Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

The 3 Non-Leadership books every Leader, Teacher and Parent should read

I realize that might title is a bit redundant.

A great leader IS a great teacher and vice-versa.
In industries, like internet marketing, where the amount of information doubles every 8 months, the ability to teach your team may be the single most important aspect of leadership.

So with that in mind, if you want to be a leader on one of my teams, these are the 3 books you need to read and live.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

If there was a single book that taught you how to be a great teacher and thereby a great leader, this is it.

Each day we are all faced with success and failures and we respond in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Fixed Mindset – Each mistake is validation that you aren’t smart, talented or good enough. Conversely, every success tells you that you are innately “gifted” which is very dangerous because then you stop looking for challenges where you might fail and therefore not validate your “gifted” status.
  2. Growth Mindset – Each failure and success are a means of learning. You either learned what you wanted (i.e. succeeded) or you didn’t (i.e. failed). Either way, you have more to learn, further to go and higher mountains to climb. Your mind is ever-expanding and intellect can always grow.

Our team has summarized this in our Culture Statements as:

Learning from other’s successes is extremely valuable however sometimes learning from our own mistakes is more memorable. We embrace our mistakes, learn not to repeat them, and therefore are constantly pushing the limits to get better.

If you only have time for one leadership or teaching book, Carol Dweck’s book is it!

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle


It wasn’t blind luck that the greatest concentration of artists, sculptors and painters of all time just happened to live in the same area of Italy over a 60 year time frame in the 16th century.

It’s also not chance that the small, dingy school where Anna Kournikova learned to play tennis, at one time produced 4 of the top 50 greatest players in the world.

It’s by design that the Dominican Republic has an unmatched density of great baseball players and, amidst abject poverty, Brazil has produced some of the world’s greatest players and teams consistently for nearly 50 years.

There’s a system and a code to “talent”. It’s not merely innate and it’s not simply about working for 10,000 hours on something. It’s about mindset, commitment, and breaking down the skill or talent to it’s essentials.

Daniel Coyle tells you exactly how and it’s as inspiring a read as you may ever encounter.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman


Think for a second of the tests that you may have taken to measure your intelligence.

  • IQ Tests
  • SAT’s
  • ACT’s
  • College Exams
  • High School Exams

Of the tests listed above do you know which one most closely predicts success in life?
None of them. None can be correlated to job, income, happiness or any other measure of success.

But there is a test that can.

It’s called the marshmallow test.
Put a 3 year old in a room. Give her a marshmallow and say, “You may eat the marshmallow. Or you can wait a few minutes until I come back and I’ll give you 2.”

If she waits, she understands the value of delayed gratification – working hard and sacrificing now to receive something better in the future – and it will predict her future success more accurately than any other test.

That’s one of hundreds of examples that illustrate that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is more important in our lives than IQ.

Goleman also provides great examples of how to teach 3 to 93 year olds how to improve their Emotional Intelligence and better empathize with those around us.

Those were listed in the order of importance so start at the top and work your way down.

To your success in becoming a great, teaching leader,
Bryan

The 3 Videos Every Leader and Manager Must See!

Simon Sinek – Leaders Eat Last

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There’s no harder challenge for leaders than to ignore their power and instead focus solely on serving their team. Simon is being interviewed by Glenn Beck and tells the best short story I’ve ever heard to help keep leaders grounded by the fact that they exist to serve not be served.


Dan Pink – Drive – The surprising truth about what motivates us

Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose – Every human being desires these 3 things and Dan breaks this down with unbelievable clarity. He also shares the downsides of commissions and incentives in many job positions.


Shawn Achor – The Happiness Advantage

Everything you know about success and happiness is wrong. You will NOT be happy once you are successful. The truth is, you will be more successful if you are first happy.

Your “experience” is what’s holding your managers back and limiting your growth

If you hired the right managers, who are better than you in their areas of expertise, then the key to getting them to excel is simply to unleash them.

In other words, get out of his or her way!

You just need to let him make his own decisions, his own mistakes, and allow him to lead his own team. Once you realize that your “experience” and knowledge is actually holding your team back, then real growth can start.

If you’re doing ANY of the following, you’re holding your leaders back:

  1. Addressing issues with the team members who should report to him. This should be clearly defined in your organizational chart.
  2. Addressing issues from customers who should be talking to him. If your customers have been trained to go to you to get the best deal, then un-train them by making sure all pricing goes through your chosen leader.
  3. Vetoing ideas and making decisions in his department. Your job as the CEO, Owner, President or Team Leader is to explain why you think something will or will not work. Not to make the decision.
  4. Dictating that leader’s schedule. Sure you can ask him to take care of an issue or help you with something, but dictating a schedule without his approval is more like putting on a choke collar and then asking him to chase away the rabbits. He can try as hard as he wants but he’s never going to get the job done.
  5. Second-guessing or analyzing every decision. The details are not important to you, only the results are. Allow him to work out the details. (I explain below what to do if you think he’s going to implement a bad idea.)
  6. Holding regular meetings to ensure you ultimately get to make the “big” decisions. Quite often this is done indirectly. You might never come out and say, “It has to be done this way because I said so.” But saying, “You know, I really think that idea won’t work but it’s up to you,” is interpreted as “You better not try that!“, when it comes from most bosses.
  7. Ignoring mistakes that are made. This is a major misconception. Allowing people to make mistakes, in and of itself, is pretty worthless. Not addressing those mistakes is downright harmful to your business and the mistake maker. Mistakes should only be made once and the only way to ensure that your leader knows that it was a mistake, and has a way to prevent it from happening again, is to openly discuss mistakes. Biting your lip because you’re afraid to hurt his feelings by pointing out a mistake, is a sign that you still have him on a leash.

So how do you keep tabs on your newly free leaders?

  1. You need some “Rules of the Game” in the form of a written Vision, Mission and Culture. Think of these like your 10 Commandments of business. Everyone on your team doesn’t need to memorize them. However, your key leaders do need to know what’s expected of them and the clearest way to do that is in writing.
  2. You must have a Weekly Action SnapShot (WacSnap) so you can keep regular tabs on the key areas of your business. Depending on your function on the team, this may be included in a weekly meeting with your key leaders.
  3. You need Key Performance Indicators for each leader. For example:
    1. Service leaders need to demonstrate a profitable service department with minimal call-backs and customer complaints.
    2. Marketing leaders need a target acquisition cost, marketing ROI, number of leads, and conversion rate.
    3. Sales leaders also need to know conversion rate along with average dollar sale and lifetime value of a customer.
    4. Finance leaders need to know cash on hand, cash in receivables, and pending payables at all times. She also needs a target goal for savings and capital available for upcoming large purchases.
  4. At least twice a year you need to conduct a 12 Questions survey with each leader.

What if a leader is going to make a bad decision?

Have you ever made a bad decision? Since you’re reading this, then you somehow managed to survive it. Most poor decisions will fall on that side of the coin – They’re survivable. Keep that in mind.

  1. Ask him (don’t tell him) why he thinks X will work out well.
  2. Ask him if he knows of anyone else who has implemented it successfully. If not, and you have a resource for him to talk to on this topic, then offer it. You don’t have to pretend to be the expert on every topic. It’s much better to have a list of resources available.
  3. Let him know you’ve tried something similar to that before and ask if he’d like a few ideas.
  4. Find out how he plans to measure if the idea is successful or not. Every idea should have a measurement for success and just defining that allows most people to see the flaws in their own ideas.
  5. If he still thinks it’s a good idea, no one is going to die, the business isn’t going to go under, and an account worth more than 5% of your gross sales doesn’t have a highly likely chance of getting lost, back off and let him implement the idea.
  6. Once he realizes he’s made a mistake (which will be obvious if you did step #4), ask him what went wrong. Again, don’t just tell him. If you ever want him to think critically and figure out how to catch mistakes before they’re ever made, you have to stop spoon-feeding him all the answers. 
  7. If the idea does work, congratulate him on a job well done! Now go celebrate because allowing a leader to do something you didn’t think would work and being proven wrong, just helped you take a giant leap towards growing your business without it depending solely on you.

Won’t that take more time than me just making all the decisions?

Yes. At first.

You can only physically make so many decisions so your growth will be limited. Additionally, your freedom and ability to take vacations will also be limited.

More importantly, the ability for your team managers to be fully engaged and satisfied with their work will also be very limited.

One last thought…

For some people, “unleashing” your managers is going to be a BIG change. You’re not quite ready for it and they don’t quite believe you’re serious.

So during this transition, when someone comes to you to ask a question, don’t assume she wants your opinion. Chances are she doesn’t. She just doesn’t fully believe the decision is in her own hands and still doesn’t want to do something you won’t like.

Before you answer her question, you need to ask directly, “Are you looking for my approval or my opinion? If you want my approval, you have it. If you want my opinion, I’ll only give it to you if you treat it for what it is. Ultimately, it’s up to you to make the best decision for your team.

More importantly, when you say that, you better mean it!

To your success in unleashing the talents within your leaders, Bryan

Take back your schedule, business, and life.

In that order.

For the first time in 2 years, I spent a few days in the last week onsite at other businesses doing some consulting and training. Since I’ve been working on my own business, I just hadn’t the time to put a lot of effort into helping others. After a few days of interfacing with some very successful small business owners, it intrigued me how interested they were in my own personal daily schedule…

A few months back I noticed sales were slipping and my stress level was rising rapidly. In those moments, when you finally realize that in the last 5 working days you got absolutely nothing of value accomplished, you really need to step back. Sit in your office with the door closed or take an extra long shower since you’ll have no interruptions and evaluate a few things:

  1. What is your role as the business owner/leader? Literally, what is your job description and are you following it? No job description? Make one!
  2. What can you do that would most benefit the company in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 5 years? Forget about what’s needed to get through today for a few minutes and focus on longer term. Unlike public companies, you don’t have next quarter’s earnings report to cloud your long-term judgement.
  3. Are you spending half of your time on marketing/sales (getting new customers) and half of your time on customer service/operations (taking care of existing customers)? Granted, your sales and marketing efforts should certainly include marketing to your existing customer base, but do not make the mistake of convincing yourself that that ONLY means dealing with current customer issues. Your sales/marketing efforts to existing customers mean up-selling, cross-selling, educating them on all the products and services you offer along with gathering referrals and testimonials.
  4. Does your schedule allow you to achieve 1-3? Obviously, this is where most business-owners, myself included, often get side-tracked.

So what can you do about it? The answer is simple, create a daily or weekly schedule.

Initially my daily schedule looked like the following:

8-9:30 review schedules, answer any questions for service and address any service issues
9:30-10 Review and Respond to emails
10:00-11:00 Customer Complaints, Personnel issues, Inventory checks, Office Questions
11:00-12:00 Service quotes, Business Accounting, Financial Reports, Daily reports,Taxes, Insurance etc.
12:00-1:00 Lunch
1:00-2:00 Improve Processes, Procedures, Checklists, Scripts, and Handbooks
2:00-3:00 Marketing
3:00-4:00 Sales and Customer Follow-ups, Office Questions
4:00-5:00 Payables, Billing Questions, Payroll, Emails, Etc.

However, after realizing that the “creative” processes of Sales and Marketing weren’t really as effective in only an hour time-slot I converted to a weekly schedule with 2-hour blocks for Sales and Marketing in the afternoon and my standard morning schedule. Personally, I define Marketing as everything my business does to get a prospect to contact us to solve a problem. Once the prospect has contacted us, they are now in my sales process/system. Everything from that point of contact, till we sit down with the new customer after our work is finished to make sure they’re happy and to gather referrals, is Sales.

Monday through Thursday I alternate between Sales and Marketing and Friday is a “flip” day where I choose which one will benefit the business more (or whether I need to just go for a motorcycle ride).

So now that you know what needs to be done, do you have any doubts that in 3, 6, or 12 months, let alone 5 years, your business and therefore you will ultimately benefit from such dedication to your job description as the business leader???

Businesses generally mimic their owners according to the 3 Leaders every business needs. If you’re sales oriented you’ll love that time spent working on sales and marketing. If you’re a more technical, hands-on guy, you’ll feel much more in your element taking care of the customer issues and making them happy. If you’re a numbers person, that time from 11-12 and 4-5 where you work on payables, reports, and other accounting needs will be right up your alley. That being the case, you have 2 options:

  1. Commit to taking care of all of these items yourself.
  2. Hire someone else to help you in the areas you aren’t good at or passionate about.

If you choose the first, my Recommended Reading section is a great place to learn about books that will help educate you on all of these areas.

If you choose the second, I’d read some of the books anyway so you know if the team member or consultant you’re working with really knows her stuff. There are plenty who do not. The first item I would outsource would be the accounting stuff.

My blog title obviously infers that just by setting your schedule you’ll now have a sense of control over your business and more importantly your life… The only proof I can offer for that is to try it. Force yourself to make it a priority to follow your schedule and you will be utterly amazed at how productive you can be.

To your scheduling success, Bryan

P.S. At our weekly Team Meeting I apologized to my team for not doing my job and let them know about my new schedule. I recommend you do the same so everyone knows things-are-a-changin.