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Consulting and Coaching Insights

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The Devil’s in the Details.

 
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Nothing like starting a new year in business. You are energized, full of new hope and expectations. You are at your first meeting with the year’s first prospect, things are going well, you invite them to take some of your hard copy hand out material. As you are handing it to them you glance down at it and suddenly see that your material still bears last year’s date,  last year’s information, or worse old contact information.

It’s about this time that you want to kick yourself for overlooking the obvious, and it’s also time to take an inventory of your business and marketing materials. Business owners are a busy bunch. You wear many hats and sometimes it’s the little details that fall through the cracks. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and someone gives you outdated information. Where is your confidence level with this person?

It’s the little things that can either boost or deflate (yeah, football reference) confidence in those with whom you wish to do business. Unless your marketing strategy is based on nostalgia, keeping your marketing materials up to date is critical to building your credibility with your prospects. Fresh, up to date and even “trendy” marketing materials tell a prospect that you are in control of your business.

So, how do you accomplish this?

Well to start, a good habit moving forward, create your marketing materials to have “shelf-life.”  Here are a few simple rules:

1. Never use a date unless absolutely necessary.
2. Be aware of your graphics, images, and photos.
3. Be sure any technology you maybe mentioning or showing is operational.
4. Be cautious when using current catch phrases or action words.

Those are just a few tips to get the most shelf life from a new marketing piece. So let’s take a look at your current marketing materials. That includes:

  • Hand-outs
  • Brochures
  • Business Cards
  • Letterhead
  • Power Point Presentations
  • Newsletters
  • Websites

Any and everything a prospect or client will see in this calendar year.

Then ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there any dates that don’t belong or have passed?
  • Did you perhaps copyright or trademark your business or corporate identity that needs to be marked with the proper symbol?
  • Do your images show dated technology, cell phones with antennas, or CTR computer monitors?
  • Do you mention technology that is no longer viable, like a PDA?
  • Are your action words or phrases still carrying the marketing weight they did when you selected them?
  • Is any of your material showcasing “current events?” How current is it?
  • In general, does your style and content feel old?
  • When was the last time you revised your material?


It’s great when you can create a long shelf life for your material, recycle and repurpose it to get a good ROI for your efforts, but it’s not bullet proof and what originally helped you will eventually hurt you if left unchecked.

Set aside some time at the start of a new year to make sure you review anything you currently have in place and plan to use to market your business. Make the changes you find, take the time to freshen it up. Even small changes such as fresh prints “pop” with color better then year old ones, and can help your marketing materials remain fresh.

A great way to keep your marketing information fresh is harnessing the power of video. Click the title to find out more.
  Broadcast Yourself Part 1
  Broadcast Yourself Part 2



























An Interview with Martin Luther King

 
Martin Luther King I have a dream

Gone Since 1968, Yet We Still Learn from Him Today: An Interview with Martin Luther King

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an American pastor, activist, humanitarian, and leader of the African-American Civil Rights Movement. Many ceremonies, services, and articles have been dedicated to MLK and his legacy lately.


Are you a “Steady Eddie,” a “Crazy Maisie,” or an “Ollie Ostrich?”

 
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How do you respond when change comes? Are you a “Steady Eddie” who rolls with changes as they come? How about a “Crazy Maisie” who digs in her heels and refuses to accept the fact that the world is evolving at a breakneck pace? Or maybe you’re even an “Ollie Ostrich” who has his head in the sand refusing to accept the fact that changes are happening to us every single day?

Ollie, this next bit’s for you. Did you know we’re currently preparing students for jobs that don’t even exist yet using technologies that haven’t been invented yet, to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet? Talk about fast-past change!


We Wish You Many Mistakes

 
mistake

This is the time of year when people offer
well-wishes by the boatload. We've done it, too.
But now we'd like to reverse our position and wish you mistakes ... wonderful, glorious, gut-wrenching mistakes … as many of them as you can make in a calendar year.

No, we're not trying to be mean-spirited or negative. That’s not our purpose at all. Our company, Resource Associates, exists to help people improve themselves and the organizations for which they work. We are simply saying that if you're not making mistakes, you're not growing, learning, and changing. If you’re not growing, learning, and changing, you run the risk of being in exactly the same place you are now next year, and the year after that, and the year after that.



Start a Re-GOAL-ution!

 
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You all know New Year's resolutions are
typically destined to fail, and yet you continue
to set them year after year. You hold to your new plans for 30 or even 60 days, but inevitably something happens to take you off track. It’s time you talk about the benefits of setting goals, not just resolutions. Here are three easy tips to get started:

1. Get WHYSMART with only one item at a time. A 5 to 10 item resolution list can cause you to lose focus. Prioritize your resolutions by choosing one item on which to have supreme focus. Then apply that one item to the WHYSMART criteria for goal setting. Goals should be:



Happy Holidays from RAC

 
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Since the Holidays fall on our blog publish date we decided to just send along our Best Wishes and a thank you to everyone who follows our blog. May you all have a Safe, Healthy and Happy Holiday Season.

“Look into My Crystal Ball …”

 
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We know what image comes to mind with that statement …
the carnival gypsy with the long fingernails, compelling stare, and breathy voice. While a visit to your friendly neighborhood fortuneteller might yield some interesting information, it might be more effective for you to design your own future.

The start of a new year is always a great time to reflect back and plan forward. Here are some great questions to springboard your thinking. Remember: you're more likely to achieve something if you plan for it and write it down, so ... get your pens ready! Here goes:


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How Leaders Learn to Align, Part 2

 
consulting teams

So, you’ve hired or promoted the right new leader
for your team. You’ve sat down with him or her and communicated your vision and strategic objectives. Now what? How do you help your new leader connect your strategic direction to the individual workers he or she manages? Our last post introduced the three Levels of Alignment.

Many new leaders walk into an environment of what we call Level 1 Alignment.

The company leadership team creates the vision of the organization during a weekend retreat and provides a management directive to all employees by:

•    Sending an email to all employees
•    Announcing it in the company newsletter
•    Providing a laminated card for every employee
•    Placing a plaque on the lobby wall
•    Or, all of the above

And that’s supposed to create the impetus for every employee to align themselves and their actions with the vision. Does Level 1 Alignment work?

Here’s a question for you:

“What’s your company’s vision?”

If you would ask your receptionist, a loading dock worker, a bookkeeper, (fill in the blank) would they give the same answer? Would it surprise you to know that 60-70% of employees don’t know their company’s vision, let alone how to align their work efforts with it? How effective will a new leader be at aligning his or her people with your vision if dumped into that type of company culture?

What can you do to improve their efforts at alignment? Let’s learn more about Level 2 Alignment. Same scenario except that company leadership is looking to the VPs, execs, and department heads for assistance in driving down the vision. This gets the individual departments involved but might they have opposing views of that vision?

Let’s try out Level 2 alignment with a manufacturing company. Their new vision is to be “Number One in Customer and Employee Satisfaction.” Based on that vision, the VP of HR decides with her team to create state-of-the-art training programs for all equipment. The VP of Operations decides to upgrade their existing equipment without telling the VP of HR.

The VP of Customer Service will implement a new customer service strategy offering new and more frequent deliveries. The VP of Finance decides to adjust the budget to reduce equipment and delivery expenditures so they have enough capital to acquire a new facility.

Are the individual departments aligned with the vision? Yes, but what are the odds this organization is going to achieve that vision? Slim to none, in fact, they can probably expect lower earnings, unsatisfied/lost customers, and reduced market share.

Company leadership believes they’ve done well by involving all of their VPs in the alignment process. However, they ended up uncoordinated, misaligned, and functioning at cross-purposes.
 
Organizations must work toward getting all of their people pulling in the same direction. Level 3 embeds the alignment process within the culture of the organization.

The company leadership team:

•  Establishes a Vision Statement – who or where you want your company to be in the future (about 3 years).
•  Establishes a Mission Statement – what must be done in year one to move to achieve the vision.
•  Creates Critical Success Factors – four to eight items necessary and sufficient to achieve the mission.
•  Establishes Goals that are Necessary and Sufficient to Accomplish the Critical Success Factors.
•  Offers a Specific Action Plan to Accomplish the Goals – WHO does WHAT by WHEN.

No matter the size of your organization, the strategic plan should be passed successfully from one level to the next until every person in the company is aligned with the vision.

Creating the framework for alignment is just the beginning. Providing new leaders with a Level 3 culture more often ensures success.

Every employee MUST:

•    Understand their individual action steps to accomplish the vision.
•    Be supported with the required resources.
•    Have processes in place that ensure productivity, innovation, and speed.

Then and only then is the organization aligned and is truly in a position to succeed. You’ve created a winning team.

 




















































How Leaders Learn to Align, Part 1

 
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If there’s an open leadership position in your company, you probably spend a lot of time agonizing over which seemingly good candidate will be best suited for the role … you pour over notes from multiple interviews, evaluate reviews if you’re promoting from within, and decipher every detail contained in each candidate’s DISC or Myers Briggs behavioral profile.

After much nail biting and loss of sleep, you finally settle on your number one pick, the prime candidate for the position. Offer made. Job accepted. Sigh of relief.

Fast forward six months … now the thought keeping you awake is, “Why in the world did I think he could be a leader? His team is always off doing their own thing and working totally out of concert with my strategic vision.”

One of the most compelling reasons why new leaders fail to lead is the fact that their environment doesn’t ALLOW them to lead.

Do your leaders have knowledge of all of the initiatives important to you from their first day in their new job? Do they know the strategic direction you set in your latest iteration of the company plan? We’re sure they do. You vetted them in all of the ways necessary to determine if they could lead and once you decided they could, you immediately shared all of the necessary, nitty-gritty strategic details of your plan, right?

We’re guessing not. It takes awhile for newly indoctrinated leaders to earn your trust. You need to decide if they can handle all of those nitty-gritty details before you share them. Makes logical good sense, doesn’t it?

Think about this for a second. If the execution of those strategic plans is integral to the success of your organization, why are you setting your leaders up to fail by not allowing them to lead to exactly where you want them to go?

As soon as you onboard a new leader, it’s the right time to communicate that clear strategic direction for your company and allow your leaders to link that knowledge to your operating systems to ensure achieving your desired results.

Ready to get started?

The first step for a new leader should be for them to create alignment between the goals of the individual workers and the overall vision of the company. When that happens, positive results are more likely to occur.

In our experience, organizations achieve alignment in three ways. We’ll refer to them as Levels of Alignment.

Level 1 – Set the Vision, General Communication to the Masses, Expect Action
Level 2 – Set the Vision, Have Leadership Communicate to their Own Masses, Wait for Action
Level 3 – Set the Vision, Communicate Individual Critical Success Factors to the Masses, Set Measurements and Evaluate the Action

What are your general impressions of the efficacy of these three Levels of Alignment?

Our next post will go into more detail on all three Levels and help you to rank them from least effective to most effective.

 





























One Question About Gratitude

 
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Tomorrow we here in the U.S. will be celebrating
Thanksgiving, and our thoughts have turned to gratitude and appreciation. Yes, it’s important to be thankful and express gratitude. We recommend you stop and ask yourself the question, “For what am I thankful?” often, daily if at all possible.

We decided to put a different spin on it and asked our network of successful consultants and coaches this question:


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