planning

Can you create a Brand in only four words ? Charlie did. 0

Joel Quass, Professional Speaker and Author talks about Branding

Traveling north or south near Saluda on Route 17 in rural Virginia, you can’t miss the sign in the yard. Measuring a generous eight feet tall by 20 feet long, a white plywood background with blue 3-d lettering, it’s just four words:  Charlie Carter Cleans Chimneys.

As a former chimney sweep I have kept track of Charlie over the years. Charlie’s sign has been in his front yard (you’ve got to love the local zoning laws) for over 30 years. Charlie Carter was a brand before branding was cool. There is no phone number. Everything you need is there. At 55 mph (you can’t really go faster in front of his house because the road makes a sweeping bend as you pass the driveway) you know who he is and what he does.

Curious if Charlie has kept up with the times, I Goggled “Charlie Carter Cleans Chimneys.” Guess what I found?

  1. Charlie Carter Cleans Chimneys | Saluda, VA 23149 | Angies List

www.angieslist.com › Local Reviews › Saluda

Reviews you can trust on Charlie Carter Cleans Chimneys from Angie’s List members | 12180 Tidewater Trl Saluda, VA.

 

  1. Charlie Carter Cleans Chimneys, Saluda, VA – Manta

www.manta.com/c/mm60wbd/charlie-carter-cleans-chimneys

12180 Tidewater Trail, Saluda, VA, 23149-2539. Phone: (804) 435-3600. Category:Chimney Builders & Repairers. View detailed profile, contacts, maps, reports 

 

Charlie comes up as 1 – 10 on the first page. All with just four words.

Think about what you can do for your company in four words. Is your marketing this precise? Is your business this focused? Most people cannot describe what they do in four minutes, yet Charlie has done it in four words.

The same holds true in a job search. Can you share your Brand, your Value Statement (the answer to why should I hire you) in the equivalent of six tweets or less? Six 140 character sentences is about the length of an elevator pitch. If you can’t get someone’s attention during the elevator ride up, you should stay in the lobby.

Charlie has inspired me to once examine my brand, to challenge myself to say more with less. I encourage you to do the same. It has certainly paid off for Charlie.

With only 346 days left in 2013, what future are you going to create? 1

Joel Quass asks what are your goals in 2013?

What do you see this year?

I have read dozens of articles about making New Year’s resolutions, both pros and cons. Many state that the very act of writing resolutions down helps solidify them in your sub conscious, and you are more likely to achieve them. Others quote Napoleon Hill and say, loosely paraphrased, “New Year’s Resolutions made without any action towards their achievement, are merely dreams”.

This morning I read – Strategy? Gut or Intuition? on LinkedIn. The author ends stating:

THE BEST WAY TO PREDICT THE FUTURE IS TO CREATE IT.

Without going into the debate about self-determination, I want to encourage finding that scrap of paper where you wrote your New Year’s Resolutions. If they are not on paper yet,  jot them down and tape them to the side of your computer monitor.

Sure there are only 346 days left in the year. But if you use them wisely, you can create a future that more closely mirrors your expectations.

Managers – Are you paying enough attention? 4

Lessons from the Worst-Performing Companies in America
What’s caused U.S. firms to lose the most shareholder value in the last 10 years? A new Booz study — actually, a repeat of one it did in 2004 — once again came up with the same result

As I read this article, my mind flashed back to my years with Best Products Co. Inc. I had joined them right out of college. I was hired as an entry level Department Manager, but within a year I was a Store Manager for the company. I managed seven stores in as many years, moving frequently for the company.

After arriving in Hampton, Virginia, there was talk among our Senior VP’s of my taking on a District Manager role. Life was great and the possibilities limit-less. Then we bought Modern Merchandising.

We went from a one billion dollar company to a two billion dollar company over night. Everyone was very excited. In fact, we even had T-shirts made.  And our Senior Management spent the next twelve months assimilating the acquisition into the company.

We changed the names on our buildings; out with Dolgins, Miller Sales and the rest, in with the Best Products logo’s. We consolidated distribution centers, creating new efficiencies and re-aligned regional support offices.

The entire process took 12 months. And then we were ready.

But in the past twelve months, retail customers had gone off in a new direction. We had been so busy focusing on the acquisition and re-structuring that no one noticed our customer base was  leaving.

When I saw the hand writing on the wall, I left , purchasing the vending company I would sell two years later.

Every time I think things are running really well in my business I have a  flash back to my Best Products days. The lesson I learned then has stuck with me for over 25 years. So please, pay attention to your business.  

In Your Business, Do You Tack On A Header? 0

A good friend of mine from college sailed in a regatta last weekend to raise money for charity. When I went on-line to make a small donation, the website, Mississippi Leukemia Cup Regatta, asked me to send a comment of encouragement. I told Cathy to “always tack on a header”.

If you are not a sailor, I offer the following paraphrased quote from Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School:

More can be gained or lost in one healthy wind shift that can usually be made up by any amount of boat speed or superior sailing. Racing skippers are often so concerned about whether their boat is sailing faster than the one next to them that they neglect to consider the effect of wind shifts.

To the layman, this means if you are being pushed off course, you need to do something to get yourself back on course.  In this case the wind is changing so the boat is forced to move further away from its goal of reaching the next marker. If the captain of the boat doesn’t do something to change the boat’s relationship to the wind, the boat will stall, the energy of the wind will just rush past the sail and not provide lift to move the boat forward. To get moving forward, closer to the next marker, the captain must tack, change the direction of her boat in order to get the most advantage out of the new wind direction.

In business, you must be constantly ready to tack, to change your approach in order to keep your business moving forward, growing and expanding in a changing sea of challenges. The changes I’m addressing here are subtle, not cataclysmic. When  you tack on a header, you are adjusting your relationship to the goal, not changing the goal. When the captain of a sailboat tacks, her goal is still to get to the next buoy. Changing the direction of the sailboat at that moment is necessary to keep it moving towards the goal.

Sometimes you can just ride out a small change in the wind. But if the header is severe enough, you are being pushed further from your goal. On top of that, those who have already tacked are being helped by the change in wind direction. In business, this means that those who saw the wind changing are already reaping the benefits because they adjusted their course first.

So keep your business growing, moving forward by staying up on the latest wind movement, and don’t be so concerned about whether your business is moving faster than another. If you stay on the right side of wind shifts, you will reach the finish line ahead of the competition.

Does Your Organization Create Bottle Necks? 6

 You never know when and where a bottle neck will occur. I had arrived in plenty of time for the new officer training class. All I wanted to do was to meet with a friend before the morning session began. But the only entrance into the meeting room was blocked by the registration table.

At the time it was a little annoying, but I finally worked my way through, registering as I passed the table. Perhaps that was the idea. But the meeting was being held in a private company’s conference room and the building was back from the road on a tree-lined campus. I don’t think they were afraid of gate crashers.

After almost three hours of presentations, we broke for lunch. Guess where the lunch table was positioned? Just outside of the only exit from the meeting room. By this time, getting out for many was very urgent.  There had been no bathroom break.

As I struggled to maintain my composure while the line slowly moved towards the exit, I made the attached sketch.

I wonder how many times this happens? Are there bottlenecks in your organization? Are they merely inconvenient or do they impact productivity and cost money?   What types of bottle necks have you seen?

 

As a Manager, why you should expect the unexpected 1

I never expected a Blue Bird

I was sitting on the deck, enjoying the sun and having a little lunch. When I finished, I picked up my plate, opened the screen door and walked into the kitchen. I was thinking about getting back to my writing when, looking to my left through the kitchen window, there it was. Sitting on the fence near my bird feeder was a blue bird.

I have lived in New Jersey for over 20 years and never seen a blue bird here. In fact, the only blue bird I have ever seen was at Gettysburg, Pa while we were on a horseback tour of the battlefields.  So to have one sitting on my fence for several minutes was completely out of the blue (no pun intended). This got me thinking about the unexpected and why we should be expecting it.

I should have expected to see a bird I hadn’t seen before. Several years ago I was in the living room when I heard a loud “bang” against that same kitchen window. Running into the kitchen I saw a somewhat dazed immature Bald Eagle sitting on the fence. It turns out he was hunting for lunch at my bird feeder and had swooped down on a sparrow, over shot the feeder and slammed into my window. I’m pretty sure the eagle was just as surprised about the situation as I was.

In business, managers need to anticipate and plan. This includes expecting the unexpected. It may be a power outage that closes your business unexpectedly. It could be a typo in your email advertising link that sends your potential customers to a less-than wholesome website instead of your landing page. Sometimes it’s an employee who doesn’t check that the projector is working before your presentation.

The more we expect the unexpected and check for the unexpected, the less unexpected we will have as managers.

Seven ways to take charge of your To Do List 9

So you want to be more organized and have a list of things to accomplish. Now what?

  1. Create your list at the end of your workday, before leaving the office (give yourself permission to plan your next day, you’ll sleep better and will arrive at work feeling organized)
  2. Budget 10 – 15 minutes for planning and solitude (make this a daily priority on your list; Without a plan, you are just busy, not effective)
  3. Rank your list (deadlines for projects, client calls to return, you know what’s most important)
  4. Do the task you ranked #1 first (this is soooo… hard when there is e-mail to look at, YouTube video to share The Tickle Me Plant and co-workers to talk with)
  5. Check your tasks off as you complete them (there is a certain satisfaction in completing a task and the act of checking it off causes the body to release positive endorphins. Occasionally, I will write something I did on the list, just so I can cross it off)
  6. As new items come up during the day, add them to the bottom of the list. You will rank them at the end of the day (KEEP ONE LIST. If I write a note on a little slip of paper, I carry it in my hand until I can write it on my list. When I put a note in my pocket, the odds of it ending up on my to-do list decrease exponentially)
  7. “Do first things first and second things not at all” – Peter Drucker (The point of a list is to focus your attention on the most important aspects of your job. When you cross off your number 1 item, number 2 becomes your new number one.)

Apply these seven techniques and you will find you have taken charge of your To Do List.

Pencil Whipping? Are you insane? 0

Are You Pencil Whipping Your Checklist?

INSANITY – “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting it to come out different” Wikiquote

I’ve said more than once that Managers need to be organized, to have checklists for their day-to-day activities. Used properly, checklists allow a manager to inspect many different areas they oversee and then check off that they have looked at a specific task, project, deadline, etc.

Yet the danger of checklists is they can become routine. Managers can get busy with an employee, a customer, a supplier and spend vast amounts of time on one task.  Now it’s getting near quitting time, so out comes the checklist and; check, check, check and done. The checklist may be completed, but the tasks have not. If you are doing this day after day, you may be wondering why the checklist isn’t working and why the same results occur.

Make today the day you stop Pencil Whipping your checklist. Take the time to actually review each item you have listed. Stop making excuses for not doing the really important (and perhaps uncomfortable) parts of your job. Remember, you set up a checklist to remind (force) yourself to review certain things. They are on the list in the first place because of their importance to your success and the success of your company.

Join me as I renew my commitment to not pencil whipping my daily checklist. The outcome will be different, you’ll feel better and so will your employees.

Can driving sales be like hunting for natural resources on asteroids? 1

Are You Mining Asteroids?

Planetary Resources Inc – this new company backed by two Google billionaires, film director James Cameron and other space exploration proponents is aiming high in the hunt for natural resources—with mining asteroids the possible target.

While the announcement may cause some people to snicker at what could be a page out of a sci-fi novel or a Hollywood movie scene, Planetary Resources is making its debut just as scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other groups are embracing the notion of mining “near-Earth asteroids” and providing blueprints for how such a feat would be accomplished.

Closer to home, sometimes you can get into a rut. If sales are good and you have no major problems, it’s easy to get into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it routine”. That’s how I felt all week. Then this morning I read that James Cameron wants to mine asteroids. OMG. All I wanted to do was increase comp sales by 5% over LY and increase net profit 2.5%.

Can you find a way to challenge yourself and your employees to think big?

So now I’m thinking  what can I do to create HUGE excitement in my business? How can I get my employees to be excited about driving sales, to be creative in their thinking, to want to “hunt for natural resources on asteroids”!

Thinking big is critical to a manager success.   Daniel H. Burnham -US architect & city planner (1846 – 1912) said “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood

What asteroid hunting plans can you create for yourself, your team and your company?

Four lessons any manager can learn from the Masters Golf Tournament – Part 4 0

Charl Schwartzel of South Africa helps Bubba Watson put on the ceremonial Green Jacket during Sunday's fourth round at the 2012 Masters Tournament

At Augusta, it is often said that the tournament is not won on Thursday (the first day), but that’s when it can be lost. Bubba Watson was on the hunt all four days and made  a solid showing on Thursday. He put himself in contention to win.

As a manager, your success is often directly related to the amount of planning you do. You can lose the sale, profit or even a  promotion by not being fully prepared. And like the Masters, you can’t win on the opening day. You must play through the different parts of the project, adjust as needed and stay focused on managing the pieces according to your plan.

On day two, Bubba was the leader.  On day three, he was not. But he was still able to win. He had left himself a chance.  By the end of regulation play on Sunday, Bubba was tied with Oosthuizen and a Sudden Death Playoff began. On the second sudden death  hole, Bubba hit his drive left in to the gallery. He hit an amazing second shot onto the green and two putted. Oosthuizen made a 5 and the tournament had a new champion.

Right up until the last stroke of the last hole, Bubba had to remain vigilant. To be a successful  manager, you must do the same. Regardless of the project, it’s all about the planning and then the execution.

Charles Degaulle  said “Victory often goes to the army that makes the fewest mistakes, not the most brilliant plans”. I think Bubba Watson, the 2012 Masters Champion, would agree.