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One of the saddest things you’ll ever see is a leader who doesn’t lead.

They want the title, they want the position, they want the power, they want whatever it is they want, but they don’t want to serve.

They don’t want to make tough decisions, they don’t want to take responsibility, they don’t really want to “do” much of anything except occupy the role of the “leader.”

Sad.

Just sad.

Lead, follow, or get outta the way!” – Someone who understood leadership.

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Off and on over the years I’ve taken a few jabs at Wal-Mart. You might think it’s because I grew up in a family owned business and that family-owned business was a little grocery store and that I have such dislike because Wal-Mart is often accused of running the “little guy” out of business.

Nope, what set me off at Wal-Mart was the lousy service I was getting, particularly at the Neighborhood Market near where we live. I mean it was pathetic. Complaining didn’t do a lot of good so I decided to boycott them and drive a couple more miles to CVS and pay a few dollars more where I knew my business would be appreciated.

But I happened to be in my Neighborhood Market some time ago – sorry, I can’t recall exactly why I decided to give them another chance – and it was, literally, a different place. It was a different place because all those grouchy, loafing sour pusses had been replaced with a whole new customer-oriented leadership team that would make ole Sam Walton proud.

But I’m still not a Wal-Mart customer…

I consider myself a customer of Tyrone, Glenn, Zach, Carol, Tim, George, Shea, and Barb and all the other nice folks on the team at the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market who now take care of me.

I could give you all kinds of stories from my recent experiences to back up my renewed endorsement and why they’re now referral-worthy, but the common denominator is SERVICE!

Incidentally, the lesson is that no matter what size your business is or what sector you’re in, service is how you differentiate yourself. Service is how you get and keep customers for life. And that lifetime customer value is the cash flow that keeps you in business…And ahead of your competition!

 

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Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. It is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe. This is incompetence. Customers pay only for what is of use to them and gives them value. Nothing else constitutes quality.” – Peter F. Drucker

 

 

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The first question we should always ask when entering any situation that could be a networking situation, and you’ll likely find that ANY situation CAN become a networking situation (done tastefully and tactfully, of course) is….

Who here can I help?

I got this idea from Dr. Robert Cialdini, who is considered by many to be the world’s foremost expert on influence and persuasion. He says that if you really want to be influential, start with that simple question.

Our concern should not be “How do I look,” or “How can I make some money today,” or even, “Who do I most want to talk to,” but should instead be, “Who can I help?”

If we go into a networking situation with that as our focus, we’ll not only endear ourselves to our fellow networkers as a nice person, but as a valuable RESOURCE that delivers VALUE for them. That’s the kind of professional all of us want to add to our networks!

How do you get ahead? Ask “Who can I help?”

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” – Martin Luther King

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Lots of people set resolutions for the new year, and lots of people end up abandoning them a few weeks afterward. What’s worse, these people often end up feeling like they failed. Or worse, they consider themselves a “Failure.”

Remember, success is a process, not an event. We talked about that some time ago, and don’t be surprised if I come back to this later on. Process, after all. Process!

If that resolution/goal/idea/hope/dream/whatever you had in mind for 2018 hasn’t worked out yet, quit moping and try again! Who says it has to be a “resolution” anyway? And who decides that it has to be set at a certain time or accomplished at a certain time?

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” – Arthur Ashe

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Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: Now.” – Denis Waitley

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There are any number of ways one can become an entrepreneur, and there are many ways to earn success as an entrepreneur.

While there may truly be no “one best way” to get there, my belief, based on advice from entrepreneurs I admire and my own journey, is that there is a preferred path to eventually owning the business of your dreams. That path starts with experience.

First, go get some experience in the field in which you want to own your business. For example, if you just know you want to own a coffee shop someday, go work in a coffee shop. While you’re there, strive to move into as many responsibilities as you can so you can learn as much about the business as possible.

If you can obtain a management role, all the better, because then you’ll gain experience in making decisions based on what you’ve learned. And believe me, you’ll learn tons more once you become the one making decisions and then living with the consequences of those decisions, good and bad.

For that matter, go into any “job” with the attitude that you’re there to learn and not only will you gain some invaluable training, you may find how much you enjoy the work actually surprises you.

This is my favorite approach because not only are you earning the crucial experience you need, but because someone else is paying you to earn it!

Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t.” – Unknown

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Congratulations to Jeff Bezos. Turns out he recently surpassed Bill Gates as the world’s richest person.

Mr. Bezos became the world’s richest person as the founder of Amazon.com. Amazon, of course, started out as an “online bookstore” and has now evolved into the world’s largest retailer. That was accomplished by setting a grand vision, working to make it so, celebrating the successes, divesting of the failures and not dwelling on them, and constantly listening to what the customer wants.

And that last one is the big one. By simply listening to what the customer wants and working to provide it better than anybody else, you can’t help but win. And if your goal is to be the biggest, richest, or whatever, giving your customer more value than anybody else is the way to get there.

Focus on that and maybe I’ll be writing about you before too long!

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan

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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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