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What is the biggest enemy of Business Success?

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From Mark Sanborn:

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The worst enemy of business? Indifference.

Indifference is a lack of concern, interest or sympathy and it hurts business in two areas: people and process.

A lack of concern for your employees/colleagues and your customers/clients is the quickest way to destroy commitment and loyalty. Even when you disagree with someone, it shows you are interested enough to engage them. Indifference is a dead end street. It is hard to care about others who don’t seem to care about anything or anyone (except themselves). So why would we care about their business success?

Indifference to process is what happens when you aren’t interested in the details of your business. You can’t be bothered to “look at the numbers” or “deal with the problems,” as if there was something better you should be doing with you time.

We care about what and who is important to us, and if you aren’t concerned about the people and processes of your business, you probably don’t care about profits either.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Scott McKain:

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Lack of focus is the biggest enemy of success.  It’s an old analogy; however, it makes the point:  Sunshine alone won’t set a piece of paper on fire, but if you take a magnifying glass and focus the rays, it can cause the paper to erupt in flames.  The sunshine is the same – it’s the focus that creates the reaction.

Perhaps, in today’s age of intense media, the Internet, and unlimited entertainment options, it’s easier to be distracted than ever before.  However, those who desire to be successful can’t use that as an excuse.

What are the keys to focus? Here are three:

  1. Be specific.
  2. Plan.
  3. Write it down.

How do you focus without a target? You can’t – in other words, you need a precise object in order to concentrate.  After you’ve developed a specific target, next — begin to plan on the steps required to achieve your desire.  Finally, write it down – for some reason, putting pen to the page creates a contract with yourself for achievement.

With a specific target, a developed plan, and a written commitment, you will have established the focus required to overcome the biggest enemy of success.

Scott McKain teaches how organizations and individual professionals can create distinction in their marketplace, and deliver the “Ultimate Customer Experience ®.” For more information: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

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The biggest enemy of business success is success. Yep, you read it right. Nothing will kill success any quicker than being really successful. I have seen it many times with many people and many businesses. You experience a level of success and then you focus so much on achieving even more success, that you lose sight of what made you successful. While it is important to be forward thinking in order to build and expand on your hard-earned achievements, I believe it is even more important not to become forgetful. And success makes you forgetful.

Success makes you lazy and lulls you into a sleepy, safe place of complacency where you forget some or all of the things that made you successful in the first place: great customer service, value, hard work, paying attention to the little things, showing up early, making the calls, working closely with your suppliers, exceeding expectations, paying close attention to your money, staying on top of personnel issues, focus, prioritizing, celebrating every victory, learning from your mistakes and appreciating all of the people who helped you become successful. Remember: Look up so you can keep building but never forget to attend to the foundation.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Randy Pennington:

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Businesses don’t succeed for all sorts of reasons: a bad product; lousy financial controls; ignoring customer needs; poor sales and marketing; no planning. The list could go on.

But, there is one overriding cause at the heart of all of those reasons – inattention.

It is almost impossible for a single leader to pay attention to everything as the business grows. You have to leverage the energy, talent, and commitment of others. And that means that leaders must give their greatest attention to building a culture that never succumbs to inattention.

I agree with Larry that success can make you complacent if you let it. But, inattention can also stem from lack of knowledge or inadequate resources.

The businesses that consistently succeed pay almost fanatical attention to building and sustaining a culture where every person at every level is 100 percent committed, equipped, and accountable for doing ALL the things that deliver consistent results.

I look at it this way: Running a business is a lot like having a successful relationship. No one starts with failure as the goal. And, both fail when you stop giving attention to the crucial aspects that make them successful … starting with the right culture.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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The biggest enemy of business success is passion.

Now, everyone get up off the floor because most of you just fainted from shock. Isn’t passion the very thing that makes a business succeed? Actually it’s energy coupled with, as McKain points out, focus, that drives success. As an article in the Wall Street Journal recently stated, “if there’s anything that can sink a new business, it’s passion. It blinds entrepreneurs, leading them to get overconfident and make bad choices at the worst times.” Click Here to read the WSJ article.

The killer: you think that because you love your product/service, everyone else will, too.

Research from Keith Hmieleski and Robert Baron calls this “the tendency to expect positive outcomes even when such expectations are not rationally justified.” The passion to “follow your dreams” and not dispassionately understand the realities of the marketplace is a lethal business killer.

Winget and I have always said that being whipped up in a fit of passion over your business clouds judgment and reason and leads to bad decisions which leads to failure.

Passionate? Fine. But you’d better bring some dispassionate judgment along, too.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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9 Strategies for Dealing with the Ugly Side of Social Media

Social media has become a true amplifier, permeating every nook and cranny of the web; giving a megaphone to those who might have previously found themselves trollvoiceless. While I generally believe that the proliferation of the social web is a good thing, it does have a dark side that is difficult, if not impossible to ignore.

I was reminded of this recently when an unscrupulous competitor accused me and my friend Larry Winget of an ugly racial slur. While it was totally fabricated, this person willfully resorted to defamation of character to defend his indefensible behavior.

It is easy to get mad, get on your computer, and allow emotions to run amok. We live in a world where you can say or write literally whatever you want and almost immediately find some captive audience just waiting to react.

Yet there are situations where you do need to respond to the detractors, and take some risks in the pursuit of truth, honesty and justice. I can’t tell you exactly when to do that (that is your decision), or precisely how to react. But I do believe, as does Larry, that there are times you shouldn’t acquiesce to digital bullies. You need to take a stand.

Taking a stand is not risk free, but the greater risk is how you respond to the ludicrous, the fabricated and the unfair. An ongoing challenge of leadership is the control of ones’ emotions and actions. In the age of the digital echo chamber, how do you guard yourself from having an unprofessional moment, and perhaps more importantly, how do you keep from throwing fuel on a fire you’d rather put out?

Here are a few tips on how to keep your social media actions in check, and how to react to others who just can’t seem to control theirs:

How do I think through my social media actions in a heated moment?

  1. If you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, don’t write it on Twitter.  The oldest test in the book is the grandma test. It still holds today. If she would be appalled, odds are that others will be too. It feels good to blast an opponent, but such outburst can easily be used against you.
  2. Remember that everything that you say or do on the web is archived. Even if the NSA happens to miss it, odds are that Twitter, Facebook, Google, and/or other platforms have a way of archiving the information. Consider everything you write these days on the internet to be permanent. Trolls may delete their comments but they still leave a trail.
  3. Still debating saying it? Sleep on it. This is familiar but often good advice. If you really feel the need to say something that might be taken the wrong way, consider sitting on it overnight. Waiting until the next day will rarely hurt your point, and it may save huge amounts of embarrassment.
  4. If you do say it…make sure you feel that you could defend it in a court of law. Falsely accusing someone of something is a big deal and the repercussions could amplify beyond your original intentions.
  5. Remember that your reputation is cumulative. How you respond to the unfair and uncivil will either enhance or detract from your reputation. Don’t let others bait you into ruining your reputation.

How do I react when I am targeted on social media?

  1. Grab screenshots. If someone truly is going after you, the first move is to gather evidence. Make sure that you have copies. Odds are that they will quickly realize what they have done and will try to erase their trail, so the best thing you can do is make sure you have a copy on hand.
  2. Report them. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and most other platforms have guards against those who harass others. Don’t hesitate to put in a report – that’s why it’s there!
  3. Try not to react. This goes back to my above points about guarding yourself. As hard as it is, try to remember that once integrity is lost it is extremely hard to recover. The more reaction, the more fuel you pour on the fire.
  4. Remember that the truth is the best defense. As someone who has been egregiously accused of something I did not do, I took solace in the fact that I was innocent and as such the accusation cruelly asserted could never be proven.

We live in a world where unscrupulous people have migrated to online communities and live among the rest of us. I hope you never have to use the above actions, but that when you do I hope they serve you well.

 

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7 Clues You’ve Got the Wrong Person on Your Team

How do you know you’ve got the wrong person on your team?mr-wrong Any team member can sometimes feel like a bad fit, but there are more tangible clues you need to know to determine if a team member is the wrong person than simply your emotions. Here are seven clues

1. You wouldn’t rehire him or her if you had the choice. Let’s start here. If the person in question quit today and then applied to be rehired tomorrow (ignore the feasibility of the timeframe), would you hire him or her back?

2. You get negative feedback from others about him or her. Is there a consistent stream of negative feedback from others—team members, customers and/or vendors—about this person’s behavior?

3. The person’s “cost” (salary, benefits, training and time needed) exceeds the value they create. Quantify the individual’s contribution to the team and organization. Then compare that against their true cost (wages/salary, benefits, training and attention).

4. Team morale is lower because of them. Does overall team morale suffer because of this person? Is her or she more aptly considered a team slayer rather than a team player?

5. Customers or clients complain or don’t like doing business with this person. This is costly: do you receive phone calls, emails or other forms of complaint from customers?

6. The individual hasn’t improved with feedback, coaching and/or training. Have you attempted to appropriately address any deficiencies by providing feedback and needed training and development? Has this person accepted and has performance improved? If not, there is a real problem.

7. Your gut is telling you this person isn’t right for the team.  It is time to add together all the information and do what your gut is telling you.  

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Extraordinary Is Your Best Defense and Offense

The price for sloppiness and mediocrity is higher today than it has ever been. The marketplace doesnt reward ordinary. If customers can get better service or value elsewhere; they’ll abandon the inferior for theScreen Shot 2014-09-02 at 8.24.37 AM superior without a second thought to loyalty. You would think that this would have companies clamouring for new and inventive ways to keep customers happy. Yet I am repeatedly astounded by the number of opportunities for optimal customer service that are completely bypassed or purposefully ignored. (See also Why Customer Service is so Bad at Most Places). Companies are typically delivering such lackluster experience, products and services that it directly hurts their bottom line.

It is often said that valleys help us appreciate the high points in life. While that may be true, too many people seem to accept the valley as a permanent residence. Instead, we should always aim for extraordinary every time. Why? Because ultimately it is the best offense and the best defense for both your company and you professionally. Here’s why, from a statistical perspective, you should be paying attention to this every time:

The Organizational Level

This Zappos case study presents a great example of how “extraordinary” in both internal and external company interactions can create a positive economic result. As Jeff Lin, former CFO of Zappos, points out “service is a by-product of culture,” so by fostering a culture that everyone wanted to be a part of they drove down their employee turnover rate to 39% (at the time, 150% was the turnover rate for typical call centers). Zappos’ prices were not (and still are not) lower than that of their competition, however, their service was and is so extraordinary that their repeat customers account for 75% of their business. Why would you leave a company that is taking care of you be it on the employment or the customer service side?

The Personal Level

When Mark Murphy tracked the results of over 20,000 new hires over time, within 18 months, 46% of those hires failed. Believe it or not, the predominant reason for failure (over 89% of the time) had absolutely nothing to do with skill and everything to do with attitude. You can have all the professional acumen in the world, but if you can’t deliver an extraordinary experience to those around you regardless of where you are in the company; odds are you won’t succeed.

If you are aiming to build a profitable, long-term company, or to poise yourself for personal professional success, my ultimate advice is to aim for the extraordinary every single day. Your best offense is to start with a positive attitude or culture. And your defense? To deliver an extraordinary experience as best as you can. Either way you slice it, you can’t go wrong.

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Why Is Customer Service So Bad At Most Places?

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From Scott McKain:

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Customer service is bad at most places, because evidently that is what CEO’s and managers want.  What other reason could there be for them to accept such miserable performance?

Most care more about selling than serving.  We know that when sales decline, companies will buy ads, offer new customers better deals than existing ones, deliver training, hold major events, and take any number of extraordinary measures to pump up revenue. They are passionate and precise about customer acquisition — but reserved and reticent about customer retention.

Here’s evidence:  most companies have annual sales rallies – how many have one every year for customer service?

Educated and cared-for employees should be prepared to deliver “Ultimate Customer Experiences ®” to everyone spending money with you.  In turn, these customers replicate their purchases, and refer you to their friends and colleagues.  Your business grows.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

If everybody – from front line employees, to entrepreneurs, to major corporate executives – would create experiences so compelling to customers that their loyalty becomes assured, organizations would experience enhanced levels of both acquisition and retention.

Yet, if it’s not the priority of the leadership or owners – why should the folks on the front line get excited about it?

To find out more about Scott McKain, go to: www.ScottMcKain.com

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From Larry Winget:

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Customer service is bad because we allow it to be bad. What do you do when you get bad service? Tell the truth. Most do nothing. Most people simply don’t have the cojones to speak up when they get bad service. They don’t tell the person delivering it. They don’t ask for a manager. They don’t leave an online review. At most, they might – maybe – possibly (though probably not) stop shopping with that business.

If you aren’t willing to speak up, then you are an accessory to the crime. You have allowed a crime to happen and stayed silent about it. Shame on you. You owe it to yourself, the next shopper and to the company to speak up in an effort to make things better in the future. You can’t ignore bad service and expect it to get better. Behavior that is ignored will be repeated. It’s a law. Write it down.

Next time you get bad service, speak up. Remember: it’s your money you are defending – money you worked hard for. Tell the company and others. Use the internet and social media. That’s how customer service will improve for all of us.

Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development©, is a six-time NYT/WSJ bestselling author, social commentator and appears regularly on many national television news shows. To find out more, go to www.LarryWinget.com.

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From Mark Sanborn:

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Larry makes a great point about the customer’s culpability in enabling bad customer service. Here is the employer’s role:

1. Customer service isn’t taught. No matter how motivated an employee is, they can’t perform a job without the right skills. (And don’t confuse “smile and grin” training with true customer service training. There is more to great service than simply “being nice.”)

2. It isn’t rewarded. Most organizations pay no more attention to those who provide great service than those who don’t. As the old adage goes, what gets rewarded gets done. The corollary is what doesn’t get rewarded usually stops being done.

3. It isn’t required. If delivering extraordinary service isn’t part of the job description, don’t be surprised when you don’t get it and get push back when you “request” it. Great service shouldn’t be an option.

Require your team to provide great service. Just make sure you teach them how and reward them appropriately when they do.

Mark Sanborn is president of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea studio for leadership development. He is an award-winning speaker bestselling author of books including, The Fred Factor. For more information and free resources, visit www.marksanborn.com.

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From Joe Calloway:

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At 90+% of the places I do business, customer service runs from good to absolutely great.  I travel a lot, and renting a car used to be torture.  Now I hit about 4 clicks on the rental website, get to the airport, walk into the lot and pick any car I want (I tend to rent from National), and drive away.  I recently returned some hiking boots I’d worn for a while to REI (I wasn’t happy with the fit.)  They smiled, got a salesperson to help me with another pair, and I was on my way.  The kids working at Chik-fil-A are friendly, efficient, and the chicken is good.  Amazon Prime is one button to buy and ships in two days.  Zappos service is legend. My car dealer loans me a new car to use when I get mine serviced.

“But wait!  You aren’t going to the places with bad service!”

Exactly.  Read  Larry Winget’s post on this.  If I get bad service, I fire them.  I don’t go back and I tell them why and they don’t get my money any more.  Lousy service happens when customers let them get away with it.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get even better. www.JoeCalloway.com

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From Randy Pennington:

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My friends are correct – service is bad because leaders want and/or allow it.

From my experience, this leadership failure is rooted in one critical idea: Companies with bad service view it as a cost to be managed rather than an investment that creates a competitive advantage.

This view will never be acknowledged. In fact, most companies say that they strive for service excellence. Words are not action, however. Focus on these three areas if you want to make service your competitive advantage:

1. People: Who do you hire? How are they trained, compensated, and rewarded? Do your front-line leaders develop them and provide a great environment in which to work? Who is promoted, and who is fired?

2. Process: Is every process clearly defined, documented, and communicated? Are your processes designed to deliver the best possible result for the customer or the least expensive result for the company? Do you continually evaluate and update processes to stay current and relevant?

3. Tools: Do your people have the resources and information they need to succeed? Are they empowered to actually use the tools at their disposal?

Stop managing service as a cost. Start leading it as an investment.

Randy Pennington helps leaders deliver positive results in a world of accelerating change. To find out more, go to www.penningtongroup.com.

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