Business Success Quick-Tips

This week, we wanted to provide you with three quick tips that can help your business and expand your thinking. They revolve around your cash flow, thinking non-traditionally, and becoming a master at collaboration.

  1. Know your cash position at all times! More important than your profit and loss statement is your cash flow statement. Many companies can operate at a loss for years if they’re able to manage their cash flow. Know your projected flow at least 3 months from now. If you have a solid grasp on your income and expenses, you have a much higher chance of survival!
  2. Think non-traditional sales and marketing. Most advertising does not work. Think of your last encounter with a salesperson. Traditional selling often pushes more people away than it attracts. Use the Internet, search engines, affiliates and alliance relationships to effectively build your business rather than running ads.
  3. Become a master of collaboration. You may not have the right answer or solution for your clients but chances are someone within your organization or within your sphere of influence DOES. When we collaborate we broaden our expertise and are able to deliver more effective products and services to our clients.

Listen to the Small Business Hour this Friday at 4 pm PST. We will be interviewing Dr. Brad Smart, author of the bestselling book: Topgrading. He will be discussing how to attract and retain 90% “A players” in your company, eliminating unproductive workforces. In addition, we will have our Marketing Corner, Leadership Lesson, and much more. This will be an exciting show! If you can’t listen live, you can listen to a replay at any time online. Go to www.smallbusinesshour.comto tune in.

A Four Letter Word

One late autumn evening a father came into his home with a small gift, which he partly concealed in his hands. Before his two sons could see what it was, he tossed it into the air. Instead of falling to the floor, as expected, it flew across the room till it struck the ceiling, where it fluttered awhile, and finally sank to the floor. It was a little toy, known to scientists of the time as a “helicopter.” It was so delicate that it lasted only a short time in the hands of the two small boys, but its memory was abiding.

Later in the late 1800s the boys faced difficult economic times, fierce competition in the bicycle business (they couldn’t give them away), not to mention being the laughing stock of all of Ohio. But in 1904 they revolutionized the world by creating the first flying machine. They were willing to risk ridicule. They were willing to risk the very high likelihood of failure. They were willing to risk profitable careers and pursue a hobby that started with a childhood toy! Yet if not for the risks they embraced, our world would be a very different place today. The boys were young Orville and Wilbur Wright.I will always remember visiting the Edison Tower in Menlo Park, New Jersey where I grew up as a child. At the top of the tower is a replica of Thomas Edison’s workroom. It is filled with all kinds of inventions, most of which are, to this day, useless artifacts. While in Menlo Park, Edison received over 400 patents on items, which were never put into production. In short they were failures. But Edison thought of these disasters as learning opportunities.One time his lab stove went out in the dead of winter. Many expensive chemicals froze. Another time unprotected chemicals were damaged by sunlight. Instead of feeling sorry for himself, Edison stopped all other projects and thought of ways to solve the problem. He learned to change the makeup of some of the chemicals. He was not afraid to take risks and he never gave up when a project failed. Few people know that Edison started hundreds of companies between 1868 and 1928. Most of them were failures. But he would brush himself off and start something new. Edison learned that risk-taking was a good thing. He learned that without taking risk he could not achieve success. He learned that it’s okay to fail. That failing is not the end. It is rather a new beginningWhen did RISK in our society become a four-letter word? Maybe it was after the dot-com implosion or the tragedy of 9 -11 or the Enron debacle. Whatever the reason, “risk” has become a dirty little four-letter word in our business culture today.A few weeks ago I talked about how we should go “one step beyond” with our business initiatives. It takes the commitment to exceed the performance of yesterday to succeed tomorrow. But it also requires that we be willing to take reasonable or even sometimes unreasonable risks. Was it reasonable that the Wright brothers would create a machine that could fly in 1904? Was it reasonable for Edison to say in 1876 that, “in the future electric light will be so cheap that only that wealthy will be able to afford candles?” Likely not. Both Edison and the Wright brothers knew that without risk, there is no reward. Are we any different today? Can we really afford to hunker down and take a “wait and see” attitude when technology, the marketplace and the world around us changing faster than ever before? I think not.As I have said in the past, playing it safe isn’t necessarily playing it smart – even in cautious times. Don’t be afraid of risk. To not take a risk is to risk being ignored. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It’s not a thing to be waited for, it’s a thing to be achieved.” Let’s go from a “risk aversion” business culture to a risk sharing and reward innovation culture.In short, risk-taking is as much a part of good management as smart product development, effective marketing and strong leadership.

15 Recession Proof Strategies

In a previous article I talked about how we need to get back to basics by adding value for our clients. I mentioned that I would be discussing the specifics of HOW we can do this at my all-day entrepreneurial workshop. As a result I received a number new registrations for the workshop, but I also received a few emails from people asking for more specifics about the content of the workshop.

The 5 Recession-Proof Management Strategies1. Have a Clear Destination 
Develop an exit plan first. This will help establish long, mid and short-term goals Decide on what you will do to proactively position your product or service this year. Have a plan to finance new initiatives and contingencies if you don’t get the cash If you’re a start up, have a professionally developed written business plan with quarterly goals that you can review in just 15 minutes every week.2. Do the Job of 2 People in Half the Time 
Do the most difficult things first. Do two things at the same time whenever possible Set aside time specifically for “planning your time.” Balance the various activities in your life based on their importance to you.3. Put Everything in Order 
Establish a place for everything and always keep everything in that place Make kinetic economy work for you. This is the process of accomplishing the maximum amount of activity by expending the minimum amount of energy. Make a commitment to improve your organizational skills Establish systems and hold people accountable to working within them.4. Automate or Stagnate 
Calculate your rate of pay by activity. Are you paying yourself $100/hr to perform secretarial functions? Enjoy the efficiencies of off-the-shelf technologies like ACT!, Goldmine, Outlook, QuickBooks, Filemaker, etc. Put in place automated electronic solutions that will save you time and money. Use the Internet to gain efficiencies like online inventory reconciliation, credit card and check processing gateways.5. Outsource and Delegate 
Make sure that your outsourcing plan ensures residual profit, productive efficiencies and added value for your customers Decide on a delegation management, exclusivity, royalties and compensation strategy UPFRONT. Tie alliance-partners into the client’s ultimate goal and establish a system of accountability. Take the time to understand their participation and have a contingency to get the job done in a pinch.The 4 Recession-Proof Financial Strategies1. Don’t Get Bought Cheap
Develop and stick to a firm pricing strategy and don’t be afraid to communicate it with confidence. Understand your competition, why they exist and why their customer’s prefer them over you. Know when to walk away. Know your profit margin by product, service and customer.2. Make Cash – KING! 
Learn why the biggest reason businesses fail is because of cash flow. Develop a system to understand your cash flow on a weekly basis. You may be profitable, but if you are cash poor the party’s over. Develop a 6 month cash flow forecast that you can view DAILY so you always know where you stand. Plan for and track EVERY expense and conservatively estimate your income in your cash management system.3. Reserve Planning 
Develop “cash contingencies” and have a cash back-up plan for 6 months at all times. Establish a separate investment and bank account to plan for specific business and personal reserves. Develop an operating budget and live to it. If you have department heads establish the budget WITH them and hold them accountable to performance weekly. Establish a reserve for planned initiatives like marketing campaigns, expansion, capital equipment and so on. Limit “leveraged” expansion in the early stages but take advantage of attractive finance options as your credit history improves.4. Plan to Pay Yourself Back
Put a price on your exit and start a reserve to facilitate it as early as possible Invest in your future. Focus on initiatives that build equity as well as “cash cows.” Have a diversified investment strategy and communicate with more than one investment counselor Develop a residual income stream.The 6 Recession-Proof Marketing Strategies1. Be a Giver 
Understand why your customers are more selective than ever before. Use informational marketing to your benefit. How will you repetitively deliver your message yet include value for your clients? Decide on a media or mediums that you will use to deliver your message.2. Out-Market Your Competition 
Be different – Count the ways that you will you set yourself apart from the competition.Talk louder – Not in an obnoxious way but in an authoritative way. How will you establish authority?Focus your reach – Why its better for you to be more important to fewer people than just another option for everyone. Be an evangelist for your business and industry3. Be an Influencer NOT a Salesperson 
Develop a unique selling proposition for your business, product or service – something ONLY you offer. Talk less and ask more preplanned, directive questions when speaking with customers. Focus on WHY your customers need the benefits of your product or service rather than just the specific benefit they will receive. In other words: how will you change their life? Don’t be too anxious to tell people why you are better. Find creative ways to make them come to that conclusion on their own.4. Communicate Consistently 
Have a system of contact archiving, reporting, and management. Make using some kind of contact management system a daily habit. Craft a provocative, inspirational message to be delivered to clients and prospects in a unique way. Be creative and proactive in developing “reasons” to communicate with your customer.
 5. Use the Web to “Touch” your Customers
Develop a personalized web presence. Make it a reflection of WHO you are rather than just WHAT you do. Make your web site more than just an on-line brochure. Include content such as educational information and valuable advise from experts in the field. Build-in some interactive value-added features like an exclusive member’s area, chat room, forum postings, on-line reports and weekly or monthly newsletter Incorporate e-commerce features such as an on-line store, order tracking system, and purchase history features.6. Extend Your Reach 
Develop a profile of potential collaborators. Identify at least 5 non-competitive partners that you can collaborate with and a pre-approach plan. Pick only the very best people in each area. Be very selective. Do NOT compromise on values or philosophy.  Ensure that there is mutual benefit. A one sided relationship will only breed resentment and contempt.These 15 recession-proof strategies can transform your business, capture greater market share, improve your profitability, help you start a new business and reduce your financial risk in this difficult economy. But they are just NICE IDEAS until we put them into action.Also give yourself every opportunity for success this year. Check out our web site for our next Entrepreneurial Workshop and get pre-registered. If nothing else I guarantee that it will be a great way to start the year with a positive first step.Those of you that have attended any of my classes know that they are energy packed and you walk out motivated and cranked-up! You DO NOT have to be the victim of a “slowing economy,” an “economic downturn,” or what the media calls a “recession.”

Trust No One

Whom do you trust? 

Remember the old X-Files motto, “trust no one?” Certainly there are many people in the business world who have NOT earned our trust. But if we as entrepreneurs, “trust no one” conducting daily business would be a rather difficult if not impossible task.Maybe the question we should be asking is who should entrepreneurs trust? It’s easier to make a list of all the people that entrepreneurs DON’T trust. Like maybe the IRS, bankers, lawyers or multinational conglomerates. That healthy distrust may hearken back to when we were young and our parents told us to “never trust strangers.” Or perhaps it is an inherent symptom of entrepreneurialism where survival of the fittest is the maxim for continued existence.It’s easy to understand why entrepreneurs might lack trust. Competition is getting more fierce in every industry. Customers are demanding faster, cheaper and better solutions every day. Add to the mix that many entrepreneurs are trying to spend most of their time building their business only to have deal with constant interruptions from merchants, vendors and salespeople. In addition, many entrepreneurs have to “go-it-alone” because they cannot rely on the performance of others to help them achieve their goals. All of these things can destroy trust. Yet without trust, entrepreneurs cannot succeed.By nature entrepreneurs have great instincts. Instinct is that that inner voice which speaks to us about the decisions we must make. For entrepreneurs, instinct or “gut” as it is called is a very important element of success. Entrepreneurs use their prior knowledge and experience to make decisions but often this involves risk. Risk-taking cannot be separated from good instincts. When we place our trust in others we are taking a risk. If our instincts are correct, the risk is justifiable. The irony of this paradigm is that in order to reinforce trust we must be willing to take risks with people. Yet it is by taking a risk and “trusting others” that we develop good instincts about “who it is” that we should trust in the future.One of the most critical areas that entrepreneurs must master in terms of creating trust is the art of constructive conflict. Many entrepreneurs tend to avoid conflict with clients, associates or suppliers, yet this is the very thing that will destroy trust. A willingness to bring-up an uncomfortable topic may seem a bit risky and the initial impression might be that doing so will destroy any trust that exists. But the fact is that doing so actually builds trust. When we bring uncomfortable issues into the open they can be analyzed, understood, and rationally negotiated.Who do entrepreneurs trust? Well that’s easy. They must learn to trust themselves first. They must trust their hearts. For this is the true essence of passion! When we believe in ourselves our enthusiasm becomes contagious. We attract trustworthy clients and associates. When entrepreneurs can learn to better trust themselves they will learn to trust others. Then they will be able to build a team of committed followers. Because we all know that commitment is based on trust. And trust cannot be won from others unless we first trust ourselves.Tune in to the LIVE broadcast of Small Business Radio. Just go to www.smallbusinesshour.comthis Friday at 4pm to hear us discuss:

  • What would you do if OJ’s Book was dropped in your lap? – interview with Sharlene Martin, literary agent for OJ’s book
  • Luscious super-targeting for “green” car enthusiasts
  • Why Google breaks the long held rule of consistency in branding
  • Thai Bank learns to be a “giver” with condom handout
  • Trust, risk and instinct – ingredients for building your business

Listen FRIDAY at 4pm. Call in to speak with Mark, Matt and Cory: 1-323-443-6878 – Then enter code: 226287 to get on the air immediately!Have a great week!

The Five Pre-Requisites of Leadership

Today I see many people in leadership positions who frankly should not have been placed there. One reason this occurs is that business owners and managers tend to think just because someone is a great worker or producer that they would make a good leader. But leaders need to possess skills that are quite specialized.

Dr. Pierce Howard, my guest on yesterday’s show talked with me about the five pre-requisites of a leader and you can learn more about it by listening to the show at: 

We can remember these leadership skills by remembering the acronym, NEOAC. 

N – Need to respond to stress effectively.It is important that leaders possess more than the technical skills required to manage. They must be able to operate effectively under stressful situations. This means under circumstances where time is short to complete a project or achieve a goal, resources are slim and the hours are long.  Leaders must be able to encourage others and maintain their composure when things go wrong as they surely will. In fact the best leaders become more and more calm as the situation grows more difficult. This attitude is replicated by the entire group when a leader consistently demonstrates this attribute.

E- Extroversion
Dr. Howard calls this “management by wandering around.” No one wants to work for someone that shuts themselves away in their office. Getting things done requires rallying people together around a common goal. This can only be accomplished by “connecting” with others on the team. The best leaders find ways to sincerely connect a deep level.

O – Originality
The most effective leaders are strategy oriented as well as oriented towards tactics. Strategists look at the big picture and find creative ways to accomplish the goals that many others would not think of. They steer the ship so that it is in the best position to reach the intended goal. At times this may require unorthodox decisions but good leaders have the courage to make these decisions quickly and effectively. They use their creativity to make sure their destination is reached.

A- Agreeableness
Leaders that are more agreeable tend to get others to do more. Now I’m not saying that leaders should agree with everything that team members suggest but they tend to entertain most ideas rather than question the merits of anything new. The best leaders are not change adverse but rather seek-out change. It is important to note however that good leaders can also question even the best idea or raise conflict if they think it will challenge the team to perform at a higher level.

C- Consolidation
Leaders must remain focused on the vision and mission at hand. In addition they must encourage others to remain focused. It is easy to get off track and find ourselves expending time and effort on activities that are not focused on the primary goal. Leaders must have the ability to get everyone moving in the same direction and working in harmony.

If you need to make a decision to place someone in a leadership role I hope NEOAC helps you to recognize the best choice for the job. Again leaders need to possess more than just technical skills, experience in a specific industry and be “good with people.” They must have the skills necessary for others to follow them. 

So listen to my interview with Dr. Pierce Howard at: 

Dr Howard was fresh off Oprah Winfrey and his ideas have recently been published in Playboy magazine. He is the author for the “Owner’s Manual for the Brain.” You can check that out at

SWOT Teams

Thank God for spell check! Without it I’d be lost. Now I’m a bad enough speller but this time I think I got it right. (Whoa that’s bad grammar if I ever heard it).

That’s right in order to make successful decisions we need to employ a SWOT Team. Now the Swat Team are those beefy law enforcement commandoes that storm evil doers or “enemies of state” (said with great fear and trepidation). But what I’d like to encourage all business owners to do is establish their own SWOT Team. That is, a team that can assess Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Tired of reading already? For more information on this topic listen to the audio file “Complacency” by clicking here.
Why establish a SWOT Team?SWOT Analysis is a very effective way of identifying your Strengths and Weaknesses, and of examining the Opportunities and Threats you face. Carrying out an analysis using the SWOT framework helps you to focus your activities into areas where you are strong and where the greatest opportunities lie.
To carry out a SWOT Analysis write down answers to the following questions. Where appropriate, use similar questions:
Strengths:What advantages do you have?What do you do well?What relevant resources do you have access to?What do other people see as your strengths?Consider this from your own point of view and from the point of view of the people you deal with. Don’t be modest. Be realistic. If you are having any difficulty with this, try writing down a list of your characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!
In looking at your strengths, think about them in relation to your competitors – for example, if all your competitors provide high quality products, then a high quality production process is not a strength in the market, it is a necessity.
Weaknesses:What could you improve?What do you do badly?What should you avoid?Again, consider this from an internal and external basis: Do other people seem to perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Are your competitors doing any better than you? It is best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.
Opportunities:Where are the good opportunities facing you?What are the interesting trends you are aware of?Useful opportunities can come from such things as:Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scaleChanges in government policy related to your fieldChanges in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, etc.Local EventsA useful approach to looking at opportunities is to look at your strengths and ask yourself whether these open up any opportunities. Alternatively, look at your weaknesses and ask yourself whether you could open up opportunities by eliminating them.
Threats:What obstacles do you face?What is your competition doing?Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?Is changing technology threatening your position?Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?Carrying out this analysis will often be illuminating – both in terms of pointing out what needs to be done, and in putting problems into perspective.
You can also apply SWOT analysis to your competitors. This may produce some interesting insights!
Let’s take a look at an example. A small consultancy business like SBA Network might carry out the following SWOT analysis:
Strengths:Our company has a strong market presence or reputationWe are able to respond very quickly as we have no red tape, no need for higher management approval, etc.We are able to give really good customer care with plenty of time to devote to customersOur senior consultants have a strong reputation within the marketWe can change direction quickly if we find that our marketing is not workingWe have little overhead, so can offer good value to customers
Weaknesses:We are vulnerable to vital staff being sick, leaving, etc.Our cash flow will be unreliable in the early stagesWe are not seen as an alternative for Fortune 500 companies due to our small size
Opportunities:Our business sector is expanding, with many future opportunities for successOur local council wants to encourage local businesses with work where possibleOur competitors may be slow to adopt new technologies
Threats:Will developments in technology change this market beyond our ability to adapt?A small change in focus of a large competitor might wipe out any market position we achieveThe consultancy might therefore decide to specialize in rapid response, good value services to local businesses. Marketing would be in selected local publications, to get the greatest possible market presence for a set advertising budget. The consultancy should keep up-to-date with changes in technology where possible.
Key points:SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face.
This will help you to focus on your strengths, minimize weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.
For more information on this topic listen to the audio file “Complacency” by clicking here.

Sales Leadership

What makes a good “sales leader” – great selling skills or great management skills?

Tired of reading already? Click here- LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE.You might say selling leaders need both great sales skills and great management skills. In reality, however, these two skill sets are rarely present in the same person. In many cases they are mutually exclusive.
Let’s face it, most companies, end up promoting their best salesperson to a position of leadership. It makes sense if you think about it. They are usually the most passionate, motivated, dependable employee. They often have the best attitude, and of course contribute the most to the company’s bottom line. In many cases and they are the most valuable employee that we have.
In too many organizations, star salespeople can only improve their income, status, influence, or value to the company by moving into management. This frequently encourages the wrong people to seek supervisory roles. Often, individuals with the talent to be good sales managers can create bad results if they lack management training and awareness.
Recently the folks at Gallup interviewed nearly 1,000 sales managers who began their career in sales. They asked them to describe the amount of training they received as new sales representatives. In general, their training lasted a few weeks to several months and was relatively thorough. Yet when the same group of managers was asked to describe the training they received when they moved into their first sales management role, the typical answer was “none.”
As a result, many sales managers have little understanding of what they must do to ensure a positive environment for their sales reps — a culture that contributes to the improved performance of their most productive employees.
I’m not saying that their intentions are bad. Certainly they intend to bring about positive change improve sales and better the selling conditions. But sometimes good intentions can create bad results. No manager gets up every day and goes to work determined to create the worst possible culture for their employees. But some managers unfailingly achieve this result.
What’s a “culture?” Merely the attitudes that employees have about the environment in which they work. When employees — in this case, sales representatives — feel positive about their work environment, they are “engaged.” (For more information on corporate culture read my article, “Build a Healthy Corporate Culture”) As a group, engaged sales representatives sell significantly more than their less engaged counterparts. They are more likely to stay with the company and they are better at generating customer loyalty.
Sales representatives who are not engaged generate transactions, but they may not generate much customer loyalty in the process. As a group, they are considerably less productive than engaged sales reps. Actively disengaged sales representatives — reps who are fundamentally disconnected from their work — are not only at the low end of the productivity index, they actually erode customer loyalty. (For more information on customer loyalty read my article, “Client Loyalty”)Gallup found that when top producers leave companies, 70% of the time it is because of a breakdown in their relationship with their direct supervisor. Conversely, when we find sales stars, we usually find a great manager in the shadows – someone trained in motivation, recognition, forecasting, and decision-making. (More on this? sales stars article)
How can companies find the right people to be sales managers – the individuals who have good intentions and can produce outstanding results? First, companies can stop moving the wrong people into sales management roles. Companies need to pay more attention to selecting the right candidate for every sales management position. Sometimes this involves building a talent pool, by recruiting people with the talent to become outstanding sales managers into the sales force. Companies can also provide ample rewards and recognition to their sales stars, which might temper their desire to seek a management role simply for its perceived prestige.
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo

Revolutionize Your Business : “inside and out”

We are all quite familiar with the old comparison between “revolution” and evolution. It’s been touted as the topic for innumerable ad campaigns and tag lines which frankly have become just a little cliche. I think nearly every conscientious business leader has already become aware of the difference between merely allowing their business to evolve and truly revolutionizing its growth. More challenging however, is balancing the revolution within the business with the perception of those “outside” the business.

Revolutionizing the “internal variables” of the business requires focusing on the culture of the organization. This can be impacted by ensuring effective communication between departments and team players, as well as building a business environment where it is “safe” to take reasonable risks. Conflict is brought into the open and there is greater transparency in relationships. Most important is it a journey that focuses on personal growth for all of the key team players. Revolutionary business leaders know that when their key players are growing and maturing on a personal level, they perform better and have a greater passion for their work. This is what truly creates leadership and thrusts companies into leadership roles within their industry.Revolutionizing the “external variables” of the business requires creating a high perception of value in the marketplace. This can be impacted by ensuring that the message being delivered to customer is carefully honed to the specific needs of that target audience member. When we focus LESS on becoming a “better” option and MORE on becoming the “only” option for a highly targeted group of clients, then we separate ourselves from the competition in a dramatic way. This engages customers and creates a strong attraction to our company, product and services. Finally it is critical that every organization leverage technology in their marketing efforts. Today the most successful marketers are using sophisticated Customer Relationship Systems to create efficiencies and increase the degree of “connection” with their most loyal clients.While both of these forces (internal and external) must be effectively managed in order to achieve a high degree of change, most leaders can only focus on revolutionizing one area at a time. However, BOTH of these areas are inextricably connected and must be addressed together. In working with thousands of business leaders I have seen countless examples of marketing programs which have failed dismally due only to internal organizational dysfunction. In the same way I have seen many process improvement and cultural change programs yield very little simply because the external marketing challenges were never properly addressed. In order for true “revolution” to take place a company must commit to internal and external change, SIMULTANEOUSLY!This is why we have joined forces with Morrie Shechtman and Fifth Wave Leadership to hold our first annual “C-Suite Symposium.” The topic of course is “Revolutionizing Your Business : inside and out.” It is open ONLY to senior management leaders such as CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, CIOs and so on. We will be telling you more about the symposium, the dates, times and agenda but I am asking those who are interested to let me know.In the meantime, think about what you can do to begin combining the forces of change to impact both the internal and external elements of your business. For when you see these as connected you will be taking the first step to truly revolutionizing your business.

Resistance to Learning

A boat sails out to sea, reaches the horizon, and never returns. Our minds become crowded with assumptions. The “truth” boils down to a few perfectly clear observations: this boat reached the horizon, an obvious straight line, fell out of sight and never returned. Beset with loss and fear, the seaside fishing village begins to draw the “only” logical conclusion: the boat fell off the edge of the world.

This conclusion, widely held for centuries, produced limiting effects: people fished only within sight of the shore. This made perfect sense. It mitigated danger and reduced loss. Soon, people forgot the original incident, as the belief in a flat world became habit. You might call this an inflexible conclusion, but if you were living in a time of history without GPS, telescopes or jet-planes, might you draw the same conclusion?
Inflexible Processes Result in Reduced Innovation
The world in which we live is in constant flux. Nothing stays the same for very long. Ben Franklin once defined insanity as, “doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result.” Understanding inflexibility is a key to preparing people for spontaneous learning, innovation and empowerment. The same processes that resulted in a flat world for whole societies affect smaller teams, businesses and individuals today.
We are the masters of our own destiny, yet actively choosing our own paths can sometimes be intimidating. People have the ability to create positive change in their lives and in their businesses, yet distorted fear-based perceptions can often lead to wrong conclusions (a flat world) and ultimate stagnation (fishing close to shore).
FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real. 
The first step to turn fear into power is to accept full responsibility for our choices, behavior, and the reality of what we now have in our life. The second step is to have the courage to acknowledge and examine our fears. One of the greatest fears we have to deal with is the fear of change. This creates a resistance to learning. When we are able to deal with the fear of change we are able to continuously learn, reinvent, renew and live life with passion. This produces innovation when applied to the disciplines of marketing and management.

Fear of Learning Limits Growth
If individuals feel they’ve worked hard and have earned their success, this same belief may result in “safe” thinking and impede spontaneous learning. The new era requires leaders who are nonstop learners and will eagerly share what they learn. It requires leaders who learn, early and often, how to create standards and systems that produce competitive advantage and innovation.

Making a Change
I think we can all decide to become more open to change. We can become better learners. It takes courage and faith to view the world as round when every bit of evidence we come in contact with reinforces our image of a “flat world.” It requires a willingness to take risks. Here are some actions I plan on taking and ways that I will integrate learning into my daily activities:

  1. Learn one new thing every day. Even it is something a competitor is doing, how can I make it work for me and my organization?
  2. Be willing to invest more time in learning about what I am “already good at doing.” Think of Tiger Woods or Shaquille O’Neal – are they satisfied with their level of performance or do they know that by learning one more move, position or the slightest turn they can innovate their entire game?
  3. What long held beliefs do we have that are getting a little “dusty?” Who is doing it different or maybe even radical in their approach? Let me find out why.
  4. Study the masters in our field of endeavor. What do they place value in learning? Classical guitar genius, Andre Segovia would destroy his style every few years. He would cut his nails and insist he didn’t know how to play anymore. Yet he was undeniably the best of the best.
  5. Periodically re-invent your entire game. Just because you are already successful doesn’t mean you will always stay on top.

While I may not always succeed, I try to live this philosophy. This new format for our weekly update is evidence of that. While our web site is at the top of business resource sites on the Interest and others have copied our paradigm, we always desire to improve and learn. In fact we just completely REDESIGNED our site. Check it out at 

Interested in LEARNING more about this? Check out our latest workshop:

Attract More Business One Day Workshops 
By popular demand, we are now offering the Attract More Business one day workshop. This full day workshop incorporates content from our “Attract More Business” learning program and 8 week class. The workshop will be held from 9am to 5pm on June 11, 2005 in Long Beach, CA and August 25, 2005 in Pasadena, CA. Attendees of the workshop are eligible for 2 follow up 30 minute coaching sessions. As a special bonus when you attend the Attract More Business one day workshop, you will receive our audio CD on “Branding in the 21st Century.”Sign-up at: Attract More Business One Day Workshop.

Overcoming Adversity

It was late July in 1983 when a young ballplayer saw his batting average drop to a paltry .229. In this, his first full season in the major leagues, he was watching his chance at making it slip away before his eyes. Known for his hitting prowess in the minor leagues, this baseball player now faced some serious doubts. Many thought he was just another minor league sensation that would turn into a major league washout. So what was there for him to do?

He utilized the new technology of video recording to review his at bats. He discovered some parts of his swing that he adjusted for, and stormed through the league the rest of the year to finish the season with an average of .309. He then went on to a stellar career as a 15 time all star, an 8 time batting champ, and a first ballot hall of famer with 97.6% of the vote.The player? Tony Gwynn, who is also a rarity in that he played for one team all 20 seasons of his major league career. Even to non-baseball fans, those numbers are pretty impressive.gwynnWe can all learn a lesson from what Tony Gwynn did when faced with adversity- he studied, looked within himself, and found a new way of examining a key element of his skill set. He not only thought about the problem, he used an objective source (videotape) to see something he was unable to see from his vantage point. He was literally too close to his swing to know what was wrong. He used this technology throughout his career, constantly studying his swing for even the slightest improvement.In many ways, succeeding in business is similar. When we encounter challenges, we must always be seeking new ways to overcome them. Often times the old methods are no longer effective. I have often seen business owners resign themselves to believing that they cannot secure greater market share because they see the competition as too fierce. Or that they will NEVER change an employee’s attitude or performance because “that’s just the way they are built.” Imagine if we could persevere through these challenges through introspection- investigating what it is within us as persons and within our organizations that caused the challenge, and correcting these issues as they arose. How many more sales would you close if you examined your pitch and found an item you tend to discuss that alienates prospects? How much more effective would your office be if you discovered the biggest waste of time for each member of your organization? By objectively examining your problem areas, you can discover far more than just trying to make adjustments on the fly.A salesperson can videotape their presentation, and give out surveys to get feedback from prospects that purchased- as well as those that did not. A manager can have employees track all of their tasks for a week, and perform an ROI analysis on individual tasks to find what is truly most valuable. I might suggest that you may just be too close to the problems to see them for what they are.I used Tony Gwynn as an example for a reason- we will be interviewing this baseball legend on Small Business Radio this Friday, at 4 PM Pacific Time. We will be discussing his career, adversity, and ways to overcome obstacles. We will also be discussing creative ways to use life insurance to protect your company from losses that could occur if key employees were to have a tragic accident.To tune in, simply go to our website at at 4 PM Pacific Time this Friday. We will also be taking calls from our listeners to help with any problems you may be experiencing in your business. Call in to speak with us at: 1-323-443-6878 – Then enter code: 226287 to get on the air. Perhaps we can help be the objective outside view that will help uncover the solution to your challenges. Tune in and give us a call to find out!