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5 STEPS TO RECHARGE YOUR WORK MINDSET

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MindsetMany people I talk to are not happy with their jobs. I hear it a lot—people feel like they work too much, feel like their coworkers have it easier, that they’re just not happy. While there is certainly such a thing as a toxic work environment (I’ve both seen a few from the outside, and worked within one or two as well) many of the challenges we feel work presents are really reflections of our view on the world. Or put more simply: we are often disempowered by our mindset. Here are two frequent areas of concern to focus on as we head towards the middle of 2014:

Time: Let’s turn first to a frequent topic of conversation: “work/life balance.” Most of the time when people have a gripe about time they say things like “my work/life balance is way off” or “I don’t have enough time for me.” Personally, I have struggled with this before when I didn’t feel that my time was being well-used, or when successive waves of time consuming projects crash against my social calendar.

These days I try and stay connected to my core feeling on work-life balance: there is no such thing. This is a mindset game, and you have to look at the leverage rather than the time. You WILL spend most of your life at work. Does the job you’re doing today (or really any job) give you enough for you to have the life outside of work that is manageable and livable? If the answer yes, then you ask: will this take me places that I want to go professionally, personally, and financially? There are always plenty of opportunities in this world… are you willing to do the work to get there?

Team: In relation to my first point: time, I often hear people complain that they work harder, are more capable, or more dedicated then those they share a work family with. Now, I’m sure it can be really difficult to keep a positive mindset and to stay dedicated to your work when those around you are goofing off and not putting in the same level of effort you are. Nobody likes to feel like they are the only one really trying on a team… we’re a TEAM, right?!

When it comes to your peers, I think it is important to remember that they are, generally, not your responsibility relative to productivity. That said, I would never advocate that one should let illegal, immoral, or disreputable activity continue in an organization, particularly one that is driven by specific values that all employees are asked to live towards. However, I have found that we often lack context and insight into what each person’s responsibilities are, and what their job requires. More often than not, our personal perspective outweighs our ability to be objective, and this can easily lead to feeling as though you are working harder than others… they probably feel exactly the same about you!

So, what do you do? Get connected to what you can control. Do the best you can on your core responsibilities and learn to let go of the other. It should be most important to you that you feel like you gave it your all today, not what you did relative to those around you. If you have bigger concerns about the health and success of your team, you should engage your leadership team, manager, or even the person in question, directly. Whatever you do, don’t linger on the other when all you can truly control is yourself.

What’s next? Take action!

1. First, identify and write down three negative, disempowering mindsets you know are hurting you, but you haven’t been able to shed.

2. Then, develop a counter mindset for each, being as specific as possible in defining things within your control, and write it down.

3. Compare these mindsets, getting comfortable with having a fresh perspective on things that have been challenging for you.

4. Scratch out the old mindsets and commit to living the new ones.

5. Finally, pin them up at your desk, make them a daily topic of your journaling, or find another meaningful way to incorporate them into your everyday life.

From personal experience, getting your head on straight is one of the most healthful and helpful things you can do for your career and your personal life. The world as you perceive it is sometimes just that: change your perspective, change your life!

Alec Kisiel, Consultant, helps entreQuest’s clients to grow and develop so they are able to recognize their full potential to effectively achieve remarkable results for their organizations and make a meaningful impact in their communities..

 

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What to Do AFTER Your Next Interview: eQ’s Top 5 Follow Up Moves

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thank youToday’s job market is increasingly competitive. With an influx of available candidates on the market, whether qualified or unqualified, hiring managers and recruiters have to work ten times as hard to fish through resumes to find the right candidate for the job. Getting in front of a recruiter or hiring manager is no longer the only difficult part of the job hunting process. So too is making yourself standout among the masses of hundreds of resumes and the 10 or so candidates who may get a face-to-face interview for a given position.

It was long thought that the best way to make yourself stand out was not only to have a solid interview, but to also have adequate follow up. And while I will not refute the importance of being an active part of the interviewing process, there are some unwritten rules when it comes to interview follow up. Here are the 5 rules of thumb regarding interview follow up:

1. Once is usually enough – Follow up is important, but you don’t have to follow up ten times a day to show your interest to a recruiter. This may only make you appear headstrong and you may inadvertently turn the hiring manager off. All recruiters greatly appreciate timely feedback when it comes to filling out paperwork, confirming interview times, and following up with how the interview went, but no one needs three emails about why you are the best candidate for the position. Tip: Responding with a “Thank You” email within 24 hours, and one follow up email or call in a few days to touch base is enough without being overkill.

2. Learn to take a hint – Unfortunately, you’re not going to get every job you interview for. And if you do congratulations, but if that were true, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog. There will be times when a recruiter may stop returning your calls and emails, and these are people who are usually quite on the ball. So if they haven’t returned your call after four or five attempts, odds are better than not, that you didn’t get the position.

3. London Bridge might be burning down, but you don’t have to start the fire – If you don’t get the job, the last thing that you want to do is burn a bridge with a recruiter. Because a good recruiter may keep you in mind for other positions, and recruiters have friends . . . who they might talk to . . . about you. Tip: If you feel that you bombed your interview and did not get the position because of this, explain this to your recruiter in your “Thank You” follow up and express your interest in working with them in the future.

4. Different can be good – In your attempt to stand out from the crowd, your type of follow up can go a long way. Anyone can type an email, or send a handwritten card, but it’s the candidates who can think outside of the box that often make the most solid impression. Finding out something about the company that is important to their culture can go a long way. For instance, at entreQuest apples are a common theme. When I first interviewed at eQ, I noticed the apple symbolism everywhere: “Got Apples?” was their catch phrase and there was a bowl of Styrofoam apples on the counter which were tossed around the office during brainstorming exercises. That resonated with me, and I realized that apples were an important part of the company culture. I didn’t know why, but that really wasn’t important. When I got home that day I didn’t send a handwritten note or type up an email. I contacted the local florist and ordered a gift basket of honey and apples to be sent over the next morning. By the end of the week I was offered the position. Follow up is not just about thanking someone for the opportunity to interview, but about showing the company that you are invested enough in the opportunity that you care are the company, and its mission, and what you can bring to the table. Be mindful of that in your follow up.

5. Don’t be creepy – See step 4 – if finding what is meaningful or purposeful to the prospective employer means sneaking in to the company file room after hours, stalking someone on LinkedIn, or being all around a little too creepy, it’s best not to send that follow up gift. Follow up gestures should never be too personal or too invasive.

First interviews are a lot like first dates, it’s important to show interest without coming across too clingy, too creepy, or too aggressive. Be purposeful in the choices that you make with follow up and hopefully you will find much more luck in navigating the interviewing process.

 

Jes Geoffroy is an Operations Manager for entreQuest. She works closely with all team members to provide employees and clients with remarkable experiences.  

 

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, Success, Talent Acquisition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Books and Friends: Narrow it DOWN and INVEST!

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book loveIf you know me at all, you know that I love to read, and I’ve read a lot of books over the years. People are always asking me, “How do you keep up with all the books that come out?” or “How do you put into action the books you read?” and “Do you finish every book you read?”

Recently I started to think about WHY people ask these questions?

It could be because over the past 13 years I have read nearly 600 books (ok, so maybe “a lot” was an understatement) on the topics of business strategy, history, economics, psychology, neuroscience, achievement, business growth, culture, hiring, interviewing, social media, sales, leadership, customer service and organizational development… and I don’t shy away from telling people this.

While I get a lot of questions about the quantity of books I’ve read since college, more often, people ask about my ability to USE the information in a meaningful way at eQ, to have an opinion about the latest theories, and to integrate the data in our work to help companies Grow Regardless.

Now, remember I am not normal―and I get that.

My teammates at eQ often observe Amazon.com boxes being delivered to our office two to three times a week. They joke, “Books are Joe’s friends… he doesn’t have many hobbies outside of eQ and his family.  Reading is his hobby.”

I’m ok with it, in fact, I’ll own it―books are my friends, but it’s not because they are my hobby.  It’s because I take my craft seriously.

So, in short, I think books can be friends.  And like real friends, sometimes they’re there for you when you need them, sometimes they irritate you, and sometimes you need to find new friends (or books).

Recently, I sat down and thought about my philosophies on friends and books and I realized that they have gone through similar stages of evolution:

Stage 1: The more the merrier

Just like first grade; the goal: get picked as captain of the kick ball team; how: be liked by everyone.  This carried forward for me in high school as well; I became class president by spending time investing in all sorts of friends: friends that were older, younger, friends that I played sports with (football, wrestling, lacrosse, and swimming), and friends that were in the band. This was incredibly tiring, but at this point necessary for me.

Similarly when we first started eQ, I was 23 years old, I knew nothing about anything. It was time for me to get in my craft and the more the merrier was the name of the game.

It helped that we traveled upwards of 280 days a year for the first two to three years of the business and I had the time to read two to three books a week.  Fiction, non-fiction, magazines, whatever I could get my hands on… I read it and it was fun.

Stage 2: Build a Discipline

In college, it quickly became apparent that I needed to pick one sport to play versus four. I needed to decide on the one, maybe two things at which I could become great. I picked football and business.  This meant that I needed to focus on topics that were going to help me get to my goals.

This meant I needed to make decisions about how many intermural sports I’d play: ZERO.  This meant I needed to spend time investing in my major: no classes outside of business/economics that weren’t required and no double major. This meant I needed to decide how many people I could get to know as friends: I joined a fraternity (go ahead judge me), because I saw it as an opportunity to invest in a small group of people versus my whole class.

At this stage, it’s the same for books.  If you are going to be an expert in your craft, you need to build a discipline and to build a discipline you need a strategy.

Stage 3: Narrow it Down and INVEST!

As we grow wiser (and older) our pool of friends grows smaller, just as I narrowed down my circle of friends in college to the guys in my fraternity, I’ve also narrowed down the types of books I read.

Think of it this way, we all have limited time. In fact, you have 84,600 seconds per day. There are 35,000 books published every year. It does us no good to try keep up and read every single one. Instead, we need to focus on the things that matter most.

I urge you chose 12 books to read this year (try one a month), but make sure each book you choose directly relates to what matters most to you. Invest in these books―read them and apply their teachings to your company and then share them with your friends.

Here are the 12 books we are reading and investing in as a company this year:

1. Unlabel, Mark Ecko

2. Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business,  John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia and Bill George

3. Why Managing Sucks and How to Fix It: A Results-Only Guide to Taking Control of Work, Not People, Thompson and Cali Ressler

4. The Power of Less, Leo Babauta

5. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, Alexander Osterwalder

6. Topgrading, Bradford D. Smart Ph. D.

7. Influence: The psychology of persuasion, Robert Cialdini, PhD

8. Scientific Advertising, Claude Hopkins

9. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

10. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams, Deepak Chopra

11. Daring Greatly, Brene Brown

12. Start Something that Matters, Blake Mycocskie

Well, what are you waiting for? Go make some new “friends!”

#growregardless #booksarefriends

 

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

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My FIRST trip to the White House to help them… Grow Regardless!

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I can’t believe it, but―it’s true! I was invited to participate in The White House Business Council’s meeting last week to give MY perspective on how the government can support the growth of small business and strengthen OUR economy.

Together with other small business leaders from across the country, I had the opportunity to brief Senior Administration officials on priorities, including how to create an environment conducive to job creation, specifically for small businesses.

Here is what it CONFIRMED for me:

1.  All hope is not lost.  There have been 48 straight months of consecutive job growth.

JoeWH_image1

2.  We are not there yet.  During the recession, we lost 9 million jobs.  Since then, we have only added 8.7 million jobs back.

JoeWH_image2

3.  We all need more help.  The U.S. Small Business Administration quoted a survey  stating that 80% of small businesses that fail, do not use/pay for an outside coach or mentor. And, the Small Business Association compiled additional data showing our need for more help.
JoeWH_image3

Here is what SURPRISED me:

1.  Small business is BIGGER than I thought.  According to recent studies, there are 28 million small businesses and they employee nearly 94% of the American workforce (holy crap!).

JoeWH_image4

2.  The #1 page visited on the SBA’s website is: “how to write a business plan”―You’re not alone if you thought it would be “getting credit or financing” (I did too). JoeWH_image5

3.  Some of my fellow entrepreneurs are still waiting for set-asides, hand-outs, and special programs.  It should be clear at this point, the government is NOT going to bail us out (like it did for Wall Street and the car industry).

 JoeWH_image5

Here is what I am EVEN more COMMITTED to:

With all this said and learned, I am even more committed to RISING ABOVE the normal argument of business vs. government―let’s take it to GROWTH-MINDED, HARD WORKING, and SMART PEOPLE vs. LAZY ASSED, SELF-CENTERED, AND STUPID PEOPLE.

Funny thing is, there are both types of these people in government and small business. I know because I met them both last week.

I am committed to continuing to GROW entreQuest, even more, and to help other companies GROW by finding the BEST talent, developing their unique STORY, and building the RIGHT strategies, structures, and systems.

Rather than me challenging  just you―Let’s ALL challenge each other to not lose hope and complain about what the government is not doing… Instead, focus on seeing how they ARE HELPING and use it to our advantage.

In short, let’s GROW REGARDLESS!

 

P.S. Thanks to Phil Walotsky for making this happen.

#themovementisHERE #growregardlessatthewhitehouse #timetomakeithappen #stopwhiningstartdoing  

 

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

 

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entreQuest Promotes Jeremy Steinberg to Managing Director

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member-jeremy-stienbergBaltimore-based entreQuest—a firm helping its clients grow regardless by providing high-level strategic planning, specialized training programs, and personalized leadership coaching—has promoted Partner, Jeremy Steinberg, to Managing Director.

As Managing Director, Jeremy will oversee entreQuest’s consulting division and help to leverage and scale eQ philosophies, processes, and practices throughout all client engagements.

“Our mission is to help businesses build successful, high growth companies with the ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent,” said Joe Mechlinski, CEO of entreQuest, “Jeremy’s expertise, leadership, and knowledge of sales and business trends, is exactly what our clients’ need to accelerate their growth.”

For more than seven years, Jeremy has worked with entreQuest clients to design specialized sales systems and processes that help improve production, profitability, and time management. By emphasizing technology, he ensures that his clients leverage the technologies they have already invested in, as well as, aiding them in finding new tools that can expand current business and grow new sales and revenue.

Jeremy graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a degree in Finance. Upon graduation he worked with several fast-growing companies where his focus was national expansion. Jeremy devised and implemented strategies for sales growth and scalability, which took numerous small operations from humble beginnings to employing more than 100 individuals. Jeremy has since worked within Fortune 500 organizations and brings that experience to countless organizations today.

Jeremy is active in the community both personally and professionally. He sits on the Board of Directors of the Masters Conference, a boutique educational forum where a select group of speakers, vendors and attendees convene to engage in a proactive collaboration on current challenges in the legal space.  Jeremy is a frequently requested presenter at regional and national chamber and company events. He is also a frequent guest lecturer at Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County and is a certified speaker for The Executive Committee (TEC) Canada, Renaissance and Vistage.

About entreQuest
entreQuest, Inc. is a 13-year-old firm that proves company growth begins with talent acquisition. Talent acquisition goes beyond recruiting good talent. It involves helping business leaders understand and tell their story in order to attract the right talent. Through its proprietary screening, hiring, and on-boarding system, entreQuest eases the hiring process for small to mid-sized businesses and helps them acquire the type of talent necessary for sustainable growth. entreQuest wrote the book on business growth—literally, the New York Times best selling book, Grow Regardless, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development—three key factors in retaining employees and building a successful organization. For more information, please visit www.entrequest.com.

See more at:
http://baltimore.citybizlist.com/article/entrequest-promotes-jeremy-steinberg-managing-director#sthash.Y7e3c2OJ.dpuf http://www.bizjournals.com/baltimore/potmsearch/detail/submission/2506881/Jeremy_Steinberg

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3 THINGS TO HELP YOUR TEAM GET THROUGH A CRISIS

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Carrie B and AAs we finish out the first quarter of 2014, I can’t help but reflect.  2013 certainly ended more dramatically than I expected.  For those who follow entreQuest, you probably know that Emily and I were in a horrific car accident in October.  Since we are doing amazingly well and healing beautifully, this blog won’t be a woe-is-me story about that.  Instead, as is more my style, I’d prefer to reflect on what I’m grateful for and focus on what I’ve learned from this event.

I’ve always felt as though I knew what makes a good team—I mean really, it’s my business to help people get their teams back in shape or up and running.  But, my experience this past year has not only solidified what I always knew, but it has also taught me a few new things that I’d like to share with you today.

Regardless of the type of team, be it a trauma team, a surgical team, my team at entreQuest, or your team in your own business, in order to really gel, to get through a crisis, a good team needs three things:  a common goal, belief, and loyalty.

Take my trauma team (who graciously saved my life) for example, their common goal was to get me stable so that I had a chance to get better.  They BELIEVED that they could.  And while I think belief can be the determining factor, you can’t function as a good team without loyalty—loyalty to each other, meaning each and every one of them has the other’s back, no matter what. But that’s not where their loyalty ends, they are also loyal to the common goal and to the belief (to keep their patients stable and well).  As evidenced in all my interactions with this team, they definitely showed their loyalty, especially to their patients.

So, how does that translate to your own team? Well, I’ll use entreQuest as an example.  Prior to October, entreQuest was a fully functioning team.  Emily and I were happily members of that team—working towards our common goal, to help small-to-mid-sized businesses, grow regardless.  But then, in a blink of an eye, everything changed. We were in an accident and the team had to learn to maneuver and survive without us.  Much like a trauma team must function in crisis-mode all the time, entreQuest was thrust into a crisis-mode of our own.

There is no doubt that the entreQuest team shares a common goal and more importantly, has the belief that we can help our clients to achieve more than they ever thought possible.  But it was only when the going got tough, that we were able to prove that we had the third, and arguably, most important element: LOYALTY.

I’m thrilled and completely humbled by how much loyalty we have.  Not only has our team been able to stick together, work hard on our business, and grow our clients’ businesses, but our team has been incredibly loyal to Emily and me.  They have stuck with us through every aspect of our recovery.  And, although we still have a long road ahead of us as far as therapy and healing goes, we know they are happy to have us back because we are part of the team.

All of us at entreQuest have these three things:  we have a common goal, we have belief, and we have loyalty—to one another, and to our clients. 

I urge you to look at your team… Do they have what it takes to stick together and to be successful?  I believe whole heartedly that entreQuest knows what it means to be a great team.  We’re one of the best I’ve seen—and I’ve been privy to some pretty phenomenal teams lately.

Because entreQuest knows what it takes to be a great team, we can help you build your team, be it through talent acquisition or restructuring what you currently have into a great team that is built on a shared goal, belief in that goal, and loyalty.

 

Carrie Root is a Project Manager at entreQuest and works in conjunction with eQ’s Business Consultants and clients throughout the life of a client engagement to engineer the plan based on vision set, act as quality control for all projects and deliverables, as well as mobilize internal resources.

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10 BEST Inspirational Videos Under 5 Minutes

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make things happenWith employee engagement levels at an all-time low (and falling fast), I’d like to share with you 10 short videos with tremendous impact.  We’ve used these videos in countless retreats, keynotes, trainings, and strategic planning sessions to jump start our clients’ mindset.

I’m sure these short videos will instantly engage you, but also inspire, motivate, and raise your level of ambition to be more, do more, and give more!

And remember, these are just the short ones―there are countless other videos we use to motivate and engage our team and our clients every day.

I challenge you to do two things today:

1.   Take a few minutes and watch as many of these videos as you can today. I promise you will see an immediate improvement in your level of engagement.

2.  Share your favorite inspirational video with me. It doesn’t have to be one of these―in fact, I hope it is not!

#isyourtalentgrowingregardless

1.       Al Pacino’s Inspirational Speech:

Pacino

  2.       The Time You Have (In JellyBeans):

 jelly beans

 3.       Good Will Hunting – Park Scene:

good will hunting

 4.       Never, Ever Give Up:

never ever give up

 5.       Motivational… Period:

 motivational

6.       The Power of Words:

 power of words

7.       Dead Poets Society:

 Dead Poets Society

 8.       Sacrifice:

 sacrifice 

9:     Rocky Balboa’s Inspirational Speech:

 Rocky

10:   Entrepreneurs Can Change the World:

Change the world - grasshopper

Joe Mechlinski is CEO and Co-Founder of entreQuest, where he’s helped hundreds of companies prosper through some of the worst economic times in history. Joe’s debut book, Grow Regardless, an instant New York Times bestseller, defines strategic growth, change management, and organizational development.

 

Posted in Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, JM_site, Talent Acquisition, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t just listen to what your customers say, listen to what they want!

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you-can-hear-your-customers-but-are-you-truly-listeningEven though I find myself in the early stages of my professional career, it struck me recently that I have been working for a while now. I’ve been employed more or less constantly since I was 14, starting with a job at a local pet kennel cleaning up after dogs and cats while their owners were away. Between then and entering the professional word I held several retail jobs, and the more experience I gain the more perspective I enjoy on these prior endeavors.

Recently, I have been involved in work that has me asking people “what would your customers say?” Oddly, as I reflect on the responses I’ve heard, I am reminded of my time in one long-standing (relative to teenage occupations) position with a local chain retailer. While I won’t name names here, I believe it will suffice to say that if you happened into a mall in the Baltimore/DC area in the mid-80s through early 2000s you were likely to pass this shop that specialized in collectables and professional grade knives. As a kid I was extremely into classical Japanese martial arts, so edged items (knives and swords) were of particular interest to me at the time. I turned years of perusing similar shops into a warehouse and retail job when I was old enough. While this proved an outstanding job through the end of high school into part of college, ultimately I was there to witness the company’s closure.

So, what does this have to do with what your customers say about you? Everything! Naive as I was at the time, I did not grasp the deep implications of things I heard on a near-daily basis: “I’m just looking,” “can you help me figure out XYZ,” and, most tellingly, “the prices here are ridiculous compared to the internet!” At the time (early 2000s) the internet was becoming more widely adopted for both entertainment and economic ends. People were starting to cross-shop the web for things they might otherwise have not considered buying online.

Let me lay out an example: a quality blade of respectable make might run you somewhere between $75-100 online (and to my fellow purists out there: yes, this is an entry level price point to pick in this market). In our brick and mortar store the same knife might run as high as $125, a 25 percent increase (notably, we usually charged MSRP or lower; the net charged far below suggested retail).

So, as one might expect, many people began to use us for “feel” shopping—putting their hands on it before ordering online. At worst, they stopped coming out altogether. This lead to a slide in the core business that this company had built itself.

Yet, it was not the only revenue stream. While I watched sales fall for edged items, I saw an unexpected boom in the collectable market. There was one line in particular that did exceptionally well. These figurines were popular collectors’ items in their market, and I regularly watched people come in to buy these statues that went from $200 well into the thousands of dollars each. I have to imagine that they were at least modestly profitable.

There were also other niche items that the company had cornered. A prime example was the classic American lighter (you know which one!) we were an officially recommended dealer, often offering marked-up specialty products at list cost.

I think this is a good moment to pause and clarify one thing: I am not about to suggest that I have advice that might have saved this company, or that anything could have overcome the circumstances we found ourselves in. I am not looking to claim that they flew headlong into an obvious mountain; this was a nuanced and complicated situation which I do not have all the facts for.

Yet, as a member of the front-line staff, I don’t know that we ever truly considered what our customers wanted. Towards the end I, as an employee, felt some brand tension as we attempted to pivot from our core business to other, potentially life-saving lines of business. As we did so, I heard even more from our customers: “are you not selling knives anymore?” “what is all of this stuff doing in here?”, and “what happened to the store I used to know?” In retrospect it is clear that this inflection point was not truly informed by our customers. Instead of finding out what they truly valued, and giving that to them, we relied on trying to fire up a new model without putting the old one to rest. In the end, the stores closed and the reverberations were felt across both the family that had been built at the company, and our long-term customers.

The lesson I am still learning from this is to question what you are delivering. Often, we get into a business we love and try to help others who love the same things. Sometimes those loves seem to wander, or another way to fulfill them appears. When that happens, you have to ask yourself: do I really know what my customers want, and do I know how to deliver value to them? If not, you might not be able to keep up and stay profitable despite your best intentions.

Alec Kisiel is the Director of Client Engagement for entreQuest. He helps to assess organizational dynamics, project manage client deliverables, and engage leaders at every level of an organization.

 

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The 7 Ways Obama Could Communicate Differently

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the 7 CsYou’ve all heard of the Healthcare Reform, Accountable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare—how could you not? It’s been on the news for months now.

To be honest, I had reservations when I decided to write this blog—I don’t want you to get the impression that I’m part of the angry fan club cheering and wishing for President Obama’s endeavor—that everyone have access to healthcare—fails. I am not, and never have been, opposed to the President’s vision. But, the how is a much larger conversation—one I’d like to start with you today.

I think Obama’s vision for affordable, sustainable healthcare is fantastic and I think folks with pre-existing conditions should have access to healthcare. This vision is one of his primary mantras that got him elected. He absolutely managed to create a movement with his vision for healthcare.

Come on, whether you are right, left, or in the middle, this pulls on your heartstrings—we all want our fellow citizens to have access to quality and affordable care! So kudos, to the vision.

So far, President Obama has managed to address the what and the why, which is important to ensure the message resonates and I’ll admit, at times it has proven difficult to do so. But, the more important question is: are we clear on the how and the impact that it has on all constituents—taxpayers, providers, brokers… the list goes on.

This bill continues to be extremely complicated and all of the various constituents still do not really know how this impacts them. Obama’s vision is fantastic, but is without a doubt much more confusing and complicated to execute than he probably anticipated.

Most people understand the vision, but I don’t think anyone truly understands the impact that it will have on them in the short, mid, or long term. But it does appear that the unintended consequences are that this his initiative will be subsidized by an additional corporate expense, or another government subsidy.

At eQ, we develop strategies for helping clients communicate their vision and goals. By clearly defining the why, the what, and the how, of the vision and goals our client’s teams understand the impact the vision and goals have on the company. One way to do this is to consider the following questions when devising a new vision or initiative:

THE SEVEN Cs

CLARITY – Are you providing the details about where you are going as a company and the specific things needed to get there? Why are they doing it? How do their efforts contribute to the intended outcomes?

CERTAINTY – Do you provide reassurance to your team that their leaders have a plan for the outcome?

COMPASSION – Do your constituents feel heard and valued?

CONSISTENCY – Are you consistent in your message, communication method, and action?

COMMITMENT – Do people feel that you are the most committed in the room?

COLLABORATION – Do you eradicate the old “us-versus-them” mentality? Do your people feel connected? Who gets the credit?

COMMUNITY – Is your company operating from a place of higher purpose, and making the world a better place?

By addressing the questions above, and leading in this way, you are more likely to hit the growth goals that you desire. Perhaps our fearless leaders from both sides should stop and ask themselves these same questions.

The vision is solid, but how we get there is complicated, especially when there are hidden agendas, people aren’t heard, and can’t easily understand the outcomes. Visions are intended to clarify and serve as a guideline.  When effective, a vision can create urgency and alignment, BUT there’s more to a vision that just clever marketing message…

 

Frank Belen is a Senior Business Consultant for entreQuest. He helps to develop and grow business and C-level leadership and assists small to medium sized businesses Grow Regardless.

Posted in Client Experiences, Employee Experience, Grow Regardless, Motivation, News, Success | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Waste Time – 4 Ways to Use Down Time to Stay Sharp

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axeI don’t know about you, but I often find myself in a constant state of motion. Up and at it early, running hard all day, and then back home to knock out personal tasks before sliding onto the couch, exhausted, with very little time left in your day. Add in a pet, significant other, or hobby and your idle time evaporates quickly.

I am a big believer that idle time is important—but not to put your feet up and relax. In the past there have been meetings, client engagements, and projects that I have walked right into without much forethought. This is not to say that these events were not important, in fact quite the opposite.

I don’t think I’m alone: all of us often operate in a mindset of focusing on what is right in front of us, with little consideration for later tasks.

What’s more, is that this activity can be addictive—meaning that anytime you are not receiving input or generating output can feel like wasted time. Think about when you last went for a long walk, but opted to leave the earbuds at home… it’s been a while, right? How about an early morning drive to a client site where you spent the whole ride rocking out, but upon pulling up to your destination you say, “so what am I doing here?”

I have recently rediscovered a love for idle time—I like to refer to it as “processing” time (“idle” has serious negative connotations).

Instead of filling time in the waiting room at the doctor’s office plugging away on the smart phone, or trying desperately to find a distraction on the radio or in an audio book while stuck in traffic, I urge you to try some processing time.

Here are a few things I like to do to maximize my brain’s processing power to help me be better prepared for what lies ahead of me:

1. Isolate: Whether in a crowded room, alone en masse (feeling alone in the car while in a sea of other cars filled with people), or walking solo I like to try and shelter my mind from outside influences. This is where you have to fight the urge to give yourself the input you are used to.

2. Wander: I find myself at my most creative when I allow my mind a long leash. I enjoy the tangents, and in the wandering, often find connections I believe that I would not have found otherwise.

3. Focus: Occasionally, I have to yank the leash and bring myself back to the topic I am working on. Digressions are welcomed, but for this to be meaningfully spent time you have to have a measure of focus.

4. Capture: After ruminating, it is critical that I capture my thoughts. I used to think I could just retain it all, and bring it back to the surface when it was time to go to work. I too often found myself feeling that I missed a critical detail, so I’ve learned if I take the time to write down my thoughts as soon as I can I will minimize that sensation of missing crucial details.

The point in all of this is that I am of the belief that we too often run at full speed, feeling that every moment is an opportunity to hack away at our list. To be honest, the concept I’m mentioning here is nothing new. Abraham Lincoln laid it out best in a well-known quote attributed to him: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Care to join me at the sharpening stone?

 

Alec Kisiel is the Director of Client Engagement for entreQuest. He helps to assess organizational dynamics, project manage client deliverables, and engage leaders at every level of an organization.
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