The Emerging Truth About The Change of Business

Dealing with Change is a Class-A Pain!

No, really…

First, what does change mean to you, your life, and your business? Is it rapid, gradual, ignored, accepted or the object of ‘magical thinking‘?

Second, how do you manage? Can you really manage without engaging a fortune teller and hoping against hope you can see the future and get ahead of the unknown?

Lastly, how do you feel about it? What does this mean for your business? I’ll get to that…

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Is there Anything Simple About Simplicity?

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d’Albert Einstein (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Easy” is a temptation.

I work with many clients who take the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach to their digital and social media marketing, because “How hard could it be? It’s just Facebook??!” Besides, they each have a business to run, customers to satisfy and entice, meetings to attend and maybe even employees to work with.

After spending time with each of them to discern their business and marketing goals, I begin to walk them through some of the opportunities and challenges they face and the different ways to optimize and engage, based on the goals and resources available. As we begin to dig into the strategy and planning, each of these business people begin to see the advantages of “doing it right” and where their current process might be falling short, hurting their business.

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What is the Shrewd, Simple Zen of Customer Support?

Does anyone actually WANT to deal with customer support?

I mean, really……

When you hear the words “customer support,” what’s the first picture that springs to mind?
  • The dreaded support phone call. Sure, a lot of support is offered over the web, via email and social media, live chat and sometimes even on-site (although that’s usually an expensive option and a last resort…).
  • Something has gone quite wrong, you are no longer able to do what you want or need to do with some piece of equipment or service, and you are utterly STUCK (and losing time on that deadline) until it gets fixed or replaced.
  • As the owner, you feel totally responsible for what happens with your product and service, but you dread the call from the customer who is having problems. You feel like it reflects on not only the quality of your business, but on your personal efforts. Besides, it pops up, totally unwelcome, in the middle of your day when you have a LOT of other things already planned out….disruption-city!
  • Oh, and you (as owner) are scared to death that this problem will end up online, and in other word-of-mouth scenarios, and give your business a black eye….
Yikes….

So how do you work through this? Rise above this and, as a friend of mine says, “Zen it!”

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Why is Your Audience So Scary?

English: Audience in the main hall of the Mobi...

English: Audience in the main hall of the MobileHCI 2008 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How uncomfortable are you with your audience?

I have spent a large portion of my life in front of audiences as a musician, as an educator, as a speaker, and, going way back, as an actor (think “the class play in junior high school“…), so I have worked with and observed audiences in a lot of different ways and scenarios. If you read my blog regularly you might think that my concept of an audience versus some other social construct is a little lower than, say, a community.

Not really…

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WANTED: Simple, Direct and Terrific Vision, Mission and Goals!

It’s enough to drive you nuts…

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am working through the vision and goals for my business networking chapter. Having arrived at a pretty good idea of how these are different, I run across a number of online discussions about the difference between the vision and the mission.

Sigh….so, I can either ignore this or continue my research and discover if there is anything here that will help me and my team come up with something that will truly help our group.  I’m always up for learning more, so here we go!

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What is the Remarkable Power of a Daring Vision?

I’ve been thinking a lot about vision and goals lately. As the incoming president of my business networking chapter, I’ve been meeting with the outgoing leaders, my leadership team, our regional leadership, and other strong leaders and leadership coaches within the organization, as well as talking with other leaders (not to mention the guidance and advice available from so many in books and online….). I keep pulling back, looking for simplicity and clarity….an awareness of the possible while casting my thoughts wider to “Why?” and larger destinations and possibilities.

The idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals is pretty well known. As a review, S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

  • Specific – Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you’re going to do.
  • Measurable – Goals should be measurable. In this way you have tangible evidence that you’ve accomplished them. These can include the Big Goal measurement as well as measured milestones.
  • Achievable – Goals should stretch you slightly so you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
  • Results-focused (or Relevant) – Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.
  • Time-bound – Goals should be linked to a time-frame of some kind that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the desired end-state. Keep in mind the Achievable aspect of the goal when setting the time-frame, of course.

Vision is a different kind of animal. Very different. Setting a goal for monthly sales or post engagement on Facebook for the quarter is not a vision. When building goals we tend to look at the recent past as a starting point and build on that (or, if starting something new, look at a similar process, product or business, try to extrapolate an “oranges to tangerines” comparison…not exact, but close enough…). Creating an effective vision means freeing myself from my existing reality and think broadly of possibilities and destinations. This is not “pie-in-the-sky” dreaming, but a deep look at an ideal future. Several writers I have come across lately use Dr. Martin Luther King‘s “I Have A Dream” speech as an example of visionary leadership. While his goals within that speech included a number of the steps that would be needed to make headway toward the vision, the vision was So Much Bigger. He described exactly what the American scene would look like when the full impact of his goals were felt and implemented. One famous section is:

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

In your mind’s eye you can see what that looks like! It is so much more grand that the end points of a number of goals.

Goals may be ambitious by themselves. A big one mentioned by another writer was when President John F. Kennedy committed the country to placing a man on the moon and returning him by the end of the 1960s. Huge Goal! But what came after? Other than getting there and back again, what else was there? Hence the problem of coming up with a compelling vision for further space travel and exploration (although a number of futurists, respected scientists and writers try). There is, at present, no strong, heart-stirring vision for exploration and travel that we can, as a society, turn to and say, “That’s it! Let’s go!”

Apply this exercise to your business. When you sat down and created your business plan, you undoubtedly created goals, milestones, and outlined some measurable processes to reach those goals. But, speaking to your vision, why are you actually in business? What does your community, your industry, your world look like as a result of you having created this business, provided what you provide to your customers, and spent so much time and so many resources on its success?

Is your vision a “shining city on a hill”? You can make it so.

7 remarkable lessons I learned from physical therapy

A result of my recent annual physical was getting a referral from my doctor for 4 weeks of physical therapy to help deal with a long-standing issue I have with shoulder and neck pain that links to severe headaches. I just finished up this course of therapy and am likely going to be getting some more, since it is helping a lot.

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Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

I recently revisited my business plan (something I do about every 4 months…). My goal is to see (a) how/what I’m doing regarding how/what I THOUGHT I’d be doing, (b) note any changes, and (c) update the plan accordingly. This combined backward- and forward-cast of consideration reminded me of a post I made awhile back about the parallels of enterprise performance review processes and horse races. While that post focused on the willingness to engage in developing and enriching team members that are forced into a strictly hierarchical and ‘winner-takes-most’ structure, it made me consider the dynamism of the processes, products and services that entrepreneurs work with. We work in the middle of a whirlwind every day.

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Laser-focused Business Goals!

There are a lot of ways for business owners to formulate, define and drive to their business goals. A mentor I had while I worked at Microsoft had three goals he printed on a 3 x 5 note card and taped that to his monitor. He told me that if what he was doing didn’t directly impact any of those three things, he would not do it (where he was in the pecking order allowed him that kind of choice…). He was relentless and laser-focused on those goals every day. They were something of a mantra for him.

Seriously interested in being as successful in my career as he was in his, I gave this a try. While my place in the pecking order didn’t allow me the kind of flexibility to say “No.” to some activities that didn’t map to my goals, I gave it my best shot. What I began to find was that, while my goals may have been well-written and clear, the day-to-day required to get there became more difficult and a lot less fun. Needless to say, this was frustrating….

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Is Innovation Dead?

Innovation” has become a flat buzz-word in business. I think we may have finally beat it into unremitting grayness, which is unfortunate. If ever we have been in need of creative and unusual solutions to problems, it is this moment in which we find ourselves. Even the concept of “disruptive innovation” has become something of a totem that has lost meaning.

I have been in discussions of how some organizations choose to approach this kind of process. Some pat themselves on the back if they can manage to agree on changing the color of the cloth covering the cubicles, and others destroy productivity and morale by nuking the team, process and business plan almost monthly. Certainly, what works for one may not work for another, but taking well-written best practices and lessons learned from an book or article (or motivational speaker…) and then rounding your team into a room and delivering it as this quarter’s way out of a business problem without due research and context probably won’t work.

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