Strategic Time Management for CEOs at Different Business Stages

As a CEO, understanding where to allocate your time is crucial, and this becomes even more complex when considering the stage of your business. The demands of a startup CEO vastly differ from those of a CEO in a scaleup phase. This article sheds light on this differentiation and provides actionable insights for CEOs to navigate these challenging waters.

The Startup Phase: Wearing Multiple Hats

In the startup phase, a CEO’s role is hands-on and multifaceted. Here, you’re not just a strategist but also an executor. Take the example of Elon Musk in the early days of SpaceX and Tesla. Musk was involved in everything from design to funding, exemplifying the all-encompassing role of a startup CEO.

Action Points for Startup CEOs:

– Be deeply involved in product development and customer feedback loops.

– Focus on building a solid team and establishing company culture.

– Prioritize securing funding and managing cash flow.

The Scaleup Phase: Strategic Leadership

As the company transitions to the scaleup phase, the CEO’s role evolves. Now, it’s about delegation, strategic planning, and maintaining company culture during rapid growth. Consider Sundar Pichai’s role in scaling Google. His focus shifted towards strategic initiatives, culture preservation, and global expansion.

Action Points for Scaleup CEOs:

– Delegate operational tasks to trusted team members.

– Invest time in strategic planning and long-term vision.

– Focus on maintaining company culture amid growth.

Transitioning Between Stages

The key to transitioning effectively between these stages lies in self-awareness and adaptability. Recognize when it’s time to shift your focus and how best to do so.

Whether you’re leading a budding startup or steering a fast-growing scaleup, understanding where to invest your time is crucial for success. For personalized strategies tailored to your business stage, consider a coaching session with us.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

 

The Art of Success: Why C-Suite Leaders Should Put Their Goals in Writing

Today, we will explore a practice that can profoundly impact your leadership journey – the simple act of writing down your goals.

This article will uncover the remarkable effects of setting and documenting your goals, supported by real-world case examples and insights from my previous works, including “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” However, the focus here is on the transformative power of goal setting.

The Magic of Putting Goals on Paper

Clarity: Shaping Vague Ambitions into Clear Objectives

Imagine embarking on a cross-country road trip without a roadmap or GPS. The journey would be fraught with uncertainty, and reaching your destination would feel like a distant dream. Similarly, leadership without written goals can become a meandering path without clear direction.

Consider a client engagement where a CMO faced the challenge of boosting online conversions. She realized the power of clarity by crafting a specific goal: double conversions within a year. This precision provided her team with a clear destination. The result? A focused team that achieved impressive outcomes.

Focus: Directing Energy for Maximum Impact

As C-Suite leaders, you’re constantly pulled in multiple directions. Without written goals, it’s easy to get lost in the whirlwind of daily tasks, diverting valuable time and energy away from your strategic priorities.

In my book, “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket,” we explore the journey of a CEO who grappled with time management. His turning point came when he began consistently writing down daily goals. This simple practice helped him regain control over his schedule, allowing him to concentrate on high-impact initiatives that propelled the company forward.

Commitment: Turning Dreams into Tangible Pledges

At the core of any successful endeavor lies commitment. When you write your goals, you’re not merely expressing a desire – you’re making a promise to yourself and your team. It’s a commitment to take action.

Throughout my coaching journey, I’ve encountered countless entrepreneurs who dream of revolutionizing their industries. One remarkable individual stood out by writing down her audacious goals and openly sharing them with her team. This act galvanized their collective commitment and reshaped their industry together.

Motivation: Keeping the Fire Alive

The path of leadership is often filled with challenges and setbacks. During these moments, written goals serve as a constant source of motivation, reminding you why you embarked on this journey in the first place.

I’ve had the privilege of working with CEOs who faced formidable adversity. Their practice of regularly revisiting their written goals set the resilient ones apart. These goals provided the strength and determination to persevere, even in the most trying times.

Conclusion – Put Your Goals in Writing

In conclusion, the seemingly simple act of writing down your goals can be the key to transforming your leadership journey. It brings clarity, focus, commitment, and motivation to your daily actions. These aren’t just dreams; they’re the active steps toward your aspirations.

So, I challenge you to grab a pen and start documenting your goals today. Let them be the guiding stars that illuminate your path to success. If you’ve experienced the transformative power of written goals or have questions about implementing this practice in your leadership journey, feel free to reach out in the comments section. Let’s continue the conversation and inspire each other to achieve remarkable success!

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a leadership development and business coachingfirm. With over 25 years of experience coaching and advising C-suite leaders, Howard is passionate about helping executives unlock their full potential.

The Triumphant Trio: Mastering Quality, Service, and Cost in Your Business Strategy

Today, we’re delving into a compelling business conundrum: the challenge of providing high quality, high service, and low price all at once. Traditionally, businesses are told to pick only two of the three – quality, service, and cost. Usually, offering a premium product or service implies higher prices, and low-cost providers often compromise on either product quality or customer service. So, is it possible to excel in all three areas? Let’s explore with real-world examples.

Amazon, Costco, IKEA, Southwest Airlines, Xiaomi, ALDI, Google, Zoom, Spotify, and Trader Joe’s have all notably disrupted their sectors by providing a balance of quality, service, and price that is typically considered unattainable. From cost-saving online distribution models to strategic partnerships and economies of scale, these companies have leveraged various tactics to buck the conventional wisdom.

The key challenges in simultaneously combining high quality, service, and low price arise from economic and logistical factors. Economically, premium materials and top-notch service typically come at higher costs, which must then be passed on to the customer. Logistically, managing a broad supply chain and maintaining a consistent level of service can be complex and resource intensive.

What if a company chooses just two of the three? This is indeed a common strategy. The choice largely depends on the company’s core values and the market segment it targets. For example, if your target market values high quality and superior service, and is willing to pay a premium, focusing on these two areas would make sense. Alternatively, suppose your audience is price-sensitive but still demands quality. You might choose to offer high-quality products at a competitive price, while keeping customer service at a functional, rather than exceptional, level.

Size and scale are vital in achieving all three—quality, service, and cost. Larger operations often mean economies of scale, allowing companies to purchase materials in bulk at reduced costs or spread operational costs over a larger output, lowering per-unit costs. However, this is not a hard and fast rule, as some smaller, agile businesses can also excel in all three areas through innovative approaches and efficient operations.

Contrary to popular belief, significant funding is not always required to achieve the ‘trifecta.’ While funding can accelerate growth and provide a safety net for experimentation, what’s crucial is strategic investment and smart resource allocation. For example, focusing on technological advancements can lower costs and improve product quality and customer service.

So, how can you apply these concepts in your business? Here are three actionable steps:

Identify Your Core Competencies

Understand what you do best and leverage those strengths to deliver exceptional quality or service while optimizing cost.

Innovate Your Business Model

Look for unconventional ways to manage your supply chain, deliver your product or service, or structure your operations to decrease costs without sacrificing quality or service.

Scale Strategically

Plan your growth to maximize your economies of scale and maintain your commitment to quality and service.

Remember, the ultimate goal is to deliver value to your customers. Whether that’s through quality, service, or price will depend on your unique business context.

For a more in-depth discussion on optimizing your business strategy, reach out to Activate Group, Inc. We specialize in helping businesses identify and overcome their unique challenges to achieve sustainable growth and success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group, Inc., is a top business growth expert, serial entrepreneur, and author of The Leader Launchpad. He specializes in helping businesses create a culture of accountability and foster innovation to achieve sustained success.

Mastering the Art of Listening: The Hidden Power in Leadership

In today’s fast-paced business world, where an avalanche of emails, messages, and meetings fill every waking hour, an essential leadership skill is often undervalued and overlooked – effective listening. As leaders, we tend to dominate conversations with our ideas, unintentionally stifling innovation, decreasing morale, and blocking growth opportunities. Now more than ever, it’s time to revisit our understanding of the difference between hearing and listening and recognize the profound impact it can have on our leadership style.

Critical Listening Techniques: Refreshing Our Skills

Listening, unlike hearing, is an active process. It requires concentration, understanding, and response. It’s the difference between the chatter in a crowded room and a focused conversation. As leaders, we often find ourselves in the former scenario, hearing but not truly listening.

The first step to correcting this lies in mastering critical listening techniques. This involves creating an open and empathetic space for communication, where you not only hear the words but also understand the underlying emotions, concerns, and ideas. Critical listening also involves knowing when to keep silent, allowing the speaker to express their thoughts without interruption.

Overcoming Assumptions: The Pitfalls of Presupposed Knowledge

We, as leaders, often enter interactions with presupposed knowledge or assumptions. Whether it’s a matter of experience, expertise, or ego, we assume we understand the full scope of the issue at hand, and worse, we believe we have the correct answer. This approach hampers our ability to truly listen as we filter out any information that doesn’t fit within our preconceived notions.

We would ask many more questions if we approached daily issues like scientists, with curiosity and the willingness to challenge our assumptions. This open-minded approach could lead to innovative solutions and deeper understanding.

Ego, the Silent Saboteur

Our egos often get in the way of effective listening. We fear listening might be perceived as a sign of weakness or indecision. This is where we need to realign our perception of power. The real power lies in gaining the trust and respect of your team, which comes from being a great listener.

Let’s explore further how ego can become a barrier to effective listening and, ultimately, sound leadership. Our ego often manifests itself in a variety of ways, subtly undermining our ability to listen and obstructing our path to effective leadership.

(1)   Intellectual Superiority: Believing you’re the smartest person in the room is one of the most common ego-driven behaviors. This mindset is harmful because it assumes others cannot contribute meaningful or innovative ideas, which discounts valuable perspectives and stifles creativity. It also creates an environment where others may feel intimidated or undervalued, leading to resentment and decreased productivity.

(2)  Overconfidence in Our Ideas: Falling in love with our ideas can be another side effect of an inflated ego. We become so attached to our notions that we tend to disregard other viewpoints, even if they could enhance our idea or offer a more effective solution. This limits the diversity of ideas and makes us blind to potential flaws in our thinking.

(3)  Infallibility Complex: Sometimes, leaders, in their overconfidence, develop a sense of infallibility. They assume that their experience or status makes them less likely to make mistakes. This perception can lead to an aversion to feedback, a critical component of growth and improvement. When leaders fail to listen to constructive criticism, they miss opportunities to learn, innovate, and adapt.

(4)  Need for Control: An ego-driven need for control can also hinder effective listening. Leaders who feel they must control every conversation, decision, or situation often fail to listen to others’ input. They rush to give their opinion, advice, or solution, leaving little room for others to contribute.

(5)  Fear of Vulnerability: Our ego may also cause us to fear vulnerability, viewing it as a sign of weakness. We may close ourselves to others’ opinions or ideas to maintain an image of infallibility. This fear can lead to a lack of open-mindedness, hindering our ability to truly listen and understand.

Ego can be a significant barrier to effective leadership. However, by becoming aware of these ego-driven behaviors, we can actively work to control them, opening the door to effective listening, better leadership, and a more harmonious, productive work environment.

The Cost of Not Listening: More Than Just Hurt Feelings

When we fail to listen, people know. It’s demoralizing, damages relationships, slows progress, breeds resentment, and impacts the team’s overall productivity.

A classic example is the demise of Nokia. Despite being a leading player in the mobile phone market, the company’s leadership failed to listen to the emerging trends and consumer feedback, leading to a significant loss in market share, and eventually its sale to Microsoft. The estimated cost of this failure to listen was over 40 billion Euros in lost market value.

Practical Steps to Effective Listening

It’s time to make a change. Here are some actionable steps to enhance your listening skills:

(1)  Acknowledge and Adjust: Recognize your current listening habits and make a conscious effort to improve.

(2)  Engage and Ask: Encourage open communication. Ask open-ended questions and challenge your assumptions.

(3) Practice Empathy: Try to understand the speaker’s perspective. This shows respect and builds trust.

(4) Take Time: Dedicate quality time for active listening without multitasking. This might mean fewer meetings, but more meaningful ones.

(5) Give Feedback: Summarize what you’ve heard to confirm your understanding.

Conclusions on the Hidden Power of Listening

It’s time for a leadership paradigm shift – from dominating to facilitating, from assuming to understanding, and from hearing to active listening. It’s not just a change of technique but a transformation of mindset.

To achieve the highest level of success as a leader, make a commitment to practice these actionable steps for effective listening daily. If you need help or guidance, feel free to contact us at Activate Group, Inc. Let’s ensure we’re not just hearing but truly listening.

 

About the author:  Howard M. Shore is a successful executive coach, business growth expert, and the CEO of Activate Group, Inc. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad,” a comprehensive guide to achieving sustainable business growth. With his wealth of experience and relentless passion for helping businesses maximize their potential, Howard is your go-to resource for all things leadership and performance.

Crafting Your Corporate Dream Team: Harnessing the Power of Advisory Boards and Boards of Directors

In the world of C-suite leaders, the terms Board of Directors and Advisory Board often come up. However, effectively understanding the difference and leveraging each remains a mystery to many. Whether you’re piloting a small startup or steering a multinational corporation, the value of a well-structured board cannot be understated. For any business, from thriving startups to established multinationals, there’s often confusion in the boardroom – specifically, between the roles of a Board of Directors and a Board of Advisors. Both serve crucial but distinct functions within an organization. Understanding these differences can supercharge your company’s success.

A Board of Directors carries formal authority and is legally responsible for governing your company, making binding decisions, and appointing key executives. They’re your organization’s guardians, meeting legal and fiscal responsibilities. Their role carries significant legal and financial implications.

On the other hand, a Board of Advisors is the mentor to your organization. They offer strategic advice, industry expertise, and potentially lucrative connections, but their recommendations are not binding. The Advisory Board’s role is consultative, often comprised of industry experts, experienced businesspeople, or influential individuals providing valuable insights.

Consider Lisa, the CEO of an emerging tech startup. Packed with tech veterans, her Advisory Board provided invaluable insights to navigate the industry’s competitive landscape. Meanwhile, her Board of Directors ensured the company stayed compliant and financially healthy during its aggressive expansion phase.

What is the Difference Between Boards of Directors vs. Boards of Advisors

While the Board of Directors and the Board of Advisors might sound similar, they have different organizational roles, responsibilities, and legal obligations.

Authority and Decision-Making:

Board of Directors: They hold formal authority in an organization and are legally responsible for its operations. They make binding decisions about the company’s strategy, appoint and remove key executives (including the CEO), approve budgets, and ensure the company meets its legal and fiscal responsibilities. In a publicly traded company, the directors are elected by shareholders. They have fiduciary duties to the shareholders, and their decisions have significant legal and financial implications.

Board of Advisors: On the other hand, this board serves in a more informal and advisory capacity. They provide strategic advice, industry expertise, and networking opportunities to management, but they don’t have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the company. They have no fiduciary duties, and their role is often consultative. They’re usually composed of industry experts, experienced business people, or other influential individuals who can provide useful insights and connections.

Legal Responsibilities:

Board of Directors: The members of this board have formal legal responsibilities and liabilities. They must act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders. They can be held legally accountable for their decisions, especially if they lead to financial loss or violate laws or regulations.

Board of Advisors: Since they don’t make decisions on behalf of the company, they typically have no legal responsibilities or liabilities associated with their role. They are there to provide advice and counsel, not to oversee operations or make binding decisions.

Structure and Formality:

Board of Directors: This board tends to be more structured, with formal roles (such as Chair, Secretary, etc.), scheduled meetings, and official minutes that are recorded and maintained. There are often legal and regulatory requirements about how the board is run.

Board of Advisors: This board tends to be less formal and more flexible. There may be fewer scheduled meetings, and the format of those meetings may be more relaxed. There are typically fewer regulations governing this board.

Selection and Tenure:

Board of Directors: Directors are typically elected by shareholders and serve for a specified term, which can vary depending on the company’s bylaws. They may be re-elected for additional terms.

Board of Advisors: Advisory board members are usually selected by the company’s management or the board of directors. They serve at the pleasure of the company and can be removed more easily. Their tenure may not be defined, or they may be appointed for a specific period.

Pros and Cons

Each type of board comes with its pros and cons. A Board of Directors provides robust governance but may also bring regulatory complexity. An Advisory Board offers strategic insights without legal complications but lacks decision-making power.

When designing these boards, consider their size, diversity, expertise, and dynamics. Carefully select members who understand your industry and complement each other and your management team.

When to Use Which: Directors, Advisors, or Both?

Smaller or early-stage companies might prefer an Advisory Board for their strategic insights without the formal responsibilities that come with a Board of Directors. As your company matures and the governance needs become more complex, a Board of Directors becomes essential.

High-growth companies with aggressive expansion plans might find the strategic decision-making authority of a Board of Directors particularly useful. Conversely, those with a niche focus might value the specialized advice an Advisory Board can provide.

Some companies combine their advisory and directorial boards. While this might seem efficient, it often leads to confusion over roles, potential legal implications, and governance challenges. Maintaining separate boards ensures clear delineations of responsibility and function.

Best Practices for Compensating Boards

When it comes to compensating board members, the best approach varies depending on your company’s size, sector, and the board member’s role. Generally, Board of Directors members receive a combination of cash compensation and equity. The equity part aligns their interests with the company’s long-term success.

Advisory Board members, in contrast, are often compensated with a smaller equity stake, with or without additional cash compensation. Since their role is consultative rather than decision-making, their compensation is typically less than that of Directors.

Remember that compensation should be competitive enough to attract top talent but balanced against your company’s financial capabilities and objectives.

Actionable Steps and Takeaways

(1)  Evaluate your business’s needs, size, and growth plans.

(2)  Define clear roles for each board type.

(3)  Choose board members based on their ability to fulfill these roles and the value they add.

(4)  Regularly review your board’s structure and performance.

(5)  Balance compensation to attract top talent while aligning with your company’s financial capabilities and long-term objectives.

In Conclusion

Understanding and effectively implementing Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards can give your business a significant strategic advantage. Remember, these boards are not static – they should evolve as dynamically as your business.

Whether you need the legal oversight and strategic decision-making of a Board of Directors, the tailored advice and industry expertise of an Advisory Board, or both, choosing the right board structure can drive your organization to unprecedented success.

Corporate governance isn’t a ‘set it and forget it‘ concept. It needs to be as dynamic as your business, evolving with every stage of growth and challenge.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore, founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., is a leading business growth expert. With an uncanny ability to help businesses unlock potential, Howard is your strategic partner in achieving exponential growth. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and has worked with over 300 companies across multiple industries.

 

Breaking Barriers: Strategies for Middle Market Consumer-Based Businesses to Disrupt Traditional Industries

As a middle-market consumer-based business, it can be challenging to stand out in a crowded market and increase profitability. However, by adopting innovative strategies, these businesses can disrupt traditional industries, increase market share, and become more profitable.

One inspiring example is Thrive Market, an online membership-based retailer that offers organic, healthy, and sustainable products at affordable prices. They disrupted the traditional grocery industry by providing a unique value proposition to their customers.

Thrive Market achieved this by leveraging technology to reduce their operational costs and offer products at lower prices than their competitors. They also focused on customer experience by offering personalized recommendations, easy-to-use search functions, and a convenient online shopping experience.

Another way Thrive Market disrupted the industry was by focusing on social responsibility. They offer a free membership to low-income families, donate a portion of their profits to non-profit organizations, and source their products from sustainable and ethical suppliers.

So, how can middle-market consumer-based businesses apply these strategies to their business? Here are some ideas:

Leverage Technology

Look for ways to use technology to reduce operational costs, offer products at lower prices, and provide a convenient online shopping experience. Embrace innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation to stay ahead of the competition.

Prioritize Customer Experience

Focus on providing personalized recommendations, easy-to-use search functions, and a convenient online shopping experience. Build a loyal customer base by investing in customer service and support.

Embrace Social Responsibility

Develop programs that help your customers achieve their social responsibility goals. This could include sourcing products from sustainable and ethical suppliers, offering free memberships to low-income families, or donating a portion of your profits to non-profit organizations.

In conclusion, middle-market consumer-based businesses can disrupt traditional industries by leveraging technology, prioritizing customer experience, and embracing social responsibility. By following the example of companies like Thrive Market, these businesses can increase market share, disrupt the industry, and become more profitable.

Call to Action: If you’re a middle-market consumer-based business looking to disrupt the industry and increase profitability, consider adopting these innovative strategies. By doing so, you can break barriers and achieve new levels of success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore founded Activate Group Inc., a consulting firm that helps businesses achieve their potential through strategic planning and leadership development. He is the author of “The Leader Launchpad” and has worked with over 300 companies across multiple industries.

Unleashing Leader Success: How Our Mental Models Shape Our Destiny

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “I don’t like that person very much. I must get to know him better.” This quote encapsulates the essence of our journey into the realm of mental models. Join me on this transformative exploration as we uncover the secrets behind achieving remarkable success in today’s fast-paced business landscape.

Mental models are the lenses through which we perceive the world around us. They are our ingrained beliefs, assumptions, and frameworks that shape our thinking, decisions, and actions. Like glasses, our mental models influence how we interpret information and make sense of our experiences. They act as a lens through which we interpret the world, influencing our thoughts, actions, and outcomes. Just like a sculptor molds clay into a masterpiece, our mental models sculpt our reality and determine our level of success.

Shaping Decisions and Actions

 Our mental models have a profound influence on our success. They determine how we perceive opportunities, navigate challenges, and make decisions. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are trapped by negative mental models, limiting their ability to see possibilities and hindering their growth. They cling to the notion that what brought them success in the past will continue to do so in the future, only to find themselves hitting a glass ceiling.

Consider the story of Sara, a talented entrepreneur who had built a thriving business in the retail industry. However, her mental model was limited, focusing solely on the traditional brick-and-mortar approach. When e-commerce emerged as a disruptive force, Sara resisted embracing it, clinging to her outdated mental model. Consequently, she missed out on exponential growth opportunities that her competitors seized, ultimately leading to her business’s decline.

To overcome the shackles of limited mental models, we must be willing to challenge our assumptions and expand our perspectives. Start by identifying the mental models that govern your decisions. Are they empowering or constraining? Acknowledge that these models are not absolute truths but rather filters we can modify to align with our goals and aspirations.

Remarkable Success Stories

Let’s delve into the stories of three remarkable entrepreneurs who harnessed the power of reshaping their mental models:

Sara Blakely: The founder of Spanx, Blakely challenged the prevailing belief that shapewear couldn’t be comfortable and empowering. Her mental model of innovation and customer-centricity revolutionized the fashion industry and made her a billionaire.

Elon Musk: The visionary behind SpaceX and Tesla has disrupted multiple industries. Musk’s mental model revolves around the notion that “anything is possible.” His unwavering belief in the potential of sustainable energy and space exploration has propelled him to achieve groundbreaking innovations despite numerous skeptics and setbacks.

Oprah Winfrey: From humble beginnings to becoming a media mogul, Winfrey’s mental model centers around empowerment and authenticity. She embraced vulnerability, challenging the conventional wisdom that emotions have no place in business. This shift allowed her to connect deeply with her audience, build a media empire, and inspire millions worldwide.

Jeff Bezos: As the founder of Amazon, Bezos revolutionized the e-commerce industry. His mental model revolves around customer obsession and long-term thinking. Bezos understood that relentless innovation and a customer-centric approach would be the key to success in the digital age. By focusing on the customer experience and constantly reinventing his business, he propelled Amazon to become a global behemoth.

Reshaping Mental Models for Better Decisions

The good news is that we can identify and reshape our mental models to make better decisions and unleash our full potential. Here are some practical steps to help you on this transformative journey:

Awareness: Start by becoming aware of your current mental models. Reflect on the beliefs and assumptions that underpin your thinking and actions. Are they serving you well, or are they holding you back?

Challenge Assumptions: Question your existing mental models. Are they based on facts and evidence, or are they merely assumptions? Look for alternative perspectives and seek out diverse opinions to challenge and expand your thinking.

Embrace Growth Mindset: Adopt a growth mindset that values learning, improvement, and adaptation. Embrace the idea that your mental models are not fixed but malleable. Cultivate a curiosity to explore new ideas and be open to change. Engage in continuous learning, read voraciously, and surround yourself with a diverse network of mentors and peers who challenge your assumptions. Embrace failure as an opportunity for growth and experiment with new ideas to expand your mental horizons.

Conclusion – Why Mental Models Matter

Our mental models shape our destiny. We can reshape our mental models to make better decisions and unlock our full potential by challenging our assumptions, embracing new perspectives, and breaking free from limitations.

The time has come, my fellow leaders, to unlock the full potential of our minds and reshape our mental models for extraordinary success. It’s time to break free from the limitations holding us back and step into a future with boundless possibilities.

 

About the author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

The Power of Focus: How to Achieve Maximum Impact with Less Effort

We live in a world that glorifies business. We often equate long hours and a packed schedule with productivity, but the reality is that being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. In fact, the key to achieving maximum impact is often to do less but do it better. In this article, we’ll explore the power of focus and how it can help you become more productive with less effort.

The Power of Focus

When we talk about focus, we’re talking about the ability to direct our attention and energy towards a specific goal or task. When we’re focused, we’re able to work more efficiently and effectively, which can lead to greater productivity and better outcomes.

One study found that people who were highly focused were 50% more productive than those who were not. This is because focused individuals are better able to manage their time and prioritize their tasks, leading to a more streamlined workflow and better use of their resources.

But how do we become more focused? It starts with identifying the one thing that we can do today that will have the maximum impact on all of our stakeholders.

Identify Your Key Objective

To achieve maximum impact, we need to know what we’re trying to achieve. This means identifying our key objective – the one thing that, if we were to achieve it, would have the biggest impact on our stakeholders.

For example, if you’re a salesperson, your key objective might be to increase revenue. If you’re a manager, your key objective might be to improve team performance. Whatever your role, there is always one thing that you can do today that will have the maximum impact.

Once you’ve identified your key objective, focus your energy and attention on achieving it. This means setting clear goals, prioritizing your tasks, and avoiding distractions that can derail your progress.

Case Example 1: The Power of Focus for Individuals

One example of the power of focus is the story of Tim Ferriss, author of the best-selling book, “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Ferriss was able to increase his productivity and reduce his workload by focusing on the key objective of automating his business.

By identifying the tasks that could be automated or outsourced, Ferriss was able to reduce his workload and free up time to focus on more important tasks. He was able to achieve maximum impact with less effort by working smarter, not harder.

Case Example 2: The Power of Focus for Organizations

Another example of the power of focus is the story of Basecamp, a software development company. Basecamp was able to increase its productivity while reducing the amount of time its employees worked by implementing a four-day workweek.

By focusing on the key objective of improving work-life balance for its employees, Basecamp was able to create a more engaged and productive workforce. Employees were able to recharge their batteries over the long weekend, which led to greater creativity and innovation when they returned to work.

In Conclusion

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to get caught up in the cycle of busyness. But being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. The key to achieving maximum impact is to focus our energy and attention on the one thing that will have the biggest impact on our stakeholders.

By identifying our key objective and focusing our efforts on achieving it, we can become more productive with less effort. This can lead to better outcomes for ourselves, our organizations, and our stakeholders.

 

References:

https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/the-power-of-focus-10-steps-to-sharpen-your-focus-today.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2020/07/27/how-to-identify-your-most-important-task-and-get-more

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is a business growth expert who has helped numerous companies succeed in their industries. With over 30 years of experience in business growth and leadership, Howard is a sought-after speaker and advisor who has worked with companies of all sizes and industries. He is the author of the book “The Leader Launchpad: Five Steps to Fuel Your Business and Lift Your Profits.”

Scaling Your Business: Strategies for Breaking the $50M Ceiling

In the world of business, growth is the ultimate goal. Every entrepreneur dreams of building a company that generates millions in revenue, employs hundreds of people, and dominates its market. But the harsh reality is that most businesses never make it past the $10 million revenue mark, and many end up selling in frustration before they ever reach that point. In this article, we’ll explore why this is the case, share some lesser-known case examples, and provide ideas on how a company can separate itself from the pack.

The Statistics on Scaling

Before we dive into why most businesses fail to break $10 million in revenue, let’s look at some statistics. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are approximately 32 million businesses in the United States, but only around 0.5% of those companies ever surpass the $10 million revenue mark. Even more startling, less than 0.1% of businesses reach $50 million in revenue. These numbers make it clear that the path to significant growth is challenging.

Reasons for Stagnation

There are many reasons why businesses struggle to grow beyond a certain point. One of the most significant factors is a lack of scalability. Many companies are built around a single product or service, which limits their ability to expand and diversify. They may also lack the infrastructure and systems necessary to handle rapid growth, which can lead to operational inefficiencies and customer dissatisfaction.

Another common problem is a failure to differentiate from the competition. In crowded markets, standing out and attracting new customers can be difficult. Businesses that fail to offer unique value propositions or exceptional customer experiences will likely struggle.

In some cases, businesses may be limited by external factors, such as regulatory barriers or a lack of available funding. However, more often than not, the biggest obstacles to growth are internal. Founders and leaders may lack the vision, skills, or resources to take their companies to the next level.

Some Case-Examples on Falling Short

While it’s easy to point to well-known companies that have achieved massive success, such as Amazon or Google, there are many lesser-known examples of businesses that have struggled to grow beyond a certain point. One such example is the DVD rental company Redbox. Despite achieving tremendous success in the early 2000s and expanding to over 40,000 locations, Redbox has struggled to compete with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. In 2020, the company’s revenue was just $564 million, far below the $2 billion it generated in 2012.

Another example is the grocery delivery service FreshDirect. Despite being one of the pioneers in the online grocery space, the company has faced stiff competition from Amazon, Walmart, and others. In 2019, FreshDirect’s revenue was just $752 million, well below the $1 billion mark it had hoped to reach by that point.

What Companies Can Do to Separate Themselves and Grow 

So, what can companies do to separate themselves from the pack and achieve significant growth? Here are a few ideas:

(1)  Build a Scalable Business Model: Companies built around a single product or service are unlikely to grow significantly. Businesses must be scalable and diversify their offerings to break through the $10 million revenue mark.

(2)  Differentiate from the Competition: Standing out in a crowded market is essential. Companies offering unique value propositions or exceptional customer experiences are more likely to attract and retain customers.

(3)  Develop a Strong Company Culture: A strong company culture can help attract and retain top talent, which is essential for growth. Companies prioritizing employee engagement and development are more likely to achieve long-term success.

(4)  Embrace Technology: In today’s digital world, technology is essential for growth. Companies that embrace technology and leverage it to improve efficiency, enhance the customer experience, and expand their offerings are more likely to achieve significant growth.

(5)  Focus on Customer Acquisition and Retention: Acquiring new customers is important, but retaining existing ones is equally essential. Companies prioritizing customer retention and loyalty are more likely to achieve sustainable growth.

(6)  Build Strategic Partnerships: Strategic partnerships can help businesses access new markets, technologies, and resources. Companies that develop strong partnerships with complementary businesses are more likely to achieve significant growth.

(7)  Invest in Marketing and Branding: Building a strong brand and investing in marketing is essential for growth. Companies that effectively communicate their value proposition and differentiate themselves from the competition are more likely to attract new customers and achieve significant growth.

In conclusion, while the statistics may seem discouraging, it’s important to remember that achieving significant growth is possible. By building a scalable business model, differentiating from the competition, developing a strong company culture, embracing technology, focusing on customer acquisition and retention, building strategic partnerships, and investing in marketing and branding, businesses can separate themselves from the pack and achieve their growth goals.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a business consultancy firm that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders achieve their growth goals. With over 30 years of experience in executive coaching, leadership development, and business strategy, Howard has helped countless businesses achieve significant growth and success. He also authorizes two books, “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business Is A Leaky Bucket.”

Turbocharging Your Meetings: A Strategic Guide to Effective Preparation

Over the last 40 years, I’ve had the pleasure and sometimes the challenge of conducting and participating in thousands of meetings. I’ve seen firsthand that the difference between a productive meeting and an unproductive one often boils down to a simple factor: understanding the crucial distinction between being prepared and being informed.

When most people walk into a meeting, they have reviewed the provided materials and have a broad understanding of the topic at hand. However, this level of preparedness equates to merely being informed, and it doesn’t foster the strategic insights and critical thinking necessary for fruitful discussions and decision-making.

In a boardroom meeting with one of our prestigious clients, I recall a well-informed participant presenting an extensive report on potential business expansion strategies. The room was filled with nods of acknowledgment but also a tangible sense of confusion. The meeting concluded without a clear decision, and the team members felt disoriented rather than motivated.

In contrast, being prepared involves not just knowing the information but understanding the underlying decisions that need to be made, the necessary information for those decisions, and pre-thinking the questions that need to be answered. It involves challenging the real problem to be solved and reviewing the information to discuss interpretations, questions, and concerns, not just facts.

Imagine a meeting where all attendees have dissected the topics, pre-thought the questions, identified potential decisions, and critically analyzed the available information. The discussion would be far more productive, and decisions would have input and buy-in from all involved.

So, how do we ensure that meetings are not just gatherings of informed individuals but powerhouses of prepared minds? Here are some actionable steps:

Define the Purpose

Before every meeting, clearly define what decision(s) we want to make. Share this objective with attendees.

Identify Required Information

Once the purpose is established, identify and communicate the information required to make those decisions.

Encourage Critical Review

All attendees should review the information in advance, focusing on interpretation, questions, and concerns. Promote critical thinking over merely digesting the information.

Pre-think Questions

Invite participants to pre-think the questions that need to be answered during the meeting.

Challenge the Problem

Lastly, pre-challenge the real problem to be solved. Is it the most pressing issue? Is there an underlying problem that’s being overlooked?

In a similar boardroom scenario as above, but this time with the attendees well-prepared, the result was drastically different. The meeting led to a strategic decision on business expansion, with all participants clear on the reasons behind the decision and their roles in executing it.

It’s essential to remember that everyone’s approach to preparation will differ based on their behavioral style. Some people need more time to absorb information, consider alternatives, and research their thoughts before they are comfortable and willing to share their ideas. Others excel at thinking aloud and can be more fluid in discussions. Respecting and accommodating these differences will foster a more inclusive and productive meeting environment.

By implementing these steps, your meetings will become catalysts for action rather than mere information exchanges. And remember, the most valuable insights often surface in the meeting itself when people have come prepared.

Let’s eliminate post-meeting “aha” moments that lead to decision reversals. Let’s redefine our approach to meeting preparation and unlock the full potential of our collective intelligence.

Ready to supercharge your meetings and boost your team’s productivity? Dive into more insights and strategies in my book, “The Leader Launchpad.”

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a growth expert, renowned speaker, and bestselling author of “The Leader Launchpad.” Known for his practical advice and real-world experience, Shore has dedicated his career to helping organizations develop their leadership capabilities and cultivate high-performing teams.*

State of Expansion: Key Steps for a Successful Business Transition to a New State

As the CEO of Activate Group Inc. and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” As someone who’s seen the intricate mechanics of business growth from a unique vantage point, I’m here to share some indispensable steps for successfully expanding your business to a new state.

Understand State-specific Laws and Regulations

Before setting foot into a new state, it’s essential to understand its laws and regulations – employment laws, taxes, permits, and licenses. Failure to comply can lead to penalties and tarnish your brand reputation. For instance, I once knew a small technology company that made a rushed expansion to another state without fully understanding the employment laws there. They ended up with a lawsuit that cost them dearly.

Actionable Step: Hire a local attorney who specializes in business law and can guide you through the legal maze.

Market Research

Understanding the market landscape in the new state is critical. Each state has unique cultural, social, and economic factors influencing consumer behavior. Remember Target’s failed expansion into Canada? It’s a classic case of neglecting market research leading to misreading consumer needs.

Actionable Step: Conduct comprehensive market research to understand local consumer behavior, needs, and competition.

Consider Logistical Requirements:

Moving to a new state means dealing with new logistical challenges. This includes supply chain management, transportation, and warehousing needs. Underestimating these can lead to operational bottlenecks.

Actionable Step: Build a robust logistical plan considering the geographical and infrastructural realities of the new state.

Assemble a Strong Local Team:

A local team understands the market pulse and can provide valuable insights. They can also help in establishing connections and building relationships.

Actionable Step: Prioritize local hiring. If you’re moving existing employees, ensure they have the resources to adjust and settle in the new state.

Community Engagement:

Integrating your business into the local community can significantly enhance your brand reputation. I recall a retail brand that launched in a new state and won the community by sponsoring local events and contributing to community development.

Actionable Step: Plan for CSR activities or community events that resonate with the local community.

Conclusion

With careful planning and execution, expanding your business into a new state can be rewarding. As a C-suite leader, understanding and executing these steps can turn this daunting task into a successful business adventure.  I invite you to click on the following link and check-out the short video I created for one of our trusted partners and just posted.  It will provide you with more comprehensive content and perspective. Additionally, following are the links to the first two articles in this series of three; Recognizing the Signals to Expand and Evading Common Pitfalls.

If you found these insights useful and want more such strategies, please consider subscribing to our newsletter at www.activategroupinc.com. Remember, a successful business is built not just on big leaps but on meticulous steps.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a recognized authority on business growth, and the author of “The Leader Launchpad.” Howard has led countless businesses towards exponential growth with his unique insights and strategies. His passion lies in helping business leaders turn their ambitions into achievements, making him a trusted advisor for businesses on their path to success.

The Decisive Second Step: Evading Common Pitfalls when Expanding to a Second Location

Congratulations on the success of your first business location. With flowing revenues and a high-spirited team, an expansion is the next logical step. But as you embark on this exciting venture of opening a second location, it’s paramount to anticipate potential pitfalls and strategize to avoid them, ensuring a smooth continuation of your brand’s success story.

As the CEO of Activate Group Inc and advisor to many high-growth organizations, I am often asked how best to approach the opening of a new location. The second location may be harder than the first. And this decision usually takes longer to become profitable and is more costly than imagined. In this article, I share with you some crucial insights that could change the trajectory of your business expansion plans.

Pitfall 1 – Not Replicating the Success Blueprint

The first mistake businesses often make when opening a second location is overlooking the replication of the successful elements that made the first location thrive. A real-life case in point: A popular sandwich shop famous for its distinctive, homey interior design opens a second outlet in a bustling city area but neglects to replicate its unique ambiance. The regulars walk in expecting the same comforting atmosphere but are met with a stark, impersonal setting. The result? A downturn in customer retention and, ultimately, revenue.

Actionable Step: Document the key elements contributing to your brand’s success, like interior design, customer service approach, and product presentation. Ensure these elements are appropriately integrated into your new location while tailoring them to the local context.

Pitfall 2 – Overlooking Market Research

Second, never underestimate the power of thorough market research. Just because a concept worked wonders in one location doesn’t mean it will work in another. A classic example? Walmart’s failed venture in Germany. Despite being a big hit in the United States, Walmart couldn’t resonate with the German market due to cultural disparities.

Actionable Step: Invest time and resources in rigorous market research before you expand. Understand the local market dynamics, customer preferences, and competition. If possible, test your strategies through a pilot program.

Pitfall 3 – Spreading Resources Thin

Rushing into opening a new location without a clear evaluation of your resource capacity can lead to disaster. Both locations may underperform due to insufficient financial, human, and operational resources.

Actionable Step: Undertake a comprehensive resource evaluation. Develop a well-structured business plan, complete with budgeting and financial forecasting. Make sure you have a robust team to manage the new outlet.

Pitfall 4 – Ignoring Entry Strategies

The path to a successful second location also depends on the entry strategy. In the restoration industry, we’ve seen that companies who either entered with a strong client base or acquired an existing company with a client base and team have been most successful.

Actionable Step: Evaluate the pros and cons of various entry strategies. Whether you choose organic growth or an acquisition, make sure you have a strong foundation – a solid client base and an efficient team.

Pitfall 5 – Overlooking Talent Pool Considerations

Lastly, never underestimate the importance of talent pool considerations in your new location. A client once chose a location near his beach house, which though pleasing to him, failed to attract the right talent due to the long commute and unaffordable living costs relative to their compensation structure.

Actionable Step: Consider the availability of talent, commute times, and living costs when choosing your new location. Remember, a thriving team is fundamental to the success of your new venture.

In Conclusion

As a CEO, your primary goal is to make strategic decisions that drive sustainable growth. By steering clear of these common mistakes when expanding to a second location, you set the stage for continued success.

Expansion is a bold and ambitious step, but it needs to be taken with caution, planning, and foresight. I invite you to click on the following link and check-out the short video I created for one of our trusted partners and just posted.  It will provide you with more comprehensive content and perspective.

For more insights, strategies, and advice on growing your business, please consider subscribing to our newsletter at Activate Group Inc. (click-here).

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a seasoned business leader, and the author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With years of experience helping companies achieve exponential growth, Howard is passionate about sharing his insights to empower other business leaders to achieve their potential. His approach combines strategic analysis with hands-on, actionable steps, making him a trusted advisor for companies aiming for success.

 

Harnessing The Power of Purpose-Driven Networking: The Untapped Superpower for Transformative Impact

“Unlocking Potential, Enabling Results” is not merely a catchy slogan at Activate Group, Inc (AGI). It encapsulates the essence of our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG): to impact 500,000 lives. We believe in bringing people’s needs to the forefront because we are fully aware of the transformative power that lies in genuine, purposeful networking. As a natural networker, I’ve recently been reminded of this superpower and its potency, which often goes unnoticed.

Expand Your Purpose for Networking

Many of us have yet to realize that networking shouldn’t solely be for personal gain. It is about more than just expanding our professional circle or scoring business opportunities; it’s about facilitating opportunities for others. The time we dedicate to creating connections isn’t just an investment in ourselves but in others and the community at large. As I always say, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room” (The Leader Launchpad).

Why, then, don’t more people network this way? Misconceptions and personal inhibitions aside, if people realized the transformative power of purpose-driven networking, they would likely be more productive and might even work fewer hours. Last week, for example, I made 20 connections, each one a potential door opener for someone in need.

Purpose-driven networking has facilitated job seekers to find their dream jobs while assisting employers in filling essential roles. It has provided answers to pressing issues, allowed access to potential clients, and helped individuals find strategic partners. It’s like being a locksmith in a world full of unopened doors. Each key you provide could open up a world of opportunities for someone else.

Building a Networking Foundation

Integrating purposeful networking into our everyday routines can be simple and rewarding. Start by dedicating at least an hour a week. This could mean joining groups with like-minded individuals or inviting a new acquaintance for lunch or coffee. The idea is to expand your circle intentionally, aiming to be valuable to others.

Keys to Impactful Networking

Remember, the best kind of networking involves active listening and genuinely engaging with others. This, along with a little creativity, can lead to impactful connections. You could consider volunteering in community projects, joining online forums, or even attending local events. All these avenues give you an opportunity to connect with people who share your interests and values.

“Leadership is not about being in charge. It is about taking care of those in your charge” (Your Business is a Leaky Bucket). Indeed, the ethos of purpose-driven networking is intertwined with the fundamentals of good leadership. By choosing to focus on others and their needs, we empower them, contribute to their success, and in the process, improve our communities and ourselves.

Take Action and Build Your Purpose-Driven Network

So, dare to unlock this untapped superpower. Let’s cultivate purposeful connections and create a transformation ripple beyond personal gains. Networking for the sake of others is not just a potent tool for social and professional success; it’s a profound way to leave a positive imprint in the world.

 

About the Author:  Howard M. Shore is CEO of Activate Group, Inc., and the author of the renowned books “The Leader Launchpad” and “Your Business is a Leaky Bucket.” An expert on business strategy and leadership, Shore is passionate about helping individuals and organizations unlock their full potential. His transformative insights continue impacting countless lives and propelling companies to unprecedented success.

 

Unfolding Opportunities: Recognizing the Signals to Expand Your Business to a New Location

I am Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group Inc. and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With years of experience strategizing and guiding businesses towards growth, I have gathered some key signals indicating it’s time to expand your business to a new location.

Consistent Business Growth

If your business has seen consistent growth over the years, it strongly indicates that you’ve developed a successful business model. Remember the story of Starbucks? They started with just one store in Seattle and noticed a steady rise in sales. Recognizing this as a sign of successful growth, they ventured into new locations and are now globally recognized.

Actionable Step: Conduct a thorough financial analysis to ensure sustainable growth.

High Market Demand

If you’re constantly turning down orders or your customers are traveling long distances to reach you, it’s a clear signal that there’s a high demand for your product or service.

Actionable Step: Conduct surveys to identify the demand in potential locations.

Healthy Cash Flow

Expanding to a new location requires a significant financial investment. If your business has a healthy cash flow and good profit margins, it might be time to consider expansion.

Actionable Step: Prepare a financial forecast to estimate the cost of expansion.

A Successful Team

 A confident, efficient team that can take on challenges is a great asset. If you have such a team and can replicate it in a new location, expansion could be on the cards.

Actionable Step: Evaluate your team’s readiness and willingness to expand.

Attractive Market Conditions

 If market research indicates favorable conditions—like a growing target audience, low competition, or advantageous real estate prices—in another location, it might be a sign to expand.

Actionable Step: Research and analyze the market conditions of the potential location.

 

In Conclusion...Recognizing and strategically acting on these signs can open new avenues of success for your business. As a business leader, it’s up to you to seize these opportunities and navigate the expansion journey confidently.

If you found these insights helpful and are looking for more business growth strategies, consider subscribing to our newsletter at Activate Group Inc. After all, recognizing the right opportunities at the right time is half the battle won in business.

 

About the Auther:  Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group Inc., a celebrated author, and a seasoned business growth expert. With a keen eye for recognizing business opportunities and a wealth of strategies at his disposal, Howard has been instrumental in turning growth goals into reality for numerous businesses. He continues to inspire and guide business leaders, making him a trusted name in the world of business growth and expansion.

The Recruiting Mistake Made by 99% of Companies

Recruiting is an art that few have mastered. At AGI, we work with many companies to create systems for Human Capital Management—for each company a customized strategic system for managing employees through every stage of their employment, from recruiting to retention. When we evaluate a company’s employee processes, one of the first things we look at is recruitment.

Recruiting “A” players is the goal of most HR professionals, but recruitment is one of the areas where many miss the boat completely. That’s because 99 percent of companies start the recruitment process with the wrong tool: the resume.

Starting the candidate evaluation process by reviewing resumes is one of the biggest mistakes you can makes. Here’s why:

  1. Resumes aren’t accurate. Let’s face it, the resume is the most overinflated self-promotion tool invented. Most resumes are embellished heavily and some are flat-out inaccurate.
  2. Resumes don’t reveal personality. Resumes are, at best, clinical lists of accomplishments and experiences. They tell you almost nothing about a person’s attitudes or working style.
  3. Resumes encourage bias. Formatting, language, word choice, past employers, schools—whatever. All of these things can trigger an irrational “like” or “dislike” of a candidate that could very well be the “A” player you are looking for.

Use Talent Assessment Tools

After posting an open position, the next step of the recruitment process should be assessment testing. Candidate assessment tool like Topgrading provide revealing and unbiased information about a candidate’s natural abilities and inherent skills—these are the most important qualifiers for the successful matching of candidates to jobs.

A resume should be used only as a guide for interviews and a tool for sharing potential candidates with the hiring manager and other decision-makers. Using resumes as the first step in qualifying candidates will definitely make you pass over “A” players.

Howard Shore is a human capital management expert who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides leadership and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about human capital management through AGI, please contact Howard at 305.722.7213.

Common Personality Traits In Great Salespeople

In my career as a sales force development coach, I have worked with hundreds, possibly thousands, of salespeople. I’ve helped companies large and small develop the right sales force development practices, including finding and hiring “A” talent for their teams. In my experience, there are a few personality traits that are common to all top sales talent, regardless of background or industry.

Ego. Great salespeople can handle rejection without letting it consume them. They realize that it’s part of the job and let rejections roll off them like water off a duck’s back. They also truly believe in themselves and their abilities. The ones who are full of doubt and need constant wins never last long.

Self-motivation. “A” sales talent needs coaching and development just like all other employees, but they can generate their own motivation. Most great salespeople have their own goals and aspirations and have no difficulty pushing themselves to get there.

Results Mindset. Top performing salespeople always see the numbers they need to hit. They keep their eye on the prize and work at achieving their goals. They also have a tendency to break those results down into smaller chunks (“chunking”) so they can achieve smaller results along the way.

Energy. Great salespeople jump out of the bed in the morning and go full force until there is no steam left in the engine. Their presentations are engaging and full of life, and they have the ability to get others excited about the product.

Have you seen these traits in your sales team? What other traits would you add to this list?

Howard Shore is a sales force development coach who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides leadership and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about sales force development coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at 305.722.7213 or email him.

Employees Are Your Most Important Customer, Part 2

I wrote an article about the many reasons why your employees are your most important customers. I wrote about how keeping your employees happy is one of the easiest ways to keep your customers happy. Happy employees give great customer service and create great word-of-mouth for the company.

When I read an editorial in the New York Times written by an ex-employee of Goldman Sachs on his last day of work, I was reminded again about the value of keeping employees engaged. This is a real-life example of how unhappy employees can cause considerable damage to reputation and potential threats to customer retention.

The Goldman employee, Greg Smith, spent his entire career at the company, rising up in the ranks and maintaining a great amount of pride in the company and its values. He says in the wake of a recent leadership change, the company lost sight of its values to focus on blind profits. He decided to exit the company in dramatic fashion by writing this lengthy editorial detailing his first-hand experiences and resulting disgust. He exposed degrading language used within the company and the practice of selling worthless assets to unsuspecting buyers.

Was his account accurate? We don’t know for sure. Regardless, what he did (besides commit career suicide) was create a great amount of doubt in Goldman’s trustworthiness. Plenty of Goldman customers read that editorial and some probably considered whether it was worth remaining customers.

Remember, your employees are the eyes, ears and voice of your company. They can be your biggest cheerleaders or your worst nightmares. It is crucial you keep them engaged and satisfied. Training, coaching and communication are keys to their engagement. And if they become disengaged for too long they will tell you…or anyone who will listen.

Howard Shore is a business coach who works with companies that need leadership development and strategic business coaching. Based in Miami, Florida, Howard’s firm, Activate Group, Inc. provides strategic planning and management coaching to businesses across the country. To learn more about management coaching through AGI, please contact Howard at (305) 722-7216 or email him.