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“Who’s responsible for this mess?”

Photo by Ricardo Viana on Unsplash

That’s the kind of question that sends employees running for cover. Looking for people to blame. Ways to avoid being branded as the problem-causer.

We’ve all been there, and it can be devastating. This is the kind of accountability that rips teams apart.

Why? Because, by asking the question, we’ve established: Read the rest of this entry »

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decade ago, Simon Sinek popularized the idea of marketing your products based on a powerful story. And that story starts with WHY.

  • Why your company does what it does.
  • Why you created this product in the first place.
  • Why your product will make the customer’s life so much better.

That last one sounds a lot like expounding on your product’s benefits, right? But traditionally, “benefits” stop soon after the purchase, quite short term. Instead, we’re talking about a much deeper transformation for customers, something they may even struggle to articulate.

And that’s only the last step in telling your story to customers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Your team is able to deliver much more than it does today. You yourself also have wonderful potential within you.

You probably see sparks of brilliance that come out now and then. But they seem so random! Making this a regular occurrence — even predictable — seems an insurmountable task.

It turns out that there are a number of useful things that help create the environment of sustainable productivity and creativity. But first you have to admit that everybody is different. What excites you is not the same as others on your team.

Each person has his or her own thinking, his or her own heart, his or her own desires. And don’t think that it’s good to just hire people who do think like you — that’s a recipe for disaster. That’s how you end up with an Enron. Read the rest of this entry »

There are lots and lots of people who are affected by your company. Even if you’re a super small business, you still have yourself, your family, customers and partners.

As you grow, you’ll include employees, their families, and an ever-growing array of people to whom you deliver value.

This is why the concept of “stakeholders” is so powerful. Typically we’d talk about shareholders, but that’s a really limited view of success and impact. Focusing too much on shareholders is dangerous, and can lead you to some really unbalanced decisions.

My best clients realize that their business also contributes to the larger community. I’m not just talking about charitable donations, either. They’re making a powerful difference to peoples’ quality of life and helping to solve larger problems. Read the rest of this entry »

A new business concept is spreading around the world. You might know it under the labels “conscious”, “mission-driven”, “values-based”, “socially conscious”, or “benefit corporation.”

But it’s really not that new. In some ways, it’s a return to the days when businesses were an integral part of the community–not just treating them as consumers from which money is to be extracted.

Milton Friedman captured our current philosophy of business pretty well back in 1970: Read the rest of this entry »

We’re surrounded by threats and challenges every day. Customers switch. Employees leave. Competitors surprise. Government regulates.

So how on earth can these contain opportunities?

It’s easy to see potential when a new market opens up, or you discover a great technology, or a competitor exits. But you have to be much more optimistic to see how a threat can be turned around.

It’s actually about your philosophy as a leader and how you choose to respond to events.

Read the rest of this entry »

A fundamental part of the Universal Human Experience is to search for meaning. We all look for significance, a deeper purpose for ourselves and what we love.

But what does that have to do with business?

The traditional view of work is that it’s what you do when you’re not living your life. You get a paycheck, which you can go out and spend on things that are enjoyable and what truly matters.

Read the rest of this entry »

As we head forward into 2018, I’m hearing various questions and concerns about the uncertain future.

  • We might see a big housing bubble.
  • International relationships are jumping all over.
  • Customers and markets are acting in unpredictable ways.

The truth is that there are always concerns, questions, and issues. When we look back in time, we see the patterns. But while it’s happening?

Not so easy.

Read the rest of this entry »

We’re moving from one year to the next. The counter is ticking over.

Why does it matter?

When I look back at my career and business growth, it’s clear that the most important times are directly linked to when I was intentional. I proposed to my girlfriend. I decided to write a book. I decided to go after the foreign service assignment. I changed my business model and joined up with Small Fish Business Coaching.

Read the rest of this entry »

There’s been a lot of chatter about company cultures recently. Unfortunately, that includes lots of bad examples.

  • Google employees are arguing about gender bias.
  • Airlines have opened up a debate about what enables great customer service.
  • Restaurants are starting to figure out that the roots of food contamination often start with how their workers think of their role in the company.
  • These events have increased the realization that businesses are more like organisms than machines. They’re based on how people believe and behave as a group.

Read the rest of this entry »

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