You Asked For It…The 200 Year Storm!…Now For The Lesson To Save Your Business!

31 10 2012

We meet once a month and share issues both personal and professional.  We learn from one another as well as from the incredible presenters before us at each meeting.  As a member of Vistage International (the leading CEO and business owner network), I feel blessed to continually gain knowledge and inspiration from this opportunity.  But more importantly, our group has become friends, advisors, consultants and mentors for one another.

Lee Keyroovs (yes I changed his name to… “Leaky roofs”) is an owner of a roofing company.  He is an extremely aggressive business owner and has been growing his operations rapidly over the past couple of years.  However, for the past six months, his business has declined.  He claims the roofing industry is THE leading economic indicator for recession or growth and he has been preparing our group for an upcoming economic contraction.

Each month, he flatly states:   “Sorry guys, I’m hoping for a natural disaster of some kind.  Give me a hurricane, tornado or snowstorm.  If the economy is going to suck, I need something that forces folks to replace their roofs!”   We all give him an uneasy laugh, hoping that his business turns around as a result of economic improvement.  We could do without the natural disaster.

Well Mr. Lee Keyrooves, you asked for it!  You’ve got it.  Sandy is a storm unlike any other we have seen in our lifetimes.  It is a natural disaster on steroids.  You will have no problem filling your calendar.  From what it seems, I may be giving you a call as well.  Here is how my builder responded to a text asking about our roof:

“We will have to cross our fingers on that one!”

There is little we can do today about our roof.  There is little anyone can do today to properly prepare for this incredible storm.  Our ability to survive has little to do with what we do now.  It has everything to do with what we have done to prepare in the past while the forecast was calm, the skies blue and the tides at sea level.

The same is true for your business.  And one book that coaches us to best prepare for tough times is Great By Choice by Jim Collins.  It is a must read for corporate storm preparation and how to survive and thrive to become great.  It’s your choice!  Here are some thoughts to consider directly from the book describing truly great companies:

  • They must prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, (and they will), you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength.
  • They systematically build buffers and shock absorbers for dealing with unexpected events…long before they are hit with a storm.
  • They adhere to their recipes with fanatic discipline to a far greater degree than the comparisons, and how they carefully amend their recipes with empirical creativity and productive paranoia (allow them to become great).
  • They shine when clobbered by setbacks and misfortune, turning bad luck into good results…Resilience, not luck, is the signature of greatness.
  • They create huge margins of safety… (Their motto is)… If you stay in the game long enough, good luck tends to return, but if you get knocked out, you’ll never have a chance to be lucky again.  Luck favors the persistent, but you can persist only if you survive.
  • The luck of finding the right mentor, partner, teammate, leader, friend – is one of the most important types of luck.

Last night my company systematically shut down all systems.  We are closed to wait-out the storm.  The expectations of damage are unprecedented.  However, when we open again, which we will, I plan on meeting with my partners to review just how prepared we are for the economic version of Sandy.  I would like to be aware of the choices we are making to keep the company on the path towards greatness.  Are we choosing to be great or gone?  What are your choices?

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





For Your Next Strategic Meeting, Focus on………HYDROLOGY?

26 10 2012

Why does the study of movement; distribution and quality of water have anything to do with leading a company and identifying a strategic direction?

While our roles in the organization have been defined and described many different ways, our actions, strategies, successes and failures can be judged by determining how well we have been able to analyze our company’s “streams of income” and act upon the results.

FACT:         OUR BUSINESSES ARE MADE UP OF STREAMS OF INCOME THAT FLOW TOWARDS AN OCEAN OF PROFIT.  EACH STREAM’S WIDTH, DEPTH, LENGTH, AND CURRENT CAN BE MEASURED.  HOWEVER, ALL STREAMS OF INCOME HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON- THEY WILL DRY UP!

If there was ever a question about where our focus should be, the above fact points us in the proper direction.  Our strategies must be about finding ways to widen, deepen and lengthen our streams of income.  We must find ways to increase the stream’s current as well.  It is also equally as important to find new streams of income, as it is to work with existing streams.

To be a corporate hydrologist, conduct the following research assignment:

  1. List ALL streams of income.  It is critical to include ALL sources of income.
  2. Place them in descending order based on total dollar amount.
  3. Determine the pace in which each stream has been growing or shrinking by providing a year-by-year comparison over the past five years.
  4. Identify the “trend” by drawing an arrow next to each stream. Point the arrow  up if the stream is growing or down if the stream is shrinking.
  5. Calculate the percentage of change (up or down) associated with each stream and delineate it accordingly.
  6. Under each stream of income, describe in detail the potential growth of income to your company that the particular stream represents if maximized.
  7. Put a green mark next to each stream that has the potential to increase the flow of income to your company.  Put a red mark next to each stream that does not have the potential of increasing the flow of income to your company.
  8. Under each stream of income, list as many action items that you can think of that must be done in order to increase the flow.
  9. Estimate the potential return to your company by improving the flow of each stream of income.
  10. Place each stream of income on a list in descending order based on the potential return to your company as estimated in #8 above.
  11. On a separate list, identify three strategies that your company is pursuing or should begin pursuing to create a NEW stream of income.
  12. Underneath each of the three strategies for creating a new stream of income, estimate the potential return to the company (ROI) if you are successful in starting this stream to flow.
  13. Under each of the three strategies for creating a new stream of income, list the action items you are committed to do in pursuing this initiative.  Identify measurements needed to determine success or failure.
  14. Gather your strategic team together and conduct this exercise with them.  Look at the differences and similarities in their results compared to yours.
  15. Formulate your company’s strategic plan based on the information gathered by you and your team.

Congratulations!  You have graduated from Eye-Cubed University with a Major in Hydrology.  You passed your final exam with flying colors and have successfully analyzed your business using the tools of a hydrologist.  The specific action items you listed represent your immediate strategic plan.  Implement brilliantly and you are destined to widen, deepen and lengthen your existing streams of income.  And while doing so, you haven’t neglected to forge new ground by exploring and discovering new income streams that will surely allow your company to reach its Eye-Cubed potential.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





Can Your Company Balance on a Two-Legged Stool?

23 10 2012

Inspiration Innovation AND Implementation are the “legs” that balance

THE PROBLEM:

The story is typical and has been repeated thousands of times by companies large and small.   Neither small family businesses nor large public companies are immune.  Innovators who have gained an understanding of both the importance of his/her role and its challenges have first-hand experience with it. The symptoms are observed when a leader possesses the inspiration (the first leg of the stool) for an innovation (the second leg of the stool) and has the power to direct.  The executive then demands urgency beyond the norm and undermines the implementation (the third leg of the stool).  Imagine sitting on a two-legged stool and lifting both of your feet up off of the ground.  How long do you have before you fall on the floor?  That is exactly what will happen to your company if the process of implementation is neglected following inspiration and innovation.

Innovators say the following:

  • Let’s do what we have to do to get this done.
  • We need to have this launched yesterday.
  • Let’s overcome the complexities and push forward.
  • I understand the challenges to our processes. Just do it!
  • We have an issue to resolve and now we have a potential solution.  How long do we have to wait to see if this works?
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect.  We can fix it as we go forward.

Implementers say the following:

  • You don’t understand the process needed to do this
  • You are breaking the processes we have in place to maintain order.
  • You haven’t communicated enough to me or my team along the way.
  • This is the first I have heard of your plans.
  • You have not thought of all of the resulting issues we need to overcome to get this done.
  • You don’t have a plan for this.
  • You are risking a lot by rushing.  Slow down so we can do this right.

What is left behind from this is a disappointing mess:

  • Ineffective execution
  • Frustrated colleagues
  • Resentful employees
  • Frustrated innovators
  • Mixed signals to the company
  • Lost potential of the opportunity

THE SOLUTION:

Make sure your stool has THREE legs BEFORE You Sit On It!  Focus on the process of implementation to overcome the problem of the two-legged stool.

  • Collaborate and communicate early in the process
  • Agree on the urgency and priority of the issue/project.
  • Identify a project lead to direct the implementation
  • Communicate with the Implementer before expectations are set in stone
  • Discuss the problem with many levels within your organization to uncover all potential solutions or ways to implement.
  • Allow for planning and documentation to take place.
  • Agree upon a workable time frame to implement.
  • Bring in ALL department heads affected by the implementation process.
  • Communication is critical to get buy-in on a corporate-wide level and necessary for success of the plan.

Eye-Cubed companies thrive on having the vision for inspiration, innovation and implementation.  Without any one of the three qualifications, greatness is elusive.  Master them all and achieve Eye-Cubed status.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





Not Everything Should Stay in Vegas!

19 10 2012

It is true.  There is no place like Las Vegas.  Having just returned today, the greatest surprise is that the Eye-Cubed lessons flow with each role of the dice, turn of the card and spin of the wheel.

Lesson 1 – Differences Between Eye-Cubed and Gambling Behaviors

*While the odds are stacked against gamblers, Eye-Cubed executives win!

Yes, it is true, the odds of winning in Las Vegas over any period of time are slim indeed.  Let us not forget why sin city is filled with glitz and structures that will be viewed in the future as wonders of the world.  The wealth created by the casinos in Las Vegas came from the pockets of those who returned home having gambled and lost.

In contrast, Eye-Cubed behavior is a sure win.  It is a bet that will definitely pay off in both the short term as well as the long term.  When a company has the vision to be inspired, innovate and implement, they will build success in whatever direction they seek.

*While it is typical to lose interest and quit gambling after one realizes the futility of the endeavor, one should never be discouraged by failure while pursuing the Eye-Cubed dream, success is right around the corner.

Did you know that WD40 was named for the 40th experiment to create a water displacement product?  What would have happened if, after 39 attempts,  the manager said, “lets stop trying, we have not been successful yet and probably never will be successful.”?

Lesson 2 – Similarities Between Eye-Cubed and and Gambling Behaviors

Eye-Cubed executives, in similar fashion to gamblers, engage in a definitive strategy to increase their odds of success.

*Determine a specific amount of money to put at risk.

Companies must invest in the innovation process each year, especially when profits are strong.  Yet, it is critical to limit investment to a specific and appropriate amount.

*Reckless behavior is a sure way to lose.

In Black Jack, would you ever split a pair of tens?  While there are many things you would never do at a casino, there are also many decisions you would never make while you build your expertise as an Eye-Cubed executive.  Be disciplined and stick to your plan.  There is no benefit in cutting corners on your way to perfecting your skills and the skills of your company.

*Follow the advice of Kenny Rogers.

When gambling; “Youve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”  Eye-Cubed companies drive the benefits to the bottom line in the form of profits.  And when projects prove doomed to fail, they are abandoned with no further investment or regret.

Lesson 3 – How Eye-Cubed Pays out

When organizations have vision (“Eye”)  that demonstrate inspiration, innovation and implementation, their success is multiplied by a factor of three (“Cubed”).  It is a ROI unlike any other.  No table game pays out at that level.

Take the tag lines associated with Las Vegas and apply them to Eye-Cubed behaviors.  But unlike the way you may feel after gambling, you will enjoy this “game” all the way to the bank.

 

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





Diversity of Personality (key ingredient for an Eye Cubed Company)

15 10 2012

There is a simple reason why we gravitate towards people just like us, hire people just like us and build organizations with a culture so that we are surrounded with people just like us.   It’s easier.   Even though we know we should be surrounding ourselves with a team made up of diverse individuals to broaden the scope of ideas and insure we are not all thinking the same way, it doesn’t always happen.  Even though we know in theory the value of diverse thought, we don’t always strive to bring the mix into our corporations.  How would you rate the personality of your company?

This question can be answered by having your management team take one of the many different assessments available in the industry.  I believe I have taken the DISC personality profile assessment at least six times over the past twenty years.  Each assessment classifies participants somewhere on the personality spectrum.  Tests come in many different forms and I have taken this test with many different groups.  Most recently, I completed a version of the DISC as part of a Vistage Group presentation (Vistage is a CEO peer advisory group helping business leaders make better decisions in order to achieve better results).  As a group, we had an amazingly broad range of personality types.  Refer to the actual graph of my group below.

Each of the seventeen leaders in the Vistage group runs a successful organization.  The personality assessment revealed a wide range of personality types.  It struck me as an amazing reality.  Imagine if the leadership team in your organization had the diversity of personality represented in my Vistage group.  What would it be like to work with so many incredibly talented individuals with diverse management styles?

In contrast to that diversity, I recall several times in the past when I took part in similar tests with the management team of my company. When the results demonstrated that we had 80% “Driver” personalities with a smattering of the other personalities throughout the leadership of the organization, we never saw that as a weakness that needed to be addressed.  With all of those Drivers, we figured we were sure we would get to our destination.  Right?  Not necessarily!  While enhancing my company’s diversity of personality was never a strategic initiative, over the past 10 years, several key executives were added to the team who broadened our ways of thinking.  The spectrum of personality types has widened significantly and we have benefited as a result.   To be truly great, our organizations need to nurture a leadership team with diverse backgrounds and management styles. Regardless of the definitions listed on the test, (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness or Compliance, Creator, Advancer, Executor or Refiner), there is incredible value to having significant representation of ALL personality types in any decision-making team.

An Eye Cubed company must build an organization with the following characteristics:

1.Diverse personality-types among leadership team
2.Recognition of the value of personality diversity
3.A culture of respect, trust and tolerance for diversity

It is time to understand the personality of your operation.  Is your leadership team truly diverse?  Is your culture one where the value of diversity is recognized as positive?  Does your organization respect everyone and the value each individual brings to your business community?  Dig into the different options you have to understand who you are by putting your team through one of the DISC tests.  While an individual can never fail, your company should grade itself.  That is the first step in identifying if you need to make some changes.  That is a critical step in becoming an Eye Cubed (Vision for Inspiration. Innovation.  Implementation) Company.

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





The Lamb Chops Were Divine! An Eye Cubed Restaurant Review

10 10 2012

It is always a good sign for a restaurant to have a line waiting for tables on a Saturday night.   We typicaly hope was that the food would inspire us.   While Pontos Taverna in Norwalk CT exceeded my expectations in that regard, what brought me profound inspiration was what I felt at every turn.  It sang louder and sweeter than any song.  And to me, it was more beautiful than any work of art.  It was something that money cannot buy; a thriving family business in full swing.

It didn’t hit me when the hostess brought us over to the bar for a drink.

It wasn’t when we were taken to our table after a shorter wait than predicted.

I started to feel something when we pulled the bread back onto our table after one young woman said “Are you sure?  It’s delicious, we make it here every day.”

It tugged on me a bit more when our waitress helped us pronounce the dishes with proper Greek annunciations.

And I realized precicely why I felt at home when Billy, came by and said, “My sister will be here in a minute to take your order.”

He then explained that both parents worked in the restaurant along with seven children (and a neighbor).  He explained each of their specific roles from the youngest dishwasher, to the brilliant salad maker to the master chef.

Their efforts were a symphony of unity.  They acted beyond team expectations and their results created an experience far outside of the norm.

I realized this family business stood above others when our waitress (one daughter) came over and asked how the food was as she cleared the table.  She lifted a dish once filled with sauted Gigante Beans and said “I am going to show this plate to my father.  He will love to see how much you loved the food.”   Customer satisfaction was measured by an empty plate with the homemade bread used to soak up every taste-filled drop.  The 16 year old dishwasher-son would not have to work too hard with us.

Is it possible to create this kind of love and Inspiration in your family business?

Is it possible to find this kind of teamwork in your organization?

Is it possible to create a measurement that shows customer satisfaction akin to the “empty plate”?

This family implemented their plan brilliantly.  While each member had a clear and specific role, no one seemed more important than the other.  Simply because they had a greater goal in mind.  They each were an  integral part of presenting their family to the community.  Their family brand was clearly demonstrated in every action and interaction.  We were all exposed to an Eye Cubed operation involving Inspiration, Innovation and Implementation.  The list of corporoate lessons to be drawn from this experience was long, I have only one suggestion:

Identify the Eye Cubed quality you need to enhance, gather your team and go to dinner! Or, if you own and run a family business,  take the family there and speak to the owners of the restaurant.  Go to Pontos Taverna and observe.  But most importantly, enjoy your meal.  By the way, the lamb chops were divine!

http://www.pontostaverna.com/

If you, your company, your industry conference or team is in need of the best keynote speaker, motivational management consultant, or inspirational presenter for your conference, strategic planning meeting or for professional development, click on these words and see how Eye-Cubed-U is prepared to help you. 





One Man’s Voice Inspiring a Nation

8 10 2012

If one person can inspire a nation, we can bring inspiration to our world & our organizations SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN IS A MUST SEE! http://ow.ly/eirSR