Best Meeting Ever

Recently we had a meeting totally derailed by one of the participants.train derailedIt turned out to be the best meeting we ever had! This member, who I’ll call “Joe,” was usually an upbeat, confident person, but he was clearly upset about something when he arrived. He said, “I know we’ve got a set agenda for today’s meeting, but I really need your help on a couple issues. If it’s ok with the group, I’d like to throw them on the table.”

The meeting was one of the Business Owners’ Roundtables I facilitate twice a month. Each of the six to eight members is either the owner or most senior executive of their company. Our agendas are typically topic-based around business issues, with a lot of interaction and input among members. Without hesitating, the others agreed to listen and see how they could assist.

Joe had recently begun work on his largest project ever for a client and was nursing it along because it was so complex with a lot of mission-critical elements. He wanted to really impress the client, and he knew the project’s size was going to stretch him and his company. The group had heard about it already and had been encouraging him along the way.

Another development, however, had just thrown a big wrench into Joe’s life and his ability to handle everything going on. His wife had just announced that she was leaving him and the children. The group knew nothing about Joe’s personal life so this was a surprise to everyone.

With two major issues now consuming Joe’s focus – and threatening to overwhelm him, the group became the place for him to vent his feelings and concerns about his family, and his fears and hopes about the new project. In short order, he had to figure out how to be a single dad to two teen age children and balance those demands with his business when it was at a critical inflection point.

These issues don’t have “quick-fix solutions,” but they do benefit from good, strong counsel and a place to get a variety of input. That’s what the group provided. We walked with him through the issues and made addressing his needs the dominant topic in that meeting. He left that day with a little more bounce in his step. Over the following months, we kept tabs on his progress and offered more suggestions to help him on his difficult, but ultimately successful journey.

Why did everyone agree this was our best meeting ever as a group? Because everyone really put into practice a “We live business and we live life together” mindset and felt energized and enriched by it. They had gotten comfortable enough with each other to allow that to happen. Joe also realized the group was a safe place where he could trust the others with his deep, personal concerns and issues, not just with business details.

If you don’t have a group or a friend like this that will let you walk in and throw a personal bomb on the table, then I encourage you to GO GET ONE. If you don’t know where to start, visit one of my Business Owners’ Round Table groups at New Paradigm Advisors. We’re here to help you “live your business and live your life” with others who’ve been there and done that.

Are You Reacting or Responding to Life?

“Imagine going to the doctor for medication and returning for a follow-up visit. In one case the doctor says you are reacting to the medication, in the other case the doctor says you are responding to the treatment.”
-Zig Ziglar

When faced with anything in life, we have a choice… we can respond or we can react. The key to success is often our reaction or response to life.

What is the difference?

To respond is defined as:
1. To make a reply; answer.
2. To react positively or favorably: The patient has responded rapidly to the treatment.

To react is defined as:
1. To act in response to or under the influence of a stimulus or prompting
2. To act in opposition to a former condition or act

As Zig Ziglar’s quote mentioned above, responses are often seen as positive and reactions as negative.

When we react to a situation, it is often a fight or flight action, more often than not it is a defensive mechanism. It is reflexive with little thought of the action or outcome. Reaction is usually a response to an emergency or a crisis. When people react, it seems to be defensive.

Being responsive on the other hand usually involves some thought and reflection. It often involves being sensitive, but logical in ones actions. While it is still an external spur to a situation, responding is more thoughtful and done with reason behind it. When people respond, it seems to be proactive and positive.

In light of the Coronavirus and a future of uncertainty, how are you doing? Are you responding or reacting? The most important thing for you to do right now is to respond appropriately. The most effective method of doing this is taking a break.

For our EOS clients we recommend scheduling a break called a “Clarity Break”. A Clarity Break is a regularly scheduled appointment on your calendar with yourself. You define what regular is – a half hour daily, two hours weekly, a half day monthly. It’s up to you. The doing it, is what matters. This break is an opportunity to work ON your business.

The characteristics of a good Clarity Break are:
* away from your place of business
* at a frequency that you can afford and is helpful to you
* of a duration that allows you to think clearly and achieve some results, and
* generally done without electronic devices

Gino Wickman, the founder of EOS®, takes them one morning a week in a Starbucks. Just him, his coffee, and a yellow legal pad. He often says that at the start he sometimes finds himself staring at the pad, but almost always ideas, concerns, questions arise from the back of his mind and good thinking starts.

Take a Clarity Break and decide to respond, not react.

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you break out of the old way of doing things and attack the new economy with a renewed passion and focus. For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors Team

EBITDA or EBITDAC?

The term EBITDA is common practice in the financial world. The term is also frequently used by business owners, without a financial background, but do we really know what it stands for?  EBITDA means Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization.

The term is used as the standard for the operational cash-flow a business generates over a certain period, without taking into account the financial result, taxes, exceptional income or expenses. As we talk about cash-flow the non-cash costs as depreciations and amortizations are also excluded.

But what about EBITDAC… Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, Amortization and Coronavirus?

How has the Coronavirus affected you, your employees, vendors, and customers?  It is safe to say that at some level COVID-19 has impacted every business owner and their bottom line.  As restrictions ease and we return to some level of normalcy, it’s important to look back and reflect on what learnings we can glean from this and how to prepare for the future.

As an EOS Implementer, I help companies focus on three timeless principles regardless of the circumstances. EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, is a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that has helped thousands of entrepreneurs get what they want from their businesses. Implementing EOS will help you and your team get better at three things:

  • Vision—getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going, and how you plan to get there.  Does everyone in the organization know where you are going and how to get there?  Is it clearly stated and communicated?  You and your leadership team should articulate or refine your vision to reflect who you are, why you exist, what you do and where you are going.  It gives you (and your company) a road map to follow.
  • Traction®—instilling focus, discipline, and accountability throughout the company so that everyone executes on that vision—every day.  This is where he “rubber meets the road” and your strategy becomes actionable.   Your people must focus on what needs to be done, you must have the necessary processes in place to act and then you should manage outcomes to get results.
  • Healthy—helping you (and your leaders) become a more cohesive, functional, healthy team.  In the book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lecioni, to be successful, you need to be both “smart” with strategy, marketing, finance and technology AND “healthy” with minimal politics and confusion, high morale and productivity, and low turnover.  Are you building a culture that is healthy and helping you thrive?

In the midst of this pandemic, your problems and issues only get magnified.  Don’t ignore them, recognize and address them.  Once we are on the other side of this and you report EDITDAC, let us help you build a business that is ready for both the good times and bad times.  A business that allows you the freedom to balance both work life and family life, increasing in value, and gives you a future to accomplish your dreams.

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you break out of the old way of doing things and attack the new economy with a renewed passion and focus. For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

Michael Visentine and The New Paradigm Advisors team

Never Waste a Crisis

I once worked for a CEO who would say, “never waste a crisis.”  I knew what he meant, but it did not really hit home until more recently with the COVID-19 crisis we are all facing.  Whether you are looking for business or have more business than you can handle, you need to adjust now to the “new normal.”  What does the world look like post pandemic and how does your business respond?  You need to prepare now and be thinking ahead to address next steps and not be caught “flat footed” in the new normal.

I recently read a study done by BCG about the 2007-09 Great Recession and the common traits (five factors) global S&P 500 businesses employed to recover.  While this pandemic is different, it is still a valid study to obtain insight into planning for your next steps to thrive and not just survive as you move forward.

The five factors:

  1. Act proactively.  Business that weathered the recession and came out stronger, owned the situation and were forward-looking in their thinking, planning and actions.  No matter what position you find yourself in, there will be a recovery and you have to be ready.  In Stephen Covey’s book “The 7 Habits of Effective People”, Be Proactive is the first habit.  It is about taking responsibility for you and your company. Do not blame the pandemic, the economy or the government. Proactive people recognize that they are “response-able.”  They know they choose their behavior and course of action.
  2. Stick to a clear vision. Top performers did not change their vision based on circumstances.  To put it in simple terms… your destination stays the same, but how you get there may change.  In the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), vision is the process of getting everyone in your organization 100% on the same page with where you’re going.  As an EOS Implementer, I help companies craft a vision the does not change with the circumstances but is timeless and also for flexibility to adapt.  If you don’t have a clear vision, how do you know where you are going?
  3. Increase demand vitality. Successful companies addressed changes in the marketplace and adjusted accordingly. With the COVID-19 and decreased physical foot traffic, you need to look online and how to adapt to and adjust your model for increased online presence with the ability to market, sell, and service online.  Where are trends and what is best option for you to capture the demand?  How will you best respond to these demand changes?  Assess and then go.
  4. Create supply agility. Businesses that thrived, were able to quickly assess impacts to their supply chains and respond with alternatives.  Too much reliance on one vendor can greatly hamper or impact your business.  You must build adaptation and agility into supply base and supply chain. Fortunately, new supply chain technologies are emerging that dramatically improve visibility across the end-to-end supply chain, and support companies’ ability to resist huge disruptions. The traditional linear supply chain model is transforming into digital supply networks (DSNs).
  5. Build resilience. The top performers knew that they couldn’t avoid future disruptions, so they worked towards a future that could withstand future shocks and, more importantly, anticipate them.  Some questions to ask… did you build a culture of trust and accountability? Did you have enough cash on hand to weather the initial storm?  Were you able to cut cost to “race and not chase” the drop-in revenue? Did you have an IT disaster recovery plan in place?  As a leader, you must anticipate and plan for these.

These five steps will increase the likelihood you will survive and thrive in the future.  Take inventory of where you are now and face reality.  Consider your company’s position.  Once you know where you are, and you start planning for the futures, ensure that what you are doing today will bring about the end of the crisis tomorrow. How must you transform your business to thrive and succeed in the future?

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you break out of the old way of doing things and attack the new economy with a renewed passion and focus. For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Ten Tips to Improve Your Online Meetings

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency and shelter-in-place orders, there have been huge impacts to the way we all do business. One of those is the way we meet: these days it is more than likely via video conferencing. I’m guessing in the last few weeks you’ve had at least one, if not several, virtual meetings. It’s time to make these meetings productive.  It’s time to make them great!

In Stephen Covey’s best-selling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, one of the principles is “begin with the end in mind”.  With this, the purpose of any meeting is very simple: get things done. You meet to:

  • Solve problems.
  • Get everyone on the same page.
  • Make sure the team is on track.
  • Move forward.

Based upon these objectives, are your meetings productive?

One report found American businesses hold more than 3 billion meetings per year and 11 million meetings per day. That’s a lot of meetings so they should be worth it.   To make the best use of your time, here are a list of 10 tips to make your online meetings as productive as possible and use everyone’s time effectively.

Watch this funny video and then read our list to avoid these common issues.

  1. Have good, reliable internet. Your video should not sputter and/or skip. It’s incredibly distracting, and it’s not acceptable.
  2. Sit on a chair at a table or desk. Don’t sit or lie on a bed or sofa. This is a business meeting. This is the challenge with working from home—it’s hard to transition into work mode. This will help.
  3. Be aware of your background.  Avoid busy or distracting backgrounds, including virtual backgrounds. If you can, use the feature to blur your background, pick a neutral area or hang a sheet to keep focus on you.
  4. Stay in front of camera and keep it at eye level. It’s important that no one goes off-screen to do something else.   Make sure you are in the center of the screen at a distance of 2 to 3 feet.  This will prevent people from leaning in and you will better keep the attention of your audience when speaking.
  5. Test your lighting. Make sure there are no lights behind you and have a light on your face. People need to clearly see you.  Lighting is important.
  6. Make sure your microphone works well. Use a good microphone or buy a headset, if needed. When people can’t hear you, they struggle to pay attention.
  7. No looking at your phone. Have your phone silenced or out of your view.  Be considerate of others and treat this just like any “in-person” meeting.
  8. Don’t mute. What happens is that someone starts talking, not realizing that they forgot to un-mute. By the time everyone lets them know (with hands waving, you are on mute!) and they finally figure it out, you’ve lost valuable time.
  9. Minimize background noise. Make sure you’re in a quiet room with the door closed… no dogs barking and no family interruptions (tell your family you are at the office).
  10. Use gallery mode. Make sure that you can see all of the faces participating in the meeting, at a glance.  Most video conferencing platforms have this function.   This helps everyone stay connectedBe safe and productive!

New Paradigm Advisors believes you deserve to enjoy the benefits of a profitable, growing and well-run business. We help you break out of the old way of doing things and attack the new economy with a renewed passion and focus. For more information about transitioning your business, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

What Now?

You are facing a downturn in the economy and business. What do you need to be doing right now?

Do you keep people or let them go?

What about your vendors and suppliers?

And what about your customers?

Consider the airline oxygen mask concept. Put your mask on first so you can ensure you’ll be able to help someone else get theirs on. You know this drill.

Your highest priority as a business owner is to protect the life and health of the company. Do everything you ethically can to keep the company alive. It’s like the federal government whose number one priority is to defend the country. It doesn’t matter how the economy and other parts of society are doing. If a foreign adversary attacks us and the government isn’t ready to defend us, then we all lose! Defend your company first!

Not your salary. Not your assets. And, unfortunately, not your employees.

Once you’re committed to this first priority, the decisions on everything else become clear. Notice I didn’t say easier. It’s clear what you must do to keep the company alive. Also be clear on the benefits of this commitment to all concerned once the crisis has passed:

  • Employees have an opportunity to find another job or to file for unemployment.
  • Vendors have someone they can collaborate with and possibly provide some temporary relief to in hopes of saving a valued and long-term customer.
  • Your best customers will be much more understanding than you think and quite possibly be willing to help.

Once the downturn is over and the company has survived, you can:

  • Hire back the people you laid off or new people.
  • Perhaps earn a favored customer status with your vendors.
  • Have customers who have a new respect for you and the company.

The real secret sauce here is to communicate with each of these groups. Go beyond just communicating. You must implement what we call the Three C’s:

  • Communicate
  • Collaborate
  • Cooperate

These are part  of our Core Values here at New Paradigm Advisors. If you apply these three C’s to the situation, we can assure you that your stress level will go down. It won’t go away.  However, it will go down. Apply the three C’s with your people, your customers, your advisors, and your vendors. You will be shocked, yet pleased,  with the results.

Call or email us and let us know your experience. Let’s learn together.

Your Next Act: Where Do You Go From Here?

Where do you want to be in 10 years?

This is a question I asked a business owner, James, recently.

James has owned a very successful business for over 25 years and starts and ends everyday thinking of the business and what he needs to do to keep it successful. When I asked him where he saw himself 10 years from now, he was immediately stumped. His response to me was, he really hadn’t thought about it. He was just expecting to continue doing what he’d been doing – running the business. But when pressed, he admitted there would be some kind of transition out there in the future; but he just hadn’t put any real thought into it. So, what to do about this?

Immediately, there are four objectives for James:

  1. Consider that there really is a future transition event for him and the business.
  2. Determine an accurate value of the company as it is now.
  3. Determine what that value needs to be to support James’ retirement or what I like to call his next act.
  4. What can be done now to begin increasing the value of the company to meet objective three?

Let’s take these one at a time:

Is there really a future transition event? Understand that there really is a future transition. Pretty obvious but just because it’s obvious, it doesn’t mean we’ve developed a plan for it. Let’s be plain spoken here. You will exit your business one of two ways. Either horizontally, or vertically. It’s best that you do it and plan on it vertically.

Determine an accurate value of the company. There are a couple of ways to do this. One is to engage a formal valuation company who will do a review of your company and the market and derive a fair value of your company as it is viewed through similar companies and transactions in recent history. A second way to do this is through a less formal but still in-depth analysis and assessment of the business utilizing a business consultant experienced at growth and strategic planning.

Determine what that value needs to be. What do you need out of the company in order to fund your next act?  This is going to take some real personal reflection and planning. It will include collaboration with your spouse and all the other important influencers in your life.

What can be done now? Start now increasing the value of the company? The first thing to do is to change your paradigm from owner/operator to buyer. Step back from your position as the owner and take a look at your business the way a buyer would look at it. What would the buyer see as valuable and worth buying? What would he see as not worth buying? What would he have to invest in immediately to make his investment worth-while?

You’re at a crossroads. Continue on in the direction that you’ve been driving. Or begin looking at your business differently and begin to develop the strategies and tactics that will increase the value of your company so when you reach the major destination of your transition, you’ll be able to afford all the things you’ve always dreamed of.

Call us and let us help you with these next steps. Also, here’s a link to a great short article in Entrepreneur Magazine: entrepreneur – preparing to sell about this topic.  See what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

Finish Strong: Measurement

While it isn’t necessarily popular, all things of note and import need to have some quantitative or qualitative measures.  Measuring success is that yardstick on anything that helps you put your arms around it and understand its relevance to your company.

So what kind of measurements will you put in place to help secure this finish strong initiative?

There are both quantitative and qualitative measure:

  • Quantitative are mathematical and usually rely upon hard numbers
  • Qualitative are more about the quality of an attribute an and can be measured as well

Let’s start with the pure sales numbers (usually quantitative):

  • An expectation of XX% increase in sales.
  • Acquisition of YY new clients.
  • Improve your close rate by WW%.

Moving on to human resources, you might expect:

  • NN new hires.
  • Implementation of a new training program.
  • Creation of a retirement plan

Then there is operations:

  • Increased internal productivity of ZZ%.
  • Improved profitability of PP%.
  • Process improvement of MM%

On the qualitative side there are more “squishy” items:

  • Delays
  • Defects
  • Deviations

These do not have to be for a product or a manufacturing process.  Delays, defects and deviations happen in every business including service-based businesses.  Take an HVAC and plumbing company:

  • Delays can be late arrivals for appointments.
  • Defects could be dissatisfied customer visits or a problem not solved.
  • Deviations could be not following through on a standard customer interaction process.

Every one of these can be quantified and some level of over, or under, performance can correlate to a dollar or budget impact.

And so on.  You get the idea.  These are measurable goals.  The goal -setting process will help you better understand your company, too.

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Finish Strong: Being Organized

Being able to finish strong starts with being organized.  If you don’t have an ordered way to do things, things might not happen.

Here is a checklist to help you shape up for the task at hand—finishing strong!

  • Create a to-do list.
  • Clean up your email in box
  • Keep your team small and empower them.
  • Clarify and adjust (if need be) your year-end goals.
  • Put your sales team to work.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize.

A list of what needs to happen is a powerful tool.  It becomes a key touchstone of what needs to be done.  Creating a list causes you to determine what needs to be done and, really, drives goal setting.

Cleaning up your email in box will give you room for new correspondence and weed out old stuff that really should have either been addressed already or needs to go. And it will cause you (and your team) to focus on the task at hand.

While, ideally, everyone in the company should play a role in this year-end push, that might be possible because of the sheer number of bodies involved.  Consider, if your company is large, having a hand-picked team to lead the charge.  Give each member an assignment and allow them to push back. By empowering them you give them the opportunity to help shape the goals and to actually reach them.

Goals and objectives should be flexible.  As you move forward you are going to learn things that will cause you to adjust the goal to reality—and, thereby, make it actually attainable.

The sales team plays a big role in this process—put them to work.  They can describe the landscape outside the company to your internal team and also tell you weak spots both in the external markets as well as your internal processes.  They are some of the few people who work for your company who have this perspective.

And, always, keep your eyes on the prize—remember why you are doing all of this.  It is about the health and future of the company.

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team

Finish Strong: Our Next Workshop

While our theme through the end of the year in this space is finishing strong, we do have a real-time event coming up this week that builds on that theme and could be of real value to you.

Beside, hearing from a real, live person and interacting with others with similar challenges with their businesses might be a good use of your time, right?

On Wednesday, November 20, our team will assemble to present a 2-hour workshop on how to finish the year strong.  Taking pages from their experiences with EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System) and Strengths, Michael Visentine and Nancy Canada will walk attendees through a program that will result in a tangible plan.

In this session you will learn:

  • How to set goals that are both measurable and achievable.
  • What to assign to whom on your team once the goals are set.
  • Who on your team is going to be asked to do what.
  • How to determine the schedule of events and activities.
  • How to get buy-in from your team.

At the end of the session you will have a working set of tools that will allow you to set and manage your goals for the end of the year so you can finish strong.  And that in itself will make 2020 all that much brighter.

The workshop details:

For more information about how to finish the year strong, please reach out to us.  We’d love to hear from you.

The New Paradigm Advisors team