Each year in January, I try to plan my calendar to meet with friends in the first two weeks. I have a diverse group of friends ranging from entrepreneurs to folks from corporate America, from local community volunteers to national leaders, and from neighbors to old school chums.Continue reading
You’ve probably had the experience where through the diverse objectives and perspectives of the people on your team, what you set out to create and what you got where not exactly the same. As concessions are made to reach a point of consensus, a completely different animal begins to takes shape.Continue reading
The year 2009 will be a year to remember- fondly by some and less by others. But however you feel about this year soon past – 2010 is just around the corner. (Or as my Aussie friends remind me – It’s already here!)
As the clock strikes Twelve – New Years tradition is to gather with friends and family to wish them well – sing a song and exchange an embrace. We’ve all heard the song and probably sung it – most of us badly – at least I have.
It is believed Robert Burns wrote the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne in the 1700’s. (Most say in 1788.) The 1700’s were challenging years for the Scots – and in January of 1788 – it was the passing of an era with the death at 68 of the long exiled Bonnie Prince Charlie.
As we sing Auld Lang Syne to this challenging decade of zero years, let’s take a page from from the song and put it behind us with fond memories of what was good and focus in on where and why we might raise our ‘cup of kindness’ to the decade to come.
Looking Back on the Big Zero
The decade of the Big Zero was not all bad – it had it’s highs and it’s lows. But the highs for me included starting my own company (CorePurpose turns 8 in July), publishing my first book, leading an inspiring team at ASBA for two years, working with the team at Parenting Arizona and OTEF to make a lasting difference in our community, helping RiboMed move forward in it’s quest for new methods of early cancer detection so we can catch it early and stop the spread before it harms the ones we love, and watching my sons grow from boys into men that their Dad and I can be very proud if. All in all, not a bad list.
Looking forward to the Big One
As I look towards 2010 and beyond – let’s call it the Decade of the BIG ONE – I’m starting a To Do List – not resolutions to break – just actions to take.
- Help someone find a job they love.
- Have lunch with a friend to share ideas on a regular basis
- Pick an OLD Problem and Solve at it in a NEW way at least every other day.
- Recognize someone’s leadership potential and commit to be their mentor
- Accomplish ‘Small Things” as suggested by Rebel Brown in this post at Phoenix Rising.
- Dust off that Five Year Plan and Refine it for 2010 and beyond
- Identify What We Do Best – Focus our energies there and outsource the rest
- Zero in on finding my QUEST company and get it growing.
- Help my son Nick (he’s 18) write his business plan for HIS dream business so that when he writes his 2019 Look Back List he can say – “The Decade of the Big One was when I launched my business – and look what we have achieved.”
So, there you have it – my Look Back List and my To Do List going forward. Have you started yours?
Thanks for stopping – best wishes for a Safe and Happy New Years and a record breaking 2010 and beyond. Get ready – this decade will be the BIG ONE.
Christmas is a special time for many reasons. Is it OK to wish someone a Merry Christmas? I think so and here is why…
Thank you for stopping by. Merry Christmas!
One of the most important jobs of a leader is a simple one.
Say “Thank You” and recognize the hard work of others.
This photo, taken a number of years ago, popped up on in my son’s Facebook stream the other day. It had been posted by his friend Nick Roa and it reminded me of an important lesson that applies to leaders of all ages.
At the age of 13, my son Christopher was having a blast playing on his travel hockey team. His coaches instituted a great practice of having the players take turns saying “thank you” to the wait-staff in the restaurants where the team would gather with parents after each game. One night in Tucson, the boys voted for chicken wings and Hooter’s for dinner after the game. So that evening, young Chris had to stand on a chair, surrounded by beautiful women and make a speech thanking his team mates for a game well played and the ladies for their hard work. He did a great job. (It’s not everyday a leader gets to make a speech standing on a chair in a crowded restaurant surrounded by a bevy of beauties.)
There are a myriad of opportunities to say “Thank You” and even more ways to do so. Here are just a few:
- Instead of having the mail room pass out paychecks, have them sent to you and deliver them personally with a handshake, a smile, or a bit of praise on something that that person has done for the team.
- Pick up the telephone and speak to someone – a novel concept these days. Thank them for their business, their friendship, their support – make it meaningful and don’t expect or ask for anything in return.
- Double that Gratuity – the next time you are out to eat and the service is good. Don’t just write in the TIP on the slip – tell the waiter or waitress WHY you did it. This economy has caused restaurants to cut back on staff – so waiters and waitresses are doing more and in many cases getting smaller tips. It may just be a few dollars and a minute out of your day but it can mean A LOT to them.
- Carry an envelope of Dollar Bills and put them in every little red kettle you see. Then, THANK the Bell Ringer. Not only are you supporting the charitable efforts of the Salvation Army in helping people who need it – but you are recognizing the efforts of volunteers who stand for hours – in all types of weather – ringing that little brass bell.
- Thank someone for doing the little things. It may inspire them to do something big. You don’t have to ration Thank You’s – you never run out.
As 2009 comes to a close, many of us may feel that we have less to be thankful for than in other years. But, if you start to think about it and look for opportunities and ways to say thanks, you will find that they are all around you and that when you start looking for them – you’ll feel better about yourself AND get better results at work, at home, and in your community. Now that is something to be thankful for.
So, “Thank You” Reader – for stopping by. Stay tuned…
Few companies will argue that that customer service is important. We see messages relating to the importance of customers appear in mission statements, value statements, and strategic plans on a regular basis.
Yet, when you call these same companies, too often you reach not a customer sensitive employee, but instead an automated voice response unit or VRU. These marvels of efficiency creating technology are happy to give you a wealth of choices – often without an obvious or expedient option to talk to a real person. Worse, when you actually discover the secret code, you get a very pleasant voice sharing with you that ‘due to high call volume, your call will be answered in ____ minutes.” Sometimes the wait time is short, others not so short. My favorite was the company that shared how important I was as a customer and that the anticipated wait time was FORTY MINUTES. Then to add insult to injury, their hold message was bragging about their recent prestigious award for customer service!
Yes, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies is important. But, be sure you understand the REAL message you deliver to your customers by your service or lack of it.
As you can see in this humorous clip from my friend Dave Griffiths (@Bensonix on Twitter) automatons don’t make the best customer service agents or tech support staff.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
Are you a juggler? Do you always have at least three balls in the air at all times. For me that is just the way I am made up. Multiple businesses, family, writing projects, community involvement activities and other stuff are in constant motion.
Some people look at jugglers in awe. Other’s shake their heads in dismay. But for a juggler, it’s a natural state – there is no other way.
Recently I got to spend three days at Kolbe Corp with the wonderful Kathy Kolbe and her team. Together with others being certified to use the Kolbe Method, I learned about the instinctive talents that we all have and how the combination of those talents help us get things done as individuals and on teams. I also learned another word for my juggling abilities – it turns out that my particular combination of talents is termed an Innovator. Go figure.
For me, getting that ball up in the air is as natural as breathing, but keeping it there, circling with all the others takes more. It takes the discipline to make sure the balls don’t drop.
So, if you are a juggler like me, here are some tips on the things I do to keep things moving in the right direction and avoid that embarrassing drop.
- Make lists of what needs to be done for each project and check them off as they are completed and by whom. (Your list may be on a piece of paper, a white board, a planner, or a PDA – but however you do it – record it, schedule it, and check it off when it is done.)
- Do the annoying little ‘must do’ things first. Get them out of the way and then reward yourself with the more exciting projects.
- Build a great team and delegate. Know what you are good at and what you are not. Find others who compliment your natural abilities to get things moving with other who are great at gathering facts, creating systems, and implementing solutions. Work with them to create a team that can’t be beat.
Even though others may believe that you can not possibly handle one more thing – always be on the look out for the next great idea, project or opportunity. It’s where your energy comes from. Don’t let other people make you believe you can’t when you know you can. You are a juggler, it’s what you do. So, do it well. The stage is yours.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
No, I’m not talking about this majestic lady – Queen of the Jungle, I’m talking about LI-ONs, Linked In Open Networkers. People who pledge to connect to everyone on Linked In who sends them an invitation.
You can normally tell a LION by a profile that reads LION or by their membership in a LION group. Some people make the mistake of assuming that someone that has 500+ connections is by default a LION, and that can be a costly mistake. It can result in a DNK or I Do Not Know this person response. Get too many of these and your Linked In privileges can be restricted.
The Laws of the Social Jungle are Relationship Based
Successful networking, whether it is face to face, or profile to profile in cyberspace is about creating relationships. Once the relationship is formed, then you can move on to real conversations whether it is in the business world or the personal realm. When forming relationships, it is important to understand how the other person chooses to communicate and share information. It also helps to understand the boundaries or personal space preferences of the other person and adapt your behavior to theirs.
Listed below are my personal boundaries. That does not mean they will be the same for you, but they might give you some ideas when you form your own.
- Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a linked in page to share information. I also share ideas occasionally on a number of Linked In groups including Lead Change, MIT Enterprise Forum Phoenix, Continuous Innovation, Corporate Planning & Global Industry Segmentation, Forbes Woman, and Marketing Partners
- Exclusive – I limit my Linked In connections to people I actually know and have done business with. Having been on Linked In from almost the very beginning, I still have quite a few, but every single one is someone I know and can personally recommend to others. This enables the true power of Linked In – quality introductions.
- Inclusive – CorePurpose, my company, has a Facebook page. On it you can find blog posts, articles, and links that I choose to share. Facebook pages are highly inclusive. Like web pages or blogs, anyone can choose to see them or follow them.
- Exclusive – My personal profile by definition is more exclusive. If Facebook is for friends, then my personal choice is to keep it to friends and not connect to every person who finds my profile and wants to connect. I want to know what my friends are doing – and to do that, I intentionally keep the group smaller so I can actually find them in the crowd.
- Inclusive – On Twitter, I am at my most inclusive. I look for like minded people and I auto follow back the people who follow me. But more importantly, when people engage and talk to me with @mentions or non- automated DM’s, I engage with them and join the conversation.
- Exclusive – My exclusivity comes into play when people wear out their welcome. Spammers, scantily clad avatars, porn, and hateful people are quickly unfollowed or even blocked. I also go in once each month and clean up my accounts, You can see how I do it here,
It was an article on CNN.com, Defriending Can Bruise Your ‘Digital Ego’, that got me thinking about all this. You see, I probably was “this one woman”. The message is one that I use frequently when contacted by people on Linked In that I do not know. It is not meant to be unkind, or rude, Just realistic. If I do not know you, I can not recommend you, and that is how I use that particular tool. ‘I only connect with people I know, and hopefully our paths will cross one day.’ I am not that hard to connect with and engage in other areas. Really – just Google me.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…
In literature, as in legend, there have been many great quests. One in particular that has captured imaginations, for over two thousand years, is the search for a simple cup used in a great tale of transformation. Yes, The Quest for The Holy Grail.
While my quest is not one of such mythical proportion, as I sat pondering how to share my plans with you, the legend of The Holy Grail leapt to mind.
I am, together with a valued group of friends, looking to acquire a controlling interest in a very particular company. Our search and the legendary quest have more than a few things in common. In both cases they combine Innovation, Leadership, and Growth to create Lasting Value. These are my personal passions. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you discover something with true potential and then do what it takes to Make It Great.
What’s been happening?
This year, I have been working with a small team of friends and advisors to search out really cool deals. We’ve found some great ones, but not the right one. Not yet.
Along the way, I have gotten much more active in connecting to friends old and new via a range of social media tools.
Morris asked –
“Joan, what do you think about expanding this search and inviting your social media network to participate? You could literally ask for help crowd-sourcing this acquisition search.”
And that’s how it started. So, here I am asking if you will help me locate the company I would like to lead next. If so, then what follows are some of the criteria we find necessary to successfully recognize our “grail” when we find it. Ready? OK. Lets discuss a little detail around what this company is, and perhaps even more importantly, what it is not. An ideal company will be one where we can combine Innovation, Leadership, and Growth to create Lasting Value.
Innovation in my book is doing something in a new way to make life better for the people who matter most to us – in this case employees, customers, investors, and strategic partners. It is a company with a product or service that can transform an industry or niche. For example, my friend Amilya Antonetti changed the way we look at soap in her quest to save the life of her son and now she is on a quest to help other entrepreneurs ask the right questions, get the right information and the things they need to succeed.
Criteria #1: A product oriented company that will transform its market by creating new value through a better way of doing something(s).
Unlikely Fits: Singing pop bottles, Presidential Pet Rocks, the corner store, or the next great social media tool. While there may be lots of investors looking for these, I am not one of them.
A great idea only gets you so far before it needs more. In this case more is the ability to see the future direction of the company’s journey and to predict and obtain what it will need along the way. Many a great new company has lost crucial momentum when the leader that led the way for the first stage of the journey is not ready for the next stage of that steep uphill path, which many entrepreneurs forecast and yet few would want to travel alone.
The prize we seek on this quest will have a founder and a team that is looking for a new guide as they begin the climb to revenues and profitability so that everyone, employees, customers, investors and strategic partners alike, benefit from the next stage in the company’s growth.
Criteria #2: A dedicated team in search of experienced leadership and resources to help them successfully move along the growth path.
- If ALL YOU NEED IS MONEY so that you can continue along the path you are already on.
- If your goal is to maintain the status quo.
- If, as the owner, you are not interested in passing the baton to the next runner in the growth relay.
The company must have solid growth potential and demonstrate how it could scale to provide a more than reasonable return to the investors.
Growth curves come in all shapes and sizes. There’s the steady incremental growth of a mature business, the graceful leaps of the Gazelles, and the inevitable ‘Hockey Stick” that appears over and over at every venture conference I have ever attended. Yet, in the real world, it’s not the pretty charts and pictures that matter, it’s the foundational elements that make a transformational company stand out. Some Gazelles grow to be great companies, while others rapidly run out of steam after the initial burst of growth. Hockey Stick Growth Curves can be ‘the big pay day’ or they can simply be a sign of a business in danger of snapping under the pressure of too much, too fast.
Criteria #3: The best true indicators of growth potential are not charts and graphs, but rather how does the company (or product) provide a solution that is usable by a large number of people and BETTER than substitutes (or lack thereof)?
- One more “me too” solution in an already overcrowded market.
- A terrific solution for a very small customer base (since these rarely can scale.)
- Product or services that are not designed to fill a genuine customer need (since customers must ultimately be willing to pay and karma is important to me).
- A ‘great idea’ that has not ever been built, tested, or sold to ANYONE (since I’d like it to already have at least one customer).
And in the end, building a great company is more than just creating a widget, jobs, or shareholder value.
Criteria #4: It’s creating something to believe in, and be proud of, for the people who matter most to us (employees, customers, investors and strategic partners).
- Products or services you would be embarrassed to discuss with your parents.
- Products or services that add no value to or potentially even harm the community, the environment, or others (since that just isn’t who I am).
- Any product or service that makes promises it cannot keep (since that certainly isn’t me either).
So that’s my list. Have YOU seen this company?
Of course, there are at least two BIG differences between my quest and the search for The Grail of legend. One, I know that I’m going to find what I am seeking, and Two, this is more than a personal journey, it is also an experiment in the power of social media. So, if you’ve seen this company please let me know. You can always leave me a note here, on my blog or, if you want to keep it confidential, you can also contact me by clicking here.
As long as we are on the subject, if you happen to be looking for a company too, just let me know what YOU are searching for and I’ll be happy to pass along what I may find for you along the way. Unlike the fabled Holy Grail, there is more than just one great opportunity out there.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…
P.S. One of the best parts of this journey is connecting, engaging, and being inspired by fellow entrepreneurs. On Thursday, November 12th in Phoenix Arizona I will be doing just that at AZEC09. Who knows maybe I will see YOU there and we can chat.
It’s still to be written what the final outcome of the health care debates in Congress will be, or how the year will wrap up from an economic perspective, but many will tell you they can’t wait for 2010 to make its arrival.
But there have been some bright spots in this recession that we have all struggled through. Companies that are making great things happen in the world of social media, women’s health, green materials, and a host of other industries. That’s why, as I prepare for the exciting things that I know will happen in 2010, I am getting ready today by attending the 4th Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference on November 12th.
As chairman of the board of OTEF, the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation, November is always a busy time as we prepare for the conference. Each year’s conference is vitally important since all of the proceeds go to fund OTEF’s efforts to provide entrepreneurial training and support to at-risk populations – giving them a better chance for future financial sustainability.
But, as an entrepreneur, I look forward to the conference for the many great ideas I know I will receive there each year. This is the only place I know where, in one day, I can gain insights from national thought leaders like Tara Hunt and Michelle Robson (EmpowHer) , connect with fellow CEOs from TiE and EO to learn what’s working for them, and get the latest updates in technology and business trends from CEOs and thought leaders who are on the front lines.
I’m also excited this year that we have friends coming from far and near to share ideas. Patti Dragland (@StrategicSense) is coming in from Calgary, Tara Hunt (@MissRogue), author of The Whuffie Factor, from Montreal, Howard Lindzon (founder of StockTwits), Kevin Surace, of Serious Materials, is flying in from Sunnyvale, and my favorite entrepreneurial blogger, Marty Willing (@StartUpPro), will be there not to mention fellow conference team members and great friends like Francine Hardaway (@Hardaway), Steven Groves (@StevenGroves), Ed Nusbaum (@EdAZ), Merlin Ward (@MerlinWard) and many more!
November 12th is an important day for gathering new ideas, making connections, and to just get that extra dose of inspiration that will come in real handy in 2010. I know where I will be on November 12th. How about you?
Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…