Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I will take execution over knowledge all day!

I am sure you have heard the saying, "Want to get something done?  Give it to a busy person!"

Some people just get stuff done.

What separates those that actually get projects to the finish line and those that take forever to move projects along?

A quick side note; when I ran a larger company, I had an assistant to schedule my appointments, handle routine tasks, and keep me more productive.  Now that I run Mirabella Beauty with 23 employees, I have to do all of that, plus running the actual business.  At a small company, everybody has to be executors.  Each week we have a staff meeting in which we go over everyone's projects.  If you cannot execute, those meetings are pretty intimidating.
Mirabella's Region Manager team

People that execute well are organized.  They know what they have to get done each day, each week, each month and each year.  They have a system to remember each project.  They have a system to assure that things don't slip through the cracks.

In some case, people write lists.  In some case, they use project software.  Others use an appointment book to keep it all straight.  But no one that is an executor does it from memory.  In today's busy world there is just too much going on.  Each of us have too many projects in the air.

Those people that are not organized get overwhelmed by all that they have in front of them.  They get paralyzed by the details of actually getting to the finish line of a project.  For people like this my recommendation is to take out a blank piece of paper and write down each thing that they need to accomplish.  Simply putting the tasks to paper will give amazing clarity to most people.

Once you get organized you still need to accomplish your goals.  There are plenty of organized people that don't execute well.

To be a ninja execution person, they need to be fearless!  Yes, fearless!  People that execute well don't let obstacles slow them from the prize.  To accomplish your task, you might need to talk to the Chief Finance Officer or someone from a competitor.  You might need to go out to a trade show and talk to new people.

There will be obstacles that are in your way of completing your tasks!  Those that are fearless run through those walls.  They make the tough phone call.  They have a hard conversation with one of their team members.

Besides being fearless, you need to be relentless.  The task is due tomorrow at 8 AM.  It is 5 PM and you are not complete.  What do you do?  If you are relentless, you will continue working until it is done.  You will figure out a way to get it done.  You might have to break the rules.  You may have to ruffle feathers.  But those that are great executors will not let ANYTHING stand in their way.

The last thing that separates those that always get things done and those who cannot be counted on is creativity.

There is a truck traveling into NYC.  As it goes into the tunnel to get into the city, it stops suddenly.  The truck is too tall.  The police stop to help.  The fire department is called.  A tow truck is called in. But the truck is REALLY stuck.  A little kid in the car behind the truck has been watching the scene the whole time.  He jumps out of his families car and tells them, "Let the air out of the tires!"

Simple solution but it took some creativity to come to that answer.  To be a great executor, you need to think beyond your circumstances.  Find examples from other industries.  Look at the problem from a completely different angle.  If execution was easy, every employee at every company would be fantastic.  Every company would be great because everything would get done every day. 

To be a great executor, you don't need to have a degree.  You don't need to come from the right family. 

Those that consistently get stuff done are:
  • Organized
  • Fearless
  • Relentless
  • Creative
There are a lot of good employees.  But there are few great ones.  The difference is execution!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Am I better sticking with what I know or trying something new?

For the past 20 plus years I have been selling shampoo for a living.  It has been a great career.  So when I sold my business, I got involved in several other businesses in several different industries.

My general business knowledge has helped me with these businesses. 

But I will NEVER be an expert in any other business, unless I commit to spending the next 5 years full time involved in that industry.  I believe what Malcolm Gladwell said in Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.

Over the years, I have met so many people that change careers.  I can understand the desire to explore something you have not tried before.  I can understand trying to get OUT of an industry that has poor growth opportunities.  I can even understand people getting out of an industry because they don't enjoy it.

Too often people don't stay in an industry long enough to become an expert.  So they float for 2-3 years at this company, then change careers and onto the next industry for 2-3 years.  They basically start over each time.

PLEASE, be patient.  Let yourself get to 5 years at least.  When you do this you will become valuable.  You will know more people.  You will become a veteran.  And you will become an expert.

If you are an expert...AND are hard working, dedicated, committed to continuous learning; you will get paid accordingly! 

More importantly, if you stay you will become more successful.  And that is more fun! 

Read industry trade publications.  Interact with people are different companies to learn even more about the industry from another perspective.  Go to industry trade shows.  Read blogs from people within your industry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The 3rd leg of a Stool

I was having breakfast with a friend with morning.  We were talking about the success factors for a distributorship.  I told him for me it started with a great team.  With a great team, I could execute whatever great ideas came or acquisitions or events outside of our control.  Those people allowed us to do some amazing things. 

But it wasn't just a great team... we also had a great vision.  I was thankful to be raised in a family business.  My dad really believed that the only way he could be successful was if he helped his clients be successful.  He would not just sell a product to a salon if he didn't believe in the product, the company, and its support.  This was the vision he passed onto all of our family.  This is the vision that the second generation used to take the business to the next level.

However, the third leg of the stool was our industry contacts.  We were in a small industry when we started.  But over time the industry exploded.  The Salon industry had 20% growth from 1980 to 1994. 

Because we started when it was small, we knew all the key people.  So a big part of our success was learning from our other distributor partners around the country.  Even small distributors had great input.  One of my best contacts for great ideas was a smaller distributor in Idaho.  He did some very interesting things that I try to implement in our business.  With great communication to these people you can make sure your company is always implementing the best practices.

An example of this was profitability.  Most of our competitors were not very profitable.  But by implementing some of the best ideas, we ended up to be one of the most profitable distributors.

We didn't just talk to distributors that were outside our territory.  I reached out to all of my competitors.  I would meet to develop a relationship.  I would tell them that my goal in business was to make money.  If you hear that we are doing something stupid with a client like discounting or giving away free stuff, call me.  It probably is not authorized by me. 

If at some point one of their people came to interview with our company, I would pick up the phone and ask them the story.  Usually they were leaving their company because of bad circumstances.  Therefore, I would avoid hiring a problem.

A great side benefit to meeting all of my competitors was that it gave me a healthy respect for them.  So often our people would tell me all kinds of horrible stories about the competitor.  But if I actually knew that person, I would know the real truth.