Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

VIDEO BLOG:

Culture is a blend of attitude, beliefs, mission, philosophy and momentum. As a result, culture helps to create and sustain a successful brand. The way people interact with one another and the overall growth of your company is affected by culture. What creates organizational culture? Culture is key in an organization for long-term success. It is the most important thing in an organization and it applies at all levels, from the top of the organization all the way down.  Rules, regulations, and operating standards are important, of course, because you have to have systems in place to guide activities. But culture is the factor that stands above all others.

The factors that go into building the organizational culture and will make your company successful are…

  1. TRADITIONS AND CORE VALUES
  2. VISION
  3. ENGAGEMENT

Please watch my video to learn more about these factors and share your comments below.

Hold that Door! Ivan’s 5 Rules for an Elevator Pitch

I used to hate the expression: “Elevator Pitch” − it just drove me crazy. But everybody is using it all over the world, so I now give up − I’m going to go with it!

id-10074213The expression developed from the idea of literally being in an elevator with only one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that your elevator pitch is not a sales pitch . . . it is a creative and succinct way to share who you are and what you do that generates interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are Ivan’s 5 rules for an engaging Elevator Pitch:

 

1) Don’t do your pitch in an elevator! The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the real world. And, although you must practice it carefully to be able to present it cohesively and professionally, you also need to be natural. You want to rehearse not sounding rehearsed, if you know what I mean. I’m sure you’ve all seen people who, when they do theirs, you can almost envision them as being back in that elevator: you just press a button, and they are off! You want to avoid sounding staged and canned.

2) K.I.S.S. Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time allotted. It will either be too much information or be too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener’s attention, engage them with your creativity, and create interest in your product or services.

3) Remember your USP? I’ve written about this before. Your Unique Selling Proposition can serve well in your Elevator Pitch. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to compare a bland, general statement such as “I’m a coach and consultant” to saying instead “I help people work less, make more, and create referrals for life.”  This is short, powerful, and informative − the perfect combination for an effective Elevator Pitch.

4) When crafting your Elevator Pitch, consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit from your product or service. My good friend, Andy Bounds, calls this the “Afters.” For your Elevator Pitch, this could be something as simple as, “I help people [                 ].” You fill in the blank: increase their sales by 33%, improve their closing ratio to 80%, or double the number of new clients they take on per month, whatever your “After” may be.

5) Pass the eyebrow test. Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Tongue Fu and Pop!, writes about the eyebrow test. If what you say in your Elevator Pitch causes your listener’s eyebrows to go up, you’ve got ’em! By doing this, you literally will leave the listener wanting more, and that’s precisely what you want your Elevator Pitch to do.

Keeping these 5 rules in mind when you create your Elevator Pitch will set you apart from the crowd. It’s time to press “Doors Open” and step on out of the elevator. Enjoy!

Sometimes, the Best Addition is Subtraction

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

Let’s say you’re in a networking group and you have hit a plateau. You can remember a time when your group was on fire, when you all had passion and excitement and you couldn’t get to your meeting fast enough. Now, you all seem to have lost steam, and things just aren’t what they used to be. The referrals aren’t being generated, the 1-2-1’s are happening, and the group seems to groan a little every time the meeting begins. You want to regain the passion and help your network grow, but how?

Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

If you want to add value to your group, you need to take away the things–or people–that are making it dysfunctional. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want your network to grow, you may have to cut it back.

Introducing Garage to Global

Garage to Global

What does it take to start a home-based business and turn it into a global organization?  I am sharing the many lessons I’ve learned to do just that.

In 1985, I started a small business from my home in Southern California.  Today, BNI has ovBNI Member Growth Through 2014er 7,400 locations in more than 65 countries around the world (see the member growth chart to the right).

From business networking to management, scaling a business, and surrounding yourself with good people, I will be sharing with you the secrets for building a global brand.

Go here and subscribe to my new Garage to Global Channel (part of the Entrepreneur Network) on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/garagetoglobal.

Share with me below what you think it takes to go from “garage to global” (but don’t forget to subscribe to my new channel. 🙂

The Top 7 Things I’ve Learned from 30 Years of Heading the World’s Largest Business Networking Organization

BNI-30-Year-Logo

BNI’s Official 30th Anniversary Commemorative Logo

30 years ago this past Thursday, I put together about 20 people in a small coffee shop in Arcadia, California for the very first meeting of BNI® (Business Network International).  The organization was run from a small bedroom which was converted into an office inside my house in La Verne, California.

The House Where BNI® Began

The House Where BNI® Began

I am humbled by the fact that today the organization has over 7,000 chapters in 60 countries with over 170,000 members world-wide.  In addition, we have over 30 BNI staff at HQ and more than 3,000 BNI Directors and Director Consultants working for the organization!

I don’t believe any of the two dozen or so people who were present at that first meeting fully realized that this was the beginning of something amazing. 

That realization came to me almost a year later between Christmas and New Years as I looked back in amazement at having opened up 20 groups during the year.  At this point I recognized I had struck a chord within the business community.  We don’t teach networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world, and business people are hungry for referrals. They simply had no viable way to generate them regularly back in 1985.  It was during that week that I sat down and put together the outline for a plan that has evolved into what BNI is today.

I was recently asked by a BNI Director what the secret to this growth was.  I’ve taken some time to write down some of the key factors I think contributed to our success as my answer to his question.  These are factors you won’t find in most business books, and they weren’t taught to me in graduate school.  But I think they were critical to our success in this organization and they may be relevant factors to you, too.

BNI's Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

BNI’s Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

Lessons I Learned in Developing BNI:

  1. Set Goals. I know – everyone says “set goals,” but let me give you a slight variation to this concept.  I recommend you set three levels of goals.  By setting goals in this manner, you give yourself some flexibility in where you want to go over the next year (or years).
    1. High – set a goal that is a stretch. This is one that will be very difficult to reach, but it is definitely possible.
    2. Target – set a goal that you are confident you can reach. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely possible.
    3. Low – set a goal that if everything goes wrong, you are still confident you can reach this.
  2. Reverse engineer your goals. At each level above – where do you want to be at the end of twelve months from now?  That number would be 100% of your annual goal.  Now reverse that.  At nine months you should be at 75% of that goal.  At six months, you should be at 50% of that goal.  At three months, you should be at 25% of that goal.  Check your progress every month.  Stay on track.
  3. Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times! I think one of the big mistakes businesses make is that they jump from one bright shiny object to another. For me, success has come by being like a “dog with a bone!”  I have taken techniques that I’ve seen work, and then I’ve done them over and over and over and over.  Six things, a thousand times.
  4. Create a larger vision. It’s never too early or too late to create a larger vision.  Create something that is a unifying concept for you, your employees, and possibly even your clients – something that resonates with people and creates a long-term vision for the company.  For BNI this began with our philosophy of “Givers Gain.”  It has been inculcated throughout the organization and has been the guiding force of our referral-marketing program.  It led to our vision statement of “Changing the Way the World Does Business” which is all about businesses collaborating and cooperating through our philosophy.
  5. Maintain personal engagement. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to be personally engaged in every aspect of the business.  That means you must make choices.  However, you must continue to be personally engaged as much as possible.  Technology has enabled me to stay engaged with members and directors (through my visitations, video messages, this newsletter, my blog, the BNI Podcast, our social media, and BNI Connect, to name a few). Nothing replaces personal engagement.  The more you remain engaged, the more your vision can thrive.
  6. Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice. One thing I’ve learned over the last 30 years is that I can teach people “how” to do something (including network).  I can’t teach them to have a good attitude, and I don’t have time to send them back to Mom to get retrained.  The only thing better than “ignorance on fire” is “knowledge on fire.”  If I can take someone who is on fire and teach that person how to succeed, our organization becomes unstoppable.
  7. Do what you love, and you’ll love what you do. As a business person, you are either working in your flame or working in your wax.  When you are in your flame, you are on fire.  You are excited and energized.  When you are working in your wax, you are drained and fatigued.   As a company grows, it is easy to get caught up doing more and more in your wax.  Find out what your flame is, and then do your best to work more in that flame.  Find people whose flame is your wax and put them in the roles you no longer love doing.  This will free you up to work in your flame.

I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or observations that you might have about the BNI organization whether you’re a member of the organization or not and I’d also really like to hear any key lessons or tips for success which you’ve learned through your own experience in the world of business.  Please share your thoughts, etc. in the comment forum below–thanks!  

 

 

 

 

 

Promote from Within

In this video, I explain how it can benefit both business owners and employees when business owners promote existing employees from within the company whenever possible as opposed to hiring outside individuals to fill higher positions.

In almost 30 years of running my international networking organization, BNI®, I have largely taken the approach of hiring new employees to fill lower level positions and then promoting them over time to higher and higher positions. To exemplify how this has proven beneficial, I tell the story of an employee I hired over twenty years ago as a receptionist who is now the third highest ranking executive in my company.

I firmly believe that actively looking for opportunities to promote people from within a company not only increases morale within the entire company, it also motivates employees to grow their skills and experience and perform at an increasingly high level.

What is your opinion on promoting from within a company as opposed to hiring from the outside whenever possible?  Do you have a story about an employee or employees you have promoted who have proved to be irreplaceable assets to your business?  I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Coaching Skills

Are Your Coaching Skills Lacking?

In this video, I talk  to Dave Buck, the owner of Coachville, about the importance of coaching skills for entrepreneurs.

Any successful entrepreneur can tell you that success depends on the quality of the results produced by the people on your team; and the best way to get better results from the people on your team is to coach them.

Watch the video now to find out what Dave thinks is one of the key skills for entrepreneurs to have when coaching their team and, also, how you can participate in an entire program to become a really powerful and effective coach.

Do you have any coaching tactics or strategies that you’ve found to be particularly effective in coaching your team/employees?  If so, I’d really love to hear them.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks so much!

To find out more about Dave and Coachville, please visit: www.Coachville.com.

Brian Tracy on Eating Frogs & the ABCs of Time Management

I woke up today feeling strongly inclined to share this video featuring my good friend Brian Tracy.  Why?  Well . . .

I’m currently in Croatia meeting with my company’s Executive Management Team for a week and “busy” doesn’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling right now.  Just yesterday, one of my employees made a helpful suggestion that saved me a little bit of time and got a side project off my plate and I said to her, “Thank you so much–you have no idea how much I appreciate that suggestion because with everything going on I feel like I’m drinking water from a fire hose!”

It got me thinking about how unbelievably busy we can all get at times and how it can feel almost completely overwhelming–like we’re never going to be able to come up for air, so to speak.  The fact is, time management is often one of the biggest challenges faced by business professionals across the globe and our ability to effectively manage our time can very easily be the single deciding factor between success and failure.  

That’s why I want to share this short video with you.  In it, Brian explains a simple time management strategy that I really believe can be life changing for a lot of people.  It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in, if you apply Brian’s strategy, I guarantee you will see an amazing boost in your productivity.  I can’t promise you won’t still feel a little overwhelmed at times but I can say with confidence that using his strategy has at least helped me keep my sanity (which is something I’d like to hold onto for as long as possible, hard as it may seem sometimes 😉 ) and get more done than I previously imagined was possible.

So, what do you think of Brian’s strategy?  Do you have any of your own strategies for time management which you’ve found to be particularly effective?  I’d love to hear from you so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

EatThatFrog

For more information on Brian Tracy, please visit: www.BrianTracy.com

With All Due Respect for the Mayans . . .

With all due respect to the Mayans, 🙂 it appears that we need to give some thought to our plans for 2013.

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries.  Getting away to the mountains is something I’ve done for almost two decades.  It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision I have have for my business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The end of the year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business.  Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for next year.

It’s also good to include some personal goals in your planning.  Some of the business and personal goals I set for next year include:

  1. Regular dates with my wife.
  2. Several mid-week visits to our Lake House
  3. Several business/personal trips this year.
  4. Turn business trips into more fun trips.
  5. Complete at least one new book.
  6. Refinance a commercial property.
  7. Review a strategic plan regarding one of my businesses.
  8.  Continue to support charitable causes.
  9.  Work more “on” the business and less “in” the business.

What goals do you have for 2013?  Also, do you take a little time off at the end of the year to think about it?  Share your ideas here.

Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”

Stewart Emery (Success Built to Last) was over my house a few months ago.  At breakfast one morning he told me about an interview he did with a well-known billionaire in the computer industry.  The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he’d had when the senior executives of a company interested in purchasing his company visited his office to discuss the possible purchase.

Stewart Emery

 

At lunch, the billionaire told the senior executives of the company he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the Executive Dining Room.  They followed him to the dining room which was very nice but not extravagant.  But that wasn’t the big surprise.  The surprise was that the dining room had a buffet line.  Moreover, the billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray, and stood in line behind everyone else.  The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that this room was not an “executive dining room” but was the company dining room.  The boss stood there in line with all the employees.  He spoke to everyone.   No one was afraid to talk to him.  In my opinion, he didn’t lead by being above them; he led by being among them.  Stewart told me that the billionaire said the management team was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with all the employees.  One of them commented that this would have to change.  For the boss, it was a test.  This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to.  The negotiation ended that day.

Companies have a choice.  They can move toward exclusivity in their organizational culture or they can strive, commit, honor, and embrace inclusivity in their organizational culture.

Sometimes when people meet me, they say that they are surprised that I am approachable.   I find that interesting.  I think they feel this way because sometimes we, as leaders, act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable.  We act “better than” to other people.  I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable.  The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation (with both the organizational leaders and others).  One of the key things to embrace in a successful company is the sense that the boss, the owner, the senior executive(s) are, in fact, approachable.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Please feel free to share any relevant stories and experiences you may have.

The Profit Puzzle of Business

I recently had several business associates ask me about finding a good model for a business plan that they can use for their franchise.

Being able to market your business is, to a large extent, based on understanding your business.  Understanding your business begins by creating a plan.  One of the best models I’ve seen is one that I have used and recommended for years.  It’s called the “Profit Puzzle.”  It was developed by a good friend of mine – Don Osborne.

Below are the key categories (or puzzle pieces) that Don uses in his system.  If you need, or want, to produce a business plan for your business.  I recommend you check out www.ProfitPuzzle.com.  Just remember – once you have a structure for your plan – it requires that you commit a fair amount of time and effort to actually complete the plan (the plan doesn’t complete itself!).  You have to do the hard work to think about what goes into each part of the puzzle.

Check out Don’s  categories below.  They are very thorough.

Year-End is Time for Vision Making

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision you have for your business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The new year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business. Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for 2012.

This is what I did back in the mid 1980’s when I had some time to reflect on this little networking enterprise that I started, called BNI.  It was during one of these year-end retreats that I created an organization chart for my company as part of my 5 year plan.  At the time, I had two part-time employees.  However, I created an organization chart with 15 different boxes on it.  I put my name in about 11 or 12 of the boxes for the areas I was responsible for and I put my part-timer’s names in the boxes for the areas they were responsible for.

Over the next 5 years, I scratched my name out of each box and put someone else’s name in that box as I hired someone to handle that area.  It was a great exercise that helped me achieve my goals over the next 5 years and it came from one of my year-end retreats.  Clearing your mind and thinking about your the future of your business can be a very good thing this time of year.  Even if you only have a couple days – get away and do some vision making.

If you use this time of year to think about your goals for the future, tell me what you do here in my blog.

Have a great New Year!

Ivan

 

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