When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?

You want that promotion or pay raise.  Or you want to make a move to a new job in another department.

Where do you start?

Life is to be lived and experienced.  Life is a process, a journey, not a destination.  So, to make a change, you need to act.

What’s that? To make that change you want to make you might have to do something you haven’t done before?

Hmmm.

So, what’s holding you back?  When was the last time you did something for the first time?  You know, like that Darius Rucker song says?

“Transformation isn’t easy or convenient but is necessary for producing real change.”

American author and speaker, John C. Maxwell, said that.  He’s also the author and guide for a number of systems we use with our clients to help them take that great leap they have to take with their businesses.

Leadership development is a process as well.  As we’ve covered in other blog posts, having strong, cohesive, and aligned leadership is a key element of a healthy and prosperous company.

Leadership is more than words and certainly more than just directing traffic in the office.  You need to take the time to examine the skills of who is working for you and how you want to development them.

How’s that line go: “What if we train our people and they leave?” Which naturally leads to “what if we don’t train them and they stay?”

Contact us to get your organization development started on the right path to long-term success—even if it is the first time you’ve tried it.

Smartest Person in the Room

Back in my design construction career, it was always important that you had a really smart and fully engaged team.

I guess that applies to all careers, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s especially important in technical fields where a lot of times the designed or engineered solution doesn’t quite fit the actual field condition. If you’ve ever been involved in any type of construction or remodel, you know what I’m referring to. The main solution to this is to involve really qualified and experienced professionals. And the key element is “experienced.” The more times they’ve been there, done that, and seen that, the better your project is going to be.

One of the key characteristics of the best experienced people is their ability to say, “I don’t know.” Or “I’ve never seen that before.” Or something along those lines. The worst ones try to wing it and go out of their way to not admit their ignorance or appear to be all knowing when in fact, they are just as ignorant of the situation as everyone else. At this point, I’m trusting that you’re already saying, “Dave, this applies to every field and endeavor.”

You’re right, it does.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve discovered that the person who always wants to be the smartest one in the room, is not always the wisest or the one I want to look to for the final answer. My rule has always been that old axiom, “if you ever find yourself being the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.” Applying this to everyone in the room makes me appreciative but wary of the person who always feels and acts as if they have all the answers.

Trusting that you’re not this person, but you have to deal with this person, what do you do when they try and dominate every meeting with their expansive knowledge? It’s a standard problem that every leader has to deal with. The best answer is to always be working toward engaging everyone in a meeting. Even the most introverted or quiet ones. Fact is, many times, they are the ones with the answers – or better still the best questions.  But you’re going to have to draw it out of them with engaging questions of your own.

I wish I could tell you the perfect answer to dealing with the smartest person but I still haven’t found the perfect answer (to anything for that matter.) I can tell you what I have used that has at least relieved the situation to a degree:

  1. Always allow the person his or her opportunity to contribute (You’ll not be able to avoid this so dive in and accept the fact.).
  2. Once it appears that they are going to attempt to answer every question or make the first response, say something like, “Thanks for your input, let’s hear from someone else” (And here you might request input from someone specific – maybe even that quiet person that seems to never say anything.).
  3. Continue following this process throughout the meeting. You may never fully quiet the smartest person, but you can sure indicate to the rest of the participants that you are determined to get and value their input.
  4. Finally, if necessary, have a private discussion with the individual and ask them to help you draw out input from everyone else by not being so quick with their responses.

If you’ve discovered another process, I’d like to hear from you. For sure, I’m not the smartest person on this subject.

Blessings!

Dave

Just What Do I Want?

Many of us in business are working hard to shape and grow our business.  We’ve built up this thing we call a company and hope to see it through to…to what?

Just what do you want?  Is it “how much?” Or is it a legacy?

These are the questions Bruce Bernbaum asked himself not long ago.  Bruce is a co-founder and partner in Bernbaum-Magadini Architects in Dallas.  At his age and where he is in his career, Bruce has some decisions to make.  But where to start?

“The New Paradigm Advisors team gave me this Value Builder’s ‘quiz’ that allowed me to assess my business,” Bruce recounted. “And it caused me to stop and think long and hard about the value of our company.”

New Paradigm Advisors (NPA) is a business consulting firm that helps determine a company’s value.  Dave Sykes of NPA met with Bruce informally to ask some critical questions.  It was the Value Builder’s Assessment that really got Bruce’s attention, particularly with one question.

“When I got the score back I had a zero on one point,” Bruce recounted. “’That can’t be,’ I thought.  But it was enough to stimulate a discussion with Dave to help me set some goals.

Between the assessment and the ongoing discussion, Bruce has used his time with the New Paradigm team to be better at planning and forecasting.

“The team got me working on my business rather than in it.”

New Paradigm Advisors is a value-assessment and consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.

Part of the Company

If you had been part of large companies all of your professional life and then struck out on your own, what would do to start your company?

That’s what Roger Pavlovich asked himself when he started his own construction services company.  Roger had been an officer or project manager at several large construction firms. He had all of the experience and energy to start his own concern.  But something was missing.

“I needed an outsider on the inside,” Roger said. “Actually, the NPA team is my security blanket and the guys I go to when I need to bounce something off a collaborator.”

NPA is New Paradigm Advisors, a business consulting firm that helps determine a company’s value by helping shape it.  New Paradigm Advisors came in to help Roger shape his company from its beginnings.

“We got the NPA team involved on a weekly basis, though I do talk with several of them almost daily,” Roger continued.  “The team sits down with us at least once a week.”

Some of the things New Paradigm has done for Pavlovich:

  • Helped produce a 3-year look-ahead plan and an associated monthly review process.
  • Offered daily collaboration.
  • Defined processes and systems for the young company.

Pavlovich Construction is a design-build construction consulting firm specializing in light industrial projects in the food processing and distribution segments.

“Because Roger and I knew each other from more than business, we had a mutual trust,” Dave Sykes of New Paradigm added.  “That gives us a bond that really ensures success for both of us.”

New Paradigm Advisors is a value-assessment and consulting firm based in Dallas, Texas.

Singles or Home Runs?

We’re coming up on Major League Baseball Opening Day. Spring time in America! You just can’t beat it!

There’s probably nothing more exciting in all of sports than to see a grand slam home run. The bases are loaded and the batter knocks it into the second level of the left field bleachers. There’s just something about that event that makes the rest of the game almost fade away. You’ll remember that play probably long after you’ve even forgotten the final score of the game.

So what?

Way back in an earlier life, I had the privilege and challenge of working with a company as the vice president and general manager of their computer distribution division. This was early in the computer business and all of us in the market were pushing and shoving and trying to differentiate ourselves. I was fortunate enough to work with a well-funded parent company, so we had the wherewithal to do some creative things–so, we did. Of course, we  were also competing many times with equally well-funded companies and that meant they were doing some of their own creative campaigns.

After trying several different programs, succeeding at some and failing at others, the president of the company challenged me with a baseball analogy (lesson?) that I’ve been applying ever since.

After a particularly costly marketing plan that did not achieve much, he said: “Dave, you’re really good at swinging for the fences with some of your campaigns, but I’d be much more pleased if you’d just give me consistent singles and doubles.”

He went on to say: “If you do that, we’ll make consistent progress and get more growth while the other guys waste their time and effort on their home run attempts.”

It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, even though it’s still in me to want to swing for the outfield bleachers.

As we work with clients, we challenge them to define their ideal client and that then leads to developing a more defined “go-to-market” strategy to best reach those ideal clients. While we’re not marketing experts, we are “go-to-market” experts. Meaning, that we take the “singles and doubles” approach to getting new business and keeping it. No fancy “home run” efforts. Just good old fashioned approach to improving batting averages by doing the right things consistently and repeatedly. This has proven over and over again to result in healthy growth without major investment in unproven marketing or sales efforts. Just the basics of getting a hit most of the time you step in the batter’s box. Which, by the way, happens every day.

So, when you go into work tomorrow, hit consistent singles and doubles. Forget expecting your team to hit home runs. Make sure everyone is doing the basics.

  • Call your prospects
  • Return phone calls
  • Be honest
  • Be consistent
  • Be dependable
  • Be reliable
  • Be responsible

Be the best batter – that’s the one who consistently gets a hit – not the one who occasionally hits a home run. That will grow your reputation and your business more than any other strategy.

Be blessed out there!

Dave

Setting Goals: Visualizing Your Own Future

Talking with a close friend recently about growing one of his businesses and he made an interesting observation:

“My experience when setting goals in some organizations is that they simply become nothing more than setting some arbitrary revenue number that seems to be appropriate for the moment.”

He then asked me an important and revealing question:

“How do we set realistic, meaningful and achievable goals that are based on something other than that arbitrary number?”

Have you ever been there? How do you set your goals for the new year? Are you just setting them based on a percentage growth over last year? Or maybe you are basing the number on a couple of new customers and the growth that they’ve brought you. What’s your answer to my friend’s question?

Let’s pull this apart.

We will start with a relatively famous quote from Napoleon Hill:

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”

Don’t you wish it was that simple? Well, maybe it is. We’ve just never fully understood how to “believe it”.

What?

Believing something takes more effort than simply telling yourself over and over that something is possible, doable, or true. Or to this point: setting a revenue number and telling everyone that’s the goal and we just have to make it happen. Not only do you have to believe it but you also have to get everyone else to believe it. Now we’ve just stepped into the world of make believe. Come on. You’ve been there. Admit it.

Believing something takes effort. It’s not just a feeling. It’s internalizing something. It’s not just eating one portion – it’s got to be a complete diet. And a complete life style. In our case here, we’re talking about something tangible and practical, not something spiritual (which is a separate discussion). How do we take a tangible, practical goal (such as a revenue goal) and make ourselves and our team “believe” it?

Here are the steps:

  1. Make it specific.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Paint a picture of it.
    • What does it look like?
    • Or what does having it or achieving it look like?
  4. Preach it.
    • Tell everyone who can affect it how they can help make it happen.
    • Help them paint their own part in the picture.
  5. Review it.
    • Often. Every day. Several times a day.
    • If you really believe something, you’re always focused on it.
    • Force this.
  6. Track it.
    • Hold yourself accountable to the journey, always making sure you’re on track. If you were driving to an unknown location, you’d be constantly checking your progress and your GPS to make sure you’re on the right route and you’re making the right time. Well, do the same with this process.

I don’t know about you, but the hardest part of this for me is making it specific and painting a picture of it. If you’re going to paint a mental picture, you’ve got to include as many of your senses as possible. Here’s a trick I’ve learned along the way. Put yourself out there. Think of yourself three to five years from now already having achieved your goal. What does that look and feel like? I’m not talking about visualizing yourself lying on the beach with a mai-tai in your hand. How about this? You’re sitting at the front table at the Chamber of Commerce annual meeting being honored for business of the year. Who from your team is there? What did they do to help you get there? How about those customers who helped you get there (and sponsored a table for the event). And your vendors – several of them have sponsored tables. They’re all anxious to slap you on the back, shake your hand and let everyone know that “you know them.” Wow! Can you begin to get that picture? That’s what I’m talking about.

You’ve really got to flesh this picture out:

  • What do you see?
  • What do you hear?
  • What are your customers saying?
  • What are your vendors saying?
  • What is your banker saying?
  • The media is there. What are they writing and reporting?
  • What are your employees saying?
  • How are you feeling about all of this attention?

Another perspective:

  • What have you gotten better at over these three years that you’re now receiving compliments on?
  • Who have you trained up to enjoy this with you? Who did you delegate to and trust with some of the most challenging roles?
  • How does it feel to be doing what you love doing – and no longer doing the things that you have to do?
  • What is everyone saying – employees, vendors, customers, partners, etc. about your core values and culture?

Ok, I think you get the point. Goal setting is way more than setting a revenue number. It’s about believing in something that’s achievable and these items are what you have to focus on if you want to believe in them.

One final important point. You can’t do this sitting at your desk during regular hours. You’re going to have to commit some dedicated time away from the office and all the everyday distractions – computer, cell phone, To-do lists, calendar appointments, interruptions, etc. Get out! Go away! Get it done through dedicated, uninterrupted focus.

You can do this!  Call me and let me know the time and location of that business of the year luncheon.

Blessings,

Dave