Have you actually established trust?

are you establishing trustEach time I head out of town, I take my 75 lb yellow lab to the doggie hotel. They do a great job there and she is well cared for. But, she is a rescue dog and I’ve only had her a year and a half. I don’t know her history, but clearly she was abandoned. The last two times I’ve dropped her off, she shrieked at the top of her lungs while I walked out the door. I know I’m coming back. And even though I have eight or so times, she doesn’t yet trust that I will. Each time I drop her off, that trust is broken a little bit and needs to be rebuilt.

It takes a long time to establish trust—much longer than you think it will. And it is really easy to lose. As a leader in business, your promises and actions either establish trust or break it. And even though you state you promise to do something, it takes keeping that promise a number of times before people actually trust that you will. How are you establishing trust in your business?

Longevity and Customer Service-A lesson from the oldest business in the world

longevity and customer serviceLast week, I was working on my book and got curious about the oldest business in the world. Founded in 705, Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan is a hot spring hotel with 37 rooms in Japan. It has been operated continuously by 52 generations of the same family. Known for its hospitality and hot springs, it is an a worldwide attraction. The pictures of the hot springs are stunning—and so is its longevity. Can you imagine running a business for 1,300 years? It is a great example of knowing what the customer values and delivering it. And that leads to longevity. How are you delivering what your customers value?

Take a deep breath and don’t panic

Don't panic and take a deep breathAs I write this, the Dow just dropped more than 1,500 points and it is happening quickly. This following significant declines last week—on good news (jobs growth and higher wages). Concerns about inflation and the impact of a new Fed chair are getting a lot of focus, as is the impact of electronic trading. Opinions vary between “there is a lot of upside in the year” to “a correction is overdue.” Sometimes it is better not to panic and just take a deep breath. The thing is, it will eventually go back up. And there may be a few opportunities along the way.

In your business there will be times when panic and inertia take hold. The key is to keep focused on the fundamentals and not to panic. As a leader, you can bring calm. And in that calm, you may find a few opportunities. How are you making sure panic doesn’t gain hold in your organization?

Finding Success in a Belly Flop

the belly flopIt was one of those moments where you watch in slow motion, make a face and think “that must have hurt.” My 75 pound yellow lab was running full speed toward the stairs to take a flying leap. She hit the rug at the bottom of the stairs just wrong enough to make the rug slide. Her legs slid sideways and she hit the stairs on her chest and belly at full speed. She stood up, took a few deep breaths, looked me in the eye then took another run at full speed and accomplished her mission.

Launches don’t always go right. Sometimes there is something that goes a bit sideways the first time. If you take a look at your approach, you may just find that course correction that is necessary to make it a success. How are you creating the conditions in your business to drive success?

What is your evidence of that?

What evidence supports that?A number of recent articles and press releases have touted the successful launch of products and progress of companies. Folks have interviewed these companies and praised their success. Interestingly, as I’ve reached out to congratulate some of these CEOs, their response has been a surprise. They aren’t actually doing that well. Sure, there is a win, but the underlying financial results aren’t there yet. If you did a poll on the streets, you’d think these companies are wildly successful. But, the perception and reality don’t line up.

It is an important lesson in business. Whether it is the performance of people, the progress of the business, or the interests of customers, it is important to be able to point to facts and not just perceptions. As a leader, working off perceptions and not facts can lead you down a problematic path. So, the next time someone is trying to influence you, ask: what is your evidence of that?



Are you clear?I was having coffee with a new acquaintance when she asked about what makes the difference between companies with a good strategy and those that don’t have one.  It comes down to clarity.  It starts with leadership. They are clear about the purpose of the business. There is an alignment of values, both personal and professional.  That guides who business is conducted with, how people are treated, what the business does, etc.  It shows up in the passion and energy in the people at every level. With clarity, everything becomes simple and people get it.  Unnecessary complexity falls away and the business runs well. Do you have clarity in your business?

Do you know when you are slowing down?

do you know what is slowing you down?You probably see this situation at least every day. I was walking behind a woman when she suddenly slowed down so much, she almost stopped. She had just pulled out her phone and was starting to text someone. She was so focused on the new activity, she didn’t realize she had slowed down. She was oblivious to everything around her, except for the phone.

Things pop up in business every day that create distractions and slow us down. Many times, they take us off our primary goals. Do you know what they are in your business? How do you ensure you don’t slow down?

Are you ready?

Are you ready?It is that time of year. New year’s resolutions are made and a wave of people show up at the gym. The influx lasts only a few weeks. Some push too hard, are too sore and don’t come back. Others come back a few times, but don’t make it past the end of the month. It isn’t a priority and eventually it falls off the schedule.

As you think about your business goals, have you made them a priority? Have you thought through what it will take to accomplish them? Have you put the necessary resources in place to accomplish your goals? If not, take time this week to set your business up for success.

Is it time to make changes in your business?

is it time to change?I was walking down the street in Southeast Portland as a mail carrier walked by with his bag of mail. He walked down the block, going up and down the stairs to drop mail through the mail slot in each house. Years ago, I lived in Houston and the mail was delivered the same way. In both of these cases, the homes are 80 or so years old and don’t have mailboxes. My current home was part of a development. The mail is delivered in one location for the entire neighborhood, a much more efficient method of delivery for the postal service. At a time where costs are rising, volume of mail is declining, delivery points are increasing and the postal service struggles its budget, the inefficiencies in mail delivery are strikingly obvious when you see them. And, the inefficiencies are not addressed. Do you have any inefficiencies in your business? What is holding you back from addressing them?

What is obscuring your view?

what is obscuring your viewIt is that time of year again. The steady rain has arrived in the pacific northwest. The sky stays gray for months. When the rain falls, trucks create a mist so encompassing that it is nearly impossible to see anything but a gray wall. The mist seems to reach the sky and becomes one.  But once you get around the trucks, you can see the road, cars and trees that were completely obscured moments before.

At times, there can be items obscuring your view. It may be a project, a customer, personal challenges or other pervasive items that don’t allow you to see what is in front of you. How are you getting around the items that are obscuring your view?