Archive for December, 2014

May 2015 Be Filled with Peace, Abundance and Gratitude

Tomorrow is the beginning of another New Year. Today the current year, 2014, ends. If the past is any indicator of the present, quite a few business, sales and leadership experts will be writing about:

peace abundance

  • 2014 review of achievements, business, professional or personal
  • 2014 review of missed business opportunities
  • 2015 New Year’s resolutions or goals
  • 2015 business trends
  • 2015 opportunities

In today’s business world the only constants are time and change along with possibly the predictability of human behavior. Other than those two plus elements, we as small business leaders to sales leaders have the power to accomplish incredible success.

peace, abundanceToday’s posting is not about your results for 2014 or your goals for 2015. There are, as noted earlier, plenty of other writers, executive coaches and business experts writing about those topics.

No today, I would like to share these three wishes:

 

A Wish of Peace

peace abundanceMay you to have a New Year filled with peace because with peace:

 

  • We are not as stressed
  • We are not as worried about what is happening around us
  • We have an internal calm that allows us to see into and beyond the current chaos

A Wish of Abundance

From peace, we have the opportunity for greater abundance including:

peace abundance

  • Relationships because people are drawn to our calmness
  • Reflection from reflection we can understand how to maintain our peace
  • Opportunities  where we gather the abundance from our relationships and reflection

A Wish of Gratitude

Abundance no matter the quantity presents to us the opportunity to be grateful and to share that gratitude with other. This sharing of gratitude renews the capacity for:

peace abundance

  • Peace
  • Abundance
  • Even more gratitude

Again, may 2015 for you and yours be filled with peace, abundance and gratitude.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

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Sales Leadership Temperament of Flexible Part 39

This sales leadership temperament of flexible is another one I have yet to encounter. Actually in reviewing the hundreds of Attribute Index Profiles I have delivered, no one thus far has demonstrated this specific internal temperament. Those who have this temperament exhibit the following:

sales-leadership

With the neutral self-esteem, these individuals are:

  • Easy going
  • Flexible

Additionally, they “accept themselves for who they are” and have a clear sense of their own abilities. Even though these folks are “pretty comfortable” with themselves in general, they will seek and choose roles to enhance their self-esteem. (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Having a neutral role awareness suggests, those with this sales leadership temperament are good at what they do.    (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

As with other sales leadership temperaments, the negative self direction indicates some confusion about the future and doubt “as to the best way to proceed or which direction to go in the future.”  This confusion may also create challenges specific to sticking to schedules and making deadlines.  (Source: Innermetrix Attribute Index)

Possibly the reason for not encountering anyone with this temperament is because of the neutrality expressed within two of the three dimensions. Having one neutral basis even though preferred is not common less along having two neutral biases.

If you want to make 2015 even better than 2014, then have 100% clarity as to:

  • What you do well (your talents, all 78 of them)
  • How you make decisions (externally and internally)
  • Your temperament (externally and internally)

The Innermetrix Attribute Index is a proven talent assessment that will give your clarity and begin to build a stronger foundation as to your own talents and strengths.  Note:  A special savings of over $100 until 1/31/2015. New opportunities presented monthly.

 

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Senior Citizens Are Our Inspiration to Do Better, to Be Better

Yesterday morning our Pastor reminded the congregation about senior citizens and how they inspire us. He also shared here in the USA many have lost that inspiration because our senior citizens are left in nursing homes and other facilities.

senior-citizensFortunately, I was blessed as was my husband’s family to keep our grandparents nearby as well as our elderly parents until they passed on.  My Swedish grandfather worked until he passed on in his early 70’s and his wife, my grandmother, lived independently for another 10 years.  I had the opportunity to spend considerable time with her as a child for which I am indeed blessed. She has been a constant source of inspiration to me even 40 plus year later.

My mother’s mother lived to 103 and she lived independently until her early 90’s. Then she lived with my mother, her daughter.

As to my husband’s family, his surviving grandmother (his father’s mother) spent the summers with his family and returned to enjoy the warmer winters.  His own mother and sister both who had serious illnesses were cared for by his sisters and home.

We both remember the stories of our grandparents and how they forged their lives. Their insight to the struggles of making new homes in the wildernesses of North Dakota and northern Wisconsin provided us with the appreciation of both hard work and the unity of the family.

From my Swedish grandmother, I learned many of her sayings that kept her positive even though she had a very rough life. She was a true visionary and leader. From her vision of living in America, she crafted her own immigration plan that involved her brother.  This was a 20 year plan in the making and she was so appreciative by the opportunities in America.

My mother’s mother worked until her late 70’s for a heart doctor in Chicago who appreciated her dedication to his patients. She truly was an inspiration to having a high work ethic and a strong family commitment.

Upon reflection, I realize how my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles all inspired me to be a better person. They all continued their education by reading and doing. My one great Aunt who lived to her late 70’s was still canning the best grape jelly I have ever tasted and making fresh home made egg noodles.

Our senior citizens provide us with knowledge and transmit the cultural norms. They are the rocks of our foundation.  Without having them sharing and being present, we lose far too much.

Early this month, I saw how this interaction between generations happens when we had the opportunity to visit our first grandchild. Watching my husband share his parental behaviors from changing diapers to feeding and then singing a German lullaby (he heard as a child), I once again realized the significance of senior citizens.

Then listening to the friends of our son who were so inspired by my husband’s DVDs, I was  truly appreciative of the insight the elderly provide the next generation or the next two generations.  They too were appreciative and brought gifts just for him. I learned most of them did not have strong father role models. This was another reason they “looked up” to him and were also inspired by his experiences and knowledge.

Yes, senior citizens are our inspiration to be better and to do better. For without them, we would not truly appreciate the past or look forward to the future. They have made our lives easier by their efforts.  We owe it to the next generation to keep them near and to be a part of our lives right now.

Please feel free to share how your grandparents, parents, the senior citizens in your life have inspired you.

 

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How Starting Over Is Simply Insanity

With the year coming to a close, some are looking to this common and shared belief of “starting over.”  Self improvement experts to life coaches and others are writing articles directed to just starting over. What happens is when people embrace this behavior, they are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  This behavior is the epitome of insanity because it sets people up to a conditioned response of “just start over.”

starting-overThe last year had some if not a lot of good experiences. Why ignore all that good by starting over?

Does that really make sense?

Instead maybe it may make sense to take inventory of all the good, the not so good and where improvement is necessary.

Right now take a fresh sheet of paper and draw 4 columns.  Label them in this order from left to right.

  1. Accomplishments
  2. Almost accomplishments
  3. Missed accomplishments
  4. Importance to me, Ranked 1 to 5 with 1 being most important

Accomplishments

Almost Accomplishments

Missed Accomplishments

Importance to Me Ranked 1 to 5 with 1 being most important

Earned small business journalist of the year for Northwest IN #1 – Recognized by business intelligence and local to international influence
Bank Sales Training #2 – Future income
Second book was not written #3 – Other projects became more important

Your sheet of paper may look like the one above where I have filled in the boxes for my own results.

After you have completed this reflective, self improvement task which may take several days and may fill up several sheets of paper (depending upon how serious you are), are you willing to throw all those accomplishments or almost accomplishments out the window?  Many of those results are building blocks for the forthcoming year. By starting over you have potentially ignored those building blocks and may work much harder to achieve what you want.

From my own experiences and after working with my executive coaching clients, the absence of clarity is why so many eagerly embrace this insane behavior of starting over. The above exercise is one that brings clarity to where you are right now.

So before you throw the baby out with the bath, take some time to reflect, acknowledge all that went well and then put together a self improvement personal growth action plan to go forward along with WAY SMART Goals.  Be one of the few and not one of the many who enjoy the insanity of starting over.

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Is Your Small Business Online Presence Your Achilles’ Heel?

Yesterday I received a LinkedIn invite from a second degree connection who said she was a social media and online business consultant. Since her LinkedIn profile summary only shared her experience as a nurse, I clicked on her website link. To my surprise,  I received a message that her blog’s URL had expired 8 days ago. Needless to say I declined her LinkedIn invitation.

small-business-online-presenceToday, any small business (defined by under 20 employees) must have a viable online presence.  The reason is 60% of the buying decision is made online (Source:  Hubspot). If your small business online presence does not reflect what you do or how your solutions (products or services) can help the buyer, then you are potentially losing many new business opportunities.

With so many small businesses with an online presence, your small business truly must Be the Red Jacket in a Sea of gray suits.  You must stand out and be found.

Of course that means you have invested considerable time in your strategic action plan and have WAY SMART goals both for marketing and sales. These goals are based upon your market research.

Unfortunately the challenge for many small businesses is they hire marketing and advertising firms or social media consultants who take their money and provide little to nothing results. Their ignorance has made many others rich.

Then there is the underlying belief in the “quick and easy” way to online small business success. A sustainable small business online presence takes time and happens over a course of several years.  This may be part of the reason some small businesses gravitate to those hyped ads about increase followers, signups overnight.

Yes you can buy a small business online presence through ads offered by Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. For some companies they have worked. Yet for many of my small business coaching clients, they have been a profit drain.

Recommendations for a Sustainable Small Business Online Presence

Step #1 – LinkedIn

small-business-online-presenceLinkedIn is the first step for those engaged in B2B sales. Make sure you have:

  • A compelling headline
  • An emotionally engaging summary that tells the rest of the story
  • Skills that support your solutions and experience
  • Recommendations from clients
  • Slideshare files
  • All contact information is current including websites
  • Submit well written and informative articles (content marketing) to LinkedIn pulse

Then engage in groups and post updates at least two to three times per week. Employ an education based marketing approach where you educate your potential clients and do not “pitch” to them.

Step #2 – A Blog 

small-business-online-presence

Your blog is your small business online presence and “de facto” salesperson. Here you can reach thousands of potential clients as well as centers of influence. Again, return to your education based marketing plan and seek to educate and share your experiences. This blog happened because of one of my personal experiences. Remember, people buy from people they know and trust. Let your readers get to know you and begin to trust you.

Step #3 – Build Multiple Communities to Share Your Small Business Online Presence

When you build communities within the social media worlds, you have expanded your influence and reach. These communities have like minded individuals with differences of opinion. What is shared is high business ethics and a commitment to supporting each other.

small-business-online-presenceFor example, one of my communities include over 30 sales consultants, sales coaches and business consultants. One of my tweets can potentially reach over 250,000 Twitter followers. Using an automation tool such as Twitterfeed allows me to post their tweets automatically saving me lots of time.

Now Is the Time to Take Action

Marketing research continues to confirm that having a viable small business online presence is essential to sustainable business growth. With the increase in smart devices, more and more potential customers are viewing your website, blog, online presence through such mobile devices. Do not wait another month or a year to make your small business known through social media and other Internet sites. The longer you wait will only have you further behind the flow of missed sales opportunities.

 

 

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Abundance Mentality Lives Within Your Spirit

Today for many is the apex of the Christmas spirit. Gifts are being unwrapped; many are attending church and for a short while an abundance mentality covers the land. Then time and the busyness of life resume. Within a month, this abundance mentality fads away only to resurface in eleven or so months.

abundance-mentalityYet this fading away is not the case for some.  These individuals realize there is more to having this attitude or belief. For them, their hearts and their hands also recognize the importance of  feeling and doing with a mindset of abundance instead of one of scarcity.

Possibly for some Christians, they understand the importance of feeling and doing. Their spiritual leader, Jesus Christ, was one individual who embraced abundance and action as demonstrated in this quote from Luke 12:48:

“For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”

Paul the Apostle also wrote of the power of abundance in his epistle to the Ephesians 3:20:

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

In the old Testament, abundance appears many times and goes again beyond having just a mentality. In Deuteronomy 28:12, we read:

“The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands.”

abundance-mentalityWhen we unite our heads with our hearts and hands, abundance is a natural result.  By thinking, feeling and doing we can have an abundance mentality for 365 days and not just for 30 or 45.

Maybe in the future we may wish to consider having an abundance spirit that unites our heads, our hearts and our hands instead of an abundance mentality.  Possibly, then we could live in greater peace with even more abundance?

Merry Christmas and the blessings of the season to you and yours,

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

 

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The Enigma of Self-Improvement

Boy I would be rich if I had a penny every time I heard someone say “Sure I would like to learn this or that, but I have no time, no money (filled in the excuse).” The desire for self-improvement for most is present and yet the failure to change one’s behavior is also just as present. Hence self-improvement remains truly an enigma because it is puzzling and inexplicable.

self-improvementI must give credit to my father for building a foundation of self-improvement.  Dad was a voracious reader.  He always had a pile of books sitting next to his chair. As a small child I would bring my little chair next to his and pretend I was reading. Eventually I learned to read. Sunday afternoons became for us a time to read and expand our knowledge. We shared both fiction and non-fiction books.  Those indeed were happy memories that I cherish even some almost 50 years later.

Two clients of mine have made tremendous strides with their desire to improve their health. Both have lost over 100 pounds and have engaged in a more active life style.  By embracing health living through diet and exercise, both have also experienced more health relative to their small businesses.

To change does require knowing what has to be changed and to be willing to be committed to that change. Maybe this is the reason for this enigma?

self-improvementChange is good, you go first” seems to be the mantra for many.

  • Yes, I want to lose weight!
  • Yes, I want to have a new (fill in the blank)!
  • Yes, I want my life to be better!

Change begins within each of us as a desire. Then we must align our internal beliefs to “make it so” as Captain Picard so often said.  If we are unsuccessful, in many instances, is the reasons behind the change are not emotionally strong enough to sustain us in our desire for that change.  Returning to the status quo is much easier than fighting it on a daily basis.

If you truly want to embrace self-improvement for whatever the reasons, then recognize though it may be simple, it is not necessarily easy. And make the commitment to embrace his change and not give up when the going gets tough.

By the way, the Results Tool  (TM) as a goal setting worksheet works to emotionalize the desire for successful goal achievement.  Emotionalizing the desire is missing in most goal setting worksheets and hence a significant reason why so many self-improvement goals never make it to fruition.

 

 

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Closing the Gaps Is a Critical Leadership Trait

Before any organization can experience sustainable business growth, leadership must close the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals.  Unfortunately, many leaders look to solve one problem without understanding  that problem is a  potential symptom of misalignment.  Small Business Coaching Tip: Misalignment happens because of gaps.

leadership-traitOf course before leadership can close any gaps, they must know what and where those gaps exist.  This is why investing in an organizational assessment is critical to achieving tomorrow’s goals.  I have found this one assessment, D.I.AL.O.G.  (Diagnostic Data Indicating the ALignment of Organizational Goals) to be incredibly beneficial.  This now 20 year assessment has a proven track record and is aligned to current Baldrige criteria.

Why D.I.AL.O.G.?

Many organizational assessments are individually constructed to meet the needs of the client and to increase the revenues for the consulting firm or executive coach.  Mid-size to small businesses do not have the extra dollars required for such expensive assessments nor the time to construct such an assessment. D.I.AL.O.G. can deliver results in less than 10 days. Beyond being an online organizational assessment aligned to Baldrige, this particular assessment allows for some one on one personal interviews to ensure all performance gaps have been uncovered.

leadership-trait

Why a Critical Leadership Trait?

Imagine going to a doctor for a headache and being told you need brain surgery right at that moment without the doctor engaging in any diagnostics. What would you do?  Most would leave and seek a second opinion.

If you are a leader in an organization, you must lead and your leadership will make or break any organization. Just like having the headache and seeking a second opinion, leaders realize identifying the reasons for less than stellar performance is critical.

Now Is the Time To Lead

leadershipGreat leadership is about taking action and identifying the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. Ignoring the reality of today and thinking tomorrow will be better without taking the necessary actions is only living Einstein’s definition of insanity.

If you want to close the gaps, stop the misalignment, then lead by investing the time and yes dollars in determining where your organization is draining your limited resources of time, energy, money and emotions. You just may be surprised by the results. Call Leanne Hoagland-Smith, today, at 219.508.2859 to learn more and schedule your D.I.AL.O.G.before you waste any more of your resources,.

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Two Tales of Customer Service

Great customer service makes or breaks any business from the smallest mom and pop shop to the national franchise. These past weeks while on vacation I have experienced the best of customer service and the worst of it.

customer-serviceYesterday I shared the excuse of “We only have one server” was a poor customer loyalty strategy. Today I want to share what happened after we walked out of that national franchise restaurant known for its international pancakes.

Within 5 minutes my husband and I went to another national franchise restaurant known for building your own “grand slam” breakfasts.  Also I noticed this restaurant did have two servers and the manager was very visible even though the restaurant had the same number of customers enjoying breakfast compared to the restaurant we had just left.  The hostess, a little older than the one we just met at the previous restaurant, sat us immediately and within seconds the server appeared.  We had coffee and water along with our order taken within minutes.

Our breakfast was served almost immediately and the server continued to be attentive even though he suddenly was serving 8 new customers. The manager was also very engaged and stopped by our table to learn if everything was Okay.

Within one hour, my husband and I experienced the best and the worse of customer service times. Here is a recap of my customer service observations:

Observation Restaurant #1:Bad Customer Service Restaurant #2:Great Customer Service
Hostess Very Young under 20 Older between 25 and 35
Manager Not visible; disengaged Very visible; actively engaged
Servers Only one, never seen Two servers, both attentive
Business activity 6 customers 6 customers
Breakfast menu prices $10-$15 $7-$10
Coffee prices $2.50 cup $2.50 cup
Cleanliness of facility Good Good
Overall Atmosphere Low energy High energy

Restaurant #2 appeared to have appreciated that delivering an exceptional customer experience is truly a bottom up as well as top down business growth strategy.  From our experience it appears everyone has embraced the motto we read on the coffee cups:

“A good diner has open doors, open arms ad open hearts.”

Having eaten at two of these restaurants within the same city, I can also testify the consistency of great customer service was present at both.  And consistency of customer service is another essential tactic when it comes to building customer loyalty.

 

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“We Only Have One Server” Fails as a Customer Loyalty Strategy

Most will agree that a customer loyalty strategy is essential especially among national chains.However my customer service experience today shows even the national restaurant chains fail to understand this business growth strategy must be present from the bottom up.

customer-loyalty-strategyToday while on holiday in San Diego, CA we went to a national franchise known for its international pancakes for breakfast and was seated by the very young hostess.  This particular restaurant was not busy, probably less than 6 customers.  My husband and I waited for almost 5 minutes and still did not receive coffee or water.

At my instance, I said we were leaving and we walked out.  I politely told the young hostess that we had waited long enough for  any customer service.  Her pitiful response was “We only have one server.” My immediate answer was “That is your problem, not mind.”  In the future I will not patronize this particular franchise.

I do not know the customer loyalty policy for this restaurant chain, but I am hard pressed not to believe the hostess could not have at least given us water and coffee.  Then to use the lamest excuse of “We have only one server” is beyond insulting.   Am I as the paying customer supposed to be understanding when I can walk out the door and go to at least three other restaurants within two to five minutes?

Possibly I should have asked for the manager, but I had not had my morning coffee. I did not want to engage in any additional conversation with a manager who was clueless as well.

This restaurant could have avoided losing this loyal customer by training all of its hostesses and hosts to help out when serving staff is limited.  Additionally, the manager should have been engaged as well and could have also pitched in to help the one server.  And maybe hiring the youngest person because she is the cheapest hire may not be the best customer loyalty strategy.

Remember, customers do not care if you have only one server or if you are very busy. Excellent customer service is a solid customer loyalty strategy and one that still appears in short supply.

Tomorrow I will share the second part of this story.

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