Make Business Simple. My Four-Word Rules for Success. #8 in a Series.

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Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #8 in a Series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, just click on each link: Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE. Rule #7 is HERE.

Understand Why You Matter

A few years ago, I was invited to make a presentation on the TEDx stage. I was very excited about this opportunity and spent a lot of time writing my speech, editing my speech and — most of all — rehearing my speech.

I left nothing to chance. I timed myself over and over to make sure I wouldn’t speak for too long. I worked with a wonderful speaking coach (Hayley Foster) to make sure that my stories, points, and jokes were as good as possible. I selected what I was going to wear, scheduled a haircut a week before, and did everything I could think of to make the best impression possible. I even got to the location a day early and walked the route to the stage to make sure nothing could keep me from being there.

The night before the event the organizers held an organizational briefing. They told us that one of the videographers wasn’t able to attend so they were going to use a locked-down camera. They told us that when we walked on stage we should take the four steps to the white tape X on the ground and stand there without moving. Otherwise, we would wander out of the camera’s range. A small problem for someone who moves as much as I do, perhaps, but not insurmountable.

Finally, it was the morning of the event. I got up early for my run, showered, got dressed, and went down to have a cup of coffee and a quick bite of breakfast before I walked across the street to the venue. I was bending over to grab my bread from the toaster when I felt a little click in my lower back. Instantly I knew I had thrown my back out.

Two hours later, when it was my turn to speak, my lower back had locked up in total spasm. I could barely move. But because the organizers had told us to stay on the white tape X, I knew that all I had to do was take the four steps to the mark and then I could give my speech.

And that’s what I did. I slowly counted to four as I painfully walked onto the stage. Then I turned, smiled at the audience, and began my speech. You can watch it HERE if you’d like. And now that you know what was going on, you’ll realize that throughout the full eight minutes I was talking I did not move a muscle from the waist down.

About this time, I was lucky enough to meet Julie Donnelly. Julie is a massage therapist who specializes in eliminating back pain. In fact, Julie has written a number of books on the subject. Her most recent is titled The 15 Minute Back Pain Solution. Julie’s book is only $4.99, an incredible bargain for anyone who has pain in their low back, hip, groin, knee, or suffers from sciatica.

Needless to say, I was in so much pain that I would have paid any amount Julie asked me to pay. And I would have done anything Julie told me to do. Lucky for me, what she told me actually worked.

But this post is not about my TED talk and it’s not about Julie’s book. It’s about how you can find the perfect moment when you matter the most to your prospect. That’s when your brand value intersects with your potential consumer’s aspirations. Because that’s when the magic happens. Case in point? There was no better time for me to meet Julie than at the very moment when I needed what she’s so very good at.

That’s why my Four-Word Rule for Success #8 is to Understand Why You Matter.

There are a lot of ways you can set you and your business apart: You can be cheaper, you can be faster, you can be better looking, you can be closer, you can be smarter, you can be better, you can be higher quality, you can be better known. You can be all of the above.

But the best way to build you brand value and demonstrate why you matter to your customers and your potential customers is to Understand Why You Matter to them.

Julie Donnelly did it. You can too.




Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #7 In A Series.

One response.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #7 in a series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

If you missed any of the rules, you can find them easily. Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. Rule #5 is right HERE. Rule #6 is right HERE.

Old Things. New Combinations.

I have a few friends who are comedians. One of the problems they deal with is that people constantly expect them to be funny.  

It’s a problem I understand. 

One of the problems with being known as “creative” is that people always expect me to be a constant source of new ideas.  

At the same time, people who do not see themselves as “creative” somehow feel the need to explain that to me — “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” they’ll tell me. “I can’t even draw a straight line.” 

Of course there’s nothing inherently creative about drawing a straight line — all you need is a ruler and a pen and a bit of coordination and you’ve got as straight a line as you can imagine. 

But if you spend time looking at great creative concepts you’ll find that most of them are not the big, new, never-before-heard-of idea you might think they are. Instead, many creative breakthroughs are really just interesting new combinations of old things or even revolutionary combinations of new and old things. 

EBay? Despite its incredible success, EBay is simply a combination of old and new (auctions and bazaars + the Internet). 

Facebook? If you went to high school in the seventies or eighties, you’ll realize that Facebook is also a simple combination of old and new (slambooks + the Internet). 

Besides maybe reducing some of the intimidation that creating new ideas might cause, understanding this redefinition can also show you real opportunities for your entrepreneurial self. After all, if you looked at creativity like this, maybe you would have come up with EBay, Facebook, or Twitter (the notes we used to pass in elementary school + the Internet) yourself. 

All you need to do is look at new and emerging technologies and figure out ways to incorporate them into old proven situations. Seen this way, confusing new concepts such as BitCoin, consumer genetic testing, Bluetooth, et al can now be seen as the next opportunity just waiting to be discovered. 

For example, take a look at a traditional industry such as commercial real estate. You already know that lots of the requirements of the trade include studying and examining buildings to confirm things like zoning compliance, accuracy of measurements, leak testing, checking for structural integrity, etc. As you might imagine, doing these things requires lots of people on lots of ladders — especially as buildings get even bigger and even taller. Needless to say, these activities can be both expensive and dangerous (which can make them even more expensive). 

But what if you used my theory and combined something old with something new? Looking at it that way might make you realize that the commercial real estate industry could be well-served with drones. We hear about drones being used for military applications, sporting events, crop dusting, and recreation.  But what if you equipped them with cameras, thermometers, density meters, and other sensors and sent them up to gather the information people used to climb ladders to find? Bam!! Creativity at work and a damn good opportunity to boot. 

By the way, the idea of employing drones in the commercial real estate industry has already been put to impressively good use. Take a moment and check out Volaero Drones (www.volaerodrones.com) if you want to see how Volaero did it. And talk about monetizing — the people at Volaero are so confident about their new combination that not only does their home page present information and ways to hire them, it even includes a link to invest in the company!

This way of monetizing new technology and creating opportunities is why my four-word rule for business success #7 is Old Things. New Combinations. All you need to do to take advantage of this is to look at all the exciting new whiz-bang technologies and figure out ways they can fix old problems. 

You do this with Old Things. New Combinations.




The Power of The Mastermind. And You.

One response.

The Power of The Mastermind.

Do you have a business idea or career move or life change that you think about incessantly?

Do you noodle it around until you’ve looked at it from every possible angle?

Do you obsess over every detail, agonize over every possible eventuality?

Or maybe you already run a business or a division or a department and that’s what jerks your eyes open at 3 AM – wondering and worrying about what to do, what to do next, and what to do about what you’ve already done.

Believe it or not you’re not alone. Every single ambitious person who wants to accomplish something special goes through this every single day.

Mastermind

If you spend too much time in your personal echo chamber you start marching in lockstep to your own voice. You start believing your own hype, and you start getting high on your own supply. And while it’s great to have a singular vision and to follow it despite all evidence to the contrary, sometimes it’s a great comfort – and a wonderful asset – to be able to discuss your ideas and concerns with others who will both tell you the truth and hold you accountable to what you decide to do about it.

If any of these scenarios ring true, you need a group of people who have your back, care about your success, and are both honest and concerned enough to tell you the truth when you want to hear it.

And especially when you don’t.

A team like that – whether assembled casually or formally, from friends and business associates or simply like-minded professionals is called a Mastermind Group.

According to Forbes Magazine, Mastermind Groups are relatively new to most people, even though they were first created about 75 years ago. A Mastermind Group is designed to help you navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence of others.

Mastermind Groups can provide new ideas, help vet concepts, provide accountability, and expose you to the honest support that can help you and the people around you achieve success.

Do I practice what I preach?

I participate in three established groups and also put together ad hoc Mastermind Groups when I have a particularly vexing problem or potentially powerful opportunity to deal with. The strength of their collective thought and concern, together with the varied experiences of the participants, helps me benefit from thinking out loud and exploring different what-if scenarios. I am so enamored of the concept it dawned on me to create a series of moving masterminds as a business. I would invite the best minds around to get together and work with one another to challenge new ideas, expand concepts, strengthen suppositions, and test theories. Space is limited, as we cap the two daylong sessions at 16 people for a personal, one-on-one experience.

If you think you’d learn and grow by being part of a Mastermind Group, and even more importantly, if you think you can make a great contribution to others, we’d love to have you!

If you haven’t explored a Mastermind Group, you really don’t know what a great opportunity you’re missing. Once you get involved with the right group I know you’ll be thrilled by the meeting and the results. I know you’ll have a wonderful experience. And besides being so powerful, Mastermind Groups are also a lot of fun.

We’re planning our next program on September 6th and 7th and we’d love for you to join us.

To find out more, and decide if this exciting new concept is for you or someone you know, just drop a line to me or Jeff Shavitz at Bruce@brandbillions.com or Jeff@shavitzgroup.com or call Jeff at 561-988-8300.




Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

2 responses.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #6 in a series.

We͛ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success. My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business – and your brand – better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that͛’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

In case you missed any of the other rules, you can find them easily. Rule #1 is HERE. Rule #2 is HERE. Rule #3 is HERE. Rule #4 is HERE. And Rule #5 is right HERE.

Customers know best
Throughout his career, Frank Lloyd Wright designed enough breakthrough buildings to not only become one of America’s most famous architects but to also be the subject of a song by Simon & Garfunkel.

Besides residences, Wright also designed a corporate headquarters for S.C. Johnson and a school campus – Florida Southern University. In fact, the Lakeland Florida campus holds the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright structures in one place.

Wright not only designed the buildings, but also created the site plan and dictated the land usage for Florida Southern. Legend has it the world-renowned architect left only one thing out:

Sidewalks.

When Wright presented his site plan there were no sidewalks. Instead, he told his patrons, “I’ll come back in a year and build the sidewalks AFTER I see where the kids walk.”

Wright knew that despite his best efforts to plan the traffic patterns for the campus, it was the users who would ultimately decide the best ways to get around.

Years ago, my parents’ restaurants sold a frozen orange juice dessert called an OJoy (OJ for Orange Juice. Get it?). After a few years they introduced a new dessert that swirled the orange OJoy with vanilla soft serve ice cream. It tasted just like a delicious Creamsicle and should have been a big success. The marketing geniuses named this new treat the “Son of OJoy.”

Only trouble was, consumers were embarrassed to order a “Son of OJoy.” Instead they’d ask for “one of those orange and vanilla things,” or “an OJoy with vanilla ice cream,” or some other clumsy made-up name. It wasn’t until we changed the name to the easy-to-say “SnoJoy” that sales picked up.

Avon created Skin So Soft to be a hand and body moisturizer. Skin So Soft users decided the lotion was more effective as a mosquito repellent.

Viagra was fomulated to treat high blood pressure and chest pain. Users discovered the drug was a little more effective a little further down the body.

My four-word rules for success #6? Your Customer Knows Best.

The smartest start-ups understand that no new business plan survives five minutes with the customer. Instead, they put a team together that is ready to zig and zag – to improvise and innovate – until they figure out where their products – and their customers’ desires – intersect.

As you build your company and your brand, always pay attention to what your customers buying habits are telling you.

Because Your Customer Knows Best.

 




Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules For Success – #5

5 responses.

Make Business Simple – My Four-Word Rules For Success. #5 in a Series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because that’s what matters. Often it’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business.

Rule #1 is “Shut the @#$%!! up.” If you missed it just point your browser HERE.

Rule #2 is “Take them to lunch.” If you missed that one point your browser HERE.

Rule #3 is “Don’t work with assholes.” If you missed #3, point your browser HERE.

Rule #4 is “Uncover the Real Problem.” If you missed #4, you’ll find it HERE.

what matters

The voice over the loudspeaker was that generic, Midwestern, slightly southern Texas drawl we’ve all grown accustomed to on airplanes.

“Okay folks,” it started, “Sorry to tell y’all this but it looks like we’ll be stuck here on the tarmac another 20 minutes or so. If I get an update from the tower I’ll be sure to let you know what’s happening.”

The woman in the center seat resumed her complaining.

“Damn it! That’s the third time they’ve delayed this flight. We’ve been sitting here what, 45 minutes already? I’m sure I’m going to miss my connection now.  I probably won’t get home in time for the party no matter what happens.”

I had no idea what party she was talking about.

I didn’t ask.

The guy sitting at the window seat glanced over her head, caught my eye, rolled his.

She droned on, “Can you believe this airline? Don’t they care about their customers? Don’t they know what matters? Don’t they know we have places to be? What’s the point of them telling us when the flight is supposed to arrive if it never leaves?!”

Her voice was getting louder and louder.

The harangue went on for another 20 minutes or so before the man sitting in the window seat had had enough.

“Ma’am,” he said with a southern drawl eerily similar to the pilot on the loudspeaker, “I’m a pilot. Let me tell you what matters to pilots about delays…”

He paused for a moment before continuing. The angry woman stared at him.

“It’s always better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground.”

He went back to his book.

Our seatmate didn’t make another peep.

Since that day I’ve been in an airplane almost every week or two. I’ve listened to people complaining about delays, complaining about high ticket prices, even complaining about a shortage of blue corn chips. I never say a word.

Truth is, I know what matters. I would much rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air than in the air wishing I was on the ground.

Or, as comedian Louis C.K. said on Conan O’Brien’s show: “Flying is the worst because people come back from flights and… act like their flight was like a cattle car in the forties in Germany… They’re like ‘it was the worst day of my life. First of all, we didn’t board for twenty minutes, and then we get on the plane and they made us sit there on the runway for forty minutes…’”

“Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air… like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight?! You’re flying! It’s amazing! Everybody on every plane should just constantly be going “oh my God! Wow!” You’re flying! You’re sitting in a chair, in the sky!”

So what’s my four-word rule #5? It’s simple:

Focus on What Matters.

Not only can’t you do anything about the flight taking off, but if there’s a problem with the plane or the tarmac you’re better off being on the ground anyway.

It’s the same for your brand and your business. If you understand what you do, what your client wants, and where those two things intersect, you already know where to focus your time and attention. Sure, there are other things you can busy yourself with. But just like that delayed flight, you’re better off concentrating on the things you can affect and improve instead of busying yourself worrying about things that are out of your control.

Instead, Focus on What Matters.




Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules For Success – #4

8 responses.

Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules For Success. #4 in a series.

We’ve spent the last few weeks talking about my four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business. (And it’s because four words are about all my short attention span can handle!)

Rule #1 is “Shut the @#$%!! up.” If you missed it just point your browser HERE.

Rule #2 is “Take them to lunch.” If you missed that one just point your browser HERE.

Rule #3 is “Don’t work with assholes.” If you missed #3, point your browser HERE.

Rules for success

Between my sophomore and junior years in college I worked as a waiter in a fine restaurant called the Grand Café.

I enjoyed the work. I enjoyed dealing with people. And I enjoyed the novelty because I knew I wasn’t going to be doing it for the rest of my life.

One lunchtime I was serving a woman who wasn’t happy with anything. Her water was warm. Her food was cold. The A/C was blowing directly on her. The table was rocking. I brought the salad too slowly. I brought the entrée too quickly.

She finally got so exasperated she insisted I get the manager.

Back in the kitchen, the manager asked me what went wrong.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I don’t think I’ve done anything to make her so mad. But no matter what I do, she’s not happy.”

The manager walked up to the table and introduced himself. I stood a few steps behind him.

“Good afternoon Ma’am. I’m Bernard Fish, your general manager. How can I help you?”

That was all the invitation she needed. What came next was a five-minute diatribe of everything that was wrong with the service. And the food. And me.

Mr. Fish watched and listened, nodding appropriately. Finally, the angry patron just ran out of steam and stopped complaining.

Mr. Fish paused a moment and then leaned over. He waited another agonizingly long moment before saying quietly: “I heard everything you said. And I can fix it all for you. But I have to tell you I think there’s something else bothering you. Tell me the truth. What’s really wrong?”

The patron was so enraged she couldn’t speak. She started to sputter when, like the sudden passing of a raging thunderstorm, her face softened.

She stared blankly at Mr. Fish for a long minute before erupting into tears.

“My husband left me last week and I don’t know what to do.”

Her head collapsed on her arms.

Mr. Fish turned to me. “Go grab a couple cappuccinos and a slice of our chocolate cheesecake.”

I turned and walked towards the kitchen.

“Bring two forks” he added.

Mr. Fish sat at the table and listened. When we cleaned up the lunch mess they were still talking. When all the chairs were piled on the tables and the carpet was being vacuumed, they were still talking.

Finally they got up. The formerly upset customer came over to me and apologized for her behavior. She hugged me and handed me a $100 tip.

Four-word rule #4?

Uncover the Real Problem.

The water wasn’t too warm. The food wasn’t too cold. The A/C wasn’t blowing directly on her. And the food came out when it was supposed to come out. But of course, none of that mattered. Because she wasn’t happy.

Most therapists will tell you the concern their patients first present is usually the symptom, not the problem.

I had a client who used to say, “Don’t fix problems you don’t have.”

It goes double for your customers and your clients.

Instead you’ll find real success when you uncover the real problem.

Four-word rule #4 is uncover the real problem.




Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules For Success – #3.

5 responses.

Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules For Success

Rules for Success

Success

If you’ve been reading along, you know we’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the four-word rules for business success.  My goal remains simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques to make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because often that’s all it takes to make a huge difference when you build your brand and your business. And it’s because four words are about all my short attention span can handle!

Rule #1 is “Shut the @#$%!! up.” If you missed it just point your browser HERE.

Rule #2 is “Take them to lunch.” If you missed that one just point your browser HERE.

Today’s rule might be counter-intuitive and maybe even a little icky. But in all the years I’ve created brands for some of the biggest companies in the world I have found that Rule #3 proves itself true time and time again. And besides being the key to running a successful business, Rule #3 is also an important component of improving the quality of your life.

Ready? Rule #3 is simple.

Don’t Work With Assholes.

That’s it.

Life is too short, and the world is too small, for you to be spending time working for – or with – people who make your life miserable. Not only do toxic people make your life unpleasant, working for folks like that will not result in great work or enviable profits.

But it gets even worse. That’s because working with unpleasant people will keep you from making money and enjoying yourself, and they will destroy your environments they work within. What that means to you is that your unpleasant clients — and your unpleasant employees — not only ruin the part of your business they are involved in, they can also damage the parts of your business (and your life) that they’re NOT involved with.

Unfortunately, these toxic types can be really good at the technical parts of their jobs. But even those skills are not important enough to keep them around.

Instead they are:

  1. Unpleasant
  2. Unprofitable
  3. Able to destroy parts of your business they’re not even involved with.

Looked at that way, it’s a no-brainer, isn’t it?

Which is why the Four-Word Rules For Success #3 is:

Don’t Work With Assholes.




Make Business Simple – Four-word Rules for Success – #2.

4 responses.

Make Business Simple – Four-Word Rules for Success

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be talking about the four-word rules for business success.  My goal is simple: I want to give you easy to implement tools, tactics, and techniques that will make your business better.

Each rule is only four words long because that’s all it takes to make a huge difference to build your brand and your business. And because four words are about all my short attention span can handle!

Last week we talked about Rule #1, “Shut the @#$%!! up.” If you missed it and want to start at the beginning, just point your browser HERE.

Take them to lunch

While I’m convinced that Rule #1 is often the most important thing you can do in most business situations, it’s not lost on me that you need to get into those situations in the first place.

That’s why you need Rule #2.

Whether you’re trying to get a face-to-face new business presentation or your goal is to reach out to reporters and bloggers to get them to write about you, you need a strategy. The one I’ve found to be most successful is a lot easier –  and often a lot more fun – than you think.

But first, a story:

A number of years ago my little advertising agency landed a whale. We parlayed a small marketing assignment we did for the Sawgrass Mills shopping center into a full agency of record (AOR) relationship for three of their four properties: Sawgrass Mills in Ft. Lauderdale, Gurnee Mills in Chicago, and Franklin Mills in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, even with that great David and Goliath story I couldn’t get the advertising press to write about us.

But at the same time, one of the big New York agencies won the Potomac Mills account in Washington D.C. Their success was plastered on the front of both AdWeek and AdAge Magazines even though they only had one Mills account AND WE HAD THREE!!

WTF? How come they got the article and I got the shaft?

Not knowing how to fix this situation, I called a good friend of my father’s who was the president of Miami’s most acclaimed public relations firm. She agreed to have lunch with me and give me some advice.

We chit-chatted through lunch. I was getting impatient waiting for the answer but she kept talking about everything but what I wanted to know.

Finally, the check came and she was ready to go. Before she got up to leave, she scribbled a few words on a napkin, bunched it up, and slid it across the table to me.

“Here are the four magic words to getting PR and business. Don’t you dare look at them until I leave and don’t tell anyone I let you in on the secret.”

And then she left.

Needless to say, I couldn’t wait for her to leave so I could uncover the truth. The minute she was out of sight I uncrumbled the paper and read the four words that changed my life:

“Take Them To Lunch.”

Here’s the truth that no one tells you: regardless of whether your business is B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumer), your business is P2P (people to people). And the best way to get to know them and get to have them know you is F2F (face to face).

If you want to build your business, your bottom line should be to generate as much interest in you and your activities as possible. And while there are no direct metrics to extrapolate how many lunches it takes to generate additional income; a good rule of thumb is this: the more the merrier.

Work hard to make your professional persona ubiquitous and it will pay off in perception and interest. And sooner or later those things will all lead to opportunities and success.

But it all starts when you take them to lunch.








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