Tuesday, April 29

I do a little brain surgery on the side... 

From the excellent IMC newsletter that came across my desk this morning...
Management consulting is an unlicensed occupation, thus has low barriers to entry. However, it is still a profession requiring specific standards, a body of knowledge, competencies, skills, behaviors, and ethics. Too many organizations find out the hard way that hiring someone who "does a little consulting" is vastly different than hiring a professional consultant.

Much of consulting's bad reputation comes from individuals who portray themselves as professionals but lack the skills, behaviors or discipline required. Experience is not the same as skill.

Having experience in an area has little to do with one's ability to advise management in that area. It is like saying, "I raised three children over the past twenty years - I think I'll do a little pediatrics." Such a statement is laughable, and you wouldn't trust your child to someone who made that claim. So why would you trust your company to someone who isn't certified?

To assure expertise and skills, we recommend using only those professionals who are certified or licensed by a national or international body. Examples include Professional Engineers (PE), medical doctors (MD), Certified Public Accountants (CPA), and Certified Management Consultants (CMC). All of these professionals prove a long term commitment to the profession and meet or exceed rigorous professional standards. This should give clients the assurance that they are "in good hands."

With ISO 17024 standards for management consultants on the horizon, it is becoming apparent to more managers that professional standards are a preferred way to select consultants. As the international standard for management consultants, recognized in 46 countries, the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation is becoming the global standard for managers to find trusted, proven and ethical professional consultants.

P.S.The next time someone says that they "do a little engineering (or medicine or consulting)," make sure they are certified or licensed.
Learn more about the CMC or forward this to colleagues interested in becoming certified consultants.

Friday, April 25

Execution means DO SOMETHING!! 

No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.
-- George Eliot

One must verify or expel his doubts, and convert them into the certainty of Yes or No.
-- Thomas Carlyle

The importance of "execution" is a concept that has gained a lot of currency in today's business environment.

Execution is simply a big word for DO SOMETHING!!

In the old business world, the normal process for getting something done could be described as "Ready, Aim, Fire!"

With the quality movement and the other management fads that came and went during the 1980's and 1990's, the process became a little more involved. Perhaps "Aim, Ready, Aim, Fire!" could describe the resulting corporate mindset:

Document everything you Do, and Do everything that you've Documented. That
meant a lot of extra work and not much improvement in actual quality (but that's another book).

Then Tom Peters encouraged managers to adopt a new philosophy which he presented as "Ready, Fire, Aim" -- execute on your ideas, and then refocus/refine later.

Today, successful leaders need to be innovative, brave, smart, and fast. Perhaps the new motto is "Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!"

That means that "Ready" has to be built in - to every department, every manager, every employee. Ready is the new status quo. And aiming is no longer a separate step. Aiming is about creativity, scoping out the possibilities, and finding the next opportunity before the competition does.

Part of being Ready is, in fact, to always be aiming! This is the only way that "Fire, Fire, Fire, Fire!" is ever going to work without descending into havoc.
Yes or No? Fire!

Friday, April 18

Individual commitment to a group effort  

Individual commitment to a group effort - that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. 
-- Vince Lombardi

Teams win trophies. But, more importantly, each player gets to wear the championship ring. 
-- David Newman

Remember the old saw about "There's no I in TEAM?" Well, that's baloney. The team is made up of 100% I's, and that's the reality that eludes many managers and leaders today.

Division goals, department goals, and company goals are all great. They're the overall report card of "how we're doing." Reach the goals, and every member of the team deserves a reward. No doubt about it.

However, it's also important to balance team rewards (the trophy) with individual recognition and rewards (the rings).

Many, many management and sales executives have left their organizations due to stupidly structured compensation schemes that forget this very basic notion.

Other organizations suffer from a poorly designed reward system that can actually penalize the very behavior that the organization says it wants to encourage. (In a milder scenario, the reward system has unforeseen effects on people's behavior and level of intrinsic motivation.)

Sunday, April 13

"This is only a test" 

This is a test. It is only a test. Had it been an actual job, you would have received raises, promotions, and other signs of appreciation. 
-- Anonymous

If you have a job without aggravations, you don't have a job. 
-- Malcolm Forbes

A lot of times, leaders feel aggravated, unappreciated, and feel they're working with people who desperately need a clue. Guess what?

You're the clue.

And it IS hard - you know what hard means, right?

You will feel depressed, worried, aggravated, uncertain, and sometimes downright sad.

And it's OK.

You're there to do the work. And do it professionally and with positive energy.

If you can do that day after day, you pass the test!

Question: Which of the following concepts is the biggest JOKE at your company:

* Quality
* Continuous improvement
* Teamwork
* Learning organization
* Servant leadership
* Creativity and Innovation

Why is that? How could you turn that around? What's stopping you?
Today is Sunday - have a great week and make it COUNT!!!
-- David | www.unconsulting.com

Friday, April 11

10 Steps to Success  

Step 0.5 Look in unexpected places for the answers you need.

The following list was stolen, verbatim, from a poster hanging in my daughter's 6th grade classroom. Hey, I'm not ashamed. I think these are awesome - and they apply far beyond 6th grade, too!

Step 1. Try. 

Step 2. Try Again. 

Step 3. Try One More Time. 

Step 4. Try it a Little Differently. 

Step 5. Try and Ask for Help. 

Step 6. Try it Again Tomorrow. 

Step 7. Try to Find Someone Who Did it. 

Step 8. Try to See What is Not Working. 

Step 9. Try to See What is Working. 

Step 10. Just Keep Trying.

Two more ideas for you courtesy of famous people:
How long should you try? Until.
-- Jim Rohn

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, April 8

When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules 

Here's a great piece by direct marketing copywriter Denny Hatch - courtesy of the boyz at www.GravitationalMarketing.com

When a Marketer Breaks All the Rules

Where, oh where, is the USP? Thirty years ago I attended a luncheon of the Direct Mail Writers Guild in New York. The speaker was Dorothy Kerr, circulation direct of U.S. News & World Report.

Her talk changed our lives, Peggy's and mine. Dottie said: The way to be successful in direct mail is to look at watch your mail and see who's mailing what. Look for those pieces that keep coming in over and over. These are the controls -- the mailings that are working and making big profits for the mailer. Then steal smart.

"To make mailings without studying other people's mail," said the great direct marketing guru, Axel Andersson, "is like expecting a brain surgeon to operate without ever having studied brains."

On Monday I received a self-mailer from Vermillion, a firm I had never heard of.

In 40 years of studying direct mail--literally tens of thousands of envelope efforts, postcards, catalogs and self-mailers--I have never seen a piece that breaks so many rules.

Whoever created it is not a student of direct mail or marketing psychology. After reading this, you may want to take a look at what your organization is sending out.

Takeaway Points to Consider:

* Turn features into benefits.
Inexperienced copywriters--and often product managers who should know better--do not understand the difference between a feature and a benefit. A feature is a fact about the product or service you are selling. A benefit is what that feature will do for YOU--make you rich or desirable or happy or enable you to sleep at night.

* One marketing technique is to make a list of all the features of the product or service being sold. Then turn those features into benefits.

* People buy for three reasons and three reasons only: Price and/or Service and/or Exclusivity. If all things are equal and your price is lowest, you will get the order. If your service is terrific, your sales people warm and knowledgeable, your guarantee of satisfaction ironclad, then people will buy. Or if you are the only game in town (e.g., Rolls-Royce, Segway, Picasso), you will make the sale.

* The key to direct marketing success is the Unique Selling Proposition (USP)--the one thing that makes a product or service stand out and be different from the competition. It might be price. It might be service. It might be exclusivity. It might be something else. One way to determine the USP is to list all the benefits of the product or service and then rank them in importance. The top benefit becomes your USP.

* Cleverness and humor have no place in direct marketing. If the reader says "My, isn't this clever" or "Oh, how funny!," the thread of the argument is lost and so is the sale.

Monday, April 7

Any intelligent fool... 

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction. 
-- Albert Einstein

What kind of leader would you be if you specialized in the small, the simple, and the gentle solutions? 

Or does your style lean more towards the thicker report, the more complicated answer, the more expensive technology, and the more complex project plan?

Winston Churchill was asked how much time he would need to prepare a talk.

He replied that his preparation time depended on the talk's duration.

When asked about a 2-hour speech, he said he could deliver that immediately.

When asked about a 2-minute speech, he said "I should need a fortnight to prepare."

The short, simple, direct answers are often the most valuable - and take the longest time and the hardest work to prepare!

Question: What could you simplify right now that would make a difference to you and/or the people you work with?


Guest column by Mahesh Grossman

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, just changed my life.

To be honest, until a few weeks ago, I never took it seriously. From time to time a friend or an acquaintance would ask me to "link" with them, and I would, but I didn't understand what to do with my network. In fact, I'm not sure I ever invited anyone to link with me.

Now I understand some of the power of this tool--and it's especially useful for authors. So here are five ways you can use LinkedIn to help you write, publish, and promote your book:

1) Ask for help with your content, including websites and people to interview.

LinkedIn has a feature where you get to ask questions, either of your network or of people in a particular industry. I am working on an e-book that will be a list of a particular group of sites. I asked the network where to find more of these sites and I got an amazing response that made this e-book my top priority. But you could also ask a question like "Do you know how I could find people to interview for my book who have a successful arranged marriage?". Not only would you get suggestions on where to find people to interview, anyone with a
successful arranged marriage would be likely to offer to be interviewed.

It's also possible that people have already asked questions on your topic, so if you search the Answers section using appropriate keywords, you are likely to find some usable information as well.

2) Get introduced to famous authors and ask for testimonials.

I am shocked at how many famous authors are on LinkedIn. I have a few bestelling authors as direct links myself--and I am only one introduction away, meaning someone in my network can introduce me--from several authors who have sold more than ten million books--and there aren't that many authors who have done that. So if you were to join LinkedIn and link to me, you would be one level away from the bestselling authors I know, and two people away from these authors who have sold massive quantities of books. That's pretty amazing. So if you have high quality work that has been vetted by a professional coach (one that has been published by traditional publishers!), you could approach a very big name author through LinkedIn.

3) Have a particular agent you want to be introduced to? There are 326 agents on LinkedIn.

I did a search on the term "literary agent" and found 326.  I wouldn't try to get introduced to all of them, but you do your homework and find a particular agent that is the most likely to be interested in your work, it could be a good way to make a connection. Once again, you have to really have studied the publishing business and know what you are doing to make this work. But it is an interesting strategy. (And I know of a number of editors from major publishing houses who are also on LinkedIn.)

4) Want publicity? There are lots of  periodical editors and TV producers you can network with.

I know several publicists on LinkedIn, and some are connected to top editors and producers. Want to get in Time magazine or Sports Illustrated? There are writers and editors from those publications. Want to get on national television? Once again,  you  can reach out and try to connect with these folks, who are also on LinkedIn.

5) Want to connect to people who might help market your book? Ask the right question.

Once again, LinkedIn Answers gives you the opportunity to ask how to do something, and let people volunteer to help you.  Ask a question like "I'm the author of a book about living a balanced life. I would like to be interviewed on 50 teleseminars this year. How do I find people who might want to host me on a teleseminar?"  Whatever your goal is, ask how you can do it, or find people to help you. Some good Samaritans will come forward and say, "I'd be happy to have you on a teleseminar."

So those are five ways to work with LinkedIn.com. The bigger your network, easier it is to get help.
You may post or send this article to anyone you want as long as you credit Mahesh Grossman as the author AND it includes the following information at the end of the article:

Mahesh Grossman is the author of Write a Book Without Lifting a Finger (www.writeabooktoday.com) and President of The Authors Team (
www.AuthorsTeam.com), a  company that helps credible business experts become Incredible Business Authors, through ghostwriting, editing, coaching, publishing, publicity and marketing.  For a fr/ee list of more than 400 agents as well as a newsletter with tips on
planning, writing, publishing and marketing your book, go to www.getanagentnow.com.)

Friday, April 4

Treat employees like partners 

Treat employees like partners, and they act like partners. 
-- Fred Allen

The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.
-- J. Paul Getty

Some of the best companies today have turned themselves upside down. They've found that the old top-down pyramid style management chart doesn't work. So they've flipped the pyramid over and given employees more say in what goes on and how to get the job done better.

Want to turn things upside down in your organization? Here are some things to try:

1. Challenge employees to come up with their own better ways to do their jobs. You may be surprised at how valuable some suggestions are.

2. Seek out ideas from everyone, not just those who have a direct involvement with the job. Good ideas can come from unlikely sources.

3. Spread authority around. If the largest part of the pyramid is to be at the top, the top people should have authority.

4. Treat employees with honesty and respect. Don't dictate to them if they are not going to have their ideas enacted. Explain the reasons that underlie a decision or policy. Be
dependable and accountable for your words and actions. Otherwise, numbers 1-3 won't matter.

By giving employees more control over their work environment and more involvement in running their jobs, you tap into a valuable source of ideas and productivity - and that pays off for everyone.

Wednesday, April 2

10 Career Skills to Keep You Employable in the 21st Century 

Guest column by By Karla Brandau, CSP

Most people drive through life looking in their rear-view mirror and judging the future by the past. Why? Because people often mistakenly think the lessons learned from their previous experiences will help them choose the right way to go. But, even though past experiences can give you a base for the future, having a backward outlook won't keep you employable in 2010 and beyond.

The business world is going global. And it's no shot in the dark to say that the future work world will be even moreso. If your job is not one that requires you to physically be in one place such as serving food, washing windows and stocking grocery shelves you will soon be competing with bright and hungry workers in India, China, Korea and other developing nations around the globe.

Competing in this new environment will require higher levels of competence and necessitate looking straight ahead, not constantly glancing in the rear-view mirror to reminisce on your past accomplishments.

Here are 10 skills you'll need to acquire and refine if you're going to increase your professional confidence level and stay employable in the 21st Century:

1. Constantly adapt to technology. As expected, dependency on technology in the future will increase, not decrease. Dedicate time to learning new computer programs but, more importantly, make software applications a part of your daily routine. Strive to use technology as an enabler of productivity, not just as a neat new toy with tons of cute features you don't use. To decide if the new gadget is worth the time, ask yourself, "Does this make time or waste time?"

2. Embrace diversity. Get comfortable with other ethnic cultures, religions and customs. Be curious about what makes people from other cultures tick. Learn a little about the customs and attitudes that belong to workers from other countries. The time will be well spent as you begin to relate human to human, not human to inhabitant of another country.

3. Be a life-long learner. When you finished your last college course did you utter a sigh of relief and mumble something like, "Whew, glad I'm finished with my education!" Surprise: The new century will require you to be a continuous learner. Be prepared to reinvent yourself, the pool of information in your brain and your work-related skills at least every 4 to 5 years.

4. Practice impeccable integrity. Employers need to feel your spirit and have the quiet assurance that you are honest. Even one person in an organization who takes advantage of company assets for personal gain can cause untold rules and regulations. And remember, integrity beyond just simple honesty. That means be fully committed to producing results when you commit to a deadline no excuses.

5. Be a self-starter. Fire yourself up or look forward to being the first to go when bottom lines dip into the red, a recession lurks around the corner or the next merger takes place. Those who learn to work on the optimistic side of life are more valuable to the organization as they create a positive work environment that produces higher productivity.

6. Demonstrate personal discipline. Employers want to hire people who have disciplined work habits and disciplined thinking. The more disciplined the worker, the less time managers must spend retraining, retracing and reworking to assure themselves that you're reliable. When you demonstrate personal discipline, you and your manager can spend more time on solving problems and moving the company forward.

7. Prioritize and evaluate daily. Two of the biggest time wasters in the world are not knowing where to start each day and working on low-priority items. To compete in the global work environment takes meticulous prioritization of tasks and the ability to identify the highest priority item that you tackle first every morning.

8. Be adaptable. To stave off obsolescence, organizations must constantly change and regularly introduce change initiatives. Often employee resistance derails plans for updating processes and procedures and stalls company progress. To increase employability in 2010, learn to be part of the solution as opposed to part of the problem. Ask tough questions that define the future and actively look for ways to support the new change initiatives.

9. Think creatively and innovatively. Contributing to your organization in 2010 demands thinking outside of the box and looking for creative ways to solve nagging problems, increase productivity or produce a new product or service. When a challenge presents itself, be the first to offer a new viewpoint, discover an alternative or recommend another course of action. Your ideas combined with the creative ideas from other employees will help your organization renew itself and stay competitive.

10. Have a "Can Do" attitude. Negative messages are thrown at you the entire day from the news, next door neighbors and the annoying co-worker in the next cubicle. Teams face hurdles to productivity which causes dissention among members. Management faces stockholder dissatisfaction and product deadlines. To compound the problem, your mind naturally generates negative thoughts before positive thoughts. You have to train your mind to see the positive, to find the positive and to see the opportunity lurking in the obstacle. Immerse yourself in all the available positive mental attitude material you can find. If you can master a positive can-do attitude, you will add value to every thing you touch and be more employable in an increasingly negative world.

Some of these skills will be relatively simple and others may be difficult for you to implement. However, as you improve in each area mentioned above, you will increase your confidence and competence the two keys to creating an environment where you add value to your organization and have greater job stability.
Karla Brandau, CSP, is an expert in change, leadership and team building in the flat world. She offers keynotes and workshops to improve personal and organizational competence.

Tuesday, April 1

April 1 Sales Fact 

On this day in 1778 the dollar sign ($) was created by Irish-American merchant and financier Oliver Pollock, according to the New York Times archives.
Today also marks the beginning of the second quarter.
Now get out there and make some $.

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