Category Archives: Strategy

“A” Players have a Multiplier Effect

First Off, You know I have to believe this because I am quoting Belichick up top and I kinda swore I would never do that. Sorry #12’s

If people are willing to work, everyone is a “A” player at something. If you want to do something great, you have to build it with a great team. A great team is made up of “A” players at the roles you need and the stage you are currently.

The people you want to attract not only do the job, they make those around them better, they improve the processes and amplify culture as a role-model

“A” players make everyone around them better.

Seems like it continues to get more competitive out there for talent. Don’t Settle.

Here are a couple of lessons learned that I hope help you and that I apply currently as we are building our teams for Intersect Life and DOSH.

“A” Players will hire “A” Players. B Players will hire “C” Players. A Players understand that they need to surround themselves with people who are smarter and better. Smart, driven people are also attracted to smart, driven people.

·     Hiring better people is your #1 recruitment strategy. 

·     Top talent wants to work with top talent. That is how championship teams are formed.

“A” Players at one stage are not necessarily “A” Players at every stage. Someone great at starting company is not necessarily great at the scaling stage. They are different skills and most do not adapt. Great baseball players and great football players are both great. Know what sport you are playing.

Just as important, an “A” Player at one company may not be an “A” player for you. Look at culture, company size, etc.

Just because they once were an “A” Player once does not mean they are still one. You want the one who is currently doing impactful things. Staying current matters. A Players are life-long learners.

People can grow into “A” Players.   Everyone fails at something. People get better. Does the person you are looking at own their past performance and have a strategy to better themselves? Have they learned to be challenged and are they willing to prove-themselves?

“A” Players are worth the stretch… But there is a stretch.   Guess what? You are not the only one who is looking for the best. Are you willing to keep them challenged, give them room to grow and mentor and invest in them? Are you willing to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you? Are you willing to work differently and not always have all the ides?  Because, this is what it will take.

What is working for you?

Let’s go and get better today.

Make Today Count.

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3 Keys to make 2017 – “The Year You Finally Did It”

It is amazing what a new start can do. Make 2017 be the year that you actually do it. That nagging goal that never seems to happen… Make this year that year that it does.

Don’t let others’ cynicism infect you. Don’t carry old ways of thinking into your new year and don’t let your own voices of past disappointments talk you out of becoming the best you before you even get started.

One truth is that life is pretty short and when we realize that :

1.    every day and every year matters.

2.     we have everything we need to start making progress to reaching our goals and living a life of purpose.

In Short – What you do today matters to yourself and those around you.

Here are 3 Keys to help you get started.

Set Destinations and First Steps – What do you want to see happen in your life in 2017? Is it a promotion, a new job, better relationships, to get in shape? Begin the year with your destination in mind.

You need to be motivated enough by the destination to be willing to make the changes needed. If you don’t know where you want to go, you will just stay where you are.

Many of us stop before we ever get started because our old habits and ways of thinking stop us before we even get started. Many get overwhelmed with looking 10 steps down the road.   Take one step, then another, then another. A journey of 1000 miles is take a step at a time.

Change is made one decision at a time. You make a decision to work out today and then become determined to do it again tomorrow. Take the first step and don’t over-think it.

Prioritization is the Key – You can’t change 10 things at once. You can change 1.   So take a look at what you want to do and begin to prioritize. You will only change what you are truly committed to change. Prioritizing your goals will make sure you gain alignment and momentum to conquer the next one.

Momentum Starts Today….. One Step at a Time!!!

Make Today Count.

2017-4 Keys to an Incredible Year

I have heard from so many how hard 2016 was for them physically, emotionally and Spiritually. My prayer is that God will fling wide the doors that He has for your life and close the doors to the hurt and struggle that so many faced personally and as a collective.  

Four things I know as we enter 2017 full of hope and faith. 

1. I don’t have to understand to believe – God is and will always be in charge. He is not bound by seasons. His love is incredible and constant. He never gives up, gets tired. He is never surprised and He does have an incredible plan for your life. Even if you can’t see it.

2. Persistence builds endurance and resistance builds strength.- “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”  

3. Your breakthrough is on the other side of your door – God has a plan for you, your family, your mistakes, your triumphs and He is turning your life into a message of hope. 

4. Don’t mistake your plan for His Plan– 2016 was in many ways a challenging one, personally, where I saw some doors close and other incredible doors open in Business and in Ministry. I find myself entering 2017 working on some of the impactful things I have ever done. I have learned that I needed to let go of my plan and embrace the plan God has for me. His plan is truly better.

To make the most of this year, start by asking God to Open what He has for you and then run through that door with great expectations. God is asking you to be you.

You can do “All Things” through God’s strength. Lean in let Him carry the weight. 

Praying this year will be the most incredible in your life.  

2016 – Give the Gift of Feedback

Throughout the workplace, people are emerging back from vacations, turning their calendars and perhaps wishing they could push the snooze button for one more day…. Just perhaps

The dawn of 2016 also opens the season of annual performance reviews.  This tends to make people want to crawl back under the covers as managers deliver 10-20 of these reports.

Can I challenge you to embrace this season and encourage you to see feedback as a gift that is worth giving; not just once or twice a year?  Let’s make 2016 the year you give people continual and concrete feedback.  Creating a feedback rich environment will cement your culture as a place where “everyone gets better everyday.”

As a leader, it is one of the most significant changes you can make to increase the level of performance, alignment and satisfaction of your employees and co-workers.

Why is this:

  1. Most people are never told, specifically, that they are doing well and where they can improve. You might be the first person to give them effective feedback.
  2. Most people are never shown the outcome of their behavior.
  3. Most people never get supportive feedback that is specific and applicable.
  4. Most people are never told of their blind-spots, until it is too late.
  5. Most people crave it… Certainly the kids of people you want on your team do.

If any of the above is true, why don’t we do it more.

Carole Rubin states it this way..  “But providing feedback to a colleague or a friend can be difficult and scary, especially when it concerns something that is hurting your company or your relationship with that person. That fear, Robin says, is based on a belief that many hold that constructive criticism will harm the relationship…. The reality is that feedback can actually strengthen a relationship, because knowing that another person is going to tell it to you straight creates and builds trust….Taking the risk of providing feedback shows the other person that you are invested in the relationship and willing to take the time to help fix the issue.”

No matter where you have been…Here are some places to start….

  1. Feedback Needs to be Constructive:

Feedback is applying how actions contributed or detracted from the team and its overall performance. Random criticism and nit-picking is not the feedback that will get you anywhere.  Might make you feel better but it not worth the cost.

There is an urban legend of IBM founder Thomas Watson….  The legend goes that a top salesman lost $5 million on a project he’d been working on.

Called to see the boss, the salesman prepared to be fired. However, once he was ushered into Watson’s office, he was surprised to find that Watson cheerfully started discussing the next big project they were planning.

Dazed and confused the salesman asked Watson if he was going to fire him for the loss.  “Fire you?” responded Watson. “Why would we want to fire you when we’ve just spent $5 million training you up?”

The Point:  There are times, you will have to fire someone but if you want an open environment where people get better, you have to do it together, and you have to lead this from the top.  Feedback is not shaming, it is an opportunity to get better.

2.  Feedback Needs to be Consistent

If Feedback is saved for a couple times and year and worse yet, tied to the same time of pay increases, people are so geared up for it that they can not really take it in.  There is just too much emotion.  People also need feedback more quickly on behavior so that these changes can be applied and recognized.

People can only absorb 1-2 things at at time.  If changing behavior was easy…  well, then it would be easy.  It is just not.  Until the robots are ready…  Anyway, think about how you like to get feedback and start there.

Too often we put off giving feedback when someone does something that bugs us. We say, “it’s not a big deal.”  Over time, the person does the same thing again, and again. Now we are hacked off at the person.  This is a leadership issue, not a behavioral one.

The Point.  What gets measured, gets done.  When we focus on constant, consistent feedback, we take the emotion out of it and put the focus on constant and consistent improvement.

3.  Feedback Needs to Focused on Person and Progress

In order for someone to receive and apply feedback, there are a couple of vitals.

They Trust You

OK, there is really ONE vital element for feedback to be effective.

How do you build this trust?

  • Tie Feedback to Their Goals.  Example.”  I know you want to lead this team one day….
  • Make the Feedback Behavior Specific.  This behavior caused this reaction. Specific feedback influences specific behavior.  General feedback changes general behavior.
  • Balance Positive and Negative Feedback
  • Be Transparent – Be open to talking about your journey
  • Be Open and Seek Out Feedback about yourself.

Giving effective come more naturally for some then others but there is no excuse. you may have to practice.  So get out there and practice.  Ask for forgiveness if you come on too strong or unintentionally offend someone.  Let’s get better… Everyday.

So, You Want To Sell the Enterprise?

Every Start-up reaches that point where the “Enterprise” segment becomes the next Step… I mean, just look at all that money. They are big, their logos would look so sexy on your web-site and again, look at all that money.

For some, it is not the appropriate next step. More often, businesses get sunk because of the amount of resources it takes to swim in this pond.

It is OK to dip your toe in and determine what it will take for you to sell to the Enterprise.

Before we start, just because you have soled to a couple of larger organizations have bought from you, does not lean you already to proactively sell to the Enterprise. Listen to the early adopters but most in the Enterprise space are not.

You won’t be perfect at it so move forward and keep getting better. Have an answer for what is below. Even if it not perfect, just don’t be surprised. You need to look like you have been there, even if you haven’t

First, Define what Enterprise means to you. … Global 2000. Fortune 1000, Companies over $1B, Companies over 5000 employees, Large Law Firms, etc. If you can’t define it, please don’t try and sell to it. Remember, Aim small, miss small as you get started. Test everything on your way to big.

Next, Is your product/service Ready?   Time to take a long look in the mirror and ask a couple hard questions:

  • Do we provide value to this segment? What changes need to be made?
  • Does the product of service work the way a large organization will use it?
  • Can we actually roll it out? Even SAAS has to scale.

Now, Can you sell it?

Sales Cycles tend to be much longer as the deals get bigger. Weeks will become months and it will be weeks even after you hear, “yes.”  Here are some of the top things you will have to prepare for:

  1. Security – Whether it is specific regulations like HIPPA, GLBA, or ISO27001, every Enterprise customer has a least one Security Expert whose job it seems like it just to say, “Will this work with our security?”
  2. Liability – You may not have had to deal with this before but get ready and make sure your contracts are tight and your contract team has experience.
  3. Professional Procurement – Welcome to working with people where buying things is their full-time job. They are judged by their ability to get a good deal for their company. .. Not yours. They get things done but also make sure it follows a process. This will not speed up your deal.
  4. Pricing – Don’t, Don’t, Don’t fall into the trap of giving pricing early. You will feel this pricing pressure throughout the sales process. This is a negotiation… from Beginning to End. Too often the eager beaver is stuck eating a toothpick because he gave away the tree.
  5. RFP – These three letters (or the just as nefarious RIP and RFQ) have been written on more tombstones of start-ups who had an innovative solution. You job at this level is to get to the next step. Don’t provide more resources than are necessary but make sure you nail it.
  6. Contracts – The negotiation, the process and the contracts will all of a sudden get longer and
  7. Size – People have to believe your company will be around. People will not risk their job for even a better technology if they think there is a chance. Your bigger competition will drop landmines all over this one.
  8. Cost of Sales – Sales people become more expensive, Cost of sales go up with travel. Make sure you test your way into this as well. Make sure there is substance in your sales team and leaders, not just flash.
  9. Cost of Support – Welcome to Quarterly Business Review, metrics, etc. These customers are going to want a dedicated person or team. They will stand in line for resolution.

Many SAAS and Platform Start-Up companies today are making a killing in the SMB and Mid-Market. Fewer of them have made a significant impact in enterprise. Eventually, you will need to navigate this jump into the ocean of Enterprise Selling like Salesforce, LinkedIn, etc.

We did not touch on using a Reseller Network, VAR and Partners to sell. We will touch on that one later.

You may decide to not play, yet. Continue to let the early adopters teach you as you go. Enterprise Selling will change how your organization Goes-to-Market, so go in with Eyes Wide Open.

What Did I Miss? Would love your thoughts.