Strategy Archives - Page 10 of 10 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Facts Tell, But Stories Sell

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted blogs on how embracing quality, adding members, and seeking engagement are all things that will help networkers and entire networking groups achieve success.  Today, I’d like to talk about an additional tactic for obtaining stellar networking results–sharing stories.

Listening closely to the information shared by those in your referral network will help you in telling positive stories about them when you come across potential opportunities to refer them.  Conducting regular one-to-one meetings with each of your networking partners will also help you become more able to share stories when you refer others to them.  Think about your many positive experiences with your fellow networkers and write them down.

A number of years ago, I met Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion, and he taught me the formula for a good story:

  1. A story is a fact
  2. Wrapped in emotion
  3. That compels us to take action
  4. That transforms us in some way

The key here is that a good story compels people to take action and that this action transforms or helps them in some way.  I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story.  Make it sound fresh and alive.  That is an important aspect of storytelling.

Remember that facts tell, but stories sell.  If you want to build your network in order to generate more referrals, overlay storytelling on top of your efforts.

The keys to success within networking groups which I’ve previously posted blogs about (embracing quality, adding members, seeking engagement) can combine with sharing stories for a powerful formula that will help members of networking groups obtain optimum networking results and business growth:

3+1 = Member Success

  • 1-Embrace Quality
  • 2-Add Members
  • 3-Seek Engagement
  • +1 Share Stories

Understanding this formula can improve your business networking success in amazing ways. 

If your networking group already employs this formula, I’d love to hear about the impact it has made on your group’s performance and results.  Please share your feedback (and stories) in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking in Rural Areas–Does It Produce Results?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in Sweden on business and my wife Beth and I had the truly unique and memorable experience of staying at the Ice Hotel®.  The owner of hotel happens to be a member of BNI®, the global networking organization I started back in 1985, and during my time there I had the opportunity to not only spend time with some of the members of the nearby BNI chapters,  but also to record this short video with Gunnar Selheden (National Director for BNI Scandinavia).

In this video, Gunnar and I discuss networking in rural areas and small towns in relation to the fact that the success of your business has much less to do with the size of the city in which your business is located and much more to do with the quality of the relationships you develop throughout your networking efforts.  Being that the Ice Hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a tiny little town 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, it was a very fitting place to film a video on this topic.

Are you a member of a networking group in a rural area or a small town?  If so, what has your experience been as far as getting results from your efforts within that group?  Do you find that your participation in the group has had a significant impact on the success of your business or not?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

 

The 2 Key Factors of Success

In this video, I talk about the two factors that I firmly believe are what make people successful in any situation–hard work and good choices.  The truth is, you can’t achieve success without both of these things.

People talk all the time about the necessity of hard work when it comes to success and though they’re one hundred percent correct about the importance of hard work, I’ve seen people work hard for decades and still not achieve the results they want because they consistently undermine themselves by making bad choices.

Think about one of your more important goals–are the choices you’ve been making surrounding that goal consistently contributing toward achievement of that goal?  There’s no better time than now to make a list of the choices you’ve been making in relation to your goals, examine the list, and decide how you can make better choices toward your goals moving forward.

Are there additional factors which you believe have helped you or someone you know to achieve success in aspects of life and business?  I’m always eager to hear new ideas and learn from others’ experiences and I know many of the people who read this blog share this desire to learn so please offer your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

What Wind Sprints Taught Me about the Fundamentals of Success

I learned an important lesson about the fundamentals of success while playing football many years ago.  We had a fairly good team my junior year of high school and most of the players on the team were juniors.  The following year the team had mostly seniors, and we had some pretty high expectations for the season.  A situation like this can make one over-confident, and that’s exactly how we were at the beginning of my senior year.

When the season started, we experienced that brutal rite of passage for all football teams known as “Hell Week.”  It’s called Hell Week for very good reason; the conditioning that a team is put through is pure hell.  The team does very little other than drills and exercises.  I’m talking about isometric exercises, wind sprints (short-distance sprints as fast as you can possibly run), hitting bags, tackling dummies, running in place and hitting the ground on command, more wind sprints, running up and down stadium steps, hitting the sled (while the most overweight coaches known to man are standing on them yelling at you) . . . and, did I mention wind sprints?  Lots and LOTS of wind sprints!

We were doing so many drills, we never even saw a football (except when they were thrown at the backsides of some of the slower players)!  We knew we were going to be a good team, and we felt we didn’t need to go through all this nonsense.  We wanted to play ball–not run around the field, hit bags, and do wind sprints!  So, we formed a little rebellion.  We decided to pull our coach aside after practice and tell him, “Coach, we don’t want to do wind sprints anymore–we want to play ball!”

From my experience, coaches generally have two answers for anything they don’t like.  The first is “NO!” and the second is, “What part of NO don’t you understand?”

Imagine our surprise when he said, “Okay, I’ll make you a deal, if you get here an hour early tomorrow morning for a little bus ride, I’ll let you drop the conditioning program.”

It took us all of about two seconds to say, “Road trip and no wind sprints?–We’re there, Coach!”  We were there early, and rode a bus with the coach to Cal State University Fullerton.  At that time, the university stadium was one of the practice fields for the Los Angeles Rams.  When we realized we were going to see a Rams’ practice, we were beyond excited!  We were in awe.  It’s one thing to be in a football stadium looking down at the field.  But it’s something completely different to  be on the field, looking up.  Even though it was the same size field as the one back home, it felt gigantic!  If that wasn’t enough, the Rams began to come onto the field.

If you’ve never seen professional football players up close and personal, let me tell you–these men are huge.  When they’re suited up, they are absolutely gigantic!  Imagine a door frame with a football helmet–these guys were frightening to stand next to.  We watched as our heroes stepped onto the field.  We watched in total awe as they lumbered out onto the grass and, for the next two hours . . . did wind sprints!  Yes, that’s right–wind sprints.  They were out there tackling dummies, hitting bags, running in place, attacking the sled (they had their really overweight coaches on the top yelling at them)–and did I mention wind sprints? Lots and LOTS of wind sprints!  The truly amazing thing was, they were not only doing the same conditioning exercises we did, they were doing them in the exact same order were did them in.

When we returned to our own campus, the coach took us out and put us in a big semi-circle in the parking lot.  Here, this football coach from this fairly small, lower-middle class high school said to us:

“Boys, it doesn’t matter if you’re talking about Pop Warner Football, high school football, college football, professional football, or life.  If you do not learn to execute the fundamentals flawlessly, you will never be a champion on or off the field.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about football, school, or work.  When you leave this school and go on to college, you must learn the fundamentals and do the drills that will make you successful in your continuing education.  When you go on to your professions and careers, you will see that there are fundamentals that you must learn in order to be a champion in that profession.  Only those of you who are willing to develop the physical and mental conditioning necessary to execute these fundamentals will ever succeed.  This is something you must choose.  I can’t choose it for you.”

It took about 10 seconds for the entire team of 39 young men, including me, to enthusiastically choose to do–you guessed it–wind sprints.

We had a great season.  But, more importantly, we learned an incredible life lesson.  Success comes to those who execute the fundamentals flawlessly.  It comes to those who work hard on the “right things.”  It comes to those who drill and learn and drill some more.  It comes to those of us who, day in and day out, are willing to do the wind sprints necessary to succeed.

Are there fundamentals in your business which you need to work on in order to execute them flawlessly?  There’s no better time (and no more necessary time!) than now to start doing the necessary “wind sprints” that will ensure lasting success for you and your business.  Take it a step further by holding yourself accountable–leave a comment below outlining what business fundamentals you’re going to work on this week and tell us how you you’re going to work toward flawless execution of those specific fundamentals.

Training Referral Sources to Generate Referrals for You

If you interact with your clients, customers, referral sources, and contacts with a referral mind-set, show them that you are a giver, help others, and continually and strategically give referrals, you’re modeling the behavior you want others to exhibit toward you.  By itself, however, that’s not enough to train them to give you referrals.

Contacts who are not involved in your strong-contact network may not be aware of what is involved  in the kind of true referral networking that you are conducting.  Often you will have to coach them as you go, letting them know exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what they may expect from your efforts.

Let’s say you’ve heard about a colleague whose stolen credit cards have been used to run up some big charges: “Stephanie, I’ve been talking with a colleague about your identity-theft problem and have arranged for him to send you a number of internet links that will help you quickly straighten out your credit problems.  I also know a lawyer who specializes in this field.  Would you like for me to contact him for you?  I hope you’ll keep me updated on your progress, and let me know if there’s any other way I can help.”

Similarly, if you’re passing a referral to an untrained but potentially valuable referral partner, let him know exactly what you’re doing and suggest ways he can reciprocate: “Jim, I know a specialist who provides the exact services you say you need.  I’ve known him for fifteen years and have used him many times.  He’s good, and he’s trustworthy.  May I ask him to call you?  And by the way, if you know a general contractor who constructs steel-frame buildings in the Valley and can use the new kind of fasteners I sell, would you please consider giving me a referral?”

By talking openly about what you’re doing, you’re not only modeling the behavior you want from your potential referral partner, you’re getting him to think about it, which is an essential part of learning.  You’re also asking him to practice it in a way that will help him repeat the behavior later.  It’s not a guarantee that he will reciprocate, but it makes it more likely that he will get the idea and respond in kind–at first, out of simple gratitude; later, out of the realization that a continuing referral relationship is good business for both of you.

One of the best ways to train a referral source is to go to a professional referral-training seminar and take your source with you.  This way, you will both be trained by an expert and will be speaking the same language–the language of referrals.

If you have an additional tactic for training referral sources to generate referrals for you, I’d love to hear it.  Please share it in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Keeping the “Fun” in the Fundamentals

When it comes to business, having fun is something that’s almost never talked about–it’s almost like people think fun and business are two completely unrelated, and mutually exclusive things.  However, I don’t share that opinion at all.  I definitely think it’s important to have fun in business; in fact, over time I’ve learned that having fun is something businesses and networking groups alike need to do in order to truly enjoy lasting success.

In this video, I talk about how important it is to keep the “fun” in the fundamentals.  To sum it up, if you don’t have fun, it’s easy to lose track of why you are where you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing–it’s easy to lose your excitement.  Once you lose your excitement for something, your passion for it is gone and it’s very hard to be successful at anything if you’re not passionate about it.  This is why it’s so important to have a good time in whatever you’re doing–business, networking, or otherwise.

After watching the video, please share some of the ways you (when it comes to your business and/or networking) or your networking group (when it comes to your networking meetings) keep the fun in the fundamentals.  In the spirit of fun, I’ll review all the comments next Friday (3/29) and I’ll send a surprise gift to the ten people whose tactics for keeping the fun in the fundamentals were the most striking, impressive, and creative.  Thanks and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Who’s In Your Room? – A Personal Story

A few years ago my company was in the midst of one of the largest projects in the history of our organization.  The project involved many people—it was very complex and financially challenging.  It was also in trouble.  I needed to select a key player for the project team.  The man I chose had incredibly strong technical skills.  He was very qualified for the project and was the perfect person to help turn this around . . . or so I thought.  I knew he came with a lot of baggage.  He didn’t always play well with others, he would fly off the handle emotionally when talking to people and, worst of all, he brought an immense amount of drama to the workplace.  On the other hand he was highly qualified for the work. Based on those qualifications, I hired him as manager. I suspected there would be problems with the drama and the outbursts – however, I felt I could coach him and guide him through this.

It turns out I was wrong.  Monumentally wrong. 

Despite his incredible technical skills, his behavior more than offset his technical strengths.  The project went from problematic to horrific within a year.  It was way over budget, well behind schedule, and not nearly the quality that I expected.   Around this time, one of the project team members told me that the best thing the project manager could do for a meeting was to call in sick!  The team member said when the manager was not there they got a lot more done.

Right about that time, I attended a presentation that Stewart Emery did where he talked about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”.  I walked out of that presentation and decided right then and there that this project leader should have never been in my room.  I also realized that getting him out of the room was going to be very difficult.  Why?  Because he kept everything close to the vest.  Most of the people in the project didn’t understand or know many of the aspects of the work, because this project leader didn’t collaborate or share information freely.  I understood that removing him from the room was going to be difficult and painful.  But I was clear on the reality that it had to be done.

It ended up taking months to lay the ground work with everyone on the team by me personally engaging them in pieces of the project they needed to know but weren’t privy to with this manager.  I had to drop many of my normal responsibilities and devote an immense amount of time to this process.  I promoted some people and moved others around.  When all was ready, I made the move and let go of the project leader.  There was an immediate and palpable change in the project.  Today it has made incredible strides, and it is becoming exactly the product that I was hoping for and it is something I am proud of as an entrepreneur.

The lesson I learned in this very expensive and very stressful process was this: be very selective about who you let in your room.  Don’t allow people in just because of their technical skills.  I want a work environment that is a “drama-free” zone and I pick people for my organization who I want in my room.  I now try to select qualified people who fit the organizational culture of collaboration, people who share information and knowledge and people who don’t bring to the process an Emmy Award winning soap opera of behaviors.

Have you experienced this phenomenon?  If so, please tell us about it in the comment forum below and, also, please share any thoughts you have on Stewart’s Who’s in Your Room concept. Thanks!

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

Strategy is often talked about in business schools, in fact it’s a primary focus.  Culture however, is less understood.  Culture involves a variety of contributing factors including a blend of attitudes, beliefs, mission, philosophy, and momentum that help to create and sustain a successful brand.  It represents the vision, norms, symbols, beliefs, behaviors, and traditions that are taught to new members of an organization.  Organizational culture affects the way people within an organization interact with one another and the people they serve.

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.

There are many factors that go into building an organizational culture.  Each successful company has a different combination of factors that makes their culture successful.  Here are a few that I think are particularly important.

1. Traditions

Traditions help make a company what it is.  They tell the world who they are as an organization.  One way for an organization to maintain and develop its organizational culture and ethos is to introduce and celebrate a variety of traditions.  Disney in particular has been a master of this concept by training all new employees on the traditions of the organization.  Strong traditions that are applied throughout an organization are one of the best ways to maintain a healthy organizational culture.

2. Mission

A burning mission can give laser focus to an organization.  The mission statement needs to be short and memorable. Most importantly, it needs to be a rallying cry for people throughout the organization.  One thing I’ve learned in running a business for almost thirty years is that “ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.”  Getting employees and clients excited about the mission is critical to organizational success.  If the average employee can’t recite your mission – it’s too long. 

3. Engagement

Collaboration encourages engagement.  Get all levels of an organization involved.  In BNI, the global referral network I founded almost 30 years ago, we have focused on getting a high level of engagement at all levels of the company.  This engagement includes a Franchise Advisory Board made up of key franchisees to address organizational challenges, a Founder’s Circle of stake holders to provide direct feedback to management about issues concerning the organization, a Board of Advisors made up exclusively of clients to ensure engagement regarding policies that effect the organization globally, an Executive Council made up of the largest seven master franchisees within the organization, as well as a number of other entities to help ensure full participation at all levels of the organization.  Engagement can be messy, but when done correctly, it encourages a collaborative culture.

4. Recognition

Many years ago, Ken Blanchard got it right in The One Minute Manager.  He said, “catch people doing something right” and recognize them publicly.  Praise in public and re-direct in private.  No truer words have ever been spoken when it comes to building a healthy organizational culture.   Recognize and celebrate successes.  As Blanchard says, if you can’t catch people doing something right – then catch them doing something ‘partially right’ and recognize that.

5. Education

Immerse and engage in a culture of learning.  The more a company can integrate ongoing learning into the organizational ethos, the more likely that company is to stay nimble and prepared for change.  Educating the organization regarding the culture of the company is particularly important to fuel and maintain a great culture.  A great strategy keeps you in the game, however, a great culture helps you win.  Especially important are the traditions and mission of the company. These things need to be part of the ongoing education of all new and existing employees.

Culture is a critical key to organizational success. It is one of the most important things in a company and it applies to all levels, from the top of the organization all the way down. The challenge with culture is that it is illusive.  The best and most scalable culture is one that is managed and maintained by the majority and not by a single policing body or by management alone.

Companies that dominate an industry for a long period of time do so because of a shared vision of organizational culture that is effectively implemented throughout the company.  That shared implementation of the vision is an important key to building a successful organizational culture.  If all the people in an organization row in the same direction in unison, that organization can dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.

Implementing a strong organizational strategy can be difficult however, implementing a healthy organizational culture is rare and in my opinion when all is said and done; culture, eats strategy for breakfast any day.

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