Business Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Business Travel

Business Travel Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

Today’s entrepreneur will spend time traveling for business meetings, trade shows, or industry conventions.  Business Travel has become a key part of the job description. Here are some tips for a successful business trip.

Things to do before business travel:

  1. Research your destination:  Look up online the general layout of the area plus the local culture, lifestyle, and customs. Read the local news and be informed regarding any events that could cause delays during your trip.
  2. Exchange Currency: You can get better rates by ordering foreign currency from your local bank or credit union a week before leaving. Research the visa requirements as some counties have a minimum currency requirement to enter their country.  It is the “zloty” in Poland.
  3. Passport: Allow plenty of time before your trip to apply for a passport; processing normally takes 4 to 6 weeks (3 weeks for expedited service). All visitors to Poland are required to hold a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of entry into the country.
  4. Visa: Passport holders from the U.S., Canada, and Australia can enter Poland without a visa and stay for 90 days. Passport holders from EU member countries, including the U.K., do not need a visa. Make sure to carry the minimum currency requirement to enter their country.
  5. Medical Requirements: There are no unusual health concerns for visiting Poland, and visitors are not required to get any special inoculations or show medical documents to enter the country. However, getting your annual flu shot is always a good idea when traveling abroad.
  6. Cellphones: Contact your service provider to sign up for an international travel plan that will allow for international roaming. Polish cellphones operate on a GSM band of 900/1800MHz. This is the same standard in use throughout Europe but different from the one used in the United States. U.S. mobiles will work here, provided they are tri-band phones (not all phones are tri-band) Keep calls to a minimum, however, since roaming charges can be steep.
  7. Weather. The weather forecast (as of 10/27/19) for Warsaw Poland for November 3-10 is for cloudy skies with temperatures ranging from 1°C to 11°C/ 34°F to 52°  F

Remember to pack these for business travel…

Please read my blog article, “My Must-Remember Items When Packing for a Business Trip“, published last year on my website with a list of items to pack that can certainly come in handy on a business trip. There are certainly more items to include, but these can certainly make or break an important business trip. So you definitely do not want to forget them. Here are some additional items to remember.

  1. Laptop Computer: Besides checking your email while abroad, your laptop will allow you to upload photos from your camera. Plus you can share photos and stories from your trip on your social media pages.
  2. Phone battery power bank. It is amazing how much power banks cost at an airport. Bring a power bank that will allow you to recharge your phone remotely when electricity is not available.
  3. Power adapter/converter. Wall outlets in the Republic of Poland are Type C (CEE 7/16 Europlug) and Type E (CEE 7/5 Schuko) and supply electricity at 230 volts AC / 50 Hz frequency.
  4. Batteries:  Bring a spare package of AA and AAA batteries for your devices.
  5. Energy Bars: Pack a box of protein meal bars to give you a boost of energy and when feeling hungry. Those attending from the USA will be experiencing a 6-9 hour time zone difference. Therefore, Sleep and mealtime schedules will need to be adjusted. Plus hydrate as much as possible.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, Bob and I have accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel. It is also important to know the role that cultural differences play in global networking and how understanding those differences becomes very important as we do business around the world.

 

Elevator Pitch

Seven Rules for an Elevator Pitch

I used to hate the expression “elevator pitch.” It just drove me crazy. But now that everybody’s using it all over the world, I officially give up and am going to go with it. The metaphor developed out of the hypothetical that you are literally in an elevator with 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 this is not a sales pitch; it is a creative and succinct way to generate interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are my seven rules for creating an engaging elevator pitch:

Don’t do your elevator pitch in an actual elevator.

An unsolicited pitch in an elevator is basically face-to-face cold calling. I’ve been a victim. Don’t be a perpetrator. Unless someone asks what you do, just say “good day” to them. The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the right environment.

Make it tight.  

It needs to be short. This is a quick pitch, not a reading from War and Peace. Your pitch should be more like a work of art than a science project. It should be succinct and expressive, something you practice carefully and present cohesively and professionally. You also need to be natural. You want to rehearse, but not sound rehearsed, and avoid sounding staged and canned.

K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time you have. It will either be too much information (breaking rule number two) or 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 service.

Don’t use jargon.

If at any point someone has to say, “What does that mean?” you have officially lost them. Push the button for the next floor and exit now. (I know, you’re not really on an elevator, but you have really lost them.)

Share your USP.

A USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to alter a bland, general statement such as, “I’m a coach and consultant” to something like, “I help people work less, make more and create referrals for life” instead. This is short, powerful and informative, i.e. the perfect combination for part of an effective elevator pitch.

Consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit.

My friend, communications expert Andy Bounds, calls this “the afters.” For your elevator pitch, this could be something as simple as, “I help people increase their sales by 33 percent, improve their closing ratio to 80 percent or double the number of new clients they take on per month.” In other words, focus on the “after” effect of the product or service you provide.

Pass the eyebrow test.

Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Someday is Not a Day of the Week, writes about the “eyebrow test.” If what you say in your elevator pitch causes the listener’s eyebrows to go up, you’ve got ’em! You’ve left the listener wanting more, and that’s precisely what you want to accomplish. On the other hand, if the listener’s eyebrows scrunch down, you’ve just confused them. Find a new pitch.

Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an elevator pitch will set you apart from the crowd. Now it’s time to press “Open Door.”

Disruption

Lead the Disruption or Become Disrupted

In my lifetime there have been many companies that have been crushed by disruption. The irony is that they could have actually led the disruption. The fact that they were crushed by other companies was because they chose not to lead. They chose to either ignore it or fear it. And leading with fear is a bad strategy. These three businesses are prime examples of what not to do.

Sears

Sears was once America’s largest retailer. They began as a mail order catalog company using the postal service to deliver virtually anything, to anyone, almost anywhere, and it dominated its competition for many, many decades.  Sears was Amazon more than 100 years before Amazon.

In its day, Sears was the 800-pound gorilla that could, and did, decimate smaller retailers.  Unfortunately, Sears was so entrenched in their brick and mortar stores that when the world-wide web was introduced in 1991, they did not have the foresight to lead the way and make the transition.

In fact, just the opposite happened.  Their reaction was to actually shut down their catalog two years later in 1993.  Amazon.com was founded the very next year in 1994.

Kodak

A friend of mine who retired from Kodak many years ago told me that he felt there were few corporate blunders as staggering as Kodak’s decision to ignore the digital camera market. This is especially true since Kodak invented the digital camera in 1973, and it went on to be issued a patent for digital cameras in 1978.

Why, then, would the company that invented the digital camera not pursue this incredible opportunity? The answer, to them, was obvious. They did not want to interfere with their highly lucrative film processing business, and they did not believe that people would be interested in looking at photos on a computer. Wrong on both counts.

Blockbuster

When the winds of change swept through the video industry, Blockbuster was more of a brick than a weather vane.

In 2000, Netflix approached Blockbuster with a request for Blockbuster to buy them out for roughly $50 million dollars. Blockbuster turned them down more than once.

Jim Keyes, the CEO of Blockbuster said in 2008: “Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.” By the time Blockbuster saw the success of the new Netflix model, they made several attempts to copy it.  However, they were too late.

Today, Blockbuster is bankrupt, and Netflix is worth over $100 billion.

I hate change. I really do.

People like the comfort and contentment that comes with a successful status quo. The problem is that a successful status quo is the present, built upon a strong past. Unfortunately, the present is not etched in stone for the future. Whether I like it or not — the future involves change, and the change is, by nature, disruptive.

Social scientists refer to this as the “threshold model of collective behavior.” For decades I have called this “concept recognition model.” When I was young, people didn’t think they needed answering machines — until enough people thought they did, and then they were everywhere, used by virtually everyone.  Later, people didn’t see the need, nor the value, for fax machines. Until enough people did — and then everyone had one.

In the 90’s I met many people that had no intention of ever using email.  Now, I can count on one hand the number of people I know who don’t have an email address — and they are all over 70.

Before people adopt a new concept, early adopters embrace the new process or equipment.  Later the resistant population joins in, and, under the right conditions, there is a viral cascade of change. Changing the world is always disruptive.

The only thing I hate more than change is failure.

Failure is what happens when you’re left in the dust when the change crushes our “present.” Today, more than ever, we need to choose to change before we are forced to change. By the time a business is forced to change, it is probably too late.

In today’s changing world, we will either manage the status quo which will eventually result in failure, or we can lead the disruption which is likely to lead to the reinvention of our business, and potentially the industry as a whole. So you must decide: be disrupted, or be the disruption.  I vote to be the disruption.

Brigadier General

What a Brigadier General Taught Me About Business

When I was a young man just starting my doctoral degree at USC, I had the opportunity to study under a retired Brigadier General from the army. In retrospect, he was one of the best professors that I had during my tenure. In that course, he told me a story that has stayed with me for many decades.

The General told me this story in the early 1980’s. He said that when he was a young first lieutenant (which was decades before that) he was stationed in Britain. As a lieutenent, he was tasked to do a “time and motion study” of a British artillery division. My professor went to the unit and carefully watched as the men prepared to fire the guns. He said he watched as they prepared the weapons to fire. When they were ready, one man marched confidently to the left and stood at attention with his hands behind his back and nodded to the artillery men. They then, proceeded to fire the guns.

The general (then a lieutenant), asked the man why he marched to the left and stood at attention before they fired the weapons? The soldier told him that was the way he was trained to do the procedure. The lieutenant asked the soldier who trained him. The soldier replied that the sergeant trained him. Consequently, the lieutenant went to the sergeant and asked him why he trained the men to march to the left and hold their hands behind their back before they motioned for the weapons to be fired? The sergeant replied that the master sergeant had trained him to do it that way. So, the lieutenant went to the master sergeant and asked him why he trained the sergeants to train the men to fire the weapons that way. The master sergeant said “that’s the way we’ve always done it in this man’s army sir.” He had no further insight as to why it was done that way.

The leaky bucket…

So, my professor (then a lieutenant), went off to produce his report regarding the process. One evening he decided to take a break and went to a local pub frequented by many military personnel. While there, he found himself sitting next to a very elderly retired sergeant major from the army.

Now you have to understand that I met the retired general in the early 1980’s and he spoke to this sergeant major when he was a very young first lieutenant. He said this retired soldier was involved in the military back in the old “cavalry” days.

My professor told the retired soldier that he was very perplexed by this artillery process and he asked him if he had any idea why the men would march to the left and hold their hands behind their back. When my professor asked his question, the old sergeant major said, “why lad… they’re holding the horses of course.”

The general, now my professor, said that it had been decades since the military had to hold the horses before the men fired the guns. Yet, there were still men holding these non-existent horses! He also had another great story about communication.

Steve Farber

Steve Farber says “Love is Good Business”

Fellow Transformational Leadership Council member and friend, Steve Farber, talks to me about focusing on finding love in business. Steve is one of the best speaker’s I’ve seen on the stage.  His message is both surprising and impactful. When we were in Cancun together last week, he talked to me about love being a part of your every day mantra as a business owner.

It’s true. Love is just damn good business. Here’s the logic:

1. You have a massive competitive advantage when your customers love your product or service.

2. The only way to create that experience for customers in a meaningful and sustainable way over time is to create an environment or culture that people love working in.

3. You can’t create that kind of culture unless you love your business, your team, your colleagues, your employees, your customers, yourself, first.

4. Employees will model how they are treated by their leaders.

Love being part of our every day business

Businesses that promote love and celebrate love still need profits to keep their doors open, but they understand the powerful connection between loving what you do in the service of people who love what you do. It builds strong relationships, trust, loyalty, and the commitment that allows a business to not only make money but make a difference. Love being part of our every day business is no more complicated than the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.

Steve Farber, founder of The Extreme Leadership Institute, is a popular keynote speaker and leadership expert. Steve’s been featured on my blog before. He’s the bestselling author of The Radical Leap, The Radical Edge, and Greater Than Yourself. Learn more about Steve on his website at stevefarber.com

Think of this the next time you order a pizza. It’s a great example of “love is just damn good business” in action. 

My First Business

My First Business, a personal story

Beth and I own a property management company (this would be a good story to share someday). We’re in Galveston setting up a new property for lease. Therefore, we were walking through a Home Depot to get what we needed to make the property ready to lease. We were walking by these house numbers and out of the blue, she started this video about my first business.

As a 14-year-old, I started my first company to help a neighbor sell his stick-on house numbers he manufactured. I took over his sales of reflective numbers and I hired a sales team. However, I did so well, I made him tired and he consequently went out of business

Please watch this video about how I eventually launched my entrepreneur spirit by the numbers.

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!

Your Business is Not an Ugly Baby

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Wow, your baby sure is ugly!” If they’re smart, probably never.

How about this one? “Your clothing, marketing message and overall business image are not referable?” Ouch.

We occasionally think this about people we meet, but will rarely say it out loud. Which is why you are responsible for making sure your business, your “baby”, is in the right condition for receiving referrals.

I’ve seen thousands of people join networking groups and focus heavily on building their network but forget to take a good, hard look in the mirror, both at your self and image and your businesses. I’m challenging you to make an honest appraisal of yourself and your business and ask, “Am I worthy of business referrals?” If you’re not sure how to start, here are five ways to get you going.

 Five ways to help you examine your personal brand.

1. Define your Emotional Charged Connection (ECC): If you are asked seven times this week, “What do you do for a living?” do you respond with seven different answers? Your marketing message should be clear, concise and consistent; it should also tug at the heart strings a bit and have some ECC. This combination will leave a lasting impression and, most importantly, give others a clear way of explaining your message to others.

2. Walk your talk. Do what you say in less time than promised. Be on time for meetings, don’t check your phone while others are talking to you–and follow up with everyone and everything.

3. Dress for success: If you’re a mechanic and you wear a three piece suit to a business meeting, one might assume you’ve just come from court. Whatever people in your profession typically wear–uniform, polo shirt and khakis, suit and tie, dress and heels–just be sure to wear it well. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe, but make sure what you wear is clean, wrinkle-free and tucked in. You want to look sharp, because your first impression when you walk into a meeting is a lasting one. If you’re messy or too casual, people might assume you have the same attitude about your business. board man

4. Be self-aware: Eighty percent of someone’s perception of you are based on your nonverbal cues, including eye contact, facial expressions and mannerisms. Ask someone you trust to simulate a meeting or pitch with you and have them point out what they think is working–and what’s not.

5. Keep your social media presence professional: It’s vital to remember that your professional image exists on and offline. That’s not say you can share a funny joke or have fun on social media, but be aware that people are judging you by your online behavior. Two of every three posts should be about something personal, but don’t make controversial statements or divulge every intimate detail about your life. In this digital age, if you are what you say, you are also what you post.

Your baby is not ugly, it’s beautiful. Your business image is not ugly, it’s also beautiful and worthy of referrals. But nothing else will matter unless our personal brand and referability are in order. After all, we are our biggest advertisement.

The Path to Business Leadership

If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, you know how challenging it can be to find the path towards leadership that works for you. With all the information available to us online, leadership styles are a dime a dozen and no one has the time or resources to try every style. Getting back to the basics is important, and understanding how those basics can improve your business is even more vital. Being a leader doesn’t have to be complicated! You’ve heard of the KISS acronym, right? Keep It Simple…well, it’s not the nicest acronym, so I won’t finish. But you know where I’m going.

If you find yourself wondering how to become a leader in business, follow these four steps:

1. Focus on solutions, not problems

2. Collaborate with your team

3. Be a culture champion

4. Care about the success of others–REALLY care!

Finally, leadership is about accomplishing more than people thought possible. In your business, what are your wildest dreams? What’s your ultimate goal? Never lose that idea and constantly be working towards it.

Watch the video below to hear more about the four steps towards becoming a business leader, and leave me a comment on what YOU think makes a leader.

 

love

Why Steve Farber Believes in Love (in Business)

The notion of love is too touchy-feely for many of us, especially when it comes to business.

But my friend and fellow Transformational Leadership Council Member, Steve Farber, doesn’t think so. Steve is one of the most renowned leadership speakers in the industry. When we were in Napa Valley together last week, he talked to me about making love a part of your every day mantra as a business owner.

“If the customer loves you, you can blow up their building and they’ll say ‘Eh–accidents happen,'” Steve said (OK, so that might be a bit extreme. But you get what he’s trying to say.)

Steve goes on to say that it’s more than just the forgiveness factor that makes it worth having a loving relationship with your customers.

“Love is what leads to customer loyalty,” he said. “it’s what leads to word-of-mouth and growing your organization.”

I think this advice is spot on. If your customer relationships are held in as high regard as the service you provide, you can only benefit. Customers want to love you-they want to trust and believe in you, which are foundational building blocks of love. Focus on building those blocks with the goal of creating loving, loyal customer relationships, and you’ll create a strong reputation that will hold up in the business community.

 

 

 

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