The Self Improvement Mindset, How’s Yours?

Ah, Saturday a day of relaxation for some or a day of organized chaos for others. However for the forward thinking leaders, Saturday is another day of self improvement.

self improvementOne of my colleagues, Rick Gosser, has been on a  self improvement quest since he lost over 130 pounds.  Each day he runs and embraces the new daily opportunities.  By changing his mindset of improving himself, he now supports others who wish to improve their own physical health. In the process, he has more energy, a different attitude toward clients and colleagues. Life for him is much better and business has never been better.

Self improvement is a mindset because how we think motivates us.  We can turn this mindset into a talent as noted within the Innermetrix Attribute Index.

Over 2,000 years ago Buddha shared how our lives are like a wheel with six sections and when we are out of balance we fail to be as happy and productive as we could be.  Today some are aware of the Life Wheel, but from my experience more are not.

I have developed this eight(8) section Life Wheel:

  • Purpose
  • Mental
  • Family
  • Financial
  • Ethics & Beliefs (Spiritual)
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Career

When looking at this Life Wheel, Mental is directly across from Physical. I noticed when working with clients as well as in my own life that when I am not well physically my mental acuity suffers.  This counter balance happens within other areas of our lives and sometimes we may be intentionally off balance due to the some goals such as taking a new job.

Until we know where we are, it is far more difficult to have sustainable success regarding our own self improvement. Yes as in all aspects of our lives, we have a choice to continue to develop ourselves, improve our lives or to stay where we are. That choices starts with our mindset.

Download this PDF of  Personal-Professional-Wheels and determine exactly where you are.


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Sweat Equity Is the SMB Baby Boomers’ Barrier to Retirement

With the silver Tsunami (retiring of the Baby Boomers)  happening right now and the for the next decade plus, many of these Baby Boomers SMB owners have a significant retirement barrier.  When they realize the reality of this barrier, they may have two (2) choices:


  • Work longer than originally planned
  • Have less money for retirement

The barrier I am referring to is the belief that sweat equity is cash in the bank and makes a business more attractive. According to Peter Christman of The Christman Group, he has seen a significant value gap between sweat equity and actual business value.

Selling a small business starts the day the business opens. This is when all policies become documented; all procedures noted; and most importantly strategic planning is integrated into all aspects of the day to day operations.  Unfortunately, for 99.9% of those SMB owners this reality never hit their plates.

Exit planning is the tail end of leadership succession planning.  By developing the people especially those for the role of CEO, you make your company far more attractive.  This people development works in tandem with your overall strategic plan.

However since the majority of SMB lack a comprehensive, written strategic plan and operate more like Captain Wing It than Captain Focus It, no wonder so many small business owners are disappointed when it comes to selling their businesses.

Here are 3 additional realizations if you are considering selling your small business and retiring in the next 3 to 5 years.

  • Answering the question of how much is my business worth is a necessary one
  • Understanding how to convert your sweat equity into cold hard cash is a process and may require you investing some of your profits to be able to increase the business worth of your SMB
  • Recognizing the business worth of your firm and your sweat equity do not correlate is one reality that must be accepted

What you do not what to do is to wait to the last minute and find your retirement may just be extended for 3 to 5 years.

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Leadership Brains, How’s Yours?

Modern technology and ongoing medical advancements have us knowing far more about our brains as well as our minds than ever before. This knowledge is critical for those in leadership positions.  Not knowing how one’s brain works or the brain of others sets up existing and potential leaders for absolute failure.

LeadershipIn the book, Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home and School, should be required reading for all leaders and wanna be leaders.  This is a simple read with powerful research examples.

Several of these rules appeared to be directed more towards the business world.

Rule #12 is exploration and the author, John Medina, shared the example of Google’s 20% time for exploration (think creativity) and how that time has generated 50% of all new products.  The questions to ask yourself are:

  • How much time do you devote to creativity, to just exploring for the sake of exploration?
  • Is your mind open to pure wonderment?
  • Can you see the same landscape but with different eyes?

Rule #10 is great for businesses because so much of what takes place in the workplace is visual.Yet the desire to over communicate with words potentially negatively impacts effective communication. This is why we have coined the phrase “death by PowerPoint.”

Rule #3 addresses how all brains are wired differently.  Those in leadership roles who understand the basics of brain wiring can become more effective leaders. One exceptional takeaway from rule #3 of wiring can be applied to sales training and leadership development programs. Give much of the sales training and leadership development is based on past K-16 experiences, these experiences ignore how the brains actually functions and its unique wiring.  By understand all brains are different should be reflected in all learning engagements.  One size does not fit all.

Rule #1 is probably the best one for everyone. “Exercise is like candy to the brain.  When we are active, the direct results is a boost in brain power (think critical thinking). Additionally keeping people active reduces dementia and Alzheimer.

Reading books about leadership, about sales, about best small business practices are necessary.  Yet sometimes it makes sense to learn about human nature specific to our brains and how we can improve our results by that knowledge.

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And That Is Why They Call It Sales

One key difference between am average to even good salesperson and a great one centers around having an open mind.  In sales, it is that open mind that allows top sales performers to see abundance where others only see scarcity and end up with their heads in their hands.

A colleague who is selling is upper end priced home had a relator come in for an open house.  Upon looking at the kitchen counters, she immediately exclaimed “You don’t have granite. Granite is expected in homes in this price range.” He responded:


 ”You are right and that is why they call it sales.”

The realtor had a very perplex look on her face. He continued:

“”When  I built this home almost 20 years ago, I had two choices, granite or Corian, both selections were priced equally.  Given I do a lot of food preparation, I wanted a sanitary surface. Unless granite is consistently maintained with sealing and polishing, food particles can become embedded in the surface creating the possibility of contamination to actual food poisoning such as salmonella. Corian is a non-porous material and ideal for safe food preparation. So for me the choice was obvious unless you prefer food poisoning?”

The realtor sat in stunned silence because she was not aware of the advantages of Corian over granite. Her mind became immediately closed when she did not see granite counter tops.

The question to ask yourself right now if you are in salesis:

How many times have I had a closed mind and

missed sales opportunities?

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Virtuoso Part 20

If selling is an art, then being a virtuoso would potentially reflect the highest sales leadership mindset. This external temperament reflect a neutral bias in all three dimensions of thought:


This last external temperament of virtuoso suggests these individuals have achieved what is considered to be a “dynamic balance in all dimensions of thought.”  (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Consider for a moment someone in a sales leadership role who has exceptional focus by being able to be:

  • “Free of bias”
  • “Adaptable”
  • “Versatile”

Better yet, those with this temperament are open to new things,  new ideas.  In other words, they see with new eyes and do not necessarily seek new landscapes.

Would you like one of these individuals to be in your sales team if not one of your top sales performers?

By having a neutrality in all three dimensions of thought, these individuals have a “heightened sense” of self awareness (Source Innermetrix Attribute Index).

As one might imagine, this sales leadership temperament of virtuoso is rare because human beings have biases.  Learning how to unlearn those biases is possible and does happen over time. Of course one never knows one’s temperament until having it assessed through this talent assessment by Innermetrix.

P.S. For the next 20 weeks, each Tuesday beginning 7/30/2014 will examine one of the internal leadership temperaments.

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Marketing Misers Make Misery

“They tend to be misers when it comes to marketing.” Thus began an email from an executive coaching client who has been on a new job for less than 30 days. The marketing manager told her “we have enough Twitter followers,” “the website is just fine” and “we don’t need a blog.”

marketingIn actually, the website has an Alexa worldwide ranking of over 7,000,000, Twitter followers are under 150 and as to the blog, nothing could be further from the truth.

My executive coaching client was hired to jump start sales and she has already secured several meetings.  However, the marketing manger, aka the miser or Uncle Scrooge, is making her job even more difficult.

The perspective held by this miser is one I have heard frequently by many small business owners to entrepreneurs to even SMB executives.  Being cheap with marketing is a consistent behavior held by many executives. Yet the truth is unless people know about you and your firm, your SMB will remain pocket poor.

Marketing is the first step in any sales process.  If any business cannot attract attention and begin to build relationships, how will that business arrive to that next step of selling? Yet what is the first action that executives take when things are slow, “cut” or “we cannot afford” marketing.

Sales leads do not fall from the sky. Fortunately for my client and through our year old executive coaching relationship, she has learned how to market (aka prospecting) through LinkedIn and this has been instrumental in securing new appointments.

The use of social media and having s SEO website are critical in today’s marketplace and even more so for B2B. However, this does take time and an investment of some dollars. Yet this is time and money well invested because social media has the capacity to be the gift that keeps on giving especially when it comes to content marketing (blogs).

When analyzing the research, potential customers are seeking new content and gravitate towards those who provide fresh, relevant content. This new behavior has become part of the buying decision according to Nielsen. Hence,  to believe a blog is not necessary is definitely old school and will harm the bottom line.

If your SMB wants to increase sales leads, strengthen customer loyalty and become even more productive for all the efforts being expended especially by your sales team, then determine if you are being a marketing miser. Invest some time to identify where you need to focus your attracting efforts. And if you do not believe me, then maybe noted social media expert, Chris Brogan, may have you thinking differently:

“No matter what, the very first piece of social media real estate I’d start with is a blog.”


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What Inspires You to Do What You Are?

In the movie, Along Came a Spider, Morgan Freeman shared this  statement “You do what you are.”

By understanding the profoundness of these five words, results in this simple question of:

“What inspires you to do what you are?”

To be able to answer this question does suggest you know your talents or gifts. It also implies your focus is not just on you, but on others.

Over a year ago I updated my core foundational statement of purpose, vision, mission and values along with my company’s core foundational statements.  I realized these three words were essential to me and to my executive coaching and talent management practice:

Just Be Valuable

These three words continue to inspire me while simultaneously keeping me grounded in my faith. Whether it is holding the door open for someone, to sending off an article to a colleague or to just sharing some time with a family member or colleague, all of these small actions allow me to stay true to my talents and positive core values.

What I have discovered is talents, in many cases, are also positive core values. By living my values, I am using consistently using my talents.

So what inspires you to do what you are?




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Real Leaders Remember Those Along the Way

How many times do people “suddenly make it” in the business world and then forget those who helped them? I see this more often than not.

real-leadersThese individuals who have made it now are viewed as leaders, as business experts or gurus by the general public.  Yet, are they really real leaders or just taking advantage of the generosity of those along the way? Common sense tells us very few people suddenly make it.

No one reaches the role of a recognized leader by himself or herself. Somewhere along the way these individuals received direct or even indirect assistance from others. The failure to stay in touch, to support those who supported them is a testimony to their real core value of “It is all about ME.” (ME = Massive Ego)

Real leaders stay in touch with those who have helped them. Granted time being a finite resource possibly not as much as before. However time does not become an excuse to compromise their positive core values and business ethics.

Yet as these leaders have expanded their influence and wealth, they can afford to hire people to take care of some of their day to day activities.  This delegation allows these “new” real leaders to reconnect with those along with way through phone calls, personal handwritten notes to even some social media support.

If you have not reached out and reconnected with someone who helped you along the way, then maybe you may wish to consider taking that action. Eventually, your leadership behaviors will be noticed by others and remember being busy is just an excuse that reveals your true self.

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Time for Small Business Mindset Flip

How many times have you heard small business owners discussing the cost verb?

  • “I cannot do this because it costs way too much”
  • “Money doesn’t grow on trees, this will cost me a fortune”

small-business-mindsetThen there is the all too common small business mindset about how “employees are costing me.” I cannot count the number of times I have heard that one.

This cost verb implies there is no return on the money being exchanged.  These dollars are being washed down the profit drain, day after day to the angst of the small business owner.

What would happen if that cost verb was flipped to the invest verb? For example, “Let’s invest in our people so they can do their jobs better and hence increase profits.”  Or, “If we invest in the right marketing solutions for our small business, we will continue to receive strong sales leads.”

The cost verb is a mindset of scarcity while the invest verb reflects a mindset of abundance.

When the small business mindset is flipped from cost to one of abundance, what has happened is the small business owner is seeing with new eyes and not seeking new landscapes.  The  landscape (the marketplace) has not changed. This flipping of the mindset is not easy because old habits, conditioned behaviors can quickly reappear and once again this small business mindset of cost is driving the all business decisions and therefore all  behaviors.

Additionally, this scarcity mentality creates starvation in the small business because the small business owners are seeking quick fix solutions which result in more costs instead of seeking long term investments. These quick fix solutions suck the oxygen as well as the profits out of small businesses. In many instances, because there is no long term strategic plan, the future is the next 24 hours not the next three to five years.

If you are a small business owner ask yourself “Do I think in terms of cost or in terms of investment?” Be honest with yourself because not being honest may indeed cost you far more than you realize.

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Leadership, Experts and the 7″ Answer

Have you ever received inspiration from a colleague during a regular conversation? Earlier this week in speaking with Karin Bellantoni, she made a great observation about leadership and many of the experts on social media. Her observation was about the plethora of “7″ answers by these “experts” on LinkedIn.

leadershipWhat prompted this comment was a discussion about leadership because of an article I had just submitted for NBiz, a business journal for the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio markets. This article began with these two questions:

Have you ever thought with all those experts out there in the business world, why do companies still have problems?  Another way to ask this question is why do so many experts fail when they come into organizations with their next generation, usually high priced solutions?

Both of us as leaders believe in being succinct when responding to social media because we do not believe in providing over the top answers.   If one cannot provide a quick, short answer, then this suggests a possible problem,  a hidden agenda or a massive ego (ME). Also this may be an indication of the type of solutions provided by this expert.

Our conversation continued with agreement that some on LinkedIn who are viewed as experts, leaders in their respective fields or think they are believe they must share a significant portion of their knowledge. They also believe others are just dying to read their pontifications. Unfortunately all of this sharing results in 7″ answers that are thinly disguised back door sales pitches.

There are times and places to have extensive discussions. Effective leaders know when these time are.

During this conversation, we both agreed proven leaders present solutions including answers on LinkedIn discussions and other social media sites that are fairly simple and yet still thorough. These leaders understand complexity, the 7″ answers, will grow on their own and do not require additional encouragement from leadership.

Possibly the next time you respond to a LinkedIn discussion, consider shortening your response and remember Shakespeare’s observation:

“Brevity is the soul of wit.”

Today that may be translated as:

“Brevity is the soul of leadership.”

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Leanne Hoagland-Smith
cited by Get Base CRM as one of the top 50 Sales Pros to follow on Twitter.

Sherpa in its 2014 Executive Coaching Survey cited Worldwide Coaching Magazine as one of the Top 3 publications for executive coaches. Leanne Hoagland-Smith has been a contributing author since its inception in Jan. 2013.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith included among the Top 25 Sales Influencers by Open View Sales Lab.

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