RULES TO LIVE AND DIE BY

BChief Tecumsahy:  Chief Tecumseh

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, and beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

THOUGHTS FOR DUMMIES

Mcgovern.2You likely never heard of Pat McGovern until this week, but the man behind the ‘For Dummies’ series of books and many other media brands left a lasting legacy.

The world lost a multibillionaire entrepreneur recently–a great leader whom most Americans have probably never heard of. Given that he was the person behind some very successful media brands, that says a lot.

Pat McGovern, 76, began his business career in the 1960s, as the founder and chairman of International Data Group. He was the man responsible for magazines such as Computerworld, Macworld, PC World, and many other brands in the U.S. and abroad, including the “For Dummies” series of instructional and self-help books.

Think Big / Be First

McGovern wrote an article for Inc. in 2007, in which he talked about the importance of expanding your horizons to be successful. He was one of the first American CEOs to establish a joint publishing venture in China, for example, and his company was a pioneer in venture capital in Vietnam and India. With the establishment of a website operating from Antarctica, IDG became the first company in the world to have a presence on all seven continents.

“When a company ventures abroad, its point person should be its CEO, traveling frequently and acting boldly and enthusiastically,” McGovern wrote. “IDG launches businesses in three to five new countries each year, and for virtually all of them I’m first on the ground, meeting with potential customers, government ministers, and management candidates.”

Step Aside and Trust

McGovern was thinking globally long before most of his peers. His companies launched titles in Japan and the Soviet Union in the 1970s, and he reportedly spent four months of the year traveling overseas to drum up new business. Yet he was a hands-off leader, allowing the people he put in charge of overseas divisions to make decisions.

“His primary control is financial,” Inc. reported in 1988. “His headquarters works as an investment bank, putting money into each unit’s worthwhile ventures, denying or withdrawing it from ones that are not worthwhile, while McGovern cruises from office to office like a cheery potentate on a magic carpet, bringing enthusiasm and bonuses wherever he goes.”

Get Out of Your Way

Inc.’s Leigh Buchanan started out at IDG as a copy editor in the late 1980s, and she described her surprise when McGovern stopped by her cubicle to hand her a year-end bonus check.

Pat thanked me for my contributions. He asked how things were going and looked vaguely disappointed when all I could muster was an unilluminating “Fine.” Then he complimented me on a column I had ghostwritten for some technology honcho. The column was my most substantive accomplishment to date and the thing I was proudest of. But my name didn’t appear on it anywhere, so how did he know? After three or four minutes, he handed me my bonus and proceeded to the next cubicle.

When she interviewed him years later, Buchanan said she learned that McGovern made one-on-one visits like that to every single one of the company’s 1,500 employees at the time, and that the process took almost four weeks.

Be a Personality, But Be Humble

McGovern was worth an estimated $5.1 billion, but he cultivated a modest image. He lived in a same house in Hollis, New Hampshire, which he bought in 1989. He flew coach and drove used cars, reported The Wall Street Journal. He would show up at employees’ 10th anniversaries to take them out for dinner.

“I don’t think he did these things because he was naturally outgoing,” wrote Harry McCracken, who covers technology at Time, but who spent 16 years working for McGovern at IDG. “If anything, he seemed to be on the reserved side–but…he believed that one of his responsibilities as IDG chairman was to make other staff members feel good about their work. Even when I was a low-level editor, I got occasional complimentary notes from him–always written on the same ultra-cheery letterhead, with GOOD NEWS! and a rainbow at the top. He must have bought it by the truckload.”

Earned a Lot and Give it Away

In 2000, McGovern and his wife founded an institute for the study of the brain at his alma mater, MIT, with a $350 million gift. It was one of the largest donations ever to a university in the U.S. To put it in context, the donation dwarfs the entire endowments of more than 640 American colleges.

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?

SALES MANAGEMENT DONE RIGHT

Sales Engagement1.  What percentage of salespeople consistently over-achieve?

2.  Are your salespersons’ order-takers and account managers instead of proactive Hunters and Closers?

3.  Are your sales people effective selling value and trust rather than selling price?

4.  What is the percentage conversion of your pipeline to closed transactions?

5.  Are there enough qualified opportunities to close in your pipeline?

6.  How many steps in your sales process have been properly mapped?

7.  Do you have a formal sales process that everyone follows every time?

8.  Do you have a formal sales recruiting process that consistently yields the ‘right’ salespeople?

9.  Does your sales force execute your strategic plan, and keep it moving forward?

10. Is your sales team aligned with your sales strategies and core values?

11. Are your salespeople coached on a consistent basis?

12. What Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) do you track and test that drive sales?

13. Do you hold a daily short (10 minutes) ‘huddle’ where salespeople are held accountable for their KPI’s?

14. Is everyone using your automation to track clients, sales and the sales process?

15. Have you optimized your selling demographic and geography?

16. Do you have a formal 90 day orientation and professional sale training process that prepares each salesperson for success at your company?

17. Are your salespeople selling consistently regardless of outside influences?

18. How have you optimized your sales cycle and reduced your ‘Cash Gap’?

19. Does your sales management spend too much time over-managing your salesperson accountability?

20. Have you identified and quantified all the value drivers for: total sales call, closed sales calls, the cost of a bad hire, etc.?

21. Are your salespeople fully engaged?

22. Do your salespeople know exactly what is expected of them at work?

23. Have you supplied your salespeople the necessary materials and equipment to their work right?

24. Do your salespeople have the opportunity to do their ‘best’ every day?

25. In the last seven days, have you given a salesperson recognition or praise for doing good work?

26. Do your sales support personnel, respect and care about your salespeople?

27. Do you have an active role of encouraging your salesperson personal and professional development?

28. Do your sales people opinions count?

29. Does the company mission/purpose of your company make your salespeople feel their job is important?

30. Are your salespeople committed to doing quality work?

31. Have you, in the last six months, talked to your salespeople about your progress?

32. In the last year, have you created opportunities for salespeople to learn and grow?

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?

NOT SUCCESSFUL AS YOU SHOULD BE . . .

Success 2So with January behind you, how are those 2014 Goals coming along? Feeling down about your business these days? Is the broken economy hurting your sales and keeping you up at night? Need some motivation and tough love to help you stop pitying yourself? Well, here you go, here are 13 reasons you might have in your head about why you’re not as successful as you should be.

#1 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – LAZINESS!!

I don’t think there’s an easy way to put this. I have to assume that you’re lazy. Every single successful person works their butts off to get where they are. It’s ok to be lazy. Just admit it. But don’t whine about not being rich and successful, Ok?

#2 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – ENTITLEMENT!!

Only a few people in the world are part of the lucky ‘Reproduction Club’, neither You and me. We have to work to get what we want. Quit thinking you are owed something. You’re not. Get to work Now!

#3 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – FEAR!!

You are afraid, plain and simple and afraid of looking silly. Afraid of what your friends and family will say. Are you afraid of everything? Look, you’re either going to stop being afraid, or you’re not. Nobody can convince you to stop. Imagine though… what awaits you when you stop with the fear excuses?

#4 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – NEGATVITY!!

You may not realize it, but the people you associate with might be negative. They could be soul-sucking beings who don’t want anyone to be successful. Get rid of them, now! Surround yourself with successful people. People you want to be like.

#5 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – STOP THINKING, START DOING!!

How much do you want to bet you have Analysis Paralysis? You think way too much about what you could or should do. Doers get what they want, and everyone else gets what they get. Stop Analyzing and start Doing.

#6 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – NO GOALS!!

You plan nothing. You believe that someway, somehow, everything you always wanted will just magically happen. So you “play it by ear” and wait. You need goals to shoot for. Otherwise, you’re just treading water.

#7 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – “THEY”!!

There’s no “They”. There’s no secret group of people who controls your success or failure. You’ve made that up to make you feel better about yourself. The truth is you, and you alone, control your success in life/business/everything. It’s easy to blame “Them” though, isn’t it? Don’t be Weak.

#8 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – THERE IS NO “X” FACTOR!!

You can’t do it because you’re not pretty or smart enough. Or don’t have a strong personality? You don’t have the “X” factor? Wow, what an unbelievably lame excuse. The truth is that even jerks, idiots and boring people can be just as successful as anyone else. Your problem is you don’t believe it yet.

#9 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – ARE YOU A TIME WASTER?

You’re a classic time-waster. You spend hours and hours every day working on not-working. You do things that aren’t productive. How are you ever going to get anything done, or reach any goal if you keep wasting time? You’re not. So you might as well give up now if you’re going to keep this path.

#10 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – SOCIAL MEDIA IS B.S.!!

You spend way too much time in social media land.  You waste probably about 50% of your productive hours of the day doing this. The sad part is, you know it, but you can’t Stop. So, you can’t get anything done that matters.

#11 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU ARE THINKING TOO SMALL!!

You think way too small. You are constantly looking only a day or a week ahead instead of years ahead. Because of this, you never get anywhere, and you never lead; you always follow.

#12 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU DON’T WANT IT BAD ENOUGH!!

You don’t really want to be successful. Sure, you like to dream about it like everyone else. But in your heart you are afraid of what might happen if you really get it. That’s B.S. fear your brain is feeding you. Success is change, and it feels really, really good. Tell your brain to shut the [foolishness] up.

#13 Reason You Are Not As Successful As You Should Be – YOU DON’T BELIEVE!!

You never believed that it’s possible. Society taught you that only a few “exceptional” people get what they want. Everyone else should just settle. If you really want to believe that, go ahead. The rest of us will be at the front of the line because we believe.

Jim Kukral latest book is Business Around a Lifestyle Volume 2.

VISION, DON’T BE SHORT-SIDED

This is a perfect example of the ‘Art of Negotiations’.

In 2007, ABC/ESPN and TNT agreed to pay the National Basketball Association a combined $7.4 billion for the right to broadcast games on their television stations for eight years. Every month, the NBA takes this money and divvies it up by sending out 31 checks to team owners around the country (and one in Canada). But wait, there are only 30 NBA teams. Why is the NBA cutting 31 checks? That extra check goes to a pair of obscenely lucky brothers named Ozzie and Daniel Silna. Technically the brothers’ combined income was enough to make them the 7th highest paid people in the entire league last year. Together they earned roughly $2 million more in salary than superstars Kevin Durant, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul and even LeBron James.

Daniel and Ozzie Silna

But there’s just one problem. Ozzie and Daniel Silna are not professional basketball players or current franchise owners. Neither of them have ever played a single minute in the NBA and, in fact, they are universally despised by executives at the NBA. So how are they earning so much money? Ozzie and Daniel Silna are the former owners of an American Basketball Association (ABA) team called the Spirits of St. Louis. Back when the ABA folded in 1976, the Silna brothers agreed to dissolve their team in exchange for what seemed like a meaningless concession involving a tiny percentage of future NBA broadcast revenues. At the time, no one ever could have ever imagined that this would accidentally turn out to be the greatest sports business deal of all time. A deal that the NBA woefully regrets every season to this day, and has made the Silna brothers, extraordinarily wealthy.

The NBA’s Big Regret

Ozzie and Daniel Silna were born in 1933 and 1944, respectively, to a pair of Latvian immigrants who had settled in New Jersey in the 1930s. Their father ran a small textile business which both brothers took over until the company was sold in the early 1960s. Soon after, Ozzie and Dan launched their own knitting business that eventually grew into one of the largest manufacturers of polyester just as disco fever swept the nation in the 1970s. Dan Silna, a lifelong basketball super fan, suggested that they use some of their newfound wealth to acquire an NBA franchise. They attempted to purchase the Detroit Pistons for $5 million, but their offer was rejected.

As strange as it sounds, at the time there were actually two professional basketball leagues operating in the United States, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the American Basketball Association (ABA). The ABA was founded in 1967 as an attempt to chip away at the NBA’s monopoly on professional basketball. And there was absolutely a time when the ABA posed a significant challenge to the NBA’s dominance. ABA owners started an all-out salary war by offering young players much larger contracts than their NBA counterparts could afford. The ABA also introduced exciting new concepts like the three-point line and the All Star Game dunk contest. Future NBA legends Julius Erving, Moses Malone, Connie Hawkins and Larry Brown all got their start in the ABA.

Julius Erving ABA Game

When the Silna brothers’ attempt to purchase an NBA franchise came up short, they did the next best thing and went shopping for an ABA team. In 1973 they stuck a deal to purchase the ABA’s struggling Carolina Cougars for $1 million. Almost immediately, the brothers decided to move the team to St. Louis where they hoped to reach a larger contingent of basketball fans. They poured $3 million of their own money into the newly named “Spirits of St. Louis” signing hot young players and upgrading the team’s facilities. They also hired a young announcer fresh out of Syracuse broadcasting school by the name of Bob Costas to do the team’s play-by-play commentary.

The 1974 Spirits of St. Louis

In their first season, The Spirits of St. Louis made the playoffs where they defeated the ABA defending champion New York Nets before losing to the eventual winning team, the Kentucky Colonels. Unfortunately, that was the high point for the Spirits. A year later in 1976, the American Basketball Association went belly up. As part of a dismantling agreement, the four most viable ABA teams would become full-fledged NBA franchises. Those four lucky teams were the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and New York Nets (today’s Brooklyn Nets). Of the three remaining ABA teams, the Virginia Squires went bankrupt before any financial compensation agreement could be made with the NBA. That left the Kentucky Colonels and the Spirits of St. Louis. As part of the dismantling agreement, both teams needed to approve the merger for the deal to go through. The Kentucky Colonels’ owner (who was the president and largest shareholder of Kentucky Fried Chicken) accepted a $3.3 million buyout offer and then went on to successfully run for Governor. Having just poured their hearts and souls into their beloved Spirits, the Silna brothers were much more reluctant to accept a quick buyout and disappear from basketball forever. They did eventually agree to accept a $2.2 million lump sum in exchange for their former players who were successfully drafted into the NBA. But that wasn’t quite enough to make them satisfied.

At the time, NBA television viewership was barely a blip on the ratings radar. Even an NBA championship series would be shown on tape delay after the 11pm news. So, for NBA executives it seemed like a very meaningless and inconsequential concession to offer the Silnas a small percentage of “Visual Media” (television) revenues to make them go away. They didn’t even offer a small percentage of all NBA revenues, their offer was 1/7 of any revenues earned by the four ABA teams that were being absorbed. In other words, the Silna’s agreed to give up their ABA franchise in exchange for 1/7 of the television revenues generated by the Spurs, Nuggets, Nets and Pacers. And here’s the kicker: The 1/7th ownership stake would last in perpetuity. Meaning, forever, or as long as the NBA exists as an viable entity. Specifically the contract reads “The right to receive such revenues shall continue for as long as the NBA or its successors continues in its existence.” Their attorney who negotiated the deal, would get a 10% cut of the Silna’s royalties.

For the first years, between 1976 and 1978, the Silnas did not earn a dime from the NBA and the league looked like it had negotiated a brilliant deal. In 1979 however, the Silna’s received their first royalty check in the amount of $200,000. For the 1980-81 season, the Silnas earned $521,749. Then, between 1980 and 1995, the NBA’s popularity exploded thanks to players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and later Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal. And with that explosion in popularity came several very large television contracts.

Magic and Jordan

The first mega contract that the NBA struck happened in 1997 when NBC and Turner agreed to pay $2.7 billion to broadcast games on television. Five years later, ABC/ESPN/TNT agreed to pay a combined $4.6 billion. In 2007, ABC/ESPN/TNT signed an eight year deal for $7.4 billion. Every time a new deal was stuck, the Silna brothers cashed in. During the 2010-2011 season, the Silna’s earned a royalty of $17.45 million. For 2011-12, they earned $18.5 million. For the most recent NBA season, 2012-2013, the Silna brother’s share of TV revenues was just over $19 million. In total, since that original 1976 agreement was stuck, Ozzie and Daniel Silna have earned a whopping $300 million in NBA television royalties. And if that’s not crazy enough, they are expecting to receive an additional $95 million over the next five years! But wait, it gets better…

Because the language in their original contract covers all “visual media” revenues, last year the Silna’s took the NBA to court over money earned from sources that were unimaginable back in 1976. For example, international broadcasts, internet rights and the NBA TV cable network. Recently, a Federal judge sided with the brothers and ruled that the NBA must pay them to cover incremental revenues from the last few years, and increase future royalties from now on! Oh, and by the way, in 1982 the NBA offered to buy the brothers out of their contract for $5 million paid over 5 years. The Silna’s rejected that offer and countered with $8 million over 8 years. The NBA declined.

By: Brian Warner

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.

RETHINK YOUR KPI’s

Experts tell us that between 60 percent and 90 percent of all strategic initiatives fail to achieve their objectives. So at the end of every month and quarter and year, your company probably generates a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement. However, no matter how these numbers are, they represent a look in the rearview mirror.  So, how can you get your people focused on the numbers that are truly important to move your business forward?

Numerical targets and Milestones

In order to establishing numerical targets, everyone should understand exactly what the number means. Yes, you can track financial results as Numerical Targets, but what most people really understand are visible, concrete things; things they could count if they chose to. You will track these numbers publicly, so select measures that you don’t mind sharing. Remember that you want the people in your company to be aware of these numbers and discuss them.

These numbers will be the basis for your budgets, financial forecasts, human resource planning, and more. Budgets and forecasts should not be done until you have created your company strategy and they must be aligned to the strategic choices you have made.

The Tropical Island Test

The “Key” in Key Performance Indicators means that you concentrate on the most important measures- choose no more than five. Then give your choices the “Tropical Island Test.”  Imagine that you’re vacationing on a distant tropical island. It’s lovely there, but it’s very remote and communications are severely limited. In fact, you can only receive a single five-line text message per week to let you know how things are going at the company. Your challenge right now is to identify the five Key Performance Indicators that will predict and drive the success of your current business model.

Start with the minimum acceptable level.  The minimum acceptable level is the level of performance where you can keep the lights on but not much more. You’re not making any progress at that level. How about good performance? Now set the threshold for good performance.  This is the level of performance you need to see delivered consistently every week if your company is making progress.

Choose your Numerical Targets

Now it’s time to get to work. Get your team together and do the following:

  1. Choose at least one, but no more than three Numerical Targets
  2. Make sure they are numbers that have meaning for all your people
  3. Project them over three time periods: 90 days, one year, and 2 or even 3 years
  4. Identify the person who’s accountable overall for achieving those numbers
  5. Decide how you will make the targets visible.
  6. These targets and your progress should be a regular topic of interest, conversation and accountability
  7. Make these Numerical Targets noticeable and provide frequent progress updates

Now list the outcomes you are looking for- or the end result. Now ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. What is the measurable activity that if you perform enough of them, will drive the desired end result?
  2. How could you measure the quality or effectiveness of that activity?

KPIs do more than simply measure activity or effectiveness levels. They send a message to the people in your company, telling them what’s important. KPIs tell your staff what you will pay attention to and what you pay attention to drives behavior. KPI’s help align individual priorities with company priorities.

Daily and/or Weekly KPIs

Choose KPIs that you can measure every day or every week if possible. If your measurement cycle is longer than a week, you don’t catch problems early enough. You drive better performance with shorter measurement cycles. Shorter cycles let you spot trends earlier and spotting a problem early means you can solve it sooner. Those below-par numbers might be down for another week while we worked together to set things right, but they’d usually be back up in the fourth week.

There’s another advantage to catching problems early: they’re usually easier to solve. The longer a problem lives, the bigger and the nastier it gets. Tracking KPIs on a daily and weekly basis is also more engaging for your people, because it gives them the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of “winning” on a regular basis.

Now Choose Your Company KPIs

Based on what you know to be true right now, what do you expect to achieve by the end of the current year? What about the year after that? The further you project into the future, the less certain you can be, because, as we know, your current reality is always changing. Nothing is more demoralizing than displaying annual targets that bear no resemblance to the current reality.

Now it’s time to get to work. Get your team together and do the following:

  1. Pick KPIs that will drive and predict the financial results of your current business model (or if you are a team manager – the numbers that drive the performance of your team)
  2. Pick KPIs that you can measure every week (or even every day), where possible
  3. Pick only the five (or fewer) KPIs that will make the biggest difference for your company (or team)

You will maximize growth and profits when:

  1. You have clear duties and KPIs for each functional role
  2. You have the right people in each role
  3. Those people concentrate on the right things
  4. They are held accountable for performance every month

Single Point Accountability

Many people can be involved, but ultimately only ONE person can be held accountable. Identify these persons by respective KPI’s and manage these numbers, and accountability to these individuals.

Conclusion:

Accountability is meaningless without consequences.