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What is important to you?

May 1, 2012 1 comment

No room left for the big stone.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, the saying goes.  The distance from my blog has made me very fond of it recently.  I need it.  The nearly hundred posts that I wrote a year ago are a great little insight into some topics that I am very passionate about, from personal responsibility, finance, business to being a husband and father.   

 

Since the last post, I’ve expanded and improved my business.  We now cover half of the state of Michigan.  I’ve hired some great new contractors and refined my business plan for the future.  The first full year of business met my goals, and year two has nearly surpassed that initial goal and we’re only just starting the second quarter.    

 

So why am I back, I’m back because the focus on the business has made me lose the focus on my life.  It’s over taken everything.  I’ve allowed it to become all-encompassing to the point where I’m not enjoying it.  I just toil in the daily tasks and that’s not where I want to be or where I started out going.  I want to be able to enjoy my family and my life to the fullest and only I can choose to change my current course. 

 

A leadership lesson I learned long ago was to imagine a jar.  Outside the jar you have one large rock that is just a bit smaller than the jar and a pile of pebbles.  The large rock signifies the one important “thing” in your life.  The pebbles are all the other little “to dos” that creep up.  I’ve filled my jar with pebbles and now cannot fit the rock.  I’ve got it backwards.

 

I’m here today to dump out the pebbles, add the rock and let those small pebbles fill in around the rock.  What’s in your jar, a bunch of pebbles or your rock?

The wisdom of a seven year old

June 15, 2011 2 comments

Sometimes the wisdom and clarity of a seven year old makes me stop and think.  My daughter and I were talking about her future and what she wanted to be when she grows up this past weekend.

I too was surprised

She mentioned that she wanted to open a book store.  Her love of reading has blossomed over the past year and she reads everything she can get her hands on right now.  She is currently reading Stuart Little and a Star Wars trivia book.  She can thank her Dad for having both of those lying around.

As the discussion progressed I stated in all of my wisdom that a bookstore might not be the best business to open in the future.  Large books stores like Border and Barnes and Noble are currently going through some tough times and are failing.  I also added that most people may read books on an electronic device in the future like a Kindle or Nook.

She thought about my genius laden insights for a second and simply said, “Kids probably won’t have a Kindle.  They’ll still need books.”  She’s right.  She’s absolutely right.  It’s going to be hard to replace children’s books because kids need those thick, colorful pages to gnaw on and have read to them at night.  Children will still need books.

What glaringly obvious facts are you overlooking in your everyday life?  If you’d like to know, my daughter will be available for a consultation.  It won’t be cheap.  Bring your check book.

Marketing and other voodoo

June 13, 2011 3 comments

“I just don’t know what is working and what isn’t working.”  Have you ever thought or said that about your business marketing strategy?  Do you have a strategy?  Is it the radio ads that are working?  Is it the Google ads?  Is it organic search?  Is it word of mouth and referrals?  I don’t know.  Even when a customer says “We found you on the internet” what does that even mean?  You’re probably listed on sites you didn’t even know you were listed on.

Lost at sea or headed toward land?

What do you do if you can’t put your finger on it?  I’m a bit of a stickler for details and the details are eluding me.  The good thing, is that something seems to be working.  Are your customers still coming in?    Mine are.  I’m just not sure exactly why.  I’ve blogged about this very issue before and yet I’m still unable to collect the data in a fashion that tells me what is working.

I’ve been told that a potential customer who actually needs your service needs to see your advertising between seven and twelve times just to “maybe” think about using your service.  Maybe.  So maybe, just maybe (that’s a lot of maybes) the equations is the sum of all parts equals one customer.  I really don’t know just yet but you can be sure I’m going to find out.

Here’s what I know so far.  Marketing that does not give direct feedback is sort of like magic to me.  Radio for example, I have no idea who is hearing my message.  I only get a report saying that the ad played.  Whoopee.  I knew that going in.  I even have a specific phone number to track calls but that is not even a fool proof method.  What does work is talking to people directly.  I like that.  I like the feedback.

So I am paddling in the lake of marketing uncertainty only really knowing that I’m exerting effort but the tide seems to be sloshing me all around without a discernible course.

What’s worked for you?

Our new normal

June 6, 2011 12 comments

Ahh the good ole days!  They were great.  Just about everyone drove shiny new car, had a job that paid very well with benefits, stocks and other investments normally grew at a reasonable pace and life was easy and predictable. 

The good ole days aren’t coming back folks.  Now is the time of Our New Normal.  Brace yourself.  

Will work for silver.

For those that will wallow and be victims of the new normal, this blog is not for you.  You can’t go back in time, you probably can’t even re-create it because the conditions surrounding the good ole days are gone. 

So what’s the new normal?  The USA isn’t the THE superpower in the world anymore.  The dollar in your pocket is on par with our Canadian neighbors to the north and unemployment is going to stay about 9% for the foreseeable future just has it has for the recent past.  Also your house isn’t worth squat.  This is the new normal. 

What else is new?  College degrees are over priced and carry less and less value.  For the college graduate, what awaits them isn’t much different from what they left five years earlier, their bedroom at Mom and Pops.  But now they are burdened by a heavy debt load that they were ill prepared to handle and currently unable to afford.  You can’t sell your degree either.  That paper your degree is printed on isn’t worth the $40 to $75 grand that you financed.  Bummer.  The new normal.

For those that don’t go to college high paying manufacturing jobs are not around like they were 20 years ago.  Getting an entry-level job at the big three in Detroit pays about $14 an hour these days.  I hope you know something about computers or the internet.

So what do you do with this information?  The new normal doesn’t sound so good does it?  Ahh but all these facts I’ve laid out are just random bits of information.  People are living their dream outside of the doom and gloom news reports because when it boils right down to it we are not statistics.  We are hopes and dreams wrapped up in these terrestrial bodies and yet our energy to create is limitless and cannot be contained.  Now is the time to embrace the dreams you hold in your heart.  It’ll never be cheaper to create, hire and build your dreams as it is today.

Behold the power of the new normal.  The new normal is the internet, smart phones, twitter, interconnectedness, opportunity, low costs, low risk and the ability to build your own dreams all with just a spark of inspiration from your brain.

Are you too focused?

June 2, 2011 3 comments

Focus. What is focus? Is it the central point of all of your energy? Do you have it? Do you need it?

Can you be scatterbrained most of the time and then turn on the focus with an internal switch? I don’t know. Most successful people that I’ve come across are singularly focused on their goals. They have immediate, short, medium and long term goals. Each builds on the other. Goals coupled with focus are good to keep you on the path to where you want to be.

Over focused or just right?

Now, what if focus is bad? What if your focus blinds your vision? The only thing you can see is that small focused point on your own personal horizon but fail to see amazing opportunities along your journey?

It’s a tough balancing act. If you are personally not able to un-focus you may need to keep someone close to you that can help see the big picture for you. Too much of anything, even focus isn’t a good thing. You need to be able to take in your current situation and surrounding otherwise you might miss a fantastic opportunity.

Keeping your confidence

May 27, 2011 2 comments

“I have the best idea in the world”.   We’ve all heard that from a close friend before. 

“This idea is going to change everything!”  Maybe you discuss the way ahead over drinks and after a few cocktails you both are worked up into a frenzy because you just know that this is going to be bigger that Apple.  The future is limitless, until you wake up the next morning with a headache. 

You can do anything!

Businesses have the potential to be a little bit like that.  You have an idea and some plans.  You chart your course and start to move forward with some saved capital (or heavens forbid, some borrowed capital) and the future is bright.  So bright in fact that you’ve convinced yourself that everything is going to be rosy.  It can’t fail.  

Then one day, three, six or eighteen months later you realize that this process is a slow grind.  Instant mega-success has eluded you.  So now what?   You keep plugging along but now the path ahead in a muddy path, not a gilded one.  Most people get stuck in the mud.   They are no longer looking forward because their eyes are fixed on their feet, all muddied.  Confidence has began to wane. 

Confidence is a funny thing.  Either you have it, or you don’t.  There isn’t much, if any, in-between.  So where did your confidence go?  At one point your idea had a lot of promise and you met that promise with unlimited energy and vigor.  As you moved ahead the big gains or massive break through didn’t materialize the way you thought it would. 

And you know what, that’s okay.  Take time to really assess your situation.  Are you stagnate or are you going backwards?  They are not the same thing.  Are you stuck working IN your business or are you working ON your business?  There is a big difference between the two.  You need to figure out which one you’re doing.

If your initial premise was sound and you’re still moving ahead, even if it is at a slow pace, keep going.  If it was going to be easy, everyone would be doing it.  They aren’t, but you are.  Good luck on your journey.

The value of a hand shake

March 17, 2011 2 comments

There is no substitute for a hand shake and a smile.  Making connections is what people remember.  Webpage’s, blogs and Google searches are all cold and sterile and don’t transmit the personality of the seller to the customer.  

Here’s a little something I found that has rung true for me.

“The impact of in-person meetings that I experienced personally this week has been studied in some depth by the fine minds at the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. In a 2009 global survey of 2,211 Harvard Business Review subscribers, 95 percent of respondents viewed in-person meetings as a key to success in building long-term relationships. Specifically, face-to-face meetings were seen as most effective for:

This says a lot about you

  Read more…

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