Archive for August, 2013

Clear the Cobwebs

August 31, 2013

Suggestions from Norman Vincent Peale

Occasionally we will have a rush of new ideas on how to solve business and personal problems. Well respected media outlets pick up on the idea, great publications are made, academia surrounds it, and so on. And if you step back and look at it, it’s not very helpful. In fact we usually see incorrect or irrelevant accumulations of data that someone has thrown tea leaves into hoping for an answer. 

On the other occasions we dust off an old idea that by the way is proven, does work and has relevance. We find that favorite book and see a few dog eared pages. Some may be yellowing by now. There’s an underlined passage we’d pushed into the mind’s back reaches. And we find a source for help whose origin ranges from 100 years ago to over 2000 years ago. We don’t have to look under rocks or search the universe for new stuff. We have a lot of it already. Use it. 

I found this from Dr. Peale. It’s a collection of Bible passages to help fight negativity. There’s plenty of that going around so I hope these have some value for you:

As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.
If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!
According to your faith be it unto you.
Faith without works is dead.
What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that
ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
If God be for us, who can be against us?
Ask and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find;
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

It’s OK

August 24, 2013

Changing

Well, there are plenty of things to grouch about. They don’t seem to change much and the attitude doesn’t seem to help.  I don’t particularly care for anything in Washington D.C. Tomorrow is the birthday of a friend who passed away several years ago. There are places on my body that hurt that didn’t before. My friends are getting older…ok so am I. There’s plenty to gripe about.

And all that stuff and the other stuff is just about changes. So, how  we handle those changes is how we’ll be measured. I don’t want to ignore them, but I don’t particularly want them to beat me either. So as my friend Johnny Tull prescribed, I think I’ll go have a gin and tonic and let it pass.

Change and how we Respond

August 20, 2013

The following are some tips for becoming a successful entrepreneur based on my experience of building a company from the ground up, leading New York City as mayor, and founding a philanthropic organization. from Michael Bloomberg

1. Take risks.

Life is too short to spend your time avoiding failure. In 1981, at the age of 39, I was fired from the only full-time job I’d ever had – a job I loved.

But I never let myself look back, and the very next day I took a big risk and began my own company based on an unproven idea that nearly everyone thought would fail: making financial information available to people, right on their desktops. Remember, this was before people had desktops.

In 2001, when I was debating whether to run for mayor, most people advised me against it. They all were afraid I’d fail. But one person said: “If you can picture yourself giving a concession speech, then why not go for it?” That was the best advice I received – and I followed it.

In order to succeed, you must first be willing to fail – and you must have the courage to go for it anyway.

2. Make your own luck.

Luck plays a part in success, but the harder you work, the luckier you get.Whatever you choose to do, even if it’s not the job of your dreams, always work hard at it. Be the first person at work in the morning and the last to leave at night. Hard work creates opportunities where your resume cannot.

3. Be persistent.

Persistence really does pay off. When starting my company, I would go downtown and buy cups of coffee. Then I’d take the coffee up to Merrill Lynch – our target audience – and walk the hallways.

“Hi,” I would say. “I’m Mike Bloomberg and I brought you a cup of coffee. Can I talk to you?”

Even if people were wondering who I was or where I came from, they still took the coffee.

And I kept coming back, day after day, working to build relationships with potential customers. I learned about the audience for our product and what they could really use.

Three years after starting Bloomberg LP, Merrill Lynch purchased 20 terminals and became our first customer.

4. Never stop learning.

The most powerful word in the English language is “Why.” There is nothing so powerful as an open, inquiring mind. Whatever field you choose for starting a business – be a lifelong student.

The world is full of people who have stopped learning and who think they’ve got it all figured out. You’ve no doubt met some of them already – and you’ll meet plenty more.

Their favorite word is “No.” They will give you a million reasons why something can’t be done or shouldn’t be done.

Don’t listen to them, don’t be deterred by them, and don’t become one of them. Not if you want to fulfill your potential – and not if you want to change the world for the better.

5. Give back.

You are ultimately responsible for your success and failure, but you only succeed if you share the reward with others.

At the end of the day, ask yourself: “Am I making a difference in the lives of others?”

My first charitable donation was a $5 check to my alma mater, Johns Hopkins, not long after I graduated. I was just scraping by back then, but I continued to give. And while the checks may be bigger today, they come with the same spirit. You don’t have to be wealthy to give back. You can give back by getting involved and giving your time and talents. You just have to be committed to opening doors for others.

 

Are You Listening?

August 19, 2013

It Could help your business

One of the biggest weaknesses of most people in relationships is that they don’t listen…that means really listen.  Listening is from hearing.  Hearing is a physical act that we do with our ears.  Listening is a mental act that we do with our brains.  Most people who fail to listen do it, not because they are poor hearers.

Many factors contribute to a person’s poor listening behavior or habits.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • distractions in the environment
  • the other person’s body language
  • the history of the relationship
  • unresolved issues between the two people
  • lack of interest in the subject
  • the pace of the other person’s dialogue
  • limited vocabulary of either person
  • personal unresolved issues with either person
  • personal prejudices or judgments of either person
  • personality style differences

Any, or all of these can get in the way of a person getting or understanding your message.  Observe the other person’s non-verbal messages while you’re talking to him/her. She’ll tell you, without a doubt, whether she’s listening to you or not. If there is any doubt if he’s listening, ask him a question in the middle of one of your sentences.  If he doesn’t answer, is there any reason to continue with the rest of the message as you’re doing?  Then you have the chance to reframe your thoughts, and try another approach.

To improve your listening skills:

  • stay focused on the other person
  • look for the theme of the message
  • key into the major points
  • control distractions
  • stay in the present
  • make lots of eye contact, and use responses such as, “I see,” “uh    huh,”    “Hmmm,”  “Really,” etc.
  • pay attention to those things that draw your attention away from the other person and the message

Improved listening will have a tremendous, and positive impact on all of your relationships, whether business or personal.  Listening to others is one of the greatest compliments you can pay them.

Customer Service: Adequate or WOW?

August 12, 2013

Companies can cruise along for a long time by giving adequate customer service. Transitions in business mostly go smoothly. But what happens when there is a bump in the systems or a delay shipment of product or an employee’s impromptu leave of absence?

This is when GREAT COMPANIES distinguish themselves from the average. Most of these companies see service recovery as an opportunity to improve rather than a painful experience.
Human nature naturally increases their blood pressure when they hear customer complaints and dissatisfaction. The natural response is to be defensive. These employees obviously are not trained. Successful business owners and trained employees understand that this is an opportunity to cement relationships and most are worth saving.

Here are some techniques in cementing your relationship with your customers:

  1. Keep In Touch: Don’t let your customers forget you. Send them information regarding specials, new products, etc. Keep your customers tied in. In today’s world, keeping in touch with your customers is critical to the success of your business. Your customer base is a valuable asset.
  2. Inform Your Customers With the Best Information: Another way to distinguish your business from competition is educating your customers. It is also important to ensure that you speak clearly and not in the tone of your industry. There is nothing like reading information and wondering what all those abbreviations mean.
  3. Measure Your Information Efforts: What good is informing your customers if you don’t know if they are reading the information? Keep track of questions most asked by your customers. It’s one thing to accept customer feedback, but it’s another thing to respond and correct your actions. Customers love being heard especially when they know you have taken action. Everybody wants to feel they are needed. Even your customers.
    The more you go beyond your customer’s expectations the more your build customer loyalty.
  4. Master Recovery Skills: Only you can be the judge of whether a customer is worth saving. The most important fact to consider is the high cost of replacing a customer versus saving a customer. Recognize that unhappy customers want to be listened to, a sense of urgency to fix their problems, to be treated with respect, and assurance that the problem will not reoccur. Sounds very simple?

First empathize with your customers. Make them feel that their problem is important and you are thankful for bringing it to your attention. Don’t debate their point.

Then tell your customer that you want to help them with their problem. You want to make sure that you apologize to them for the situation. It is critical that you explain their options clearly, then summarize the action you will take. Don’t forget to tell them again that you value their business.

If all goes well, you should gain a strong sense of satisfaction after handling an unhappy customer. Remember, don’t lose your cool and dignity and don’t take it personally.

One Way to Motivate Employees

August 9, 2013

Be A Good Learner and Your Employees Will Emulate You…

If you want your business to be flexible enough to change and grow with turbulent market conditions, you’ll need to encourage an atmosphere in which learning is (or becomes) appreciated.  The best way to do that is to lead by example…in other words, demonstrate to your employees that you’re actually interested in learning yourself.

There are three secrets to being a good learner.  You must:

  1. Be excited, not threatened, by new ideas.  Managers who see innovation as just another threat that will diminish their power make a grave mistake.  If you’re dedicated to your company’s growth and willing to work hard to achieve it, any change will only make your position stronger.

2.   Recognize your personal prejudices and admit them to others.  Biases in business are often suffocating.  They can make you blind               to good ideas, and cause you to spend time and money on far fetched or risky concepts.

3.   Remain humble.  Remember that even the most important business knowledge is, at best, temporary…and today’s best ideas                        sometimes won’t be effective tomorrow.  By remaining modest about your accomplishments, you’ll build a foundation of support in              your organization that’ll help you later.

 

What We Do for Others

August 8, 2013

In 2012 Darrell Royal passed away. The coach of University of Texas football had been recorded reading this poem not long before his death. Coach said it had been one of his favorites. Just hearing him read it and now remembering his voice recalls great memories for me. Enjoy.

The Bridge Builder by Will Allen Dromgoole

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”