BRAND YOUR PURPLE COW

Purple CowYou can have the greatest product in the world, the most superb service, but, if no one knows about it, you will have a warehouse full of excellent products, and you will be sitting around your office, waiting for the phone to ring.

Strategic Positioning

This is where companies make a big mistake with their marketing. It’s important to have great products and great services. But too many companies fool themselves by thinking, “If people knew how great our products or services are, they’d buy us every time.”

They try to market themselves by saying things like: “We’ve got the best quality, the best product, the best customer service, and the best people.” I’ve got three words for you: WASTE OF TIME. Yes, all those things are important, but they won’t help you be successful with your marketing.

It’s not about the product; it’s about the positioning. Strategic Positioning or Brand Positioning is a statement of who you are. It is what your target customers think about when they hear your brand name. Red Bull owns the words “Energy Drink.” 1-800-GOT JUNK? owns “junk removal.” What words do you want to own? What will make you stand out from the herd?

Seth Godin in his book The Purple Cow says that you should stand out from the herd of competitors the way a purple cow would stand out from a herd of cows. That’s not just a little different. We’re talking “dramatically different,” and that takes courage.

The old rule of marketing was playing it safe. So, you created a good product or service, and then you sold it with sales people and advertising. You took out ads, you spent money, and you tried to drive customers to your business that way. That used to work, but it doesn’t any more.

Today it is different, you need to create remarkable products or services that your target market customers will seek out and talk about. They will spread word‑of‑mouth about your brand.

It starts with being dramatically different. You’re either a Purple Cow of a product or service, or you’re a commodity (whereby you sell only on price). But that’s only part of the challenge. You must also be dramatically and meaningfully different to your ideal target market customer.

Just being good is not enough. Your competitors are good. Your customers won’t even start down the path to buy your product unless they think you’re remarkably, distinctively, and meaningfully different. You don’t win the marketing battle with the best product or service. You win the marketing battle with Strategic Positioning. So let’s think about how you can position your company.

There’s no one best way to position your company (or brand) so you appear uniquely different from your competition. You need to choose a position that sets you apart in a way that appeals to your ideal target market customer. There are six basic ways to achieve that:

1. Position your company based on price point.

Walmart, for example, offers “everyday low prices.” Price positioning can work the other way, too, when people use a high price as an indicator of high value. Consider this story told by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence.

The owner of a jewelry store that specializes in Indian jewelry purchased some good quality turquoise pieces and priced them reasonably, based on her experience. But, even though the store was full of tourists, those pieces didn’t sell. That happens in retail.

The store owner did what store owners have probably done since the beginning of commerce. The night before she left on a buying trip, she wrote a note to her staff, directing them to display the turquoise pieces prominently and to cut the selling price in half. She imagined that customers would snap up the jewelry at the low price and she could move on to other things.

When she returned from her trip, she was pleased to note that, as she expected, the pieces had all been sold. Then she discovered that her staff had not done what she had asked. Her assistant misread the note, and, instead of cutting the prices by half, the assistant had doubled them. The jewelry sold better when the higher prices sent the message to customers that the pieces were of higher quality. There are many stories like this that marketers tell each other.

2. Position your company by creating a new category.

That’s what Red Bull did. Before them, there was no “energy drink” category.

3. Position your company as something different from the category leader.

In rental cars, the classic Avis advertising campaign, “We’re number two, so we try harder,” is a great example.

4. Position your company as a specialist.

1-800-GOT-JUNK? is the specialist in junk removal. There are coffee shops all over the country that sell coffee and a host of other things like hamburgers and breakfast, but Starbucks positioned itself as the coffee specialist, the brand you know offers premium coffee.

5. Position your company as the master of a distribution channel.

L’eggs was the first supermarket pantyhose brand and became the largest-selling pantyhose brand in the country. Paul Mitchell became a $600-million hair and skincare brand by focusing on the professional hair salon channel. Ping did the same in golf clubs by focusing on the pro-shop channel.

6. Position your company by being explicit about Who your target market customer is.

Curves is the gym solely for women. AXE (or Lynx, in some countries) cologne positions itself as the cologne that makes young men irresistible.

How to find your Strategic Position

Here are two questions that I recommend to help you identify your Strategic Position:

  1. In what area(s) could you be perceived as the leader of a category or niche in your industry?
  2. In what area(s) could you be perceived as being dramatically and meaningfully different from your competitors?

ARE YOU A BAD BOSS?

Bad BossYour staff avoids you. No one stops by your office, desk or “skypes” you to check-in. This is a probable sign that your employees are afraid of you or have simply lost confidence in your leadership.

Inability to make decisions without your input. You staff constantly asks you for advice on the smallest details. It’s likely you haven’t empowered your employees, or they’re just too afraid of potential consequences if they don’t approach you on everything. There’s definitely a balance so make sure you check out my colleague’s post (Stephen Lynch) about having an open door policy.

A high turnover. Look at how many people you’ve directly or indirectly managed and have resigned within 1-2 years. Leaving for more money is likely not the initial motivator. People typically leave their boss not the company (unless you have a terrible company culture). Quite obvious, but few fail to face this reality.

Former employees disappear, forever. Nothing says it more than anything if your ex-employees don’t keep in touch or you don’t get recommendation requests. Good bosses typically become mentors or role models for ex-employees.

Lack of feedback. You fail to communicate with your team and may not have set expectations, goals or timelines. Bad bosses often change their mind frequently leaving their team feeling off balance. You’re also not available to receive feedback about yourself. Most people like to see progress and to progress in their careers. It’s important that you provide timely feedback. Positive feedback is typically best and constructive feedback is important if something needs to be improved or corrected.

If any of the above is true, here are 4 simple tips you can use to engage your team and help you get out of that bad boss category:

  1. Create transparency. Don’t keep your team in the dark. Share your company’s performance, track and communicate progress. It will help your team understand that the things they work on directly impact the company’s success and ultimately their own.
  2. Make work meaningful. Reinforce the importance of everyone’s role. Provide clarity and direction by defining both team and individual goals. Avoid ambiguity at all costs. This will help foster ownership and will help get things done.
  3. People-Focused Culture. Promote the sharing of ideas, suggestions and improvements. Recognize people for their achievements. Live your company core values and have your team nominate colleagues who meet different core values.
  4. Nurture employees and create a path for growth and opportunity. Create opportunities for career development and progression. Talk to your employees about their career plan. Does their current role make full use of their strengths and abilities? Provide feedback (both the good and constructive) sooner than later.

CONCLUSION

Take the time to think about the points above and keep in mind that highly engaged employees are 26% more productive and on average their company’s earned 13% greater returns. Creating a more engaged workforce benefits the company, your team, and yourself.

LEARN FROM PRIVATE EQUITY FIRMS

Equity firmsExisting leadership teams can become too attached to decisions that were made in the past, particularly if the existing leaders were involved in making those decisions. If a Private Equity firm (or other external investor) were to take a financial stake in your company tomorrow, what changes do you think they would want to make?

You don’t have to wait for someone to invest in your company to experience the benefits of seeing your business from an “outside in” perspective. Here is my take on an article from Booz & Co on the key lessons the world’s best performing Private Equity firms can teach business leaders.

Cash is King

If a Private Equity firm were to acquire your company, they often use debt financing to fund the purchase. This creates a real urgency to optimize the cash flows of your company to help repay the debt. To do this, they would aim to tightly manage your accounts receivables, streamline and optimize your inventories, and scrutinize all discretionary expenses.

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you have just invested in your business. Examine every expense item and categorize them into three buckets.

1. “Must have” (required to keep the lights on)

2. “Smart to have” (creates a future strategic advantage)

3. “Nice to have” (everything else).

The next step is to eliminate as many of the “Nice to Have” expenses as you can.

Core vs. Non-Core?

Optimizing cash is all very well, but building the long-term value of your company means going beyond financial engineering and cost cutting. In order for a Private Equity firm to successfully exit their investment they need to convince future buyers that they have positioned your company for long-term growth and profitability.

It seems counter intuitive, but as management thought leader Peter Drucker said, “The first step in a growth policy is not to decide where and how to grow. It is to decide what to abandon. In order to grow, a business must have a systematic policy to get rid of the outgrown, the obsolete, and the unproductive.

This usually means analyzing your product lines, service offerings, and office locations to assess their future profitability and growth potential. Some activities might be “Core” to your business right now, but they may not be the right activities for you to be investing resources in going forward.

I often say to clients, “You must continually pull the weeds to create a beautiful lawn”. It takes real courage to make these strategic decisions, but when you do, it frees up resources to focus them on the right “Core Activities” that will drive your long-term success.

Get it Done

In the first one hundred days of ownership, Private Equity firms have little appetite for socialization and consensus building. They feel a sense of urgency to implement the strategic changes they have identified.

Business leaders can learn a lot from the Private Equity firm’s need for speed. Yes, getting consensus and alignment about these changes is ideal, but you can’t please everyone, and waiting too long to implement the necessary strategic changes can profoundly impact your company’s future outcomes.

Right Management in The Right Bus, Going The Right Direction

Private Equity firms know that a strong management team is critical to business execution and the ultimately the success of their investment. Sometimes they invest in a company based on the strength of its management talent. Otherwise they will act swiftly to put the right management team in place. Research has shown that middle managers are the key to successful business execution.

As RESULTS.com CEO Ben Ridler says, “As a CEO, getting the right front line managers in place is critical to success. You have two jobs. Either you are coaching and developing these managers, or you’re looking for their replacement.”

Align Incentives

Private Equity firms pay modest base salaries, but add incentives to align everyone’s interests so that the staff share in the upside. They also share in the downside. Private Equity firms will reduce or even eliminate incentive payments if the company fails to achieve the agreed targets. Often time’s staff are given real “skin in the game” in the form of equity in the company. Because this equity is essentially locked up until the Private Equity firm sells your company, or lists it on the stock market, it aligns everyone’s long-term interests.

Make Performance Visible

Private Equity firms pay rigorous attention to a carefully chosen set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that will drive the success of your business model. They make this performance visible, and to keep the managers and their teams focused on the most important metrics and projects that will move the business forward. Radical transparency drives business results.

Conclusion

Take a few minutes today to imagine yourself in the shoes of an outside investor who is performing due diligence on your company with the intention of investing in you. What would they identify that needs to change about the activities your company is currently performing, or how it is currently managed?

LIFE LESSONS FOR 2014

Sam Headshot cropped1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short enjoy it.

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don’t worry, God never blinks.

16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

19. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive (and don’t forget to Forgive Yourself)

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.

35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you need

42. The best is yet to come…

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a “gift”

46. Lastly and one of my favorites, from Jim Valvano,“To me there are three things everyone should do EVERY day. Number one is LAUGH. Number two is THINK — spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to TEARS. If you LAUGH, THINK and CRY, THAT’S A HECK OF A DAY”

TERRIBLE TEAM? ARE YOU MAKING IT WORSE?

I was working away at my desk when the phone rang. It was the CEO of a medium-sized organization. He was looking for help with what he referred to as his “toxic” executive team.  I told him about our “flu shot for teams.” “Do you have a rabies shot?” he replied. Wow, I thought, could it really be that bad? I imagined a room full of executives foaming at the mouth.

It wasn’t quite that bad, but it was still pretty horrible.  Members of the team had stopped trusting each other and essentially stopped communicating. The organization used to be one of the area’s best employers but now employee engagement has suffered. Business wasn’t going well, either. Thanks to internal squabbles, the team couldn’t deliver the necessary tools the sales force needed to keep up with the increasingly tough competition. He also admitted that sales had been falling for three years. Therefore, there is no time to waste in getting this team back to health.

When we started, everyone was focused on their grievances. They felt wronged, and they wanted to see public trials for the offending teammates. Some had publicly accused their teammates of not knowing how to do their jobs. One Vice President had instructed her direct reports to ignore instructions from her executive peer. Another refused to share an important document with a colleague because she didn’t trust her with the sensitive material.

It was our third session with them before things started to improve. One member of the team, the CFO, realized that he was contributing to the problem.  He raised his hand and said, “I have to take ownership of my part in this.  I realize I’m grabbing the reins and not leaving you room to prove to me you’re capable. For my part, I promise to give you more room to do your jobs.” When everyone entered the room they fully expected that they would have a rockem-sockem no-holds-barred battle and here was the ‘bully’ CFO short-circuiting it all with an admission that he was a part of the problem.

The next person to speak quickly took on her share of the responsibility for what had gone wrong. It was the VP HR; one of the people who had been most affected by the CFO’s lack of confidence.  She replied. “I was hurt when you didn’t trust me to do that work, but I shouldn’t have responded by shutting you out.  I’m sorry.” One team member after another stepped up and took ownership for what they needed to change.

When things on teams go wrong, most people spend their time blaming everyone else for their predicament.  They have plenty of ideas and excuses for how their bosses and teammates can shape up. Seldom do I talk to a person who includes their own actions – or inactions — in the story of their team’s dysfunction. Instead, they wait for someone else to change their team.  If you’re waiting for someone else to change your team, you’re wasting your time.

Accountability for Your Team

Start by admitting that you are part of the problem and accept OAR (Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility). Few people are aware and honest enough to see the role they play in the dynamic of the team.  Instead, they focus on the aggressive behavior of a teammate or the lackluster leader.  Like any relationship, a bad team dynamic is never the result of only one person’s behavior. Think about how the things you have said and done have affected your team. But you can also be part of the solution. Everyone has an opportunity to change the dynamic of an unhealthy team.  Figure out what role you’ve been playing and change accordingly.

The ‘Sniper’

Some team members actively sabotage the team dynamic.  Their tactics can be overt; such as yelling, belittling, or interrupting.  They can also be covert; such as gossiping, negotiating through back channels, or just ignoring someone.  There is hope. With greater self-awareness and some coaching, you can change.  In my experience, this team member (who I call the ‘Sniper’) is actually the easiest to convert. Usually this is because they are smart and want to have an impact.  If you give them a way to make a more significant and positive contribution, they are willing and able to make the shift.

The ‘Victim’

When one finds a ‘Sniper’, the wounded are always close at hand.  You can identify the wronged by their below the line attitude BED (Blame, Excuses, Denial) and their inability or unwillingness to stand up for themselves.  At some point, the frustration tends to boil over and the ‘Victim’ goes on the attack.

It’s time to change how you show up.  You might be surprised to learn that, it’s more likely to be the ‘Victim’ who is voted off the island than the ‘Sniper’.  That is because the ‘Victim’ often lack the energy and resilience to make another earnest attempt at making the team better.

The ‘Bystander’

Not everyone on a dysfunctional team will be participating actively.  While cutting and insensitive remarks are lobbed across the table, some watch, just waiting for things to simmer down.  The ‘Bystander’ are the first to throw up their hands and say that life on the dysfunctional team is unbearable.  Unfortunately, commiserating does nothing to change the course of things, and their disengagement costs the team, too. It’s time to get them into the game.

Conclusion

Any one person can change a team, for better or worse. What will you do today to change your team for the better?

With parts from Harvard Business Review

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Sam Headshot croppedAt this time of Thanksgiving we pause to count our blessings.

 We give thanks to the freedom of this great country of ours,

And its’ opportunity for achievement.

 We give thanks to the friendship and confidence you have shown in us.

 We especially give thanks for all things.

 Our best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

History of Thanksgiving

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the people responsible for the American Thanksgiving tradition. Contrary to popular opinion and the writings in classroom text books, the Pilgrims didn’t wear buckles on their shoes or hats, nor were they teetotalers. In fact, they smoked tobacco and drank at lot of beer- they drank beer due to the quality of the water.

When the Pilgrims landed in the New World, they found a cold, rocky, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them and there were no houses to shelter them. During the first winter, one-half the Pilgrims died of sickness or exposure. Though life did improved for the Pilgrims when spring came, however they did not prosper.

Part of the reason for the lack of prosperity, involved the original contract the Pilgrims had with their merchant-sponsors in London. This contract called for everything they produced to go into a common store. Each member of the community was entitled to one common share under a communal agreement. Furthermore, all of the land they cleared and the houses they built also belonged to the community.

What didn’t’ work was the motivation for people to work without incentive or ownership.  Contrary to the original agreement, the decision was made to assign plots of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of free enterprise. What was the result?

It was reported that, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” As a result, the Pilgrims soon found they had more food than they could eat themselves. They set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians. The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London much faster than expected.  Thus, it was found that the entrepreneurial spirit worked.

Reasons to be Thankful

I’m thankful for the flexibility and freedom of entrepreneurship. Ever since I decided to start a business, I get to work my own hours, chart my own course, and have an awesome career. I’m grateful every day for being able to spend time with my kids and grandchild, and the flexibility that comes from being my own boss makes this even easier.

I’m thankful for the chance to serve and get the opportunity to help business owners. I love helping people develop systems and procedures in their business, recruit and train the best possible team, develop a ‘real’ strategic business plan, and ultimately exit their business. Every day I hear amazing, energizing stories from people who are doing great things in their business and in their life.

If you believe in what you’re doing, and if you find a way to deliver your exceptional products and services and delight your customers, we will help you to become more successful.  That truth is, as entrepreneurs, we have the power to shape our success and create the lives we want, which is the biggest cause for gratitude of all.

This Thanksgiving, I hope we can all take time to reflect on the amazing power, freedom and excitement that comes from being a business owner and entrepreneur.  Keep focused and don’t get distracted by negativity or petty slights; assume the best in people, and forgive everyone everything. Remember that no one is in charge of your happiness but you – and this is especially true when you decide to start a business. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take No for an answer.

Conclusion

Thursday we all will continue that tradition of having a Happy Thanksgiving. So, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

MANAGER MEETINGS & MOTIVATION

performAre employees’ needs being met by one-on-one time with their managers? The answer is, “No,” according to a survey conducted by Training Magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies.

Employees want more meetings with their boss, according to a survey conducted by Training magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies. More than 700 Training magazine subscribers were polled to learn about their experiences having one-on-one meetings with their managers—something that can play a big part in their job satisfaction, performance, engagement, and motivation. Readers were asked what they wanted out of their meetings and how that compared to what was really happening. This research gives an important new look into what is being discussed and how that is meeting—or not meeting—the needs of today’s workers.

MOTIVATION

Are employees’ needs being met by one-on-one time with their managers? The answer is, “No,” according to a survey conducted by Training magazine.

HOW OFTEN?

One of the first questions respondents were asked was how often they currently meet with their direct manager versus how often they wished they were meeting with him or her. Participants could choose answers ranging from “rarely or never” on the low side to “more than once a week” on the high side.

  • Some 89 percent of people want to meet with their manager on at least a monthly basis, with 44 percent of the people polled wanting to meet at least once per week.
  • Only 73 percent of people actually meet at least once a month. Only 34 percent of people actually meet at least once per week.
  • A closer look at responses by gender reveals one sex prefers more frequent check-ins to talk: men! Some 89 percent of women want to meet at least monthly and 40 percent at least weekly. Some 92 percent of men want to meet at least monthly and 52 percent at least weekly.

AGENDA

The survey also looked at some of the details regarding length of time for the meeting and who respondents felt should be responsible for setting the agenda.

  • Some 65 percent of people want to meet for 30 minutes to 60 minutes when they get together with their manager.
  • Some 69 percent of people believe that they should set the agenda, not their boss.

TOPICS

Next, the survey looked at what people want to talk about during their one-on-ones versus what they actually do talk about. Several common topics usually discussed by managers and direct reports were identified: goal setting, goal review, performance feedback, problem-solving, soliciting support, problems with colleagues, and personal issues.

  • Some 70 percent of people want to have goal-setting conversations often or all the time, but only 36 percent actually do. And 28 percent say they rarely or never discuss future goals and tasks.
  • Some 73 percent of people want to have goal review conversations often or all the time, but only 47 percent actually do. And 26 percent say they rarely or never discuss current goals and tasks.

DESIRED VERSUS ACTUAL

  • Some 64 percent want to discuss problem-solving often or all the time, while 50 percent actually do. And 19 percent say they rarely or never do.
  • Some 63 percent would like to solicit support often or all the time from their boss on projects, but only 49 percent experience it. And 18 percent say they rarely or never have soliciting support conversations.
  • Only 5 percent of people want to discuss personal issues often or all the time, and only 5 percent actually do. Some 68 percent don’t desire to discuss personal issues, and 76 percent don’t do so.

FOR LEADERS

One-on-ones are an important way leaders can demonstrate they care about employees. Spending time is a clear indication that an employee’s work is important, and that he or she is a valued member of the team. It’s also a way for manager to make themselves available to help direct reports as needed.

  • 89 percent of respondents identified that they would prefer to meet with their direct supervisor on at least a monthly basis and 44 percent of the people polled indicated that they wanted to meet at least once per week.

CONCLUSION

Managers must make more time for their Team.

A LEADER IS . . .

leadersLeaders vary by occupation, personality, and style. There’s no specific formula specifying exactly how to lead well. Still, great leaders throughout history share a common set of characteristics. In an article by John Maxwell, we would like to fill in the picture of a leader for you—one quality at a time. The four features listed certainly do not represent a comprehensive list. However, if a leader lacks any one of them, then he or she will be limited in an important respect.

1) Character

Character gives rise to discipline and responsibility. It’s the inward character that enables a person to stand firm. Character is not inherited, nor can it be purchased. It cannot be built instantly, but instead requires years of construction.

Character shows itself in a person’s consistency. Jerry West, former Los Angeles Laker and member of the NBA’s Hall of Fame, once remarked, “You can’t get much done in life if you only work on the days when you feel good.” Character gives you the resolve to do what’s important, even when it’s not convenient.

In addition, character brings respect. When you don’t have character within, you won’t have respect without. J.R. Miller once wrote: “The only thing that walks back from the tomb with the mourners and refuses to be buried, is the character of a man…What a man is, survives him. It can never be buried.”

2) Perspective

Perspective flows from a leader’s mind and relates to their vision for the future. Perspective brings insight. It allows a leader to see sooner, and to see farther, than others.

What you think depends on where you sit, and where you sit determines what you see. Aware of this fact, leaders realize that they must constantly put themselves in the place of others. A leader can only cast vision insofar as they can understand and relate to another person’s perspective. Great leaders factor in a person’s background, personal values, and stage of life when they communicate. They seek to connect before attempting to convince.

3) Courage

Leadership requires courage—the courage to risk, to reach, to put one’s self on the line. The word courage itself comes from the French word coeur, which means heart. Thus, leaders must have the heart for the task of working with and engaging others. The leader’s heart somehow speaks to the hearts of those around her or him, inspiring and touching them.

Courage is contagious. As Billy Graham says, “When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Courage is also the power to let go of the familiar. The courageous person follows the motto: “If at first you do succeed, try something harder!” Finally, courage is belief that has been put into action. As Dr. Ashley Montagu wrote, “The only measure of what you believe is what you do. If you want to know what people believe, don’t read what they write, don’t ask what they believe, just observe what they do.”

4) Favor

Favor may be the most mysterious of the four traits, but at its root, favor simply means influence. In particular, favor implies the sort of special relationship that motivates extra effort. For example, if someone “does a favor,” they go beyond what is normally expected. Leaders with favor are treated by others as favorites, that is, they are particularly well-liked, and even loved, by those they lead. Favor comes from skill, especially the skill of connecting with people (charisma).

Favor also results from finding your calling in life. Awareness of one’s calling comes from the following sources.

• Knowledge: I’ve always known that this activity is something I enjoy.

• Focus: I can do nothing else; this is always on my mind.

• Passion: I want to do this; nothing else holds as much interest for me.

• Personhood: This is part of who I am.

• Giftedness: This is something at which I excel.

• Blessing: I have experienced providential help in this activity.

Conclusion

Healthy, effective leadership brings together character, perspective, courage, and favor. Indeed, an absence of any of these qualities limits a person’s influence. Without character, a leader is unstable—prone to moral failure. Without perspective, a leader has no sense of direction. Without courage, a leader cowers at the sight of a big challenge. And without favor, a leader cannot persuade others to take action. Which of the four elements do you have in greatest supply? How has it benefited you?

A.I.D.A. IN YOUR MARKETING

Marketing 3Every day I am bombarded with clever headlines designed to grab my attention. In an inbox full of advertising and information, every message has to work extremely hard to get noticed. Here are just a few example from today . . . .

“How to Make $100K/yr”

“90 Day Double Your Income Challenge”

“Marketing Secrets of the ‘Buttlifter’“ (not a typo)

“See YOUR Traffic Grow Right Before Your Eyes”

“6 Ways to Kill a Business”

As the world of advertising becomes more and more competitive, advertising becomes more and more sophisticated. The basic principles remain the same–

  • Here is what we have to offer
  • Here is what it will do for you
  • Here is how to get it

But you need to grab and keep the prospects attention, and then get them to take the action you desire, such as buying your product or visiting your website.

First, Become Your Prospect

Stop thinking like a marketer and start thinking like a prospect. You need to get into the prospect’s mind and influence them more effortlessly than ever before. Your goal is to have your prospects feel an instant bond, and respond favorably to your perfectly matched message. So where do you start? Start by answering the following questions:

1. Clearly define what your exact market is?

Most people overstate what their market really is, so first clearly identify what your USP (Unique Sales Proposition) really is. In other words what uniquely sets you apart from your competitors in the marketplace? What are you known for in the marketplace? What are your customer/clients biggest desire? What does your prospective customer/client really want? Please don’t overstate the obvious like: We give great service. Call your best customers and find out WHY they use your product or service and how they found you.

2. Why do they really want that?

Remember, it is not just what could happen, but what you could give them . . . more money, less stress and more freedom. In my practice I have found that the typical business owner’s challenges fall into these buckets: Team, Time and Money.

3. What is their biggest problem or frustration?

What is their biggest frustration and obstacle that is really holding them and their business back?

4. How is that impacting them emotionally?

Get very specific emotions here, as well as the situation.

5. Imagine your Prospect

Imagine your prospect as their mind is consumed with the desire to experience the ultimate outcome you listed. Start by asking . . . “If I could only just . . . .”

6. Your ideal customer/client

Is your ideal customer/client a man or woman, or both? What is their age? What do they do for a living? What do they look like? Where do they live? Where do they shop? Who does the shopping? Is it location, price, or product/service?

AIDA

Grab and keep people’s attention with a subject line and title, wrapped around their pain or the intended outcome (benefit). In other words, create AIDA . . .

– Attention/Attract

Use powerful words, or a picture that will catch the reader’s eye and make them stop and read what you have to say.

– Interest

This is one of the most challenging stages: You’ve got the attention of your reader/viewer, but how can you engage with them so that they’ll want to spend their precious time understanding your message in more detail?

– Desire

As you are building the reader’s interest, help them understand how your product or service can help them. One way of doing this is by appealing to their personal needs, wants, pain, desires or challenges.

– Action

Be very clear about what action you want your readers to take; for example, “Visit http://www.mywebsite.com now for more information” rather than just leaving people to work out what to do for themselves.

 

HIRING AN ‘A’ TEAM MEMBER

interview 2Before interviewing a candidate for any role in your company, it is vital that you follow a sound, world-class recruiting process. That’s where an approach like the ‘Topgrading’ methodology has made a huge difference.

Studies have shown that the way most people conduct their recruiting, the hiring manager will only successfully hire an ‘A’ Player 25% of the time. Not good enough! Please note that if you follow a documented and disciplined hiring methodology, you can increase your hiring success rate to 90%. So, if you want less stress, more sleep, and better company performance, those later odds make a lot of sense.

It starts with filling out a Role Scorecard for the position, working backwards from the ultimate KPI’s and results that are expected from this position.  Use the Role Scorecard as the basis for the job advertisement.

Then you asked each candidate to fill out a Career History Form rather than looking at resumes- remember that most resumes have been sanitized of those items the applicants don’t want you to see. Furthermore, this step filters out the “tire kickers,” and gets the candidate to provide exactly what information is needed.

Interviews

1.  Initial Phone Screening Interview (1 hour) using a number of pre-selected questions.

2.  Face-to-Face Tandem Interview (at least one highly structured, three-hour interview)

3.  Reference Check Interviews (with the people you specify)

We don’t have the space to go into the full details of each interviewing step – but here are the key principles:

We dig for the truth

  • We want the real truth, and we let the candidates know that we will seek verification for all claims they make.
  • We ask for tangible evidence of their individual performance.
  • We ask for their permission and assistance to contact previous bosses, colleagues, and employees.
  • We specify the people we want to speak with (hint – they’re not the “friends” listed on their resumes).
  • If there were any previous issues with past jobs, we want these to come out as soon as possible, and to be discussed openly and honestly.

Past performance is the best predictor of future performance

Ask for precise examples of where they exhibited the desired behavioral competencies (as listed on the Role Scorecard) in their past jobs. For instance:

  • Describe a time in your previous role when you . . . (e.g., dealt with a dis-satisfied customer).
  • What was the situation?
  • Who was involved?
  • What exactly did they do?
  • What did they say?
  • What exactly did YOU do? (Not what “we” or “the team” did.)
  • What was the outcome?
  • What lessons did you learn from this?

We are most interested in:

  • What actions candidates (as individuals) took in past situations
  • What tangible (and verifiable) results they achieved
  • What mistakes they made and what they learned from them
  • What their bosses, colleagues, and employees would say about them

We are NOT interested in:

  • What “we” or “the team” did
  • What they might do in some hypothetical situation
  • The true ‘A’ Player candidates will not be put off by any of this. They will have verifiable stories where they demonstrated the behavioral competencies you seek. They provide tangible evidence of results. They willingly furnish you with the names of bosses, colleagues, and employees (that you specify) for you to speak to. They have nothing to hide and can back up everything they say.

Are you worthy?

Now you need to take a look in the mirror. Are you worthy of them? Ask yourself:

  • Can you honestly provide the tools, training, systems, mentoring, and support they will need to perform to an ‘A’ Player level in this role?
  • Do you provide a fun and challenging environment that allows them to thrive and grow?
  • Are you an ‘A’ Player manager yourself? Can you prove it?

Conclusion:

Keep this in mind . . .  You ultimately hire the employees You Deserve!!!