Break Time

April 4, 2011

It’s time for a quick break from the hustle and bustle of Toronto for a breath of fresh air north of the city.  I will need the time to do some research for a few projects and to take some personal time.

I’ll begin writing regularly next week.

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A Great Event For A Great Cause

March 30, 2011

No rest for the weary.  After making it back to Toronto from Sendai, Japan, Scot and two other Canadians are hosting a night to raise money for those who have lost their homes and loved ones in the earthquake and tsunami.  All proceeds from the event will go to Habitat For Humanity.

Stories From Sendai

Cover: $15 – includes a free drink ticket

DJ: K 2the C

Dance Crew: Supernaturalz

Raffle:  Prizes include Toronto FC tickets (VIP!), Raptors tickets, Getaway For 2 To Niagara Falls and much more.

Japanese and Canadian food

Great beer – Steam Whistle Pilsner

Location: Steam Whistle Brewery

If you are heading to the Blue Jay’s home opener, you should consider walking for two minutes to the Roundhouse to join us for our event.  It will be amazing and will go to support Habitat For Humanity to help people rebuild their lives and homes in the areas hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

For more information, please visit www.storiesfromsendai.com

Getting Out Of Sendai, Japan

March 21, 2011

The last chapter on Getting Out Of Dodge.

I’ll keep everyone posted on what is going on with work and for any fundraising efforts to help the people back in Japan.

Escaping Sendai

March 15, 2011

Here’s my personal account of getting out of Sendai Japan.

Are You Coachable?

February 9, 2011

You don’t know everything.

You do know that, don’t you?

Continual learning is a basic necessity to professional improvement and in many cases it’s other people who will help you get there.

But only if you’re coachable.  Are you?

To be coachable means to be…

  • Approachable
  • Attentive
  • Receptive
  • Curious
  • Objective
  • Trusting
  • Shapeable
  • Confident

It means that you must listen with the intent to learn rather than to show what you know – exactly the type of listening required in the sales process (listen>talk).

So who wants to coach someone?  And who needs a coach?

Dealing With Change

January 21, 2011

“Why can’t things be like they were when I first started?”

I was fortunate yesterday to be able to sit down and reconnect with a few people that I had not really spoken to since I left for Japan.  It was good to sit down and talk, but by 4pm I was exhausted with three more people to see, I had to reluctantly turn down a relaxing sauna.  There was a common theme that emerged from the day of meetings and it was that a large number of entrepreneurs are living in the past.  If their current lives are not rocketing towards success personally or professionally, they are stuck in a rut wondering how they can get back the good days when the world was filled with hope.  This was gleaned not from the people I met with but with the clients that they had been working with over the past year.

Change is inevitable and I’ve come to rely on it as a constant.  The one thing I do know is that everything will change no matter how well things are planned out.  However, I’m never satisfied without taking things to the next level – recognizing change will happen is a moot point.  Putting a process together to monitor change is moving things up a level.  Responding to change as it happens helps to stay ahead of the curve.

A few points:

  1. Monitor ongoing change: establish an ongoing trend line for the number of new customers, average order size, lifetime customer values, overall sales growth, and sales within specific segmentation categories (geography, type of business, etc)
  2. Consider impacts: if there is a trend change, ask yourself – “will the change significantly impact our industry or product / service category? If so, in what ways will the change potentially manifest itself? In what ways is the change a threat? An opportunity?
    Weak signal monitoring (recognizing small or micro changes that can lead to macro changes)
    A.  The more irreverent and upsetting a new idea is to the status quo, the more chance it has of reaching a level of importance
    B.  The more often you hear, “That’s just a fad,” the more likely it’s not
    C.  Identifying and monitoring weak signals should be an ongoing, systematic process
    D.  The ability to see the next big thing before it happens is equal parts art and science
    E.  Weak signals often grow by joining forces with other weak signals. In other words, weak signals often need reinforcement from other ideas floating outside the established boundaries before they can be seen or heard.
  3. Develop a response: I can’t tell you what your response should be to the macro forces of change that surround you. That’s for you to decide. What I can suggest is a systematic and regular effort to insert the future into your ongoing planning efforts. An organization’s ability to put the future into the plan with any degree of accuracy is rare. The ability to take action on such a plan is where the money is made.  Here are a few common trends:
    1. Shifting demographics
    2. Changing China
    3. Casper Technology
    4. Small Business Going Forward

“A new factor, that of rapid change, has come into the world. We have not yet learned how to adjust ourselves to its economic and social consequences.” – Wallace B. Dohham, Harvard Business Review

    MaRS DD Top 10 Blogs For 2010

    January 4, 2011

    MaRS Discovery District Blog

    5465 seconds of remarkable TED talks
    Open source seed documents
    Professors without patents: The unexpected entrepreneurs?
    Sir Ronald Cohen on social finance: “The next big thing”
    Do you have what it takes to be Canada’s next great entrepreneur?
    The 50-year overnight success story of Mr. Porter
    Seven reasons you might fail to become the best
    Michael McCain on entrepreneurial professionalism: From small family business to large public enterprise
    Green Energy Act Finance Forum: Taking cleantech to Bay Street
    Social Entrepreneurship: Can “Lawyers Without Borders” help with funding?

    Click through to their blog to access the links to this list!

    Attract and Keep The Brightest

    January 4, 2011

    When I’m talking about the brightest, I’m referring to employees.  Too many companies do not provide the right incentives to attract and keep the best fit person for the job that they have open in their organization.  My first recommendation to anyone – go out and hire the best HR firm that you can find to help put a plan together for your organization.  Failing to do that, here are a few things to keep in mind.

    1. Money does motivate, but it’s not interesting.  Having the highest paid salary in your industry is the equivalent of selling based on price – at some point in time a competitor will offer a lower price (or in this case a higher salary).
    2. Figure out your culture.  Google “workplace culture” and figure out where your organization fits.
    3. Perks and benefits.  Find something that falls within your budget.  If your budget is zero, make sure you find a reason to say “thank you” every single day.

    Here are a few ideas that have popped up in several studies over the years that employees have said that they value over money:

    • A sense of purpose that employees can believe in and relate to,
    • Extremely good two-way communication systems,
    • An emphasis on making people feel appreciated,
    • Rewards and recognition for superior performance and meeting goals,
    • Regular and meaningful training,
    • Flexible scheduling and vacation time; and,
    • An opportunity to advance.

    Hit Google again and look up “creative workplace rewards”.  You may be surprised what you find.

    Top Ten Tips of Customer Acquisition and Retention (5 of 5)

    January 4, 2011

    Finally, the last two.  Great way to start 2011 – finishing off something started in 2010!

    9.   Telepathy.  You and your employees need to have telepathy.   You have to be able to anticipate the future.  Your organization must assume a proactive stance as it relates to all of your customer’s needs.  You have to foresee any and all potential problems that could crop up before they do crop up.  You also need to recognize the patterns that are indicative of future success or failure or future opportunities.

    One of the best ways to generate predictive power in your organization is to make it easy to communicate with your company, especially to complain.  You want your best customers to tell you how they think things are going, even when they are not going well.  That tells you what they really want and what they are willing to pay you to do for them.  They will give you the best indication of the actions you need to take to improve and grow.  Consider the story of Google, who would receive an email every so often from one of their customers – all the email would contain is a number.  They eventually figured out that the number represented the number of words on the Google Search page (their index page).  If the number got too high, they would get an email as a reminder to keep things simple.  Your customers may not know how you can solve their problems, but they can certainly tell you about their points of pain.  It’s up to you to find a way to solve their pain points.

    10.  Tenacity.  Growing a business is hard work.  Customer acquisition and retention isn’t an event.  It isn’t a new program.  It is a way of thinking about customers.  It takes the right attitude, continual effort, and constant monitoring.

    The question that should really matter in whether you are going to retain your customers and grow your business is not whether they are satisfied.  The only question that matters is, “How likely are your customers to recommend you to their colleagues, their partners, their families, or to other people they do business with?”

    You have to be tenacious and you have to refuse to be satisfied, even if you currently the best.  Strive for continual improvement and refinement in the areas that customers care about most, even if those seem insignificant to you.

    Now you may be looking for more ways to acquire and retain your customers.  Feel free to email me (scot at gobicapital.ca) or call the office at 647-800-6587.

    To The Moon Or Bust!

    January 2, 2011

    Well 2010 was an interesting year.  As a group, we managed to discover ways to innovate in an agile manner, quit units that were not performing and reposition ourselves for future growth in a few select markets.  We are still on track for our long term goal of helping ten million entrepreneurs by 2013, however it will now be at the end of 2013 as opposed to the start of the year.  For 2010 this was a year that was filled with restraint and of caution.  The experiences of the past few years had precipitated the need for caution and for

    For 2011, it will be a year of going full out – not holding anything back.  There will be a few major disruptions coming at developed markets and there will be a subtle shift in the political landscape that will pave the way for more entrepreneurs to bring their ventures to fruition.  For us this will be a year to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight, for better or for worse.

    I’m looking forward to the challenges that 2011 will bring as well as the successes and lessons to be learned this year.


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