3 Reasons Your Business is Not Profitable Part 1

3 Reasons Your Business is Not Profitable – Part 1

In this first of a two-part series of guest blogs, Bruce Baker shares with us 3 reasons your business is not profitable. 

The real truth is that there is NO REASON why you should be working so hard and seeing little return from all your efforts!

I always see business owners trying to convince themselves that this is “just the way owning and running a business is.” Let’s be honest, why the heck would you put so much blood, sweat and tears into something that does not even reward or engage you?

You may have already spent money on expensive consultants, business books and online courses to figure out how to build a profitable business and still pay yourself consistently and eliminate debt. Well, if you, like many other business owners, have done this already, you’re most likely know by now that it hasn’t produced much of a result for you and your business.

What if there was a way to ensure your business is profitable and remains possible. What if this was a reality and you were still able to pay yourself and wish your debt a final farewell?

Years ago, when I started my first business, I initially fell in love with the hopes of building a company that provides immense value to the market with excellent prospects of profitability. I did indeed add tremendous value but worked 12–15-hour days, 6-7 days a week! I became unhealthy, struggled to pay the bills, and dealt with uncontrollable debt.

All this with ZERO quality of life, GUILT from not spending time with my family…the list goes on! This made me realize that it had nothing to do with how much or how little money my business produced but how I was thinking about money and the time I was using to manage it. This led me to the system I called Time and Financial Repurposing (TFR), a complete game-changer for my business, clients, and hopefully for you!

*Repurpose: “to use something for a different purpose to the one for which it was originally intended.”

Stop wasting your time on traditional, outdated methods that get you little if any results! It’s time for you to take advantage of a system that is not new but is uniquely you and is as natural as breathing. TFR will transform how you use your time and money, ensuring your business is profitable!

I share the TFR system with business owners in my FREE group – Profitable Business Owners

ELIMINATE THE 3-REASONS YOUR BUSINESS IS NOT PROFITABLE:

1. Controlling money (the outcome) and not actions (the reason money exists).

2. Not being clear how money moves in and out of the business.

3. Trying to change who we are vs. leveraging what comes naturally to us.

REASON #1:
Controlling Money – Not Actions

Human beings are focused on the end result versus what and how their actions impact the outcome.

The pattern is ALWAYS the same. Business owners gauge their success with what ends up in the “bank.” How many times have you thought to yourself how hard you work, only to have to deal with this…look familiar?

Bruce Baker

So, where does this leave you? Disengaged and deflated!

Remember, the only reason your business produces “money” is through the decisions you make and the actions you take…that is it! We spend a ton of energy (in many cases negative energy) stressing about the money (the outcome) versus the actions and decisions (the driver) that produce money (the outcome) in the first place!

Bruce Baker

As one CEO and client of mine once commented, “I avoided looking at my bank account for a month and mysteriously ended up with a positive bank balance for the first time in over 3-years”.
Magic, alchemy? Not at all! Simply put, she moved herself to flip her focus from money to action. It was a challenge for her, but the success blew your mind!

Work through the following exercise to start eliminating Reason #1
#1: List all the actions and decisions you have taken in the last 4-weeks and identify which decisions were directly related to generating revenue.
#2: Identify which decision led to successful results (no matter how small) and which decisions did not lead to any results.
#3: List the reasons you defined the outcome as either successful or unsuccessful and what you will do the next time differently.

The purpose of this exercise is not to analyze your financials, but your behaviour(s) based on how you interpret a situation. Doing this, highlights how your emotional response(s) to a particular situation leads you to the decisions and actions you take and the outcome (money).
If you are noticing connections between your behaviours and the money outcome, move to the second reason which we will post next week.

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Communication Vehicles

Communication Vehicles

When I talk about Communication Vehicles, I am talking about Blogs, Podcasts and Newsletter.

The world has truly changed. I was first on the Internet in 1973 with a business called I.P Sharp Associates. Ian Sharp tried to bring me on with his Company but I was having too much fun and learning too much at the Caterpillar dealership in Montreal called Hewitt Equipment. The internet was available via two different telecommunications networks Telenet and Tymnet. Their speed was a rip-roaring 30 bps. Can you imagine that? The “computer terminal was an IBM Typewriter type device and the Modem was an “Acoustic Coupler” that you put the telephone handset into. I thought it was absolutely the end of the world. Fantastic.

Today the Internet has speeds that boggle the mind and I am constantly complaining that it takes too long. At Learning Without Scars, we are using a Learning Management Software package called Litmos from SAP. We use a credit card payment tool called Stripe. We use Quick Books for all of our accounting. I have grown used to Microsoft Software so I used Outlook and Excel and Powerpoint and Word. We use Word Press to drive the Website. We use MailChimp and Buzz Sprout to drive our Podcasts and we use Zoom to create our Candid Conversation with our guests for our Podcasts. We have come a long way with software and hardware in my work life since 1968.

For nearly twenty years we have used the “Blog” as a communications device. First on our Consulting business website www.rjslee.com and now with our employee development business www.learningwithoutscars.com. More recently, at the beginning of March, we have started a Podcast. These Podcasts will explain with an audio track the content of our classes in a more complete manner than the landing page for each class or assessment. They will also be the platform for what we are calling “Candid Conversations” with Industry leaders and influencers. And coming soon, July 1, 2021, we will launch a Newsletter. We are going through the process now of networking with my address book and asking the recipient of the email if they want to subscribe to the Newsletter.

 

This is all about communication, isn’t it? The website has evolved itself. In the earlier form, it was like a brochure. It had the company history the vision or mission statements, key employees. It was a Yada Yada Yada form of communications. Then we moved to having our inventory on the website with pictures and in some cases even prices. It became what I called Brochureware. The internet and websites have come a long way since then. However, many of us are stuck with the old methods and thinking. As an example, I still have a landline telephone. I know, I know leave me alone. So, it brings to mind a question I used to ask relative to the rapid pace of change in technology. “What do you do with a dead horse?” The first answer is “Change Riders.” A close second is “Buy a Stronger Whip.” Followed by “Harness together many Dead Horses.” And finally, “Promote the Dead Horse.” Clearly, tongue in cheek but change has become almost too much for most of us to be able to handle.

We are trying to communicate with YOU on our website. We are using three main vehicles to do this. The blogs, the Podcasts, and now a Newsletter.

  • The Blog
    • We give you articles we contribute as well as thought leaders in Industry on a weekly basis. Specific subjects that we feel will be helpful to you, our customers. We post these blogs every Tuesday evening.
  • The Podcasts
    • We give you audio tracks describing our classes or assessments. These audio tracks run between five and ten minutes and provide more detail than the job function assessment or subject-specific landing page on the website.
    • We also provide a Candid Conversation with thought leaders from the Industry. We do these with a recorded Zoom meeting. These conversations are with people in North America, Australasia, Europe, South America, Russia, India, and the Middle East.
  • The Newsletter
    • We will publish this newsletter four times a year, typically at the beginning of each calendar quarter.
    • It will contain articles of interest from us and significant thought leaders worldwide.
    • We will keep you posted on changes within the education community on current thinking and research into learning tools and methods.
    • We will highlight any special news on our progress on becoming your primary employee development product.

Please remember we are always interested in and will be responsive to YOUR needs and wants as our valuable customers. We wouldn’t be here without all of the support and encouragement you have provided over the years. Next year we will celebrate our thirtieth year in teaching within this Industry through Companies specifically involved in training personnel in the Construction, Agricultural, Engine, Material Handling, On-Highway, Forestry, Mining Equipment Industries.

We sincerely thank you for your continuing support.

The time is now.

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Understanding How to View Success

Understanding How to View Success

When we work on setting goals, understanding how to view success is a key component in the process. Please read tonight’s blog from Ron to learn more about this critical process, and all of the viewpoints that go into it.

Most of you are by now aware of our goal of helping each employee identify their potential and then put them on a path to achieving it. The keyword there is “goal.” Each person needs to establish goals in their lives. It starts from a young age in how we are treated by our parents and grandparents. They teach us right from wrong and good from bad. In this manner, we start on a developmental path of understanding what we should do. It is our first experience with goals. Be a good person. As Colin Powell is known to say “don’t do anything that will embarrass your parents.” Then we have a transition from family life as a very young person to our school phase.

We go to school and we are taught to read and write and perform arithmetic calculations. That puts us on a path of learning that is aiming at helping us develop our intellect. That is the goal. We also start to experience socialization with a peer group, first our classmates and then our friends, another series of goals in getting along with others. In some cases, we get involved in music or sports and then learn how to get along with others in different backgrounds, again more goals. We have the family, the school, the peer groups, the sports teams and clubs, music and other groups all helping us grow into a complete person. All goals.

And then we have to make a choice at the end of High School or in some cases before, about what we are going to do next. This is, for many, the beginning of making our own decisions and establishing our own goals. This is the next transition from basic learning to specialized learning. To become able to provide ourselves with sufficient knowledge or expertise to be able to look after our own needs. Another transition. A more serious one.

We then go on to Junior College, or a Trade or Vocational School, or a University. We choose the classes we are going to take with a goal in mind. Sometimes that goal is a particular job. Sometimes it is simply getting more knowledge and then deciding what to do with that knowledge. But we are establishing our own goals.

Then comes the next step, another major transition. Getting a job. Finding a career. Becoming independent financially. This is a more difficult transition. Most people do not know what they want to do for a living. Some are very fortunate. They know they want to be a doctor or a teacher or a mechanic. But most people don’t have a clue.

How are we supposed to get the right answers if we don’t know what we are trying to do? We need to establish goals. We need to do a sort of audit on what we like and what we don’t like. What we are good at and what we struggle with. What kind of people we like to be around and which people cause us to want to be somewhere else?

I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to do. Like most of us, I had been working in part-time jobs. I taught swimming and tennis at a country club. I sold things, encyclopedias. I did telemarketing, selling newspaper subscriptions. I played piano in a bar and organ in churches. I taught education at a University. I wanted to work in data processing but in those years, it was nearly impossible to find work in that field. So, I struggled. I am sure that I was not and am not alone in that fact. I think that most of us struggle to try to find our place in the world, in society.

Let me start by saying that I believe that we all want to be a success. But that is the challenge. What does that mean? Who teaches us or guides us on that path? Is success wealth? Or Status? Or Fame? I submit to you it is none of those things. I would like to say that it is simply being able to lead a healthy and productive and happy life. But what is that and who helps us to understand how to obtain it?

Education has changed today. The choices that a person has in classes are mind-boggling. Ed Gordon, a respected voice in education in America, in a recent newsletter stated “Many parents also believe that their local school is providing a good education to their children. Regretfully this is often not the case. Education levels have not kept pace with skill demands in workplaces.”

We, at Learning Without Scars, are strong advocates of the use of an annual performance review with each employee. This is an opportunity for each team leader to have a productive discussion with each employee and help them understand what they can do to become better as an employee. What they can focus on to be capable of another opportunity in the Company. How the team leader is there to help them. Goals can be established and then the path to success becomes clearer. Wouldn’t we all want that, for ourselves? Someone to help us establish the goals that would help us have a successful life. Don’t you think that would be helpful?

The Time is Now.

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Principia for Business

Principia for Business

In this week’s guest blog, Ryszard Chciuk shares his Principia for business.

In my post The Future is Now I presented you why and how my after-sales team worked out its long-term plans, which most of business teachers call a vision. Today I am writing about the way we were going to bring us closer to our goals.

I am repeating myself: without the long-term plans, you are like a sailor who missed all his maps. You can use your compass, but you do not know where you will finally land on. Maybe it will be a deserted island. If you are a very lucky man, maybe you will land in a paradise. I am daring to give you one piece of advice: please, do not fool yourself, most probably you will break up the boat on the rocks. You and your crew have a little chance to survive the crash, it will be just pure chance.

Worse things happen if your team members do not follow the binding rules. I prefer to name them the main principles. Coming back to the metaphor. Before you abandon a port, you must equip your boat with precise maps and a compass. In 1492 Christopher Columbus had an astrolabe, compass, quadrant, and, instead of maps, his assumptions which directions to go. Finally, he was convinced he landed in “the Indies”, but fortunately for him (not for the original inhabitants), the ships made landfall on one of the Bahamian islands.

In real-life our maps are always uncertain, so before you start the journey, you should agree with your co-sailors a small number of basic rules to be strictly followed. For example, the captain is always right, you will keep watch till you are replaced by another sailor on duty, everybody is authorized to ask questions and make mistakes, the person in charge is not always right, and so on. Otherwise, all of you will fight against each other, instead of collaboration in the face of a turbulent market.

Those basic rules I name the main principles. Certainly, you are accustomed to calling them values, so I will explain myself. Most of the dictionaries, including The Cambridge Dictionary, define the first meaning of the word “value” as the amount of money that can be received for something. The second meaning of that word is the beliefs people have, especially about what is right and wrong, but it is only for the plural form. The three laws of Motion Sir Isaac Newton presented in the masterpiece called Principia (in Latin) and it is translated into Principles (in English). That’s why I ask my friends to follow the main principles instead of the values. Values and vision belong to the most overused – and least understood – words in the language of business. I want to avoid any ambiguities while talking about things of so high importance.

The most important for every organization is that all level managers and all employees subscribe to the main principles. It means, you as a manager, should employ only candidates who learnt the company values and agreed to follow those principles during the whole journey with the company. Later on, you have to observe potential breakers of the values and eliminate them. Otherwise, some employees may sabotage the whole organization. However, it’s not easy to discover the true personal values of a candidate during an interview. My advice is not to rely only on the information gathered by the human resources department. Use also your own intuition.

The most severe troubles for every kind of organization can be caused by people occupying more important posts. The company owner should keep it in mind when hiring top management. Do you remember the famous Enron case? In its annual report to shareholders, Enron listed its core values as follows:

  1. Communication – We have an obligation to communicate.
  2. Respect – We treat others as we would like to be treated.
  3. Integrity – We work with customers and prospects openly, honestly, and sincerely.
  4. Excellence– We are satisfied with nothing less than the very best in everything we do.

The actions of Enron’s senior leaders stood opposed to these core values. They quickly established a culture with values of greed and desire to maximize personal gain. It also appeared that Enron managers were supported by the renowned auditing company Arthur Andersen LLP. What was the result? Thousands of people lost jobs, their money collected on retirement plans disappeared…

I am writing this article because I want all of my friends to be aware of a potential threat. I have read about many leaders driving organizations into bankruptcy due to breaking their values. In the last decades of my life, it concerns mainly political leaders all over the world. It is unfair that dishonest leaders never pay the highest cost. Perhaps Enron’s CEO Jeffrey Skilling was one of few exceptions. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison (finally was freed after 14 years). Have you heard about reimbursing the victims of the Enron scandal?

As I explained in the post The Future is Now, my plan to build the best after-sales organization could not be executed if we employed people having bad habits. In other words, we would fail if new employees were accustomed to the principles which were opposite to ours.

Next time I will explain, what it meant in our daily work.

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Compassion is like a Marathon!

Compassion is like a Marathon!

Cultivating compassion is like running a marathon it requires daily practice over a period of time, like running your first marathon with training you can build the skills!

 Now more than ever, it’s imperative for leaders to demonstrate compassionCompassion is the quality of having positive intentions and real concern for others. Compassion in leadership creates stronger connections between people.  It improves collaboration, creativity which leads to innovation, raises levels of trust, and enhances loyalty in employees.

Jacinda Ardern New Zealand’s Prime Minister, leadership style is characterised by kindness and compassion for her response to the Christchurch shootings in 2019.  Her compassionate leadership style united a country in mourning for their fellow New Zealanders.  Whom lost their lives while at prayer in a place of worship in a country they chose as their home because it was safe.  In the days following Jacinda Ardern took action to correct laws to protect its people and embrace those mourning loved ones at the scene of the terrorist attack.

Leading German social neuroscientist, psychologist and author of Caring Economics Tania Singer – conversations on altruism and compassion, between scientists, economists and the Dalai Lama.  Delivers some key research into compassion based on studies with over 300 participants who participated in gratitude based, attention based study into the affect on wellbeing of people.

Below are my personal insights from this study.

#1 Compassion is trainable:

Compassion is trainable with daily practice according to Tania Singer,  after a study on the impact of mental training involving a combination of mindfulness, perspective-taking and compassion exercises.

#2 Empathy and Compassion go hand in hand:

Different brain circulatory – Empathy activates the pain network and negative affect; and transforms into compassion when the affiliative part of the brain is activated which has a positive affect.

Empathy feeling with others, empathy is connecting with the other person in how they feel.

Compassion feeling for someone at the heart level – you start feeling concern, for the welfare of the other.

Most resilient is compassion, a feeling of care and love.  You feel this warmth, altruistic strong motivation. I want to help you.  Altruism is a higher order need in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Motivational Theory.

#3 Compassion is a positive feeling towards the other:

Sometimes we judge others without awareness. Compassion is a positive feeling towards the other.   Compassion is when we are present and listen without judgment it brings down social stress (fear of being judged) for the other person, which makes them feel safe to open up and share their problems.

# 4 Compassion and perspective:

Cognitively when we identify that the person, we are listening to has different beliefs to our own, understanding the other person is not always easy for us to grasp – particularly in cross cultural contexts. An understanding and appreciation of different perspectives, diversity has the power to facilitate kindness and compassion in our workplaces, communities and strengthen global co-operation.

# 5 Compassion and Gratitude:

A daily Gratitude practice can build compassion at the heart level.  Appreciating and accepting that many leaders are at different stage of the compassion continuum is important, it’s a journey, having conversations about compassion takes courage, takes vulnerability.

I attended an inspirational Podcast this week with Rebecca Jarvis who eloquently interviewed the very inspiring Steve Farrugia CEO of the Share Tree – which is a good place for leaders to start in exploring how to implement daily practice of gratitude and compassion in organisations using an App!

# 6 Compassion is a key change management skill:

Compassion is passion, the direction of positive energy used to advocate for a cause, purpose, passion.  Having a compassionate leadership style can help advocate and facilitate a positive change management process within an organisation.

Top 3 actions to cultivate a culture of compassion within an organisation:

  1. Hire leaders who want to take care of others:
    Hiring leaders who want to take care of others. There is a great tool called the VIA – strengths survey which identifies 24-character strengths of leaders, for example those that display gratitude and love.

 

Hiring managers with an affiliative leadership style – are managers who know the importance of building social capital and will take time to listen to their people and will implement change seamlessly.

  1. Get the support of your CEO:

When CEO’s and Human Resources work together to build a culture of compassion it builds bonds, social connectedness, affiliation, sense of mutual appreciation, collaboration, innovation and a culture of high performance.

  1. Adopt a holistic approach:

A holistic approach, considers people’s physical, mental and emotional health.  A compassionate leadership style and holistic approach can transform toxic cultures that are faced with ethical dilemmas, bullying and harassment into healthy workplaces where people feel safe and thrive. Putting people first and placing importance on people’s physical, mental and emotional health, will have a triple bottom line impact towards wellbeing, higher performance and improved shareholder value.

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The Relational Ladder

The Relational Ladder

The Relational Ladder

Tonight’s post on the relational ladder is taken from conversations and readings with Ed Wallace.

The world is changing and the noise around us at times is overwhelming. Network News, Round the Clock Cable Stations and then all the social media pounding on us. Cell Phones dinging in the middle of the night. How can we continue to create and maintain the personal relationships that are so important to life in general and your feeling of worth and well-being?

Ed, in his book, provides us a detailed path to follow, or perhaps I should call it a ladder to climb. Most of us driven by quotas and business goals and we are so focused on our objectives that we typically don’t spend enough time on our strategies and approaches for all the people and relationships that we have to have in place. But we have relational capital that we can spend which allows us to succeed.

Let’s quickly review some of Ed’s key points:

 

  • The Principle of Worthy Intent – keeping the client’s wishes at your core
  • The essential qualities of credibility, integrity and authenticity
  • Understand that exhibiting these essential qualities we perform well
  • Paying Attention to our GPS – Goals, Passions and Struggles

 

Through all that we have learned in Building Relationships that Last, we have built a Relational Ladder. A Path that we can follow to ensure we stay on the right track.

At the floor we start with our acquaintances which allows us to establish common ground. This allows us to show our integrity and establish trust with those with whom we are building a relationship. Then from the previous blog we are purposeful with time. We are both helpful and seeking help from everyone with whom we have a relationship.

It is from this approach to relationships that we must consider two important personal characteristics; Humility and Gratitude. It is important to understand and accept that there are people who will know far more than we know and be able to do far more than we can do. This is a good thing as we have many examples of people from whom we can take guidance and create models of activity or behavior ourselves. Humility is a good attribute to have. This allows us to develop the knowledge, self-control and discipline to continue on the path aimed at reaching our potential.

Understanding and accepting your individual sense of purpose is a difficult task. Asking for help as in the Relational Ladder is critical in this process. Understanding our GPS – Goals, Passions and Obstacles is an important piece of the puzzle in building relationships. Then we can move effectively to the next step POP – Purpose, Outcomes and Process. The totality of Building Relationships that Last.

In what I call our Passion to Perform we all have similar traits. We strive for those things that Max was able to exhibit in how he conducted his business.

 

  • Increases in Customer Loyalty
  • Increases in Revenue per Transaction
  • Increased Recurring Business
  • More Competitor-proof
  • Becoming a Respected Advisor

 

Everyone wants to do a good job in anything that they do. Similarly, we can all do more than we think we can. The problem is that most people are fundamentally lazy. That latter point is not necessarily a bad thing it just means that they are trying to be effective, not efficient, in what they do. My purpose in life is as a teacher. It is helping people find and then understand their potential in life and then assisting them in the process of achieving it.

Life is a journey and there are many challenges and opportunities along the way. Learning to manage our professional and private relationships is an important part of our lives. Passionate People Perform. I have learned a lot from Ed and value our relationship. Reading his book and knowing the man has made me a better person.

I am sure that the same will be true for you. Thanks, Ed.

 

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Learning from Old Lessons

Learning from Old Lessons

In today’s guest blog post, we introduce Bruce Baker on the topic of learning from old lessons.

Bruce holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology and is a behavioural business strategist, coach, and change agent. He brings you a wide-ranging skillset in business operational design, planning, and execution, with significant success in leveraging the only growing capital asset a business has– its people.

With over 23 years of experience working with Fortune 50 and Fortune 500 companies in a wide variety of industries, Bruce focuses on working closely with anyone from new entrepreneurs, business owners, CEOs and their leadership teams.

Your time with Bruce will give you new and fresh insights as he rejects traditional methods of business coaching and consulting while providing you with a very unique and enlightening perspective on how to view and build your business. Bruce will work with you to see what your business is made of and then recognize and address its strengths and vulnerabilities, allowing it to grow with minimal or no risk at all.

Learning from Old Lessons

I would like to welcome those of you following the Learning Without Scars blogs. Welcome to my musings on what is called the Chronicles of Business Leader. My name is Bruce, and I work with Business Leaders and their leadership teams to help them scale-up, start-up, or fix-up their respective companies.

In my blogs, I will focus on discussions I’ve had with business leaders about their challenges and how they have and are becoming successful.

Previously I discussed the reason for ongoing business failure. This is due to a single focus on the non-human aspects of a business (systems, tools, programs etc.). The focus must start with the human element first (i.e., Business leader/C.E.O.) and then the non-human factors. When the business leader understands and identifies with a solution, success is inevitable!

The experience I had this week highlights the usefulness of a powerful tool and technique. Using this tool positions a business leader for massive success.

Many call it “being discipline,” “maintaining focus,” or “not being distracted.” These terms apply to business success but have not aided the business leader.

This week, I want to share an experience I had with a business leader named Robert. Rob owns and operates a mid-sized heavy equipment dealership business he started up almost 10-year ago. I’ve been working with Rob to help him scale his company for over four months now.

When Rob and I started talking, he struck me as an intelligent and well-read man. He could rattle off all the latest and greatest business and leadership books and related tools and systems. Business leaders I had and continue to work with referred Rob to me as I was “the guy who helped business leaders achieve instrumental success.” I asked Rob why he had not used any of these great ideas and best practices he learned about in the books. His response to me was simple but not surprising. He said, and I quote, “I can’t seem to find the time, and when I have some time, I get distracted by other things. I may have a challenge with Attention Deficit Disorder…not sure.”

Regardless, Rob’s business was about to tank if he could not take what he knew and make it a reality in his company. I gave Rob a concept and tool a few weeks ago that made all the difference in him gaining traction.

The concept and tool are not new but initially came from a person named Dwight D. Eisenhower. As many of you know, Dwight was the 34th President of the United States. Before becoming President, he served as a general in the US Army and Supreme Commander during World War II. He had to make tough decisions about which of the many tasks he should focus on each day. This led him to the Eisenhower principle, which prioritizes urgency and importance. Go to www.Eisenhower.me/Eisenhower-matrix for further information.

So, how did Rob benefit and continue to benefit? Simply put, most of us are told to work on our time management skills. Frankly, the term “time management” is not aligned with how our human brains work. I said this to Rob, and he was taken back by my comments asking what the solution was if not for managing one’s time. I asked Rob how many people he knew that attended a time management course and were great “time managers”? Rob smiled and said, “true enough, but what then is the solution?” I responded and said, “task/action management.”

Actions and the commitment we make to take these actions are tangibles that our minds are designed to handle well. The brain can take hold of and then work through what and why something needs to be executed.

Asking “why” a task/action needs to be executed uses the powerhouse combination of the logic and emotion that makes action happen. Without the rational and emotional elements working together, failure to execute continues.

So how did Rob make this successful? Well, like most humans, once suggesting this to Rob, it was the last time we spoke about it after a few weeks. Yes, this was by design, but for a good reason. I followed up with Rob in one of our sessions a few weeks later and asked how his “Action Management” was coming along. He responded by saying, “it’s not.” I told him that this was normal and not to give himself a hard time about it. I then worked with him to show how he could make execution happen. This is how I explained it to him:

  1. Actions in any business are almost all important/relevant in some or another way. Trying to make a specific task less or more important is challenging for Spending time figuring out the amount of “importance” takes up a lot of energy. This makes people abandon their commitment to making something happen. Why? Because all these “important” tasks accumulate in our heads and stay there. This creates an emotional lens when making decisions increasing stress and feeling overwhelmed. The next thing we know is that we have done nothing to achieve traction in the business. So how do we distinguish all these important actions and avoid inaction?

 

  1. This is where the level of “urgency” falls into the The word “urgency” doesn’t always engender a feeling of “calm” for many. The term “urgency” means the time to execute an action/task(s). Start by asking yourself if the task/action is important/relevant. Then, ask how “urgent” the task is (i.e., when the task must be completed). Splitting this in your mind separates the emotional from the logical. This is where the “magic” starts to happen!

The sheer number of items Rob had on his to-do list was staggering! No wonder the poor guy was paralyzed! Rob’s list (and I kid you not) had over 130 items, and to no surprise, each item was “important.” So, I commented, “If everything is important, nothing is…”

We worked through the to-do list for about two hours. In a matter of days, Rob managed to achieve traction on what needed to get done. He has started to make profound impacts in the business and has begun to see significant results. Rob’s interpretation of himself shifted from being disorganized and distracted to someone entirely different. He now has his weekends to himself and finally started to increase his business volume in a matter of two weeks! This success is and continues to be due to Rob connecting the positive impacts a tool and system have on himself and his business. This impact has also created a snowball effect that has enhanced his team’s performance and other areas of his business.

Last week, Rob mentioned that the number of sales leads that week increased by almost 45%. He said this was due to him “finding time” to work on a lead magnet that finally produced results.

For more information on the tool and process, please email info@4workplaces.com

I hope you found this information helpful and look forward to seeing you again soon.

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Why Things Always Go Wrong

Why Things Always Go Wrong

Why Things Always Go Wrong

This week, Ryszard Chciuk gives us a recipe for success in his blog post on why things always go wrong.

Do you want to have a successful year? Do you want to become a better person? Listen to what Ron Slee is saying to you in his first vlog in 2021 and do it, because The Time Is Now. The time for reading books.

If you are able to read only one book during your whole life, and you want to achieve true satisfaction, both in business and life, read The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull (both of them born in Canada of course).

The Peter Principle:

In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence

What is incompetence? Perhaps you have heard of the nurse who says to the patient: Wake up! It’s time to take your sleeping pill.

First time I read The Peter Principle was in 1977. It was really funny to observe my superiors and colleagues through the Laurence Peter glasses. The book is written in the Mark Twain style so it’s OK to laugh, but you’d better take the content seriously. At that time nobody told me it would be the most important book in my life. Later on, I read it again and again, usually every few years. Also, I read it each time I had an opportunity to get a new job. Why? Nobody likes to make a fool of oneself. I also never wished to be an incompetent person. And believe me, it is not easy to recognize whether you are already only one step below your level of incompetence or perhaps not yet.

Each of us spends his life in a hierarchy and everybody is subject to the Peter Principle. As Peter Laurence claims, in time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.

You are not allowed to hurt your employee. So, be careful promoting him to another post, even he is very eager to. Imagine your best technician is getting a chance to manage a team of field technicians. For many years he was solving the most difficult problems with customers’ machines and he was proud of it. Are you sure he will also be happy and competent as a supervisor for another people? Maybe he is destined to become the Chief Diagnostics Specialist? I know, this is obviously about a career path and your HR department should be able to support you in this matter. Are you sure the HR specialist is still below his/her incompetence level?

Let’s jump out for a while from business. In democracy we have rights to vote. Why there are so many totally incompetent politicians occupying posts which are so important for the safety and well-being of the nation? Do you think you are still one step below your level of incompetence as a citizen of your country?

Are there any exceptions from the Peter Principle? The third chapter in the book has a title Apparent Exceptions.

What about super-competence? Standard incompetence is only a bar to promotion to higher post. If you are super-competent and your superior reached already his/her level of incompetence you will probably soon be fired due to the violation of the first commandment of hierarchal life i.e., the hierarchy must be preserved.

The people who have reached their level of incompetence are everywhere, so who turns the wheels? Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.

The final question: is there any way to protect your own organization from reaching the total level of incompetence? Yes, two things could prevent this happening: that there should not be enough time available, or not enough ranks in the hierarchy.

***

Do not decide lightly to read The Peter Principle. This is just a book, but I have to warn you using words of Raymond Hull:  The decision to read on is irrevocable. If you read, you can never regain your present state of blissful ignorance; you will never again unthinkingly venerate your superiors or dominate your subordinates. Never!

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Are Bricks and Mortar Going to Survive the Internet Era?

Are Bricks and Mortar going to Survive the Internet Era?

 

During the past fifty years, most of my work life in this Industry, one of the most significant

‘barriers to entry” in the equipment industry, and in fact, capital goods industries has been the ownership and control of proprietary information. For instance, where to buy a part. A specific part, a bearing, for example, was purchased from an authorized dealer typically because the consumer did not know of any other source. Repairs and Maintenance were the exclusive domain of the authorized dealer for a similar reason. There was no availability for the independent mechanic to service manuals and technical literature. There clearly has been a radical change here hasn’t there? Just ask Google or another search engine whatever you want and they will typically have an answer. Even Alexa or Siri or Bixby will give you an answer on your cellular telephone.

Let’s start with some facts. In the US the standard in the retail sales Industry used to be 10 square feet of store space for every person in the country. In 1998, after a substantial increase in the square foot assigned to retail sales, the retail sales per square foot had dropped from $200.00/ft2 to $150.00/ft2. In 1999 the International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management reported that consumers’ shopping time was down 31% and monthly mall visits were down 47% with stores visited per mall visit down 57%. Clearly something was going on here.

While this was going on Amazon came onto the scene. They started business on July 5, 1994. From that launch date the impact that Amazon has had on retail sales has been nothing short of amazing. In 2019 Amazon had a market share of e-commerce in the USA of 52.4%, Non-US was 5.7% for a worldwide market share of 13.7%. In that same year, 2019, e-retail sales accounted for 14.1 percent of all retail sales worldwide. This figure is expected to reach 22 percent in 2023.

I first used the internet in 1973 through a Service Bureau in Canada via a business called I.P. Sharp Associates. Ian had direct real time access, on line, to all financial data worldwide through the stock markets. He also provided international associations, such as the World Bank, direct access to financial information. He later sold his business to Reuters who kept the news piece and sold the financial piece to what is now provided by Bloomberg. At that time there was no AOL. The general public was not on line yet. That is only forty-five years ago.

Today many business systems offer online “portals” for the public to search through for a part or information on a repair or maintenance for equipment. Today there are a multitude of businesses from whom you can purchase just about any part you need from an alternate source to the authorized dealer. In automotive Genuine parts through their NAPA stores is a direct competitor to the authorized car dealers. In many cases, as Forbes once called it “at a price that will make you weep.” In maintenance and repairs we have seen Mr. Muffler and Midas Muffler forcing the dealers into providing their off brand technical services like Mr. Goodwrench. In the construction equipment world in North America surveys are conducted nearly every five years and that data tells us that maintenance has been completely moved away from the authorized dealers. In fact, labor market share, depending on market area ranges from 8% to 15% of the total labor available. Of course, there are outliers in both directions. The parts market share is not more than 40% any more when in the late seventies it was in the range of 80%.

In 1980 one of the first internet-based buying options was brought out to the market. That parts ordering portal never achieved a portion of the dealer parts business in excess of 10%. Notice the difference between the Amazon model and our model. Amazon started with books and sold their books at a lower price than the local book stores. Even Borders, a major book store retailer was a victim of Amazon. They are no longer in business. What did Amazon do that the authorized equipment parts suppliers didn’t do. They lowered the prices. Their logic was when the customer is the coproducer of the work, they deserve to get a better deal. No one has as yet tried that approach as an authorized dealer. The aftermarket suppliers have already lower prices at their disposal.

So, there is the dilemma. I hope you can see it coming. It is that light in the tunnel of the train roaring down the track. Are you going to sit back and let the internet-based businesses penetrate even more into your parts and labor business or are you going to do something about it?

The Time is Now. If not now, when?

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What is the Future of Work?

The Future of Work

What is the Future of Work?

In this article by Sonya Law, we examine what is Human Resources’ Role in the future of work?

The catalyst for this article being the Pandemic which continues to disrupt businesses forcing them to: Stop, reset, recalibrate.

Human Resources role in the future of work is multifaceted and requires a pivot away from old thinking to a leading role in guiding and enabling managers to develop, as Amy Scott would put it, ‘radical candor’ conversations that directly address what people need in order to achieve their potential and the company as a whole to achieve its Strategic objectives.

In 2021 organisation’s that will thrive will have the difficult conversations with empathy about diversity and inclusiveness.  Will have courageous conversations that give direct feedback to employees about their performance.  Human Resources role is to educate people managers in a Holistic Approach that requires them as leaders to bring their whole self to work, to care personally about their people and address people’s physical wellbeing, mental health and desire for social connectedness in the future of work.

Be prepared to tell people what you really think and be challenged in return, fulfill your morale obligation as a people manager, an example of this would be when giving employee’s feedback about why they were unsuccessful or overlooked for a promotion within the business.   Or when an employee’s request for flexibility is denied.  When people are given a standard answer, it does not respect the employee or the value they bring to an organization and does not inspire or transact discretionary effort which drives high performance.

We are told as managers to be professional and if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it, this old thinking whilst nice, polite and civilized, serves only our own comfort.  It does not encourage and nurture talent.  When an employee is given guidance, direct and respectful feedback on why they did not achieve a promotion, or more money, they then are empowered as they have a choice whether to take on that feedback to aid their growth, learning and development within the organization.  Being overlooked for promotions, or raises, is a key reason that employees exit from organizations.

Flexibility is the new Stability in 2021.  During the Pandemic, organizations who are exploring a long-term commitment towards flexibility, embracing technology and a willingness to be open minded to new ways of working will thrive in the future of work.  It is not a one size fits all, a holistic approach guarantee’s that the conversation is heading in the right direction. It does not need to be perfect, in fact their will be some trial and error and testing of different scenarios before a solution is landed, employees know when you are genuine and authentic.

Human resources role in coordinating the future of work will require many leadership skills, adaptive, inspirational, affiliative, coaching and democratic.  These different leadership styles present an opportunity to look at the employee experience through different lenses as we contemplate what the future of work will look like.  Who is doing it well – designing workplaces to engage employees, during pandemic?  The following are two examples for you to explore; – Axel Springer in Berlin, Germany What’s the status of the new Axel Springer building in light of Corona? – YouTube and the Smith Group A Holistic Approach for Returning to the Office After COVID-19 – YouTube.

Human Resources lead the culture of the organization and play a pivotal role in guiding and monitoring key people metrics by way of a culture dashboard that gives quantitative and qualitative insights into the culture.  Culture surveys are the most common method used while another approach is to get out from behind the desk and walk the shop floor and get out in the field with technicians and customers to understand where the pain points are and what is needed to take the organization forward acting.  This approach also gives some valuable insights into how to solve customers and more broadly societies problems.  This particular approach informs quality and engineering in terms of innovative product design and service as to why there is churn in customers, or what it is that your customers like and what differentiates you from your rivals which informs the sales and marketing investment and spend.  This is particularly important in future marketing to Millennials whom are motivated by creating value and connection with the company’s values, vision and mission.

Human Resources Managers, who will do well in the future of work are able to adapt their communication style to influence all key stakeholders of the senior leadership team, quality, engineering, technical, sales, customer, finance and CEO’s to be a true Strategic Partner.  Human Resources in the future of work needs to orientate away from just benchmark and best practice towards realizing its potential to create, deliver and capture value throughout the whole organization through guidance of the human capital effort towards achievement of strategic objectives.  This is Human Resources that embraces soft and hard metrics to deliver bottom line impact in the way of revenue per headcount, which is a measure of how well we are utilizing our headcount to deliver a return to the shareholders.

High performance organizations who have adopted this holistic approach that values people, extracts discretionary effort, promotes from within and develops its human resources potential will be successful in … future of work.

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