Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What About the Resolutions We Keep?

Many of us commit to start or stop, do more or do less of something in the upcoming year. Yes, the old dreaded New Year's Resolutions - the ones that most of us don't keep for more than 36 hours (or 36 minutes) into the new year. A lot will be written and spoken over the next few weeks about the new year and the many resolutions most of us will not keep. Well, what about the commitments that will be kept into the next year. Are they really worth keeping? Will our lives or the lives of others REALLY be better off as a result of keeping these resolutions?

As we move into the year 2012, maybe we should make a different kind of commitment. What if each of us commits to TRULY finding and living our purpose? What if we commit to spending the best hours of each day, best days of each week, best weeks of each month, and best years of our lives, doing more and more of what we have been called to do? Imagine how much better the lives of the recipients of our commitments would be. Imagine how much more fulfilled we would be.

As an additional benefit, when your life purpose is clear and you are living it more and more, there is no need to find a different New Year's resolution every year. You only need to ask one simple question, "How can I live my purpose more during next year?" Think about it.... What will you commit to do in 2012?

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ladder and the Wall

While the economic downturn has had many varied affects on people around the world, one of the most amazing results of this challenging period is the number of people that have revisited their career focus - some by choice and others by force. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily, as I speak with coaching clients, travelers on airplanes or shoppers in the grocery store, there is one recurring theme: My ladder has been leaning on the wrong wall. You may have heard the saying (not sure of the originator): I climbed the ladder to success only to learn that my ladder was leaning on the wrong wall. This is a realization of many a would-be business person, attorney, physician, educator, government official, etc.

We all were born with a passion for something - that thing that we just love to do and are good at. That thing that we would not really consider work...the activity we prefer when we are not doing the things we HAVE to do. A layoff, extended working hours, workplace stress, meaningless work, or other affects of the prolonged downturn have resulted in people turning to what they love and what is meaningful to devote their best years, treasured gifts and most precious time. Why? Because they were awakened by the current environment and decided to move the ladder to the other wall - from success to fulfillment. And, it is quite amazing how much more fun these people are to be around. There is no substitute for fulfillment in life. No substitute.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Change, Why Change?

Change is tough! Let's face it, we find it difficult to change things that need to be changed, that we really want to change. I have my list and I'm sure you have yours.

When people are asked, even encouraged, or strongly encouraged to make changes, most of the effort is typically focused on "What to change" or "How to Change." While both are important, the most critical area to address is "Why the change."

This is not a sure-fire solution to bring about the change. However, absent the Why Change, it's all about the head and we leave out the heart. Real and lasting change begins in the heart. Change, Why Change?

Let the Customer Invest Your Money

Do you really want to know what your customers find most valuable to their business? Really?

My co-author, Jerry Alderman - Founder and CEO of Valkre Solutions, developed a novel and impactful way to get to the heart of this matter. Give your customers the next bit of investment ($$$) you plan to make in your business. Let your customers invest in the area(s) of your business that will translate into the greatest increase in THEIR operating margin...a novel idea!

Where your customers invest in your business to get the biggest impact may shock you. Ask the question, listen and learn. You may achieve the competitive advantage and customer engagement you've been seeking.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Is the Customer at the Center?

You may think this is a crazy question to ask. Well, I have been asking it regularly. The results are pretty amazing.

Well, I am here to tell you that most people (by self admission) agree that their customers are NOT at the center of their business. I ask, if not the customer, who?

The overwhelming majority of people have admitted that they themselves are at the center of the business. In fact, some of them even readily admit that the reason for being in business was not about the customer from the outset. The business was and is yet another monument to be adored, not a commitment to serve others in ways that meter to the their success.

Here’s the problem: If customers are not at the center of your business, you can find many less demanding and less costly ways to make yourself feel good and important.

Invest Now.

I have grown really tired of hearing people talk endlessly about what they really want to do, but are unwilling to make the necessary investments to pursue. To live your passion or dream requires an investment of time, resources, commitment and action!

Make a commitment to only talk about your passion or dream after you have done something about it. Let your words serve as reinforcement for the actions you’ve already taken, not excuses for what you have not done.

Begin investing in your passion and dream now with actions. Success in this area is like successful financial investing – it requires time and consistency. Take action now and you may be surprised with the rate of return.

They just want to be heard and valued.

Something unfortunate happens when some are given the title Leader – they begin doing a lot of talking and not enough listening. One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to motivate and inspire those he or she leads. It’s difficult to create an environment for motivation and inspiration to take place when you have no idea what motivates or inspires the members of the team.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: EVERYONE wants to be heard and valued. The leader has to be intentional about listening to the members of the team – discovering what they care about (personally and professionally). If you show me a leader who understands what’s on the minds and in the hearts of people in the organization, I’ll show you a leader who has a chance to really lead. Show me a leader who is preoccupied with talking (stuck in the leader knows best trap), and I’ll show you a leader whose failure is right around the corner. Be careful not to hang on too tightly to this leader. His or her fall will take you for a long ride – downward.

No time to play it safe.

The prolonged downturn in the global market is having a profound impact on careers. Many are plagued by fear and spending lots of time hiding – that’s right hiding. Those who once leaped at an opportunity for the truly challenging and invigorating assignment are now keeping their heads down and trying to hang on ‘til the war (the economic war that is) is over.

Hey! The best opportunity to make your mark is when others shrink back and the competition is less intense. Find the new and exciting opportunity. Go find it if it hasn’t found you and keep growing and expanding your skills. This is no time to play it safe. The time out is over…Let me in coach!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Give More to Get More - The New Paradigm

A lot has been written about customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, customer engagement, customer experience, customer relationship management and other terms that attempt to capture the notion of improving the value derived from relationships between a provider of products or services and a buying customer. While a lot has been written, I am convinced that when you 'boil it down to a low gravy', real success can only be achieved in the business-to-business relationship (two companies doing business with each other) when the product or service provider does the unthinkable - focus its attention on giving more to the customer before thinking about how to get more in return...a familiar truth that also works in business.

Before you rush to the comment section of the post to unleash your various forms of capitalism-based retorts, please hear me out. I am not talking about philanthropy or unprofitable business ventures. I am talking about an approach to running a business that leads to unprecedented levels of customer engagement and sustained profit growth. Yes, the kind of business every company desires to have.

But, in reality, here is how the process typically works in most organizations. I am sure this sounds familiar to many of you.

"Let's see how much profit we can make from these customers to reach our profit targets for this year's budget. Or, maybe we can replicate the high levels of customer profitability we enjoy with our 'best' customers. By the way, what can we do to get more of these high profit customers? Can we get a price increase and take out more costs?" Yes, this seems to be the conversation of the day and it is an important conversation.

But, can you imagine a different conversation that begins with the customer's profitability at the center?

A conversation that goes like this..."How can we help customers make more money by doing business with us versus our competitors? What are the specific things we can provide that are valuable to the customer (from the customer's perspective) and can't be matched by our competors? Let's measure the financial impact of what we does it impact the customer's bottom line and how do we continuously improve the impact over time? Maybe this will help us make the right investments, trim costs without hurting the business and continue to outpace our competitors by taking profitable share."

This second conversation uncovers and acknowledges something we already know: all products, services and customers are not created equally. However, most approaches to managing customer relationships seem to omit this fundamental truth. Again, before rushing to the comment section of this post, I invite you to answer the following questions about your business (or some other business if your business has this new paradigm in place and firing on all cylinders).

Does your organization know specifically how you help customers make more money?

Does your organization understand specifically how it will make customers more money in the future?

Does your organization measure and track how much more money customers make doing business with you relative to competitors?

And, does your organization measure and track how much money customers make doing business with you over time?

Hey, the new paradigm of business success is have to 'give more to get more' one customer at a time. I would love your thoughts.

d keith pigues
"Helping people get more out of work and life than they ever thought possible."