Why Businesses Perform and Everyone Else Doesn’t


 

It is remarkable how large the accountability gap has grown between what is considered normal and expected in the world of business and private enterprise…

…and the profound lack of accountability that sadly we have become so accustomed to and from the other major Institutions of our society - Government, Education, Healthcare, Religion, Etc.

It goes like this: Businesses must deliver daily on their product and service promises or a) Customers just stop buying and b) significant reputational damage is effected in this “Online Star Rating” world of ours.

For everybody else? Not so much.

Imagine, with its 9% approval rating, what Congress’ ’“Yelp” / “Trip Advisor” star rating would be?

Or, for that matter, what it would be for our local high school, community college, or hospital?

And, at the risk of controversy, I think most religious leaders would seriously shirk from having their institutions’ reputational scores widely shared with the general public.

Now, one could say that - because the intents of most businesses are so different from these other institutions - that this is an unfair comparison.

Or that we can’t define “accountability” for these other institutions because of the legitimate “values” disagreements within them - i.e. for education is the accountability around teaching say - hard work or creativity? 

For government is it about liberty or equality?  For healthcare longevity or wellness? 

To this I say poppycock!
 
Like for $50,000 per year for average private school tuition, how much hard work and / or creativity are universities really teaching our young?

Or for the 35% of the wealth of our society that local, state, and federal governments appropriate, how much freedom and how much equality are we really getting? Or more prosaically, for what we are paying for it how high is the quality of our airports, roads, schools, and parks?

Or how much wellness are we getting for that $2,600 MRI?

Or that $30,000(!) average hospital stay cost?

The answer, of course, is that if even the most mediocre of businesses were given access to the resources that these other institutions have that the value and customer ROI delivered per dollar spent would increase dramatically.

So how can the ambitious entrepreneur and executive leverage this accountability gap to their advantage and gain?

Well, for starters, step out more and shout from the rooftops how proud you are to be In Business – both in general and specifically as to the value your business delivers.

It is good for our personal psyches, and is inspirational for all when some of the spotlight and attention is taken away by "the other guys."

And then, reflect long hard on the connection between the experiences of your customer, the accountability mindset within your organization, and your business's online reputational scores.

Improving any of them is almost always dependent on improving all of them.

Through this Kaizen - this commitment to constant improvement - will not just further widen the accountability gap between business and all of the other institutions of our society…

…but that between our tightly measured and always improving enterprises and our more “fuzzily run” competition.

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Finding the Signals in the Noise?


 

I recently shared why business intelligence dashboards are now a must have for executives seeking to better understand, leverage, and ultimately profit from the treasure troves of data surrounding their businesses.

This data includes insight from their companies’ web and social media traffic, from its e-mail send and open rates, from its lead tracking systems and sales logs, from its product fulfillment records, and from its accounting software as it records revenues, expenses, and cash flows.

Pretty basic stuff, eh?

Well, maybe when viewed one source at a time, and/or over a limited time period with just a few data points, but given that a business doing as little as $1 million in revenues now has on average more than 20 data sources – from software services like Google Analytics, Salesforce, Quickbooks, ZenDesk, to dozens of Excel files and spreadsheets of every type and purpose, figuring what to do with it all quickly gets overwhelming.

And in business, when something gets overwhelming, what happens?

Nothing.

Yes, all of these treasure troves of data, insight, and intelligence just gets ignored.

Reports aren’t run. Or when they are run, they aren't read.

And when they are read, they are not really mined for insight, for “aha” moments and breakthroughs, for competitive advantage.

This sad state of affairs is the unfortunate reality for most executives in this information-overloaded business world of ours.

But not for everybody.

There are a select few that as opposed to being overwhelmed, are energized by all of this precious and unprecedented data.

That use it to both inform and confirm their "gut."

And when the data and their guts disagree? Well, more often than not they let the data hold the trump card.

These executives worship at the altars of both big and little things.

Big things like strategy, mission, vision, values, and culture.

But little things too like form conversion stats, proposal close ratios, page bounce rates, call hold times, quick ratios, and net margin growth to name a few.

How do they do it?

Well, first per the above, they have a functional relationship with data. They don’t whine about it nor are they consumed with how much of it there is.

And secondly, they don’t try to sift through and make sense of it by themselves.

They let technology do a lot of work for them. Both predictive analytics technologies like Civis, Kxen, Foresee, Angoss, and Verisium.

And strategic and business intelligence dashboard technologies like Domo, Pentaho, Birst, GoodData, and my firm Guiding Metrics.

Technologies that find the signals in the noise, and that help them win both the big and little games of modern business.

So now, how about you?

To Your Success,


--

Jay Turo

CEO

Growthink

P.S. Like to demo our dashboard offering? Then Click Here to learn more.

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How Much Could Your Business Be Worth?


 

I recently shared the depressing statistic on how less than 1 out of 5 companies marketed for sale are able to find a buyer and to consummate a successful sale transaction.  

And how even this depressing statistic vastly under-estimates how few companies are able to attain a successful exit, as the great majority of the over 6 million U.S. business owners because of how they are structured and run can’t even contemplate commencing a “business-for-sale” process.

Now this is depressing, but what I didn’t share was how more than seven thousand businesses last year were sold – many for tens of millions of dollars, and a select few for much more than that.

What did they do / do they have that your company does not?

Well, from my more than 15 years of helping companies of all types and sizes breakthrough to new plateaus of growth and value, I have discovered three universal truths:

1.    Most entrepreneurs and executives make the same strategic and tactical errors over and over again.

2.    These are simple errors and easy to quickly correct.

3.    When they are corrected, immediately an enormous amount of latent business value is untapped and unleashed.

Webinar Invitation: The Five Steps to Maximize Your Valuation

I would like to cordially invite you to join me on Thursday, October 22nd at 1 pm ET / 10 am PT for an invitation only webinar - The 5 Steps to Maximize Your Valuation - where I'll reveal the 5 steps you can take to dramatically increase the sale price of your business, and dramatically decrease the time needed to achieve it, including:

    •    The 3 Mistakes that most Entrepreneurs and Executives make that effectively render their businesses unsellable

    •    The 5 things that all business that sell for high valuations have and do

    •    A simple formula to determine how much your business could be worth if you execute the right plan

I assembled this webinar presentation in conjunction with both the Growthink Research team, which over the past year has performed industry, market, and competitive analyses for hundreds of high growth companies…

…and with the predictive analytics team at Guiding Metrics, who have are currently working with dozens of companies in automating and optimizing their key marketing, sales, operational and financial metrics.

The combined statistical insights of all of this “on-the-ground” business fieldwork are the basis of the to-be presented webinar findings and insights.

Market and economic conditions will probably never be better than they are right now. I encourage all leaders of companies frustrated with their low growth rate and unclear pathways to exit to attend, listen intently, and then act on this awesome webinar content.

Sign up Here:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1343739918463738626

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Modern Business Wisdoms from Ricky Roma (among others)


 

"Why don't my prospects buy? “Even after - especially after - I demonstrate (and they agree!) such awesome ROI from purchasing my offerings?

This palatable lament has been expressed by entrepreneurs and salespeople since time immemorial, but perhaps never so consistently and discouragingly as in this "Buyer Power" Internet Era of ours.

Yes, no matter what product or service we are selling these days, it is quite likely being received in the market by some frustrating combination of apathy, distraction, and a “commoditized” pricing pressure response.

As I have written before, statistics show that this phenomenon is accelerating and for sellers becoming even more vexing because - quite simply - buyers are just spending so much time and energy on their mobile phones to pay attention to anything else!

The result - especially for higher-priced offerings - is buyers not having the attention span to "Stay with Us" through a Problem Definition, Solution Scoping, and Work Proposal as is typical and necessary in a complex sales process.

So, in spite of the speed of communication being quicker than ever, paradoxically decision-making timelines are stretched and even more frustratingly, buyers are giving sellers “More of that Maddening Thing” than ever before: Radio Silence.

Radio Silence, or Buyer Non-Response has driven even the mentally toughest of us to a dark, philosophical place from which the only way out is by being far stronger and more committed to the value of our products and services then we are empathetic to the trials, tribulations, and competing commitments (of time and energy and everything else) of our buyers.

Yes, in the infamous words of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross’ character Ricky Roma, anyone that has “Spent a Day in their Life” can attest that only through this kind of mental toughness can we truly “Breakthrough” and get our message Heard and Bought.

Now, a bit more idealistically, this mental toughness need has another key dimension:  Getting Fully Comfortable with Full Transparency.

Buyers - with quick swipes of their thumbs and clicks of their mouses - can find out just about everything about us and the value, real and perceived, that our customers have gotten/are getting from our offerings.

They can find out directly - and painfully - from the very many product and seller Rating Sites and indirectly but as powerfully via the quantity and quality of traffic and interest that our websites and social media postings receive and garner.

And when the reviews are bad and web traffic and social media non-existent?

Well, as opposed to cursing to the Internet Gods about the unfairness of it all, the Effective Executive instead takes these on as both challenges and as Charges to Keep.

A challenge to get one's happy clients to digitally share their experiences.

And a challenge to deliver and develop value-added Thought Leadership Content (No more sales schmaltz!) that shows (not tells!) our unique value-add.

And a Charge to Keep because if we can't get happy customers to talk about us or if we can’t share ideas of value to our target audience, well then it is time to roll up our sleeves and to work harder and smarter so we can and do.

And as we do this, we will develop a conviction so deep that no amount of distraction and/or apathy can shake or stand against it.

And then that palatable lament of "Why Aren't They Buying" will turn to that wonderful spirit and sense of possibility when the sale is made and the deal done.

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A Tale of Two Businesses


 

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

There is no better imagery of what it is like to compete in modern business than this famous opening paragraph from Charles Dickens' The Tale of Two Cities.

On the one hand, it truly is the best of times - never has it been so easy to market to and service a global clientele, and to leverage Free and Open Source technologies, and intelligence to design and deliver best of class products and services and thereby level the playing field with far bigger competitors.

And it is the worst of times, as never have customers been as informed with and empowered by “Compare and Contrast” buying options to almost any offering we as business sellers might conjure up.

The result too often is a “Race to the Bottom” on pricing, and perhaps more discouragingly, an increasingly “transactional” business culture and a devaluing of long-term relationships.

For many types of businesses - electronics retailers, travel agencies, and book stores to name a few - these “Worst of Times” dynamics have proven too great to overcome, and the right economic choice has been to abandon these pursuits as they are highly unlikely to ever again yield positive ROI.

Most of us, however, in so many aspects of our strategies and tactics dance daily on this “Go/No Go” Edge of the Business Knife.

Marketing and sales strategies like Paid Search, Direct Mail, Telemarketing, operational strategies like Leasing Office Space, Hiring Employees, and customer service strategies like Live Support and Dedicated Account Managers just may no longer be feasible for our business case.

And to the degree we stay with these strategies for too long - out of routine or just because we can't come up with anything new or better to do - we run the significant risk of trapping ourselves in high cost, inefficient structures that's sooner rather than later will inevitably meet their digital demise.

So how does the Effective Executive manage and decide in this environment?

To focus as the great Peter Drucker guides us on "Opportunities not Problems" yes, but to also not be Pollyanna nor delusional that we are in any way immune and protected from the severe competitive pressures of our Internet Business World?

Well, a good place to start is to take as our motto the the unofficial meaning of the acronym for the National Football League (NFL) when it comes to its players (average tenure 3.3 Years) and its coaches (average tenure 3.2 years).

Not For Long.

Yes, I think what the most successful, long term businesses of our digital age - Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook - demonstrate that no matter how big, influential, and currently profitable a company maybe today, essential to their strategic sense and cultural ethos must be Innovation and Re-Invention above all else.

Now, in these “nimbleness” dimensions smaller companies should have a decided advantage over these multi-tens of thousands of people, cumbersome and bureaucratic organizations.

But unfortunately, my experience from working with dozens of them has too often been the opposite.

Whether because of family business dynamics, lack of technological know-how, too much work expended working “In” versus “On” the business causing atrophied strategic sensibilities, when it comes to innovation, small and mid-sized businesses way too often are like the proverbial deer in the face of the oncoming digital train.

Stuck. Frozen. Petrified.

And about to be run over and killed.

It doesn't - and shouldn't - have to be this way, as building good innovation momentum really starts with just some small acts and decisions.

Like letting go of an “institutionalized” employee - one resistant to change and growth (And yes, even if they are a family member).

Or giving up on a once tried and true marketing strategy whose time has just passed (Like the aforementioned paid search, telemarketing, etc.).

Or being honest with ourselves and looking at our product and service offerings as our customers might see them: undifferentiated, middling in value, anachronistic.

And my favorite, accepting that our Business Guts aren't really built for the digital age, and that we need to trust them less and the numbers more when it comes to deciding the right strategies and tactics to pursue.

In some ways it doesn't matter what our innovation decisions and actions are only that we develop the muscle of making and taking them quickly and often.

And then measuring - not guessing - which are working, which are not, adjusting as appropriate, and rinsing and repeating.

Do this for just a month or two - or hire an advisor to help you - and watch that Winter of your  Business Despair turn magically to the Spring of its Hope.

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In Modern Business, Authenticity Trumps All


 

Today, almost all businesses interact with and relate to their perspective and existing clients through multiple channels: in-person, on the phone, over e-mail and increasingly text, via social media and through Web Reputational Means of which we are usually only partially aware.

For many folks, even just reading the above paragraph arouses feelings of anxiety, frustration, and sometimes even disgust.

Golly they say - wasn't it an easier and better time when everything was just "analog" and “human” sized and paced?

And they go on, in the end doesn't all of this digital stuff cost more than it is really worth? In the day-to-day time, energy, and focus to pay attention to and consistently communicate on them all?

Well Too bad. Multiple Touch Point Business - digital and otherwise – is now the very air that we as modern executives breathe.

And we can choose to either have those breaths be deep, nurturing, and effective, or shallow, distracting, and ineffective.

It really just comes down to in all of our communication no matter its form whether or not we are one thing: Authentic.

Now for most of us this is most easily and naturally done in the traditional channels: Over the telephone and In-person.

So a great prism through which to manage and judge our digital efforts - Email, SEO, SEM, social media, etc. - is simply by how much they lead to high-quality telephone conversations and in-person interactions.

Car dealerships understand this better than anyone: that the over-riding purpose of their digital efforts is to make their phones ring and drive visitors to their lots.

Now, for those businesses in selling modalities (usually lower-priced products) where the telephone/in-person outcome is not desirable nor possible, then the guidance is to work to enrich the “virtual” experience so that it feels as real and natural as a telephone/in-person interaction.

Simple but powerful ways to do this include the use of photos in marketing efforts, along with stories and testimonials from successful and happy clients.

Online Photo Sharing, now so ubiquitous in the personal digital domain, is  utilized far less often and effectively in business contexts.

But given that social media stats show that for both business and personal purposes that photos are shared more than 5 times as much as written posts, incorporating imagery into one’s business communications is a simple and inexpensive way to emulate the power and emotional appeal of in-person marketing.

Video is another inexpensive and simple way to improve digital authenticity and effectiveness.

This can be of two forms - Recorded Video in the form of Explainer Videos, Thought Pieces, Case Studies, and Testimonials, and Live Video in the form of upgrading phone calls and presentation to video through free and inexpensive tools like Skype, Google Hangouts, and GoToMeeting.

Does this video need to be of high production quality?

It can't hurt, but a video strategy I find easily effective is to “Share the Webcam” and live video of myself at the start of a call, and then turn it off and conduct the call as normal.

This usually creates that lovely “Ah-Ha” moment when we first see the other person’s face that I am sure all of us have experienced on a Skype call or a Facetime chat without the awkwardness and work of “staying on camera” for an extended period of time.

The key caveat here is that if even for only a few moments in business contexts “staging” is important

So invest in a quality webcam, have well-lit and professional backdrop, and “Dress for Success” in whatever way that means for your business.

And finally, don't hide behind the lazy virtues of “Branding” and “Goodwill” but instead relentlessly and ruthlessly work to quantify the ROI of these multiple touch point efforts.

Yes, doing it all right requires a lot of hard work, but once in rhythm really just requires the simplest and most natural thing in the world: Giving and Sharing the Best of Ourselves.

Just remember to keep measuring and focusing on incremental improvement as we do so.

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Here's Why NOT to Trust Your Business Gut


 

According to statistics from BizBuySell, less than 1 out of 5 of businesses marketed for sale are able to find a buyer and to consummate a successful transaction.  

Even this depressing statistic vastly under-estimates how few companies are able to attain a successful exit, as the great majority of the over 6 million U.S. business owners are never able to even consider listing their companies for sale.

That’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears expended on work and businesses that yield comparatively very little.

Even more viscerally, working hard and long on a business that doesn't get to an exit is, far more often than not, a profound form of losing.

And losing sucks.

Now, there are always reasons and excuses as to why better and faster progress is not made: Cheap, overseas competition, difficulty in attracting and retaining talent, taxes, regulations, and perhaps my favorite the lament that one's struggles are caused by customers that don't “get” how awesome our products and services really are.

These reasons and excuses are just that. For every one of them, there are infinitely more possibilities and opportunities that with just a little refocusing of effort and action can turn declining or flat-lining business vectors into solid and sustainable growth trajectories.

Here are three of them:

1.  Always Ask This One Question.  The great Charlie Munger, Warren Buffet's partner at Berkshire Hathaway for over 50 years and one of the most successful investors of all time, is famous for asking his managers this question when it comes to important operational decisions: "What is the Low Cost, High Quality choice?"

What I love about this question is that no matter the business process - marketing, sales, operational, financial - it forces us to not to make the classic (and lazy!) false choice between cost and quality: we can have and deliver both.

2.  Start at the End. Growthink Co-founder Dave Lavinsky’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship best-seller Start at the End should be required reading for any and all executives truly interested in building their companies to a successful exit.

In it, Dave goes into great detail as to the effective practice of business goal-setting far out in the future, and then how to work backward to today’s most important projects, tasks and to-do's.

3.  Trust Our Guts Less and the Numbers More. Pioneering work by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman has demonstrated that in almost all business arenas - hiring, marketing initiatives, sales teams, customer satisfaction, financial performance – almost always it is the cold, hard numbers that are right and our warm and fuzzy guts that are wrong.

This has always been true, but now for the first time we can protect ourselves from our guts, utilizing Predictive Analytics (automatically making sense and order of our Big Data world) and Business Intelligence Dashboards (automatically giving us a "Quantified Self" snapshot of where we stand in real time against our goals and what to do about it).

It is simple: Be numbers-driven, define as precisely as possible our long-term objectives, and at every turn make the lower cost, higher-quality choice.
Build these muscles and you will avoid becoming unfortunate destiny of the vast majority of your business peers…

…A Statistic.

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What Tom Brady can Teach Us about Competition and Winning


 

In a recent post, I talked about what businesspeople can learn from the world of sports as to leveraging data and metrics to improve decision-making and get a leg up on the competition.

The discussion that followed piqued that age-old question always asked by Sport-Crazy Businesspeople: How much from can we really learn and put to use in our businesses the various lessons and principles from sports and games?

Usually this question is answered at the “meta” level - with somewhat clichéd bromides like the importance of hard work, of practice making perfect, and of viewing all adversities as learning moments.

For sure, these are powerful and important lessons, but I think the question more interestingly can be tackled on a Sport-by-Sport basis, as in what are the best business lessons to be gleaned from the games of soccer, or from football, or golf or tennis?

And relatedly, how do these various sports teach us different lessons?

Let's start out with what I would bucket the "Win by any Means Necessary Sports."

Drawing from personal experience and great loves for these games I would put soccer, football, basketball, and baseball into this category.

In these sports, yes all of the inspirational principles of intensity, teamwork, dedication, and relentless practice certainly apply, but are also in them rarely is a second’s hesitation given to actions that in most other domains would be considered highly unethical.
 
Like pleading to the umpire that you are safe when you know that you are out. Or claiming to have caught a ball you have not. Or perhaps most disturbingly to the American sentiment, “Flopping” or faking a foul as is so commonly done in basketball and soccer.

Now so let's compare this mindset with that found in games like tennis and golf.

In tournament golf, the vast majority of players would never dream of bending the game’s rules to their advantage and in the rare circumstances where a player is found to have done so, their reputation is badly tarnished.

Similarly, in tennis, it is considered a matter of honor to give one’s opponent the benefit of the doubt on close line’s calls, and players that do not do so are branded unkindly.

The point is not to claim that golfers and tennis players are ethically “superior,” but rather to note that many things considered well within the spirit of the rules in some domains are viewed in others as dastardly to the extreme.

A great example of this is the Deflategate football controversy with the New England Patriots and their star quarterback Tom Brady.

For many non-Patriots fans, it is very easy to get up on one’s High Horse and virulently condemn the Patriots' admitted philosophy of pushing the competitive envelope as absolutely far as possible.

Yes, just as easily the Patriots’ win-by-any-means necessary can be defended within the general construct of the game of football, which is that anything and everything goes, unless and until the referee, umpire or official says otherwise.

And oh yes, many times in these sports it is considered excellent strategy to break the rules, like as in with holding a wide-open receiver or fouling a streaking striker because it is the highest Expected Value Choice to do so.

In contrast, for anyone who has played golf even somewhat competitively such a "practical” mindset to purposely break the rules would be anathema.

Again, this does not mean golfers are more fundamentally ethical, only that the nature and ethos of their respective game is just...different.

And this different nature and ethos reality ports very clearly to business decision-making and competition, as well.

Yes, depending the industry/market you compete in - Real Estate, Retail, Consumer Products, Professional Services, etc. - the ground rules and the boundaries of what is and is not considered acceptable, fair and my favorite, effective - is just different.

So the firm advice for those executives that wish to maximize their chance of victory is to yes remember of course that Fundamental Values no matter the field of endeavor always apply, but…

…to also take into firm account the competitive ethos of one's particular industry and market condition and structure, and to yes then strive to win by Any Means Necessary within it. 

And as you do this maybe someday your organization will win Four Super Bowls, or a Closetful of Green Jackets, but highly unlikely will you do both.

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Don't Ask. Act! Action will Delineate and Define You.


 

Last week, I wrote about how to fight through the natural slowdown of the pre-Labor Day period (compounded by the Recent Market Gyrations) and Get Business Done.

With Labor Day behind us, we should now all be in full flight in getting our most important projects and initiatives Fast-Tracked and on course to be completed by the end of the year.

These could include:

•    Starting a New Business.
•    Pursuing a New Business Initiative within an existing business.
•    Developing a Work Plan and Budget for that business initiative and getting that budget funded (either internally or by an outside investor).
•   Re-invigorating an existing business' Organization Chart and Design via the development of new job descriptions, reporting structures, new employees and contractors.
•    Deciding upon, green lighting, and “Spinning Up” new technologies and SaaS platforms that make our businesses run leaner, faster, and through and on Better Data and Intelligence.
•    Buying a competitive or complementary business.
•    Selling and exiting from your business (and if this is something you want to get done in 2015, it is time to get going now).

So what do the most Effective Executives do to shake off the summer rust and make more and better things happen than the competition?

They Decide, They Act, and They Course Correct.

They Decide. Now more than ever, the ability to make rapid business decisions and then execute on the project action items and to-dos that flow from them is a fundamental success factor for any modern executive.

Why? Because never before has the information to make great business decisions been as quickly and completely available as it is right now. And if you don't have fast and good enough access to the information you need to make these decisions, then find and invest in one of the amazing array of Business Intelligence Software platforms that will do it for you.

They Act. In Ken Burns' great PBS series "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History," there is a segment on Teddy Roosevelt's (one of the great doers in American history) favorite expressions, "Get Action."

Roosevelt, who wrote more than 150,000 letters in his lifetime (do the math, that is more than 10 per day), was above all else a leader of great decisiveness and action, and it was this quality above all else that made him one of the greatest leaders in American history.

This Will to Act - to make that call, to put out that beta, to find the reasons to do the deal and fight through and fix the reasons not to - is a business muscle that all the greatest leaders and executives have and is one that can only be developed through consistent, vigorous and exhaustive application. Yes, in the great words of Thomas Jefferson if you want to know who you are “Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”

They Course Correct. Because of technology never has it been easier to decide, to act, and then rapidly course correct as needed. In this respect, the most effective executives I know have the healthy egos to decide and act, but also the discipline, detachment, and humility to rigorously measure which of their decisions and actions are not working…

...and then rapidly adjust and/or abandon them as the data dictates.

Decide. Act. Course Correct. Rinse and Repeat.

Follow this simple but powerful formula and 2015 can still be the best year of all of our business lives.

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The Power of Negative Thinking (Squared)


 

For many businesses, in these pre-Labor Day workdays and the unofficial “End of Summer” things slow painfully down.

Projects and deals take twice as long and sometimes feel twice as hard.

This year, compounding the challenge has been the rollicking Market Gyrations of these past few weeks, amplified by "The Sky is Falling" financial and political media blaring forebodings of doom and demise.

So how does our ambitious and goal-oriented executive block out the negative noise and focus on the Mission Critical Business Tasks and Projects at hand?

How does he or she be cognizant of / sensitive to current events, while remaining ever undistracted and undeterred by them?

Well, the most Effective Executives I know do this: They reframe everything as an opportunity, and everything as a positive.

Markets going up?  These are boom times so let’s get on the bus and go for the ride.

Markets going down? What a buying opportunity! If I liked it at 50, I love it at 30!

Summer doldrums: As a buyer, a great time to press sellers for discounts. As a seller, with my competition loafing on the beach, I make hay.

Now, this can’t just be Hot Air / Pollyanna Self-Talk.

No, it has to be real and serious and buttressed by what famed Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight calls in his best-selling book The Power of Negative Thinking.

In it, Coach Knight makes the simple but powerful point that in any competitive pursuit, everyone wants to win, so just thinking positively about it rarely yields competitive advantage.

Far more relevant is the willingness to sacrifice to Prepare to Win: to learn how to stop making the mistakes that losers make in abundance and that winners have trained themselves through hard work to avoid.

For athletes, this means practice, practice, practice to stop Missing Free Throws, or Three Foot Putts, or Second Serves, or The Cutoff Man.

For business people, this means the daily discipline to prepare for meetings, to start critical projects far before their due date, and consistently doing the Quantitative and Data Analysis to determine what is actually working in our business versus going by gut and feel.

Combine these two philosophies, the Power of Positive Thinking and of everyone and everything no matter what being good and an opportunity...

...With the Power of Negative Thinking and the daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, on a career basis of making of the sacrifices and of taking the time to do things right.

Of such combined mindsets and disciplines are legends and fortunes made.

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