Monthly Archives: October, 2016

Aligning Workspace and Business Strategy

October 28th, 2016 Posted by Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Aligning Workspace and Business Strategy”

Rachel Friedman – Founder/CEO of TENFOLD

Does your business’ workspace align with your business strategy? Do you have one?

On the Business is ART podcast this week, my guest was Rachel Friedman, the founder and CEO of TENFOLD ( TENFOLD helps businesses tell their stories within the actual workspace, for instance utilizing wall space for graphics and digital displays that highlight company values, vision, mission and brand messaging.

Their clients have ranged from small businesses to giants, like ESPN and Cardinal Health, but the mission is the same – to help businesses and organizations educate, inform and inspire employees and visitors.

(click here for a portfolio of TENFOLD’s work)

The Painted Picture

In Cameron Herold’s book, Double Double, he discusses the “painted picture” as a 3-page document that provides a more detailed version of the vision statement. The painted picture looks forward 3 years in to the future. In my book, Business is ART, I recommend turning that painted picture document in to an actual form of art, such as a video, web site, visual art displayed on the walls, etc.

And that is exactly what TENFOLD enables businesses to do – physically display the painted picture.

More to It Than a Pretty Picture

There is much more to it than simply putting pictures with inspirational quotes up on the wall, including office and workspace design and configuration. But it all begins with formally identifying your business strategy and culture.

What is the advantage? There are many, including:

  • Assists in the creation and maintenance of company culture
  • Communicates clear and effective brand messaging
  • Serves as a constant reminder to employees they are part of something bigger than themselves
  • Encourages employees to “live the brand” (better enabling employees as advocates)
  • Educates potential clients, strategic partners and investors (better enabling them as advocates)

In short, whoever “they” are, when they can see it, they can get it. When they get it, they can get on-board with it. When they get on-board with it, you no longer have to go it alone. Without that strong sense of identity and direction, all of the pretty pictures in the world can’t help and you truly are on your own.

Back to the Start

This blog post starts with two simple questions, the first of which is, “Does your business’ workspace align with your business strategy?” If not, contact TENFOLD by clicking here.

The second question is, “Do you have one [a business strategy]?” If not, contact me or check out my online video training, teaching you how to develop your strategic and business plans, simply and quickly. Consider it your online business consultant for just $45. Click here to view.

Listen Up and Listen In

You can listen to all of the Business is ART episodes in their entirety on the TrueChat Network’s Business is ART page at or by downloading the TRUECHAT app. The episode featuring Rachel Friedman and TENFOLD is entitled “If the Walls Could Talk.”

The Gender Pay Gap – It Really is THAT Bad

October 26th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Leadership 0 thoughts on “The Gender Pay Gap – It Really is THAT Bad”

gender-gapA study by the World Economic Forum says that it could take 170 years to close the gender pay gap. This same study finds that the gap in the United States between men and women is 65%, meaning, on average, men make 65% more than women for doing the same job.

I don’t think it comes as a shock to anyone that there is a gap. But having had employed hundreds of people at a time, with senior staff made up of equal parts men and women, I am personally accustomed to a model that pays according to the position and function – not according to sex. I sincerely cannot fathom working in an environment in which there is such a gap – and certainly not one in which the gap is so vast. And yet – there it is. Undeniably…criminal…is the best word I can use.

According to the study, a number of factors contribute to the gap. Things like women working longer days and limited opportunities for advancement. But what is causing those conditions?

Do Nice Guys and Gals Finish Last?

I recently sat in on a presentation by Timothy A. Judge, the Joseph A. Alutto Chair in Leadership Effectiveness Director, Fisher Leadership Initiative Management and Human Resources at the Ohio State University. Judge’s presentation was entitled “Do Nice Guys and Gals Really Finish Last?”

In it, he discussed the question of “agreeableness” – how agreeable are people, how agreeable are you? In multiple studies on the subject and after taking all kinds of statistically relevant variances and factors in to consideration, time and time again the results are largely the same. While the power curve for the male population on a scale of “very agreeable” to “not agreeable” looks nearly identical to the power curve for females, the placement of these curves are dramatically different on the “X-axis”. In general, the average male is far less agreeable than the average female.

The Jerk’s In Charge

Research went on to find that positions we tend to associate with wealth and power, like CEOs and politicians, tend to be held by individuals who are less agreeable. Of course, these positions are overwhelmingly male-dominated. It further went on to show, just as the World Economic Forum findings suggest, the difference in the pay for men and women at every level is heartbreaking.

Judge’s presentation took all of this undeniable data one step further and suggests that perhaps one reason this gap is so large is that the less agreeable male is more inclined to not just accept what is offered, instead counter-offering for more. They negotiate better because they are more inclined to say, “No”.

He’s Strong – She’s a “B”

And though all of this may be true, he also suggested that the general public sees a less agreeable male as “strong” and a less agreeable female as “bitchy” – and that likely contributes even further to the disparity in pay. The studies found that attitude to be virtually equal among both men and women. In other words, both sexes are equally guilty of perpetrating this stereotype and prejudice against women.

Do We Really Have to Wait 170 Years?

There are three things that can help us end this problem more quickly than waiting it out for 170 years. One, as a society we have to accept it exists and begin to earnestly retrain our ways of thinking. Two, we need to do a much better job of teaching people how to effectively negotiate regardless of whether they are naturally agreeable or not. Three, more women need to enter the entrepreneurial world (which has been on the rise in recent years) and thus FORCE the change.

Increase the Odds

If you are an entrepreneur, organizational leader or just thinking about it, a great place to start is with my book Business is ART, on sale now. With this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of creating your vision, forming plans and measuring success. Click here to order it today. While you’re at it, please check out my on-line video training designed to teach you the processes and templates described in the book. Consider it your online business consultant for just $45. Clear here to view.

I Don’t Really Need a Business Plan – Do I?

October 18th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART 0 thoughts on “I Don’t Really Need a Business Plan – Do I?”

book-coverWhat really is the value of a plan? It drives me a little crazy when I hear people say things like, “Things change so much around here, it doesn’t make any sense to have a plan.”

Let me alter that statement in a couple of ways and then you can be the judge.

“My plans never work out because they never reflect the changes that take place after I write the plan.”


“Every day I just wake up, see what happens, and respond accordingly.”

If you’re good with these two statements, stop reading. Go back to motivational posts on Twitter. You know, the ones like, “Only you can tell you you can’t do what you do for you.” But if you know or are wondering what is wrong with those statements, thanks for sticking around.

What’s the Point of a Plan?

Let’s begin with two of three primary purposes of a plan. The first is to articulate what it is you want, how you envision getting there, and how you will measure progress along the way. A plan has to evolve and adjust to the realities that impact its potential for success – positively or negatively, inside your control and outside of your control. Which leads to a second primary purpose of a plan – to anticipate and mitigate against those very things.

Here’s What’s Wrong

So here’s what’s wrong with the two statements. The first one assumes a plan should be static. It shouldn’t be. Of COURSE things change. We change our diets, our hair-dos, our minds, our underwear and yes…we have to change our plans.

The second one assumes that everything happens by chance. On the surface you might think it’s an optimistic point of view. I don’t need a plan because it’s just going to turn out good. But really, it’s a pessimistic way of looking at things. It is the equivalent of saying it really doesn’t matter what you do because things re just going to happen the way they are going to happen.

Let’s Play

Can you imagine a sports team whose coach says, “OK, kids. Just get out there and play and we’ll see how it ends up.”

That’s what running a business without a plan is like. If that’s the way you want to play it, knock yourself out. But if you want to take a more cerebral approach, a great place to start is with my book Business is ART, on sale now. With this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of creating your vision, forming strategies, and measuring success. Click here to order it today. While you’re at it, please check out my on-line video training designed to teach you the processes and templates described in the book. Clear here to view.

Is Running a Business Right for Me?

October 14th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “Is Running a Business Right for Me?”

Photo courtesy

Running a business sounds great on paper. Who wouldn’t want to be their own boss? Set my own rules? Work when I want? Control my own destiny? Most people would.

But everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and for some people, running a business just might not be in the cards. On the other hand, you may feel like you don’t have what it takes when you actually do. To help you decide whether or not you should try to startup your own business, here are some questions you can ask yourself.

Are You Ready to Work Harder Than You Ever Had?

Some people want a nice, cushy job that pays well and doesn’t ruin their life. They’d rather invest their free time in leisurely activities or hobbies. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if that’s you, then you’re probably not cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Starting your own business is hard. Possibly the hardest thing you’ll have done in your life up to that point. If you’re ready to go all in and make the necessary sacrifices, you just might have what it takes.

Do You Constantly Try to Make Things Better?

Starting a business requires constant improvement of everything. Your business plan, your methods, your product, your attitude, your staff. If you’re constantly finding areas for improvement around you, and you’re driven by this desire to make things as good as they can possibly be, then you definitely have some entrepreneurial traits.

On the other hand, if you’re generally satisfied with the way things are and/or you strongly dislike change, running your own business might not be the best path.

Can You Delegate?

A degree of self-reliance and independence can be very helpful in getting a business started. However, once the wheels start turning, you can’t keep doing everything yourself. It just won’t work. If you’re incapable of delegating, bringing on additional help, and trusting in other people’s skills, you’re going to have a very tough time running a true business.

A person who does everything themself can be a successful independent contractor, but maybe not much more.

Do You Have a Viable Idea?

You can’t start a business without a concept/product/service/idea. You need something to build on. Without that, it doesn’t matter what skills or resources you might have. That core concept is the reason for your business to exist.

This one might seem obvious, but time and again, people try to start a business for the sake of starting a business. They’ll try to sell a product that no one wants or provide a service that’s already well covered, or they’ll just try to do as many things as possible, hoping something sticks.

All of these are paths to failure. No idea = no business.

So…are You an Entrepreneur?

If you think you have what it takes, congrats! You’re one step closer to being a successful business owner. You still have a long way to go, however. You can make things easier on yourself and increase your chances of success with some professional guidance.

A great place to start is with my book Business is ART, on sale now. With this book, you’ll learn the ins and outs of creating your vision, forming strategies, and measuring success. Click here to order it today. While you’re at it, please check out my on-line video training designed to teach you the processes and templates described in the book. Clear here to view.

Is Your Customer Your Advocate?

October 11th, 2016 Posted by Inspiration, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Is Your Customer Your Advocate?”

Customer LoyaltyWhen I was responsible for call center operations, our customer service reps did not greet callers by identifying OUR company name. Instead they used our CLIENT’S company name. We always told our clients and prospective clients that in whatever we do, we operate as an extension of them. We didn’t want them thinking of us as a service provider. We wanted them to think of us as an organization within their own.

I carry that same philosophy through to my consulting clients. When we discuss plans, strategies, tasks, etc., I say things like “When WE do this…” and “OUR targets are…”

Customers as Advocates

Last week, I had the pleasure of being part of the presentation team for a client preparing to launch a new business venture. My role was to present OUR plan for moving forward. In that moment, I was not an independent business consultant, I was just part of the team.

During the presentation I said, “We want our clients to be our advocates for our services.”

If they heard nothing else of my portion of the presentation, the attendees heard that statement because multiple people mentioned it directly to me during breaks or referenced it during their own presentation.

Satisfied Customers are Fickle

At the end of the day, our host gave a book to everyone present. The two of us had not colluded on this at all but, as if by design, the book is Customer Satisfaction is Worthless – Customer Loyalty is Priceless, by Jeffrey Gitomer, whose basic premise is the same. You don’t want a satisfied customer. A satisfied customer is fickle and prone to go to a competitor next time.

You want a loyal customer because a loyal customer would rather fight than switch. A loyal customer will be your advocate, providing you with referrals, testimony, word-of-mouth marketing and repeat business.

The “Aha Moment”

The revelation for me personally is not so much that. I knew that. I strive for that. But what is eye-opening for me is that not only do I function as an extension of my clients, I want them to function as an extension of my business as well. It is a completely different perspective.

The Tools You Need

The Customer is one of 4 major goal categories identified in my simple, 1-page strategic plan template. Get the book Business is ART or subscribe to my online video training and receive a free, downloadable copy of the template.

Really think about how to create loyal customer advocates as opposed to satisfied customers. Build that in to your strategy and plans. Then do it.

How Do You Pick a Great Team?

October 7th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur, Leadership 0 thoughts on “How Do You Pick a Great Team?”

teamHow do you pick a great team? I’ve read a lot of advice on the topic and have had a lot of entrepreneurs on the Business is ART podcast have weighed in as well.

I Call “BS”

One of the prevailing thoughts is hire to culture because you can teach the individual the skills. Another is to hire to culture, then organize around the skills of each individual.

To each of these suggestions, I call “BS!”

I’ve been responsible for teams as small as 3 people (including myself) and as large as 700+. Even on the small teams, the above advice does not work.

Culture is Important – However

Let’s back up a bit. I do – strongly – agree that hiring to company culture is important with one very strong caveat. The culture cannot be discriminatory. Not only is it illegal and immoral, it’s also not very smart. If all you do is hire “mini-you’s”, all you end up with over time is the same, old, tired ideas and ways, resulting in too many missed opportunities to count.

So don’t hire clones of yourself, but do hire people that you can get along with. As a colleague and friend of mine once told me, “In life, there are so many assholes I have to deal with. Why would I choose to work with one if I have a choice?”

7 Steps to Hiring a Great Employee

Here are a few steps to consider when choosing a team:

  1. Clearly define the positions. A good job description includes meaningful job title, experience and education level, expectation of duties and hours and what you expect the role to actually produce. Don’t just say you need help, and then hire someone because they are a warm body.
  2. Clearly define the organization structure based on functional needs of the organization. Do this without putting names in boxes.
  3. Post or advertise your job opening based on the above. Don’t even talk about culture. Different words mean different things to different people. Attempting to draw great candidates by describing your culture in a few words may turn away some great candidates.
  4. Pre-screen candidates based on their response to the job posting – cover letter and resume.
  5. Conduct an initial interview over the phone. Use this one as the test for whether or not you can get along with the individual. Why over the phone? Don’t waste your time and theirs with an in-person interview.
  6. If you enjoy the phone conversation and the skills are there, that’s when you have the in-person 2nd
  7. If you find yourself saying, “I really like the candidate a lot. He/she isn’t qualified for the job, but, I think I can teach them what they need to know,” stop. Just stop. You want to know this person will be successful under your employ. It’s not fair to your business and it’s not fair to the individual to make the hire if they don’t fit and they don’t have the skills you need.

Pick a Team for the Future

Another colleague once gave me some advice that makes a lot of sense as well. Don’t just hire the person based on their ability to do the job today. Hire them based on their ability to adapt to how the job will change over the next several years.

Let’s Talk

Sometimes just talking out big decisions is extremely helpful.  Contact me and let’s discuss how and if I can be of assistance. Good luck!

Building a Better Proposal

October 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior 0 thoughts on “Building a Better Proposal”

sincerityI’ve led or been part of many proposal teams over the years, having won well over a billion dollars, pushing 2 billion, in sales. Some deals have been as large as $150 million, while others, just a couple of thousand dollars.

There are many things I’ve learned about writing a better proposal through the years but the main ingredient to writing a better proposal is sincerity.

If It Smells Like Manure…

Like a manure wagon full of…well…manure…you can smell a proposal that is full of bullshit from a mile away – and so can your would-be client. All of the salesy, markety, talkety-talk in the world can’t get you past it.

Yes, there is a sucker born every minute and those individual suckers walking down the street or scrolling through their Twitter feed will buy the snake oil every time. But that’s just circus barker type sales. Not a lot of personal gratification unless taking other people’s hard earned money is satisfying.

See related Business is ART podcast “Happiness Gurus Make Me Angry” on the TrueChat Network.

But that’s not the kind of proposal I’m talking about. I’m talking about true business proposals that someone is going to review in detail before making a decision to acquire your product or service. These proposals might be a page or, as is often the case with larger opportunities, several hundred pages in length.

Honesty is Still the Best Policy

I’ve always felt that a key is honestly believing in what you have to offer and being able to back those beliefs up with indisputable facts. You can’t say things like, “We’re the best” without offering evidence to support that position or it comes off as insincere.

I am also a firm believer that a winning proposal focuses very little on slamming the competition. Rather, it focuses primarily on why your product or service is the best fit for the client.

Note – repeat – the best fit for the client.

Don’t waste time telling everyone how great you are. Relate to the client’s pain, then explain, using simple terms (brevity is your friend), why what you offer is the best fit for their needs – and mean it.

Sincerity. What a concept.

I Can Help

If your team has a big proposal coming up and you can use a little help, contact me and let’s discuss how and if I can be of assistance. Good luck!

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