A Media Game Changer

For the past four months, I have been predicting a game changer in the media world. What if some company, let’s for fun just call it oh, Google for no particular reason were to decide to go into the mainstream television business.

What if they were to start buying up the biggest shows on network TV; Survivor, Grey’s Anatomy, the Super Bowl, Dr. Phil, just to name a few. Then they start streaming the shows directly to your computer or your newly web-enabled TV for free. That’s right, free. No charge. Sort of the same model Google used when they purchased Analytics and started giving it away as a free product.

Cable, satellite, and all other transmission systems along with the conventional television networks would be out of business, instantly obsolete.

Is this a crazy, impossible idea? Perhaps but I don’t think so. I think it is just one boardroom decision away from being our new reality and yes it would be a game changer. And just remember, you heard it here first.

Oh by the way, guess what Google announced yesterday, their new web enabling TV service.

Find Your Passion

I was chatting on-line today with an old friend from high school. We were catching up on each other’s lives over the past 40 or so years. He has spent his career in the public sector working in social services. I told him I had great respect for what he does because I just couldn’t do it. The red tape would drive me nuts! The point is he loves it. He gets great satisfaction from helping people especially when there is no other help available. He has spent his lifetime working in a field he is passionate about.

I have the same luxury. I am truly passionate about what I do. This passion drives me. It has me bounce out of bed every morning. I hear people talk about pursuing their passion. I have found that true passion is not something that needs to be pursued because it is within you. Finding the things in life you are passionate about is like finding an alternate universe. Everything fits. Everything is exciting, alive, inspiring.

Far too often I am asked to give advice. I don’t like giving advice although I love helping people discover the answers. One of the few pieces of advice I can offer is: Find the things in life you are passionate about and do them!

Lessons Learned From The 2010 Olympics

As a Canadian I was very proud of the 2010 Olympics held in Vancouver. Our athletes earned more medals, and particularly gold, than any time in our history. The city of Vancouver, province of British Columbia and the country were terrific hosts that showed incredibly well on the international stage.

I was constantly impacted by lessons during these Olympics. The athletes, the support teams, the volunteers and the fans personified these lessons. As anyone who knows me is aware, I relate pretty much everything to business so it is no surprise that I translated many of these lessons from the world of athletic competition to the world of business.

I think we seldom learn new lessons. This does happen, just in case someone reading this thinks I am arrogant enough to believe I know everything, and when it does I consider it a gift. But most lessons are reminders of things we have already learned but have either forgotten or just dropped from our daily consciousness. The following are just some of the bigger lessons delivered to me during the Olympics.

Celebrate your wins!

It is important to celebrate our successes. It’s important for the team as well as the spectators. Celebrating success remind everyone on the team of why it is we do what we do. It reminds us that there is a purpose.

Celebration is also good for the psyche. It lifts our spirits both individually and as part of the team.

It takes a Team!

No one achieves anything of importance on his or her own. Even in individual sports, successful athletes have a great team making their success possible. There are trainers, coaches, equipment techs, psychologists and yes, even managers, to name just a few. Then there is the family. The Mom and Dad who got up in the middle of the night and drove to practice or where home keeping things running so that young athlete wad the opportunity to develop. As with any acknowledgement list, this is obviously not complete. These are just the team members who jumped to mind for me.

The important thing is to realize that to succeed in anything you have to be surrounded by the best people possible. To achieve great things, build a great team!

Have a goal!

It is amazing how often we heard athletes say that being in these Olympics had been a life long goal. We also heard them say that being at the next games was already on their radar screen. They know where they are going. They have a goal!

What are your business goals? Are you clear on your ultimate goal? Does your team understand why you are doing what you are doing?

Never quit!

The adversity experienced by many of the athletes is unbelievable. Broken bones, including broken necks and broken backs. Having to leave their families at a young age to get the training they needed.

The celebrated Canadian men’s Hockey team lost to the American team during the round robin. The same team they played in the gold metal game that came from behind to tie the game with only 24 seconds left to play. A great lesson in neither team giving up.

Slovenian cross country skier Petra Majdic went off course and fell in a ditch during her race breaking four ribs. She still went on to win the bronze metal. Then she showed us the team lesson again as she needed help to climb onto the podium to receive her metal.

Every Canadian stood a little taller, our hearts beat a little harder and many of us had tears in our eyes as figure skater Joannie Rochette skated to a bronze metal after her mother past away during the Olympics. What an amazing young lady.

Of course there is the lesson of the entire Georgian team or perhaps even the Olympics themselves continuing after the loss of Nodar Kumaritashvili, the young luger who died during a practice run the morning the games opened.

We all face adversity in our lives. Measure your challenges against what these young athletes experienced then pick yourself up and go win a metal!

I am sure everyone who watched these Olympics could add to this list. The games were truly inspiring. There is now talk throughout the Canadian media of what happens now. What will we take away from these games? My challenge to you is: What will you take away from these games?

Business in the New World

I just returned from a week of business in China. I spent two days in Penglai, a port industrial city and also the center of the Nava wine district, and then four days in Beijing. The extremes; from the ladies sweeping the streets with huge corn brooms to the miles of brand new shiny sky scrapers was amazing. I visited the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and some nightclubs that were nicer than anything in Vegas or anything I have seen in movies. China is a stunning place that has to be experienced, it can’t be adequately explained.
Knowing I was going on this adventure had me thinking of our global business world for the past couple months. I developed a belief that will be interesting to watch being proven out over the years to come. So the following are my thoughts on global business and its effect on North American companies.

For the past two decades, at least, we have seen a multitude of students from around the world coming to North American universities to learn how we do business. North America has been the largest block of consumers in the world since the Second World War and everyone has wanted their piece of that pie. The conventional belief was that to do business in North America you had to understand how North Americans do business. So the students came and the imports shifted the balance of trade. Products and services have been provided to North America from every corner of the world. Life was good.

My first hint of change was the students. They aren’t coming any more. Well to be fair, some still are but the wave that existed in the 70’s, 80’s and somewhat in the 90’s has subsided. Why would this be? Isn’t the world interested in the North American market anymore? Of course they are. But our business methodologies are no longer a mystery. Doing business with North America is relatively easy. But although they were my first clue, I don’t think the students tell the whole story. Something else has happened. It is no longer news that there are other markets emerging. Huge markets! China, India, South America and even Europe have consumer markets that are exploding.

This is where my concern comes in. North American business has an inherent arrogance. We have this belief that our way of doing business is the right way. After all isn’t that why all those students were flocking here to learn North American business? We are the center of the global economy right? Wrong! We WERE the center of the global economy. That balance is moving and moving quickly. The areas of the world I already mentioned are gobbling up products and services at unprecedented rates. The world has been thrown off balance just trying to meet some of the demands. A couple good examples of this are the global steel and concrete markets. Another example is the Auto market. While North American car companies are getting government handouts, Beijing alone is adding 1400 cars a day to its streets.

The problem is the rest of the world doesn’t do business “our way”. They have their own customs, their own rules, and they aren’t anything like ours. I believe the global economy will blend over the next two decades. Kind of a levelling of the playing field. This leads to my concern. Here it is in a nut shell. The resulting business practices are going to be a lot more like theirs than like ours. You see there are a lot more of “them” than there are of “us”!

So North America it’s time to swallow our pride and take a lesson from history. If we want to be successful in the new world we better learn how the rest of the world does business. Perhaps we should be sending more students to Business Schools in these emerging market countries. I am not suggesting that we adopt the business practices common in Asia or Eastern Europe as the North American standard. I am suggesting we better adopt those standards if we are doing business in their countries. After all it’s just not reasonable to expect them to play by our rules.

I believe if North American businesses are going to survive in the Global market we have to change. Change, now there’s a scary thought.

The Value Of People

I was reminded today of the value of investing in good people. During my weekly Edmonton Executives Association breakfast meeting a young man I really respect stood up and announced he was leaving his current employer at the end of the month. What surprised me most was that every business in the room didn’t approach him about coming to them. I did. One of my clients is a member of the association and I immediately approached the young man on my clients behalf and told him we had to get together to discuss his plans for the future. That meeting will take place within the next week.
I have written before about my belief in the value of people. I have never had a business person tell me that their business failed because they had too many good people. It just doesn’t happen. When you find a good/great person, grab them! Even if you aren’t sure where they will fit in your organization, grab them anyway. Good people find a place to add value.
Many years ago when I was a young business person trying to learn the ropes in this game called business one of my mentors told me this: “Randy there is never a shortage of good ideas. If you miss one don’t worry because good ideas are like busses, if you miss this one there will be another along in about ten minutes. But good people are like gold. They are rare treasures! Never let one get away. Whenever and where ever you find one, grab on.” The man who told me this seldom gave direct advice and I have followed his words religiously ever since. He was right. A company can never have too many good people!

Sorry, You Just Missed Us

“Sorry; you just missed us.” That’s what she said. She, being the 16ish young girl working in the Sub shop. The time was 8:52 and the sign on the door said they closed at 9:00 but she followed her comment with a chirpy “we just closed”.

You just missed us. Are you kidding me? Something has been bothering me for years and I hadn’t been able to define exactly what it was but she clarified it for me in an instant with those few words. Sorry; you missed us! It came flying at me like a missile. The response that defined what has been bothering me sprang into my head instantly. “No young lady; you missed us!” You see we are the customers who have the money. When did the rules change? When did companies start doing the customers a favor by being there for them? The business beliefs I have always held is that it is the customer who is gracing the company by choosing to spend their money at that particular business.

Everyone who knows me is aware of my love for business. The free enterprise system is an amazing thing to me and I treasure it. I have spent my life learning how it works and trying to perfect my, and others, skills at playing the game of business. But this young lady in a second announced to me that the game I love so much has a completely new set of rules. I am now aware that many companies and more particularly their employees have been employing this new rule book for years. That’s what has been needling me. That’s the missing link I didn’t have. I have been applying the old rules and then been constantly disappointed by the world and its performance.

The more I think about this, the more sense it makes. This is much bigger than the labor shortage issues in the food service and retail sectors causing deteriorating service levels. These new rules have insidiously infiltrated all levels of business from the take out window to the board room. I recently experienced a very personal lesson in the new rules and I even missed that sign of the changing times. As many of you know I have been touched by venture capital. The new business model. I have been told succinctly that my methodologies are out of date. I put too high a value on people. You know, people; staff, suppliers, customers, families; people. Numbers are where it’s at. That’s the only thing that really matters; the bottom line.

The more I have thought about this the clearer the picture becomes. I think I understand the challenge. As businesses have grown, as we have developed from the corner store operated by the owner to the multi-location corporate world. The store merchant drew his (or her) entire livelihood from the money provided to him by his customers. If the customers stopped coming the store was out of business. In the corporate world there seems to be a disconnect. No one is accountable. People don’t feel the connection between themselves and the customer. If this customer stops coming the clerks pay check arrives anyway. Consumers are so numerous that no single one is important. There are always more.

Well you will have to excuse me but I’m not prepared to throw out my old rule book. I think customers still matter. People still matter. All of them. Numbers are important, they always have been. That’s how we keep score and one of the main reasons for being in business in the first place. Profit in our free enterprise system is a wonderful thing. But it is not by any means the only thing and when companies start believing that the bottom line is the be all and end all they are on a very slippery slope.

I have realized while writing this that there is probably a whole book in this subject or at least a good chapter but as many of you know that’s another story.

I’ll end with this final thought. I’m sorry young lady, you just missed us. We were just about to honor you with our business.

An Amazing Weekend Experience

Gerri and I were fortunate enough this past weekend to spend it in a workshop with Rosemary the Celtic Lady. Rosemary is a psychic and healer. Now before all my hard core business friends and readers shake your heads thinking “Oh boy he’s lost it” let me explain. I met Rosemary about two months ago and was immediately drawn to her as being someone really special. Anyone who has followed my business teachings knows that I have always believed that we should manage our businesses intuitively and the better we understand our intuition the healthier our businesses are. Well, Rosemary is going to become a mentor in helping me learn to be even better and more valuable as an Intuitive. I put this experience right up there with our JFDI training.

Gaining skill and understanding of my intuition will make me a better business person and a better coach to my clients. I have always trusted “my gut” and coached many of you to do the same. I just never knew exactly what that meant. Rosemary is enlightening me to a deep understanding of not only what it means to be intuitive but also why I have always just known things that I really had no way of knowing. She has also told me of the responsibilities this “gift” carries with it and what is expected of me but that’s another story perhaps (and this is a big PERHAPS) for another day and another blog.

Anyway, Gerri and I both really enjoyed our weekend and learned a tremendous amount. Our daughter Christi and her fiancé Matt are going to attend Rosemary’s workshop in Calgary this coming weekend and I can hardly wait to hear all their exciting stories about the experiences they will encounter.

Don’t worry, this will still be a business blog! I just needed to use my prerogative as the owner of this site to let everyone know about this amazing weekend.

Thanks Rosemary!

R

I’m back

It’s about time I posted a new Blog. My life has become incredibly full. This retired life is kind of crazy. The best part of all my business is that I am being exposed to some great businesses.

I have been asked to advise and coach a number of local and American businesses and this is providing me with the opportunity to interact with some great business minds. Being on the inside of such a diverse group of businesses is giving certainly broadening my perspective on business and further developing my belief systems.

The reason I am getting this unique opportunity is that for some strange reason a fairly large group of independent business people seem to value my opinions and perspectives and are therefore seeking my opinions, advice and input on their businesses. There may be some out there who will be surprised by this. You see I received my first negative shot as a comment on my blogs a couple months ago. It seems at least one person finds my comments to be narrow minded and unfair. He or she believes my comments on leadership are way off the mark. I guess that type of criticism goes with the territory when you choose to share your thoughts with the world in cyber space. Anyway, I do welcome all comments. I certainly have never thought I have the market cornered on good ideas and the good news is I am still learning and changing my beliefs every day thanks to the input from the creative minds I am blessed to encounter. So keep the feedback coming and I’ll try to write regularly again.

To my family, friends and associates who have been on my case for not posting in some time remember; you asked for it. I’m back!
R

Skills Can Be Bought Or Rented

One of my favorite books is The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. The book and now the “movement” discuss the myth associated with being an entrepreneur. Or another way of putting it is the false beliefs one has before going into business.

Most people striking out “on their own” are doing so because, for one thing, they are very good technicians. That is to say they are very good at the skills needed to do the job associated with their particular business. Perhaps they are a cook or restaurant manager who has been in the food industry for some time and decides they want their own restaurant. Or they could be a plumber who decides he (or she) has had enough of working for someone else and wants to have their own business.

What the E-Myth talks about is all the surprises in store for that fresh new business person. Once in business there are a number of responsibilities that have nothing to do with the core skills required by the technician. There is book keeping, accounting, marketing, sales, human resource management etc. and these things don’t even touch the executive responsibilities of things like strategic planning and business planning.

I have delivered many presentations on this subject and the focus of each of these presentations is that the entrepreneur does not have to possess all of these skills. Indeed one of the secrets to success is recognizing which of these are not your strengths and then having the discipline not to do those particular tasks. You see it is not the responsibility of the entrepreneur to have all these skills and perform all these functions. What is their responsibility is to assure that each of these necessary tasks are being done and with the appropriate skill. This is where staff comes in. Each of these areas of expertise can be bought i.e. you can hire someone to do these things for you. Some of you are going to be saying “but I can’t afford to hire a full time person just to do my books or my marketing” or what ever skills you need just a little bit of. In this case, rent the skill. This means contract the work out. Get someone with the right skills to do just the amount you need done. Renting is often preferable to buying in many task areas and this is especially true of a new growing company.

There Must Be A Book On The Way

I had the pleasure of speaking at the employee Retention Forum yesterday. It was sponsored by Alberta Employment Immigration and Industry, Edmonton Economic Development and N.A.I.T. As with all forums put on by this group it was another great event. The other speakers were all very good and the attendees all received tremendous value through the information presented.

The key note speaker was Dr. Denis Cauvier. Denis is a renowned speaker in all areas of human recourses and his presentation was very good. Denis and I had the opportunity to sit and discuss the professional speaking business. He has been speaking for over twenty years and he freely shared some great information. He was very complimentary of my presentation skills and said he believes I could have an extremely successful speaking career. He said that the next critical step is for me to write a book. This is the same thing Dr. Larry Ohlhauser told me three months ago. So, as someone who believes that the universe puts people in our lives for a reason and that once a message has been delivered, if we don’t listen then the universe just turns up the volume, I better start on my first book.

Yes you read that right, I did just commit to writing a book so sometime within the next six to twelve months it should be available. Now the work starts.

The other development that came out of yesterday’s presentation was that I am told I am now on Edmonton Economic Development’s “preferred speakers” list, so this should mean some more local speaking engagements.