Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Before planning comes... assumptions!

I recently read a great book called Rumsfeld's Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.  I knew his name.  I knew he was somehow involved with our war in Iraq.  But frankly that is about all I knew.

Wow, what an incredible life this man has led.  He has been close to the source of power for the past 60 years.  He has worked with 4 of the US Presidents, ran 2 Fortune 500 companies, was in the military, in Senate, and was involved in many of the major things in this world over those years.

Kind of made me feel lazy!  And made me want to read his Memoir.

Anyhow, in the book he shares many of his "rules".  Some of them are funny, some pointed, all insightful.  These are things he picked up along the way over all these years.

One of his rules was about developing strategy.  He talked through the process of how you actually go about this process.  It was interesting to me as I spent the first half of this year doing exactly that for Mirabella.

But the one thing he said that made me think was about assumptions.  We develop plans and strategies to accomplish our different goals.  But he said something I had never heard before.  He said, once you develop your goals, but before you begin to outline the plan, you need to ask yourself what are the assumptions I am making about the situation I am facing before I make my plans.

For me with Mirabella, when we did this process we did NOT ask those questions.  So what are the assumptions for Mirabella's plan?

  • The cosmetics market will continue to expand
  • The prestige industry will continue to expand
  • The salon industry will accept color cosmetics gradually until a tipping point in which they will be lost without them
  • Our distributors will continue to represent us
  • Makeup trends will remain strong (that is, we will not going into a phase where makeup is out of trend)
  • The account coordinator program we launched at the beginning of the year will be productive with tweaks.  
  • Our trade show sales will only grow if trade show attendance remains constant or growing
  • No disruptive brands will enter the salon industry space
These are a few assumptions we could have considered.  With our team, I would have opened it up to them and we would have gotten a more robust list of assumptions.  I like this because it forces you to think of the what if scenarios.  You don't have to solve them necessarily, but you should at least consider them.

What assumptions do you naturally make?  Commit these to paper!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Got power? How do you use it?

While I owned Maly's, our family haircare distribution company, we became quite powerful within our territory on the west coast.  We were the exclusive distributor of products like Redken, Paul Mitchell, Pureology, Alterna, Schwarzkopf, Framesi, and several other great brands.  If salons wanted to buy these products, they had to get them from us. 

Since they were all very popular brands, we ended up being important to the salon community.

Knowing this, I used to say to our team all the time, "Yes, we have great exclusive brands.  However, we still need to treat our customers like they could buy them from somewhere else.  We need to EARN their business every day." 

With this power came incredible responsibility to those manufacturers.  We were their ONLY path to market in our territories so we had to constantly be hungry for growth.  We had to constantly be improving our people, our process, and our systems. 

The salon industry is challenged today with companies that have too much power and not enough responsibility to all the stakeholders that they serve. 

But the client ALWAYS has choices.  Yes, they might only be able to get a certain product from a certain company.  But they can find other sources of haircare products. 

We all need to be aware of the power we have and use it wisely.

How about our power as parents?  We can shape and mold our kids to be responsible, hard working, and passionate people.  Or we can let the world do with them what they may.  We need to stay vigilant in every role we have. 

How about our power as spouses?  We can build up our spouse each day, encouraging them, reminding them of your love for them.  Or you can neglect this person that you wanted so badly at one time wanted to marry. 

How we take on this power will determine our path in this life.  Are we takers of love, service, and opportunity or are we givers of love, care, and passion? 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Time- a limited resource

While I was on vacation I read this great book from Al Mohler, called The 25 Leadership Lessons That Matter.  The final chapter is about our legacy.  He asks the question, how are we investing our time?  He hammers home the point that every other resource can be squandered, but time.  This is one that is running out.  In fact he has a wrist watch that has the second hand.  He can literally hear the seconds of his life passing away. 

I know that all sounds depressing. 

But it reminds me of the quote from Steve Jobs on dying, Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. 

That is a powerful quote.  It is funny, while on vacation with my family, having the time of my life that I would be reminded of this.  Do what you love.  You have a choice in life.  Use each moment to its fullest.

During vacation, we watched The Way Way Back, a movie about a 14 year old boy.  My family didn't like it.  But I loved it.  In the movie, this boy's mentor challenges the kid to talk and to live. 

I hope all of us have that mentor in our lives pushing us to live!