Faking It Doesn’t Work

My wife and I are big fans of the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Feiri. In late 2017 there was a spin-off show, Guy’s Big Project, to find the host and concept for a new, similar, show showcasing certain types of restaurants (no spoiler alert, just that it’s a fun show with a surprising ending).

They started with 10-12 contestants and eliminated them over a number of episodes. When they got down to the final group they had them prepare a meal and present it to a group of celebrity chefs.

One of the contestants booked himself as being weird (and it seems he is a bit weird). What the chef judges didn’t like is how he “tried too hard” to be weird. Weirder than his normal.

There’s a lesson for all of us in this. You have to be yourself because when you try too hard you’re faking it and others will notice. It reeks of insincerity. You can’t be like your boss, father, mother, mentor, coach, or anybody else. Just because your boss wears ugly ties doesn’t mean you should.

Be yourself, it works.

“There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.” Roger Staubach

Refresh Relationships – In-Person

The New Year is a time of refreshing (and it seemed a lot of people kept refreshing the first week of January and then it got very busy the second week), out with the old, in with the new, etc. I’ve seen a few things questioning why it’s this way when for most people, what they do this week is similar to what they did before the holidays.

The answer for most of us is because it’s a new tax year. We record on an annual basis to pay the taxman. It often also means new initiatives, because it’s a new recording period.

My big change is realizing there are some areas in which I can add great value, but don’t have the bandwidth to help these people. Thus, I have a new employee who will take some office work away from me, get out in the community, and eventually take on client work.

When I say get out in the community I mean it. Recently I saw the following in a blog post by Alan Weiss:

According to Jonah Berger’s research (the author of Invisible Influence and Contagious) word-of-mouth is by far still the THE most important marketing dynamic, and only 7% of it is virtually viral. You read that correctly: All of the rest is personal and conversational in “real” life, not virtual… Stop hiding behind a keyboard and get out on the streets to meet with buyers. You don’t build relationships with a “return” key. You build them with a handshake.

No matter what business you’re in, electronic outreach is fine, but it won’t get you much in the way of long-term clients/customers. As I preach to my clients, and tell students in my class at the local SBA office, when you do the things you’re supposed to do (meet people), good things happen. And it’s the good things that are memorable and make us appreciate what we do.

“Try as often as possible to do something you’ll remember, because memories make us rich.” Vic Ketchman

Taxes, Deficits, and the Future

I just received a notice on my phone from the Wall Street Journal saying the federal deficit this year will be $984 billion.
I majored in Economics (undergrad and grad school), my program was primarily monetarist professors (versus Keynesians), monetarist meaning Milton Friedman was a hero (as were low deficits).
There is nothing wrong with deficits, especially in a strong country like the US, and also when times are tough. But this high a deficit when times are great makes no sense. This is when we should be running surpluses, like we did in the 1990’s.
It’s like our businesses or households. There’s a time for debt (mortgage, car, line of credit, new equipment, etc.) but it’s also important to save. We don’t want to leave our children with (personal) debt and we shouldn’t leave them with government debt either.
My conclusion is, it doesn’t matter which party is in control, when in power they all spend like money grows on trees.

When Trump and Liberals Agree

What interesting times we live in, as people in every generation have said. What spurs this thought is the New York Times coming out in a favor of a Trump administration program (after going on a long vendetta against anything Trump, which they still do).

The Times wrote in favor of the administration’s plan to increase apprenticeship programs in the trades. It goes to show no matter how much you can’t stand someone it doesn’t mean everything they do or say doesn’t have value.

I have clients who worry they won’t be able to grow if they can’t find qualified people, who can pass a drug and background check. Business buyers have passed on deals because the seller informed them about how tough it was to find more (good) workers. This is in electrical, HVAC, roofing, trucking, and other industries.

Add qualified labor to the crisis list a notch below opioids, homelessness, and poverty and realize if apprentice programs are successful it will reduce the previously mentioned problems. While having a different focus, it’s one reason my Rotary club and I have sponsored a dozen overseas projects putting technology in schools and sewing centers around the island of Antigua. The better educated we are the better the economy will be, whether it’s tech, the trades, or anything else.

Urgency and the Government’s Pace

At the annual conference for the Society for the Advancement of Consulting I once again heard about how speed matters, i.e. have urgency. Also, how in this fast-moving world 6-12 months is a long time (meaning it’s ridiculous to have a five-year plan and projections), and why it benefits the client to get things done sooner versus later.

Well, let’s tell that to the government. A client had a visit from a government agency 2.5 year ago and jut two weeks ago got a letter saying how they needed to change a few things. Two and one-half years to get out a letter. If this stuff was so important wouldn’t you think they’d want it corrected then not now?

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Let’s have fun (my wife’s motto)

On September 20, I’ll be again volunteering to teach my class, “Dynamically Growing a Consulting Business” at the local SBA/SCORE office. It’s always an opportunity to remind myself the things I’m recommending to the students are the things I should be always doing myself, especially to enjoy what you’re doing.

Last week in a newsletter from Alan Weiss he wrote how he always asks coaching clients, “Are you having fun?” And, how many of them don’t like that because they think if you’re hard-charging up the corporate ladder or running your business it’s work not fun.

But it better be fun. On page one of my book, Buying A Business That Makes You Rich, I cover the top nine reasons people in audiences give me on why they want to be in business for themselves (whether it’s buy, start, or get a franchise). Then I tell them the number one reason should be to have FUN, which is mentioned maybe 2% of the time.

When business is good, it’s always more fun. When there are challenges they are at least your challenges and you control how to deal with them. But being in control doesn’t mean you are by yourself on the decision-making island.

As the video below covers, you do better with an advisory board or board of directors (or a business coach). Being in business can be lonely, that’s why there are scores of roundtable groups, coaches, and advisory boards. Use the one most appropriate for you.

“No matter how dirty your past is, your future is still spotless.” Drake

Why Do People “Disappear?”

I recently met someone I considered an “A” prospect. We met, he heard me speak, we met again with his wife present, and I gave him a proposal on how we could work together. He sent me an email saying he’d, “…get back to you next week.”

When I didn’t hear from him I called and left a message. Two weeks later another message and finally an email saying I’d left two messages and the ball was in his court if he wanted to get back to me.

Assuming he’s alive and not severely disabled it means he disappeared on me. Not even the courtesy of an email saying he’s not interested.

And it’s not just him or me. Everybody I know in the employment field (applicants, coaches, recruiters, etc.) say this behavior is very common in the job industry. People at companies don’t reply, leave applicants hanging, etc.

It’s a form of passive aggressive behavior (and being in Seattle, the passive aggressive capital of the world, it’s not unusual). It’s also rude and unprofessional, and probably speaks to the self-esteem of many people as they can’t say no, even in writing (it’s called Minnesota Nice in that part of the country).

If you’re not interested, just say so.

Do More in Less Time

I recently read an excerpt from the book, “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. Copyright © 2016), shared it with a client group for discussion, and I’m now reading the book. BTW, my clients really identified with the topic and had positive feedback.

The title of the excerpt is: “Darwin Was a Slacker and You Should Be Too – Many famous scientists have something in common—they didn’t work long hours.

In simple terms, the book (and article) explain why some of the most productive people ever to set foot on the planet only “worked” (or work if they’re still alive) about four hours a day. The opening of the book is about the science behind this (proving it) and is a bit deep as the author describes the various brain tests and similar.

Charles Darwin is a perfect example of this as he put in three intense 90-minute segments a day of work. The rest of his day was filled with correspondence (email to us), walking, napping, family, etc. During this time, and on this schedule, he wrote 19 books including the famous, “The Origin of Species.”

Other interesting tidbits:

  • Studies have shown there’s an “M” curve of productivity, which peaks at between 10 and 20 hours of work per week. After that, it’s lower productivity. In fact, 60-hour per week researchers were the least productive of all.
  • Great performers (music, dance, sports) didn’t practice more than the average but they practiced more deliberately. This means, “engaging with full concentration in a special activity to improve one’s performance.” It’s more than repetition, it’s focused, structured, and has clear goals and feedback.
  • The biggest factor was rest. The best scientists, musicians, dancers, and athletes, made sure they got enough rest, sleeping an average of one hour more per day than those not as good.

Interestingly, a few weeks ago I returned on Tuesday from a long weekend of fishing and other things, got in my office Wednesday morning about 8:00, at 10:00 I took my first break, realized how much I had accomplished, and noted I needed a break. It hit me how subconsciously I was doing as described in the book.

“I’m at the point where naps are a necessity not a luxury.” My best friend’s dad to my dad when both were in their 70’s

Getting Your Message Across

I’m a member of Seattle Executives Association (SEA) and we recently had elections for the board of directors. Unlike my Rotary club where there’s one person nominated for each position, in SEA it’s truly an election, with two people for president-elect and treasurer and six people for three board positions.

An interesting twist is you don’t campaign for yourself, you give a “speech” telling the group why your opponent (or one of your opponents) should be elected. What I noticed is:

All of those elected had their promotion filled with something a bit outrageous and/or humorous. Those not elected had their promoter give a talk filled with facts (went to this school, worked here and there, has these skills, etc.)

People remember stories and humor is a form of a story. An outrageous action (outrageous meaning a surprise or something unusual but in good taste) is remembered the same way.

The business lesson here is facts may be important but the delivery is much more important.