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Showing posts from February, 2014

The 20 Roadblocks To Achieving New Business Transformation

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In their new book, How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things, co-authors Neil Smith and Patricia O'Connell list 20 excuses commonly heard in companies for reasons why new business transformation ideas are not considered.

The authors recommend eliminating these 20 excuses from your vocabulary:
Our company is well run; there are no opportunities.We're inefficient, but my department is not the problem.The issue is support function and allocations, not my costs.Our problem is revenues, not how we do things.We have tried that before.We are already doing that.My boss/the CEO/legal will never agree to that.That won't save money or increase revenues.That would cost too much to implement.No one in the industry is doing that.We will lose customers if we do that.Anything that takes time away from serving my customers will hurt us.But we are unique.No one really understands what we do.I don't have time to think about that.We don't have the right technology to do that.I can'…

11 Questions To Ask Before You Start A Business

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Are you a leader contemplating starting a new business?  Or, has a budding entrepreneur turned to you because of your leadership skills to ask for your help?

Here are 11 questions you or that entrepreneur should ask before starting a business.
Is there a true need for my product/service? What is the competitive environment and how will my product/service be unique, different or better?Will my location (or accessibility online) be convenient and easy to get to for my customers? Do I have adequate funding to support my business, particularly during the ramp-up period that could be a year or more?Do I have the stamina to start a new business and work hard even if it means months of extended work hours and perhaps even seven days a week?Will my family and social life withstand my commitment to my new business?Will the name of my business be easy to spell, suitable for print on online, and memorable?Am I a risk taker?Am I humble enough to ask for help, especially if I am not an expert in m…

14 Attributes Of Great Coaches

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Today, I am pleased to share again a guest post from Garret Kramer of InnerSports LLC about how to be a great coach:


14 Attributes of Great Coaches By Garret Kramer, Author of Stillpower: Excellence with Ease in Sports and Life


There are many, many coaching manuals and books on the market today.   Unfortunately, virtually all of them provide an external blueprint or "positive" guide to successful coaching and leadership. Very few, however, point the coach inward to an intuitive understanding that he or she already possesses.


Below are fourteen examples of the inside-out coaching paradigm revealed in Stillpower.  Consider these attributes of great coaches for yourself; then see how they might apply to you, your team, classroom, company, or family.


1.  Great coaches think state of mind first; behavior (including "working hard, "staying positive, and "doing the 'right' thing"), a distant second.


2.  Great coaches know that what they say pales in comparison…

Exceptional Companies Commit To These Three Rules

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Findings from Deloitte Consulting, as highlighted in its infographic advertisement in the March 2014 issue of The Atlantic magazine caught my attention today.

Using 45 years of data from more than 25,000 companies, Deloitte Consulting says that 174 exceptional companies stood out from the rest of the pack (344 statistically qualified as "exceptional").

The success of these exceptional companies appeared to depend on a commitment to three rules that govern how exceptional companies think -- under any circumstances.

Those three rules are:
Better Before Cheaper - Be known for high quality, not lower prices.Revenue Before Cost - Higher revenue is worth more than lower cost.There Are No Other Rules - Make every other choice based on the first two rules.





13-Point Checklist To Quality Control Your Customer Service Call Center

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Every business leader should periodically call his/her company to observe how their customers are being treated by their employees -- because, all too often a phone conversation becomes a customer turnoff rather than a relationship builder.

So, here's a checklist that is primarily from sales expert and author Paul R. Timm that you can use to evaluate your organization's customer service via the phone:

1. Was the phone answered after two rings or less?
2. Did the employee use an appropriate greeting?
3. Did the employee identify himself or herself by name?
4. Was the employee's tone of voice pleasant and businesslike?
5. Was the call handled efficiently without being abrupt?
6. Did the employee provide accurate information or refer the caller to an appropriate person?
7. Did the employee reflect the best image for the company?
8. Did the employee thank the caller?
9. Did the employee make prudent use of putting the caller on hold if it was necessary to do so?
10. Did the e…

Teach An Employee Something New Today

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Take the opportunity today to teach an employee something new. Nearly everyone likes to learn and is capable of tackling a new challenge.
Teach your employee something that expands his (or her) current job description.Teach something that will help him to get promoted within your organization at a later date.Teach him a skill that uses new technology.Or, teach him something that will allow him to be a more skilled leader and manager in the future. You can even teach something that you no longer need to be doing in your position, but that will be a rewarding challenge/task for your employee.

The benefit to your employee is obvious. The benefit to you is you'll have a more skilled team member who is capable of handling more work that can help you to grow your business and/or make it run more efficiently.

Be a leader who teaches.

Don't Hire Jerks, No Matter How Talented

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"Don't Hire Jerks, No Matter How Talented," said Michael Lebowitz a couple years ago in a interview for The New York Times.

Lebowitz is the CEO of Big Spaceship, a marketing and communications agency.  He claims, and I agree, that no matter how talented the person may be, if he/she can't fit into the company culture and work effectively with co-workers, it doesn't matter how talented he/she is.

The other advice Lebowitz gives is:
If you are the CEO, be the FIRST person to interview a candidate.  Don't be last, as is typically the case. "I completely step back from trying to assess their skills. I leave that to the people they're going to be working with really closely," said Lebowitz.  "And, so I spend as much time as an hour, sometimes 90 minutes, just trying to figure out who they are and if they're going to be a good fit for the culture."

In his interviews, Lebowitz asks these open-ended questions:
So, what do you do?What do you …

The Importance Of Encouraging Your Employees To Volunteer

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If you are a workplace leader who supports a volunteer program at your business, you already know that by encouraging employees to give back to your community you are:
building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hires In fact, job seekers much prefer companies that have a strong volunteer program. And, a growing number of businesses are rewarding employees who volunteer by giving them extra vacation time and other incentives.

Fortunately, throughout the U.S. there are hundreds of volunteer opportunities where employees can contribute individually, or where leaders can organize teams of employees to volunteer together on a routine and scheduled basis.

To find organizations in need of volunteers, go to Volunteer Match and type in your zip code.  You'll be presented a list of nearby volunteer opportunities.  Also, you can find opportunities on iPartcipate.

7 Keys For Building A Great Business

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When you start reading Mark Thompson’s and Brian Tracy’s book, Now…Build a Great Business!, you may feel like you are reading 200 pages of Blog posts, but the bite-sized approach to providing tools, practical steps and ideas, rather than theory, is precisely the authors’ intended approach.

The book thoroughly explains the seven keys for how to achieve business success:
1. Become a great leader
2. Develop a great business plan
3. Surround yourself with great people
4. Offer a great product or service
5. Design a great marketing plan
6. Perfect a great sales process
7. Create a great customer experience

You’ll find a checklist at the end of each step (each chapter) where you can write down your action plan for applying what you’ve learned.

Particularly interesting is the chapter on strategic planning, where the authors recommend you should ask yourself these important questions before you act to create or reinvent the direction of your organization:
• Where are you now? What is your cu…

The Manager's Guide To HR

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Overland Park, KS-based authorMax Muller, last year released the second edition of his popular book,The Manager's Guide to HR. The original edition (published in 2009) of The Manager’s Guide to HR provided readers with a plain-English introduction to the regulations, rights, and responsibilities related to hiring and firing, benefits, compensation, documentation, performance evaluations, training, and more. But much has changed since then.  That's why Muller extensively revised the book to cover all the key areas and bring readers up to speed on current developments in employment law, including: How social media is changing the recruitment landscapeShifting labor standards regarding compensation and benefitsThe National Labor Relations Board’s stance on work-related employee speech on social mediaThe Employee Retirement Income Security ActNew record-keeping requirementsAmendments to the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act The book is ideal forw…

Here Are The Many Times You Should Thank Your Customer

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In your leadership role, it's vital that your team members know how to deliver excellent customer service. "Knock Your Socks Off" type service as book editor Ann Thomas and Jill Applegate would say.

Part of delivering excellent customer service is saying "Thank You" to your customers and knowing when to say "Thank You".

Thomas and Applegate recommend telling your customers "Thank You" during at least these nine situations:
When they do business with you...every time.When they compliment you (or your company)When they offer you comments or suggestionsWhen they try one of your new products or servicesWhen they recommend you to a friendWhen they are patient...and even when they are not so patientWhen they help you to serve them betterWhen they complain to youWhen they make you smileYou and your team members can say "Thank You":
VerballyIn writing (and don't underestimate the power of personal notes via snail mail)With a small, tast…

Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads

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Here are my Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads...

Each week, I share with you one recommended blog postvideo, and profile about leadership, communication and/or marketing.

The recommendations are be some of my favorite finds that I hope you'll think are equally interesting and helpful.

So, here goes:
Blog Post:  Tanveer Nasser on StorytellingVideo:  David Grossman on the Effective Communication within Organizations and Truth Tellers.Profile:  Michael Combest Please let me know if you have a recommended post, video or profile you would like me to read and see for possible inclusion in my Mid-Week roundup.

Thanks! Eric Jacobson

Terrific Quotes From The Book, Just Listen

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Here are some terrific quotes from Mark Goulston's book,Just Listen:

Good management is the art of making problems so interesting and their solutions so constructive that everyone wants to get to work and deal with them. -- Paul HawkenLife is mostly a matter of perception and more often misperception. -- Dave LoganEveryone has an invisible sign hanging from their next saying, "Make me feel important." -- Mary Kay AshDo the unexpected. The expected is boring.  The expected is tuned out. -- Steve StraussHumility is the surest sign of strength. -- Thomas MertonYour most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning. -- Bill GatesThe secret of getting ahead is getting started. -- Agatha ChrisieDon't find fault.  Find a remedy. -- Henry Ford

Be A "Do More" Leader

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Here are some of my favorite leadership and life tips and advice from William Arthur Ward, one of America's most quoted writers of inspirational maxims:
Do more than belong: participate.Do more than care: help.Do more than believe: practice.Do more than be fair: be kind.Do more than forgive: forget.Do more than dream: work.

First-Time Leaders Need The 5Cs Situation Assessment

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As a first-time leader, you'll find it helpful to have some framework for your thinking.  More specifically, according to authors George Bradt and Gillian Daivs of, First-Time Leader, you will benefit from the 5Cs Situation Assessment.

This provides you a framework for understanding the your business environment by looking at customers, collaborators, capabilities, competitors, and conditions.

So, as you meet with you colleagues and employees in your new leaders role, as them to share with you their insights about:

Customers:  First line, customer chain, end users, influencers.Collaborators:  Suppliers, allies, government/community leaders.Capabilities:  Human, operational, financial, technical, key assets.Competitors:  Direct, indirect, potential.Conditions:  Social/demographic, political/government/regulatory, economic, market.

5 Leadership Quotes From Manager 3.0

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These five quotes from the book, Manager 3.0, really impress and inspire me:

"The leader is the person who brings a little magic to the moment." -- Denise Morrison

"The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already." -- John Buchan

"The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do." -- Apple Inc.

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place," -- George Bernard Shaw.

"Twenty years from now you will more be disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did." -- Mark Twain

Manager 3.0 is a management book tailored specifically for young business leaders and provides them with the tools to bridge generation gaps in the workplace and gain awareness of other's differences and their own.

It's authored by Brad Karsh and Courtney Templin, both of JB Training Solutions.

Corporate Culture And Changing Behavior

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I've found this advice from authors Neil Smith and Patricia O'Connnell (How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things) to be particularly helpful when it comes to corporate culture and changing behavior:

Corporate culture is an interlocking series of expectations, rituals, and habits maintained by peer influence and rewarding adherence.To change the way people do things, first you must convince them of the value of change.This is done most effectively by showing them the potential rewards for the new behavior.However, since the rewards are often in the future while the pain  of change is immediate, the rewards have to be clearly articulated to serve as motivation. Smith and O'Connell go on to explain that: Given the importance of peer influence, people need to perceive that respected peers are adopting change. The reason...because according to their cited research: 3 percent of the population tends to be innovators of change9 percent are early adopters38 percent are early-majori…

Effective Goal Setting - Tips From Olympian Alan Culpepper

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If you've had a lapse in maintaining your New Year's resolutions, it may be time to set a new goal for yourself.  Here are seven tips for goal setting from two-time U.S. Olympian Alan Culpepper (from the November 2013 issue of Competitor magazine).

Here are his seven tips for setting goals, whether are your workplace or away-from-work goals:
Be clear and specific about what it is you are trying to accomplish.Set intermediate goals that complement a long-term goal.Shoot high, but recognize the importance of a natural progression.Write your goals down.Review your goals periodically.Remind yourself often why you are working on your goal.And, remember even if you don't hit your goal, there is satisfaction the process.

The Six Elements Of Character

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John Mattone, author of Intelligent Leadership, says character consists of these six elements:

CourageLoyaltyDiligenceModestyHonestyGratitude What would you add to this list?

Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads

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Here are my Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads...

Each week, I share with you one recommended blog postvideo, and profile about leadership, communication and/or marketing.

The recommendations are be some of my favorite finds that I hope you'll think are equally interesting and helpful.

So, here goes:
Blog Post:  Dean Brenner on Making Lasting ImpressionsVideo:  Brian Tracy on Time ManagementProfile:  Leadership Profile:  Brett Gibson Please let me know if you have a recommended post, video or profile you would like me to read and see for possible inclusion in my Mid-Week roundup.
Thanks! Eric Jacobson

Characteristics Of High-Performing Teams

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According to Ron Ricci and Carl Wiese, authors of the book, The Collaboration Imperative, high-performing teams have the following characteristics:

People have solid and deep trust in each other and in the team's purpose--they feel free to express feelings and ideas.Everybody is working toward the same goals.Team members are clear on how to work together and how to accomplish tasks.Everyone understands both team and individual performance goals and knows what is expected.Team members actively diffuse tension and friction in a relaxed and informal atmosphere.The team engages in extensive discussion, and everyone gets a chance to contribute--even the introverts.Disagreement is viewed as a good thing and conflicts are managed.  Criticism is constructive and is oriented toward problem solving and removing obstacles.The team makes decisions when there is natural agreement--in the cases where agreement is elusive, a decision is made by the team lead or executive sponsor, after which lit…

6 Things To Consider Before Making Your Next Presentation

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Author John Baldoni suggests you consider the following six things before making your next presentation:

How will you open your presentation on a high note?Where might you pause for emphasis?How can you make time to rehearse your presentation?What are the high notes?  What are your points of emphasis?What points might you emphasize with a pause?How will you close your presentation?  Will you tell a story? Or, will you issue a call to action? Baldoni offers many other tips in his book, The Leaders's Guide to Speaking with Presence.

The Benefits And Realities Of Marketing

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Fact:  "If you don't market your business, you won't have one," says Bill McBean in his book, The Facts of Business Life.

He goes on to explain the following benefits and realities of marketing.

Benefits of Marketing:

Marketing lets prospective customers know that your company exists and what you do.Marketing allows you to shape customer perception of your company.Marketing differentiates your business from your competitors.Marketing allows a business to deliver your "why buy here" and "why buy now" message.Marketing helps your company capture market share and maintain success.Marketing enables you to develop brand recognition and expand your product lines.Marketing can help reinforce, or shore up, your business's reputation.Marketing enables your company to protect itself from competitors by promoting a competitive edge or advantage they can't duplicate.Realities of Marketing: Everyone in the company has to have marketing in his or her job …

12 Ways To Express Genuine Interest In Your Customers

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Author Steve Curtin, in his book, Delight Your Customers, suggests you and your employees do these 12 things to express genuine interest in your customers:

Offer personalized greetingsUse namesPractice assertive hospitalityAsk questionsCossetAnticipate needsRemember preferencesPay attention to detailsDisplay a sense of urgencySolicit feedbackOffer personal farewellsFollow up on service

Embrace Change To Grow

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Change is inevitable. Change is good.  Help your employees and team learn to embrace change.

Here are some solid insights from Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan's (Liberty, Missouri) book, Change-friendly Leadership -- How to Transform Good Intentions into  Great Performance:

The kind of behavior change that results in lasting (sustainable) change must accommodate people's feelings--feelings that involve trust, confidence, passion, and all those other intangible but very real things that make us human.It's often the stress that people resist, not the change itself.Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights (Pauline R. Kezer).A transformational leader focuses primarily on initiating and "managing" change.  He/she influences people to improve, to stretch, and to redefine what's possible.It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change (Charles D…

Leadership Tips From Lead With Purpose

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There is lots of great advice from John Baldoni in his best-seller, Lead With Purpose.  Some of my favorites include:

Purpose can be a powerful catalyst to performance when it is channeled in ways that enable employees to see what is expected of the organization and what is expected of them to help the organization achieve its intended results.We follow leaders not because they bring us down but because they lift our spirits with their attitude, words, and examples.No job is complete without a review.  Look at what went right as well as what went wrong.  Often you learn more from mistakes than successes.  Sometimes success happens in spite of itself, a function of a good team and good product producing good results.  Failure, however, can occur with those same things in place, but with poor managerial decisions.

Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads

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Here are my Mid-Week Recommended Leadership Reads...

Each week, I share with you one recommended blog postvideo, and profile about leadership, communication and/or marketing.

The recommendations are be some of my favorite finds that I hope you'll think are equally interesting and helpful.

So, here goes:
Blog Post:  Leadership Freak on Spotting Leaders You Can TrustVideo:  Jim Collins on the Five Stages of Corporate DeclineProfile:  Leadership Profile:  Stephen Hopkins Please let me know if you have a recommended post, video or profile you would like me to read and see for possible inclusion in my Mid-Week roundup.
Thanks! Eric Jacobson

Genuine Listening...

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Genuine listening involves connecting heart to heart and working to understand the other person's viewpoint even if you don't agree with it -- Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan

Today's Leadership Thought

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"You can express your own views as passionately as you want, as long as you're equally curious about others' views." -- Author of Smart Leaders Smarter Teams, Roger Schwarz.


Brian Tracy On How To Motivate Your Employees

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Take one hour to read Brian Tracy's pocket-sized guide for managers, Motivation.  You'll finish the book within that hour, and it'll be worth your time.

"You cannot motivate other people," explains Tracy, "but you can remove the obstacles that stop them from motivating themselves.  All motivation is self-motivation.  As a manager, you can create an environment where this potential for self-motivation is released naturally and spontaneously."

In his book, Tracy presents chapter-by-chapter his 21 most reliable and powerful methods for increasing the effectiveness of any individual or group.

Each chapter includes a couple different action exercises.

Toward the end of the book, Tracy explains the importance of the Friendship Factor in motivating employees.  "Every manager can tap into the power of friendship in everyday employee interactions by remembering the three Cs:  Consideration, Caring and Courtesy.
Practice consideration by expressing an intere…

Consider Negative Feedback As Generous Rather Than Critical

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Negative feedback is part of growing as a leader -- both delivering that feedback and sometimes receiving that type of feedback.

Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of Ferazzi Greenlight, a research-based consulting and training company, suggests practicing "caring criticism," as he explained it in a past issue of the Harvard Business Review.


"Negative feedback can hurt, but usually it's a gift aimed at helping the recipient improve performance or avoid mistakes.  We should deliver and receive it that way," says Ferrazzi.

"Use phrases like 'I might suggest' and 'Think about this'" when giving feedback.

And, then Kerrazzi suggests when receiving candid feedback, that you thank the person who offered it and make clear the points on which you agree.  He's found that if you think of the person giving you honest feedback as generous, rather than critical, you become less defensive and more open to changing your behavior.