Victim or Victor Checkpoint 5: How a tip that George Schultz picked up from Ronald Reagan could help you keep your team on track in 2021
The first 45 days of 2021 have started to show us that the vaccination roll out and reopening of our full economy will last the entire year.
The word Hybrid is being used a lot and that fits our narrative going back to last July when we started focusing leaders on January 1, 2022 as a good heading to work towards with their teams.
Our current focus is how to connect with the members of the team who are not doing well, the bottom half of the K recovery.
This leadership challenge is well documented by Simon Sinek's "Leaders Eat Last" book, or the notion that the captain is the last one off the ship.
We came across a great insight for connecting with those you lead by former Secretary of State George Schultz in his recent 13 page white paper "Life and Learning after 100 Years".
Schultz noticed how Ronald Reagan would approve the content of a speech and then in his final preparation would mark spots in the speech to insert a story.
Here are Schultz's words:
I remember the day when, as secretary of state, I brought a draft foreign policy speech to the Oval Office for President Reagan to review. Reagan read through the speech and said, “That’s fine.” Then he picked it up again and began marking it up in places. At one spot, he wrote “story” in the margin. I asked what he meant, and he said, “That’s the most important point. Your speech is good, but to engage your listeners, it always helps to tell a relevant story they can relate to. That way, you’ll appeal not only to their minds but to their emotions.” Reagan understood that you could make a point or you could tell a story. Always tell a story to make your point whenever you can. It penetrates in a way no abstract point can—and it therefore forges an emotional bond, and emotional bonds build trust.
We view this as both timeless and timely advice for any leader and hope that as you are communicating to your teams and audiences that you work to add stories of hope and caring around the facts and objectives. The stories "activate" the message and that activation is the force multiplier inside your human system for spreading the right message to the very fringes of an organization.
It is in the connecting through significant shared experiences that trust is built and with trust in the air, magic can happen across cultures.
The subtitle of the Schultz document is "Trust is the Coin of the Realm" and we need our leaders to be building trust with their constituents in this hybrid year. .
If you know of any leaders who could be empowered by this idea from Schultz and Reagan, please forward this to them, the people they lead need hope.
Thank you for your friendship and readership,
Drew & Sara
P.S. Wanted to thank the many of you who responded to our last email about "Lessons Learned from Dad" it has made for a multitude of great conversations and warm warm feelings.
My father John Roy Sanders was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in June of 2020 and succumbed to the disease 7 months later.
Along with so many changes that came with 2020 our family has been navigating the pending and alarmingly immediate loss of a happy and kind patriarch.
In keeping with our V2 theme I would like to share a few lessons learned from my father as we leap into 2021 with the hope of Covid free world but the experience to know that more storms lurk.
John Sanders (Oil man by day, builder and family man by night)
A Sanders - "Can Do Anything"
School is a means to an end
Show up to work days and enjoy the work
Looking forward we imagine that you are champing at the bit to get going in 2021, these first 105 days appear primed for great activity especially since the lock downs happened in Q1 last year.
Our aim is to work our plans hard but to also have another Plan B and Plan C in the drawer for when the next curve ball comes our way and when it does we will be emulating John Roy Sanders often.
Victim or Victor Checkpoint 3: What will you celebrate at the end of 2020 and how it may impact your 2021?
This is the 4th email and 3rd checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
Staring at the final 45 days of 2020 and with a national election behind us we imagine you might have a few of your team members remarking how much they are looking forward to being done with 2020.
Sadly, as a leader you know all too well that Monday January 4th will present just as many challenges and opportunities as the previous Monday.
Setting your team’s sights further out appears to be prudent and we have compiled a few best practices for your ready reference.
Be wary of vaccine watching.
We hear lots of chatter about COVID vaccines and will rejoice when the right solution is presented at scale, but we don’t think you want your people to be the worldwide experts in that narrative as it can be tremendously distracting and demoralizing.
Admiral Stockdale whose 7 years as a POW in North Vietnam make him a good primary source on endurance commented that the people who suffered the most were those who set arbitrary dates on when they would be released.
When the interviewer asked who didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:
“Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then added: “This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Keep the daily routines and the key actions in place
Amidst the consistent noise of rising COVID cases and the concern over pending government actions it may be wise to take a page from Earnest Shackleton’s book when he was stuck on the south pole in the middle of winter. Their multi-year struggle with the elements included strict daily routines and even time out for the men to kick a soccer ball around.
When you are asking your team to hang in there every week, it can get old, consider keeping the cadence of meetings at the appropriate level and focus on the key actions that matter. Thinking back to the soccer example, we find it amazing that after trying to use a hand saw to break ice away from a ship that they had the energy to do anything, but the men trusted Shackleton and he trusted the power of keeping a cadence of action.
Having the courage to celebrate.
This may seem crazy, but we think the curious leader will find a way to help the team have the courage to celebrate the year. Turning this scrooge of a virus on its head and leveraging that for the first time in a century we are all have a common foe reminds of the Who’s in Whoville singing around the beleaguered Christmas tree in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” by Dr. Seuss.
Having the courage and curiosity to celebrate with your team could play a vital role in how the first quarter of 2021 goes for your team.
How you answer these questions could make the difference in having a team that resents everything it sees in the world or one that is buoyed by what they are overcoming and empowered by the resilient spirit that this period of their lives is helping them build. The Who’s gathered hand in hand and sang, and while we know we won’t be holding hands and probably not be singing, we sure hope you find a way to celebrate.
We celebrate the opportunity to share our insights with you and are thankful for your readership and friendship.
Drew and Sara
This is the third email and second checkpoint in our 1/1/2022 Victim or Victor Series.
A quick disclosure on the title.
Early in the pandemic a friend mentioned the phrase "Victim or Victor" off hand in a conversation and it seemed appropriate, not in a dominance sort of way, but as a mental puzzle.
Kind of like we all get to choose our mindset in every situation and the hope is that you will see the good and work towards the victory.
That friend just lost his wine crop for the year in the recent fires and we are crushed for him.
2020 has been a year of so much loss and required so many people to work so hard to keep things going that it is humbling to even have the audacity to write and expect anyone to have the time to read our prose.
We write to share what we are learning to encourage others and as a form of self therapy to look for the good amidst the clouds and for us in Northern California the seemingly endless smoke.
Thank you for your friendship and readership.
Drew & Sara
Uncertainty reigns right now. (Don't forget to still Plan)
Meaningful Shared Experiences are being created every week in 2020 (this bodes well for the future)
Checking in with people in the next 45 days before the holiday rush might be a good idea.
In closing if you want to help out our friend who lost his crop you can sign up for their periodic offerings and wine sales here.
Victim or Victor: Checkpoint 1, what we have noticed in the period from July 1, 2020 to August 15, 2020
45 days ago we shared our vision that navigating your personal, family, and work lives in this pandemic period could benefit from having a NorthStar heading of 1/1/2022.
Where do you want to be on that day and what do you want your world to look like?
This is our first checkpoint follow up with a few things we have noticed, and some questions we have been asked.
These are bulleted below for your ready reference.
What we have noticed:
That is what we noticed, what about you?
Victim or Victor: Your choice as you Chart a course to January 1, 2022, three big buoys and nine check points
This is a series of articles from emails that we were sending out to clients and friends as the CV Crisis evolves. Hope it is helpful for others and also provides a historical context as we all reacted and learned about the seriousness of this virus.
June was another month of adapting and learning how to decipher the signal from the wall of noise that was building.
Now that we are past the midpoint of 2020 it seems natural to focus on where we should be by year's end, yet somehow it feels like we need to go further out.
My question for you to ponder is this:
Where do you want to be 1/1/2022?
In your planning consider thinking through what you can control and what you can not.
Do your best to not waste energy or time on things you can't control, like whether we will have college sports on TV.
You can't control if online school means you have children at home, but you shouldn't be surprised by it, allocate time to having a plan to help your kids thrive.
It is very easy to envision the Covid Crisis costing the world billions and 2 years of disruption.
What is also easy to envision is that the victors will say this period was where they honed their vision and adapted to become their best self and team.
You won't hear much about these people on the news, the media will focus on the victims.
As a leader of yourself and others, the choice is yours, Victim, or Victor.
Let me know if you need any help setting up a 18 month plan, the first checkpoint is August 15th.
p.s. Way back in March we wrote about "Endurance" and as we start our journey to 1/1/2022 it appears Admiral Jim Stockdale's words are more helpful than ever: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cv-crisis-chronicle-march-29-implementing-principles-drew-sanders/
One of the first things that can come to mind when making a plan is how long things are going to be this way. How long are you asking people to make sacrifices, how long until we get back to normal? How long is basically another way of asking WHEN?
Getting things wrong by predicting a quick turn around on the when and how fronts seems to undermine your leadership in your own mind. In addition, many leaders don’t want to be wrong with too dire a prediction. We get caught in thinking that our adult employees are like a young child, and that we can’t scare them with the real information.
Right now, all leaders are caught in the WHEN trap and this is why we think you should punt on the timelines but still have a PLAN. A great way to do this is to get the team focused on the daily key actions that lead to the long-term benefits of endurance as a competitive advantage.
If your wondering what we know about endurance, we have unknowingly been acquiring some personal knowledge for decades and had a crash course the last 10 years due to some unforeseen medical emergencies.
Our professional golf backgrounds highly correlate with endurance. I also have completed open water swims in Lake Tahoe and the Maui Channel where the duration of the competition is such that endurance, as a quality for continuing for a long time, is paramount.
Our crash course has been on the medical front where within an 18-month period Sara was diagnosed with a bi-cuspid aortic heart valve that would require open heart surgery and both of Sara’s parents would be diagnosed with incurable cancers.
The prescription you get with a bicuspid valve when you are in your late 30’s is to be as healthy as you can but to wait for as long as you can because post-surgery you may be on blood thinners for the rest of your life and a second surgery may not be possible.
Sara’s parents were immediately put into surgery and then aggressive chemotherapy. Random numbers on charts become the norm, Google searches not very comforting, and seldom found is a doctor who got a minor in empathy.
What happens when so many family members are in need of care is that you start to shorten up the time frames by which you plan. You go from thinking where your life might be in ten years to realizing that every 90 days or less you are going to be making new plans. You also start to understand that the PLAN now gets an asterisk next to it. The asterisk is then explained at the bottom of the page and it reads:
“Plans subject to change.”
Endurance, and the benefits of having a recipe for endurance (back to the definition at the top of the quality of continuing for a long time) started to become our constant companions. We also learned to be very aware of a mindset that can appear when the duration of a condition is considered to be unknown. That mindset is COPE. For the purposes of this nonscientific publication we are going to consider COPE to be something to avoid.
“When you COPE you lose hope” is one of our taglines.
This is not to paint coping as the enemy in all settings, in some rooms it is vital. However, for the purposes of this situation and the leadership challenge that is in front of us know, we are going to want to avoid allowing the team to get comfortable with COPING.
We are prescribing the positive principles of Endurance with the aim that you will be able to use these to lead your team at time when you can’t give them an answer to when things will get back to normal. We will share a story from history of endurance and then offer some key lessons learned from that story.
The stories can serve as inspiration to your team and then you will be equipped to share why your team will endure and then can use the questions we have provided to help the team navigate the upcoming week.
Endurance and the Stockdale Paradox
James Stockdale was a POW for seven years in Vietnam with a significant amount of that time being in horrific and solitary confinement at the infamous Hanoi Hilton. In an interview he gave for Jim Collins bestselling book “Good to Great” he shared the dual mentality they formed to allow them to endure their situation and the indeterminate period that they were to be held captive.
Here is a snippet from the book and the interview between Jim Collins and James Stockdale.
“I never lost faith in the end of the story, I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
When Collins asked who didn't make it out of Vietnam, Stockdale replied:
“Oh, that's easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they'd say, 'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale then added:
“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
Witnessing this philosophy of duality, Collins went on to describe it as the Stockdale Paradox.
What a great line. “Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” What are the brutal facts of today as you see them? Could we see the basic confidence in the public stock markets shrink to historic lows? Do you have a plan in place to function as a business with the market at those levels? Do you have a plan for a key sales manager or a front-line manager to be sick and not able to work from home?
It appears that this is a time for leaders to pull the team together and visit some emergency preparedness plans with more clarity and focus. Have a plan for things getting worse from here so that if that happens the team has practiced recently, and they will know that someone was thinking through this before and not just making it up as they go along.
It is also a time to avail the unwanted fears of your clients and share with them what you are doing to serve their needs and the processes you have in place to keep them properly allocated.
Your business will endure with certain habits and it is important to have your clients be mentally prepared to endure with you. It seems like if Admiral Stockdale was alive today, he would say:
These points of view give us courage and we hope that by passing this example of endurance on to you that you will be able to effectively lead your employees and advise your clients at this crucial time in our country’s history.
We view your work as being essential to our country’s well-being.
Your Leader Playbook for the Week
Here is your leader playbook for the week:
Hello and welcome to a year that will have the Olympics in Tokyo and almost 150,000 hours of sports for you to watch on TV!
Many of those hours will include close-ups on the coaches as they react to the play of their teams. In some cases the narrative of the coach is now longer and more compelling than the endless line of players who make it on the court of field.
Who doesn't like a good Jon Gruden Smirk or Mike Krzyzewski squirm? It's similar to what we are doing as fans.
In this edition of SIWT we take a quick look at the challenge the coaches face each season on the topic of gaining player buy-in and the unique choices a coach has between using their power or influence.
When Loss Aversion Loses Its Effects
As a coach you have a series of common motivators that you can use, we have often pictured these motivators like spices on a rack that go into your coaching soup. You, the coach, have in your soup stock the normal base ingredients of effort, fitness, and strategies. The practices and the games then require you to pull from the spice rack the contexts and dynamics that help you deal with nailing the moment.
All teams start as groups, and during the course of a season the teams can revert to group status in an instant for reasons that range from having a grandparent in the stands, to having a losing record, to having little on the line at the end of the season. The notion of caring about the ball and each other before caring for oneself is counter-intuitive to most. It's this hard notion that attracts so many to coaching. Team can be special and coaching a winning team can be life changing.
Most of the spices are used to sharpen the focus of the players, to help them take the risk that comes from giving a full effort. Coaches know that the players will struggle to trust themselves, each other, and the coaches on how much better they can get. The standard the coach can see as their potential has risks. The tension between what a coach sees and what a player thinks is a normal part of that relationship and typically there are more players than coaches so the dynamic can get tense.
Some spices are slow to take effect and can have long lasting positive impacts, we have written about these in our Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams white papers. Vulnerability, following, humility, and commitment are spices that really change the dynamic of the team. However, they take time to develop and they also require a large amount of trust to have been developed between the players and the coaches.
Trust is seldom built from a power-based system and this is why so many of the spices that are on the coach rack work quickly but leave a bad aftertaste. A coach controls playing time, this is where their power has the most impact. A coach can use a loud voice and get players to move quickly out of fear. Some coaches don’t use a loud voice but prefer to undermine their players with passive-aggressive comments that allow them to still be in control but with a lower profile than the vocal coach.
One of the standard power-based motivators is loss aversion. “Are we really going to lose to this team?” “Is this the group of seniors who are going to break the streak of making the playoffs?” Sociology research has proven that loss aversion has a higher impact than goal obtainment. One of the best examples is putts for par vs birdie on the PGA Tour.
But eventually loss aversion loses its impact as does yelling, as does being passive aggressive. In fact, the dynamic that is really key for coaches to realize is that power has to be policed, where influence crosses borders without a passport.
The coach will always have the authority and the responsibility for the safety of the team. The coach will manage the game strategy and tactics and select who plays. The coach picks when practice starts and ends and what the team will work on in practice. The players agree to adhere to the rules outlined by the coaches. Power and authority work well in setting this up, much like the pilot and flight attendants enforce the rules on an airplane.
How the team behaves within that framework has everything to do with the influence the coach has earned. For the coach that only works from a position of power, and this will require a never ending amount of policing that can only be masked by winning. Winning creates buy-in from most constituents, and like perfumes can mask a lot of inconvenient smells. Influence is given by the player to the coach and is a precious offering. The player and the coach are both taking the risk of failure in front of others with the players taking most of the risk. Just picture the high school basketball player who bites on the cross over dribble and falls down in the 4th quarter of a road game against a cross town rival. The cascade of verbal assaults and embarrassment rain down on that player.
The coach and the player should be entering into a state of consensual interdependence where both are seeking to use their time together to improve and grow together. Each has a role to play, each is sacrificing. The fully developed coach understands that it takes time to build influence with the players that goes beyond winning a game. The fully developed coach is aware of the effects of the motivators they use and are careful which spices they use during the season. Loss aversion being one that they know will work, but only for short periods and that other longer lasting motivators must be present in the team soup for real team fulfillment.
Interested in other posts on similar topics? Check out our blog.
Help Us Help Coaches - We Need Your FeedbackSara and I have supported coach development through a non-profit we formed 16 years ago, recently that non-profit was hired by a high school to work with over 100 coaches on building out a team why and an individual WHY for their season and helping tie the two apparently opposed agendas together.
In preparation we are seeking answers from people to the following question:
In high school, how should the academic and athletic classrooms be the same and how should they be different?
We are seeking as many answers to this question as we can so please give it some thought and respond with your perspective here.
Profits, Culture & Threats
Hello and welcome to the final 45 days of the 2019, we hope it has been a good year for you. The team at Banyan is thankful for the contributions we have been asked to make. Business owners and managers are constantly thinking about profits, culture and threats. This time of year can be one of reflection and projection in all these areas and we have a few thoughts for you in each category.
Are your people used to being pushed to have goals? Do you tell them what they need to hit to achieve a mythical number that most think is made to line your pocketbooks and not theirs? Do they understand how and why the goals are put together? If you would like a fresh look at goals and how they can help motivate your team, consider this post:
Can you outline how you build culture? Most cannot. It’s a gut thing for many and a “I know it when I see it” response for others.
Andressen Horowitz’s founding partner Ben Horowitz has another book out that is a worthy read for any leader. What You Do is Who You Are addresses the issue of how to build a culture. His first book The Hard Thing About Hard Things laid out that there is no recipe to building a culture or a company. His latest book takes on the root stock needed to make a culture soup and he does so with some historical reviews that will shock you.
Our biggest takeaway is that sometimes you need rules that stand out so much they show off what actions will define your culture. Like fining NFL Football players for being two minutes early like Tom Coughlin did when he was shaping the culture of the New York Giants. The reason, the rule was all meetings started five minutes early…
This book reminded us of Jack Clark’s talk a few years back about establishing values and then having questions that activate those values into actions that can be seen and felt by everyone on the team. They define who is not on the team as much as they show who is on the team.
We have two essays on this topic for you. One is about how you are using innovation and the threats you will face if you don’t understand what type you are fighting against, the other is more subtle and is tied to an internal threat you may face from your own people. If your people are always telling you what you want to hear and you don’t have an established way of getting in and out of hard conversations, then there is a really good chance they are also telling your customers what they want to hear. This is most likely hurting the company.
Essay #1: The Difference Between Early and Late Stage Innovation
Early stage innovation is what Keith Krach talks about with his concept of finding a beach head: Big enough to eat off of and small enough to defend. He should know, he has created four category-killers in his career and is now the Under Secretary of Economic Growth. Here is his point on beach heads:
When you are seeking to be an early stage innovator you need adventurous capital that will be patient while you disrupt an industry.
Late stage innovation is what Mike Maddock likes to talk about when he holds up an IPhone and asks, what can you do with this device to further surprise and delight your customers?
You need less capital and more curiosity here.
Most business owners are not in early stage innovation mode. They are in long-stage business cycles and earning a good profit margin which they control. The key in a long stage business cycle is to gain control of the profit. As a business owner it is important that you understand the game you are playing.
Some examples of late stage innovation:
• Professional Services
• Financial Services
• Insurance Services
• Telecommunication Services
• IT Services
• Software as a Service
Examples of early stage innovation
• Docusign (the world didn’t have a way to securely sign for things digitally)
• Apple's IPhone (the world didn’t have access to email, text, phone and camera that they couldn’t be without)
• Facebook (the world didn’t have access to their friends experiences that they couldn’t be without)
• UBER (the world didn’t have a way to share cars that were personally owned)
• Amazon (the world didn’t have a way buy almost anything and have it show up in less than two days)
Mike Maddock asks us, how are you using the benefits of these early stage innovators to create a more pleasing and delightful experience for your customers? When you stay curious to the new while delivering the old, you may find that what you own and control improves in its financial fundamentals through customer satisfaction and new customers acquisition through the holy grail of “word of mouth.”
Essay #2: When is the right time to have a hard conversation?
Ask anyone in the C-suite and you will get something close to: Now is as good as time as any.
Ask anyone further down the org chart and you are more likely to eventually here: Never is fine with me.
This spectrum of answers reflects a common culture issue tied to power and influence and safety. Those with low power avoid conflict and those with power don’t understand why others are afraid of it.
We always have fun with owners who have lots of power at work and ask them how it feels at home with their spouse…it usually gets the point across.
The issue this difference creates is that the people solving the problems for customers, building products and services, and acquiring new customers are the ones that really need to have the tools to have hard conversations - and win those conversations - on behalf of the company.
Innovating Like a Virus
The fast fall finish is here, and after a quick inventory of the issues facing our clients right now we will outline a few and what we are doing to solve them. We think you will be able to relate and hope we have a solution or two that will help. If you have an insight of your own please pass along your thoughts here.
Current Issues Business Owners Are Facing
The Issue: We are innovating and have a few of the right customers, but getting more of the right customers can be slog.
“They treat us like a virus until they take the time to really look at it and then we are the cure.”
We thought this quote from a sales rep really nailed it. Your offering is treated by the buyer like a virus until it’s the cure. The enterprise buyers really have a lot on the line when they are making a decision and the switching costs can be significant. They are right to be thorough, the stakes are high.
Consider a three point solution that is working now:
1. Write about the pain the customer could be experiencing now in a manner which fits their attention span when first learning about something new. Don’t drop War and Peace on them when all they want is the 411. They should able to get the gist of what you do in less than 30 seconds and then have the ability to review for up to three minutes with your writing or video content.
2. Give them an example of a current customer similar to them and how it is working. The Case Study example can be a challenge if your solution is not focused, but start with three typical customers and walk them through the experience. This should be no more than a three to five minute commitment for the buyer and it will help them relate to your other customers.
3. Make the first dialogue option as short and sweet as possible while still having enough in it for you. Unless you are in charge of acquiring thousands of customers a year you really don’t need to be too concerned about tracking the first two data points in this example. You should be aware of the numbers but your first real leading indicator to track religiously are first time dialogues with a prospect. We suggest you use a 30 minute discovery call and really focus on the needs and outcomes desired by your buyer before you launch into your solutions.
You should be updating your writing on points one and two at least twice a year, tracking your first time calls and asking the team why is this working or why isn’t this working on a regular cadence.
No Thanks, We Got This Taken Care of In-House
The Issue: When your job is on the line, sometimes you would rather have an employee working for you than a contractor. The doing it yourself vs outsourcing it tension is very real in today’s economy.
Employees are expensive, and yet the “at-will” contract creates the ability for the best to turn the table on the employer and leave on a whim. This often leaves only the average to poor employees who want to stick around to handle mission critical tasks.
If the boss has their bonus or job on the line, sometimes they deal with attrition issues and building the team internally because they feel like they are more in control.
These biases mean that if your company's offering is in any way reducing head count and outsourcing a service or skill, you had better be the A team.
Part of getting someone to let go of control is to help them understand where their time could be better spent if they didn’t have to worry about the problem you solve for. You can accomplish this by asking them to list out the top 10 things they deal with at work on a weekly basis, and then ask them which one has the biggest impact on their P&L.
Chances are they are spending time doing and overseeing a series of low value-add objectives. When you can take those off their plate and allow them to refocus on their high ROE objectives you are making a different case for your joint success.
For more on this topic click on the graphic or click here for a case study article from Distillery Tech.
Is It Time To Buy or Sell?
The Issue: Should we stay or should we go?
Business transactions are a big part of the reason we are hired. Sometimes it’s to guide the company to an exit and other times it’s to help them with an acquisition.
In the age of disruption, the size of your balance sheet and a clear understanding of how long you can protect your margins can help you answer the question of whether you should be a buyer or a seller. An additional factor is the age and motivation of the ownership.
Can’t get your customers’ attention?
A big challenge for many companies is the attention span of their buyers: it’s really short and they struggle to keep it. Going back to our earlier example, the people who might do business with you think you are marketing a virus, while your customers know you have the cure.
The largest player in your space doesn’t have this problem, their brand gets them in the door. This can become a significant competitive advantage. If the amount of time that the buyer has is limited, it is, and they are already doing business with that company, which they probably are, then you might want to consider locking up a couple of key accounts and then taking it to that larger player and allowing them to monetize it for you.
John Chambers started at Cisco in 1991 and led one of the strongest sales cultures in the world. Cisco then took its sizable balance sheet and has purchased over 200 companies to feed its sales force and their customer base. Here is a white paper from the company on their acquisition process.
Does your industry have an aging set of owners and no clear dominant players?
If so and you are between 30 and 50 years of age, you might consider becoming an acquirer of these businesses. A great example of this is in the financial services industry. The wealth in the United States has typically been advised through either banks or brokerage firms. In the last 15 years the rise of the independent Registered Investment Advisory firm has fragmented the industry while it has continued to grow in line with the wealth of the country.
High Net Worth individuals and medium sized nonprofits will attribute trust to an individual easily and this has allowed yesterday’s Morgan Stanley advisor to become today’s Registered Investment Advisory business owner. With most companies offering similar services to their clients, and the clients’ reticence to discuss their wealth with multiple people, turnover remains low. The term “client for life” is often used in this industry.
However, the advisor does end up retiring, lives do end, and the assets and their associated fees and revenues leave. Some advisors don’t plan for this and they wait until the last minute. Others plan ahead. If you are in the middle of your career it can be a great way to grow your customer base.
This is especially true if you are struggling to acquire new customers of your own. Your revenue per customer will be lower as you will be sharing that with the seller for a period of time, but if you establish trust with the customers and their dependents the life time value of the customer should make the cost to acquire that customer worth it.
The Lesson: when growth is slow, acquire older players and recruit young service professionals.
2019 has been an extremely active year for our clients and their businesses, if you need help solving for any of these issues or feel like you might benefit from an outside voice, we welcome the chance to speak with you.
Secret Sauce of Enterprise Sales
Summer has arrived and the first half of the year for your business was either great, good, or just OK. As the leader you know that revenue is a form of a lagging indicator, and so for many businesses the third quarter is a time where your leading indicator (first time sales calls with prospects) can drop off a cliff. While you still have the marketing and sales teams working on the top of the funnel this natural drop can afford you a time to revisit your sales habits and processes.
We recently worked on this exact issue for a company, and below is a window into what we built for them. Feel free to share it with your company and tweak it as you see fit. There isn't much intellectual property in sales processes, however, dedicated practice on the right actions of listening and communicating appears to be a timeless pursuit for the best.
Just like Steph Curry's pregame workout and his practice sessions, they are re-mark-able.
The very best pursue all types and forms of practice and they are re-lent-less in that pursuit.
If your company wants a customized practice plan or a practice partner, just let us know.
Our General Bias to Take Into Enterprise Sales CallsYou (our prospect) have been specifically selected:
What is the outcome that your company really really cares about?
If we can't kill this idea....then you should move forward with it....the key issue is how many and over what time period (WHEN)
The four legs under our platform are:
The secret sauce behind the process
Why/What/When White Paper
The above outlined process is an adaptation of our WHY/HOW/WHEN white paper on customer acquisition which you can access by clicking on the document or find it and other white papers on our website CONTENT page.
Enjoy the summer!
Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams (SIWT)
The shorter duration of sports teams seasons allow for more efficient research and we also find they correlate well with companies, non-profits, and families.
Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams (SIWT) is leading to the creation of a management process for coaches and businesses to implement.
SIWT is for coaches and owners who believe the best teams are made when both the individual's and the team's needs are met. This dual goal takes leadership and management to a higher level, it's not for the lazy coach or boss.
Our first edition focused on Vulnerability. This edition we turn our focus to Following.
Secret Ingredient: Following
If the leader is an intermediary to a vision, then a follower in a team context is someone who agrees with that vision, and subjects themselves to the needs of others in order to reach the agreed upon target. This sounds easy, yet a series of subtle forces are at work undermining group success. Individuals are efficient at calculating their own cost benefit analysis of their time, level of engagement, and compensation needs as they seek to optimize their return on effort.
The act of following while still thinking is a critical component that turns a group of people into a team. Today’s group efforts demand a fully engaged collective body where every person is thinking while they are following. Gone are the days of being able to blindly follow, now at a moment’s notice any member of the team may be called upon to lead. If they don’t have the vision in their mind, the outcomes will suffer.
Great Following Trait #1: Stay close and Observe
Google may have replaced mentors as the best source of knowledge in general, but on a team the subtle needs and tricks to great performance are still passed on human to human. The closer you can stay to your immediate leader, the more they will pass along in either word or deed. First year cadets at West Point are taught to observe and adapt as they start the tightly manicured 4-year matriculation. There will be distractions everywhere at work, from coworkers, to trade shows, to all-hands meetings. Navigate all these with discretion and observe how your boss behaves and mirror it.
Great Following Trait #2: Anticipate
Some of the best teams in the world come in pairs, and seldom is that pair splitting each task 50/50. They often deploy a divide and conquer strategy with each one owning a series of duties and relying on the other to deliver on their stack. As the team builds beyond a pair, a collaborate-to-innovate strategy can start to evolve. It is at this point that the ability to anticipate the needs of others plays a key role in how great followers enable successful teams. At the root of anticipation is empathy. Empathy requires setting aside your thoughts and seeing the world through the eyes of another. New members of work teams who seek to serve the needs of the group first will not stay at the bottom of the totem pole for long.
Great Following Trait #3: Be Comfortable with Conflict
Universities may talk a tough game when it comes to deadlines, but ultimately the student is paying for the knowledge. In recent decades the school administrators have a consistent record of caving to student and parent demands. The workplace is a different story, the customer is a fickle and petulant king, and this can turn even the nicest boss into a frustrated time-constrained leader with very challenging demands.
“Stop what you’re doing and get this done today! It has to get done now!”
What happened to: “How are you, is everything OK in your world? When you get a minute could you step in my office to discuss our latest cool project that you will love?”
Anyone who has worked for even six months knows tension and conflict arrive via phone, email, and text at a moment’s notice. Having a series of communication tools to work with others during times of duress is a game changer. Being able to work with conflict when you are in a low power situation starts with being able to frame what you are hearing, and then nailing what you can offer to the solution. When people disagree on the solution it is key for the good follower to grab the similarities that exist amid the differences, and then look for a good moment to share your findings. Master this trait as a follower, and your leaders will take note and your responsibilities will increase.
A View into Our Future
Tomorrow’s leaders will be challenged to get a population of individuals to buy into the need to follow as we have defined it. Those that can sell the benefits of supplanting the self for the group and create outcomes that feed the entire team will find that word of mouth among the members will keep a steady stream of applicants at their door. Very few enterprises scale without more people, and people having a good time while winning is contagious. We all want to be on that team. The question being asked is are you willing to follow long enough to get there?
The New Employee
We would like to highlight a specific moment when the individual is new to a team or company. One's ability to assimilate quickly appears to have a strong correlation with later success.
Here is a quick guide for you or a friend to use when they are new:
Are You a Pirate or a Cowboy?
There was a romantic comedy that had a bit of a cult following in the early 90’s by the name of “The Princess Bride” with a mythical character that was known as the Dread Pirate Roberts. He had a habit of telling his captives, “good night, sleep well for I will most likely kill you in the morning.” It was all an act, but he later explained that establishing a healthy sense of fear in people was the easiest way to lead them.
Another movie that included people using a long journey to learn a little about themselves and leadership was "City Slickers" with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance. Palance is the sage cowboy who leads Crystal and his pals through a search for their one thing while managing a cattle drive. He used a group effort to help each individual find their role, and in the process the group became a team.
Which leads us back to our question: which one are you and which environment do you prefer? A pirate ship or a cattle drive? Both are journeys, both have codes, and both have success that they can point to as validation for their way of life.
Yet the two environments have stark differences. The pirate ship is a cauldron for bullies and the chief bully is the captain. On a pirate ship you are waging war both internally and externally at all times. There is blood everywhere and the sea is full of losers who have walked the plank.
The funny thing about our work environments is that many people will tolerate bully behavior at work from a high functioning a..hole. The crazy designer, the coder who treats people poorly, or the sales person who crushes quota and everyone that comes in her path. Worse yet is the CEO who uses the term “radical candor” as a smoke screen to berate and belittle people who aren’t “all-in” at the company.
he hard part for the employee is that often times the pirates appear to be friendly and mostly human like in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” when the sun is out. They need people, lots of people, because they go through so many and thus they are very charming. Especially the CEO. But when the moon rises the pirates are all bones, and it is at that moment that the new employee realizes they have joined the wrong crew.
In the right environment the employees are being challenged to push themselves on tasks that help the company achieve its goals and that also help identify the roles that each one is best suited to fill. The hero of the company is the product and the customer it serves, not the people at the company. Recently an open-source leadership outline of Bill Campbell’s work was compiled by the name of the Trillion Dollar Coach. It was compiled after 80 interviews of leaders that worked with Bill during his lifetime and include people from Google, Apple, and Intuit.
We would like to think of Bill Campbell as the Cowboy leading all of us on the cattle drive of life. A place where through the hard work and the focus on the cattle you can find your role, and no amount of effort is spared in the saving of a lost member of the team or the herd. There are plenty of trials on a cattle drive but there are no planks to walk.
If you want some tips on how to spot a pirate ship that is recruiting so you can avoid them, email us here.
The Hard Thing About Innovating
Geoffrey Moore is a best selling author of books that focus on disruptive innovations and technology. His best seller is "Crossing the Chasm" and it addresses the issue of going from the early adopter category of customers to the bigger section of buyers labeled “pragmatists.” Recently, he posted a short piece on LinkedIn about this still pressing issue for all innovative companies. I posted a question to his post and as fortune would have it, he responded with an answer. Our interaction and his post is compiled here in a PDF. To read directly on LinkedIn click here.
The interchange gave us confidence that we are in alignment with a great thinker and adviser to the CEO’s of companies like Microsoft and Salesforce. It also allowed for some reflection on just how much the phrase “sales and marketing” is out of date. Professionals used to call the category of customer acquisition Sales and Marketing. Sales was first and Marketing was next, second, or last depending on the company. Sales and its people were the heroes.
In the past ten years the script has flipped and we now live in a world of marketing and sales. In our world the word marketing really means Thought Leadership Marketing (TLM). TLM for some is crazy, because their marketing is all about sounds and movies and clicks and moving a human through a process like a sheep about to be sheered. Those processes matter mostly for very small dollar purchases.
Our clients provide goods and services to enterprise customers with multiple decision makers who all have different professional biases and disciplines that they own in their roles as CFO, General Counsel, or COO. These professionals don’t make decisions based on catchy headlines and short videos, they read and analyze data and facts. They want to see case studies and interviews with people like them who are faced with similar issues.
These C-level buyers respond to thought leadership, and it is through this medium that you can then earn an audience and begin your sales process. The two processes are different, but they fit nicely with each other when designed correctly. It starts with a thought leadership marketing story-line that your company produces and it moves to an enterprise sales process which focuses on alignment, belief, and urgency.
If you know of a company that is innovating and struggling with the chasm as Moore describes we have a Thought Leadership Customer Acquisition Program that is made for building the bridge that leads your products and services into the large pool of customers that are the pragmatists.
Questions That Have Been Making an Impact
One of the benefits of being a consultant is that we are in a lot of different “team” rooms and, like the honey bee, pick up lots of different pollen/ideas from each team. We have noticed that the right question can really stimulate engagement, creativity, and accountability. Here are a few questions that stood out as being particularly effective.
We hope they help stimulate and foster dialogue that leads to positive actions.
Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams
Six years ago Sara and I started Banyan Tree Strategies to help people build re-mark-able businesses and we are thankful for its success. In the midst of our work we started to notice a correlation between what we were doing for companies and our past experiences as professional athletes and more recently as youth sports coaches.
What was our big revelation?
Everyone wants to be on a winning team and nobody wants to be tagged as not being a team player.
OK. We get it, big deal, everyone knows that already.
Then why is it so hard to repeat as a winner, and why do most teams fail?
We took what we are learning from CEO’s and are applying it ranging from college coaches, to people coming out of college looking to grow their networks, to 6th grade lacrosse coaches. Four times a year we will share our insights called “The Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams,” a topic we have touched on at various moments in our Banyan Tree Branches & Roots Newsletter.
We hope our research can help you in your efforts to build winning teams in all facets of your life.
These are the themes we are currently following:
• The coach’s pursuit of collective excellence
• How small societies impact performance
• The evolving role of the captain
There are many noble pursuits for a coach at the beginning of the season and we hardly ever bump into one who is volunteering their time in the hopes of causing a kid to quit the sport. However, if we were to vote on one of the hardest goals to obtain, we would put achieving collective excellence above going undefeated and winning the all-city title.
Our definition of collective excellence has its roots in the work of John Wooden and those who also seek to build a personal relationship with each player in the joint pursuit of the team’s goals. The ability of the coach to build trust with the player, to such an extent that the player can agree to the role the coach has constructed for that season is crucial. It's part sales pitch and part plea for support and trust.
Each season is as an opportunity for the coach to have a scouting report done on themselves, a book as it were. It answers the question, how do we beat this coach? Scouting reports are common on players: what is the book on that guy?
A coach should also want to know what “the book” is on them at this point in their career, and then work the next season to improve. So what is the book on you right now?
The coach who trusts his or her team enough to be vulnerable with them should be well on their way to existing in a state of consensual interdependence with the rest of the coaching staff and the players. We wrote about this in one of our Thought Leadership Series pieces shown here.
The pursuit of collective excellence begins with the coaching staff and then continues through to the players. If you can think of a team you were on that achieved this, please share with us as we continue to build out stories on this topic.
How Small Societies Impact Performance
We first heard this term small societies from UNC women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance in a talk he gave at the What Drives Winning Conference in 2015.
It was a scant reference at the beginning of the talk (minute 1:15), but for geeks like us, it was cause for research. Dorrance is a coach in pursuit of collective excellence. He is building a cumulative chest of wisdom on the topic of human collaboration in the pursuit of putting a ball in a net and caring about each other in the process. His research led him to discover Cesar Luis Menotti of Argentina who had the high pressure job of being that country's national soccer team coach.
It was Menotti who started talking about the teams within the teams, calling them small societies when describing the relationships between the goalie and the fullbacks, the right midfielder with the center forward. It is similar to Metcalf’s law of networks and how intertwined our relationships can get.
Our current learning is this:
Consider looking at your team the same way you would look at this square. You know you are going to be asked, how many squares can you see? If a square is a small society that could exist on your team, how many can you see? Make a list of small societies for your team and then if you feel like it, share it with us. As the coach, you can’t advise and mentor what you can’t observe.
We have reached out to Dorrance with no success to date. If you have a link to him, please let us know as we would love 15 minutes to have a conversation on his current thoughts.
Oh Captain, My Captain
No topic has captured our attention in the area of teams more in the past six months than the role of the Captain. Both Sara and I were captains of our high school and college teams. Both of us found it an arduous role to fill. In the decades since we have spoken to countless others who had similar experiences and were delighted to find that Sam Walker did years of research and published “The Captain Class.”
His goal was to answer one of the most challenging questions in the history of sport: who are the best teams of all time? In all sports, in all time? Talk about a Mt. Everest goal. He also had a second goal. If he could make a claim that there was one class above the rest, did they have any characteristics in common?
Turns out he could and there was. It was that they had a certain type of Team Captain. He then went on to identify that those captains had seven characteristics in common.
This was pure catnip for us and led us to interview as many college, high school, and youth sport coaches we could and ask, if this is true, then how can you incorporate identifying potential captains and then developing them as part of your program?
What we heard and how coaches are changing what they are doing in response to the data is encouraging.
We will continue to review this effort in this section of the publication. Here is a copy of what we send to coaches prior to our conversations with them, feel free to send it to any coach you know and we would love their advice and comments.
Thank you so much for your readership and engagement with our research on building and maintaining winning teams. Winning together is a jump for joy moment and we think those are worth the blood, sweat, and toil that goes into being collectively excellent. We will be back to you in the middle of May with our latest insights that we glean from our network of awesome contributing coaches and leaders.
The First Pivot of the Year
Welcome to the middle of the first quarter of 2019, which for many business owners is a vital check-in moment. You may have been planning for a great first quarter of the year since the end of last summer, and now that future is your present. What is going the way you planned, what isn’t, and why?
We spent the last 45 days traveling, visiting companies, and attending a few conferences with clients. We are happy to share our insights on the three themes we are going to follow this year as we seek to help our community run re-mark-able businesses.
Themes for 2019
• Thought Leadership and its impact on your business
• Customer acquisition frameworks
• CEO leadership challenges
What is New in Thought Leadership
Email continues to be the killer app for developing and maintaining a respected position with your clients, customers and prospects. Recent data shows that enterprise and individual customers spend the vast majority of their time reading and communicating inside of an email application.
What does this mean for you?
It means that unless you have a business which really wants to attract a customer that it doesn’t know and offer them a commodity (think owning a McDonald's franchise) you don’t really need to spend a ton of money on social media. Your best course of action is to have a well-developed email communication plan that integrates with your website and sales team.
The frequency of your email communication should depend on the type of service or product you are delivering. It can range from a travel service emailing you multiple times a week, to an estate planning law firm that shares its findings once a quarter. If you want our advice on what your cadence should be, click here.
What is A Customer Acquisition Framework?
Consultants can bring diversity of thought to a company, they also bring new terminology that at first glance may not make sense. We use a customer acquisition framework (CAF) to describe how a business wants a potential customer to learn about, and then accept its offer. It might be called sales and marketing and in other places it’s called marketing and sales. Regardless, the biggest change we have noticed in this area are the options available to your company relative to just five years ago. That is why it is one of our themes for 2019. It might make sense for you to revisit your strategy.
In 1995 the phone and the fax machine were the money makers, and having a toll free number was a big deal. You might have had a marketing department, but you didn’t know what worked and what didn’t and the magazine ad salespeople were really happy about that.
Today marketing executives can show up to a meeting with real data that tracks and predicts future behavior by your target customers.
What does this mean for you?
It means you have more leverage with your marketing dollars and your sales team. Just ten years ago you were still guessing with your marketing dollars and the sales reps could hold you hostage with the relationships they initiated.
In the House Tour image below think through how far you could have a potential customer get without the help of a sales person? As an owner you have an incentive to get them as far through the house as you can. Get this right and your cost of sales will plummet and your profitability will rise.
CEO Leadership Challenges
Somewhere between Salt Lake City and Grand Junction this January while climbing a scary mountain pass in a four wheel drive it came to us that a way to look at the CEO’s job is as follows:
To determine how much stress the balance sheet of the company and the people that work for it can handle at this time in the company's life.
You may have a different view of it, or a different way to say it that works for you and we would love to hear from you about how you see it, but humor us for a minute.
It appears at times that even at some pretty large companies that the only person who is really thinking about the future of the entire enterprise is the CEO. Everyone else is in their department looking for more resources, and hopefully in the words of Peter Drucker, focused on the next most important task.
What does this mean for you?
It means you need to be relentless in your pursuit of what is true from your direct reports because they may have an inherent bias to keep you on a consistent drip of flattery and fluff. It also means that having a board of directors that can help you think about the company from the outside is vital.
Questions a good board can help you wrestle with are:
• How much debt should we be working with now to grow the business?
• Where are your next threats coming from?
• What innovations are going to allow you to increase your margins?
• Where is your current leadership team in their own personal life cycles?
The rub is that building and maintaining a productive board of directors is a challenge. Too often it is such a hassle that you don’t even have one. CEO’s can often feel like the coach of a professional sports team. The players on the field are your employees, the fans in the stands are the customers, and up in the owner’s box sits the board of directors. Where does the coach stand? Sometimes they stand alone.
Ask yourself the following question: What is the company telling itself right now that we want to be true, that may not actually be true? Many department heads will be talking about growth because they know that is what everyone wants to hear. The challenge is that if the company doesn’t manage its balance sheet and time the growth correctly outside forces can end up owning the business. You may have a growth mandate, but try as we might most of us can’t make water go uphill, so back up your mandate with facts and processes you can trust and measure. This rigor and dialogue can save your business.
See You at the End of Q1
That’s it for now, thank you for allowing us to drop into your mailbox six to eight times a year with our insights from the road. We love helping interesting people build re-mark-able businesses that “never stop growing.” Email us here if you want to start a conversation.
Dancing With Your Best Self in 2019
During the biggest gap week of the year we send you our warmest thoughts and pledge to continue our quest to write great content on how to bring your best self and team in 2019.
An Enlightened Breakfast
Recently I had breakfast with a friend and he exclaimed:
“Sanders you have to watch the movie “Free Solo” about the guy who climbed El Capitan at Yosemite without a rope! It is the most amazing physical and mental personal achievement I have ever seen.”
My response was:
“Awesome, I will go see it.”
Then a challenging notion came to mind and I made an assertion:
“You know, when you try and to climb it with 2 to 100 people together is when the whole plan and challenge changes.”
We ended up having a great dialogue about the differences in trying to lead a company where you are telling people to be their best, and yet are not sharing and teaching how they should work together to accomplish the mission of creating a remarkable customer experience.
Looking back on six years of running Banyan Tree Strategies, much of what we have been sharing with you has been about that gap or transition. The leader's challenge of teaching people to go from the one, to the few, to the many while achieving collective excellence.
Learning how to work together well is described in the second layer of John Wooden’s pyramid of success, going from best self to the best team. Some relevant recent work has been done by a group of Wooden’s players and fellow professors at UCLA. It is called “The Pyramid of Teaching Success in Sport.”
Wooden’s challenging call to coaches lingers in this pyramid when he said,
“You haven’t taught, until they have learned.”
We Are Splitting Branches & Roots Into Two Publications
• One will be focused on business owners and continue our eight times a year cadence.
• The other will look at the secret ingredients of winning teams and be published quarterly.
Building A Re-Mark-Able Business
Banyan Tree Strategies serves business owners who believe that growing a re-mark-able business is a worthy pursuit. Our content is for owners who want to know more about how to lead their people, position their services correctly, and win the new business they desire. Our pledge is that by engaging us you will build a business that can double in size every five years.
We will follow four themes to help your business grow.
• The effective use of thought leadership to drive new client engagement.
• Customer acquisition frameworks that are working currently and how to scale a sales force.
• Managing transitions with key people and potentially the sale of a business unit.
• Challenges facing the C-suite and how to manage and lead your direct reports.
The Secret Ingredients of Winning Teams
The quarterly content will be for people who believe that building and maintaining small societies (teams) is interesting. It is for people who want to know more about what makes certain teams different than others. We hope that by reading our thoughts on teams that you will be empowered to be a better teammate and leader.
The non-profit we founded in 2005 and still run today is focused on serving youth sports coaches. We will share with you what we are doing to serve these coaches and you will get an early look at what we are building to allow them to be better at their craft.
You will receive our email on February 15th, May 15th, August 15th, & November 15th and our goal is for it to be a less than five-minute read and worth the time.
Our view is that everyone is a coach to someone and that the best ones loved to be coached. However, it is quite a challenge to go from individual learning to group learning and this is where John Wooden’s quote “you haven’t taught until they have learned” leaves many of us challenged and wanting.
We look forward to sharing the journey of 2019 together and appreciate your readership and advice along the way.
Drew & Sara
P.S. Our first offering for coaches in 2019 is going to focus on what to share with someone when they don’t make the team. Any thoughts you have on this topic are welcome.
Why It Matters to Let Your Readers SCAN, READ, and STUDY Your Content
In this edition we are going to focus on how people are currently processing new information and how you might position your offerings.
For illustrative purposes let's look at our topic through the eyes of Rupert Bear of the fictional town of Nutwood in England.
The Rupert books teach us how to position your content to a new potential customer. Below we will compare how a young reader and a new customer might have a few things in common.
These books have a personal connection for me as my mother loves the comics, and upon returning from England she always had a new Rupert Bear book for me to enjoy.
The SCAN - Sitting with mom and having her read to you while you look at the pictures
The Young Reader: Rupert Bear is well positioned for the earliest of children. The colors in the book are attractive and each page has four scenes that can be understood without words. Picture reading this to a three year old. You are snuggled up on the coach reading aloud the bold titles and pointing to the scenes. The child is taking it all in and scanning.
The New Customer: When writing for an audience that is busy and may or may not be that interested in your offering, it is wise to allow them a chance to be able to digest some portion of knowledge from a quick scan. This allows you to benefit from their innate curiosity and potentially earn the chance to have them read what you have written.
The READ - Reading with Dad and learning how to sound it out
The Young Reader: The next stage where Rupert works well for your growing child is when they are now learning how to sound things out. You are again snuggled up on the couch and these familiar pictures are there to help the child read the captions (which conveniently rhyme.) The meter and pace of the experience is well suited for the child, they are on their way to learning a key life skill, the joy of reading.
The New Customer: After the new customer has scanned your writing and chosen to learn more, you still want to allow them the chance to read only a little and be smarter than they were before. Give them a framework such as "here is the scoop and the skinny on this topic." They don’t have time yet to move forward with you, but you will earn points with them if you teach them something relevant quickly. We advise doing this with bold titles and pulled-out captions.
The STUDY - Reading on your own for comprehension and action
The Young Reader: At six or seven the child is reading the writing at the bottom of the page and they now have years of interacting with the characters and the story lines. The parents are happy to pick up the latest Rupert Book that can travel with the child and know that thebook will consume time and attention with all the positive outcomes that accompany reading.
The New Customer: The holy grail of business writing is to have a person of influence get past the first two steps of scanning and reading and actually study what you have to say on a topic. These are the people that make budgets, decide on purchases and lead others. The long term rewards of having them think with you and potentially learn from your deep insight are significant. You also benefit by not being there in front of them. They don’t have the distraction of dialogue, they are alone and have time to think. Get this part right and you are on your way to mutual success.
The Fastest 105 Days of the Year
Welcome to the early fall reset from the team at Banyan.
Wait, isn’t it still the beginning of August? Why are we talking about the fall?
The answer lies in the nuanced tension that exists between our weather-defined seasons and our local school districts ever-changing calendar. Over the past decade school has gone from starting after Labor Day to early or mid-August in much of the country.
Thus begins a 105 day period of the year that takes us right up to Thanksgiving. From our experience this fast fall finish is chock full of commerce and commotion.
Here are a few of our ideas and tips for you to consider in the different theaters of your life.
We advise people to create a word for each calendar year that can act like a north star. If your word got lost in the fragmentation of summer, considering puling it out and reorienting your heading. Jon Gordon does a nice job outlining this here.
Right below that vision-crafting word sits a series of goals which can often be tied to a personal mission or quest.
What is possible for you in the following areas in the next 105 days?
• Extended Family
• Community Service
An insight we have benefited from in recent years is that we can’t do it all, and that we are not proficient when we switch between too many tasks at once. Consider pulling out our task organizing template and sit down with a trusted friend or spouse and prioritize your mission critical projects. If you need a listening buddy, email us and we would be happy to lend you an ear.
YOU AT WORK
Hopefully you kissed some of the joy of summer as it flew by, put the memories in a jar, and blessed them with gratitude. Being able to do this, regardless of how full your jar is can be vital as you shift your focus to the fall.
IF YOU HAVE A BOSS:
Put yourself in their shoes and think through how they are looking at the next 18 months of their life. Understanding begins with observation, and if you are looking for a primer to help you in this area consider using our mapping your boss template.
IF YOU ACQUIRE CUSTOMERS:
If you acquire customers for your company and have an annual sales number this time of year can be fantastic or frightful. Careful pipeline and funnel management will help you decide where to allocate your most precious asset: your time.
Here are a few questions for you to review:
• Can the prospect live without your offering now?
• If they have determined they can’t live without your offering, do they have the dollars budgeted for this year or next?
• After they have become a customer, who is going to be your internal champion of your offering for the first 18 months?
• What are the chances that internal champion leaves or gets promoted during those 18 months and do you have a backup person identified?
• Within your pipeline, where are your gaps? Are you falling in love with your later stage deals that still have hair on them because you don’t like the rejection that exists in the early stages? Be careful of this trap at all times of the year, but especially right now.
IF YOU RUN A TEAM:
If you run a team or own the company, then you are most likely looking forward to getting back to full strength. The summer feels like you are 20% light as people take time off.
If your metrics show you are behind it can be a difficult time for you. Part of you wants to make dramatic changes and only see the downside in your market and your people.
Some business advisers suggest a strategy of tilting the table on your people in order to keep them paranoid and always on edge.
We have labeled this the Superbowl Myth because so many leaders try to emulate sports when motivating their people. The challenge with this notion is that sports teams have off-seasons and athletes are typically playing for less than three years. They are in the entertainment industry, which is always looking for something new. It is by definition transitional.
In contrast, many companies are looking to build a relationship with a customer that is as long and as mutually beneficial as possible. A great way to increase the lifetime value of your customer is to have employees that are able to think creatively and in harmony with each other, and the customer. They are constantly innovating together.
Consider setting up a thinking framework that allows you to see how you and your team are working with and dealing with tension. Are you only able to get things accomplished when you add so much pressure that it is like throwing a tiger in the room? Or, do you have a heading established and are moving towards that heading with the pace and purpose that comes from everyone being on the same page with respects to the priorities?
Setting a goal and allowing the right amount of tension to build within a team is the leader's charge. Chances are your team is not trying to win one championship and then take three months off. You need to win every day.
Think through the game you are trying to get everyone to play, and then seek to enter into a state of consensual interdependence with your team to properly prioritize the work goals together.
YOU AT PLAY
Steven Johnson TED Talk - The playful wonderland behind great inventions.
If this summer taught us anything it is that the blending of science and art makes for an amazing cocktail of creativity in both settings.
With fall being such a season of production, we end with the suggestion that you allocate some daily time to whatever art distracts you the most. No matter the form, consider building in some unstructured play to your day.
Don’t worry about accomplishment inside your art. Do it for your soul. Watch what happens as things from the pursuit part of your life fall into place almost by accident as you are having fun.
We wish you a great start to the fall, and will be back in October with more learning and observations. For more of our writings for business visit www.banyantreestrategies.com and for our writings for people visit www.drewsanders.com.
Confessions of a Glue Sniffer
Don't worry, we have not picked up a new bad habit, a recent trip to the library had me opening up a new book, and the combination of the adhesives and paper gave off a smell that made me smile. If you can imagine that smell right now, then you might really enjoy this edition.
When it comes to summer reading, word of mouth seems important. We just don’t want to make a book purchase and end up with a dud. With that in mind this edition of Branches & Roots is focused on 12 book ideas for the 12 weeks of summer. We hope you find one of our selections interesting and that you find the time to read (or like many of us listen to the book) while the days are long and the nights are short.
We have divided up the recommendations into five categories:
Most of these books are not new but they all were worth the investment of time, money and enrichment a good book can bring.