How Michael Phelps Can Inspire Your Startup

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“I want to be able to look back and say, ‘I’ve done everything I can, and I was successful.’ I don’t want to look back and say I should have done this or that.” Michael Phelps

Unless you are living on another planet, you could not have missed the incredible medal haul of Phelps.

How does one man achieve so much? Is it because of his 6ft 8in wing span and body shape which helps him conquer the swimming pool? Or is there something more?

And What does this mean for you and your startups?

#1 Start early and focus on what you are best

“If you want to be the best, you have to do things other people aren’t willing to do.”

Michael Phelps started training at the age of 7 and never looked back.

While there is a time and place for early adopters, the startup world rewards the early movers disproportionately. There is research which says that the first one gets 80% of the available value and the next one 14%. The rest fight for the 6%.

Always ask the question “what benefit is my offering giving to the customers?” Once you are clear, and your customer responds to it, focus on it. Keep practicing and improving.

#2 Sharpen your axe every day

Phelps has done swimming from the age of 7 and swam every day. Every Day!

Can you imagine that kind of commitment? Whatever the weather conditions, he would don his swimming cap and goggles and start swimming. This sheer dedication to the craft helped him put the distance between him and others.

Anders Erickson was the first to discover the 10,000-hour rule for expert performance.

The only way to get to that is practice every day.

I was recently in a pitch presentation, and a startup in the VR field said their AI machine had clocked 500k minutes of database, and this is its competitive advantage.

An early start is what will put the distance between your enterprise and others.

#3 Prepare for the worst

2008 Olympics. It’s the 200-metre butterfly finals. Phelps goggles are getting filled with water. He is unable to see clearly. What does he do? He keeps swimming as if nothing has changed. In the final lap, the goggles are completely filled, and he is nearly blind. Outcome: not only does he win the gold he sets a new record.

If there is one thing you can say for sure in business, it is this: Things will go wrong.

And when they do, you should be prepared.

An Ex-Australian Navy officer once told me, which stuck with me all my life: “You can never be shocked twice.”

If you prepare for the worst outcome, you will overcome it when it presents itself. Build the Ownership mindset in your employees so that you have an extra pair of eyes and ears on the ground.

What are the outcomes which you need to prepare for?

Flood of negative reactions from Customers

Cash running dry

Key personnel leaving you

Most large businesses have a written document titled Business Continuity Planning. Prepare for disasters and you will pole vault them when required

#4 You are limited by your beliefs

You can’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the farther you get. – Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder at the age of seven. Imagine if he or his family decided to use that as a label for him. How limiting would that have been?

Ian Thorpe, who was his competitor, at one time famously said that no one could beat Mark Spitz’s seven gold medal haul. Phelps broke it with eight golds in the 2008 Olympics.

What a way to silence the naysayers!

Once you startup, you should focus on the business you have. Keep thinking about the customer and what you can do.

Learn from the mistakes of others.

As long as you are focused on the customer, you will always aim high and every day, you will generate new ideas to satisfy the customer.

Keep testing and churning out ways to delight your customer.

Don’t be limited by what is possible. Dream and aim high. Focus always on delighting the customer.

#5 Start Again

All was not rosy with Michael Phelps two years back. There is the infamous alcohol incident and his subsequent rehab. But he did not let it define him. When everyone had given up on him, and he had “retired”, he came back for one more shot at “immortality.”

There will be times when the going will be tough. You may even find yourself on the knees, down and beaten. It may even look like a dead end.

Hunker down, batten down the hatches.

Find out what makes you great. What do your customers love you for? Seek out the customers who love what you have to offer. Get the reinforcement. Get the team together and your investors in a huddle. Recraft your operations if necessary.

Get the team together and your investors in a huddle. Recraft your operations if necessary.

Start again. Come back with renewed energy.

True champions don’t always have smooth sailing. They also taste the dust sometimes.

What separates them from losers is that they come back, they start again.

Grit your teeth, spit the blood, fight the dust off and rise again. Be a Gladiator.

The podium of success awaits your moment of glory.

 

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The Power of Saying Yes, Responsibility of saying No

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Do you know that by the time you reach 18 you have heard NO around 10,000 times?

No wonder we get used to hearing NO. What is worse for business is we get used to saying NO to others. NO to new ideas, new initiatives, new ways of working. The common refrain “We don’t do it this way here”If it ain’t broke, Don’t fix it.”

It requires an outsider like Starbucks to show what Nestle should have done a long time back.

This post is about how key decision makers in your organization may be operating and why it may stop you from unleashing the best.

Quite often people act from The Power of saying NO and Responsibility of saying YES mode. Let me show how:

Managers often will say NO to a subordinate’s plan for a new style or new idea or an innovative way of doing things. This comes from the feeling that “I have the power to say NO” and I am going to use it liberally.

However, when it comes to saying yes, low performing managers think “I’ll have to explain why this works. Tomorrow something goes wrong I will be blamed” so they feel a certain heaviness of saying YES.

Over time, the organization becomes “safe” and “follows procedures” rather than taking risks to deliver more value to the customer.

Now contrast this with what I am saying:

What if Leaders felt the power of saying YES. They should feel that they have taken one more step in adding value to customers. I have taken one more step in beating the competition. I have taken one more step in making my team think and deliver innovation.

And If I say NO, then I have the responsibility of not making any of the above happen. Not only am I crushing someone’s dream, but I am also reducing the company’s future growth potential.

Now if someone has this doubt “Hey, does that mean I allow every wild dreamy idea out there?” The answer to it is: judge it whether it adds value to the customer, beats competition or increases the innovation and growth in the company, If Yes, Feel the Power of YES.

As a leader, are you building this culture in your team and organization?

For more actionable insights for improving your Leadership, check out my book

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9 Insanely Helpful Ways To Keep Startup Marketing Lean And Effective

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a startup founder or CEO, you need to run a lean operation which can get the promised growth fast. You have secured your round of funding; you want to get out there and make the most of the plans that you have outlined and secured an approval. But, we have also seen how yesteryear unicorns are going through markdowns or downrounds.

You want to make sure that your marketing is geared for delivering the growth, develops and executes programs which run fast and have the most impact.

Find below the ways by which you can keep your marketing team and programs, lean and efficient.

Focus on core objective – conversions

There could be multiple goals floating around: Generate traffic, generate leads, convert to prospects and then sales or convert a ready list into sales – whatever is the objective, you need to focus on the One Thing, which generates the most impact in your business. Your One Thing is led by your commitments to the investor team in your last review meeting or funding round. If it is traffic generation then focus on getting the maximum number of people coming to the site or place. If it is Gross Merchandise Value then with traffic you need fast conversions, and hence, marketing efforts will focus on conversions and promotions.

A big hairy goal can then be made byte sized for actions. How?

Break the mountain into pieces

Start with a goal drill down into monthly goals.

Based on the Focus, which you have decided, break the overall target into monthly goals. Then, convert them into weekly deliverables. These should be on your screen or in front of you every time. This Focus, also, makes sure that teams are not working on various nice-to-have items. One team is working on one goal.

Now, break down the weekly deliverables into daily tasks.

Checklist your way to success. Checklists are the number one difference between a highly efficient and inefficient operation. A pilot in any airline swears by his checklist and hence has a higher success ratio.

Checklists are the number one difference between a highly efficient and inefficient operation Click To Tweet

A Checklist also helps in guiding your focus to the things which have the maximum impact.

Focus on the One thing TODAY

What will make the maximum impact on the business today, then tomorrow and day after?

Based on your cascade from Core objective to monthly goals to weekly deliverables, every day you need to prioritize those things which will generate the maximum impact. Again, the power of the few gets amplified when you work on the most impactful item now. When you meet any of your team members, ask them, what is the most impactful thing, you are working on today? Be ready with your answer for what is the most impactful for you too? Ideally, what is most impactful for you should be the same as the marketing person, the only difference would be the actions you are taking.

Once we are clear about what we want to do, then we can use the right media to amplify the message.

Use social media to amplify the message

You must be already on social media, however, have you prioritized it? I sincerely hope that you are not present in all the channels because you need to create buzz. The first decision of which social media you need to be must be decided by where your audience is.

Your customer profile decides which social media you need to focus your marketing on Click To Tweet

Once you zero onto the one medium or max two media, you need to tailor the content and programs depending on the medium. The campaigns you would do LinkedIn would be vastly different from the ones done on Instagram.

Ask your team to follow some of the big social media mavens out there who have tons of content on how to boost your social media efforts.

Keeping your social media efforts focused on one or max two will go a long way in keeping your team lean and your programs impactful.

This focus will help you in testing which messages work best in which media.

What are you testing today?

Treat every campaign ideas as a test and compare two different campaigns.

We have all heard about A/B testing.

However what lies at the heart of this is the testing mindset. By daily setting up tests, over three months’ time, your team will have enough data not only on the customers’ habits and preferences but also on which marketing programs work and why. Testing also removes the emotional attachment to “pet projects” and trust me everyone in marketing has a pet project.

Help the team develop a testing mindset 

With the data you have, you can allocate more funds to the programs which are delivering your objectives at the best cost-benefit equation.

Testing also brings excitement in marketing and the learning improves helping them get better every day at what they are doing. It is just like your product team which is testing every day and churning out “beta” ideas.

Do your marketing in permanent Beta mode Click To Tweet

This testing will lead to a calendar of activities.

Calendar for Marketing Programs

While it is exciting to try many programs and ideas, it can quickly become a distraction and sap energies. A calendar should guide the list of programs. Just like big blogs and social media have editorial calendars, the marketing effort needs to have a marketing calendar where every program in the month should lead to the monthly goal. The monthly goal decided the content and nature of the online and offline campaign you have. I would strongly recommend THINK DIGITAL FIRST. How does your campaign weave into our target customer’s online life? The monthly goal decides the content of the tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn stories and the Instagram posts that you do.

Once you decided on the what and the tone of the content, the next step is sequencing the messages. Having a calendar of online activities creates buzz but more importantly, drives traffic to the call to action that your campaign is directing the target customer towards.

You have a Call to action in every campaign, right?

Don’t create campaigns only for entertainment – create for conversions Click To Tweet

With CTA embedded in every campaign, over time, you will develop insights and learnings into the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Continuous Learning

Make the team read a marketing best practice or a social media blog every day and note down the action points.

As a startup, you are not wedded to any brand manual or global marketing program which large companies have. But, you also miss out on the learnings and best practices these companies have. You level the field by having a learning hour for you and your marketing team every day. Ideally two hours. Listen to podcasts when driving, take notes on your voice recorder. Read the biggest influencers in your space and social media.

Most importantly, develop testing ideas from your notes and learnings. If you can learn and test 10 new ideas for marketing, every day, imagine what it would do to your marketing capability by the end of the year? You would have tested more than 3000 marketing ideas. Talk about the compounding effect.

This testing and a ready bank of ideas will make sure you will operate at a speed which will blow your competition away.

Make Speed Your Strongest  Weapon

Action over Anticipation. Be Agile.

As a Startup, your lean structure helps you in taking decisions faster. If you are clear about the One thing which is going to drive your business for this year, this week and today, and you have a calendar for your online activities ready, then, there should be no reason why you should churn out your programs at a rapid pace.

To deliver the pace, Make sure that you are hiring the right people. Once you have cultivated the testing mindset, you can roll out the programs in beta mode, get results and if it is working, increase it to scale.

Scale should also include feedback from your customers on what is working and what is not. You don’t need elaborate research for this. Have built-in feedback systems inside your campaign. Call a sample of customers every week and test your assumptions. Ask them what is working, what is not working?

This feedback will not only increase the pace of your campaigns and positive results, but it will also, make you nimble in your fight against the giants.

Be the David in the vs. Goliath game

Move with speed and in fail fast mode. Know your strengths

Malcolm Gladwell points out some interesting aspects in his book David vs. Goliath. David wins more times than Goliath. The trick? Find your unique niche and play by your rules. While Goliath had a sword (good for close range combat where size and strength would help), David had a slingshot (the shepherd’s tools). He also ran towards Goliath probably unsettling him with this offensive. The slingshot helped him to aim from distance, fire and keep moving.

Find what makes you best and do it faster and harder.

Don’t aim for the best marketing. Aim for faster marketing. Click To Tweet

Get your solutions faster to the customer. Get the feedback faster. Learn and adapt faster.

Use your nimbleness and agility to your advantage. While the big guys will take weeks if not months to turn around campaigns, you turn around campaigns in days.

Use the testing mindset to test various ideas and then make them work harder and faster.
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Do You Want To Know the Secret Of Effective Marketing In Small Business?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Just Start.

If there is one proven way to have effective marketing and jumpstart growth in your small business, it is: Action over anticipation.

We are wired for taking action – but often only under fear. We all know about the fight or flight response.

But given time, we also have a tendency for “false perfection”.

Why false?

Have you noticed that nature has no pure circles or squares or triangles? They are often oval or rhomboids – slightly bulging at edges.

It is our desire to be perfect hence, we create the perfect circle and squares.

While it is good in science, it is bad in business.

Here’s how:

Being perfect assumes that everything will go exactly as per planned. That whatever is planned will definitely result in the outcome which we want.

Really?

It is said that after the first two chess moves, there are a million options by which the game can turn out. And this only with 64 squares and two players.

Now think of the marketplace with thousands of customers and hundreds of suppliers.

Perfection often leads to analysis paralysis. The need to have a beautiful, logical solution leads to endless debates on the correct step to be taken.

Perfection often leads to analysis paralysis. Click To Tweet

In the end, nothing moves.

I learnt this lesson once.

My boss used to love asking questions. On every campaign, we used to design; he would ask ten questions. Once replied, they would lead to 10 more questions and so on. One day, I decided that I would start it as a pilot project, and we will keep answering his questions. After two months, he asked, “By the way, what happened to that X campaign?” I replied “well, we started as a pilot project and got some good learnings from it and now in a better position to answer your concerns” He paused for a while and then said “you did the right thing. Let’s go national”.

The market and the customer are the best ways to understand whether something works or not.

We can have endless boardroom discussions, but it has no comparison to the rich learnings in the market.

Nothing teaches you better than the marketplace. Click To Tweet

Taking Action does not mean that you launch a half-baked product or dump low-quality stuff in your channels.

Have a testing mindset within the team so that no one is wedded to a particular idea or an approach.

Help the team develop the testing mindset by asking the right questions in meetings.

Run pilot projects, do A/B testing, check in one channel before going national, but Start.

It means beyond a point, stop the endless planning. Just start.

If you have an option between Action and one more round of planning, Just Start Click To Tweet

Check this article for how an owner of a successful online business prioritizes Action over endless debates -> Slideshare CEO

What are You going to Start Today?

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9 Important Steps To Building Ownership Mindset In Your Small Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The key to growth in small business is in creating an ownership mindset in your employees.

The key to growth in small business is in creating an ownership mindset in your employees. Click To Tweet

As an entrepreneur, it is evident that you have it. But, how do you build it in your people? Here’re some steps

#1 Fix the hiring

The first step is hiring the right people. You want individuals who are curious. Who are looking to better themselves and things around them. Who are asking “how does this add value to the customer?” You want people with the entrepreneurial zeal in them. You could look for evidence of this by checking if they had run small jobs on the side when they were young or ran a small business when they were in college. It does not matter if they succeeded or not. That they took action to their impulse is important.

#2 Creating Focus

Once the team is in, you want to bring Focus on what is most important for you and the business. Make sure they are clear of the One Thing they need to focus on. The One Thing, which is absolutely critical for business success. Focus is the number one reason why business succeeds. You want to make sure that each person in the team is working towards one goal which is clear to all.

There should be maximum three things below this one goal. I have seen this coming out right in countless industries and businesses. How do you ensure this? Every day, ask you and your team “what is the one thing which will make the most significant and positive impact on our business? Are we doing it? When? Who is doing it?” This Focus will create the habit of giving priority to the project/item/decision which will have the maximum benefit to the business.

There should be maximum three things below this one goal. I have seen this coming out true in countless industries and businesses. How do you ensure this? Every day, ask yourself and your team “What is the One Thing which will make the most significant and positive impact on our business? Are we doing it? When? Who is doing it?” This Focus will create the habit of giving priority to the project/item/decision which will have the maximum benefit to the business.

Focus is the number one reason why a business succeeds. Click To Tweet

#3 No distraction mindset

Once the team is fully aligned and working towards one goal, give them the freedom to achieve it. Make them focused on outcomes and delivery. Be the example of how to avoid distractions and be focused on delivery. This is critical. There are many urgent items to finish in a day and before you know it, the day is gone. By being laser focused on doing the one thing which matters, you have to train your people to avoid distractions and stay focused. This mindset starts from a small item like limiting the time you spend on social media to bigger issues like giving maximum priority to completing the projects which make the most significant difference to your business.

#4 Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Communication is an absolute must for every business but truer than ever when installing the ownership mindset. In every situation, let people know how you came to the decision as an owner of the business. Help them decide when they are in similar circumstances. Communicate frequently on what is most important for the business. This will make sure that everyone knows exactly what levers to pull in a given situation.

#5 Make them accountable for their decisions

Accountability management is an essential part of a leadership role. Do you hold people accountable to their promises? Do you hold yourself accountable to the promises you made? An owner of the business operates from the highest accountability given his skin in the game. “This is your business and your actions decide it’s today and tomorrow”. This form of accountability makes sure that your team focusses on action and execution.

This is your business and your actions decide it's today and tomorrow Click To Tweet

#6 Celebrate when they have taken decisions which help the business

The flip side of Accountability is Celebrating good behaviors. Because celebrating good behaviors leads to their consistent application. Consistent behaviors lead to habits and Persistent habits lead to successful business. So, celebrate decisions and behaviors where your team members have demonstrated ownership mindset. This could be just a simple impromptu town hall which celebrates a few instances or a raising a toast to the individuals in your next fun team outing (You have one, I hope!)

#7 Celebrate cost consciousness

This is a no.1 indicator of ownership mindset. Some people are naturally thrifty and there are some who are naturally spendthrifts. And the majority in between the axis. You need to celebrate those who consistently demonstrate cost consciousness. They always look for value in their decisions. They always make sure that the business is getting more value than what they are paying for it. They make sure their travel costs represent the best value decision. They make sure they are getting the maximum value from their agencies and suppliers.

#8 Celebrate customer focus and helping customers win their game

The sole purpose of business is to serve the customer. No one understands this better than the owner of the business. When someone makes that effort in understanding the exact needs of the customer and over delivers the value offered, you must celebrate this behavior. Why so? Think back to when you were buying something and your expectations were over delivered. You were thrilled and you probably mentioned that to your other friends. Over time, you went back repeatedly to this service provider.

It is the same with your customer who is delighted will come back to you. Your team member who over delivered to the customer is the reason behind it. And he has behaved with the ownership mindset.

#9 Lead by example

People will be motivated by your zeal and direction and will start owning the business. Whatever behaviors we have talked about above, you need to live and breathe it daily. You should be the role model to others whenever they wonder how to bring the ownership mindset alive. You should help people understand your actions better so that they are behaving like owners.

 

Build these habits and you know that many eyes are scanning, identifying and grabbing the opportunities which are always there for the business to grow.

How would you build this mindset in your business? If you want a checklist for this, then, check out just released book

If you want a checklist for this, then, check out just released book: Stop Reset Start.

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Did You Know The Shocking Truth Of Successful Entrepreneurs?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Successful Entrepreneurs don’t take risks.

Yes, you read correctly. They infact go to lengths to reduce risks.

I was shocked too when I read this article by Malcolm Gladwell (Best Selling Author of Outliers, Tipping Point, David vs Goliath) -> http://bit.ly/XHVvNO

Gladwell makes a persuasive case through couple of high profile examples like Ted Turner and John Paulson (Big Short Fame) of how they intentionally keep the risks lower so that they increase the chances of their success. He goes on to overturn commonly held beliefs around risk and their downsides.

The article persuaded me. I realized there are four more points for consideration:

A) Keeping the Risk small = Increasing the potential of the Upside

I could relate to this from my Trading experience. The best of traders in the world e.g. Paul Tudor Jones, Bruce Kovner and even Warren Buffet seek to lower their risk first. They don’t look at reward first. They actively reduce risk first. Warren Buffet is famous for saying “Rule No.1 : Never Lose Money. Rule No.2: Never forget rule no.1”

By always looking for low risk ideas, they buy really cheap (ideally when everyone is selling) and then wait for the trade to reverse and shoot for the Stars.

By keeping the risk low i.e. in business, it means keeping your costs low or driving a hard bargain when it comes to acquisitions, you reduce the capital outlay. The subsequent increase pays for itself in multiple times.
Also by keeping the risk small, even if the bet fails, you have lost very small portion of your capital but you learn a lot from the experience. Fast Fail is possible only when the risks are kept small

Keeping the Risk small = Increasing the potential of the Upside Click To Tweet

B) Generating cash from one business to fund another business

The article talks about how Ted Turner used the excess cash from the Billboard business to fund his news station.

This is the classic Warren Buffet tactic. He used the Insurance float generated by Berkshire Hathaway to fund his acquisitions. This not only kept his cost of capital low but also make sure he was not borrowing at high cost and then wondering how to pay for it.

This is the classical approach in the business. Build a Cash cow in the business first. Make the business and the team to be cost conscious, use the pay as you go model. Build, sustain, reinforce and then repeat the cycle. Create a Cash strong business.

Then, once you have a sizable kitty, use it to fund acquisitions or new product launches. Care has to be taken that the new product launches or acquisitions don’t wipe out all the cash

C) “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been”

One of the greatest Ice hockey players ever Wayne Gretzky once said this.

In sports, then and even now, everyone races to where the ball is or puck as it is called in Ice hockey.

Gretzky used to setup the game in such a way that he would know where the puck would be a few steps ahead of everyone and position himself in the court accordingly. This devastating technique made sure that he was always well positioned so that once the pass happened he was uncontested and score from an unguarded place.

Warren Buffet also popularized the notion by his statement “Buy when there is blood on the streets” i.e. Buy when everyone is selling. It takes guts to be contrarian but a well-positioned strategic move plays off in a big cash pile.

How does this apply to business? Understand what the customer truly wants and not what everyone is doing. I remember once I was National Sales Manager for Acrylics and our lead product was a “Commodity”. Or atleast that is what everyone thought,. Because I had no background to the industry when I came in, I decided to focus on the largest customer (No.1 Paints manufacturer) and what their needs were? While everyone was competing on price, my team worked to understand the total system cost and needs of the customer. This focus helped us in making them our largest customer with ability to increase prices and thus make it one of our most profitable customers.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been - Wayne Gretzky Click To Tweet

D) Be a predator – stalking increases the chances of success

Related to the idea of low risk is that you get into the habit of stalking the idea (not any person please). You wait for the right circumstances to present itself and then you act. You are not in a hurry. You have worked out the details and made all your risk assessment. You negotiate, you thrust, you parry and only when the financials work in your favor, you close the deal.

This does not mean you procrastinate, this does not mean you lose the plot while you sweat the pennies. It means that the opportunity has to have the best risk return profile for you to act.

All predators in the jungle stalk the cattle or the herd and pick the weakest or best target before racing towards the target.

What does this mean for business? If you are planning to enter new markets or looking for acquisitions, look for the place where you can do the swiftest entry. Remember it is in the interests of the acquired to delay so that they can ask for an increase in the price,. It is in your interest to takeover something whose value is more than the price. Value in a tangible way. So no goodwill valuation or brand image buffers. Cash positive business with low debt in the books is the ideal.

Be a predator - stalk opportunities for success Click To Tweet

How would you apply this to your business?

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Why you need to hire the Hare now and not the tortoise?

Reading Time: 1 minutes

Do you know the famous tortoise and the hare story? How did that turn out? We all know the Tortoise won. So why should you hire a hare?

Hare, tortoise! What is the relevance to your business?

Speed is the essence in the millennium. What we need are people who think agile, act agile.

Between a thinker and a person with bias for action, I will choose bias for action.

Why so? Disruption is everywhere. There is technological disruption. There is business model disruption: somewhere out there is a young guy writing an App which will substantially speed up the business, cut traditional layers and remove the cost of discovering solutions for the customers. Then there is the demographic disruption: Millennials move fast, act fast.

Whether you like it or not, you need to hire people who have agility. People who are willing to speed up your product or service delivery. Your customers will absolutely love it if you deliver faster than last month and last year. Your business will love it if profits come faster than last month and last year. Your employees will love it if business grows faster than last month and last year.

If you hire a tortoise, chances of his becoming a hare is rather low. There will be enough tortoises in the organization who will balance the need for speed with making sure that the hare is running in the right direction.

So, hire the Hare.

Would you agree?

 

Do you behave like an owner of your business?

Reading Time: 1 minutes

You are the leader of the business and the team and hence, you obviously own the results. And everything which happens between now and the results. But does your team own the business?

Why does this matter?

Are your employees coming to the office just to collect the paycheck? Then there is a serious problem. If the job, for them, means a vehicle to get a “bigger” or “better paying” job somewhere else, then, there is a problem. When someone says “I just follow instructions. If something goes wrong, it’s my boss’ problem” there is a serious problem.

When you own the business as if it is your own, you don’t wait for instructions. You are always on the lookout for opportunities. You will always want to be one step ahead of the competition.

You will be the first one to knock on the customers doors. You will be out where it is required to see how your consumers taste and preferences are changing.

You will be the “brand ambassador” of your company even if you may be the janitor in the office.

Ownership mindset is the rocket fuel in your business’ success.

This ownership mindset will make them see every decision as something which either adds value to the business or not.

Then whether it is giving this discount to the customer or not or

whether to make the production run for this product or the other or

whether to run the campaign for this product or not,

the ownership mindset will show them the right direction.

Would you like your employees to behave as owners?

Read this second part on how to bring this ownership mindset

How to dominate the competition?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Speed is the number one competitive advantage you need to have for a successful business.

If you don’t have it, develop it or perish.

We all have heard the story of hare and the tortoise. What is needed in today’s times is the persistence of the tortoise and the speed of the hare. Grant Cordone in his book 10X Rule calls it “Smokey”

Speed is the number one competitive advantage you need to have for a successful business Click To Tweet

In today’s connected and hyperactive world, you have to be one step ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is Speed.

How fast do you adapt to the customer’s needs? Do you throw the contract or company procedure when your customer wants a modification? Or do you take it as an opportunity to build a better stronger relationship?

Are you the first in the door when the customer starts his operations? If you are servicing a retailer, are your trucks the first to enter their warehouse? Are your counter salesmen the first when the shutters are opened?

I recently saw a retailer apply last month’s promo code on a purchase because the display person had not removed the last month’s promo even at 3pm in the afternoon when the store opened at 10am!

At every step of your relationship ask how can your service be faster and better?

At every step of your customer relationship, ask, how can my service be faster and better? Click To Tweet

Do you send your customer weekly updates on the industry? Can you switch to twice a week? Are you visiting your top 20 customers thrice a week? Can you make it every day or four times a week?

Are you present on weekends when the customers’ own sales are maximum eg for a retailer?

Do you have a servicing or technical person posted in your Top 10 customers? This makes sure they don’t have to call you if something breaks down.

Whatever the competition is offering, make it faster and better.

How are you beating the competition?

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How do you develop a testing mindset?

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testing mindset team meetingIn my last post, I talked about developing a testing mindset.

The idea is to approach a new idea as a testing ground.

Whether it is a new distribution strategy or a new pilot production line or a new campaign, you want your team to approach it as a test or hypothesis.

Why? This helps them focus on the process goals rather than outcome goal.

The first step is the concept of a meeting itself. What is a successful meeting? What is a failed meeting?

We all know what a failed meeting feels like: energies are down, tempers are up, it seems like a waste of time.

What does a successful meeting feel like? Everyone is energized and looking forward to getting out there and making it happen. Everyone feels that they were heard and recognized for their contribution. Opinions were expressed fully; they were given due respect, and while not every opinion was agreed to, the conclusion felt like a collaboration which can inspire and energize everyone. Everyone was well fed (well maybe not!)

Do you see the difference?

It is almost always emotions. And it often very much in our control of how we emote and what emotions we emote.

As a business leader, you need to lead through personal example of building a testing mindset.

You could say “Let’s test what a successful meeting feels like?”

“My thoughts are

1. We listen to everyone

2. We always see the scope of doing it first before we say why it cannot be done

3. We have the highest interest of the customer and business first

4. We observe, create, collaborate, doubt, conclude in that sequence. What are yours?”

Get a shared understanding of how a successful meeting should feel like. Then check every 15 minutes or periodically whether it is happening. Check at the end of the meeting whether you have delivered what you have promised. If yes, what worked? If not, what did not work?

Before you end, Ask “what should the next meeting feel like based on what you learned today?”

Do this at least 4-5 times, and you will entrench successful behaviors.

You will also train your senior staff in testing and in drawing out assumptions and process goals. This will build collaboration in the team which is very important for a testing and learning mindset.

Now, How will you develop it in your workspace?