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Execution and Continuous Learning

Our lives, both business and personal are driven by performance.  We all want to do our best at whatever task is in front of us, whether this is your business, family, school, or any other of life’s challenges.  Ask any business owner and they will tell their biggest challenge is finding star performers, who execute flawlessly and consistently.  But how do stars performers become standouts and how do they maintain/exceed peak performance?  The answer lies in continuous learning and practice.  Making time to examine past results and practice skill are the foundation of effective and exceptional execution.  Think about great athletes. Michael Phelps did not just jump in the pool and win gold medals.  He spent countless hours in focused training.  In...

Breaking Down Operational Optimization to Maximize Value Creation

Team rowing or crew, requires a group of people to work in unison to go the fastest in the most efficient manner possible.  If only one member is out of rhythm then the team will lose.  It is the old proverb, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”.  In business we aspire to win in terms of growth and profitability, but if sales and operational effectiveness are not working in unison it will erode the value of your enterprise.  On the surface this insight is incredibly obvious, but in the “heat of battle” (especially with small and mid-sized companies) the balance between the need to generate sales and the ability to meet demand often get out of sync.  This disconnect creates a drain on capital, internal dissention, and the...

When your greatest strengths get in the way

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.  There are certain personality characteristics that are requisite to starting your own successful business. But how you apply these traits is also key in determining if you grow a “sellable”  and sustainable business or just own a profitable job. Research has shown the top five characteristics exhibited by successful entrepreneurs are: Passion and Vision Comfortable with Risk Comfortable with Ambiguity Resilience Strong Sense of Self All are critical to getting a business off the ground. Each trait is required to drive an enterprise forward especially when it is just starting out, but they are also some of the traps entrepreneurs fall into as their businesses grow. Each characteristic (with the...

Perseverance, Relevance and the Chicago Cubs

Coming from a die-hard Cardinals fan, congratulating the Cubbies is not an easy thing to do.  But the Cubs provide a great lesson for entrepreneurs. The Chicago Cubs have been the lovable losers for 108 years before finally bringing home that championship.  Talk about perseverance.  But in all those years of “dashed hopes”, both the Wrigley Company and the Chicago Tribune built one of the most successful, profitable and enduring franchises in all of major league baseball. They certainly did not do it with winning.  They never had great teams.  Some of the teams were competitive, but in all those 108 long years most were not.  None the less, the Cubs consistently drew large crowds, high television ratings and a large share of the MLB...

Failure: The Foundation of Innovation and Success

Does our strong aversion to failure lead to higher business risk, and a greater probability a project or venture will fail? Eliminating failure and all risk is impossible. While risk mitigation and eliminating failure are certainly reasonable and necessary aspirations, how do you balance the need to grow and innovate with the inevitability that failure will occur along the way? How can we better use failure to innovate like, Edison, Disney and Jobs did? What systems and processes do you have in place to identify, understand and address failure in your organization? The real question is not how to eliminate failure, rather how do you use failure to spark innovation and minimize risk in your business? In most cases, it is not the failure that stymies the...

The Myth of Change Management

Change is a constant.  It is a paradox we live with, but the notion that you can manage or control change is a fallacy.  This does not mean we are a slave to change, having to accept whatever outcome arrives.  Rather we dance with change, an exchange of actions and reactions, both internally and externally driven. Success and the beautify of this dance comes from being able to synchronize those movements. We live in this sea change – constantly adjusting in order to attain our objectives.  The things we can control (our own actions) we do.  But so much of making any change is beyond our immediate control.  We can influence, we do not control.  Employees need to execute plans, and customers need to accept and embrace new directions.  Those are...

Building Value: The 5 Keys for Achieving Success

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"This quick, thorough read is designed to help any sized owner or entrepreneur improve their business and its chances for survival in today’s tough economy." – Dr. Benjamin Ola Akande, Dean of George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology at Webster University"