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Showing posts from April, 2015

10 Questions All Leaders Must Ask Themselves

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Here are 10 important questions business leaders should ask, according to Ken Blanchard and Garry Ridge, authors of Helping People Win At Work:
Does my business have a clear, meaningful, and easily understood vision/mission?Do I have the right people in the right seats on the bus?Do I have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal), and have I communicated it to my employees?Are my values driving the behavior I want in my organization?Am I creating a culture that increases employee engagement?Am I cultivating a spirit of internal and external learning?Do my employees know what an A looks like, and am I supporting them to get that A?Are our products/services creating lasting, positive memories for our customers?Do I have the best, most timely data and information to help my business make good decisions?Are our key performance indicators the right ones, and are we measuring what matters? And, one more questions to ask is:
Do we celebrate success?

Eight Steps To Build A Powerful Team

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Take some quality time to read the book by C. Elliott HaverlackUnbunde It, because it explores the issues you face as a leader with a twist that is different from many other leadership books.  Throughout, the book offers suggestions on how to overcome the burden that complexity creates in our lives and businesses.

Most intriguing for me is Haverlack's straight-forward, unbundled insights on teams.  "The healthiest teams trust each other," explains the author. "When we trust, we tend to be more transparent and are more likely to share the hurdles we need to leap. And, once trust becomes a competency, accountability comes much more easily." And, accountability is the key to delivering results.

Haverlack's eight-point plan for a powerful team is:
Engage a group that shares your core values.Set aspirational yet achievable goals for the company and every individual.Create an environment that encourages and rewards trust.Empower every individual to create and ac…

Act Quickly To Build Loyalty

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A customer who complains and receives a fast response will actually be more loyal to your company in terms of future sales and referrals than a customer who never complained at all. That is what author Mark Thompson and Brian Tracy proclaim, and I agree with them.

They also say in their book, Now...Build A Great Business!, that:
a slow response to a customer complaint triggers fear and anger. And, when that happens, the customer is afraid that he/she is going to be stuck with a product/service that doesn't work and feels angry that he/she went ahead with the purchase in the first place.

So, lead your team to:
Respond quickly to customer complaintsRefuse to defend or make excusesOffer to make the customer happy immediatelyBe open and honestTell the truth and tell it as soon as you know it Bottom-line...assume that anything you do or say will become public knowledge quickly. So, resolve to build and maintain trust in everything you do.

Five TouchPoints Leadership Lessons

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Some of my favorite parts of Douglas Conant's and Mette Norgaards' 2011 book, TouchPoints, are these five lessons for leaders:
You need to have dual vision. You need to be able to address the most pressing need and do it in a way that makes your employees more capable and ready to take on the next issue.No leader can succeed by being only tough-minded or only tender-hearted. The perfect balance is to be both tough-minded on the issue and tender-hearted with people.Leading with heart doesn't mean you always decide in favor of the individual. It just means that when you need to make a tough-minded decision, you are acutely aware of how it will affect the people involved.The people who are the most committed to mastering their craft are often the most humble. That is because, instead of comparing themselves to others, they are moved by an inner vision of what they might achieve.Ask often, "How can I help?" Doing so at the start of an interaction opens up space for p…

The 27 Challenges Managers Face

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Take a look at the list below. How many of these 27 management challenges are you facing right now? And, how many do you believe you'll face this year?
Going from peer to leaderComing from the outside to take over leadership of an existing teamBringing together an entirely new teamWelcoming a new member to your existing teamHelping an employee who has a hard time managing timeAssisting an employee who needs help with interpersonal communicationGetting an employee more organizedHelping an employee who needs to get better at problem solvingWorking with an employee who needs to increase productivityHelping an employee who needs to improve qualityManaging an employee who knows more about the work than you doShowing an employee how to start "going the extra mile"Working with an employee who does "creative work"Helping an employee make an attitude adjustmentManaging conflict between and among individuals on your teamDealing with an employee who has personal issues at…

Life And Leadership Quotes From Leading With GRIT

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In addition to Laurie Sudbrink's, Leading With GRIT, being a great new book for leaders, it's packed with powerful leadership and life quotes. Here are some of my favorites:

Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are - Kurt CobainThe respect you show to others (or lack thereof) is an immediate reflection on your self respect - Alex ElleYou never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - Harper LeePeople only see what they are prepared to see - Ralph Waldo EmersonWe make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give - Winston ChurchillIf it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you - Fred DevitoThe secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old but on building the new - SocratesThe biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand. We listen to rely - AnonymousAttention is the rarest and purest form of generosity - Simon WeilGood leaders inspire people to have confidence…

How To Evaluate Your Customer Service Phone Team

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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…

Be A Manager Who Makes Decisions

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A manager who can't make a decision or who can't make a timely decision will frustrate his/her employees. Equally bad, a lack of decision will impede the progress of the manager's team.

Some managers make endless requests for data as a way to postpone their having to make a decision. Employees end up spinning in circles, slicing and dicing the information far beyond what is truly needed for the manager to make a decision.

Some managers are simply afraid to make a decision in fear of making a "wrong" decision. These managers don't necessarily request needless data, but simply just never decide.

Successful managers gather the data from their employees, make any truly necessary follow-up requests (probing beyond what their employee may have researched/gathered on their own), and then make their decision...knowing that in virtually all cases most decisions are not black and white "right or "wrong," but are the best decisions made at that time for …

How To Know When You Are Ready For Your Next Professional Challenge

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Liz Wiseman's latest book is Rookie Smarts. It's all about living and working perpetually on a learning curve. She contends that we do our best work when we are new to something. And, she teaches us how to reclaim and cultivate the curious, flexible and youthful mindset called "rookie smarts."

"Something magical happens when a skilled veteran successfully re-learns his rookie smarts and is still able to retain his veteran acumen," explains Wiseman.

Wondering if you are ready for a new challenge?  Take a look at this list from Wiseman of the 10 signs that indicate you are ready for a new challenge:
Things are running smoothly.You are consistently getting positive feedback.Your brain doesn't have to work hard to be successful.You don't prepare for meetings because you already know the answers.You've stopped learning something new every day.You are busy but bored.You're taking longer showers in the morning and you take your time getting to work.…

The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership

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Have you checked out the relatively new book, The Ten Golden Rules of Leadership:  Classical Wisdom for Modern Leaders?

As you dig in, you'll step back in time to learn philosophies of the past and how to apply them today.

Authors M. A. Soupios and Panos Mourdoukoutas offer a fresh approach to becoming a great leader by learning from antiquity's great thinkers, such as Aristotle, Hesiod, Sophocles, Heraclitus, and others.

Each chapter in the book is devoted to one philosophy of leadership that equate to ten simple rules:
Know ThyselfOffice Shows the PersonNurture Community at the WorkplaceDo Not Waste Energy on things You Cannot ChangeAlways Embrace the TruthLive Life by a Higher CodeAlways Evaluate Information with a Critical EyeNever Underestimate the Power of Personal IntegrityCharacter is Destiny You'll learn how to take each idea and apply it to the challenges of the modern workplace.
According to the authors, the key distinguishing features of an authentic leader is …

How To Lead During Six Moments That Matter

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The book, Step Up, shows readers how to step up to the plate during six critical leadership moments.  Readers learn how to: Use anger intelligently in the workplace.Recognize and deal with terminal politeness.Make decisions when no one else is making them.Take ownership when others are externalizing a problem.Identify and leverage pessimism.Inspire others to take action. And, before you start to read the book, you can take (via a QR code in the book) a fifteen-minute online Step Up Leadership Assessment, which will give you instant feedback on your leadership readiness and point you to the most relevant chapters in the book.
The book's two authors recently shared these insights with me:
A Conversation with Henry Evans and Colm Foster, authors of Step Up
What is a “leadership moment”?
These are moments when leadership is required in order to see a problem solved, opportunity seized, momentum changed, relationship(s) built, or when the intelligent expression of emotion is required to d…

Nine Steps To Lead Breakthrough Change

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David S. Pottruck's book, Stacking the Deck, teaches readers a nine-step course of action leaders can follow from the first realization that change is needed through all the steps of implementation, including assembling the right team of close advisors and getting the word out to the wider group.

This book tells the in-the-trenches stories of individuals who led bold, sweeping change. Stories that walk you through the social and emotional reality of leading others -- many of whom are fearful of change.

Stories from eBay President and CEO John Donahoe; Wells Fargo former CEO and Chairman Dick Kovacevich; Starbucks Chairman, President and CEO Howard Schultz; San Francisco Giants President and CEO Larry Baer; and Pinkberry CEO Ron Graves.

Part one of the book outlines the Stacking the Deck process -- the nine steps through which nearly every breakthrough change inevitably goes:
Establishing the need to change and creating a sense of urgency.Recruiting and unifying your inner team.Deve…

How 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

Wisdom And Integrity

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How To Lead With Purpose

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“Purpose is the why behind everything within an organization,” says author John Baldoni, of the book, Lead With Purpose.

Baldoni also believes that it is up to leaders to make certain that organizational purpose is understood and acted upon. And, to harness the talents of their employees, leaders must recognize their responsibility to instill purpose in the workplace.

Other recommendations include:
Make purpose a central focusInstill purpose in othersMake employees comfortable with ambiguityTurn good intentions into great resultsMake it safe to fail (as well as prevail)Develop the next generation According to Baldoni, purpose forms the backbone of what an organization exists to do; upon which you can build vision and mission.

To define an organization’s purpose, you must ask three questions:

1. What is our vision — that is, what do we want to become? 2. What is our mission — that is, what do we do now? 3. What are our values–that is, what are the behaviors we expect of ourselves?
Some…

Seven Questions To Ask When Checking Job Candidate References

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Awhile ago, the Harvard Business Review published some great questions that Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan asks when he is checking references.

Ryan serves on the board of Yale Corporation, Human Rights Watch, and INSEAD, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.  He holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.B.A from INSEAD.

His main seven honest-feedback-extracting-questions (and follow-ups) are:
Would you hire this person again?  If so, why and in what capacity?  If not, why not?How would you describe the candidate's ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done and influence others?What were some of the best things this person accomplished?  What could he or she have done better?In what type of culture, environment, and role can you see this person excelling?  In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful?Would you describe the candidate as a leader, a strategist, an executor, a collaborator, a thinker, or something else?  Can you …

10 Tips For Projecting A Professional Image

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From Jay Miletsky's book, 101 Ways to Successfully Market Yourself, here 10 tips for projecting an effective professional image:
Discipline yourself to be positive and enthusiastic.In tense situations choose positive responses by maintaining perspective and getting along well with others.Acknowledge mistakes and shortcomings and learn how to correct them.Develop a reputation for being a resourceful problems solver.Leverage your strengths and expertise to have maximum impact on the decisions you make.Be organized, efficient, flexible, and self-motivated.Master your tasks and fully expand your area of expertise so that you can boost your output.Keep up with the latest developments in your company and in your field.Cultivate unique talents that give you a definite edge.Gain visibility by taking the kind of action that will propel you into the right sights of management personnel.

How To Be A Collaborative Leader

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Edward M. Marshall's book, Transforming The Way We Work -- The Power Of The Collaborative Workplace, remains relevant today, more than a decade after Marshall wrote it.

Particularly useful is the book's section that teaches readers how to be a collaborative leader.

Marshall says that there are seven different, important roles and responsibilities of collaborative leaders when leading teams, and those leaders should select the appropriate style to meet the team's needs.

The seven roles are:
The leader as sponsor -- You provide strategic direction, boundaries and coaching for the team. You also monitor progress and ensure integrity in the team's operating processes.The leader as facilitator -- You ensure that meetings, team dynamics, and interpersonal relationships function effectively. You also ensure internal coordination of activities among team members.The leader as coach -- You provide support and guidance and you serve as a sounding board.The leader as change agent/…

How To Foster Creativity In The Workplace

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Here are some great tips and guiding principles for how a manager and leader can build a culture to foster creativity.
Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up. But give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.If you don’t strive to uncover what is unseen and understand its nature, you will be ill prepared to lead.It’s not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It’s the manager’s job to make it safe for others to take them.The cost of preventing errors is often far greater than the cost of fixing them.A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure. Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.Do not assume that general agreement will lead to change—it takes substantial energy to move a group, even when all are on board. Thanks author Ed Catmull for these tips and great new book, Creativity, Inc.



Leadership Conversations

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When I read business books, I turn the corner of every page that has something I really like, want to remember and easily reference in the future.

Halfway into the 300-page book, Leadership Conversations, I had turned the corners of nearly every fifth pages.  So, you can see why I believe this is such a good book.  There is so much to learn from Leadership Conversations.  It's a must read for today's business leaders.  Leaders who are leading multi-generational workforces.  And, leaders who want the skills to get promoted and move up the corporate ladder.

Authors Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz wrote the book because they believe that a leader's most powerful skill is the ability to hold effective conversations. So, in their book, they detail the four types of conversations every leader must effectively master.  Conversations that: Build relationshipsDevelop othersMake decisionsTake action And, they provide real-world examples and tactical guidance for each of those con…

A Workplace Volunteer Program Builds Teamwork, Motivates Employees And Attracts New Hires

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National Volunteer Week is April 12 - 18.
It is dedicated to inspiring, recognizing and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. 
This year's theme is “Celebrating Service."
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 the community you are: building teamworkmotivating employeesattracting new hiresIn 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 country 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. You can find organizations in need of volunteers by visiting the website, Volunteer Match.

You can also find volu…

8 Ways To Show You Value Your Employees

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There are eight specific actions business leaders can take to show that they value their employees, according to Andrew Leigh, author of the bookEthical Leadership -- Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Business Culture.

Those eight behaviors are: Attention -- Pay attention to what people say to show your interest.Listen -- Make time to hear what colleagues, peers and employees have to say to show you care.Positive Language -- Find words and phrases to show employees they're needed.  Examples are, "We couldn't have accomplished this without you," "That was really useful."Document -- Put praise in writing to increase its impact.  Make clear where the credit belongs.Micro Sessions -- Create two-way communication sessions.Visits -- Schedule visits to teams and work areas.Stories -- Share stories that highlight unusual contributions and provide your personal response to them.Invite -- Ask people to contact you directly with their issues and concerns -- not to …

Leading With GRIT

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Feelings of being stuck, overwhelmed and frustrated plague too many of our workplaces says Laurie Sudbrink, author of the new book, Leading With GRIT.

So, drawing on her over 20 years of coaching a wide range of organizations, colleges and Fortune 500 companies, Sudbrink provides in her book a road map to improve individual and organizational health.

That road map includes teaching readers the principles of GRIT:

GenerosityRespectIntegrityTruth

Laurie Sudbrink
"It is not only the concepts of GRIT, but how they are combined, that make them so effective," shares Sudbrink.

Divided into three parts, Part I of the book is geared toward the individual, and is foundational to your success as a leader.

Part II focuses on communicating with GRIT -- making communication easier, more enjoyable and more productive.

Part III is how, in our role as leaders, we apply and sustain GRIT in the workplace, creating systems that help keep everyone on track.

Particularly helpful to me were the SHIF…

The Best Presentations Have Stories

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Joey Asher's 100-page book,15 Minutes Including Q&A provides a "plan to save the world from lousy presentations," proclaims Asher.

In chapter 8, Asher explains that the best presentations have stories and if you want to be a good speaker, you need to know how to tell an effective story.

Asher's formula is:
Start with the point.  You don't want people wondering why you're telling them a story.Tell the story chronologically.Keep your story tight and on point, but give some details.Make your story personal to you.Remind your audience of the point at the end.Keep your story to between 30 and 60 seconds.

The Power Of Veterans And Rookies

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In her new book, Rookie Smarts, author Liz Wiseman explains the benefits of having both veteran employees and new employees (rookies) on a team.   The four main benefits are:
The veteran brings clarity and gravitas while the rookie brings energy and determination.The veteran sees the potential and promise of the novel ideas of the rookie.The veteran knows how the world works and guides the entrepreneur who wants to change the world.When the disparate contributions of experience and naivete are appreciated, the combination sparks collective brilliance.

The New Business Books I'm Reading This Month

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The Questions To Ask To Identify A Leader During A Job Interview

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The next time you are interviewing a candidate and you want to access their leadership skills, consider asking the candidate these questions:
What personal qualities define you as a leader? Describe a situation when these qualities helped you lead others.Give an example of when you demonstrated good leadership.What is the toughest group from which you've had to get cooperation?Have you ever had difficulty getting others to accept your ideas? What was your approach? Did it work?Describe a situation in which you had to change your leadership style to achieve the goal?One leadership skill is the ability to accommodate different views in the workplace, regardless of what they are. What have you done to foster a wide number of views in your work environment? Thanks to Sharon Armstrong, author of The Essential HR Handbook, for these helpful questions!

4 Simple Steps For Giving Feedback

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Eric Harvey and Al Lucia wrote a booklet called, 144 Ways To Walk The Talk. They provide the following great advice about giving feedback:

1. Make it timely -- give your feedback as soon as possible to the performance.

2. Make it individualized -- tailor your feedback to the feedback receiver.

3. Make it productive -- focus your feedback on the performance and not the performer.

4. Make is specific -- pinpoint for the receiver observable actions and behaviors.

Integrity In Management Means...

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Some words of wisdom from author Thomas Teal: Integrity in management means:
being responsiblecommunicating clearlykeeping promisesbeing an honest brokeravoiding hidden agendasknowing oneselfAlso, explains Teal: Great managers serve two masters; one organizational, one moral.Managing is not a series of mechanical tasks but a set of human interactions.One reason for the scarcity of managerial greatness is that in educating and training managers, we focus too much on technical proficiency and too little on character.You can find more advice and expertise from Teal in his book, First Person: Tales of Management Courage and Tenacity (Harvard Business School Press, 1996)

Six Things Effective Leaders Do To Help Retain Employees

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I had the pleasure of interviewing Leigh Branham over the past few years. He's the author of the popular book called, The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave, and he's the owner of the Overland Park, KS-based business called Keeping The People.
He told me that in research that he has done about the leaders of companies that have won "Best-Place-To-Work" competitions in 45 U.S. cities, that there are six things these effective leaders do that don't cost money. They do, however, cost time and effort. But, that is time and effort that can pay big dividends.
Here are the six things you can do: Make the commitment to create a great place to work. Inspire employee confidence in decisions and clear business direction Work to build trust based on honesty and integrity Practice open, two-way communication, especially in times of uncertainty Look out for the organization before you look out for yourself Believe employees should be developed and retained; not burned out and di…

Take The Email-Free Vacation Pledge

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As the season of spring vacations continues throughout the U.S, communication expert, David Grossman, encourages you to take his pledge for an email-free vacation. 
When you take the pledge you'll also learn from David his recommended Eight Great Steps to Unplug & Recharge.
David has found that a growing number of his clients are looking for new ways to address mounting email overload in their workplaces. Many of them worry about the impact of growing email volume on productivity and their efforts to build a healthy work-life balance. In short, many workers feel they can never turn off email, at work or during their precious vacation time.
"Vacation is typically a time set aside to relax and recharge, but few people are able to do so because they’re tethered to their work email," explains David. "In fact, according to recent research,42%of employees feel obligated to check their email during vacation andone in tencheck their email on an hourly basis.1
You can find t…

Five Must-Read Books For Your Spring To Read List

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Stumped for what business books to add to your spring reading list?  Here are five must-read books for leaders well worth adding to your list:
Lead With A Story -- A Guide To Crafting Business Narratives That Captivate, Convince, and Inspire.  Author Paul Smith explains why storytelling has emerged as a vital skill for every leader and manager. In the book, you'll find over 100 ready-made stories you can use as templates to tell your stories. Stories are so powerful because they are simple, timeless, demographic-proof, contagious, easy to remember and inspiring. Most important, they put the listener in a mental learning mode.What's The Future Of Business? (WTF?) -- Changing The Way Businesses Create Experiences. This book, by Brain Solis, details the incredible transformation happening in business today, driven by new social and mobile technologies. And, he explains how experience design helps your business and how you can harness its power for business growth.  This book is a…

Eleven Questions To Ask Before Your Start Your New 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…

77 Instant-Action Ideas To Boost Sales And Crush Your Competition

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"Delivering a great product or service but being terrible at marketing is the No. 1 reason for entrepreneurial failure," says author, marketing coach and consultant, David Newman.

So, as a small business owner or solopreneur you'll gobble up Neman's new book, DO IT! Marketing, where he cuts through the glut of marketing theories, myths and tasks. And, provides you 77 instant-action ideas to:

Boost SalesMaximize ProfitsCrush Your Competition

The book is packed with practical and proven strategies, tactics, templates and tools and lots of how-to lessons. Plus, it's just downright fun to read.

For example, you'll find sections on:

Your buyers are lazy, busy and befuddledZero in on your pain/gain factorsChasing chum makes your a chumpTop 10 things salespeople do that buyers dislikeMarket to people who are already listeningDiversify while still specializing
And, for those who don't know where to start when it comes to marketing will devour the 21-Day Launch Pla…