here. It’s about ensuring a good match. It means recognizing your core values, and asking applicants to share theirs.

Say, you’re hiring an office manager, and work/life balance is one of your priorities. Or, conversely, maybe getting the job done is, at any cost. Either way, wouldn’t it be good to know what a candidate would do if forced to choose between staying to push a key project out the door or attending his/her child’s big recital?

When you’re making your list of interview questions, include some that start with:
• What would you do if…
• Did you ever have to choose between…
• What matters more to you…

…and address the issues that matter most to you.

And consider this. When an employee gives notice, many small business owners view it as a blow, a setback. But it’s also an opportunity to raise the bar. Focusing on the core values that ground your business is one way to ensure that your human assets are in fact…assets.

Interested in raising your HR IQ? Request my Human Assets Worksheet at Ray@propres.com.
Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is Propelus, a specialized peer group for business advisors and achievers who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

Market Wisely

strategic marketingMarket Wisely, and Sales Will Follow

By Ray Silverstein

What kind of marketing activities do you do for your business? Do you have a marketing plan? How about a marketing budget?

Do you use marketing strategies to focus and support your sales efforts, or do you engage in spontaneous, one-time marketing activities when an idea appeals to you?

For many entrepreneurs, it’s the latter. Unfortunately, isolated, spur-of-the-moment activities aren’t likely to move you toward your sales goals.

It takes thoughtful, strategic marketing—not haphazard bursts of activity—to set the stage for increased sales. How do you sharpen your marketing focus?

Use a Comprehensive “STP” Marketing Approach

According to STP theory, strategic marketing is a three-step process:

S – Segmenting
T – Targeting
P – Positioning

Segmenting – You can’t sell to everyone. When you segment your market, you divide it into groups of prospects based on criteria significant to your business: demographics, geographics, psychographics, economics, distribution, industries, wants, needs, buying habits, etc.

For example, one of my peer group members in Phoenix owns a swimming pool maintenance service. There are many, many pools in Phoenix. So he segmented his market, broadly dividing it in to family-owned backyard pools and larger, community-based swimming pools.

Targeting – After you segment, target: determine which segment is most worth pursuing, and go. My peer group member concluded that community-based swimming pools make the best customers. He then targeted further, focusing in on YMCA pools and country club pools, because in his experience, their operational standards supported the most intensive maintenance programs.

Positioning – While segmenting and targeting define who you’re going to sell to, positioning focuses on how you’re going to sell them. My peer group member, for example, positioned himself up as the local YMCA pool/country club pool ‘specialist,’ developing proposals and packages just for them.

Positioning includes identifying products, pricing, place, promotions…marketing activities entrepreneurs know well. However, you can’t position your company effectively when you’re trying to reach everyone. By minding your “Ss” and “Ts” as well as your “Ps,” your sales efforts will be more focused and successful.

As I’ve said before: fail to plan, and you plan to fail. Segmenting and targeting are the basic building blocks for well-planned marketing and ultimately sales.

Balance Macro and Micro Marketing

Employing both macro and micro marketing strategies is another way to sharpen your marketing approach.

Macro marketing means working from the market on down. So, once you determine you’re pursuing country club pools, you take steps to—no pun intended!—immerse yourself in this market. Is there an association you can join? A publication to subscribe to? Can you create some marketing materials or a blog just for this audience?

Micro marketing, on the other hand, means working from the bottom on up. Once your macro work is done, you should still pitch each prospect individually for best results. Your targets have things in common, but they’re different, too.

So gather intelligence about each target. Who makes the buying decisions? What are their hot buttons? Who’d they use before, and what were the sticking points? By performing web research and networking, then slowly penetrating an organization, you can better tune your sales pitch to resonate with your prospect.

In summary, it’s a common misconception that ‘marketing’ equals spending money and time on things that don’t generate real results. A smart, strategic marketing plan is your sales department’s best friend. Used together, marketing and sales make a great one-two punch.
Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is Propelus, a specialized peer group for business advisors and achievers who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

Sell Smarter – Ditch the Pitch

Ditch the PitchHow to Sell Smarter: ‘Ditch the Pitch’

Review by Ray Silverstein

There’s one subject entrepreneurs can’t get enough of: how to increase sales.

Well, here’s a thought. If your current sales pitch isn’t delivering the results you want, it’s time to switch things up. Better yet, why not do something radical, and ditch the sales pitch entirely?

My friend Steve Yastrow, a shrewd business advisor and wonderful author, recently introduced this fascinating “Ditch the Pitch” approach to selling, which you’ll find in his new book of the same name. It’s so packed with worthwhile ideas, I asked Steve for permission to share my top takeaways with you.

Fact: Nobody Likes a Sales Pitch

You don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of a canned sales pitch, do you? I know I don’t. And, let’s face it, our prospects don’t either.

So, when you do get valuable face time with a prospect, don’t waste the opportunity by launching into a flat, unwelcome sales pitch. Shake things up: try using these three strategies instead.

Engage in Persuasive Conversations

People want to talk about the things they care about, not listen to monologues. You’ll get much further by drawing prospects into meaningful conversations about subjects that matter to them.

Yes, your sales pitch is a comfortable crutch. Engaging in real conversations will require you to improvise. But this is something you already know how to do. After all, we are all improvising our way through life. Assuming you know your stuff, businesswise (of course you do), you’ll do fine. And you’ll actually enjoy your sales interactions more.

Say Less to Notice More

Most people are better talkers than listeners. So let your prospects do most of the talking. Your first job is to listen, observe, and process what they’re saying. By doing so, you can identify their hot buttons and pain points, and then figure out how your products or services fit in.

That way, when you do open your mouth, what comes out will be interesting and relevant to them, which will get you closer to your goal.

Create a Shared Story

Here’s a great rule of thumb: make 95% of the conversation about your prospects. They don’t need to know everything about you and your business, only the parts that matter to them. Be very selective in what you share.

And another great sales tip: only speak about a paragraph’s worth of words before tossing the conversational ball back to your prospect. That way, you weave your story in with theirs.

In addition, your story is more likely to have a happy ending, in the form of a successful sale.

If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you can’t expect different results. Now is a great time to try a new sales approach. You can learn about Steve’s book, Ditch the Pitch, at www.yastrow.com. And you can get my complimentary Weekly Sales Worksheet—a real-world sales activity tracker—by emailing me at Ray@propres.com

Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. His latest venture is Propelus, a specialized peer group for business advisors and achievers who want to achieve more. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 1-800-818-0150 or ray@propres.com.

The One Thing

The One ThingTHE ONE THING

The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

Gary Keller with Jay Papasan – reviewed by Ray Silverstein

The author states “The One Thing is the best approach to getting what you want.” “What’s the One Thing you can do this week such that by doing it everything else would be easier?”  The author further states, “Where I’d had huge success, I narrowed my concentration to one thing, and where my success varied, my focus had too.”

If everyone has the same number of hours in a day, why do some people seem to get so much more done than others?  The answer is they make getting to the heart of things the heart of their approach.  They go small.

“Going Small” is ignoring all the things you could do and doing what you should do.  It’s recognizing that not all things matter equally and finding the things that matter most.  It’s realizing that extraordinary results are directly determined by how narrow you can make your focus.  The way to get the most out of your work and your life is to go small as possible.

Technological innovations, cultural shifts, and competitive forces will often dictate that a business’s One Thing evolve or transform.  The most successful companies know this and are always asking:  “What’s our One Thing?”  If your company doesn’t know what its One Thing is, then the company’s One Thing is to find out.

Andrew Carnegie addressed the students of the Curry Commercial College and stated “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket is all wrong.  I tell you to put all your eggs in one basket, and then watch that basket.”  So, how do you know which basket to pick? The Focusing Question will tell you.

Life Is A Question:  You may be asking, “Why focus on a question when what we really crave is an answer?”  It’s simple, Answers come from questions, and the quality of any answer is directly determined by the quality of the question.  Ask the wrong question, get the wrong answer.  Ask the right question, get the right answer.  Ask the most powerful question possible, and the answer can be life altering.

Voltaire once wrote, “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”  Great questions are the quickest path to great answers.  How we phrase the questions we ask ourselves determines the answers that eventually become our life.

Example of a Focusing Question:  What’s the One Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?  The Focusing Question can lead you to answer not only “big picture” questions (Where am I going? What target should I am for?) but also “small focus” ones as well (What must I do right now to be on the path to getting the big picture?)

The Focusing Question always aims you at the absolute best of both by forcing you to do what is essential to success—make a decision.  But not just any decision—it drives you to make the best decision.  It ignores what is doable and drills down to what is necessary, to what matters is the foundational habit to use to achieve extraordinary results and lead a big life

To stay on tack for the best possible day, month, year, or career, you must keep asking the Focusing Question.  Ask it again and again, and it forces you to line up tasks in their levered order of importance.  Then, each time you ask it, you see your next priority.

For the author, The Focusing Question is a way of life.  He uses it to find his most leveraged priority, to make the most out of his time, and get the biggest bang for his buck.  Whenever the outcome absolutely matters, he asks it.

The Focusing Question is a foundational habit.  The author uses it for some things and not and not at all for others.  He applies it to the important areas of his life:  spiritual life, physical health, personal life, key relationships, job, business, and financial life.  He addresses them in that order—each one is a foundation for the next.

The Focusing Question can direct you to your One Thing in different areas of your life.  Simply reframe The Focusing Question by inserting your area of focus.  Examples:

Spiritual Life—What’s the One Thing I can do to help others?

Physical Health— What’s the One Thing I can do to achieve my diet goals?

What’s the One Thing I can do to ensure I exercise?

What’s the One Thing I can do to relieve my stress?

Personal Life—— What’s the One Thing I can do to improve my skill at ­__?

What’s the One Thing I can do to find time for myself?

Key Relationships- What’s the One Thing I can do to improve my relationship with my spouse?

What’s the One Thing I can do to make my family  stronger?

Job—————– What’s the One Thing I can do to ensure I hit my goals?

What’s the One Thing I can do to improve my skills?

Business———– What’s the One Thing I can do to make us more competitive?

What’s the One Thing I can do to make our product the best?

What’s the One Thing I can do to make us more profitable?

What’s the One Thing I can do to improve our customer experience?

Leverage Reminders:  Set up ways to remind yourself to use The Focusing Question.  Such as a sign on your desk that says, “Until my One Thing is done—everything else is a distraction.”

The Focusing Question should be “Big” and Specific.  It should not be big and broad, or small and broad, or even small and specific.  Example:

“Big” and Specific—What can I do to double sales in six months?

Big and broad—What can I do to double sales?

Small and broad—What can I do to increase sales?

Small and specific—What can I do to increase sales 5% this year?

The challenge of asking a Great Question is that, once you’ve asked it, you’re now faced with finding a Great Answer.

Extraordinary results require a Great Answer.  If you want the most from your answer, you must realize that it lives outside your comfort zone.  A big answer is never in plain view, nor is the path to finding one laid out for you.  A possibility answer exists beyond what is already known and being done.

A Great Answer is essentially a new answer.  It is a leap across all current answer in search of the next one and is found in two steps.  The first is a stretch.  You uncover the best research and study the highest achievers.  Anytime you don’t know the answer, your answer is to go find your answer.  In other words, by default, your first One Thing is to search for clues and role models to point you in the right direction.  The research and experience of others is the best place to start when looking for your answer.  A new answer usually requires new behavior, so don’t be surprised if along the way to sizable success you change in the process.

Extraordinary Results:

There is a natural rhythm to our lives that becomes a simple formula for implementing the One Thing and achieving extraordinary results:  Purpose,

Priority, and Productivity.  Their link leads to the two areas where you’ll apply the One Thing—one big and one small.

Your big One Thing is your purpose and your small One Thing is the priority you take action to achieve it.  The most productive people start with Purpose and use it like a compass.  They allow Purpose to be the guiding force in determining the Priority that drives their actions.

Think of Purpose, Priority, and Productivity as three parts of an iceberg.  What’s visible to the public—Productivity and Profit—is always buoyed by the substance that serves as the company’s foundation—Purpose and Priority.

The Power of Purpose:

Purpose is the straightest path to power and the ultimate source of personal strength—strength of conviction and strength to persevere.  The prescription for extraordinary results is knowing what matters to you and taking daily doses of actions in alignment with it.  When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions.  With faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices.  And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences.  This is how knowing where you’re going helps lead you to the best possible outcomes and experiences life has to offer.

Discover you Big Why.  Discover your purpose by asking yourself what drives you.  What’s the thing that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going when you’re tired and worn down.

Live by Priority:

Live with purpose and you know where you want to go.  Life by priority and you’ll know what to do to get there.  Purpose without priority is powerless.

Goal Setting to the Now will get you there:

By thinking through the format of Goal Setting to the Now you set a future goal and then methodically drill down to what you should be doing right now.

Example of Goal Setting to the Now:

Someday Goal:

What’s the one thing I want to do someday?

Five Year Goal:

Based on my Someday Goal, what’s the One Thing I can do in the next five years?

One-Year Goal:

Based on my Five Year Goal, what’s the One Thing I can do this year?

Monthly Goal:

Based on my One Year Goal, what’s the One Thing I can do this month?

Weekly goal:

Based on my Monthly Goal, what’s the One Thing I can do this week?

Daily Goal:

Based on my Weekly goal, what’s the One Thing I can do today?

Right Now:

Based on my Daily goal, What’s the One Thing I can do right now?

With this method you’re training your mind how to think, how to connect one goal with the next over time until you know the most important thing you must do right NOW.  You’re learning how to think Big—but going

small.

Live For Productivity:

“Productivity isn’t about being a workhorse, keeping busy or burning the midnight oil….It’s more about priorities, planning, and fiercely protecting your time.    Margarita Tartakovsky

Productive action transforms lives.  Putting together a life of extraordinary results simply comes down to getting the most out of what you do, when what you do matters.  Most people think there’s never enough time to be successful, but there is when you block it.  Time blocking is a very results-oriented way of viewing and using time.  It’s a way of making sure that what has to be done gets done.   Time blocking harnesses your energy and centers it on your most important work.  It’s productivity’s greatest power tool.

If disproportionate results come from one activity, then you must give that one activity disproportionate time.  Each and every day, ask the Focusing Question for your blocked time:  “Today, what’s the One Thing I can do for my One Thing such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary.”  When you find the answer, you’ll be doing the most leveraged activity for your most leveraged work.

Once you’ve done your One Thing for the day, you can devote the rest of it to everything else.  Just use the Focusing Question to identify your next priority and give that task the time it deserves.  So, when you know your One Thing, make an appointment with yourself to tackle it.

Time Block these three things in the following order:

  1. Time block your time off.
  2. Time block your One Thing.
  3. Time block your planning time.

By planning your time off in advance, you are, in effect, managing your work time around your downtime instead of the other way around.  Resting is as important as working.

The most productive people design their days around doing their One Thing.  Their most important appointment each day is with themselves, and they never miss it.  In addition, the most productive people work on “event” time.  They don’t quit until their One Thing is done.

The last priority you time block is planning time.  This is where you reflect on where you are and where you want to go.  Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals.  First, ask what needs to happen that month for you to be on target for your annual goals.  Then ask what must happen that week to be on course for your monthly goals.  You’re essentially asking, “Based on where I am right now, what’s the One Thing I need to do this week to stay on track for my monthly goal and for my monthly goal to be on track for my annual goal?

Protect Your Time Block:

For time blocks to actually block time, they must be protected.  Although time blocking isn’t hard, protecting the time you’ve blocked is.  The world doesn’t know your purpose or priorities and isn’t responsible for them—you are.  So it’s your job to protect your time blocks from all those who don’t know what matters most to you, and from yourself when you forget.

The best way to protect your time blocks is to adopt the mindset that they can’t be moved.  You own need to do other things instead of your One Thing may be your biggest challenge to overcome.