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Is Your Success Left Up to Chance?

In the movie Lawrence of Arabia, Captain T. E. Lawrence has to shoot someone he had once saved.  One of his Arabian allies slaps him on the back and says “It was written.”  Lawrence promptly responds with “Nothing is written. “  Both men had a strong conviction.  One believed in destiny, the other in choice.

Belief systems powerfully shape your culture, impacting your business strategies:  how products and services are manufactured, designed, marketed, and delivered.  How successfully you implement these strategies will determine business performance.  And, how successfully your business performs may decide whether your enterprise is a golden goose or a dead duck.

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5 Methods of Dealing with Conflict and When They Should be Used

Over the many years of its existence, the human race has developed five primary methods or protocols of dealing with whatever type of cultural, interpersonal, or intrapersonal conflict may occur.  Depending upon the issue, any one of those five can be the best match for the circumstances.

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Effective Leadership - When Accomodation is Confused with Collaboration

The American fascination with “teams” and “teambuilding” probably causes as much conflict and confusion as does consensus and convergence.  Much of what passes for learned thought in contemporary management literature espouses the need for “team” players who are willing to “take a bullet for the team.”  We want people to collaborate and play for the “win-win” scenario. 

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The Real Truth Behind the Time Management Myth

Several thousand years ago, a Greek named Aesop told a fable about a race between the tortoise and the hare.  The tortoise won because of an ability to stay focused and keep her eyes on the prize.  For me, that’s just another way of saying she could focus her energy on results rather than on staying busy.  In short, she knew how to manage time and proved once and for all that there is a connection between time management, the seven levels of energy, and the three energy styles we use to turn that energy into action.   

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8 Tips for Growing Your Capital Assets: Time, People, and Money

Businesses have three primary resources or forms of Capital:   Human Capital (people relationships); Temporal Capital (time management); and Financial Capital (liquid/illiquid assets).  Each of these is interconnected adds or detracts from the value of a business.

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How to Move Family Dynamics from "Good to Great"

Books like Built to Last and Good to Great offer a recipe for successful business performance.  There are now millions of people talking about big hairy audacious goals that can be accomplished by putting the right people in the right seat on the right bus. 

If your primary goal in life is business success, then these books – and others like them – should definitely be on your reading list.  By reading them, you will either confirm your belief in how to manage and lead your business or deny them.

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Stumped By Succession Issues - The Succession Matrix Will Help You Find Your Way Out

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from a business reporter who writes mostly for and about one specific industry.  The reporter reads the blogs that my partners and I write, which are about succession planning; and he/she wanted to talk with one or more of us for background information on a story being written about succession planning for families in the industry.

After the usual exchange of pleasantries, we got to the article.  The first question was really quite typical:  How much succession planning experience do you have in this industry (i.e., how many industry clients)?  In a way, this is simply a variation on the wicked queen’s “Mirror, mirror on the wall” question from the Snow White fairy tale.

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How to Create Opportunity from Disruption

In 1970, Alvin Toffler introduced the term “information overload” in a book called Future Shock.  Forty years ago, Toffler wrote about the impact of the accelerating rate of technological and societal change.  In a nutshell, he predicted that we humans would be left disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”.   

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How to Avoid Your Family Business From Becoming a Sinking Ship

Last night was a great night for watching movies about righting sinking ships.  First, I saw a few minutes of Pirates of the Caribbean.  I tuned in just as Captain Jack Sparrow and the rest of the crew were running back and forth from starboard to port in an effort to right the ship and return to the land of the living. 

Then came the Titanic, the ship that couldn’t be sunk.  Unless, of course, it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic.  As the band played, passengers on that ship also got caught up in running back and forth.  For most of them, the outcome was tragic.

Sometimes, we see similar things happen with families, especially when one or both parents try to run the family like it’s an extension of the business or run the business like it’s an extension of the family.  In either scenario, there’s lots of running around and rearranging of the deck chairs; and it’s almost always damaging and sometimes fatal to relationships.

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How A Missing Toothbrush Can Cost $37,500 - Keys to Avoid This Mistake

Meeting expectations is the key to satisfying friends, family, colleagues, and employees.  Whether we talk about a company or an individual, experience teaches us that there is often a gap between what is promised and what is delivered and the difference can be expensive.

For example, a friend who travels a great deal forgot to pack a toothbrush.  She was pleased to see one of those “Forgot Something?” stickers on the mirror in her room.  The promise was that the hotel had your back if you had forgotten something simple like a toothbrush or toothpaste.  When she went back to the lobby, she stopped by the desk, explained her situation, and asked for a toothbrush. 

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Want Respect? Look at Character and Competence

We all have multiple roles; and there is a brand that accompanies each of those. We have a brand as a parent, a business owner, a spouse, a trusted advisor, a leader. While the responsibilities are certainly different, there is a common element in how well received each of those “brands” are in their respective marketplace.

That element is Trust. And that trust comes from consistent and predictable behavior on our part. It’s broken more easily than it’s built, but here are some ideas that you can put into practice that will help you in the construction process.

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How to Build Value in Three Forms of Capital Assets

I like to use the words capital and resources interchangeably.  So, from my perspective, there are three kinds of capital and/or resources available to us all the time.  Those three kinds of capital or resources are basically:  People; Time; and Money.

Let’s put people first, so we will begin with building the value of human capital.  There are probably several varieties available, but the more recognizable forms include Leadership Capital, Family Capital, and Culture Capital.

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Beating the Odds: Four Building Blocks to Create Change

recent survey of 3,199 business owners and executives indicates that only about 30 percent of programs addressing “change” succeed.  Where 30 percent sounds low, that is considerably higher than the success rate of programs addressing generational changes of business ownership or succession.  If both programs involve managing new behaviors, why is the success rate for one so much higher than the other?

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3 Keys to Inspire Change

There are four building blocks that serve as cornerstones for successful change and, by extension, successful business and family transitions.  These four are:  Inspiration; Stake in the Game; Tools; and, Feedback.

A truly rational person, Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, relies on common sense to convince others to move in a certain direction.  This approach, with all its logical merits, often results in misdirected resources of people, time, money, and unintended consequences for one simple reason.

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How and When to Turn Over or Sell the Reins

Today, let’s talk about how you set the stage for a graceful and timely exit.  Depending upon your disposition of the business – sale, family transfer, outside management - some of the steps listed below may take anywhere from a few years to a couple of decades to implement effectively.  So, the sooner you begin this process, the sooner you will be able to begin climbing other mountains. 

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Are You Falling Victim to the "Can't Leave" Syndrome?

In August of 1972, the celebrated childrens’ author Dr. Seuss addressed the issue of succession planning.  His chief character in the book, “Marvin K. Mooney – Will You Please Go Now!” just couldn’t bring himself to get out of the way and let someone else take center stage.  Almost two years later, in July of 1974, Dr. Seuss changed his main character’s name to Richard M. Nixon and sent his revised book to columnist Art Buchwald.  Buchwald received permission to publish the revised lyrics; and nine days later, on August 8, Richard M. Nixon went.

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Goals: Turn Them Into Reality

We probably all know a lot of people and businesses with bold, audacious goals.  Some of them get accomplished.  Some of them don’t.  What happens to those that don’t?

After years of working with individuals, families, and various types of business organizations, I have come to the conclusion that people who realize their goals have a plan for doing so.  They are not content to be “dreamers”; they focus instead on being “doers”.

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I Have No Qualified Family in the Business - What Are My Succession Options?

In previous posts we touched lightly on the staggering statistics that show nearly 75% of all family businesses will have difficulty with perpetuating business success. Continuing business success into another generation is often dependent upon a variety of key managers, especially if you do not have family in the business or your family is unqualified for ownership. In effect, they become the “Succession Bridge” because a committed group of competent, capable, and committed managers can keep the company moving forward.

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What Happens When There Are Multiple Successors and the Eldest is not the Best Qualified?

In many, if not most, family owned businesses, there seems to be at least one member of the next generation who wants to take a crack at being Number One.  What happens when there are multiple successors and the eldest is not the best qualified? 

The wrong choice can, and probably will, have devastating consequences on future family harmony and business success.   Picking a successor simply because (s)he is the eldest or rejecting someone based on gender can be fatal.  Unfortunately, we still see far too many businesses being lead by incompetent sons when highly competent daughters were stereotyped into inferior roles. 

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Business and Family Success - Can You Have Both?

One of the mantras around our offices concerns the health of interpersonal relationships in a family owned business.  It’s quite simple, and I really like it.  Are you ready?  Here it is:  No business success is worth a family failure.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that everyone’s family, my own included, experiences some level of dysfunction.  It can be anywhere from somewhat comical to outright tragic.  Imagine reaching a high level of business and financial success only to learn that your spouse wants a divorce and your children don’t want to be around you. 

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