Friday, August 29, 2014

Fortune Cookie of Persistence

There are many things or factors that can determine a person’s success or failure, but one thing that cuts across EVERY successful person I have met or read about or studied is perseverance, persistence, stick-to-itiveness, and determination. As I say, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been."

Incredibly, this ONE characteristic is really what makes a true entrepreneur as testimony to these little factoids:

  • Coca-Cola only sold twenty five (25) bottles in its first year of business! They grossed $50.0 and spent $73.96 on merchandising. But they kept on going and never gave up, and nowadays the sell more than one billion bottle per day!
  • Apple Computer co-founder offered the computer design to Hewlett-Packard five times and was rejected by both HP and Atari (the giant at the time) for acquisition.
  • A lawyer, Chester Carlson, had an idea about using photoelectric materials to print objects without water, and persevered for over 28 years to get xerography developed and was rejected along the way by IBM and General Electric. 
  • Henry Ford, yes, THE Henry Ford had to claim bankruptcy 5 times before he got it right, and created a company that dominated the industry for 50 years!
Yes, perseverance, that never-give-up attitude, is what separates achievers from dreamers. It is amazing how many people give up just after the first set back, but those brave souls who keep going, often end up on the other side of success.

So, what I have done is listed fortune cookie fortunes on not giving up below for your enjoyment. Pick one or a dozen that apply:

· You don’t quit trying when you lose; you lose when you quit trying.
· People never fail at anything, they just give up.
· There is no future in saying it cannot be done.
· The Will is as important as the Skill.
· He who does not hope to win has already lost.
· The is no defeat except in no longer trying
· Race to the finish..or walk to the finish..just finish.
· Quitters never win, and winners never quit.
· Trying times are no time to quit trying.
· A person without determination is like a knife without an edge.
· In most cases IQ is not as important as I will.
· You cannot get or go anywhere unless you start.
· When you think something cannot be done, watch someone do it.
· When you give up on your dream, you most likely will end up working for someone who did not give up on theirs.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 10 Commandments of Hypergrowth

Hypergrowth is when a company has 5 or more years of 40% plus growth year after year. This is a very rare, and usually unsustainable situation, but believe it or not, any company can achieve this if they just plan and organize for it.

Yes, not all companies will experience hypergrowth, but it is not because they cannot, it is because they did not PREPARE for it. I could not imagine any championship team or athlete NOT preparing to be a champion; of not working everyday to win the cup, or series, or world title? Amazingly, most companies that do not experience hypergrowth never see themselves has champions.

So, how do you prepare you and your company for hypergrowth? I have listed 10 Commandments which at a minimum will set you on the path to hypergrowth, and yes, it goes for high tech and traditional companies as well.

I. Set a Big, No Humongous, Goal

As Marianne Williamson is quoted as saying, “Playing small doesn't serve the world in any way.” Companies need a real mission and make it simple, clear and above all audacious. Remember the moon mission President Kennedy prescribed? Whatever it is you do, make sure you goal involves being the top player in whatever category you go for. Whatever you do, do not make a mission statement that is just a bunch of words that sound nice, but do not really SAY anything. Once you have that mission statement, put it on every company document. Mention it every time you get the chance, and most importantly make sure you employees have bought into it as well. As I say, “If you cannot see it, you cannot be it.” No one or nothing great EVER happened without there first being some outlandish goal, and then seeing and believing you could get there.

II. Grow Your Talent…

And this starts with leadership. "Great leadership makes ordinary people into extraordinary people." Remember that! Ordinary companies can get by with ordinary people, the kind who do their jobs and go home. Hypergrowth companies need extraordinary people, the kind who work their tails off in pursuit of growth. The best way to find them is first be the leader that can take ordinary people and make them superstars.

Oh, and believe it or not it is not about skills or talent, it is about attitude. Make sure your employees have the right attitude to grow, change, and over time excel. In most cases, these people will tend to be a bit younger, but you do not want just “wet behind the ears” employees. The test of a great leader is if they can also make old dogs do new tricks.

III. You Can Never Have Enough Training

Have you ever wondered why we call what doctors and lawyers do practicing? They are ALWAYS in training! High-speed growth requires people who not only work hard but work effectively, and that means that they are going to learn and master new skills, and that means training. It does not matter if your sales people have twenty years of experience, or are fresh out of school. Things change, and they are always going to need training!

Usually the best way to train “newbies” is to team them up with a mentor, a person who is a bit more senior and does not feel threatened by hotshots. Have as MUCH formal training as possible done “off site” and leave the electronics back at the office. You are going to spend a lot of money on training, but in the end, the dividends will be tremendous in productivity, return on effort, and employee satisfaction

IV. Do Not Starve Opportunities

Make sure ALL your employees have the best tools to do their jobs, and these tools improve all the time. You will always need better systems as your business starts to grow AND change. As Wayne Gretzky said, ”You want to be where the puck is going to be,” so that means always planning and playing for the future. Hypergrowth companies are always shooting at a moving target. One LARGE potential problem will be that the more successful your fired up team gets, the more likely they will get bogged down in paperwork or needless procedural dogma. Make sure this does not happen!

Give everyone in the sales process, from the salesman to order fulfillment, tools to allow them to make decisions on the spot and NOT have to wait for management to OK something. Yes, sometimes they will make a mistake, but they will NEVER lose a customer for it. Having EVERYBODY connected makes it easier for people to make the right decision right when a customer needs it, not after the customer has left.

V. The CEO Focuses on Growth -- Everyone Else on Profits

The job of the CEO is to focus on growth and strategy, but in order to be successful; the CEO is going to have to instill the fact that profitability is the MOST important thing to the company. Better to sell $2 million and make $1 million, than to sell $100 million and make $10 million. If you do not understand why this is true, you need to go back to school. Make sure profitability, how you make money and where the profits come from, is ingrained into the bone and sinew of everyone in your company. With this knowledge you will be surprised on how many great ideas come from the rank and file on how to improve profitability. Make sure you implement them and reward the individual for speaking up! Also, measure and reward organizations for their profitability, and create contests and teams to make it so.

VI. Exchange Equity for Cash

If you are a fast-growing company, you will most likely look like a company that is losing money. Boy, does that make banks nervous.

Your banker will always be nervous, so just accept it. The downside is that you will always be in danger of losing his credit lines. "They'd say, you got to slow down.' You’ll say, 'I can't.' But I will try to build up enough equity so you’ll be comfortable.

They best way to do this is to set up a formal employee stock ownership plan, which enables your employees to buy stock with before-tax dollars. They can participate through payroll deductions of up to 10% of their salaries, matched in varying (and discretionary) degrees by the company. This way you can exchange REAL cash for employee ownership and in the early years make your dollars stretch a lot further. In a sense, your employees are now your investors as well.

VII. Have Fun!

Hypergrowth is hard and is serious work, full of stress and unforeseen problems. People work long hours and get run down all the time. Many will quit either because they do not fit your corporate culture, or do not buy into your vision, or cannot handle the pressure. That is OK, but make sure you treat them all with dignity and respect. Remember, they can still say either nice or hurtful things about your company.

Anyway, just because you are doing daunting work, does not mean you cannot have a lot of fun doing it too. That is why you have to make recreation a central element of your corporate culture.

Have annual picnics, organized by region, if you have them, which takes everyone to a distant resort for two or three days of fun, including a popular branch-against-branch tournament that boasts T-shirts and trophies. Have a four-day national sales meeting that sports golf or skiing and other games as well as the national playoffs. Take the corporate staff on half-day excursions once a quarter -- to Key West for a lobster dinner, or to the beach for surfing instruction, or to a rink for in-line skating.

What makes your company different from other have-a-good-time companies though, is that you also want people to enjoy themselves while they are working. And the easiest way to do that is just change the surroundings.

Have staff and Profit / Loss meetings at some recreational site – like at a bowling alley, another at the local ballpark, or at an amusement park. You can have fun with playing corporate Family Feud or Jeopardy!

Each month's contest can focus on a different business subject. One month’s topic can be the bonus program; other can be purchasing and inventory, customer service, and the balance sheet. Teams prepare for the game by studying "hint sheets" posted at the branch. Winners get points toward such prizes as jackets and watches.

In a way the these activities are just and an extension of an approach that expects people not just to work hard but also to understand the business, and reward them for their knowledge. You can randomly just ask employees questions from the book of 100 Corporate Facts, and if an employee gets it right, give the $100! Remember, be generous and have fun!

VIII. Avoid Bureaucracy and Politics

"A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."
--Sir Barnett Cocks
Policy manuals, endless meetings, countless memos, and volumes of rules and regulations could stall hypergrowth. Still, you cannot run a hypergrowth company like a small business. Yes, there has to be uniformity and discipline within and among different departments and divisions in your company, but that is not to say that it need be so rigid as to be stifling.

Remember, you are trying to create a seamless team, and teamwork does not come from a manual, but from leaders..and those leaders start from the top and go all the way down to the rank and file.

Also, be on constant guard of people “guarding their turf” and playing politics. Yes, we are all human, and sometimes feel threaten. It is the job of the CEO to let everyone know we are a team, and sometimes, you will be asked to do something for the team to help EVERYBODY win. Make sure you reward and recognize that player for going outside their comfort level

There are other ways to get people marching to the same music, such as the President’s Tour. Periodically, you can visit each department or branch unannounced, to do an inspection. Are there pictures of employees on the walls? Check. Are the facilities clean? Check. Are service levels up to standard? Check. There are 100 things that are the right way to do business. Either you do it or you do not. If it is done, they get a check mark. Make it a game and give recognition for great scores, and have a ribbon or banner made that states so.

IX. Share the Wealth

From day one, you need a mindset that you are all about sharing the wealth. In order to achieve hypergrowth, you are going to need everyone pulling their oars hard, and the payoff of hypergrowth is substantial wealth.

Not only do you need a widespread stock ownership plan where all of your employees will understand that they will get a chance to share in the wealth if they stick around, you will also need a bonus program to reward superior performance or achieving profit levels. That knowledge, in turn, lets you run a high-performance operation without too much turnover. High turnover results in lower profits and sales.

X. Foster Leadership

Leadership is a talent that amplifies any other skill set a person might have. Leadership is not always about being a leader, but about fostering teamwork, cooperation, and service. Yes, when a person is then called to be a leader, having leadership skills with help them excel in whatever they are doing.

With hypergrowth there is going to be plenty of opportunities for leaders to be developed and needed. If you are growing revenues 40% a year, you have to grow people 80% a year, and the only way to do that is to develop their leadership abilities..

As a word of caution: Not all top talent is cut out to be a leader. Just because someone might be a superstar on the court of football field, does not make them an outstanding coach.

There are many characteristics in leadership, and in a previous blog I list John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I find in picking a good leader, the 3 most important ones in maintaining hypergrowth are the desire to serve, the desire to empower others, and the desire for victory. You will know when a person becomes a leader, and the ONLY way your company will ever achieve hypergrowth is by growing the leaders within.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

24 Social Life Hacks to Success

We all want to be more successful, or popular, or liked, or have a greater sense of belonging. As such there is a very robust self-help industry which includes seminars, webinars, books, tapes, videos…the list is endless? Why? Because deep down, we all want to feel important, and know we cannot do that by ourselves (hum, sounds like a quotation)..

Nonetheless, I have posted what is now called life hacks that have been practiced by successful people for years. A lot of them have to do with ‘body language’ and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ These small shifts in behavior or awareness will give you greater control of potentially important outcomes, from everyday situations to stressful job interviews. Of course, do not stop reading books on how to win friends and influence people, but at least this list gives you some sure fired tips to deploy now.

1. Primacy and recency: people most remember the first and last things to occur, and barely the middle.

When scheduling an interview, ask what times the employer is interviewing and try to be first or last. There was a lengthy study done about paroles in Israel, and guess what, seems that the people got paroled more often first thing in the morning and right after lunch…so, yes, fatigue plays a role too. Better to be first than last.

2. Once you make the sales pitch, don't say anything else.

This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways. I have sold billions of dollars worth of high tech product and after I do my pitch and explain their benefits, I just shut up (actually, something that is really, really, really hard for me to do). Although this seems like a really small thing to do, actually works. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuse why they did not need the product, but usually they bought and bought it at full price.

3. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

You have heard the expression, ‘Silence is Golden,’ well if applies here too. If you stay silent and keep eye contact they will usually continue talking. Remember, most people love to hear themselves talk, so by ALL means let them. If you are doing the talking, you are not learning anything new.

4. Chew gum when you are going into a situation that would make you nervous.

We all get nervous at times, but some things like public speaking or bungee jumping or asking someone out on a date, make us REALLY nervous. Our brains are funny things. If we are eating, something in our brain reasons 'I would not be eating if I were danger. So I'm not in danger'. Though some people think it is rude to chew gum, so it anyway, but be as discrete as possible. While I tend not to have nerves, I know it has help others I know remain calm a few times.

5. People will remember not what you said but how you made them feel.

This is just “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 101. Remember, people LOVE talking about themselves, so ask lots of questions about them. And remember, do not interrupt unless to add a follow up question or keep them talking. See partial answers previous.

6. When learning something new, teach a friend about it.

This is a quote by Joseph Joubert, “To teach is to learn twice,” and it is true here. When you can teach it, and do it well, your understanding of it will increase rapidly and you will learn new things in doing so.

7. Be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

Believe or not, we tend to mirror people who show either positive or negative emotions. It is comes from our innate desire to ‘belong.’ This may not always happen first time you try it with a certain individual, but it will definitely happen next time.

8. The physical effects of stress are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

There is a VERY thin line between courage and cowardess, or the desire to fight of flight. When you feeling stress from any situation immediately re-frame it: your body is getting ready to be courageous, it is NOT feeling stress. Remember, if it does not kill you, then it is just all in your mind, and it will make you stronger.

9. Pay attention to people's feet.

There are a lot of books out on body language, you know folded arms, playing with hair, etc., but if you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they do not want you to join in their conversation. So do not! Similarly if you are in a conversation with an individual who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end or at a minimum, the topic to change.

10. Fake it until you make it; confidence is more important than knowledge.

OK, Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge, and it takes some imagination to have confidence at times. Remember, no one EVER started out as an expert or a super star, but one thing every super star had before they became one is the confidence that one day they would. Of course in addition to belief and good self-talk, there is that little thing called work. Still, do not be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask and no one is an expert in everything.

11. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

This goes with #10 above. It is NOT to say be something you are not or phony. But as Denis Waitley said “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it's what you think you're not." We are what we think, so think well of yourself.

12. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them.

OK, this might be one of those weird mind tricks, but sometimes some people are just too, well good looking not to stare. The trick is to stare past them until they try to get your eye contact. When they fail to do that, they will look around (usually nervously for a second) they won't look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds. Do not try this very often, as you might get “that creepy guy” reputation.

13. Build a network.

OK, everyone stays build a network. That is NOT just going to Meetups and handing out a bunch of business cards. It is about becoming a source of information, and letting others be yours. Even grabbing a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, or attending a informal event with a former colleague or distant friend once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office or gang. Old friends and former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in or do business with, great! It’s time to get together again, so offer something in a non-business environment. It's all about connections and information.

14. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother...

Pretend it is your grandmother or your best friend; it will significantly reduce your road rage. As I like to say, “Who angers you masters you.” And who wants to be owned? And really, is ANYTHING so important that you cannot give up a few minutes.

15. Stand up straight.

Hum, those Catholic School nuns actually got this one straight, and lucky for me I went to a boarding military school. Why do we respect those in the military so much? They show command and it has everything to do with posture (ok, and the uniforms too). No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. This is not just a cliché. You literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you. Be large and in charge.

16. Avoid saying "I think," and "I believe" unless absolutely necessary.

Remember EVERYTHING is about perceived confidence, and these are phrases do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good. Yes, on the other hand you could be perceived as a bore if everything you say comes off as an absolute, so tone it down with phrases like, “I might not always be right, but…” or “I have researched that…”

17. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

Time never passes so slowly as when you are anxious, and as Seth Godin says, “Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in the future.” One sure way to make time move faster is to do something that takes your mind off the subject. If you do not want to clean up, and have the time, go out and play tennis, golf, or basketball instead. You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

18. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

There are two reasons to do this. First, everyone will remember you bought the first round (because they are still sober), and you will surprised how long you can drink on the phrase "I bought the first one."

19. Going into an interview... be interested in your interviewers.

Again, when you really want to make a good impression, do NOT focus on yourself. If you focus on learning about the OTHER person you seem more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.) And when the other person has exhausted their self adulation, they might ask you about yourself. Make it brief.

20. Pay Attention Parents: Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

It is always about teaching and empowering kids about making decisions. I always used to ask my sons, “Do you want to brush your teeth, or do you want me to do them?” Notice the topic of getter you teeth brush was NOT up for debate, just the choice of whom was going to do it. Today, I hear it back from them when they ask me, do you want to eat at X or Y?

Pro-tip: In most cases, this works on adults.

21. Your actions affect your attitudes more than your attitudes affect your actions.

The attitude you bring with you when do something more often is much more important than how well you do something. "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it," as Lou Holtz once stated. So, you can jump and dance FOR joy, or you can also jump and dance joyfully."

22. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to.

Remember, we are pack animals at heart, and instinctively we want to be accepted, and when we laugh, our masks are taken off. So, naturally we look out closest ally in the ‘pack’ for approval. So, if you want to impress a certain person, look at who THEY are trying to impress or feel comfortable with, and make sure you get to know them too. 

23. If you work in a bar or in-person customer service of any kind...

Put a mirror behind you at the counter. People have no clue what they look like when they are angry, and this is a great way angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves. An believe me, it is NOT a pretty sight, and most people want to look good. Chances are once they see themselves, their incidence of behaving irrationally lowers significantly. 

This also works is your significant other is upset with you as well.  When  I was married, every time my wife was angry at me, I would go into the bathroom and stand with my back to the giant mirror. Within 30 seconds she would stop yelling and leave the room.  She was still angry, but she could no longer vent as long as she had to look at herself doing it. 

24. If you want to build rapport or gain trust quickly, match body posture and position.

Yes, I mentioned ‘mirroring’ earlier, and if someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they are leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they are leaning towards you, lean towards them. Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you, or is in ‘sync’ with you. If you are sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person. Better yet, when they stop mirroring you, and then move into your “close circle” of intimate space. This is especially nice if it is a beautiful girl.

I am sure I missed some things. Let me know what life hacks you would recommend in the comments and I'll be sure to add them. Thanks for reading and sharing and commenting!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Myers-Briggs and Social Media

If you have been working for any amount of time, you have most likely have taken the Myer-Briggs personality indicators (introvert v. extrovert; sensing v. intuition; thinking v feeling; and perceiving v. judging).  Here is an infographic created my mbti that has been broken into five sections.  It is pretty informative and goes on to show what types of indicators prefer which types of social media.

Myers-Briggs Type

The about graphic describes the various characteristics of the Myers-Briggs personality types and how they would be inclined to use social media. There are 4 types that can combined to create 16 "personalities." To enlarge picture, just click on the image.

 Do You Use Facebook

This is an graphic on how your particular personality type would use Facebook. It seems like extraverts and intuitive individuals prefer using Facebook.

Social Media Use at Work

This graphic explores how different types use social media and the web at work and their predisposition to share information based in being an extrovert or an introvert.

Are You LinkedIn?

Individuals who are considered extroverts, thinking, and intuitive seem to prefer using LinkedIn over other personality types.

 Who Tweets?

Although Twitter is not as widely used as other social media sites, there seems to be a bias toward those who show more intuitive indication in their personality type. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Practical Ideas: Vol 1

Although most of the post on this blog deal with practical ideas on how to run a business, every now an then something comes my way in which needs to be posted due in fact on how practical the ideas are useful.. This is volume 1 of Practical Ideas. Enjoy.

Slice Cherry Tomatoes

The simplest way to slice a bunch of cherry tomatoes is to sandwich them between two plastic lids and run a long knife through all of them at once!

Keep Brown Sugar Moist

Keep brown sugar soft by storing it with a couple of marshmallows in the bag.

Keep Shoes Off Floor

Install a regular coat rack low down the wall to store shoes safely off the floor

Display Jewelry

Organize jewellery on a cork-board for easy viewing when deciding how to accessorize an outfit

DIY Watering Can

Create a thrifty watering can by puncturing holes in the top of a used milk bottle.

Pet Hair Remover

Remove pet hair from furniture and carpets with a squeegee.

Easy Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Flip a toaster on its side to make grill cheese

Make Clear Ice

Water straight from the tap becomes cloudy when frozen. To make ice cubes crystal clear, allow a kettle of boiled water to cool slightly and use this to fill your ice cube trays.

Stuff Peppers Holder

Use a large muffin tin to cook stuffed peppers in the oven - it will help keep them upright.

Potato Preserver

To prevent potatoes budding, add an apple in the bag.

Easy Boiled Egg Peeler

Add half a teaspoon of baking soda to the water when hard-boiling eggs to make the shells incredibly easy to peel off.

Crayon Remover

WD40 can be used to remove crayon marks from any surface!

Have a Bad Egg?

To tell if eggs are fresh, immerse them in a bowl of water. Fresh eggs will lie on the bottom, while stale eggs will float to the surface.

A Clean Cutting Board

To clean a wooden chopping board, sprinkle on a handful of Kosher salt and rub with half a lemon. Rinse with clean water and dry to ensure it is clean and germ-free.

Soil Retainer

Prevent soil from escaping through the holes in the base of flowerpots by lining with large coffee filters.

Sharpen Scissors

To sharpen scissors, simply cut through sandpaper.

Open Jars Easily

Use rubber bands to help open a jar easily: place one around the jar lid and another around the middle of the glass. The rubber provides friction to prevent your hands from slipping.

No More Tears (Onions)

To prevent your eyes watering while chopping onions, wipe the chopping board with white vinegar (which won't affect the taste of the onions).

Store Sheets

Store bed sheets inside their pillowcases for easy storage and access.

Clean Stained Toilets

Drop a couple of denture cleaning tablets into the toilet bowl at night to clean off stubborn stains.

Fly and Bee Shield

Use cupcake cases to cover drinks glasses in the summer and prevent bees and flies from dropping in.

Ornament Storage

Use egg boxes to store delicate Christmas tree decorations.

Blister Pack Opener

Just use a can opener. This has to be the simplest way to open those annoying blister packs!

Broken Light Bulb Remover

Use a cut potato to easily remove a broken light bulb.

Grease Remover

Use chalk to remove grease stains from clothes. Simply rub white chalk on the affected area and wash as normal - the chalk will absorb the grease and be washed away in the cycle.

Keep Wine Cold

Freeze grapes to chill white wines without watering the wind down.