The Jinxed Client Phenomenon-how to know it’s time to hang it up.

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The Jinxed Client

You know what a Jinxed Client is. We’ve all had them. Nothing seems to go right with them no matter what you do. In his blog, I’ll outline what I think is happening with these disaster magnets and how to deal with them.

You know the wind-up – but only after the fact. Things start off slightly weird, a little rocky. Something is off but we’re not entirely sure what. Like a stone in the shoe. So we carry on. We persevere. And whether it’s pride, fear, or some sense of obligation, it doesn’t matter; this one client has the mark of the devil on them.

And so everything possible goes wrong.

It’s almost like the universe itself is conspiring against you. No matter what you do, the name on some deliverable is misspelled or wrong entirely, timelines are botched, files are misplaced; from the most mundane to the most calamitous.   Somehow, for some inexplicable reason, this ONE client seems to be attracting all the worst aspects of your client experience. They catch every single process gap, they snare every single possible goof up. They snatch failure from the jaws of success. And the more we work to resolve the issues and pacify them, the deeper we go.

My belief is that this Jinxed Client Phenomenon is created, in large part, by the client. Whether or not they are consciously aware, my experience is that this is a by-product of buyer’s remorse but the client is passing the responsibility of failure on to you.

Once they feel the regret they sort of attract negativity in order to validate their perceptions.   They need to be proven right so they literally seek out the problems, wait for them to happen, or hyper-focus on small things to catch a mistake. It’s a form of bias confirmation (the idea that we seek out validation for our preconceived ideas) and you’re on the poopy end of it.

Here’s what we do about it. 

Lock up your systems. The less confident you feel about your procedures the easier it is to take a simple human error and allow it get to you. We all make mistakes but when you know your process is mostly lumpy it’s easier to get emotional, blame yourself or your team, and spiral into self-doubt.

Tell the truth. Instead of getting caught up in the drama, get some distance, look objectively at the situation and ask yourself these questions:

Are more mistakes happening with this one client than normal?

Does the client seem to feel vindicated or justified whenever a mistake is made (almost like they want you to fail)?

Do you feel fear, anger, or resentment?   Those are dangerous emotions to have for someone you’re supposed to be helping.

Come clean. You can have a few minutes worth of pain by exiting the relationship, or you can have months…maybe years of it. What’s the true cost of not addressing this on your terms? Do you really think things will improve? Will this client refer? Could they ever sue you? Stop, breathe, think.

Review and revise: Every cycle with a client provides the opportunity to improve your processes. Ask yourself and your team questions about what was positive, what was negative, and what can be done to improve the next encounter. Flow chart the steps and seek out gaps. Try to place bottlenecks at the front of the process and if needed, get some outside help. Fresh eyes can make a difference.

The Jinxed Client Phenomenon isn’t just something you’ve had to face. Everyone has been there from time to time. Don’t allow these toxic relationships to fester and transform into something lethal. Just be honest with yourself, your team and most importantly, your client and move on.

 

 

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

The Entrepreneur LIFE MODEL

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Business Life Model

 

If “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea then you haven’t really become successful.

Are you feeling out of balance? Wondering how to chase those big goals of yours without harming your success as a parent, spouse, friend, or merely as a person? It’s not at all that uncommon to feel pulled in a million directions. In fact, for many of the top 1% entrepreneurs we serve, finding balance is an ongoing challenge that causes a lot of pain, health issues, marital discord, and an empty feeling that the success they have isn’t all that fulfilling after all.

We are told about delegation. We are told about technology leverage. We are told about time management. Most damaging: We are told that growth alone will somehow solve our balance problems and that hitting bigger numbers will fix everything.

But those things aren’t solving the problem for successful people. So, where’s the snag?

Here’s the deal: You built a Business Model right? Gross Revenues come in on top, then you deduct Cost of Goods and Overhead and whatever is left over is what we call Profit. Works well with a business. There is unlimited opportunity with the top number and if you are shrewd about the way you run your organization, the number that’s left on the bottom – the Profit margin – can be healthy.

When it comes to your Time, Focus, and Energy however, there simply isn’t an unlimited amount. In fact, these items are quite finite but we work the model the same way – Time, Focus and Energy are poured into the top of the funnel of the business and whatever is left over is what the kids, spouse, friends, and individual themselves has to work with. And for too many entrepreneurs they discover those margins are shrinking with their success, not growing.

The more successful the business owner becomes the more the business demands and the less TIME, FOCUS, and ENERGY they have “left over” for anything else.

Here’s the solution and it’s radical, it’s uncommon, and it’s definitely not something you’ll hear in the circles where “success at all costs” still sounds like a good idea: Start backwards.

Start with a LIFE MODEL first and create a rules-based system for planning your time, defining your lifestyle, and considering the options to manage and continue to grow.

Here are a few of the unusual and refreshing ideas that some of our clients have embraced because of this thinking:

  • Hiring a CEO and delegating all the “management” to someone else
  • Taking tons of days off the calendar right in the beginning of the year
  • Bringing in a junior and beginning to pass the baton
  • Finding a partner and carving up the responsibilities
  • Taking a pay cut. WHAT? Yes seriously.
  • NOT growing aggressively but instead taking a slower approach

I can’t know what’s best for you and your lifestyle. It’s totally your choice and your opportunity to decide. But if what you’re doing isn’t getting you (or the people you care about) what you need, consider questioning the strategy altogether – not just your tactics. Stop working the problem with the business getting fed first and instead, start with a vision for your life and work the business around it.

 

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Jon Loduca

Founder and CEO

Why Wisdom?

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Why Wisdom?

Wisdom, rather than products, information, or knowledge, has become the most prized commodity in the 21st Century. Why? Because wisdom is the glue. It’s the “how” and the “why” that empowers and directs all of those “what’s” out there. Without it, we cannot function effectively, cannot manage change adroitly and cannot navigate the extraordinary shifts in our civilization that have occurred in the span of less than twenty-five years. Wisdom is the single greatest asset you possess and a prized advantage for your ideal market if you can identify, package and monetize it well.

This is the shift – top down to WisdomDriven

In fact, in the face of the extraordinary changes that have occurred, the very survival of your business is based on becoming a wisdom-centered enterprise. No other business structure or perspective provides you with as much power, control, and the flexibility to navigate today’s choppy waters of commerce.

By building your organization with wisdom at its heart, you can differentiate and sell your services or products easier, you can unify, train and motivate your team better and transform the relationships you have with your clients into those of collaboration, mutual education, and insight development. Building a Wisdom Driven Practice might be a path to survival in some regards but for many others, it is the most direct route to an incredible expression of their natural gifts and wondrous financial reward.

The Wisdom LInk

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

The Power of Focus

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The Power of Focus

A success secret of the top entrepreneurs I know: To achieve goals, focus your eyes (and your mind) only on what you want.

So imagine the scenario: I’m with a client and friend of mine in Deer Valley. Years before, he’d bought the house of a former NFL star on the side of the valley facing the resorts and we were staying there working on his book.

He’s a great guy and thoughtfully wanted to make a fun visit for me by including some ski time. So there I was on the back porch of his house looking out over the breathtaking view of Deer Valley on a bright morning. Bunny Slopes were promised so I could “remember” my skills…but as luck would have it; in order to get to those nicely groomed slopes, I would have to navigate a pretty treacherous ravine of Black Diamond switchbacks off his back deck.

I was adorned in mostly borrowed ski attire and some odds and ends I’d rented or purchased in town. I hadn’t been on the slopes in over a decade and even then I wasn’t a highly proficient skier. To make matters worse, I’m not known for my coordination or athleticism and in my oversized hodge-podge gear, I felt very much like I must have looked – like homeless skier about to commit suicide.

In business as in skiing (apparently), even the most conservative,
risk-adverse players can sometimes face monumental obstacles.   As small business owners, we face financial issues, competitive risks, the loss of key people, and the strategic miscalculations that come from doing too much too quickly. It’s part of the risks and part of the fun…but it can sometimes be deadly. So how do you attack the hill when the risks you take can put the people you’re responsible for in harms way?

And so there I was, weighing my options. This little ravine of skiing might leave me with a broken leg or a broken back and I knew it. I could feel the fear creep in and it was paralyzing me. My host saw the look on my face and gave me advice that I’ve never forgotten:

“Your skis will follow your eyes. So if you see something you don’t want to hit like a tree or a rock and you focus on it, you’ll ski right into it. Put your eyes on where you want to go and your skis will follow.”

Today I ask myself routinely: “What am I focusing on? Where are my skis headed?”

Sometimes worry can feel like mental prep for managing a bad situation in the future. Sometimes, though, it’s just plain lazy. Keep your mind focused on what you DO want and stay vigilant about the worries. If you find that you are fixating on negative scenarios, you’ll attract them like gravity.

So yes, I skied down the ravine. I lived. I’m not proud of the sounds I made while I was doing it (something akin to a baby deer being separated from its mama) but I lived. I kept my skis facing downhill, my gaze on the path ahead and it’s a lesson that’s served me ever since.

The Wisdom LInk

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

Unleashing Entrepreneurs:  The Paradox of Goals

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unleashing entrepreneurs

Would it surprise you to learn that some of the most successful entrepreneurs (those in the top ½ – ¼% income-earning arena) struggle with setting and accomplishing goals?  It’s a dirty little secret that isn’t openly talked about, but it’s true.  Here the three most prevalent concerns we hear about goal setting:

  • “I never know where to begin.  I either create a goal from out of nowhere, aim at a slightly bigger version of the same goals I did last year, or I just pick something because I’m supposed to.  Ends up being a waste of time.”
  • “Setting goals narrows my focus and prevents me from opening myself up to other possibilities, so I don’t do it.”
  • “I either can’t hit some goals because I set them poorly or the goals change along the way – which means I can’t report a win there either. ”

What’s a superior model for goal setting so it’s less of a confidence killer, and a more rewarding experience during the period where you are chasing your goals?   Here are the five key elements we’ve recognized to improve your enjoyment and achievement with goal setting:

ONE:  The Goal-Law Combination

“Goals” are fixed items while “laws” are the underlying behaviors, mindsets and activities that must occur consistently to achieve the goal.  A good combination for a goal and law example is a marathon.  The goal might read, “on such and such date, I will run the Chicago Marathon”.  The law may be,  “I’m creating a lifestyle of health, positivity, and discipline with a heavy focus on getting lots of sleep, a clean diet, and daily, cardio-centered exercise.”

TWO:  The Anatomy of a Goal

Second, we believe strong and achievable goals follow the S.M.A.R.T. goal format developed by George T. Doran.  The S.M.A.R.T is an acronym begins with the “s” to address that goals must be Specific.  Second, they must be Measurable.  They also have to be Achievable, they must be Reasonable, and finally good, solid goals must be Time Related.  

THREE:  The Power of Laws

Third, it is important to craft laws of behavior attached to the goal that serve as statements of truth.  The byproduct is that you’ll more enjoy the time period before goal achievement and even hasten the goal into manifestation by virtue of emotional alignment with the future state.

Example:  Instead of only addressing the fixed target:  “By 2018, our revenues will be $15MM”.  Try adding something like this, “We enjoy a disciplined and well-supported sales culture that enables us to grow towards a $15MM revenue target. ”

FOUR:  The Waypoint

Fourth, set smaller milestones, what we call Waypoints, that can punctuate the path.  These are not merely a way to break the goal into smaller steps…they also provide the opportunity to look back at progress made and celebrate it.  

FIVE:  Surrender and Allow

Finally, once you’ve documented your goals, remove from yourself the focus on trying to hit the target and instead place your full attention and passion on being in a mindset that allows the goal to arise.

Become the person and the company that conducts the activities your bigger vision requires before you arrive and you’ll dramatically change the experience and outcome potential.  

The Goal

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
Henry David Thoreau, American author and philosopher

The paradoxical thing about goals is that they plant a seed in our minds that essentially says, “When I get here (accomplish this, make this, do that) things will be better”.  To avoid that danger, enjoy the ride, and achieve more with a grace and confidence – remember to plan carefully and build a goal format that helps you, your team (and your ever-attentive mind), view this moment as the best and most powerful place to begin.

Jon LoDuca is President and CEO of The Wisdom Link and resident Goal Herder

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

The Four Energies

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the four energies

Where’s your business focused?

For most of you following my blog you know that high-performance entrepreneurs fascinate me.  I am just as interested in the more obscure stuff as I am the specific tactical activities that drives performance.

When it comes to company culture, one of the key observations I’ve made over the years addresses FOUR ENERGIES where a company can place its attention.  

So, which one is best?   

Trick question. They’re all important.  What’s critical is that there is a state of balance.  Getting out of balance with these four is where companies begin to struggle.

ONE:  ENERGY FOCUSED ON ME

Out of Balance:  Thinking the business is there to serve YOU.  Feeling entitled with clients or the team, putting your needs first to the exclusion of others…OR trying to serve the business so much you let it run your life, deplete your energy, life force, and creativity.

Balanced:  Looking out for yourself by getting paid well, taking time off, remaining healthy and aligned with your greater purpose.  Operating in the business in accord with your personal Prime Function.

TWO:  ENERGY FOCUSED ON THE COMPETITION

Out of Balance:  Obsessing over the competition and placing so much emphasis on them that you are distracted from the real competition – your own limited focus and ability to execute.

Balanced:  Staying aware of who is in your space and what they offer.  Understanding how players in your space are communicating and how they out-sell your team when they do.  Not allowing the team to obsess.

THREE:  ENERGY FOCUSED ON THE CLIENTS

Out of Balance:  Either caring too much and then, like any co-dependent relationship – creating dysfunction OR neglecting their unique needs altogether and expecting them to remain loyal and active.

Balanced:  Respecting and enjoying your clients.  Serving them with passion and enthusiasm and yet holding the line on boundaries.

FOUR:  ENERGY FOCUSED ON THE TEAM

Out of Balance:  Becoming fearful of them, angry with them, or overly permissive with them.  The worse sin here – neglecting the team by abdicating the leadership role.

Balanced:  Supporting the team, looking out for their needs and creating value by eliminating obstacles and enriching their professional experience.  Driving their performance by igniting their passions.

Here’s the perfect balance of all FOUR ENERGIES as I’ve witnessed it:  A company where the clients are passionately served by a team who are supported and encouraged by a happy and enthusiastic entrepreneur who doesn’t sweat the competition.

How do you balance?

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

Execution Made Simple: Strategic and Tactical Planning

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tactical planning

When it comes to planning, success starts with a distinction between Strategic and Tactical Planning.    While great leaders can often see the future they can fail at seeing a plan at a detailed enough level to execute effectively.  And while tacticians can get granular and follow plans, they sometimes fail to see the forest for the trees.  The best of the best collaborate with both teams to get goals accomplished.

Strategic:

The first and most important place to start is at a Strategic level.  Gaining some elevation and posing some vision questions is critical if our aim is to get outside the box.  Keep the naysayers out and paint the future first.  Here are our suggestions:

  1. Start with the big picture by building an executive team’s target vision.   We look at today, what we call State A and then we look at the future, what we call State B. Knowing where we want to end up is a powerful attraction and can galvanize a team and inspire others.  Get clarity here.
  2. Next, ask the team to describe the activities they would be doing once they execute the vision.  See it.  How would the company behave if the goals were reached?  What would be the scene and what are the emotions?
  3. Third, question all assumptions.  Nothing is sacred in a Strategic meeting.  Throw alternatives out, challenge basic underlying paradigms.  If ideas keep getting up, respect them.

Tactical:

Once a Strategic Plan is in place, the next tier of planning must be of a Tactical level in order to execute.  Not surprising, Tactical Planning is often not the strength of the first group.  Bring in the people who are accountable for seeing ideas through to completion and respect their opinions regarding time and expenses.

  1. Bring the project management people into the room and get them to see the vision.  Absent a strong buy in, they might get stuck with the obstacles.  And slow down! Give them time to process and don’t be dissuaded by obstacles and objections.  It’s how they buy in!
  2. Place all the main outcomes of the vision into hierarchies and plot a pathway through them considering a logical order of go and big milestone markers.  The big idea here is to allow for the plan to become linear in execution.
  3. Explode each milestone into a mind-map of ideas, resources, costs, timeframes, challenges ect.  Explore obstacles – don’t avoid them.  Allow the detail minds to have time to get into the weeds but don’t let them stay there too long!
  4. Have them create a Tactical Plan – a fully executable game plan that includes project rationales, order of go, timelines, accountabilities, and resources required to execute.  If the plan isn’t specific enough, send it back.

Moving the world with big ideas requires more than big ideas.  The combination of Strategic and Tactical planning is essential to take ideas and make them come to life in your business.  Embrace the differences between these teams and leverage their innate skill set to see your future realized.

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

Video Killed the Telephone Star

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5 Ways Online-Video Proposals Enable Sales

A long time ago the telephone was the primary sales technology.  Today it’s the computer – and for the early adopters, online video has become the primary channel to share, sell, instill confidence, and motivate prospects to close.  

You’ve probably seen the stats – they are impressive enough to repeat:  Over 6 billion hours of video is watched each month on YouTube alone.  More people watch video online than on all of the cable TV networks combined.  

So how are you using video in your sales proposals?  We use video to connect better with proposals and follow-ups using an online, sale-enablement software we created called Proposal App www.proposalapp.com.

Here’s an outline of the 5 big value propositions we discovered by bringing video into the sales process:

1.When selling the invisible – you can make it tangible

If you are selling something that no one can actually touch, like your ideas, your services or consulting, you can make it tangible with video.  Use video to show off your office, team, deliverables, your concepts at a whiteboard and of course, your confidence, charm and enthusiasm.

2. When selling a high ticket item – you can show off the features

Do you sell houses, cars or yachts?  Video is a great tool for showcasing the details.  Take the prospect for a tour, narrate through it and showcase what’s of value.

3. With a larger sales force – you can keep your message consistent

By creating an explainer video (a brief 1-2 minutes presentation about your firm or product), you can make sure your sales force has a consistent message about your firm and the confidence that you can audit their presentations anytime you like.

4. You can tap into and maintain your prospect’s enthusiasm

Nothing helps keep your audience excited more than your excitement.  Including a strong video of you can truly boost your prospect’s excitement.  If you’ve been making a living by motivating others to buy, then video is an unfair advantage for you.  Dig in.

5. You can sell the entire value proposition

Let’s face it.  There is a lot of competition out there.  If you can promote the entirety of your brand and the power of your ideas, team and products in any way, video will be it.  Have fun, hire a company to create an explainer or dive in with a great Do-It-Yourself version today.

Video is here to stay. Just like a silky telephone voice was a great asset to a life on the phone, being comfortable with video is a great advantage for selling in the digital age.  But only if you know how to use it well.  So, if you want to sell, communicate and make your point in a compelling way, start experimenting now.

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

Outfoxing the Microchip

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outfoxing the microchip

Here’s an idea I’ve been working on for a while, a thesis I’ve been watching and tracking for a few years to see if it will bear out…And it has.  I see this idea showing up almost every week with the clients we serve.  And the idea is simple, relatively innocuous and deceptively intriguing:  in the face of all this technology we’ve started to exalt those things that make us uniquely human.  “Human” is, in fact, the killer app. for business value creation.

There’s “no use fighting city Hall” the old expression goes.   And as it pertains to trying to outperform technology, there is no competition.  It’s over.  We lost.  When it comes to computational ability, those damned computers have us beat every time.  You’ve heard the sound bite, “there is more technology in my watch than NASA needed to land a guy on the moon.”   We’ve known it for a long time but we’ve been in denial.  I can still remember that movie with Matthew Broderick, War Games from 1982.  The classic cautionary tale from the people who were saying “computers are scary”.  Remember?  They weren’t really right but the point was simple:  People need to be running the show.

It started with the promise of the industrial age.  We wanted to automate, we wanted to streamline and we wanted to mass-produce.  And America got really good at it.  So it’s no big surprise that we dominated in the technology boom both in innovation as well as mass production.  We rock when it comes to leveraging technology to accelerate results.  But it’s simply making people nuts trying to keep up in industries that have been directly or indirectly touched by the pace, precision and power of technology.

So if you are trying to sell more policies than a website, forget about it.  If you think you’ll EVER be faster or more accurate than an online ordering system you’re kidding yourself.  But there is great news, there’s room for something else.  What we’ve seen is a shift coming from the professional services folks that come to us to slow down the transacting of product to improve the quality of the relationship…and they are getting paid for it.

Top tier pro’s who have so much to lose trying to play the game of the “commoditized” are finding new arenas to compete and thrive…and it’s not about doing more, faster.  Their secret?  Exalt the human.  Accentuate the emotional, empathize, listen and employ connections with storytelling.  The secret is to be human in the face of all this technology.  The secret is to connect on a level that cannot ever be replaced with a screen or through an inhuman exchange of data.

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO

Intellectual Capital as Your Sales Tool

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intellectual property

So how does the wisdom inside your head become an asset?  How does your intellectual capital help advance your immediate sales and marketing needs?  You turn that wisdom of yours into a product.

For most of our clients WHAT they do from a 40,000 ft. view isn’t so very different from anyone else.  But HOW they do it, and WHY they do it is TOTALLY unique and quite often is the “secret sauce” for all their success.  The genius of their business lives in the HOW and the WHY not the products or services themselves.  And if prodded, most of my clients will relate a very unique, hard-won perspective on the work the do, how to do it well, and how to create optimal results.  Sometimes they know it’s powerful.  Sometimes they think it’s common sense.

So let’s agree that the wisdom, insight, and lessons learned in the trenches ARE the most important assets your company possess.  Want proof?  Try training a junior to do what you do without all the wisdom behind it and see how well they perform.  Well, if you can’t scale since you can’t train, then what you’ve built is a business that ends with you.

So don’t stop selling the way you’ve been all these years to take on some new gimmick.  Instead, take what’s working to a new level by naming it, explaining how it works with a graphic and outline how that unique worldview perspective you have (no matter what it is) communicates into a totally unique experience for clients.

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Jon LoDuca

Founder and CEO