Monthly Archives: July 2007

Choose Your Attitude

I believe that attitude is a matter of choice! It is one of those things that we have been given full control over. Like many other things over which we have control, if we choose not to exercise that control, we may not be very happy with the result.

So does this mean I believe people actually choose to have a bad or negative attitude? Absolutely! A great example of people either choosing a bad attitude or at least not choosing to have a good one is how they greet people. This seems like such a simple thing, and so easy, I wonder why it doesn’t get more attention. Your sub-conscious mind accepts everything you feed it. There is no filter on the sub-conscious mind; it accepts everything you say as being real. Yet when people are asked; how are you today? I constantly hear answers like; Not to bad. Oh, I’m ok. I could be worse. Oh alright. Are these responses really the way these people choose to feel? You see, this is where the proverbial rubber hits the road. Moments like these are precisely when we are choosing our attitudes! When your sub-conscious mind hears that you believe you are ok, or not too bad, it begins to work on delivering the things into your life that will confirm that reality.

I regularly visit a particular business in Edmonton where I am greeted by Gail. Every time Gail asks how I am, she gets one of my regular responses. I say either fantastic or I am great! Yesterday when I give one of these replies Gail told me I was the only person who ever says anything like that. She then listed the standard replies I identified above. I can’t believe it! Why don’t people get it? Why not tell yourself how great things are, how fantastic you feel? When you put these thoughts into your sub-conscious your mind it immediately sets about putting things into your life to confirm this reality. You see the negative, positive thing works both ways.

Of course how you greet people isn’t the only way we choose our attitudes but it is a big one. So let’s try this. For the next week I challenge each of my readers to choose to respond in an overwhelmingly positive way whenever anyone asks how you are. You can use one of my two favorites; fantastic or great, or pick another of your choosing. Daryl, a very good friend of mine, always says; capital T Tremendous! Just choose to let your mind hear that your current state is something very positive. If you will do this consistently for a week, at home, at work, at the grocery store, everywhere, I think you will be amazed at the result.

I hope you never choose to go back to being just ok.

The Success Buffet

The world really is just like a buffet. Choosing what you have in your life is like stepping up to the buffet counter. The choices are limitless. You can have what ever you want.

There are some conditions on getting what you want in this world. Just like when you are standing at a buffet table, you are responsible for choosing the things you want. If you choose what you want, that is what you will get. However if you don’t choose, you will get whatever happens to be put on your plate. So, why not choose the things you really want rather than taking pot luck. Another condition of the success buffet is that this is a buffet and not dim sum. This means that once you have decided what you want in life, you have to get up and go get it. No one is going to bring it to you.

Many of you will recognize these beliefs as being similar to what is explained in “the Secret” by Rhonda Byrne. I have lived my entire life by these beliefs and when “the Secret” was published it was as if Rhonda Byrne had distilled all the lessons I have learned and beliefs I have developed and put them in a simple form that everyone can understand. Throughout the coming week I will discuss how I apply some of the other beliefs that are discussed in “the Secret”.

It’s Finally Time To Sell Something

I am a great believer in the old adage that “nothing happens until somebody sells something”. Once the strategic planning has all been completed, the business plan is nailed down and the proper marketing initiatives have been implemented, the final results are always going to be realized through sales.

Sales are always based on relationships. Sometimes, as is the case in a retail situation, the relationship must be developed very quickly and is over in an instant. Other times with a more sophisticated sales cycle, the relationships with key centers of influence are developed over long periods of time and must stand the test of time. Regardless of the time frame it is imperative that your sales people understand that in all cases their success will be based on their ability to develop and maintain relationships.

Relationships in business are the same as they are in any other area of life. The quality of a relationship is always based on a few simple character traits; trust, honor and integrity. Therefore, to be successful, your people and your company must demonstrate these traits in everything they do. I spoke about marketing earlier this week and this is the most critical point where marketing and sales cross paths. Your sales initiatives must be congruent with your marketing messages. If a product is being marketed as a highly value added, top shelf product, but the sales strategies employed appear to be slick and high pressured, this is going to scream “lack of integrity” to your customers. In the same manner, a cost leadership strategy can not be delivered with a high end polished sales strategy.

I am now going to wrap up this discussion with the same words I used for years at the end of almost every telephone discussion I had with the people in our organization; “Now let’s go sell something!”

My First Webinar Experience

Thanks to Ben I just attended my first Webinar. Ben is the Creative Director with Mangold Sengers Design out of Australia. Ben designed my web site and blog and is my technical guru. Ben asked me about three weeks ago if I would be interested in attending this event being put on by a company called Webex. It was a webinar on creating effective elearning.

As has often happened over the past few months, my mind is now spinning with possibilities for applying what I learned today. As I mentioned on a blog a while ago, I have had the opportunity to conduct my first strategic planning session over the net and I am now in the middle of delivering ongoing business planning consulting services on line. This is a tremendously exciting experience for me and it provides all kinds of opportunities. Imagine how many more companies I can help and therefore how many people’s lives I can effect if geography is no longer a limitation.

I am being bombarded with this new level of knowledge. Chris LaBossiere is a good friend who is one of the owners of two companies called Prolearning and Protesting. I had the opportunity to spend a morning with Chris, at his business, a couple weeks ago. This was a very enlightening morning, focused on the same area as what I learned on this morning’s webinar, on line learning and testing. The opportunity to bring specific knowledge to anyone anywhere, over the internet. Chris’s company does so much in such an amazing way. I encourage all of my readers to learn more by visiting their web site at www.protraining.com.

All of this exciting information that has been flying at me regarding using the internet to enhance the reach and effectiveness of training has opened my mind to all kinds of ways I/we can be utilizing the net. The scary thing is that a huge number of people, most of the twenty-somethings, already knew all this. They are already there, they use the web in ways I never dreamed of, every day. I’ve turned this “scary thing” into an incredibly exciting personal challenge. How can I immerse myself in this exciting techno-world?

So here is my challenge to all of you. I know I have regular readers out there who believe this “new world” has nothing to do with them. You don’t need to know all this stuff. You are just fine focusing on doing the same old business the same way you have always done it. After all, you are in a conventional business not a technology based business and you have done pretty well so far. Right? Wrong!! Applying technology is going to affect every business in the world. So, let’s be ready, or better yet why not be the leader who benefits from being the first to discover new and better ways of conducting your business?

Here is a simple example. Every company has training challenges. How do you deliver all of the training required by all of your people in a consistent manner? Let’s just take safety training for example. At a minimum level, how do you make sure all of your company is in compliance with what ever government requirements apply to your industry? Well, that is just one of the things that Protraining does. Imagine having all your training concerns taken away. Imagine being confident that what ever training you determine is needed within your organization is being delivered.

Training, testing and education are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to opening your mind to the exciting opportunities for developing your business by applying the technology of the internet. So, dive in! It’s a very exciting wave.

Ok, I’ll have my feet back on the ground and re-focus on sales and marketing tomorrow.

Marketing And Brand Identity

Everything you do and everything your employees do affects your image. Who a company is has become synonymous with the company’s brand. Brand is really just another label for how the public views your company. The leadership of the company is indivisible from this image, who you are is who your company is and to a great extent this is also true of everyone associated with the company.

A company’s image should not be allowed to develop by accident. This needs to be a conscious and carefully thought out decision. You have the opportunity to decide how you are viewed by your customers, your team members and the general public. But this means you also have that responsibility. You must decide what you want your company’s image to be and then be disciplined in making sure that everything your company does is consistent with that image.

The following are some of the things that can affect your company image:
•How are company vehicles being driven
•What do customers see when they enter your business
•What might people overhear when they listen to your team members private conversations
•How do your team members dress when they are representing the company
•How is the grammar in all outbound communication

These are just a few examples of the things that determine your image but this should give you the idea. Nothing goes un-noticed and it all affects your image.

You can spend a lot of money on advertising and it will all be wasted if your image isn’t consistent with your message.

Strategic Marketing

I have used the following definition of strategic marketing for years and it has helped clarify what was a mystifying area for many companies.

Strategic Marketing:
Communicating what needs to be communicated, to whom it needs to be communicated, in the least cost manner.

Let me simplify this for you.
Communicating what needs to be communicated:
What is the message you are trying to deliver. I always try to distill this down to the simplest form. What is the essence of the message your target market needs to understand about your particular product or service?

To whom it needs to be communicated:
Who are the key centers of influence (KCI) who will influence whether or not a positive decision is made regarding your product? Giving this serious consideration is often very enlightening. Who really can influence that decision? The KCI’s can be anyone from controllers to executives to the front line people who will actually use the product to gate keepers like receptionists, purchasing agents and warehouse managers.

The trick is to determine who really needs to understand the message for a decision to be made in your favor.

In the least cost manner:
Once you know who you are trying to communicate with it is easier to determine how that communication should take place. As an example, the Oprah show is one of the most expensive times to run a television ad. This is because she has one of the largest and most loyal audiences in the world. However this doesn’t have much value if your target audience is male executives over 45. So how could you reach this target in a more effective manner? Perhaps through a direct mail campaign or by hosting an event that would attract these over 45 male executives. I once had this exact demographic as a target for a marketing campaign. We chose to use a very short simple radio ad on the local talk/news station during the morning drive-to-work segment. The campaign had tremendous impact at a very reasonable price.

The trick here is that once your target audience is clearly identified it’s easier to determine how to most effectively deliver your message.

I really hope this helps to de-mystify at least some of the question marks that often surround the subject of marketing. Tomorrow I will address some of marketing’s broader issues.

Sales And Marketing Week

This week I am going to focus on topics related to sales and marketing. I’ll cover topics from defining the difference between sales and marketing to specific tactics necessary to be successful at both.

It has always amused me that the standard way to address this topic is “Sales and Marketing” as opposed to “Marketing and Sales”. In my mind the marketing always comes first. I guess that comes from my background in strategic planning. I just naturally view the world from a strategic perspective and so I believe that one of the crucial tools in any sales kit is having effective marketing in place first.

I have always believed there are two ways to sell anything; you can go out and find a product and then try to convince people of why they should have it, or you can find out what people want and then tell them you have it. The second method has always made a lot more sense to me. The challenge is that this second method requires more planning and research before you hit the market and that requires patience. Once you have determined precisely what the offering is going to be, this is where the marketing comes in.

Effective marketing is all about communicating your message. I’ll cover the details of marketing in tomorrow’s discussion.

Catching People Doing Something Right

Yesterday’s topic is one of those terrible necessities of business. Today we move on to a much more positive subject. It is so easy to catch people doing something right and the rewards of recognizing them pay incredible dividends.

When was the last time you took a moment just to thank one of your team members for the job they do or even simply for being at work? When you take a few moments to stop and actually talk to someone it means a great deal to them. When you take the time to do more than just saying “hi”, you are showing them that they matter. Stop by someone’s work station and talk to them about what they are doing, recognize their effort and achievements. Then occasionally do something just a little extra. When someone has put in an unusual amount of extra time perhaps you could give them a gift certificate to a restaurant and suggest they take their spouse out to dinner in appreciation of sacrificing their family time for the benefit of the company. Or give a set of those sporting event tickets that are usually reserved for customers to an employee.

There are hundreds of little things you can do to show people that you care and aside from the commitment it builds in them, you will just feel great!

My Challenge For Today

I haven’t given my regular readers a direct challenge for awhile so I thought it was about time. I have been watching the British Open this morning and it had me thinking about how golfers need to perform at their best all the time if they want to do well. Many sports give their players the opportunity to coast through part of a season and then if they still perform well during the play-offs they can look like a hero. I think business is more like golf. Sure there are many people who just seem to coast by with the odd flash of brilliance but the true stars are constantly performing at their best.

How do you measure your daily performance? Or do you even think about it? How many of your days are you coasting? Use this challenge to elevate your performance today. Be the best leader you can be right now. Then let’s carry this forward into next week and be consciously the best we can be. Do the right things, make the tough decisions, and be as productive as possible.

I really hope this personal challenge from Randy helps make this an outstanding day!

The Termination Interview

It is never a pleasant event when someone needs to be terminated. However it can be a lot easier on everyone if it is done properly.

Of course all of the advance work needs to have been done before this event. Disciplinary meetings must have been held and documented. Progressive discipline should have been employed. All other reasonable avenues have been explored and now it is time for the last resort. The key to a good termination interview is that it must be an announcement not a discussion. Tell the person that you have decided to let them go and give a brief reason. Never get into a discussion regarding the reasons. Discussions at this point always get’s messy and never improves things for anyone. My experience is that in almost all cases the person being terminated is not surprised, especially if progressive discipline has been employed leading up to the termination. You should make sure it is clear that this is a termination. I have seen many cases of managers saying things like “we are going to have to lay you off” because they think this is a softer way of phrasing it. It isn’t, what it is, is misleading. Laying someone off is a specific term used when there is an anticipated recall date. If you are terminating someone’s employment, do not beat around the bush about it. Just tell them and move on.

It helps if you know the person being terminated is being treated fairly under the circumstances. Always make sure you are providing fair compensation and that the company is undertaking this in an honorable manner.