Creative Services

Unleashing Entrepreneurs:  The Paradox of Goals

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

The Four Energies

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?

Video Killed the Telephone Star

online-video proposals

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.

Outfoxing the Microchip

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.

The Great Work Challenge

great work  

Here’s a news flash:  It’s really pretty easy to do good work.  And therein lies the problem.

We develop a great deal of “creative work product” here at The Wisdom Link, like copy writing and design.  And it’s surprisingly easy to do a good job of it.  With several years behind us, we have all kinds of examples to borrow from, proven designs to use as a starting place when we meet with the creative team and the experience of working with many of the same industries over and over.  It’s a lay-up to do good work and because of it we have the opportunity to create far more good work, far faster.

What’s a challenge is to create great work.  If good work is easy, you’d expect making great work would be only fractionally more difficult.  Much to my own amusement, I’ve learned that maintaining the standards for great work is a fairly tough challenge.  And we've taken that challenge on.

Instead of borrowing ideas from other people, being great means we have to do all that intellectual work of really thinking things through every single time from scratch.  Instead of taking designs from one client and re-purposing elements and ideas for another client, we have to start with a blank slate.  We have to understand what our clients want when they don't.  We have to understand the way they think.  It’s time consuming.  Sometimes it’s costly.  And instead of leaping ahead of the client when I know where they’re headed, I have to bite my tongue, listen up and force my mind into the present moment to really hear them.  It requires a surprising amount of discipline.

And since almost none of our clients would notice, it’d actually be quite easy to cheat.  The difference between great work and good work isn’t always the quality of the design or writing itself.  You can’t look at a piece and always see the distinction between good and great.  Not enough people have the skills to tell the difference.  The way we measure success is in the way our client relates to the work.  They may not know a darned thing about design or copy writing but they can tell when their wisdom is in the thing more than ours.  They can smell the subtle difference that makes the work unique, tailored and useful to them and that makes all the difference in the world.  If we define great work as being useful, efficient, affirming, beautiful and finally an effective extension of our client, then we have to recognize that benchmark is a moving target.

Achieving that goal is incredibly rewarding.  Being great is part of The Wisdom Link brand and frankly, where I find the personal value in the work that I do.  Being good at the level where we play is pretty much the same thing as dialing it in and treating our clients like widgets.  The difference is subtle but it's certainly significant.

Being great means we don't cut corners.  It means we don't take it for granted.  It means we pour our hearts into the work and the world of the client.  It means the work we do matters and the results reflect it.  There is no replacement for being great and there is no more rewarding lifestyle than building a business that has made it the priority.

 

Creative Services – Why It’s Not Just About The Design

helvetica It’s easy to fall into a creative services trap when thinking about your company’s brand identity, website, and marketing collateral. Royal blue or Cyan? Helvetica or Serif? Guess what - It’s not all about the design! If your branding wins design awards but doesn’t tell your story or affect your bottom line, it isn’t doing its job.

Branding is about strategy and gives valuable insight into what makes your company unique and the values that lie at its core. It’s about identifying your market and speaking directly to them. Who are they? What are they looking for, and how can you help them? Your branding has a job to do and it isn’t just to look pretty.

Let’s talk about your website for example. Think of your website as a 24/7 sales girl. It’s our job to tell her what to wear, what to say and who to talk to. Putting her in a blue dress doesn’t matter unless it actually matters to your market. Now, I’m not suggesting that design means nothing (I am in creative services after all), I’m simply saying that spending 12 months perfecting the minute details of your website means 12 months that your sales girl is sitting on the sidelines.

A live website that’s 80% perfect is working 100% harder than a website that isn’t live at all.

 So how do ensure that your branding is doing its job? Start by asking a couple of questions:

  1. Who is my target market specifically? What problems are they facing? What are they afraid of? What gives them comfort or makes their life easier? Are they men, women? How old? What do they believe in? You can’t possibly know how to talk to and appeal to them if you don’t know who they are.
  1. What is true about me/my company? You’ve learned a thing or two over the years – what is unique about what you do or how you do it? What lies at the center of your business? It doesn’t matter who your audience is if you don’t know what you have to offer them.

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 2.32.29 PM

Branding strategy is built by understanding where you and your market intersect.  You make money by expressing where you create value, to an audience who value it.

It becomes really easy to answer questions like: “Royal blue or Cyan?” and “Helvetica or Serif?” when you know what you are aiming at, what your market wants and what you’re offering.

Look for my next blog “The 10 Things Every Website Needs to Have” to learn more about how to make your marketing and branding work harder for your company.