Monday, April 29, 2019

Build Rapport With Co-workers By Being Interested, Not Interesting

Talk less about yourself.  Get your co-workers to talk about themselves, then practice active listening. Summarize back to them what they just told you, and ask follow-up questions.  The trick here is to steer the conversation to where it is still about them, but also interesting to you, so that you become genuinely interested in what they are saying.

The Secrets to Networking are Selectivity and Follow-up

The biggest mistakes SMB owners make when networking are in approaching everyone and hoping to make a sale.  You do not sell at networking events, and you prioritize quality over quantity—it's better to make a few, good connections.  

When you approach someone at a networking event, you should strive to be interested, not interesting.  Talk less about yourself.  Get the other person to talk about themselves, and ask questions about them.  Also, summarize back to them what they just told you.  

Then, within 24 hours of the event, follow up with them.  Invite them out for coffee, or send them an interesting article.  At that point, you need to nurture them as any other lead, connection, or friend.

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Great Brand Purpose Reflects the Dreams and Aspirations of the Ideal Customer

 The purpose of a brand is to conceptualize, in a metaphor, what the ideal customer wants, and why.  

Car companies such as Mercedes ("luxury"), Chevy ("tough"), Jeep ("go anywhere"), and Volvo ("safety") do it well.

Never Use a To-Do List

Another productivity technique I learned from Alan Weiss is to never use a To Do list. Instead, schedule to-dos as appointments on your calendar (whether you use a physical planner like I recommend, or an electronic one). If it is a large project, then break it down into chunks that can be scheduled as separate appointments. Then, during evenings, if you keep finding yourself having not completed these tasks, and having to rescheduling the appointments, you know you are procrastinating.

Using A Physical Planner for Productivity

As a former executive, and now executive advisor, the best productivity "technology" is combining a physical At-A-Glance planner with the alarm app on your smart phone. I learned about the advantages of a physical planner from my mentor, famed consultant Alan Weiss. With a physical planner (paperclipped to the correct month), you can pull it out, click open your pen, and schedule an appointment faster than the other person can open their on-line organizer! Then, each evening, you set alarms (15-20 minutes ahead) in your alarm app corresponding to the entries in your planner. So, when your alarm rings, you check your planner and know what to do next.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Marketing Lesson From Conrad Hilton

"One hotel is like any other hotel. The difference is how you treat the guests. All we ask of you is to be nice to people so they will want to come back."  - Conrad Hilton, to his staff

Thursday, April 18, 2019

For Entrepreneurs, Questions Are The Key To Passive Income

If you are selling a product or service, keep track of the questions and problems submitted to your help desk.  This is the fastest key to passive income.  Recurring topics lead to supplemental guidebooks, FAQs, study guides, and courses.

Great Leaders Develop Their Team Members

When I was managing a team at a large bank, I was never afraid to give my teammates more responsibility and help them improve their skills.  I never thought about hoarding advanced assignments for myself for job security.  What I found was that, not only were my team members happier and engaged, but it reflected on me, and made me look better to my superiors.

My New Logo

If you are a frequent visitor to my website and blog, you'll notice that I commissioned a new logo for my business.  I used a designer, and now the logo is on my website, blog, twitter, and LinkedIn.

I previously used a motif of a jigsaw puzzle on my business cards because it is a metaphor for strategy.  But, as my mentor Alan Weiss pointed out when he saw my new logo, my designer made a subtle, elegant addition—when the last puzzle piece is snapped in place, you have an arrow pointing up (for progress).  I didn't catch this myself!

Why create a logo?

Building a brand is very important in today's world of Attention Scarcity.  My business is at a stage where it is growing, and I'm reaching ever-wider audiences. Businesses today need a brand which reflects their values and is aesthetically pleasing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Executive dashboard best practices

The Key to Executive Dashboards is Exclusion

Every entry on the dashboard competes for attention, but we are now in the Attention Scarcity Age.  Therefore, executives must be ruthless in deciding what should be included on their dashboards.  An indicator should only be present if it can signal a critical, urgent  issue which can't be flagged by any other.

The Future of Banking in Africa

The Transparency of Mobile Payments

The big advantage of African banking is that they are starting from a blank slate in the 21st century.  While Western companies have moved from cash to checks, and then credit cards, Africans are moving straight from cash to mobile web payments.  Africans are embracing mobile payments, and the continent is already starting to see changes in transparency and less corruption.  NGOs are now starting to distribute aid directly to individuals or small groups through mobile payments, rather than try to pass money in large blocks through government agencies—where corruption takes a large percentage. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Business Impact Analysis: Uncover All The Dependencies

A big problem with Business Impact Analysis is not uncovering all site dependencies—especially if the dependency is owned by another group in the organization. hashtagA client of mine, a large Fortune 500 bank, created a fail-over plan to switch their online banking from Chicago to back-up servers in NJ. When a fire broke out at their Chicago facility, they tried to fail over, but the computer that resolved internet addresses internally (which was owned by a group not part of the plan) was only in Chicago, and so they failed to make the switch within the target time frame.

How to know if your company is IPO ready?

As CEO, Can You Focus on Strategy While Ignoring the Pressure of Tactics?

Once your company does an IPO, investors will be focused on short term results, which are affected by tactics. However, as CEO / founder, your company's success has been driven by your focus on a long term, strategic plan.  

You are only IPO ready if you can tune out the short-term noise, and focus on guiding the company to reach your vision.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Is Your Job Vulnerable to Digital Transformation?

If you just focus your job on completing tasks, you will be vulnerable to losing your job in a digital transformation—because tasks can always be automated.  

However, if you focus on giving value (sometimes going beyond assigned tasks) and building relationships with superiors and co-workers, you will become indispensable, and are less likely to lose your job.

Tip for Communicating Better With Your Boss

Find out what the boss needs vs. what he/she says they need.  

Then, you can exceed the request.  

For example, if your boss asks you to compile a list of prospects, and you figure out that the list will be used for sales calls, you can make sure you include all possible phone numbers, and organize the list by both alphabetical order, and time zone.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Don't Let Your Most Valuable Workers Become Bottlenecks

As a management consultant who has worked with many companies to improve processes, I have found that some of the most respected people at work are employees who share their knowledge with their co-workers.

Over time, many long-term employees become subject matter experts in a certain area.  Everyone turns to them when there is an issue in their area, and they are considered valuable to the organization. 

Some of these employees hoard their knowledge under the mistaken impression that it creates job security. Since there are only so many hours in the day, they become a bottleneck in the organization.

However, the really respected co-workers take the time to document and share their knowledge with their more junior co-workers.  The result is a win-win for everyone.  The organization develops redundancy, can get tasks done in a timely matter, the junior associates build their knowledge / skills, and the experienced co-worker benefits too.

By sharing information, they enhance their expert reputation, and they are still the first ones to be approached when there are challenging problems in their areas.  At the same time, they are relieved of having to deal with more routine tasks.  The result is that the expert also grows in his job by shedding mastered tasks, and gets to work on interesting new problems.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Scott Adams on Simplicity

"Simplicity transforms ordinary into amazing."
- Scott Adams

How to Improve Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

As an expert on strategic simplicity®, I have worked with industries, including the medical and pharmaceutical fields, where workers need to interact with electronic user interfaces.  The biggest reason that doctors hate EHRs is because of the forced complexity.  EHRs, as currently implemented, lack the flexibility needed to make doctor's lives easier, and allow them to spend more time with their patients.   

Currently, doctors have to fill out many fields which do not apply to every situation, and they must select and enter precise codes and descriptions.

An improved EHR would be organized into sections that can be skipped or selected as needed, and would allow more freeform entries, rather than codes.  The reality is that medical records are shared between human professionals—not machines.  Allow doctors to enter information in a freeform manner, and let them evolve best practices for describing the information. 

Best and Worst Times to Check Your Phone

The best times to check your phone are:

1. First thing in the morning
2. After you have completed a task, and before you start a new one
3. At the end of the day

The worst times to check your phone are:

1. When you are in the middle of tasks
2. During conference calls
3. During face to face meetings, business meals