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What a crazy, uncertain time we live in.

I realize that just about any generation could say that, but you’ve gotta admit, things are pretty nuts right now and without getting even the least bit political here, we’re venturing into some uncharted waters this election year. Uncertainty always plays havoc with the stock market and the economy in general, so don’t be surprised if we have some rough waters in the near future. Possibly globally, from what I’m hearing. 

My source on this is “they,” by the way. As in, “They say…” 

Seriously, though…

A downturn usually results in downsizing. That is never something any decent leadership team looks forward to doing, though,granted, it is sometimes a necessity.

If you find yourself using the term “downsize” as part of your strategic vocabulary in the next few months, just keep a couple of things in mind. 

First, though downsizing looks good on paper, downsizing often results in a workforce with very low morale which  in turn results in a workforce that delivers lousy customer service. The net result of that can be lost revenues.

Second, don’t forget that what you are after with your ideal customers is a lifelong relationship. So if lousy customer service results in the loss of a customer, you’re also potentially losing a whole lot more in terms of the lifetime value of that customer. 

Hasty downsizing can be like cutting off your arm to cure a hangnail. Its “savings,” may not always save you what you think they will. 

In the words of Tom Peters, you can’t shrink your way to greatness! 

 

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If there is an opportunity to get in front of an audience, you can bet marketers will find it. The picture to the left illustrates one such example.

The good folks at Coca Cola determined that those concrete poles that serve as safety/security barriers to the entrance to such places as Wal-Mart were not being used to their full potential. So they came up with a cardboard overlay that featured their latest promotion. Hard to miss as you walk through the main entrance, and I offer them a tip of my marketing hat for their creativity.

A while back we talked about how Amazon did something similar.

A good idea is to look for “underutlized real estate” where you might be able to get your message out there. The more unique, and the more clever, the better.

Doing business without advertising is like winking in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does.” – Unknown

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In addition to holding records for coaching the most wins  in UCLA basketball history, John Wooden authored several superb books on leadership and how to succeed while staying focused on what is most important in life. 

Wooden often recalled the wisdom of his former college coach, Piggy Lambert. Once, when Lambert was asked by the media at the season’s end how good a job he did as coach that year, Lambert responded, “Ask me in 20 years and we’ll see how successful these boys are. Then I’ll be able to tell you if I succeeded as a coach.”

Wooden obviously went on to be a great success and would often be cited as the source of great inspiration from his former players, and it’s likely that many of them have gone on to inspire people in their lives.

Study a great leader and you’ll often find someone in their back story that powerfully influenced them. Very often, behind every great leader is a great leader.

My bet is you’re the kind of person somebody else will be crediting someday, too.  So thanks for your contributions, leader!

Leaders don’t inspire followers. They inspire other leaders.” – Tom Peters

 

I‘m a huge fan of using guiding principles. In fact, I often suggest trying to replace formal strategic plans with a good set of memorable, actionable guiding principles wherever possible.

You can find more on that HERE if you’re interested.

The idea of forgoing formal strategic plans for a handful of guiding principles may sound a bit far fetched, and granted it may not work for everyone, but when you stop and consider what we’re really trying to accomplish with strategic plans in the first place, which is ACTION, then I think it makes sense to at least take a look.

Here’s what Nordsrom’s did:

In an effort to train its entire team in how to deliver stellar customer service on a consistent basis, they tossed out the giant, three-ring binder that contained all kinds of policies and FAQs regarding customer service. All new hires are now trained with one phrase: “Use your good judgment in all situations.” That’s it.

Of course, there are plenty of stories that are then told in their ongoing training sessions as examples of what kinds of situations might come up, how employees have handled such issues in the past, and what can be learned from both the good and bad outcomes. The guiding principles lead to action, the action can then be studied and refined, and continuous improvement occurs. As the old Shewart Cycle reads, “Plan, Do, Check, Act,” then do it all over again.

Success is a process, not an event, and guiding principles can help keep that process in motion.

I will never put my name on anything that does not have in it the best that is in me.” – John Deere

 

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Krugman was wrong?

By Dr. Burt Smith November 30th, 2015

wrongOh no, you may be thinking. Krugman was wrong? Say it ain’t so! Not Krugman!

To be honest, I had never heard of Paul Krugman until I ran across this little tidbit on a Motley Fool Podcast.

Paul Krugman is an economist who, in 1996, said that by 2005 or so the economic impact of the internet will be no greater than that of the fax machine. Well, oopsie, I guess.

You can learn more about him and the infamous quote Here if you like.

What it amounts to is that a smart guy just made a wrong prediction. And according to him, he was taken out of context anyway.

The more relevant point is that nobody has all the answers. The remedy is to boldly seek knowledge from a bunch of sources, then  make your own decisions. Do your own thinking!

 

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Yesterday is a cancelled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only cash you have – so spend it wisely. – Kay Lyons


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Arguably the smartest business word ever uttered, and adopted into the business vocabulary, is “contingency.”

The dictionary defines contingency as “A future event or circumstance that is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty.”

Doesn’t that apply to just about every aspect of strategy in any sector?

Nothing can be predicted with certainty and nothing is guaranteed. For that matter, nothing is impossible, either. Leaders, then, have to plan accordingly. Hence the importance – and value – of contingency planning. Plan for contingencies, structure for contingencies, embrace contingencies.

And this includes every aspect of how the organization is structured. As Jim Collins stated in How the Mighty Fall,

There is no organizational utopia. All organizational structures have trade-offs, and every type of organization has inefficiencies. We have no evidence from our research that any one structure is ideal in all situations, and no form of reorganization can make risk and peril melt away.”

 

Contingency planning means considering what could happen, and having potential actions in place if it does.  

 

 

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Steve Jobs Book PicY’know, I hate to name any one book as my “favorite” on any subject, be it business or entertainment, but if I had to pick ONE that I think everyone alive today should read, one that was so inspiring to me I found myself wishing I could get YOU and everyone you care about a copy of, it’d be Walter Isaacson’s book on Steve Jobs. I’ve been saying that for three years now!

The book is written in such a compelling fashion that it almost reads like a novel! Like some tall tale of a folk hero from days gone by. Yet Steve Jobs lived in our time and this book tells the story of the impact he had on the world during his half century on this earth. It is also very candid in its portrayal of Jobs, showcasing both his brilliance and his imperfections. According to the author, and to the great credit of Jobs himself, the no-holds-barred look at Jobs’ life was endorsed by Jobs.

Anyhow, my bet is once you pick it up you won’t want to put it down. If you don’t like to read, get it on audio and listen to it in the car on a long trip. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

Plus, now that it’s a year older, you can get it for a lot less! Or heck, forget buying it, just grab a copy from the library.

Rumor has it there’s a new movie in the works based on THIS book, so keep your fingers crossed!

 

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Veteran’s Day 2014

By Dr. Burt Smith November 11th, 2014

Thomas H. Smith (1944)

Thomas H. Smith (1944)

Posting for Veteran’s Day is something I always look forward to. I end up saying pretty much the same thing every year, yet it’s something we can’t say enough because any of us who enjoy freedom today have someone who took an oath to defend our freedom with their lives if necessary to thank. So as we do each year, we say a heartfelt THANKS to all those who so selflessly served our country and those who continue to serve.

In year’s past I’ve also mentioned how proud I am to be able to tell my son that both his Grandfathers wore their country’s uniform. You can read more about that here.

This year I wanted to be sure that thank you specifically includes my dad, Tom Smith. He died in 1988 so I can’t thank him personally, but I can give him a little tribute here.

I urge you to make sure that you express your appreciation for any veterans you know. To say we owe them everything isn’t an exaggeration, but an understatement.

No freedom, no free market.

Lest we forget!

 

 

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Just a short, get-to-the-point post this week. Unusual for me, huh?

What’s not so unusual for me is to sneak in a little self-promotion, so I’ll subtly do that now

Two articles I’d selfishly like very much for you to see:

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-christian-professor-celebrates-20-years-of-ama-perfect-attendance/article/5361544

http://www.edmondsun.com/news/business/article_410c3586-50b6-11e4-9893-5f80ae2355e3.html?mode=image&photo=0

The message: THANKS to all those who made the journey possible.

The lesson: 20 years ain’t near as long as it used to be!

THANK YOU!

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