From the mouths of babes…

I love it when members present their annual Strategic MAP in a Roundtable meeting.  You get an understanding of the forces that shaped the person, the lessons they’ve learned as well as their personal and professional goals.

Individuals weave their story throughout their MAP however they choose.  Some are done through movies and slideshows, others create poetry and one individual sang a song that had great meaning in her life.

MAP’s always bring wisdom, sometimes from unexpected sources.

Will tomorrow be a “soft” day?

Four-year-old Jake had been excitedly waiting for his mother to get home from work.  He had finally earned enough to download a coveted video game.

His mother arrived late, exhausted after a particularly tough day.  Jake danced around her as she made dinner, begging her to help him download his game.  Exasperated, she snapped at him, “Not tonight Jake!  I’ve had a hard day.”

Jake stopped and pondered her statement.  Finally he asked, “Will tomorrow be a soft day?”

Make tomorrow a “soft” day, has become the family’s mantra.

When you lay in the grass, you have to look for dog poop.

A member loves to spend time with her grandson, laying in the grass, watching cloud pictures in the sky and talking.  Recently as they were looking for the perfect grassy spot, her grandson observed, “When you lay in the grass, you have to look for the dog poop.”

His entrepreneur grandmother saw the connection between their conversation about grass and running a business.  You always have to be on the lookout for dog poop.

Kids say some pretty profound things when you take the time to listen.

Click HERE for 15 Nuggets of Wisdom from Kids…

The road is easier together,

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy had just one wish, to get back to Kansas.  Her journey was interrupted many times, by witches, a scarecrow, a cowardly lion and a tin man.  She had to overcome numerous challenges on her quest. But even fields of poppies and flying monkeys could not sidetrack Dorothy.   Read More

Picky, picky, picky

Mark saw his bosses’ reaction to his project and knew he was in trouble.  “She’s so picky.  Why does everything have to be done exactly her way?”  Karen, Mark’s boss had the opposite reaction, “Why can’t he just do exactly what I tell him?  Why does e have to improvise?”

Bosses are usually good at what they do, that’s why they’re the boss.  But supervising effectively is a skill set that isn’t easily learned.  A Harvard Business Review article describes three kinds of poor supervisors: “the indecisive boss,” “the insecure manager” and the “all-knowing leader.” Regardless of which category a boss fits in, each can end up being overly critical.

According to an survey, 65% of employees would prefer a new manager to getting a raise!  Overly critical bosses demoralize staff, erode trust and chase away high performers who don’t like being micromanaged.

If you recognize “picky, picky, picky” in yourself and would like to be less critical, try these suggestions.

Share why you’re hard to please. Are you pushing because you hope to help your employee discover their potential?  Be more transparent and explain that you are being critical because you have high expectations.

Understand that good intentions aren’t enough.  Be respectful when providing criticism or trying to motivate an employee, back up your statements with specific examples, recommendations and opportunities for the future.

Encourage two-sided communication.  Practice active listening.  Remain calm, ask questions and give your employee the floor.

Strong leaders have strong opinions and take decisive action.  But it’s equally important for managers to stand down and listen up.  Being known as an overly critical boss alienates employees.  When you review any project, be sure to include a positive comment.  When you encourage meaningful, give and take discussion, relationships and conversations improve.

The road is easier together,

Don’t Labor on September 4th

Labor Day 2017 is celebrated in the United States on September 4th.  Having a day off is a nice way to celebrate the end of summer. But what is the day intended to commemorate?

Labor Day was created to highlight the miserable working conditions in the late 19th century.  According to, the average American worked 12-hour days, seven days a week to eke out a basic living.  Read More

Secure Your Own Oxygen Mask First

On every flight, an attendant announces: “Please secure your own oxygen mask before helping others.”

The warning could apply to business owners.  Are you endangering your business by neglecting critical issues?   Read More

Will You Do What You Have To Do To Get Results?

Our 50th state is full of people who know how to get things done.  I heard the legend of one determined community on our recent vacation.

Ferry, Alaska is a remote community, population 32 (11 households). It has the dubious distinction of being located across both banks of the Nenana River.  Until recently, only a railroad bridge connected the two halves; the nearest vehicular bridge required a 20-mile detour.
Read More

When Was the Last Time You…?

There are lots of ways to end this question:

  • cried at a movie
  • took a trip
  • read a book
  • got angry
  • ate cotton candy

But other questions are more thought provoking.   Read More

Run Full Tilt

I was watching Kurt play fetch with his new puppy, Max.  Kurt would throw a ball as far as he could, Max would race after it, never slowing down until he had it in his mouth.  Sprinters call this “running through the tape”.

Have you’ve ever watched as some runners near the finish line and slow up in the final few steps?  There’s something in us that clicks off the engine as soon as we know we’re going to make it to the end of the race.  It’s human nature.

It’s even more impressive when you see a runner lean forward and push their hardest in those last few steps.  Olympic runners put their heads down and plow forward pushing their hardest.  It’s special and it elevates the elite competitors.

We all need to pursue our goals full tilt, not cautiously.  You can always make mid-course adjustments, like Max does when the ball takes a weird bounce.  But life is short.  We’re not here to dangle our toes in the water, we’re here to make waves.

How many of your 2017 goals have you made progress on?  Tomorrow, pick a goal or create a new one and meet it.  Like the runner who leans forward and gives his best burst of energy, give your all.  Push into the task and don’t slow down.

The road is easier together,

Four Powerful Questions

For several years I did a show called “Talking Business” on a local radio station. (Thank you Neighborhood National Bank for sponsoring it!)  One of the most popular shows was “Four questions business owners should ask themselves every day.”

1.  How have I improved the value of what I sell?

•Can you “bundle” products or services differently?
•Can you create different pricing options?
•Have you called your customers lately to ask if they have any suggestions on issues you could improve upon?
•Don’t just call the buyer, talk to the accounting department, the receiving department and quality control.
•Dig a little – there are always opportunities for improvement.

2.  How many more people are learning about my product today than yesterday? 

•What are you doing to attract the attention of new customers?
•Have you tried different ways to promote your product or service?
•What social media channels are your customers using?  Do you have a presence on them?
•Be aware of where traditional marketing techniques are still valuable: trade shows, direct mail, telemarketing and expos.

3.  Have I improved my conversion ratio by improving my selling skills? 

•Is there a better way to describe your product or service?
•Are you using relationship selling?
•Have you considered hiring a coach, attending a Dale Carnegie or Sandler course?

4.  How much more have I sold today than yesterday? 

•Keeping track is important!
•Set goals and monitor your progress.
•Log in the orders you get every day – compare the results to the orders you wanted to get.

There will be ups and downs to a sales cycle; don’t be discouraged if your sales levels aren’t stable.  The important thing is to keep at it.

Responding to these questions every day will create a sense of urgency, focus attention on critical tasks and make your business more successful.

The road is easier together,

When in doubt, do without.

JoAnn shared the best advise she ever received from her grandmother; “When in doubt, do without.”  The advice rings in her ears when she shops, when she ponders taking a vacation on a credit card and most recently when she was approached by a friend to get a tattoo. Read More