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Why commitment matters

You have to do what you say you are going to do. Period. If you don’t, people you deal with will not trust what you say and probably not bring you their business or deal with you in the future.

Part of commitment is trust. Are you overselling just to get the job? What are the odds that if you do, you have any chance to succeed? The answer is simple, slim to none. And once you lose someone’s trust, all is lost.

This doesn’t mean you always will be able to meet your commitments. Once you know you may have a problem meeting a commitment, Let the other party know right away. Things happen. Reset expectations. It really is a situation where honesty is the best policy. It will earn you respect even if the other party doesn’t like the change in schedule or expectations. They will know you are a straight shooter.

But try not to let it happen often, or you run the risk of having the people you deal with doubt the commitments you make.

An example is that I committed, when I started this blog, not to overwhelm your inbox with emails posts. I believe I have stuck to that.

This is my first blog post in a few months. In Arizona, everything seems to slow down during the summer until early to mid-August, when school starts. By then, a lot of people are back from vacation, focused and ready for a good run to the end of the year.

I hope you have had a great summer! Here is to a productive Fall 2015!

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Don’t Burn Bridges! Reputation is everything!

A friend recently was telling me about a long-time co-worker who not only resigned, but did it in a way that burned all bridges and goodwill with the former employer and most co-workers at a good sized company. I understand people get mad, disagree and are frustrated at times, and certainly when leaving a company, but even when your are dealing with the short-term, you have to think about the long-term.  If you don’t, your actions today can seriously affect your future opportunities.  In business acting on your emotions can have a long lasting effect.

You may never even know you lost a fantastic opportunity.  It just won’t be there among your options. This person I mention above has done that because the actions on the way out affected a lot of people who won’t forget when this person’s name comes up in the future.  I am sure it felt good to get things off of their chest, but what did it really accomplish?  Phoenix, like elsewhere, is a big city that in business is like a small town. And people remember being told off longer than someone providing constructive criticism on their way out the door.

So what do you do when you dislike the actions of your employer, co-workers or even clients or vendors?  You have to chart the smoothest course you can. Sometimes it means not saying what’s on your mind in way you would like to.  I am not advocating that you brush serious issues off of the table.  I am simply saying that it is better to act on thought than emotion in these situations.

Remember, reputation takes a lifetime to build and seconds to destroy. Don’t let it be you.

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Why being at work, while anticipating fun, is important! Or, make life/work balance a goal.

Some of you may be asking, what does he mean? Some of you may be saying, life/work balance, good luck! What I mean is being on the edge of having fun, vacation, just not working for a day, etc. What I’m really talking about his life/work balance.

We all work hard. At least I like to think that we do. One of the things that helps me stay focused at work is the knowledge that I have planned breaks, whether taking a mental health day, a short or long weekend or a weeklong vacation with my family. It helps me focus and be productive in my chosen profession.

We all have different things that motivate us, but it is important to have balance in your life. You cannot work all the time, the same as you cannot play all the time.

How do you achieve this balance? I wish I had the answer for everyone, but that is for you to answer for yourself. What creates balance in your life will be different than what creates balance in my life, let alone for anyone else. But it is important to figure out what provides that balance for you. If you already have, or even start now, you are on your way.

Now, get back to work!

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Why are life and business so taxing?

Yes, I know the title is a bit cheesy, but it is April 15, and, of course, I mean something else: Why is it so hard to be successful?

Life is hard. Work is hard. Business is hard. Being successful is hard, let alone getting “ahead.” And working hard doesn’t mean you will be successful or get ahead, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

You need to put in time and do so smartly, whether in your business or personal life.  Doing so is investing in yourself and your business. How do you do this? It depends what you do for a living.

For me, it can mean a lot of networking, including face time. For the person running a small business, it may be the same thing, but with suppliers or people who can connect them to suppliers to try and get better product or pricing.  And for any of us it could be the person at the golf course, who can get us a better tee time if they like us.  It works in all parts of your life.

So put in the work, even though it is taxing!

And I hope this tax day was not too painful for you!

 

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Why continuity matters

It may be All About That Bass this year, but will any of us remember Meghan Trainor next year?

No one plans to be a one hit wonder. Whether in music or business. We are overloaded in every field of business and all professions. The goal is to sustain your business or career over time.

You do this by nurturing relationships and doing both short term, mid-term and long term planning. If you are not sure where to start, ask people you know who have had sustained success. Be open to suggestions and trying new things, maybe even doing things outside your comfort zone.

And try new things. The path that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.  But you don’t know unless you try things and determine what works for you.

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What can you learn to help you do what you do?

I read a good quote recently, actually in an email from a friend to other managers in a fantasy football league I am in.  Of course it might have been part of some smack talk that was going on, but it brought to mind a truth: continuous learning and training makes for a better and more interesting work place.

The quote is “Everyone is born a genius, but the process of living de-geniuses them.”  It is by Buckminster Fuller, who I am not too familiar with, but I think it is correct on many levels.  We all have potential, but realizing takes work.  We all know intelligent people who are disinterested in learning or otherwise do not apply themselves.

The time to step up is now! It is the new year (yes, I realize it already is February!). Come up with a plan. What should you learn? Well that depends on what you do and what will help you do what you do. The first step you should take is to figure something out, whether reading a business networking book, to taking a course online or at a local community college. The options are endless.

But the right choice is to do something and stop the de-genius process!

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Why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally.  This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases.  But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc.  The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink.  The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

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What do you know? Why you should be the best at something!

It seems that everyone is an expert on something, or is, at least, trying to position themselves as an expert. But are they?  Depends.

Some are.  Some, well you know.

You may wonder whether it is important to be an expert at something.  I believe it is.  It is how you differentiate yourself from others.  You may be thinking who you know is more important than what you know, but who you know gets you in the door while what you know keeps you there.

And it isn’t easy to become an expert.  It takes time and effort.  It is like investing in yourself.  Many of you will have heard of the 10,000 hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell has written about; It takes 10,000 of practice at something to become an expert.  The point is that nothing worth doing or knowing is simple and there is no fast road to expertise.

But if you put in the time and effort into something important or central to your career or business, others will notice.  So what do you know or do better than most others, or your competitors?  Or what do you want to know or do better than most others?  It is never too early or too late to figure this out and start putting in the hours now.  So, what do you know??

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Don’t be a Luddite

You may have heard the word.  One way it is used today is to describe people who refuse to embrace technology and want to stay grounded in the ways they know, i.e. the past.  This seems timely given Apple’s announcement yesterday of two new phones and soon to be released watch that seems equivalent to something from an old science fiction movie.

Today, in business, refusing to embrace technology is a mistake.  And this does not mean you have to purchase every new device that comes out, but that you have to find devices that work for you and allow you to be more efficient and serve your customers and clients better.

People are proud when they don’t have smart phones or use current technology in their business lives.  I understand this because I have caught flack in my personal life for years from friends and family for not being on Facebook.  For me it’s not about being proud to not be on Facebook, it’s about time.  But in my business I am open to try whatever I can to save time, use less paper, stay in better contact with my connections, access information faster, be better organized, etc.  And it is not about being left behind. It is about positioning myself to do my job better and better serve my clients.

We live in the 21st century. If you, your company, your employees are not utilizing the available tools you already are behind.  Scoff if you want, but lamenting the loss of the way business used to be done will get you nowhere and the past is never coming back.  You don’t have to like it, but you have to be somewhere on the learning curve of technology, riding the wave.  Don’t be left behind.

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Nothing is fair in love or contracts: know the playing field and rules of engagement

People deal in and like absolutes. By this I mean that for many people, if they see it in writing it must be true, and if in a contract, it must be easily enforceable.  This assumption is wrong.

In my world, everything is contracts: I am either negotiating and drafting contracts, or involved in lawsuits to enforce or defend entire contracts or specific contractual provisions.  If a party breaches a contract, the non-breaching party many times believes it is a simple and fast process to win a lawsuit and collect damages (i.e. money) or enforce the terms of the contract.  But a contract does not guarantee behavior, and is, at most, a guideline. If you think suing to get what you want is a sure solution, that the contract entitles you to win, you’re naïve on how litigation works.  Most people are naïve because of luckily not having experience with litigation. Hopefully, if that describes you, you remain in that bubble.

Even if you do, it is good to have a general understanding of the playing field and the rules of engagement: (1) the agreements and promises in a contract only are worth the paper they are written on and depend wholly on the substance of the other party to the contract, so try to deal with people you really trust; (2) lawsuits are not fast and it can take from a few months to a few years to obtain a judgment; and (3) the financial wherewithal of the other party may be different at the end of a lawsuit than it was at the beginning, i.e. winning a judgment is one thing, collecting on the judgment is another.

The best things you can do at the front end are to know who you are dealing with, whether an individual or a company, and conduct due diligence (information gathering and or analysis), if appropriate and possible, prior to signing a contract.  The due diligence may involve attorneys, accountants, engineers, appraisers, etc.  It may be you really taking the time to read every line of the proposed contract.  Protect yourself as best you can from the beginning because if an issue comes up, the only way to a fast resolution is through the parties agreeing to one.

 

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