It’s not that I can actually do it, I just feel like I can

believe you canAs we walked to our cars after Zumba, Pam spoke about what a great class it was. The instructor is always upbeat and has such tremendous enthusiasm and joy for what she does. So much so, that it becomes infectious for those taking the class. I agreed. I always have a great time and get a great workout. But, there are a few moves I just don’t have down yet. Pam agreed. That’s when she said, “I feel like I can.”

She went on to say that the whole experience is so uplifting that even though she doesn’t have all the moves down, the instructor creates an environment that makes her believe that she can, and even feels like she does. Wow! Can you imagine that customer experience everywhere you go? The experience is so welcoming and inclusive that your perception of the experience is an 11 out of 10. How are you creating that experience for your customers and your team?

Do you know when your market is about to turn?

do you know when your market will turn?There has been a string of great news about the economy. Unemployment has been going down, labor participation rate is up, and businesses continue to have cash to invest and are investing it. In fact, there are a number of banks and high profile periodicals that believe we may be in the longest period of economic expansion ever. At some point, the expansion will end. Are you prepared for it? Do you have a set of economic metrics that indicate when your market is turning? Do you have a plan for how you handle market expansions and market contractions? If you don’t have an eye on these, it is time to start planning so you know what levers to pull and when.

Are you managing your business like a news cycle?

are you managing your business like a news cycle?Hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, fires, missile launches. There have been major events all over the world over the last two months. They are important and attract major news attention. For a day, or a week at most. And then the news cycle ends and the topic of the day moves to the top of the news cycle. The major issues that attracted so much attention become all but forgotten. It is not because the situation has been resolved. It is simply a matter of a new topic catching the attention of the news cycle, even if the subject is of lesser importance.

It is important not to manage your business like a news cycle. Meetings, email, phone calls, etc. are frequent consumers of time and attention. They can be a constant stream of new stuff, just like the news cycle. But are they really the right place to spend the bulk of your time? How are you making sure you are spending your time on the things that will move your business forward?

Are you communicating as much as you think you are?

Are you communicating with the right people?It was an intensive project. People were working on it for months. Extensive conversations involved people from each department. Every detail was looked at and planned for. Everyone knew the timing, what had to happen, how long the downtime would be and who all was involved. There was a ton of communication. Only that communication was amongst the groups involved in making the project happen. There wasn’t any direct communication with the customer, creating surprise and confusion when the downtime happened. It was a blip that people got over, but the frustration didn’t need to happen.

It is a common business situation. Whether you are in leadership or working on a project, it seems like all you have done is communicate. The real question is, whom are you communicating with? If it is only the people who are working on the project, initiative, or your senior leadership team and not those who are impacted, you are not communicating enough. When was the last time you stepped back to think about how you are getting your message out? If you aren’t talking about it all the time, its time to take a step back and rethink your communication strategy.

Failure or Learning?

failure vs learningI’ve been listening to Masters of Scale podcasts during my drive time. Each episode deconstructs how successful businesses have been able to achieve success and scale. Almost every episode has a tale about the number of times the interviewee has been told no in trying to get their idea off the ground, or how the business has built in innovation and experimentation that results in as many failures as successes. People learn from trying and failing. The more often they try things, the better they get at succeeding. They are able to tell more quickly what resonates with their customers. They build in mechanisms to test ideas without negatively impacting customers. More importantly, they are able to move more quickly than others because they know what customers want and how to accomplish it. How are you building into your business a mechanism to learn from failing?

Do you see the potential?

do you see the potentialYears ago, I moved to Houston, necessitating house hunting. My realtor found a house three blocks from Rice University on an oak tree lined street. The houses were built in the 1930’s and had a tremendous amount of charm. My house was perfect on the outside, but was original on the inside. Original kitchen, original plumbing, original wiring. All from 1932. The paint was at least a few decades old, the ducting for the air conditioning was visible in the closets and the oak floors were in need of refinishing. To me, it was fantastic! But to everyone who walked inside, I was out of my mind. They couldn’t see what I saw. The potential.

Potential is everywhere. It is within people, in companies, in ideas, in communities. It just takes opening your eyes to see what can be. How are you looking for potential?

The best surround themselves with the best

the best surround themselves with the bestThe best surround themselves with the best. Top performing companies hire the best talent, work with the best partners and surround themselves with thought leaders. They continue to get better because they are constantly innovating and growing. They are constantly looking for top talent and hire them when they find them. How are you surrounding yourself with the best?

A business is worth exponentially more when it is run well

well run business is worth exponentially moreRunning your business well isn’t just for show. A business is worth exponentially more when it is well run. The math bears this out. An example of the same business, pre- and post-transformation based on a real business transformation:

  • Pre: $10MM EBITDA x 3 multiple = $30MM value
  • Post: $30MM EBITDA x 8 multiple = $240MM value

As EBITDA grows, the multiple expands dramatically. And that’s all due to running your business well. How are you positioning your business?

Activity vs. Results

high performance is about results, not activityRecently, an individual was touting the mark of high performance as hours worked. In other words, it is a matter of activity rather than results that garners the mark of high performance. The reality is top talent produces at a rate of 3 to 17 times the average in the same amount of time depending upon the industry. High performers are clear about what they are trying to accomplish. People work together to accomplish a common goal. High performing leaders set the tone, attract top talent, focus on results and have financial results as evidence. How are you focusing on results rather than activity in your organization?

Businesses exist in an ecosystem

business operates in an ecosystemBusinesses exist in an ecosystem that comprise the business, the community, the people who work in the business and the stakeholders of the business. The strength of the business has a profound impact on those that it touches. As the business becomes more successful, it employs more people and generates a host of benefits in the community and for stakeholders. How is your business contributing to the ecosystem?