Archive for 'Guide'

How to be a great audience

By Seth Godin

(and what’s in it for you…)

I participated in an interesting experiment today. I was lucky enough to attend career day with 75 eighth graders. Divided into five groups, I got to see a group at a time for about fifteen minutes each.

Within three seconds of beginning my talk, I could tell.

I could tell who had learned the skill of being in the audience and who hadn’t. And I’m worried that it might be permanent.

The good audiences were all the same. They leaned forward. They made eye contact. They mirrored my energy right back to me. When the talk (five minutes) was over they were filled with questions.

The audience members that hadn’t learned the skill were all different. Some made no eye contact. Some found distractions to keep them busy. Some were focused on filling out the form that proved that they had been paying attention.

What I discovered: that the good audience members got most of my attention. The great audience members got even more… attention plus extra effort. And, despite my best efforts, the non-great audience members just sort of fell off the radar.

This isn’t a post about me and my talk. It’s about the audience members and the choices each make. It’s a choice your employees and your customers make too.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that information is just delivered to you. That rock stars and violinists and speakers and preachers and teachers and tour guides get paid to perform and the product is the product. But it’s not true. Great audiences get more.

Great audiences not only get more energy and more insight and more focused answers to their questions, they also get better jobs and find better relationships. Because the skills and the attitude are exactly the same.

I am too much of an optimist to believe that the lousy audience members in today’s program are stuck that way for life. But I know that the longer they wait, the harder it is going to be to change.

The next time someone says, “any questions,” ask one. Just ask.

The next time you see a play that is truly outstanding, lead the standing ovation at the end.

The next time you have an itch to send an email to a political blogger or post a comment or do a trackback, do it. Make it a habit.

By Seth Godin

Optimism is a key to success, but it doesn’t necessarily work so well when it comes to VC. Because this is a cottage industry with thousands of players, all with different objectives, it’s very easy to keep knocking on doors, just waiting to find the right match. It’s also easy to spend a year or more adjusting your business to what each VC asks for (“bring me the broomstick of the wicked witch!” while you could have been out there building a real organization.)

Here are a bunch of conditions that you ought to take seriously before you invest the time and the energy to track down outside money for your great idea:

  1. Investors like to invest in categories they’ve already invested in. If your business is so new that it’s never been tested before, or is in a category VCs hate, think twice.
  2. Investors want you to sell out. As soon as possible. For as much as possible. They have no desire to own part of your company forever.
  3. Investors want to invest in a project that’s tested. If you can’t make it work in the ‘small’, why do you think it’ll work when it’s big?
  4. Being a little better than the market leader is worthless.
  5. Investors don’t want you to use their money to cover your losses. They want you to build an asset (a patent, an audience, channel relationships) that’s actually worth something.
  6. Investors want someone to run your company who has successfully run a company before.
  7. Investors want to be able to come to one of your board meetings and still make it home in time for dinner.
  8. VCs like curves more than they like cliffs.
  9. There are actually very very few business problems that can be solved with money.
  10. You will probably have to replace many of your employees if you raise money from someone.
  11. VCs understand that being the best in the world (#1) is the place with the biggest rewards, so it’s unlikely they will settle for any performance (even a profitable one) that puts you in second or third place.
  12. VCs are very smart and very connected, but they’re smart enough to know that their connections and their insights can’t fix a broken business.
  13. Investors are very focused on the company, not you. They’re not interested in having you take out your original investment or paying you a large salary as profits go up.
  14. Business plans are bogus. The act of writing one is critical, but no one is going to read more than three pages of what you write before they make a decision.
  15. The companies that VCs most want to invest in are the companies that don’t need their investment to survive.

by Glenn Ebersole

Strategic planning is an awesome and powerful process that sometimes gets a bad rap because of some bad experiences people have had when engaging in some form of strategic planning meetings. Many times the combination of personal agendas, absence of open minds, and preconceived judgments about the strategic planning process can turn strategic planning meetings into real disasters. And frankly, there are many reasons why so many strategic planning meetings are unsuccessful. Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach has developed a list of the top 10 reasons why strategic planning meetings fail. And the Top Ten Reasons are:

# 1. Restricting strategic planning to once a year at some annual event. Strategic planning must become a habit to enhance the performance of your company or organization.

#2. Failing to conduct research or “to do your homework” prior to strategic planning meetings. For strategic planning meetings to be effective, the attendees must have information to make sound strategic decisions.

#3. Developing such an overly ambitious agenda with insufficient time to complete. This will cause frustration among the attendees and may also cause mental fatigue and loss of interest.

#4. Inviting too many people to your strategic planning meeting. If there are too many people, there is a possibility of confusion.

# 5. Assuming that everyone at your strategic planning meeting thinks like the leader of the meeting. A good leader will know that this is not true and will not structure the meeting to their preferences.

#6. Failing to use an effective professional facilitator. The absence of an effective facilitator is an invitation to a dysfunctional or failed meeting.

#7. Having too tight a structure for the strategic planning meeting. It is essential to build in some fun, games and breaks.

#8. Failing to identify and address issues before moving on and/or before the meeting itself. A good leader will make sure issues are cleaned up so they do not negatively impact the strategic planning meeting.

# 9. Ending your meeting without a commitment from the attendees about the new strategic direction. And also failing to end the meeting on a very positive note.

#10. Totally ignoring needed follow-up after the meeting. A fatal mistake is underestimating the amount of effort it takes to execute the developed strategic plan.

I trust that I have provided some insightful information about the reasons strategic planning meetings fail. If you would like to learn how to ensure that your strategic planning meetings and related efforts will not fail, and how strategic planning can benefit you and your business or organization, please contact Glenn Ebersole today through his website at www.businesscoach4u.com or by email at jgecoach@aol.com

Glenn Ebersole, Jr. is a multi-faceted professional, who is recognized as a visionary, guide and facilitator in the fields of business coaching, marketing, public relations, management, strategic planning and engineering. Glenn is the Founder and Chief Executive of two Lancaster, PA based consulting practices: The Renaissance Group, a creative marketing, public relations, strategic planning and business development consulting firm and J. G. Ebersole Associates, an independent professional engineering, marketing, and management consulting firm. He is a Certified Facilitator and serves as a business coach and a strategic planning facilitator and consultant to a diverse list of clients. Glenn is also the author of a monthly newsletter, “Glenn’s Guiding Lines – Thoughts From Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach” and has published more than 225 articles on business.

To find out more about the benefits & rewards of effectively working with a strategic thinking business coach, please contact Glenn Ebersole through his web site at http://www.businesscoach4u.com or jgecoach@aol.com

The Real Value of Strategic Planning

by Rick Johnson

I know some of you are so involved in fighting fires that you believe there isn’t time to develop a strategic plan. Some of you may consider long term planning a waste of time. Some believe long term planning is what you are going to do after lunch and some may even believe there is no value in strategic planning because as the owner/CEO you know what it takes to be successful and all your employees need to do is listen to you.

Hello, you may be wrong! You may need to join this century. Times have changed, leadership has evolved. The days of the “Lone Wolf” leader at the top who dominates with power are gone. Successful privately held organizations have gone through the leadership evolutionary process. They understand that today’s leader must create change in the organization to meet the needs of their customers, to meet the needs of their employees and to meet the needs of their vendor partners. It involves a particular life cycle change.

Strategic Planning is a Platform for Change

Strategic planning is a key process that adjusts an organization’s direction in response to a changing environment. It supports the fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide an organization. A sound strategic plan can help define and focus a distributor’s efforts to move the company in the right direction, using the best methods. Show Me the Value

I cannot emphasize enough that the true value of a strategic plan is not in the document itself. It is in the process of creating it, involving many of your employees from the bottom up. This empowers them to be more effective and better-informed leaders, managers and decision makers. Creating a culture that embraces empowerment and working together as a team is probably the most effective way to create success. The more people work together and take ownership of the long term objectives the more unity and teamwork become a direct route to success.

Time after time I am told by prior clients that the real value they received from the strategic planning process was in the personal development of the strategy team members and the involvement of the entire company working together as a team in a team atmosphere. The results seemed almost automatic.

You are Handicapped Without Unity, a Common Shared Vision and Ownership of the Plan

Strategic planning creates a team culture that is necessary for success. Working together effectively is not automatic. It takes a specific effort and the development of a culture that is supported by executive management. Shared experiences create unity and value. Knowledge transfer is essential for an organization to grow. Without knowledge transfer and the sharing of the planning experience it is difficult for the group to share the vision and work toward common goals. More importantly, without the strategic planning experience it is much more difficult for employees to function together in such a manner that brings out the best in each other and the entire management team.

Create a Dynamic Force

It is not a natural occurrence for employees to stop thinking of each other as competitors and start working as a team. It is much more difficult to accomplish than it sounds. However, it is a natural by-product of the strategic planning process itself. More importantly, it fills a vital need if you want to create or maintain competitive advantage in your business.

The Strategic Planning Value Includes:

1. More direct success in executing action plans and initiatives. Ownership of action items are imperative with timelines and defined desired results allowing the team to tackle more complex projects more efficiently than just individual managers.

2. The strategic planning process allows the development of more creative solutions because it leverages the creativity and innovation of all the strategy team members. When team members bounce ideas off of each other, they arrive at solutions that may never have emerged alone. Seeing things from different perspectives is invaluable when it comes to personal leadership development.

3. Commitment to ideas and plans become an exciting part of the process as employees take ownership of the initiatives. When employees are involved in a project from the start, they are more likely to be committed to the ideals it represents. They also develop the unique ability to pass that excitement, that commitment and that ownership on to the entire organization.

4. Strategic planning utilizing CEO Strategists proprietary team process that starts with the Owners/CEO End Game and empowers the team to develop the roadmap without being intimidated by the presence of the CEO creates empowerment throughout the group that encompasses focus, process, discipline and accountability for the achievement of the “End Game – Vision for the Future.” That ownership not only challenges the team to be creative but it releases discretionary energy throughout the organization.

5. Strategic planning activities motivate your employees to deliver their very best effort on behalf of the company. The fundamental benefit of the planning process includes the development of the following:

• A framework and a clearly defined direction with unified support

• A clear vision and purpose owned by all employees

• Enhanced employee commitment to the firm and its goals

• A set of priorities that matches company resources

• A trend analysis that generates the confidence to take risks

• Accountability built in to a control process

Contact Rick below if you need help or want to discuss your strategic planning process. You can also request a complimentary copy of an internal pre-strategy survey.

http://www.ceostrategist.com – Sign up to receive “The Howl” a free monthly newsletter that addresses real world industry issues. – Straight talk about today’s issues. Rick Johnson, expert speaker, wholesale distribution’s “Leadership Strategist”, founder of CEO Strategist, LLC a firm that helps clients create and maintain competitive advantage. Need a speaker for your next event, E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com Don’t forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business. E-mail for your special Howl discount order form. Get the CEO Strategist Interview Guide and Conducting an Effective Sales Training Session Guide just for signing up for “The Howl”. Don’t forget to check out the Lead Wolf Series that can help you put more profit into your business. E-mail for your special Howl discount order form.

Dealing with and handling change and uncertainty is one of the major challenges each of us faces in today’s world. And we face it in our business and personal lives. It can be said that change and uncertainty arrive together and that most people find it much more difficult to manage and endure ambiguity and waiting than to deal with changes as they happen. And, in my opinion, on thing is certain – each of us will face some type of change and uncertainty at multiple times during our life. So, what are some strategic actions we can take to deal with this change and uncertainty? Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach researched this question and developed seven (7) strategic actions to recommend dealing with change and uncertainty in business and life.

The seven (7) strategic actions are:

Strategic Action #1: Adopt an attitude that accepts and welcomes change and uncertainty as the catalysts for endless opportunities in your business life and personal life.

Strategic Action #2: Develop an understanding that “our thoughts” create “our reality” and that “our thoughts” will actually drive our response to situations. Negative thinking really weakens our creativity, problem-solving abilities, and our immune systems. Therefore, it is critical to think of all the possibilities of positive outcomes, rather than dwelling on the negative and problems.

Strategic Action #3: Develop a clear focused vision of the outcome(s) you are striving to reach, then proceed with passionate pursuit and deliberate intention to reach your vision and goals.

Strategic Action #4: Build an unbreakable spirit and use the awesome power of your spirit and its mysterious blend of emotional strength, energy, character, passion and “will” to defy all odds against reaching your vision and goals.

Strategic Action #5: Use the power of strategic thinking and keep the image of your vision in front of you at all times, instead of having your attention and efforts diverted toward the negative.

Strategic Action #6: Free yourself for your future by “letting go” of the negative and the past. Each of us on each of the days of our lives decides how we respond to life’s challenges. We have a choice to play the role of a victim and feel sorry for ourselves and seek pity, blame others and become very angry. Or we can choose to “let go” and look ahead for what positive things are yet to come.

Strategic Action # 7: Postpone your judgment about your today and your tomorrow until they become your yesterdays. Judge the present by taking advantage of viewing it through the clearer and more powerful lens of it being the past. I believe there is great truth and wisdom in saying that our tomorrows often look very different when they become our yesterdays.

Glenn Ebersole, Jr. is a multi-faceted professional, who is recognized as a visionary, guide and facilitator in the fields of business coaching, marketing, public relations, management, strategic planning and engineering. Glenn is the Founder and Chief Executive of two Lancaster, PA based consulting practices: The Renaissance Group, a creative marketing, public relations, strategic planning and business development consulting firm and J. G. Ebersole Associates, an independent professional engineering, marketing, and management consulting firm. He is a Certified Facilitator and serves as a business coach and a strategic planning facilitator and consultant to a diverse list of clients. Glenn is also the author of a monthly newsletter, “Glenn’s Guiding Lines – Thoughts From Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach” and has published more than 250 articles on business.

To find out more about the benefits & rewards of effectively working with a strategic thinking business coach, please contact Glenn Ebersole through his web site at http://www.businesscoach4u.com or jgecoach@aol.com

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