Thursday, September 11, 2014

To be Believable, Go All-In

One of my favorite "reality shows" has gotten a lot of attention this week. Yes, it is #sharktankweek and I have enjoyed watching a few episodes I missed and even a couple I had already seen. If I have learned one thing from watching this show, it is that presentation has at least as much to do with the likelihood of getting funding as does the actual idea. In fact, in a few cases, it was clear the 'sharks' liked the business owner more than their product, and I even watched Kevin O'Leary honestly make an offer so he could burn the product and save the owner years of misery. "Mr. Wonderful" certainly implied that he thought the owner was better than their product offering.
The idea that the quality of the presentation is a critical success factor is certainly no surprise. Corporate America spends millions specifically on presentation training. Deloitte recently reported that corporate training grew 15% in 2013 to over $70 Billion in the US, and fortune 500 companies are spending an average of $5,000 on training per salesperson.
What I have learned from my own presentation experiences and from various training events is that if you want to be believable; you cannot hold back. How many of us have watched people who seem to have the right idea about a motion, hand-gesture, or exaggeration, but then seem to pull back at the last minute. The audience sees this as disingenuous. Perhaps we don't even know we do it, but subconsciously, we immediately assume the presenter doesn't really believe what they are saying.
I've had the same personal experience. When I was not actually convinced of the information I was presenting, I hesitated, I hedged, I stuttered. When I am confident and have fully embraced the information I am presenting, something amazing happens to me...I lose myself. I forget about being self-conscious and about the presentation and focus on my audience's response to the information I am providing. The beauty of this is that my listeners actual begin to engage, and the result is often more dialogue and less monologue.
Of course, there are plenty of do's and don't for presentations, and you can find them all over the web and in many publications. Forbes has an entire series of articles about presentations on their website. Here's a great one from Communispond, a company whose training I have actual attended: The Only Way To Prepare To Give A Presentation via @forbes
But with all the quality training and tips available, at the end of the day you must be believable to be accepted. For that to happen, you must first believe the information yourself. Then you must go all-in. Don't hold back. Make your gestures large, and be bold. Speak loudly, smile, show confidence, and you will win.

Monday, September 1, 2014

After Labor Day - A Race to the Finish

Labor Day always strikes me like the bell going off as the runners reach the last lap on their way to the finish line. Two-thirds of the year are over. One-Third remains. Time enough to make real progress, but focus is the key to getting the most out of these last four months of the year.
So, what should you do? Here are four (4) suggestions to help you get the most out of your effort before the year has slipped away:

1) Invest in new promotional efforts. Your customers are facing the same year-end assessment and now is the time to remind them of the value of your products and services. An intentional sales and marketing push at this point could generate year-end business and set your organization up for a profitable New Year. Generate a list of existing customers who could be buying more from you. Can you put together a trial program for them? Perhaps it is time to follow up on customers who have taken their business elsewhere. Are they satisfied with their new supplier? Can you entice them back with an added value program? In addition, many companies are looking at spending year-end money or have begun their budgeting process for next year. The time to get in front of these customers is now!

2) Investigate New Technology. While technology won't fix a broken process, often the evaluation and subsequent implementation of new technology can be a catalyst to refining and repairing processes. These efforts will pay dividends long into the future and now is the time to begin looking at how you can improve your organization's effectiveness and productivity. What processes need better aligned? What 80/20 activities should be part of your going-forward strategy? Can you implement technology to deliver a better product or service for your customers?

3) Work on your Team Culture. Is your team firing on all cylinders? Do individual objectives align with the organization? Is there conflict? How well is your team communicating? Collaborating? Sharing? At the end of the day, the individuals in your team are responsible for the culture of your organization. Does your team execute well? Do they plan well? Do they communicate well? So they support one another? At Industrial Solutions, we are spending the next few months helping business leaders and organizations focus on Building Better Teams @ Work. This exercise could be a critical factor for your future.

4) Embrace the Strategic Planning Process. If you aren't already working on your next strategic plan, you should be. Now is the time to get serious about looking at your future. Have you completed your internal and external analysis/assessment? Establishing key objectives for the next phase of your business is critical to your success. Identify the critical factors that impact your business. Assess the 5 key drivers that contribute to Healthy Organizations. Many business owners tend to have a general idea about what they want to accomplish, but haven’t take the time to write-it-down, set goals, or share these goals with others. You should do all three!! There is great power in writing down your goals and verbally sharing these with your team, your partners, your family.

December 31st is just a few months away!My Suggestion: Pick at least one of these to work on and follow through. On December 31st when you look back on the year, the steps you take now could be the most powerful ones you take this year. Make the most of your time!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Building Great Teams @ Work

Industrial Solutions recently teamed up with WellSpirit Consulting Group, Inc. to deliver a workshop entitled, "Building Great Teams @ Work". The workshop emphasizes a critical element in building a Healthy Organization.  According to Drs. Jeff and Renee Hale, there are 5 drivers to healthy organizations beginning with being customer centered and building a culture where leaders are committed and employees are caring.  Healthy Organizations are also marked by having effectively connected their people and processes in a way that ensures they are generating sustainable cash flow and profitability.

Building a healthy organizational culture or re-engineering a troubling culture begins with establishing a common purpose but requires effective communication, trust, and  teamwork. 

One of the highly valuable tools in building strong and effective teams, growing leaders and enhancing organizational development, is the DiSC Workplace and DiSC Leadership profiles.  DiSC profiles are a center-piece of our new workshop and provide tools and methods for establishing a great team.

Here's some questions to ask as you seek to enhance your team's effectiveness:

1) Do we have a common set of objectives and are individual objectives aligned with the organizational objectives?
2) Are there team members who feel left out of the discussion? Do we have trouble getting everyone on the same page?
3) Does our team exhibit honest and open communication? Do team members trust one another and are they willing to be vulnerable, to tell the truth, to buck the status quo?
4) Are we making progress? Does my team know how to execute? Do we get things done?

One of my former bosses used to talk about degrees of dysfunction.  He compared it to a family. When the day comes to begin remodeling the bathroom, will anyone be surprised, or will everyone know this is happening?  Even if they know it is happening, can everyone describe the changes? Do we know the timetable, the color scheme, whether we are painting or papering?

Effective organizations focus on key objectives, share them often, align their people and processes around these objectives and continually reinforce these objectives by regularly meeting and tracking the critical factors that can most impact their success.

Take the first step in building a great team. Work on communication, secure agreement about key objectives, build an action plan, and monitor your critical factors.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Setting Goals - Strive to ASPIRE

Hard to believe that we are already into the 2nd month of 2014.  Literally 1/12 of the year is already past.  I don't know about you, but that is a bit frightening to me.  Perhaps the biggest reason is that I've just barely started nailing down my goals for the year.  Like many of you, I am sure that you've worked through your strategic plan and established your Annual Operating Budget.  You've probably already determined what gaps in your business need filled, and maybe even established big picture objectives.  If you are ahead of me, you've already worked with your direct reports on setting goals for the year.  If you are like me, you've barely set your own, let alone insured that your entire team has done this work.

Goal setting takes time and some solid thinking.  There are many methods for setting goals and many frameworks for how to ensure they are "good" goals.  SMART is the acronym used by many.  Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  I have always thought that it seems a bit contradictory to set Annual Goals and consider them "timely", but I do know that I've often worked with people who set goals to accomplish things which require far too many events outside of their control to fall into place in order for them to even get started.  Obviously these are not good goals.

While a quick google search will identify a lot of resources about what makes for a good goal, I'd like to share a process which I believe will help to establish clear and effective goals.

The acronym I use is ASPIRE.  1) Assess your circumstances.  Just like Nehemiah did when he first arrived in Jerusalem (see my comments in Don't "Just Do Something."), we need to fully survey the current state of affairs and insure a thorough understanding.  2) Specify the future outcome.  We need to imagine and identify the future state we want.  The clearer we are about how we want things to be, the better.  3) Plan your action steps.  Establishing an action plan is critical to successfully accomplishing our goals.  These plans should clearly define what will be done, who will do it, and by when.  There must be a single person responsible for seeing the tasks completed and each person involved must understand their tasks.  4) Implement your action plan.  It is not enough to plan, we must execute our plan.  sooner than later, we must act.  We cannot plan for every possible situation, and we will never have all the information we need, but we must still proceed.  Moving forward to implement our plans cannot be delayed.  5) Report the status.  It is not what is expected that gets done, but what is inspected.  Regular reporting on the status is imperative to seeing progress.  This should include establishing an accountability plan for each member of your team.  If the goal is personal, then you should tell someone about the goal and arrange for this person to ask you about it regularly.  Reporting the status, good or bad, is a must if you are to reach your goals.  And 6) Evaluate.  If you have established regular reporting/check-up periods, then you will have time for proper course correction and thorough evaluation of how well you are executing your plans.  In addition, this step provides opportunities for reassessing the current state.  Perhaps before reaching your goal, the external circumstances have changed.  If so, this will require that you revisit your action plans.

Using this method of Assessing the current state, specifying the future outcome, planning your action steps, implementing your plan, reporting your status, and evaluating the results will allow you to get to successfully accomplish your goals.  Once you're there, don't forget to Celebrate.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Tenacity - A key to success

Heard about the importance of tenacity today - at Church.  Not that I'm surprised, but I wonder if others were.  Seems to me we need more talk about tenacity.  We don't use the word much, but I suspect that many of you teach this to your kids - we do.  Sometimes I call it stick-to-it-ive-ness, which is actually in the dictionary.  We tell our kids to finish what they've started, to hold on long enough to get through it, to not give up, to work hard, quitters never win.  But somewhere along the way we are apt to forget it ourselves.  We decide its easier to just go along, to take the easy way, that we're just too tired, or "you can't fight city hall".

Genesis, Chapter 32, records the account of Jacob wrestling with God and we have the benefit of learning about holding on and not letting go. Jacob's wrestling comes at a time when he fears the future.  He's about to return home after 20 years and he is afraid that his big brother, Esau, will not be pleased, to say the least.  Jacob's between a rock and a hard place, God has told him to go home and he will prosper, but all he can think about is the danger and risk.

I suppose that's true for most of us.  Often times success alludes us because of fear.  We've heard from the Lord, we've built a plan, we've charted a course, we've set the stage. But then thoughts of the journey overwhelm us, or we are afraid to confront because we need the support, or we are hesitant to realign the organization, or to say no to something because we don't want too much disruption.  Fear of making a mistake can get in the way of our own success.  At times like this, a leader must be tenacious.  Hold the course, launch the product, implement the change, address the issues.  Don't shy away from the hard things, don't give up, don't take the easy way, finish what you've started, don't lose heart.  Blessing/Prosperity/Success comes after the struggle.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NewTown's Moment of Silence, an opportunity to speak

Dec 21, 2012....Heart-wrenching.  That's about the only word I have to describe my response to the images of weeping and sorrow I saw on television yesterday and this morning. Parents and classmates, neighbors and friends saying goodbye to children who left too soon.

I've watched the political comments from friends, strangers, politicians and commentators. Like you, I've cheered some and been horrified by others.  I am appalled by those who use the tragic loss of life to push a political agenda, whether gun control or prayer In schools.

The reality is that God cannot be kept from any place. His Spirit moves like the wind. We cannot keep Him out of schools.  I cannot say I've fully agreed with any of the comments I've heard, though I certainly appreciate some. If you haven't heard Huckabee's commentary, it is worth a listen, and the poem "'11 DaysBefore Christmas" by Cameo Smith is moving.

I'm struck by the thought that up against all this talk of evil, calls for new laws, and hurting, broken families, is the celebration of Christmas.  And while the nation participates in a moment of silence for the victims of this tragic shooting today, I believe it is time for Christian believers to be speaking.  Today and over the course of the next few days, many will be hurting, others will be asking questions, and looking for answers.  Breaking through the clutter and noise requires determination and patience, but people are listening. They need to hear of a heavenly Father would understands the lost of a child. They need to be introduced to a Lord who had compassion on those who were seeking physical and emotional healing and answers to life's difficult questions.  They need to know of a Savior who sacrificed his own life for those He loved.

May we speak with confidence of God's love which he so greatly lavished upon us.  May we pray with confidence that the Comforter is here to minister to those in need. And may we comfort the hurting with the comfort with which we ourselves have been comforted.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Setting Expectations

Greetings.  I am back from vacation - had a really nice time in Florida with my wife and kids.  While we had some interesting weather (tornados and storms), we also had some absolutely beautiful days.  Of course, I learned more from the stormy days than the sunny ones...isn't that how life is?  But that's for another blog day.

Anyway, we had some challenges as a family during the stormy days.  Much of it having to do with life not meeting our expectations.  I was thinking about this over the last few days and was reminded today about something that Paul wrote in his letter to the church in Philippi.  In the first chapter of this letter, Paul says that he can't decide whether it is better that he live or die.  He is focused on doing everything he can to be useful.  To use whatever the day brings.  Seems we could learn something about that.  Paul is able to find joy even while in prison.  Glad that the prison guard knows he's there for his faith.  Glad that it is an encouragement to others to be bold about their faith.  Amazing to me when I think that we allow a bit of bad weather to change our attitude.  Sunny - Happy, Rainy - Bummed.  I'm victim to this as much as anyone, but what I am reminded of is the fact that we shouldn't let our circumstances change our attitude, drive, determination.

In my business I am currently facing some challenges due to the unrest in the middle east.  Frustrating.  Disappointing.  Disheartening.  But should it be?  I think that allowing my circumstances to be disheartening is where I start to miss the mark.

Part of overcoming this is to do a better job of setting and managing expectations.  Now, I am not suggesting that we set the bar so low that anything is better than our expectation.  A defeatist attitude is not what I am advocating.  What I am suggesting is that we set our objectives and build our action plans based on what we can best determine will happen.  Build in some contingencies, and then move forward, confident that if we work our plan, we will have put ourselves in the best possible position for success.  Sure there will be set-backs and unexpected challenges, but with this attitude, we should be able to quickly assess the situation, lean into our pre-determined contingencies, and adjust.

Road blocks, economic conditions, and storms of all kinds, shouldn't affect our attitude or add stress to our lives.  Planning ahead, recognizing those things outside of our control, and setting reasonable expectations, is the key to a enjoyable and joyful life...and vacation too.