Posts tagged ‘strategy’

April 29, 2012

It’s Not How Busy You Are…

There’s an epidemic of “busy busy” going around. A lot of people are saying how busy they are. Sometimes, they’re using that as an excuse for not doing something they should have done, like answer an email that contained a specific question. Or returned a call left in their voicemail box.

Some of these folks think that this makes them look good. It’s anything but, because it’s not how busy you are, it’s what you get done. I’ve met many people who say how busy they are, yet they don’t seem to get much done — they’re not that productive. I’ve also met some folks who I know are very busy, yet if I call them and leave a message, or send an email, they always have time to respond in a timely manner. And these folks always seem to be unhurried, like they have all the time to spend with me.

Of course I wouldn’t take any more of their time than I should, but boy does that make me feel special. Think about it. Try not to catch the “busy busy” going around.

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November 30, 2011

Investing In You

In a recent article on CBS Moneywatch by blogger Penelope Trunk, she discusses her secrets of financial success. Her #4 secret: invest in yourself. Trunk writes that she once paid her remaining cash to hire a career coach, when she most needed it. That coach helped her solve major issues that she was grappling with at the time, and allowed her to change things that led to breakthroughs in her career.

And so you, too, should consider well-placed investments in yourself. You don’t necessarily have to hire me as your coach (though if you’re wondering, you can hear more about how I can help you here). Hire somebody — just please don’t ask your mom, dad, neighbor, aunt, uncle, former co-worker, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. That is, unless they have the right type of experience to help you with your challenges.

You need someone who can get you to see from different perspectives, so you can see your way to the possible solutions to your problems, and doors to opportunities.

November 16, 2011

The Pitch – Whose Is It?

Like it or not, we all pitch. I don’t mean a baseball, I mean pitching to convince someone of your particular point of view. Whether it’s pitching them to accept your suggestion, buy your product, bring you in for an interview, or extend an offer of a job, at some point you pitch. But whose pitch is it? Yours?

Nope. It’s theirs. The pitch has to make sense to them. It has to make them realize that it’s about them — what they can gain from what you’re pitching. If you want them to offer you a job, they need to know how they benefit from you taking that job. Or, if you want them to buy your product, they need to visualize how your product makes their life easier/better/cheaper/whatever.

They’re thinking in terms of the famous FM radio station that too many people forget: WIIFM, or what’s in it for me. When you think of what’s in it for them, you stand a greater chance of them coming to the conclusion that whatever you’re pitching is right for them.

Even though you’re giving the pitch, it’s all about them. Remember that.

October 3, 2011

Be Apart from the Pack

I recently saw a sound byte on YouTube from Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire owner of resort and casino properties in Las Vegas and around the world. He summarized his advice for success as this: “Just do things in life, the way other people don’t do them. Change the status quo.”

And that’s what I mean too, in the subtitle from my latest book where I say “don’t be a part of the pack, be apart FROM the pack.” Whether you’re looking for your next job, looking to grow your business, or hoping to start one, think of doing things in ways that make you stand out. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.

Here are just a few things to get you thinking:

  • Send a handwritten thank-you note instead of sending an email.
  • Pick up the phone to call someone you haven’t spoken with in awhile, who isn’t someone you want something from.
  • Instead of complaining about something, think up a solution for the problem.
  • Don’t be a victim of whatever situation you’re in. Take charge and take action.
  • Know what you’re good at, then seek or create opportunities for you to apply what you’re good at for someone else’s benefit.

C’mon, stand out from the pack! Do things differently.

July 24, 2011

Even the Floor Guy Knows…

I recently had a new kitchen floor put in. The floor covering company through which I made this purchase is a local small business, one that’s been around for years. Their prices are a magnitude lower than their larger competitors, probably because the competitors have much larger showrooms and more employees. Since the appearance of the floor covering in my home is more important than the appearance of the showroom where I bought it, I enjoy doing business with this local company.

This firm has a small showroom, but other than that uses a virtual company model, with a minimum of permanent “W2” employees and use of outside contractors who are essentially self-employed. Clearly this helps keep costs to a minimum as well, and the owner passes the benefit along to his customers in the form of lower prices than the competition.

While the installer was at my house doing his thing, I had a chance to chat with him while he worked. Not too much — I didn’t want to distract or delay him — but enough to hear some of his perspectives. One of the things he mentioned was that he could work for other, higher-priced competitors, and probably make more per job. But he recognized right away that those higher-yielding jobs would be far fewer in number.

With the “Great Recession” a couple of years ago, and now the stubborn recovery, those higher-priced jobs became very scarce, as floor covering is typically a discretionary expense. The installer has worked with the floor covering firm for years, and stays loyal to the owner, because while he knows that he doesn’t make as much per job, he continues to get a steady stream of them.

And in his view, he’d rather have a steady stream of quarters than an occasional trickle of dollars. So, even the floor guy knows.

June 14, 2011

Burnt Bridges Harder to Fix

Even superstars can’t get away with burning their bridges — ask LeBron James of the NBA’s Miami Heat. Still dealing with the fallout of losing to the Dallas Mavericks in this year’s NBA championship, James had to do some damage control on something he said was quoted out of context. But championship win or lose, he probably wouldn’t have to be dealing with this if it weren’t for the bridge he burned with his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I’m much more an observer than I am a fan of the sport, but to me, LeBron’s announcement last summer about “taking his talents” to Miami is what burned his bridge. Apparently this announcement came without even the Cavaliers’ owner knowing in advance of his decision. Lots of fans think James burned his bridges by leaving Cleveland, but that’s not a fair position to take, since he, and any other NBA player, should be free to play wherever he’d like to.

It’s the manner in which James departed Cleveland that blew up the bridge and mobilized armies of LeBron-haters across the country. And even his superstar status couldn’t bridge that gap. So if you’re a superstar in your own right at a company, and are thinking of taking your talents elsewhere, be sure you handle your announcement the right way, and not LeBron’s way.

June 7, 2011

Bringing Mom to Your Job Interview?

It’s the end of another academic school year. During this time I seem to get more questions from my college student audience, and from readers of my last book “Dive Into ACTION! For Recent Graduates – Don’t Be A Part of the Pack, Be Apart From the Pack”. The economy is stuttering, jobs may have hit a hiccup, and another crop of graduates is in the market looking for jobs.

In the midst of all this, I came across an article discussing “helicopter parents” who get too involved with their kids’ job hunts. I had to shake my head, but you decide after reading this article from Fortune on the CNN Money site.

College grads, when you look for jobs, be sure to leave Mom or Dad at home!

May 5, 2011

Advice That’s Not Cheesy

Interesting article that appeared recently on CNNMoney.com, about an interview by Dinah Eng with the founder of Cheesecake Factory, David Overton. He took the wholesale business that his parents started in the 1970’s and turned it into the billion-dollar chain that it is today.

Overton’s 3 main points:

  1. Focus on people — you have to give your people the tools to excel, including investing in training for your team.
  2. You can’t try to control everything yourself. He focused on the things that would make them successful.
  3. Make the formula hard to copy — their restaurant menu is very broad and deep, making it hard for other restaurants to try doing the same thing.

A great article — give it a quick read! I think today being Cinco de Mayo, made me think about food…

April 24, 2011

The “L” in IDEAL

And finally, the “L” in IDEAL stands for “loyalty”. This is the element that makes your business model tick; the ability for you to create a customer or client experience that keeps them coming back for more. Even more importantly, their customer experience with you is so awesome, they want other people they know to experience it too, so they refer you.

I like to say that this “L” results in two “R’s” — repeats and referrals. Repeat business is very valuable for you to have, because it doesn’t cost you very much to continue receiving this. And referrals are valuable too, because they drastically lower your cost of acquiring a new customer.

So keep the elements of my IDEAL business model in mind. It could lead you to fulfillment and prosperity in your business. It certainly has for me, for past and present businesses that I’ve owned.

April 15, 2011

The “A” in IDEAL

Getting back to my concept of the IDEAL business model, we come to “A”, which stands for “advantage”. Your products and/or services must have some sort of advantage over your competition, some of which may already have greater share of business than you do right now. Looking at it another way, there must be some advantage for your customers to do business with you, compared to whichever competitor they’re using now.

An advantage could come through price, features/benefits, having a patent on a new technology, or even just being repeatedly more dependable than any other supplier. Whatever the advantage, try to build one that is sustainable. A price advantage, for example, is mostly temporary — until your competitors drop their prices too. Building and demonstrating a sustainable competitive advantage is the ticket to gaining market share.