Monthly Archives: August, 2016

5 Links on Problem Solving

August 31st, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART 0 thoughts on “5 Links on Problem Solving”
conflict

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

In a previous post I presented a 7-step process that works very well for problem solving and issue resolution, particularly in a facilitated group setting. In this post you will find links to 5 additional sources discussing how to problem solve.

Related: 7-Step Process for Resolving Issues

5 Links on Problem Solving

  1. It happens. Conflicts arise – at work, at home, in public, in private. How you deal with conflict is key to all sorts of things including how well you advance and how good you feel about yourself (and others). This article at Inc. discusses 3 powerful lessons from expert on conflict resolution.
  2. Do you know one? Are you one? The manager or leader that just cannot seem to remove him or herself from the weeds. This video from Nick Friedman, co-founder College Hunks Hauling Junk discusses why great managers don’t get caught up in day-to-day issues.
  3. Again, do you know one? Are you one? The manager or leader that has anger issues. If you are, at the risk of making you super mad please check out this article entitled no one likes to do business with anger issues.
  4. Problem-solving goes well beyond the notion that “I’m the boss. Everyone does as I say. Problem solved!” While this article was written specifically with start-ups in mind, the content is really universal. Check out 8-problem solving practices that see startups to success.
  5. How is your problem solving going? Working well? Not so much? If your answer is the latter, take a moment to look at 3 reasons why you are failing at problem solving.

You Can’t Run – You Can’t Hide

Whatever approach you take, the key is to face challenges head-on. Don’t run from or hide from them. Don’t be too proud to admit they exist. Acknowledge they exist and then devise a plan to overcome them.

When it comes to business strategic planning, let me help. Join me in a free webinar to discuss a simple approach that allows you to do just that. Click here to join.

7-Step Process for Resolving Issues

August 29th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “7-Step Process for Resolving Issues”
Photo courtesy TrueChat.org

Photo courtesy TrueChat.org

How do you resolve issues?

Last week I facilitated a team meeting on the topic of what the small office/business would do if the business owner is away. How will things get done? Who will make decisions? What decisions can be made by anyone other than the owner?

7-Step Process

As closely as we could, we followed a process that is also used to resolve issues presented in the business owner/CEO mastermind group I facilitate. In a nutshell, the process is as follows, with steps 1 thru 3 being a conversation between facilitator and the person bringing the issue:

  1. What is the issue?
  2. What is the impact of not resolving it (or that it is currently causing)?
  3. What has been done to-date about it?
  4. Additional clarifying questions from the group.
  5. Restate the issue.
  6. Generate potential solutions.
  7. Assign Action Items based on the solutions.

Make it Your Own

On paper it sounds so easy and reasonable. In practice, it can be challenging. But it yields results every time.

Because this was an internal team meeting as opposed to peers from separate businesses who do not work with one another, the process remained largely the same but some of the tactics had to change. For example, in the mastermind group, when it comes to identifying potential solutions, we just talk them through and write them on a white board as people blurt them out.

But for an internal team, to ensure everyone has a chance to speak without fear of offending a co-worker, we used yellow sticky pads. For each category defined, the team members wrote as many ideas as they could think of in 1 to 2 minutes; 1 idea per note.

A lot of the time, the result of following this process is simply confirmation of what the person who brought the issue already knew. They just needed the push to do it. In other cases, something completely new emerges and forms the course of action.

I’ve yet to see an instance where the individual walks away with no action items identified, and no clue as to what to do next. That’s the power of many minds working together, as long as there is a roadmap for doing so.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road(map)

Speaking of roadmaps, your business needs a roadmap as well. You can’t just wing it day-after-day and expect to maximize your returns. No one is that good. Join my free webinar and I will show you how to lay out a very simple, realistic, actionable strategic plan that will net results for you. Click here to sign-up.

Speaking of leadership, last week’s Business is ART podcast (on the TrueChat Network) focused on strong team building using the movie The Wizard of Oz as an example. You can listen to it by clicking here.

When Do I Hire?

August 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Employment 0 thoughts on “When Do I Hire?”

When Do I Hire My First Employee (and for What?)

For lean startups, entrepreneurs tend to have one employee:

Themselves.

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Assuming your business grows and moves forward, there will come a time that you’ll need to hire someone else. It’s a big decision that you don’t want to rush into, resulting in a poor choice.

That said, wait too long, and you can seriously damage your business.

So the question is, when do you do that? And for what position exactly? Let’s start with that second question.

Who Should I Hire First?

Make no mistake, your initial employee is incredibly important. They will be the foundation for your company’s culture, and they will set the standard for future employees. The exact position you hire for will depend on what kind of company you’re running.

It may be for a role you’ve been doing a lot, but you know you’re not good at it. The position might be something you’ve been paying a contractor or a third party to do, but with the current level of demand, you’d save time and money by hiring the position.

The person you hire should share the values your company has. They need to be flexible and teachable, ready for change as it comes. Change is constant in the life of the startup. They should be stable, mentally and emotionally.

Whatever you’re hiring them fo, they should display more skill (or at least more potential) than you in that role.

You don’t want someone who’s the same as you or weaker than you. Instead, the employee and their position should complement you. Be the yin to your yang and all that jazz.

When Do You Hire Them?

There are signs that it’s time to hire someone. First and foremost, if you have more work than you can handle, now is the perfect time to hire.

Your first hire will likely put some strain on your financials. You need to make sure the path to growth is promising, should you hire someone. If they can help you earn more, then they should cover the cost soon enough.

Contractor or Employee?

If you’re unsure about bringing on a fulltime employee (you should know, there’s quite a bit of paperwork to be sorted), you can try bringing someone on as a fulltime contractor. From there, you can decide how well they fit, and whether you would like to make them an official part of the company or not.

Do What’s Best for the Company

When you’re running a business, especially one that’s experiencing growth and success, there will likely be pressure to give work to friends and family. You need to be cautious, especially when it comes to your first employee.

Ultimately, it’s about doing what’s best for your company. Your business doesn’t exist to give your sister’s son a job. It exists to fulfill a marketplace need. To do that well, you’ll need to hire the best person for the job.

What About the Next Employees?

Though the idea of having an office (whether physical or digital) filled with employees is enticing, you should never be in a rush to hire for the sake of hiring. And you should never bring on too many people at once.

Anytime you bring in someone new, there’s a period of transition that happens both for the company and the person. Let that play itself out before bringing on the next hire.

The company Basecamp (formally known as 37Signals) is known for the expression “hire when it hurts”. Simply put, do everything you can before hiring someone. Whether that’s working harder, shifting responsibilities, upgrading software, etc.

Then, when you’ve exhausted all other options, you can hire someone, whether it’s your first employee or your twentieth.

Want your business to grow so that you can bring on more employees? Check out Business is Art, on sale at Amazon now.

Satisfaction and Success

August 22nd, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Satisfaction and Success”

Slide1 (1)The Rolling Stones’ classic song “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” is the perfect anthem to illustrate that what others tell you is “success” may in fact bring you no satisfaction whatsoever.

My sister is contemplating an early retirement and what to do in her next stage of life. Should she do volunteer work, go back to school, start a business? There is no doubt that whatever she decides she will make it a success. How can that be said with confidence? First, when she is determined about something, she does it. She finds a way to get it done.

But as important, and really quite simply, she will be successful because she is taking time to define what success means to her – not to anyone else and not by anyone else’s definition.

Shockingly, that is something most people, business start-ups and even businesses that have been around for a long time do not do.

Motivators and Satisfiers

People make decisions all the time without truly defining what it is they hope to get out of them. They say things like:

  1. I’m doing this because I want to make a lot of money.
  2. I’m doing this because I feel obligated.
  3. I’m doing this because I need affordable health insurance.
  4. I’m doing this because I want to be my own boss.
  5. I’m doing this because I have to.

On a recent podcast (Business is ART #38 on the TrueChat Network), my guest, Mackenzie Kyle, business consultant and author of The Performance Principle, said that money is a motivator, not a satisfier. That is really the issue with the above statements. All of them may be great motivators, but it is doubtful that any of them are satisfiers.

That satisfaction is how you define success.

Success is Personal

Success is personal. It is how we define it for ourselves. So take time to think about it. Be honest with yourself and the people who are important to you. What do you find satisfying? Whatever it is, that forms the basis for your definition of success. The motivators just come along for the ride.

If you are having trouble creating your own definition of success, chances are good that you already know what it is but are having a hard time articulating it. Let me help. Click here to learn how.

The Secret to Freedom Is…

August 17th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “The Secret to Freedom Is…”
Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Photo courtesy gratisography.com

Have you ever seen the movie Risky Business? It’s the 1983 classic that put actor Tom Cruise on the map. It’s the one that left us, for the next 10 years, with more than one person showing up for the Halloween party dressed in white socks, boxer shorts, a button down shirt and wearing sunglasses – sliding in to one room from another as though no one else had ever done it. It put infinitely more royalty checks for “Old Time Rock and Roll” in to Bob Seger’s pocket.

But Risky Business also gave us the great business and life coach Miles Dalby, a character played by actor Curtis Armstrong. In one unforgettable scene, Miles gives us all the lesson we ever need.

Sometimes ya gotta say WTF

That is true in business as well as life. Sometimes, you just have to say, “You know what? I’m going for it.” The time is never perfect. Certainty is never a guarantee. But to move ahead with no regrets, you have to take a little bit of risk now and then, because at the end of the day it is indeed all risky business. Business is risky.

Here is some more advice from Miles:

  • WTF gives you freedom
  • Freedom brings opportunity
  • Opportunity makes your future
  • WTF – if you can’t say it, you can’t do it

So get out there. Take some calculated risks. Don’t jump off a tall building to see if you can fly or test how hard you’ll land. But take a few calculated, smart risks to move forward – because staying put is the biggest risk of all.

Go Ahead – Say It

Your turn to say WTF. Thinking of starting a business or want to improve the one you’ve already got? Let me help by clicking here.

Stop Using Jargon – Part 2

August 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART 0 thoughts on “Stop Using Jargon – Part 2”

Slide1Jargon – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.

This week’s theme is business jargon. In Part 1, I shared my thoughts on the use of Jargon. In this, Part 2, I provide links to the thoughts of others on the topic..

 

So get synergized and ready to bring things to the next level because we’re about to get cooking with gas!

Jargon – It’s 10% what you say and 90% how you say it

That’s probably the big reason people use jargon. It isn’t laziness. They just think it makes them sound smarter or more authoritative. I once interviewed an HR professional who threw out so much jargon in an effort to look good that when she left, the other person in the room and I looked at each other with a confused look.

He asked, “What did she say?”

I replied, “She said a lot of words and nothing at all.”

We hired someone else.

5 Links For You

  1. Like totally, for sure. This first article cracks me up a bit. 5 Pieces of Jargon We Totally Got Used To. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the use of the word “totally” made me laugh at the irony. Totes Mcgotes. Interesting article though.
  2. Inc. just lays it on the line in this article. Stop Using These Terrible Business Buzzwords Right Now. Interestingly, “Buzzwords” is not on the list. In fact, a lot of stuff on this list, I’ve never heard of, so it’s good to know I should stop using them before I even start. But I must say I like “The Third Wardrobe.” Check it out to see what I mean.
  3. Need a good laugh? Check out this article from Entrepreneur, offering up some jargon to add to your office vocabulary just to shake things up a bit. Funny stuff. Case in point, the very first one they provide: “Hashbag: Your hipper-than-thou, Reddit-obsessed, ironically bearded social media director. Usage: I’m sure my tweets could be better but I can’t stand getting a 20-minute lecture on it from that hashbag.”
  4. It isn’t all fun and games, is it? Time to get serious. Here is some great advice on how to transfer your company’s “About” page from jargon-filled to genuine. It begins with, “Tell a story…”
  5. Jeff Bullas at JeffBullas.com always posts good stuff. In this piece he identifies 50 business jargon fixes for bloggers and content writers. I have to admit I am guilty of several of these. But I LIKE the word “actionable”, Jeff…I LIKE it!

Case In Point

Case in point, I used the word “actionable” in a video we put up just yesterday on my Facebook timeline, the intent of which is to lead you to some free or otherwise valuable stuff to help move your business forward. Check it out here.

 

Stop Using Jargon

August 1st, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “Stop Using Jargon”

Slide1Jargon – Each week I identify a different theme and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme in two separate posts.

The first post represents my thoughts, experience, advice or questions on whatever the weekly theme is. Later in the week, a second post will summarize and provide links to several articles and videos from other sources, providing additional information on the weekly theme.

This week’s theme is business jargon.

Jargon Used in a Sentence

2 backwoods folks sitting in the wilderness, drinking moonshine. One says to the other, “Gimme a tug o’yer shine. My jar-gone.”

Rimshot.

Business Jargon that Everyone Can Stop Using

Business jargon has a bad reputation, and for good reason.

For starters, people outside of your business or those who are new to your industry aren’t typically familiar with it. It carries no meaning to them because it’s made up by people in a specific group to be used within that specific group.

And often, it doesn’t have any meaning to anyone.

Jargon and excessive technical terms are regularly used to confuse clients and consumers, making something sound fancier than what it actually is. Essentially, you’re using a lot of words to say nothing.

That’s basically the opposite of what any writing, communication, or [good] business class would teach you. So it’s time to put a stop to the jargon.

Every industry, of course, has its own terms, abbreviations, and acronyms. Especially acronyms. They’re everywhere these days. To get you going, we’ve assembled some simple, but common terms and patterns to remove from your vocabulary.

“Next Level”

This is a classic example of using words to say nothing. Taking your business to the “next level” sounds nice, but doesn’t actually mean anything. The next level of what? Are we playing a videogame? Are you moving offices upstairs?

Instead of promising a “next level” experience, actually say what you’ll be doing or providing that will advance the status of your customers.

“Work Smarter, Not Harder”

One of those phrases people like to throw around as if they came up with it themselves, there’s a few problems with this classic quip.

First, it implies that working smart isn’t hard work. While it might make your life easier down the road, it’s often the harder option upfront. Second, it gives this connotation that “hard work” is bad. Work is work. By its very definition, work involves resistance and opposition.

Third, it might connote, “Work smarter because right now you are acting like an idiot.” Not a highly effective motivational technique.

If anything, you should aim to work harder and smarter (but remember, you and your team are not acting like idiots).

“Think Outside of the Box”

While Taco Bell was able to put creative spin on this cliché and turn it into successful slogan, the original phrase is played out. In fact, trying to put additional spins on it (like “think outside the cubicle”) is pretty played out too.

When coming up with new ideas, you don’t need a fancy term for the process. Just say you’re aiming for a unique approach.

“Solopreneur”

For those who have been fortunate enough to avoid this word, a “soloproneur” is a self-given title used by one-person startups and self-employed contractors.

The problem is, it’s not even a word, and its existence is entirely redundant. Entrepreneur is a perfectly applicable title for these people. Whether they have people working for them or not, the one term covers it all. So please, use that.

Just a fair warning, if you encounter someone labeling themselves as a ‘solopreneur’, you can expect a fair amount of additional jargon coming your way.

Any Vague Verb or Action

There isn’t a specific word for this example, but it’s jargon nevertheless. You’ve encountered people who do it. You’re probably guilty of doing it yourself. Whenever someone says “we’re pursuing additional strategies” or “we’re maximizing output” or anything like that, they’re not really saying anything.

Don’t apply generic blanket verbs to the work you’re doing. Instead, actually say the work you’re doing in ways that people actually understand.

Pretty Much All Adverbs (and a Lot of Adjectives)

If you went to college, you probably had at least one professor who hated all adverbs and adjectives. They’d say things like “You’re not ‘largely’ successful. Either you’re successful or you’re not. You don’t run quickly. You just run. If you run quickly, you’re sprinting. If you’re running slowly, you’re jogging.”

While they can have their place in the English language, adverbs and adjectives are certainly abused. Sometimes they a super abused (see what I just did there?). Use them with caution.

“Synergy”

These days, synergy is almost a running joke when it comes to jargon. If you ever find yourself using it, stop. If you hear someone else use it, run away. Do not “synergize” with them.

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