Monday, October 20, 2014

Focus, Focus, Focus

As many who start up a company begin with a great idea, with a laser focus; it seems as soon as you get started, you start to get distracted by other priorities, or begin adding additional features or strategies for no apparent reason other than to please as many people as possible. As Bill Cosby once said, "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone."

With that in mind, there is a great Hindu epic from the 3,500-year-old Mahabharata, one of the three sacred texts of Hindu, that tells of a story about the five Pandava brothers: Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.

These brother where the great warriors of ancient India, and one in particular, Arjuna, has a fantastic story of purpose and calling in the Bhagavad Gita. But that is another story.  In any case, this story begins with the brothers' archery teacher's instruction on aim and targeting. The master ties a wooden fish to a tree branch over a basin of water. The master tells the Pandava brothers that they must shoot the fish's eye with their bow and arrow but only by looking at the fish from the reflection in the basin of water.

The eldest brother, Yudhisthira, goes first. Before aiming his bow and arrow, the master stops and asks him "Yudhisthira what do you see?" Yudhisthira says, "I see the sky, I see the birds and the fish."

The master asks Yudhisthira to not draw his bow and go and sit down.

Then the master calls upon Bhima, the second eldest son. Again he asks the question, "Bhima, what do you see?" Bhima says, "I see the tree, the branches, the leaves and the fish."

Once again the master asks Bhima to sit down.

Finally, it is Arjuna's turn.

Arjuna steps forward, positions himself with his bow and arrow above the basin, and the master asks him, "Arjuna what do you see?" Arjuna responds by saying, "I see only the fish's eye." The master tells Arjuna, "Then draw you bow my son, and shoot."

The point of this story is that when you are distracted like the first two brothers by other things, you cannot possibly hit your target. Arjuna knew that, and when he looked into the water all he saw was the fish's eye and that is all he aimed for.

In all things, we often get distracted by people, events, family dramas, and situations that do not really matter and take us away from the work and goal at hand. If you are doing a startup, this is critically important! If you do not focus on the 'fish eye' of you goals, you will waste valuable time, effort, and resources. You will oscillate between one task to another, essentially accomplishing little or nothing. Focus only on your fish eye, do not admire the fish even if that is the goal you want. This wisdom has been around for ages, and is as appropriate today as it was 3,500 years ago. I hope you heed it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Anatomy of a Startup

While starting a company has never been easier, the same facts still remain.  Most close in six months, and only about 10% will ever get to a break even state.  Still, here are some interesting facts about tech startups (hardware, software or internet based). First, most are started by 1 or 2 people; second they spend less than $1,000 per month on development, and if they make it past 9 months, have a good chance of making it a year.  I hope the infographic below adds some additional light on the subject.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Life is a Train Ride (Perspective)

We often ponder why we are here and what is our purpose.  What is it for and why certain people come and leave or lives while others become what I consider hold dear and I call “friend.” I think this story might help with how to see life as a train ride. 

Life is like a journey on a train...with its stations...changes of routes...and accidents!

At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel by our side.

However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone….but not quite.

As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Some will move to a another car for awhile and come back. Others will go so unnoticed we don't realize they left their seats!

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hurts, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells.

Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers...requiring that we give the best of ourselves because we are all on this ride together.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way - love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are, including giving up our seat if necessary.

It’s important because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty -- we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life without us.

I wish you a joyful journey for the coming years on your train of life. Reap success, give lots of love and be happy.

More importantly, be thankful for the journey and enjoy the view!

Lastly, if you happen be on this train with me, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Capitalism with Cows

Although we in the US believer our brand of capitalism is the best in the world, other countries actually practice a form a capitalism that is right for them.  I thought to show how, an explanation of how the rest of the world sees capitalism using cows as a metaphor would be in order. I hope this makes you more internationally aware of how Adam Smith's invisible hand is a work.

- You have two cows.
- You sell one and buy a bull.
- Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.
- You sell them and retire on the income.

- You have two cows.
- You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Sell one cow to buy influence with a new president of the United States, leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public buys your bull.

- You have two cows.
- You sell one, accept an LAW tax promised credit payable in 4 year’s time, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.
- You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

- You have two cows.
- You go on strike because you want three cows.

- You have two cows.
- You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce 20 times the milk
- You then create clever cow cartoon images called Cowkimon and market them worldwide.

- You have two cows.
- You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

- You have two cows.
- Both are mad.

- You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are.
- You break for lunch.

- You have two cows.
- You count them and learn you have five cows.
- You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.
- You count them again and learn you have 12 cows.
- You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

- You have 5000 cows, none of which belong to you.
- You charge others for storing them.

- You have two cows.
- You have 300 people milking them.
- You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.

- You have two cows.
- That one on the left is kinda cute…

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Saleman's Litmus Test

If your goal is to become a great company or even improve your existing one, every employee in you company should be able to “sell” the product or service that you are merchandising. Since that is usually not the case, you are forced to hire sales people to help implement the objectives laid out by upper management.

A national study indicated that less than 3% of the population has an inherent penchant for sales, and as much as 50% of all salespeople really do not know how to sell. During my 20 odd years in sales, I have hired, worked with, and observed great sales people (yes, both men and women). Being the observant type and believing in best practices, I have complied a listing of questions you should ask any salesperson before you hire them, and should use this Litmus Test to review of your existing sales force to determine whether to keep them or cut them loose.  I hope you find it useful.

Psyching Out the Test: People always try to answer questions the way they think you want them to. You need to 'listen for' answers that someone trying to trick you wouldn't usually predict. You also want to hear specifics, examples, and details. If there are specifics, then it lets you know right off the bat if there's anything worth pursuing. You can give 2 points if they ace this part in general.

Icebreaker: The first four questions loosen up the candidate and set the tone for the entire interview: the interviewer asks questions, and the candidate talks -- a lot. There needs to be a question that focuses on values, attitudes, and ability to communicate. Questions include: Tell me where you would like to be in 5 years? Tell a little about yourself? Tell me you biggest success (the one you are most proud of)? Tell me your biggest failure (one you would do over)? 2 Points for top respondents

Target Behaviors: These 5 questions (2 points each) are designed to reveal the behavioral trait or attitude and tend to be particularly good gauges of success in our organization. They are worth 2 points each if they have them. Here are those personality traits or types and the questions used to gauge them: (1) Assertor: Is the person a doer? (2) Persuader: Can the person persuade a customer? (3) Values: Is the person honest and trustworthy? (4) Relater: Does the person get along with others, and can he or she build long-term relationships? (5) Ego: Does the person have self-regard and a high confidence level but NOT at the expense of being arrogant?

Measuring Integrity: You want candidates who have already had their ethics put to the test. Only two questions address values directly, but all questions are designed to reveal whether a candidate is trustworthy. Question: “What was the hardest ethical dilemma you faced, and what would you have done differently?” This is an important question and it should be weighted at 5 points.

Winning Isn't the Only Thing - But Wanting to Win Is: Look for people who want to win every situation they approach. Remember, in a sales environment there can be six other sales representatives in the lobby, selling products identical to yours. Sales is a gladiator business, and you must win more battles than you lose. Questions: “Tell me your biggest sales success? Name me the person you see yourself as in a movie? Whom would you most consider your role model?” What do you that would be considered unique to your style to close a deal? This one is on a scale of 0 to 4.

Measuring Motivation: You don't need a degree in sales to get this answer right. Look for the word 'money' in this answer. Steer clear of big talkers in favor of careful listeners. Score either a 3 or zero if money is NOT mentioned.

Powers of Persuasion: Ask the question, “Tell me how you can convince someone who does not want your product to buy your product?” This is a classic sales-interview question, but the answers will tell you a lot about how developed a person's persuasive powers are. To a seasoned businessperson, the desired answer, 'By asking questions and finding a need,' may be obvious, but to a green kid out of college, it's not. Many times a person will say, 'I'll cut the prospect a deal.' That answer is wrong! Great answers get 4 points, less if they are not persuasive.

Looking for a Relationship-based Salesperson: You want to see if a candidate can develop long-term customer relationships and work with others easily. A good question is: Tell me how you can get repeat business? 2 Points if this is a swish.

Doers' Profiles: According to traditional sales-psychology books, there are four types of people: Doers, Talkers, Pacers, and Controllers. Not surprisingly, Doers make the best salespeople. Doers will respond to this question aggressively. They have no doubt that if their integrity was questioned, they would be upset, and they would be emphatic about it. A strong value system forces a strong response to the question. It indicates that the candidate is the take-charge type of individual you are looking for. Persistence ia the #1 characteristic of a doer. A good question is: “Do you like working in a group or on your own? How do you handle stress (give an example)?” 4 points it they are a doer, 2 for controllers, 0 for everything else.

The Essence of Selling: It is very hard to change someone's mind, that's what a salesperson must do on almost every call. Selling comes down to providing people not with something they don't need, but with something they didn't know they needed. (read my “You Don’t Know what You Don’t Know post) Question: “Tell me when you were able to convince someone to see your point of view that at first did not?” 3 points for a good answer, but you can rate from 0 to 3.

Measuring Maturity: You would be surprised how many candidates draw an absolute blank on this question. This is a goals oriented question. Look for some honest, clear thinking here -- some sign of maturity and goal orientation. Questions: “How do you prioritize your day? What are your long-term goals? Have you been successful so far?” Maturity is not everything, but it will get you 1 point.

Profits Come First:  Ok this is a big one.  This is to find out if a salesperson knows how important profits are.  The question is this: If you could sell $100 million worth of goods and make $10 million in profits, or sell $2 million and make $1 million, which would you choose?  If they choose $100 million, the get 2 points, $2 million 8 points. Now, to get two more points,they have to tell you why selling $2 million is better... It has to do with selling $100 is really, really hard, and you are making ONLY 10%, and if you sell $85 million you not make anything.  Profit MARGIN is what is important, not revenues... and a great salesman will know this. 

Sum up what you got, if the total is under 40, let the candidate walk, and if you took the test and got under 40, you better start brushing up on your selling skills. Sales is a full contact sport, and if you are not cut out for it, find another job that can better use your skill set whatever it may be.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes

As you know, I am a big fan of quotations as I believe they are like pearls of wisdom handed down through the ages that we can wear and that can sustain us in difficult times.  Like little beacons of light to remind us about what we should or could do.

So, when an Elementary School Teacher presented each child in her first grade classroom the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb some incredibly random wisdom occurred. It is hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6 & 7-year-old’s!

1. Don't change horses until they stop running.

2. Strike while the bug is close.

3. It's always darkest before Daylight Saving Time.

4. Never underestimate the power of termites.

5.. You can lead a horse to water but how?

6. Don't bite the hand that looks dirty.

7. No news is impossible

8. A miss is as good as a Mr.

9. You can't teach an old dog new math.

10. If you lie down with dogs, you'll stink in the morning.

11. Love all, trust me.

12. The pen is mightier than the pigs.

13. An idle mind is the best way to relax.

14. Where there's smoke there's pollution.

15. Happy the bride who gets all the presents.

16. A penny saved is not much.

17. Two's company, three's the Musketeers.

18. Don't put off till tomorrow what you put on to go to bed.

19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you have to blow your nose.

20. There are none so blind as Stevie Wonder.

21. Children should be seen and not spanked or grounded.

22. If at first you don't succeed get new batteries.

23. You get out of something only what you see in the picture on the box.

24. When the blind lead the blind get out of the way.

25. A bird in the hand is going to poop on you.

26. Better late than pregnant.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Business of Marriage (humor)

While I am a big fan of Marriage, sadly in our modern age, it has become more about entering into a business contract that the blissful relationship of love.  And, since many now see it as a business I thought I would list some marriage wisdom, so to speak.   

You can stay single and be miserable, or get married and wish you were dead.
At a cocktail party, one woman said to another,
'Aren't you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?'
'Yes, I am. I married the wrong man.'

A lady inserted an ad in the classifieds:
'Husband Wanted'.
Next day she received a hundred letters.
They all said the same thing:
'You can have mine.'

When a woman steals your husband,
there is no better revenge than to let her keep him.

A woman is incomplete until she is married. Then she is finished .
A little boy asked his father,
'Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?'
Father replied, 'I don't know son, I'm still paying.'

A young son asked,
'Is it true Dad, that in some parts of Africa
a man doesn't know his wife until he marries her?'
Dad replied, 'That happens in every country, son.'

Then there was a woman who said,
'I never knew what real happiness was until I got married,
and by then, it was too late.'

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
If you want your spouse to listen and
pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep.

Just think, if it weren't for marriage, men would go through life thinking they had no faults at all.
First guy says, 'My wife's an angel!'
Second guy remarks, 'You're lucky, mine's still alive.'

'A Woman's Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray for: Wisdom, to understand a man, to Love and to forgive him, and for patience, for his moods. Because Lord, if I pray for Strength I'll just beat him to death'



Husband and wife are waiting at the bus stop with their nine children. A blind man joins them after a few minutes. When the bus arrives, they find it overloaded and only the wife and the nine kids are able to fit onto the bus.

So the husband and the blind man decide to walk. After a while, the husband gets irritated by the ticking of the stick of the blind man as he taps it on the sidewalk, and says to him, 'Why don't you put a piece of rubber at the end of your stick? That ticking sound is driving me crazy.'

The blind man replies, 'If you had put a rubber at the end of YOUR stick, we'd be riding the bus, so shut the hell up.'

Footnote: For all those happily married, blessings and love to you, for all the rest of us, I know you understand!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fortune Cookie of Persistence

There are many things or factors that can determine a person’s success or failure, but one thing that cuts across EVERY successful person I have met or read about or studied is perseverance, persistence, stick-to-itiveness, and determination. As I say, "Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. The desire and ability to press on has and always will solve the problems of the human race and divide those who achieve from those who might have been."

Incredibly, this ONE characteristic is really what makes a true entrepreneur as testimony to these little factoids:
  • Coca-Cola only sold twenty five (25) bottles in its first year of business! They grossed $50.0 and spent $73.96 on merchandising. But they kept on going an never gave up, and nowadays the sell more than one billion bottle per day!
  • Apple Computer co-founder offered the computer design to Hewlett-Packard five times and was rejected by both HP and Atari (the giant at the time) for acquisition.
  • A lawyer, Chester Carlson, had an idea about using photoelectric materials to print objects without water, and persevered for over 28 years to get xerography developed and was rejected along the way by IBM and General Electric. 
  • Henry Ford, yes, THE Henry Ford had to claim bankruptcy 5 times before he got it right, and created a company that dominated the industry for 50 years!
Yes, perseverance, that never-give-up attitude, is what makes achievers from dreamers. It is amazing how many people give up just after the first set back, but those brave souls who keep going, often end up on the other side of success.

So, what I have done is listed fortune cookie fortunes on not giving up below for your enjoyment. Pick one or a dozen that apply:

· You don’t quit trying when you lose; you lose when you quit trying.
· People never fail at anything, they just give up.
· There is no future in saying it cannot be done.
· The Will is as important as the Skill.
· He who does not hope to win has already lost.
· The is no defeat except in no longer trying
· Race to the finish..or walk to the finish..just finish.
· Quitters never win, and winners never quit.
· Trying times are no time to quit trying.
· A person without determination is like a knife without an edge.
· In most cases IQ is not as important as I will.
· You cannot get or go anywhere unless you start.
· When you think something cannot be done, watch someone do it.
· When you give up on your dream, you most likely will end up working for someone who did not give up on theirs.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The 10 Commandments of Hypergrowth

Hypergrowth is when a company has 5 or more years of 40% plus growth year after year. This is a very rare, and usually unsustainable situation, but believe it or not, any company can achieve this if they just plan and organize for it.

Yes, not all companies will experience hypergrowth, but it is not because they cannot, it is because they did not PREPARE for it. I could not imagine any championship team or athlete NOT preparing to be a champion; of not working everyday to win the cup, or series, or world title? Amazingly, most companies that do not experience hypergrowth never see themselves has champions.

So, how do you prepare you and your company for hypergrowth? I have listed 10 Commandments which at a minimum will set you on the path to hypergrowth, and yes, it goes for high tech and traditional companies as well.

I. Set a Big, No Humongous, Goal

As Marianne Williamson is quoted as saying, “Playing small doesn't serve the world in any way.” Companies need a real mission and make it simple, clear and above all audacious. Remember the moon mission President Kennedy prescribed? Whatever it is you do, make sure you goal involves being the top player in whatever category you go for. Whatever you do, do not make a mission statement that is just a bunch of words that sound nice, but do not really SAY anything. Once you have that mission statement, put it on every company document. Mention it every time you get the chance, and most importantly make sure you employees have bought into it as well. As I say, “If you cannot see it, you cannot be it.” No one or nothing great EVER happened without there first being some outlandish goal, and then seeing and believing you could get there.

II. Grow Your Talent…

And this starts with leadership. "Great leadership makes ordinary people into extraordinary people." Remember that! Ordinary companies can get by with ordinary people, the kind who do their jobs and go home. Hypergrowth companies need extraordinary people, the kind who work their tails off in pursuit of growth. The best way to find them is first be the leader that can take ordinary people and make them superstars.

Oh, and believe it or not it is not about skills or talent, it is about attitude. Make sure your employees have the right attitude to grow, change, and over time excel. In most cases, these people will tend to be a bit younger, but you do not want just “wet behind the ears” employees. The test of a great leader is if they can also make old dogs do new tricks.

III. You Can Never Have Enough Training

Have you ever wondered why the call what doctors and lawyers do practicing? The are ALWAYS in training! High-speed growth requires people who not only work hard but work effectively, and that means that they are going to learn and master new skills, and that means training. It does not matter if your sales people have twenty years of experience, or are fresh out of school Things change, and they are always going to need training!

Usually the best way to train “newbies” is to team them up with a mentor, a person who is a bit more senior and does not feel threatened by hotshots. Have as MUCH formal training as possible done “off site” and leave the electronics back at the office. You are going to spend a lot of money on training, but in the end, the dividends will be tremendous in productivity, return on effort, and employee satisfaction

IV. Do Not Starve Opportunities

Make sure ALL your employees have the best tools to do their jobs, and these tools improve all the time. You will always need better systems as your business starts to grow AND change. As Wayne Gretzky said, ”You want to be where the puck is going to be,” so that means always planning and playing for the future. Hypergrowth companies are always shooting at a moving target. One LARGE potential problem will be that the more successful your fired up team gets, the more likely they will get bogged down in paperwork or needless procedural dogma. Make sure this does not happen!

Give everyone in the sales process, from the salesman to order fulfillment, tools to allow them to make decisions on the spot and NOT have to wait for management to OK something. Yes, sometimes they will make a mistake, but the will NEVER lose a customer for it. Having EVERYBODY connected makes it easier for people to make the right decision right when a customer needs it, not after the customer has left.

V. The CEO Focuses on Growth -- Everyone Else on Profits

The job of the CEO is to focus on growth and strategy, but in order to be successful; the CEO is going to have to instill the fact that profitability is the MOST important thing to the company. Better to sell $2 million and make $1 million, than to sell $100 million and make $10 million. If you do not understand why this is true, you need to go back to school. Make sure profitability, how you make money and where the profits come from, is ingrained into the bone and sinew of everyone in your company. With this knowledge you will be surprised on how many great ideas come from the rank and file on how to improve profitability. Make sure you implement them and reward the individual for speaking up! Also, measure and reward organizations for their profitability, and create contests and teams to make it so.

VI. Exchange Equity for Cash

Most likely, if you are a fast-growing company, you will most likely look like a company that is losing money. Boy, does that make banks nervous.

Your banker will always be nervous, so just accept it. The downside is that you will always be in danger of losing his credit lines. "They'd say, you got to slow down.' You’ll say, 'I can't.' But I will try to build up enough equity so you’ll be comfortable.

They best way to do this is to set up a formal employee stock ownership plan, which enables your employees to buy stock with before-tax dollars. They can participate through payroll deductions of up to 10% of their salaries, matched in varying (and discretionary) degrees by the company. This way you can exchange REAL cash for employee ownership and in the early years make your dollars stretch a lot further. In a sense, your employees are now your investors as well.

VII. Have Fun!

Hypergrowth is hard and is serious work, full of stress and unforeseen problems. People work long hours and get run down all the time. Many will quit either because they do not fit your corporate culture, or do not buy into your vision, or cannot handle the pressure. That is OK, make sure you treat the all with dignity and respect. Remember, they can stills say either nice or hurtful things about your company.

Anyway, just because you are doing daunting work, does not mean you cannot have a lot of fun doing it too. That is why you have to make recreation a central element of your corporate culture.

Have annual picnics, organized by region, if you have them, which takes everyone to a distant resort for two or three days of fun, including a popular branch-against-branch tournament that boasts T-shirts and trophies. Have a four-day national sales meeting that sports golf or skiing and other games as well as the national playoffs. Take the corporate staff on half-day excursions once a quarter -- to Key West for a lobster dinner, or to the beach for surfing instruction, or to a rink for in-line skating.

What makes your company different from other have-a-good-time companies, though, is that you also want people to enjoy themselves while they are working. At the easiest way to do that is just change the surroundings.

Have staff and Profit / Loss meetings at some recreational site – like at a bowling alley, another at the local ballpark, or at an amusement park. You can have fun with playing corporate Family Feud or Jeopardy!

Each month's contest can focus on a different business subject. One month’s topic can be the bonus program; other can be purchasing and inventory, customer service, and the balance sheet. Teams prepare for the game by studying "hint sheets" posted at the branch. Winners get points toward such prizes as jackets and watches.

In a way the these activities are just and an extension of an approach that expects people not just to work hard but also to understand the business, and reward them for their knowledge. You can randomly just ask employees questions from the book of 100 Corporate Facts, and if an employee gets it right, give the $100! Remember, be generous and have fun!

VIII. Avoid Bureaucracy and Politics

"A committee is a cul-de-sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."
--Sir Barnett Cocks
Policy manuals, endless meetings, countless memos, and volumes of rules and regulations could stall hypergrowth. Still, you cannot run a hypergrowth company like a small business. Yes, there has to be uniformity and discipline within and among different departments and divisions in your company, but that is not to say that it need be so rigid as to be stifling.

Remember, you are trying to create a seamless team, and teamwork does not come from a manual, but from leaders..and those leaders start from the top and go all the way down to the rank and file.

Also, be on constant guard of people “guarding their turf” and playing politics. Yes, we are all human, and sometimes feel threaten. It is the job of the CEO to let everyone know we are a team, and sometimes, you will be asked to do something for the team to help EVERYBODY win. Make sure you reward and recognize that player for going outside their comfort level

There are other ways to get people marching to the same music, such as the President’s Tour. Periodically, you can visit each department or branch unannounced, to do an inspection. Are there pictures of employees on the walls? Check. Are the facilities clean? Check. Are service levels up to standard? Check. There are 100 things that are the right way to do business. Either you do it or you do not. If it is done do, they get a check mark. Make it a game and give recognition for great scores, and have a ribbon or banner made that states so.

IX. Share the Wealth

From day one, you need a mindset that you are all about sharing the wealth. In order to achieve hypergrowth, you are going to need everyone pulling their oars hard, and the payoff of hypergrowth is substantial wealth.

Not only do you need a widespread stock ownership plan where all of your employees will understand that they will get a chance to share in the wealth if they stick around, you will also need a bonus program to reward superior performance or achieving profit levels. That knowledge, in turn, lets you run a high-performance operation without too much turnover. High turnover results in lower profits and sales.

X. Foster Leadership

Leadership is a talent that amplifies any other skill set a person might have. Leadership is not always about being a leader, but about fostering teamwork, cooperation, and service. Yes, when a person is then called to be a leader, having leadership skills with help them excel in whatever they are doing.

With hypergrowth there is going to be plenty of opportunities for leaders to be developed and needed. If you are growing revenues 40% a year, you have to grow people 80% a year, and the only way to do that is to develop their leadership abilities..

As a word of caution: Not all top talent is cut out to be a leader. Just because someone might be a superstar on the court of football field, does not make them an outstanding coach.

There are many characteristics in leadership, and in a previous blog I list John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I find in picking a good leader, the 3 most important ones in maintaining hypergrowth are the desire to serve, the desire to empower others, and the desire for victory. You will know when a person becomes a leader, and the ONLY way your company will ever achieve hypergrowth, and growing the leaders within.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

24 Social Life Hacks to Success

We all want to be more successful, or popular, or liked, or have a greater sense of belonging. As such there is a very robust industry self-help industry which includes seminars, webinars, books, tapes, videos…the list is endless? Why? Because deep down, we all want to feel important, and know we cannot do that by ourselves (hum, sounds like a quotation)..

None the less, I have posted what is now called life hacks that have been practiced by successful people for years. A lot of them have to do with ‘body language’ and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.’ These small shifts in behavior or awareness will give you greater control of potentially important outcomes, from everyday situations to stressful job interviews. Of course, do not stop reading books on how to win friends and influence people, but at least this list gives you some sure fired tips to deploy now.

1. Primacy and recency: people most remember the first and last things to occur, and barely the middle.

When scheduling an interview, ask what times the employer is interviewing and try to be first or last. There was a lengthy study done about paroles in Israel, and guess what, seems that the people got paroled more often first thing in the morning and right after lunch…so, yes, fatigue plays a role too. Better to be first than last.

2. Once you make the sales pitch, don't say anything else.

This works in sales, but it can also be applied in other ways. I have sold billions of dollars worth of high tech product and after I do my pitch and explain their benefits, I just shut up (actually, something that is really, really, really hard for me to do). Although this seems like a really small thing to do, actually works. Often there were long periods of awkward silence as the person tried to come up with some excuse why they did not need the product, but usually they bought and bought it at full price.

3. If you ask someone a question and they only partially answer, just wait.

You have heard the expression, ‘Silence is Golden,’ well if applies here too. If you stay silent and keep eye contact they will usually continue talking. Remember, most people love to hear themselves talk, so by ALL means let them. If you are doing the talking, you are not learning anything new.

4. Chew gum when you are going into a situation that would make you nervous.

We all get nervous at times, but some things like public speaking or bungee jumping or asking someone out on a date, make us REALLY nervous. Our brains are funny things. If we are eating, something in our brain reasons 'I would not be eating if I were danger. So I'm not in danger'. Though some people think it is rude to chew gum, so it anyway, but be as discrete as possible. While I tend not to have nerves, I know it has help others I know remain calm a few times.

5. People will remember not what you said but how you made them feel.

This is just “How to Win Friends and Influence People” 101. Remember, people LOVE talking about themselves, so ask lots of questions about them. And remember, do not interrupt unless to add a follow up question or keep them talking. See partial answers previous.

6. When learning something new, teach a friend about it.

This is a quote by Joseph Joubert, “To teach is to learn twice,” and it is true here. When you can teach it, and do it well, your understanding of it will increase rapidly and you will learn new things in doing so.

7. Be really happy and excited to see other people, they will react the same to you.

Believe or not, we tend to mirror people who show either positive or negative emotions. It is comes from our innate desire to ‘belong.’ This may not always happen first time you try it with a certain individual, but it will definitely happen next time.

8. The physical effects of stress are almost identical to the physical effects of courage.

There is a VERY thin line between courage and cowardess, or the desire to fight of flight. When you feeling stress from any situation immediately re-frame it: your body is getting ready to be courageous, it is NOT feeling stress. Remember, if it does not kill you, then it is just all in your mind, and it will make you stronger.

9. Pay attention to people's feet.

There are a lot of books out on body language, you know folded arms, playing with hair, etc., but if you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they do not want you to join in their conversation. So do not! Similarly if you are in a conversation with an individual who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end or at a minimum, the topic to change.

10. Fake it until you make it; confidence is more important than knowledge.

OK, Einstein said imagination is more important than knowledge, and it takes some imagination to have confidence at times. Remember, no one EVER started out as an expert or a super star, but one thing every super star had before they became one is the confidence that one day they would. Of course in addition to belief and good self-talk, there is that little thing called work. Still, do not be intimidated by anyone, everyone is playing a role and wearing a mask and no one is an expert in everything.

11. If you pretend to be something for long enough, you will eventually become it.

This goes with #10 above. It is NOT to say be something you are not or phony. But as Denis Waitley said “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it's what you think you're not." We are what we think, so think well of yourself.

12. Not to be creepy, but if you want to stare at someone unashamedly, look directly past them.

OK, this might be one of those weird mind tricks, but sometimes some people are just too, well good looking not to stare. The trick is to stare past them until they try to get your eye contact. When they fail to do that, they will look around (usually nervously for a second) they won't look at you again for some time. This is your chance to straight up stare at this person for at least 45 seconds. Do not try this very often, as you might get “that creepy guy” reputation.

13. Build a network.

OK, everyone stays build a network. That is NOT just going to Meetups and handing out a bunch of business cards. It is about becoming a source of information, and letting others be yours. Even grabbing a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, or attending a informal event with a former colleague or distant friend once a year will keep you in the loop at the old office or gang. Old friends and former coworkers might have gotten a new position in that office you always wanted to work in or do business with, great! It’s time to get together again, so offer something in a non-business environment. It's all about connections and information.

14. If you are angry at the person in front of you driving like a grandmother...

Pretend it is your grandmother or your best friend; it will significantly reduce your road rage. As I like to say, “Who angers you masters you.” And who wants to be owned? And really, is ANYTHING so important that you cannot give up a few minutes.

15. Stand up straight.

Hum, those Catholic School nuns actually got this one straight, and lucky for me I went to a boarding military school. Why do we respect those in the military so much? They show command and it has everything to do with posture (ok, and the uniforms too). No slouching, hands out of pockets, and head held up high. This is not just a cliché. You literally feel better and people around you feel more confident in you. Be large and in charge.

16. Avoid saying "I think," and "I believe" unless absolutely necessary.

Remember EVERYTHING is about perceived confidence, and these are phrases do not evoke confidence, and will literally do you no good. Yes, on the other hand you could be perceived as a bore if everything you say comes off as an absolute, so tone it down with phrases like, “I might not always be right, but…” or “I have researched that…”

17. When feeling anxious, clean up your home or work space.

Time never passes so slowly as when you are anxious, and as Seth Godin says, “Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in the future.” One sure way to make time move faster is to do something that takes your mind off the subject. If you do not want to clean up, and have the time, go out and play tennis, golf, or basketball instead. You will feel happier and more accomplished than before.

18. Always buy the first pitcher or round of drinks.

There are two reasons to do this. First, everyone will remember you bought the first round (because they are still sober), and you will surprised how long you can drink on the phrase "I bought the first one."

19. Going into an interview... be interested in your interviewers.

Again, when you really want to make a good impression, do NOT focus on yourself. If you focus on learning about the OTHER person you seem more interesting and dynamic. (Again, people love to talk about themselves.) And when the other person has exhausted their self adulation, they might ask you about yourself. Make it brief.

20. Pay Attention Parents: Always give your kid a choice that makes them think they are in control.

It is always about teaching and empowering kids about making decisions. I always used to ask my sons, “Do you want to brush your teeth, or do you want me to do them?” Notice the topic of getter you teeth brush was NOT up for debate, just the choice of whom was going to do it. Today, I hear it back from them when they ask me, do you want to eat at X or Y?

Pro-tip: In most cases, this works on adults.

21. Your actions affect your attitudes more than your attitudes affect your actions.

The attitude you bring with you when do something more often is much more important than how well you do something. "Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it," as Lou Holtz once stated. So, you can jump and dance FOR joy, or you can also jump and dance joyfully."

22. When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to.

Remember, we are pack animals at heart, and instinctively we want to be accepted, and when we laugh, our masks are taken off. So, naturally we look out closest ally in the ‘pack’ for approval. So, if you want to impress a certain person, look at who THEY are trying to impress or feel comfortable with, and make sure you get to know them too. 

23. If you work in a bar or in-person customer service of any kind...

Put a mirror behind you at the counter. People have no clue what they look like when they are angry, and this is a great way angry customers who approach you will have to see themselves. An believe me, it is NOT a pretty sight, and most people want to look good. Chances are once they see themselves, their incidence of behaving irrationally lowers significantly. 

This also works is your significant other is upset with you as well.  When  I was married, every time my wife was angry at me, I would go into the bathroom and stand with my back to the giant mirror. Within 30 seconds she would stop yelling and leave the room.  She was still angry, but she could no longer vent as long as she had to look at herself doing it. 

24. If you want to build rapport or gain trust quickly, match body posture and position.

Yes, I mentioned ‘mirroring’ earlier, and if someone is sitting with her legs crossed, cross your legs. If they are leaning away from you, lean away from them. If they are leaning towards you, lean towards them. Mirroring and matching body position is a subconscious way to tell if someone trusts you or is comfortable with you, or is in ‘sync’ with you. If you are sitting with your arms crossed and you notice someone else is sitting with her arms crossed, that is a good indicator that you have/are successfully built/building rapport with that person. Better yet, when they stop mirroring you, and then move into your “close circle” of intimate space. This is especially nice if it is a beautiful girl.

I am sure I missed some things. Let me know what life hacks you would recommend in the comments and I'll be sure to add them. Thanks for reading and sharing and commenting!