Archives for February 2014

Are you selling what they need to hear?

Calculating ROI

Sure, you’ve got a great idea. What’s the ROI for them?

” It surprises me that most fashion buyers know everything there is to know about which trend and hemline we’ll be wearing in six months but can’t tell me what the density of their sales floor is, what the return is, what the dollars per square foot is, what their top-selling stock-keeping unit is and how many times they’ve reordered it in the season.  However fashionable the brand, we always start and finish with the numbers—the sell-throughs, the margins, the returns, the contributions—and then we talk about the pleasantries.” Marigay McKee, President Saks Fifth Avenue. From an interview in the Wall Street Journal.

How are you pitching your story? In business, your internal pitch needs to show the return on investment, not solely the brilliance of your vision or the cutting edge of your design.  Because vision and design can drive returns, but not if you can’t articulate them in a way to get your vision built in the first place.

At a recent workshop I listened to one female entrepreneur outline her next steps in growing her wellness business, which involved partnering with some other brick and mortar businesses. The first five minutes of the pitch outlined the wonderful community benefit, the sense of empowerment, the size of the mailing lists and the ambience of the event. Nowhere in the pitch was what the measurable benefit to her business would be, or the benefit to her brick and mortar partners.  A business coach kept probing, asking, “What is the benefit, where is the return?” and got more answers about wellness, community, and the overall specialness of the event. It took three tries for the business coach to get the entrepreneur to outline her plan for getting revenue from the event.

Lest any men be laughing and saying “typical female approach,” I’ve noticed many male-led pitches wax on endlessly about the speed of the technology, the sleekness of the interface, the inherent scalability of the product, while never addressing the paying market for the product.

At some point we all do it, fall so in love with our grand plan that we think everyone will buy in. And passion is a good thing.  Passion and drive keep you going at 3 am, when the 16th version is just not working the way you planned, and when you know in two hours the kids need to get up to get ready for school and you’re operating on no sleep. But we have to be mindful of our audience. Your significant other, your mom and your dog will love your idea, and think its brilliant, but unless they can finance it, eventually you have to sell it.

How are you pitching your vision? And are you selling it in a way that those who are buying can hear it?

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Want to Speed Read an Organization you may be pitching? Subscribe today.

 

Just Say No

Sometimes just saying "no" is the most powerful choice you can make.

Sometimes just saying “no” is the most powerful choice you can make.

What if you could free your day from the “Should do’s” “Ought to do’s” and only focus on the things that really move you towards your goal? What if you said, “This just isn’t going to happen” and crossed it off your “to do” list.

  • Say no to the networking event that never yields anything.
  • Cross off the “nice to have” product improvement that is sucking energy and time from your team but wont measurably increase usage or sales.
  • No, I’m sorry, we’ve done all our pro bono work for this year.
  • No, we’re not going to pursue that business line.
  • No, that sales/tech/ superstar just doesn’t fit our culture, lets stop pursuing him/her and find a different solution.
  • No, I don’t have the bandwidth for that.

What would you get done TODAY if you just said “No”?

 

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

But say YES to our free guide “Reading the Terrain” a field guide to understanding the corporate landscape…it may help you understand why your boss is saying NO to something you want to do! Subscribe in the box and get your copy today.

3 Things you Must do before Every Meeting

Brandon Smith

Brandon Smith: The Workplace Therapist is In!

This week’s guest post is from Brandon Smith, aka The Workplace Therapist! His unique take on the workplace is not to be missed.

Today’s Topic: Three Things You Must do Before Every Meeting:

It is sad, really.  Every working day, the majority of us suffer from worthless and painful meetings that should have been avoided.  These are those meetings that, with a little bit of intentionality, could have been scrubbed dysfunction-free.  So what kinds of meetings am I talking about?  Consider these particularly “dirty” gatherings that could have been made clean with a little pre-meeting hygiene:

“The ‘what’s the point’ meeting” – While you sit quietly in attendance, the question “what is the point of this meeting?” plays continuously in your head like a bad Pink song.  No matter how hard you try, you can’t shake it.  The more you resist, the louder it gets.  As a result, you find concentrating nearly impossible.  When it’s all over, you leave the meeting confused and angry.  Another hour of your life gone forever.

“The birthday party” – The birthday party is a common meeting trap.  The meeting organizer starts with a small list of attendees and quickly the list grows to include everyone he or she knows.  There is little thought put into who needs to be in attendance.  Rather the thinking is something more akin to planning a festive gala.  The organizer thinks to him or herself, “The more people who come, the better.  And who knows?  They might bring food.”  You know you are in one of these meetings when you look around the room and after trying to find the commonality with you and the other fifteen attendees, you say to yourself, “why am I here?”  Pass another piece of cake.

“The ‘I’m gonna be fired’ meeting” – We all know the type.  The person who leaves you a voicemail that simply says, “Call me back.  We need to talk.”  Vague and mysterious, these individuals refuse to tell you what they want to talk about, ever.  As a result, your mind spins every time they make a request to connect.  “What did I forget to do?  Did I say something I shouldn’t have?  What could they possibly be angry with me about?”  They create an anxiety whirlwind in our minds as we begin to plot out worst-case scenarios.  When these people schedule meetings, they do the same thing.  No agenda.  No objective.  Nothing other than a meeting request.  And if the person is your boss, in the back of your mind you wonder, “Am I going to be fired?”  Wasted anxiety and worry that accomplishes nothing other than elevating your blood pressure and shortening your life expectancy.

So how do you avoid these messy meetings?  Simple.  Consider the following prescription on proper pre-meeting hygiene.  Rub-a-dub-dub.

  1. Decide the purpose or objective.  Before calling any meeting, ask yourself “what do I want to get out of the meeting?”  Most meetings are either informational (you’re just wanting to keep all attendees informed with what’s going on) or decision-making (you need folks in the meeting to reach a decision) or both.  Write down your objective in one line.  If you can do that, you are ready for the next step.  If you can’t, do you really need to have a meeting?
  2. Identify who should attend.  Less is always more when it comes to meetings.  Steelcase, a company known for office furniture, has been in the business of studying and providing solutions to make workspaces better for over 100 years.  In their workplace research, they found that the most productive meetings are with three people.  Not five.  Not eight.  Three people.  When was the last time you were in a three person meeting?  There is a natural temptation to expand meeting attendee lists.  This person may need to hear what is said.  That person could have something to contribute.  He’ll be offended if I don’t invite him.  So, before you end up with a party on your hands, seriously consider who is in attendance.  If you are struggling to narrow your list, consider the hourly rates represented in the room.  When I walk into a meeting of ten people, I don’t see productivity.  All I see is thousands of dollars being wasted.  Maybe that’s the contractor coming out in me.  Time is money.  You’ll know you have a good final list when you can say, “This is a good use of the resources I have at my disposal.”  In other words, if it was your cash, you wouldn’t hesitate to pay to have those people in the room.
  3. Send out a meeting agenda at least 24 hrs prior.  No one likes mysterious meetings.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ve read one of my many mantras: “In absence of communication, people always assume the worst.”  In absence of meeting agendas and objectives, people will naturally assume the worst.  As a result, the worrying begins resulting in a total waste of mental and emotional energy.  Avoid this by sending out any meeting agenda complete with meeting objective at least 24hours in advance.  This also allows you to clearly spell out what preparation you expect attendees to have made prior to the meeting (Ex: “Come prepared to discuss the attached budget,” “Come prepared to review your department’s accomplishments last week,” etc…).

The steps above are simple and obvious and yet very few meetings qualify as “clean” based on the above criteria.  So, do you and your team members a favor and show up all cleaned up and ready to go.  And spread the word.  All it takes is one badly planned meeting to stink up the place.  Yuck.

 

Brandon Smith is a therapist, professor, consultant and radio host, Brandon Smith brings an upbeat, witty approach to the challenges of workplace health and dysfunction. He blogs at www.theworkplacetherapist.com and is a regular guest on public radio.

Admitting Failure, Rewriting the book on Burying Mistakes

Admitting failure

When you have to move to plan B, did you learn anything from what went wrong with Plan A?

This morning I came across the Admitting Failure website. This fantastic site, a collection of well intentioned projects gone wrong, is the brainchild of Engineers without Borders, a volunteer group of Engineers who commit to doing engineering projects around the world. It’s an offshoot of their original “Failure Reports” that they compiled each year to detail projects that had not worked out as planned or not survived after they left.

Most businesses don’t keep “Failure Reports.” Most prefer to bury the mistakes as quickly as possible and move on, so perhaps it’s not unexpected that it took the analytical mind of engineers to not only catalog and categorize their mistakes but actually share them publically.  (By the way, physicians do it too, with their Morbidity and Mortality conferences where they review cases gone wrong).  What was particularly interesting was that the public website came out when one of  the participating engineers realized that the volunteer teams began to actually look forward to reviewing the annual “Failure Reports” to see what they could do differently.

The format of each story is fairly simple, What you set out to do, what happened, what went wrong, what could you have done differently, what do you do differently now? But inside each one is a world of truth. About setting clear expectations, trusting your gut, not being swayed from a proven success formula by outside pressure to hit a goal, knowing your customer.

We fail. We fail often. For every heartwarming “feel good” success or rocketing business success, there is a landscape littered with failures. The challenge is to learn how to fail forward, so the next time, the learning is faster and moves you to a higher ground.

Looking for a methodology on failing fast? Try Lean Startups by Eric Ries for ideas on how to fail fast and build something designed to be responsive to the market needs.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Want to see if your organization is ready for change? Read “Reading the Terrain” A field guide to the Corporate Landscape. You can get your free copy by putting your email address in the subscription box at right.

 

Pull the Tooth.

rotten tooth

Ignore at your own Peril

What aren’t you doing? What are you spending all your time, your energy, your thinking, and inevitably, your business resources, NOT doing?

There’s always one thing. And it takes a ton of time and energy to ignore it, work around it,  to sidestep it. We procrastinate, or worse yet, design elaborate ways to avoid doing that one thing.

Maybe you need to cut off the client that makes you crazy. Maybe you need to fire someone. Maybe you need to admit that the plan just isn’t working. Do you need to make a sales call you dread? Remedy a customer situation that went sideways? Tell an employee they’re not cutting it? Find a new supplier? Admit that the big number you’ve kept on the “Accounts Receivable” ledger, just isn’t ever going to be paid?

What would happen if you did it today? Yes, there might be some pain, or even a little bloodshed. But in the end, you’ll be able to focus on what you need to do to go forward. And you will be amazed at all the time, energy and space “pulling the tooth” will free up.

Just do it. Today.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Think you might not be seeing the whole picture? Get a copy of our field guide “Reading the Terrain” by subscribing in the box at right. It’s free, and it will help you speed read what’s going on where you work. And we won’t bug you or share your email address with anyone. You’ll get a weekly update with our articles and that’s it. No spam, no harassment.

Speed Read your Work Environment, Today

Can you see what's going on around you?

Can you see what’s going on around you?

Ever think you might be missing the forest for the trees? Once you’re immersed in an organizational culture, you sometimes don’t even notice the quirks or unique habits of your environment.

What’s funny is that on the very first day you worked in the new environment you may have even spotted some key takeaways, but most likely  you didn’t fully process them or act upon them. (Okay, you may have slightly tweaked the way you dress but that’s usually about it for most people).

Our Free “Field Guide” gives you some key questions to help widen your view beyond your department or division. It covers topics as diverse as “Power Players” “Who’s Buying, Who’s Paying, Who’s Watching”, “Revenue Streams” “People Culture” “Technology” “Bomb Dropping”  and many other areas that help you truly understand the big picture.

You can get the guide for free, just sign up for our weekly newsletter in the subscription box at the right. We won’t mail bomb you, or share your email address. You’ll get a copy of the guide and our weekly updates of new articles.

Here’s a sample section:

Radioactive Fallout (aka “We tried that before” or “Previous Adventures in Change”)  

  1. What other change initiatives have been tried recently?  Are any similar to what you have planned?
  2. What were the results? Did anything actually change?
  3. What were the other consequences of the change; were there layoffs, staff cutbacks, staff reorganizations?
  4. Is “Change for Change’s Sake” a regular occurrence? How seriously is it taken?
  5. Does the team have a “set point?” a behavior or path of action they consistently revert back to when there is a problem with a change strategy or when the official “change period” is over?
  6. How quickly does the team come up with “workarounds” to avoid dealing with change? Is this the normal pattern?
  7. What is the persistent story around change in this organization (i.e. “Always leads to layoffs”  “ Screws everything up and then they go back to how it was”  “Another round of idiot consultants here to make money and make us miserable” )
  8. Does the culture favor real change or does it prefer band aids, quick fixes, and fluff (aka lots of marketing and branding fury signifying nothing).

If you don’t know where or what the “Elephants and Sacred Cows” are at your office, do yourself a favor and grab the guide.

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

It’s Free, and it will take 30 seconds of your time. I guarantee it will open your eyes to at least one thing you may not have considered before.

And if you have a friend struggling at work, make their day better and forward this link to them!

 

A Fun Way to Get “Unstuck”

Team in a funk? Feel like you’re hitting a brick wall? There’s an app for that.

The “Unstuck” app, available on the ITunes store is a great, fun tool that allows you to put in a problem, business or personal, answer a few questions about feelings, who’s involved, what you perceive the roadblocks to be, and it shoots out a diagnosis of what’s going on, possible next steps, and some famous folks who have faced similar situations.  It’s been around for about two years and is constantly improved. Try it.

The app is for Ipads and is free. You can read more about it at www.unstuck.com

The Sunday Night Dreads: 5 ways to shake them. Starting Today

 

sunday night burnout

Looking forward to Monday?

A common phenomenon for many corporate and non-profit professionals is the “Sunday Night Dreads”. A combination of burnout, frustration, fear and a sinking feeling in your stomach, it occurs when you dread going back to work on Monday. And you know you’ve hit rock bottom when the “Sunday Night Dreads” morph into the “Saturday mid-afternoon blues” or even worse, the “Saturday Ten A.M. slump.” The “Dreads” are usually temporarily cured with large quantities of television viewing, the addictive substance of your choice (from chocolate to the hard stuff), some form of antacid and a healthy sprinkling of denial until morning rolls around. But what if that’s not working anymore? Here’s a hint, it never was working. What can you do about it?

1. Change your Venue.

Sometimes it’s just time to go. Pick up stakes and get the heck out. That means replacing the dread time with resume building / networking / “asking for a conversation” time with people who are in an industry or job role that gets you excited again. Better yet, assign some time on Saturday morning to do this so you can rest easy on Sunday night with a few conversations scheduled for the following week. But before you go, read on, because sometimes your junk will just follow you to the next venue.

2. Build a Better set of Allies.

Current thinking is that you (and your income) are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most. Your five may be co-workers, friends, drinking buddies or your family but it could be time to upgrade. I don’t recommend ditching your spouse and kids (they can get kind of sensitive about that) but it may be time to change who you socialize with. Who is doing what you want to do? How did they get there? Petulant answers like “Their father was the CEO and he bought them a position” get you nowhere, pick a different person and don’t be so quick to dismiss everyone as “not worthy”. What do they do in their day that is materially different than how you spend your time in a day? Look at your team members who also appear to be successful and very different from you. Is there something they’re doing you might be willing to try? Get to know them and see if you have some common ground. If your current set of allies is only, and perhaps with the best of intentions, reinforcing your “stuck” feeling, you need to expand your horizons. One of my most motivational moments ever was when I realized that a colleague I considered a moron was making significantly more income than I was. My normal default would be to decry the “unfairness” of it all, topped off with a soothing declaration of what a much better human being I am. Instead, I simply resolved that if that “moron” could make that kind of income, I could do much better than she/he did. And the following year I did.

3. Change One Thing this Week.

And another next week. Can you change just one small thing this week on how you spend your time or who you talk to? Maybe change the way you deal with difficult conversations at work. If you normally dodge them, confront them head on (some suggestions here). Can you take a walk/run/workout for 30 minutes? And can you listen to a TED Talk or business book during that time? Can you set aside 15 minutes to talk to someone different at work, perhaps in a different business line or with a different background?   Make one small change this week, one that takes 30 minutes or less. And then keep building on it each week. There’s some science showing that a series of small “micro” changes can actually lead to more lasting success than massive “overnight” changes. Take 2 minutes right now to write down that tiny change you’ll make this week. And stick it on a post it and look at it on Sunday night. And then do it Monday morning. And stick a reminder in your calendar for Wednesday to make sure you followed through.

4. Throw Yourself into Something Totally New, and a little Strange, that you may Suck at.

We tend to stay in one set of activities or line of learning. If we’re athletic we do sports, watch sports and coach sports. Academically inclined? They know you at the local library, Amazon Book delivery has your number and PBS counts on you for every pledge drive. What if you were to do something you were NOT likely to excel at on your first try? I’m all for playing to your strengths, and believe that 95% of the time you should, but to shake up your thinking you need to have “beginner’s brain” in one aspect of your life. If you’re an engineer take a public speaking class (maybe you’re great at public speaking, if you are, how do you feel about modern dance?). Do something that your friends, tribe, allies would say “Well that’s about the last thing I’d expect him/her to do”  Try Tai chi, play an instrument, join a Table Tennis league, learn a computer programming language, learn Tagalog. Try something where you are Rank Amateur and do it in a setting that involves other people. It will have you talking and engaging with people you normally don’t interact with and “wake up” your brain to other possibilities you haven’t considered. In a tiny way it changes the “Story of You.”  You are now a chemical engineer who also is a dancer. A marketer who is learning computer programming. A top performing salesman who speaks Tagalog.  Open your brain, change your story and see where it leads. And talk to the people you meet while you’re learning. You may find that one of them is the connection you need to start your next career adventure.

5. “If you can’t be with the job you love, love the one you’re with”, by changing it to suit your needs.

What if you could reinvent the place you currently work at to be your dream job? Can you create an entrepreneurial startup inside of the corporate structure? Create a new product or strategy that will increase revenue or reduce costs? Is there a product or project that you, the top salesperson, with an elementary  command of  conversational Tagalog, are the perfect person to take on? Is there a win-win situation where you and your employer can both grow, change and create something entirely new? We’ll be talking a lot about intrapreneurship and reinvention in the next few weeks so subscribe at right to catch the articles.

Got a friend who’s ready to “end it all” every Sunday evening? Do them a favor and forward this article to them. And let me know in the comments what you decided to do this week. (Even it was breaking into the jar of chocolate frosting in the pantry and sticking potato chips in it. Yup, been there, done that. It doesn’t work and it’s pretty disgusting after awhile. But, hey, do what you got to do).

book by Jeanne Goldie

Speed Read an Organization with our Easy Guide

Thinking about making a move? Size up your Corporate Landscape or any other company you may be thinking of moving to by using our free guide, Reading the Terrain. Get your copy today by putting your email address in the subscription box at right. And no, we won’t spam you, you’ll just get our weekly update of articles.

Lean Intrapreneurship-Carl Danneels, Brussels Feb 5 2014

Carl Danneels is a PMP and ScrumMaster and a fantastic champion of great planning. His presentation on Lean Intrapreneurship truly talks to the tools you’ll need to successfully execute an intrapreneurial activity in a corporate setting. The link below takes you to his slides, which really do a deep dive into what works!

Lean Intrapeneurship Key Slides – Feb 5th 2014 – Plethon

The Problems you Have Left

Some greatness from Seth Godin. The truth is, the easy problems are easily solved. If you’re reading this blog it’s because you like to solve the tough ones!

Takes 1 minute to read but says a mouthful!

The Problems you Have Left

 

 

© Jeanne Goldie 2015