Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin – Book Review

Thou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money has been on my list to read for quite some time now. I first heard it mentioned on The Dave Ramsey Show. Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the author, has also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast. I recently got caught up to this part of my reading list and very much enjoyed taking in some “old fashioned,” but very relevant wisdom …

Cover shot of 'Thou Shall Prosper' By Rabbi Daniel LapinThou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money has been on my list to read for quite some time now. I first heard it mentioned on The Dave Ramsey Show and the author, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, has also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast. I recently got caught up on this part of my reading list and very much enjoyed taking in some “old fashioned,” but very relevant wisdom. As my friend Alan K’necht pointed quoted in his book, The Last Original Idea, “… there is nothing new under the sun.”

While the ideas Rabbi Lapin shares in this work are based on very old wisdom, they still translate very well into modern times. Throughout it all, misconceptions and bad ideas about business are busted and replaced with good ideas.

As the title suggests, the book is broken down into 10 “commandments,” and each one builds on the others to make it rather compelling:

  1. Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business
  2. Extend the Network of Your Connections to Many People
  3. Get To Know Yourself
  4. Do Not Pursue Perfection
  5. Lead Consistently and Constantly
  6. Constantly Change the Changeable While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable
  7. Learn To Foretell the Future
  8. Know Your Money
  9. Act Rich: Give Away 10 Percent of Your After Tax Income
  10. Never Retire

There are some great quotes from the book, here are a few that I highlighted:

… dishonesty and loathsome behavior only pay off in the very short term. Reputation is key. Sooner or later, the cheating, dishonest, and unpleasant business professional runs out of people with whom to conduct business.

This is quite true – especially in today’s culture online. It doesn’t take long for someone’s bad reputation to spread and for people to decide not to do business with them.

If there is one Jewish attribute more directly responsible for Jewish success in business than any other, it is this one: Jewish tradition views a person’s quest for profit an wealth to be inherently moral.

Now, before images of the Ferengi from Star Trek with their “Rules of Acquisition” enter your head, keep in mind that Rabbi Lapin is not referring to avarice and greed. Rather he is referring to the fact that it is good and honorable to be able to support yourself, your family and to help those in need. Any quest for profit must be done in light of doing business honestly and being charitable. Here two additional quotes that help pull it together:

Biblical figures are almost all larger-than-life, three-dimensional personalities. Although the Oral Torah describes many of them as fabulously wealthy, this does not usually emerge directly from the text. This is because wealth is considered to be the consequence of a life well live, in the company and companionship of others doing the same, rather than a purpose of life in itself … Wealth was consequence and not a prime purpose.

Some people mistakenly assume that a transaction can only take place if one side withholds information from the other. They assume that a transaction constitutes one party outsmarting another. This is a failure to understand that when two parties sculpt a true transaction, it is one one party taking something from the other, but two parties cooperating to create entirely new wealth. The transaction is more likely to take place if both parties understand that nothing needs to be hidden. Furthermore, the transaction is more likely to be successful if each party trusts the other and feels confident that no material facts are being withheld.

“Learn To Foretell The Future” was an interesting chapter. In that section, Rabbi Lapin discusses the Sabbath and why it’s a good idea to take time out to rest and clear your head sometime during the week. In our frenetic culture, everyone is overtaxed and stretched to the limit. The ability to dial down, unplug and relax is important to help you see things that may affect your business in the future.

The “Never Retire” section reminded me of an acquaintance of mine. “Frenchie” was very active in the amateur radio club I was part of when I lived in El Paso, Texas. He was a very busy man who put in 12 hours a day, 6 days a week in his wire manufacturing business. I remember once talking to him during a workday at the club when he let on that he was nearly 80 years old. I was quite surprised as I knew he was a bit older than the 25-year-old me, but I had no idea that he was “elderly” – he certainly didn’t look or act his age. He told me that he started his business with his twin brother, who worked until he was 65 and then quit. Sadly, the brother passed away within a few months of his retirement. Frenchie told me that he was never going to retire. he felt that if he was useful and had a reason to get out of bed each day, then he would just keep on going.

Rabbi Lapin makes a similar point. Even if you “retire” from your day job and do charity work, you should never just quit. It’s good to have a reason purpose in life.

Thou Shall Prosper – The Ten Commandments For Making Money (Amazon Affiliate link – as is the cover shot link above) is an excellent book filled with some great business wisdom. I highly recommend giving it a read.

 

To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink – Book Review

According to statistics Daniel Pink shares at the beginning of To Sell Is Human, 1 out of 9 workers in the United States are classified as being in “sales.” This is a large percentage of the workforce, especially compared to other job classifications. In reality, though, that number is much higher. The reason for that is everyone is involved in sales, whether you are formally employed as a salesperson or not. Think about it: If every person who works for an organization represents the brand, then they are all selling whether they realize it or not …

Cover Shot of "To Sell Is Human" by Daniel H. PinkAccording to statistics Daniel Pink shares at the beginning of To Sell Is Human, 1 out of 9 workers in the United States are classified as being in “sales.” This is a large percentage of the workforce, especially compared to other job classifications. In reality, though, that number is much higher. The reason for that is everyone is involved in sales, whether you are formally employed as a salesperson or not. Think about it: If every person who works for an organization represents the brand, then they are all selling whether they realize it or not.

It’s interesting how many different ways we are all selling at some point or another:

  • If you’re an entrepreneur, especially running a small startup, you’re constantly selling your business to investors, potential customers and potential partners or employees
  • If you’re working in a large business, you are selling an idea or a plan for a project
  • If you’re an employee, you’re selling your boss on the idea to give you a promotion or a raise
  • If you’re looking for a job, you’re selling your potential boss on why you are a good fit for the organization.

This list can go on forever, but you get the idea.

In To Sell Is Human, the author takes us from this premise, and then shows us the different ways we all can be better at selling. No matter what it is from actual products to ideas, if you have to sell it you can always do it better. Pink goes through many different specific ways to help us sell better, including getting some improv theater techniques.

It was all very interesting and I learned quite a bit. I never considered myself much of a salesperson, which is why I never tried to get a true sales job. But it’s really not all that hard either – especially when you realize you’ve been doing it all along.

The bottom line, though, is that the most successful sales technique is to be a “servant” seller. The idea behind this is to help the person to whom you are trying to sell something solve a problem. The best sellers take the time to understand what the customer needs, what their pain points are and then introduce them to the product or service that will help them best. Sometimes the customer doesn’t realize that several problems are related. When you help piece the puzzle together and help make their jobs or lives better, you have not only won the sale, but you’ve won the relationship. Each relationship you build can multiply into others as you get a reputation for being a problem solver rather than “just a salesperson.”

This was a very good book. It’s well-written, interesting and even humorous at times. The stories are very illustrative of what Mr. Pink is trying to get across. For example: Did you know there are still Fuller Brush people out there selling? I didn’t. I still have a lint brush that my mom acquired from the last Fuller Brush person I can remember from the early 80s. As of the writing of this book, one man was still active in San Francisco. Some of the things he’s learned over the years are invaluable.

I recommend this book to anyone involved in business – and this goes doubly for those who are like me and don’t think they are very good at sales.

To Sell Is Human – The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink (Amazon Affiliate link).

DISCLAIMER: I won this book from a drawing I entered when Mr. Pink was interviewed on the EntreLeadership Podcast. This is, however, my true opinion of the work.

Unselling by Stratten and Kramer – Book Review

The thing I enjoy about listening to Scott and reading his work is that he is funny, irreverent and he makes me think. There really aren’t too many people I can say that about. His latest venture, Unselling, is a collection of anecdotes and stories all aimed to help the reader understand that “selling” is not really “selling” anymore.

I’ve been a fan of Scott Stratten since I first heard him speak on social media at Pubcon South 2010. I’ve read and enjoyed all his books:

The authors of "Unselling" Alison Kramer and Scott StrattenI’m also a fan of the weekly “Unpodcast” show and the semi-regular “Vegas 30” podcast he does, both of which are done in collaboration with his co-host Alison Kramer.

The thing I enjoy about listening to Scott and reading his work is that he is funny, irreverent and he makes me think. There really aren’t too many people I can say that about.

His latest venture with Alison, Unselling – The New Customer Experience, is a collection of anecdotes and stories all aimed to help the reader understand that “selling” is not really “selling.” “Selling” in this era of the modern internet can really be broken down into several things:

  • Have the most awesome product or service you can create
  • Build relationships through authentic interaction with customers and non-customers alike
  • Follow the “Golden Rule”
  • When things go wrong, do your best to make things right.

Unselling“Oh, wait” you might be thinking to yourself, “those things aren’t really new.”

And, you would be right.

The problem is that so many companies/brands/businesses do these things so poorly, and so few do them well, that the ones that do them well rise above the crowd and really stand out. With the myriad of instant communications tools available to consumers, they have as much or more information about businesses than the business themselves. That instant communications also helps great brands get noticed. Those not-so-great brands get noticed too, but in the wrong way.

In Unselling, Scott shares examples from customer interactions with Ritz Carlton, Disney, and others that make you wonder why more aren’t doing these things. Seriously, the Disney story made me a bit “misty.”

One way to help you, personally, make changes to how you do business is to remember that “You are the brand.” This is something I’ve written about in this space – several times. When we remember that each person who works with us and/or for us (and that includes “us”) ARE the brand to our customers, it helps us to act better towards them, do what is right, hire better and even treat our coworkers differently.

The warden in the movie “Cool Hand Luke” often said that “you have to get your mind right.” In the end, if you want to make your business better, you need to do just that.

I highly recommend Unselling to anyone in business who is looking to change and do things better. If you’re just interested in the status quo, you might enjoy the stories, but you might not get anything else out of it.

Or will you?

Links to Amazon are affiliate links. If you don’t want me to get a cut of the sale, go directly to Unsellingthebook.com and buy it there.
Images from Unsellingthebook.com

 

Repped by Andy Beal – Book Review

I consider Andy Beal to be the “Godfather” of online reputation management (ORM). His talk at Search Engine Strategies in 2006 was what really got me interested in the subject. The book he co-authored with Dr. Judy Strass, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online is one I consider to be the textbook for those who want to get started in the practice of ORM. When I saw Andy had a new book out, I definitely wanted to check it out …

I consider Andy Beal to be the “Godfather” of online reputation management (ORM). His talk at Search Engine Strategies in 2006 was what really got me interested in the subject. The book he co-authored with Dr. Judy Strass, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online is one I consider to be the textbook for those who want to get started in the practice of ORM. When I saw Andy had a new book out, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Cover shot of "Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation" by Andy BealRepped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation (Amazon Affiliate link) takes many of the concepts taught in Andy’s earlier work, combines it with a lot of newer information and puts it all together into a step-by-step set of instructions that will help anyone wanting to improve their own or their business’ online reputation. It takes readers through an A-Z process of

  • Understanding what an online reputation is
  • How online reputation can affect individuals and businesses
  • How to evaluate online reputation
  • Steps to take to improve online reputation (if it’s bad) or to solidify it (if it’s good)
  • How to weather an online reputation crisis.

This is a great guide for individuals or those who run small or medium-sized businesses. For those who are already ORM practitioners, Repped has a lot of great tips and ideas that will help you do your job better.

Here are some random quotes from the book and thoughts I jotted down as I read them:

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A deliberate effort to increase the number of positive Internet discussions about you, while limiting the damage of any negative ones. [Definition of ORM]

This is a great definition of ORM – short and to the point

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Your reputation will only ever be as good as your character. …  It’s the same with your reputation, but that’s something you can use to your advantage! …  keep in mind that by simply being a better person, a better company, a better non-profit, you’ll automatically start to improve your reputation.

If you spend the time to take an honest look at the way you conduct business, it should become apparent where you are weak. If you find yourself struggling, then ask others for their thoughts. Your employees, coworkers, customers, or business partners can all provide an impartial opinion on where they feel you are most weak.

This is very important. Trying to manage your reputation when you have terrible products and/or services is pointless. Use what you learn online as you work through the ORM process to improve yourself or your business offline.

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“It’s the Real Thing.”
“Because You’re Worth It.”
“We Try Harder.”

You probably recognize at least one of the above marketing slogans. Coca-Cola, L’Oreal, and Avis   have all spent a lot of time and money to ensure that their messages are stored away tightly in the recesses of your brain. Knowing where, when, and how each message is shared on the web is a priority for each of these corporate giants. Likewise, if you have a marketing message, tagline, or other slogan that is tied to your brand, you should include it in your online reputation management efforts.

Good point. Sometimes detractors can use your tag lines and catch phrases for the purpose of maligning your brand online.

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Hire employees that really want the job. Hire those that are passionate about your industry. Hire those that love what you do and will take a social media bullet to defend your online reputation. Then, empower them.

It’s amazing how one member of your team who cares (or doesn’t care, as the case may be) can have a tremendous influence on your online reputation. Everyone is a brand ambassador! This is key. It’s hard work to hire well, but it can pay off dividends in many areas … not just in ORM.

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Your online reputation is always changing, sometimes growing, sometimes shrinking. Merely posting a couple of items and calling it a job well done is naive at best, and risky at worst. By continuing to share valuable and insightful blog posts, tweets, and updates, you grow your audience. You nurture your centers of influence.

Yes, this is an investment! Building out interesting and valuable content is one of the costs of doing business in the modern world. If you don’t pay the “content” cost, you’ll pay in other ways. This goes beyond ORM and is a long-term commitment. It’s not just “one and done.”

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Goodwill is earned when you unselfishly look to help those in your centers of influence. It’s earned when you tweet the post of an existing customer. You bank goodwill when you help one of your peers out by giving their latest video a thumbs-up. Goodwill also increases when you spend time sharing great content that doesn’t benefit you in any way but adds to the value of your stakeholders.

Think conversations, not broadcasts. Andy is certainly not the first person to talk about this, and he likely won’t be the last. With all the online experts with huge audiences from Brogan, to Stratten to Beal saying this, it’s amazing how many people have never caught on to this “secret.”

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There are two words that are vital to include in your vocabulary if you wish to build a better online reputation. The first is “sorry” and the second is “thanks.”

Most stakeholders who attack your reputation want just one thing: an apology.

Saying “I’m sorry” has repaired many damaged reputations.

These two phrases: “Sorry” and “Thank You” are key in ORM. Learn to say them!

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I once sought out a Trackur fan at a conference and specifically stopped him to thank him for all the retweets and social sharing he does of our online content.

I’m likely not the person Andy is referring to, but I can personally vouch that he is a very gracious person and is very quick to say “thank you.” This does positively affect his reputation both online and offline. Andy’s not just telling you what to do, he lives this stuff.

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The time to influence a customer review is before that customer ever gets to the computer. If you’re not interacting with your customer before they’ve completed their transaction with you, then you’re playing Russian roulette with your ratings.

I like to say, “Nothing happens in a vacuum.” What happens offline affects what happens online and vice-versa. It’s a continuous cycle.

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… it’s important to be proactive in building your Google reputation. In the absence of any positive content you’ve created, Google will fill the void in its search results with anything that it finds relevant – even if it is something negative. The best defense is offense and taking the time to mold your reputation now will better prepare you for when your reputation comes under attack. And it will come under attack.

This is VERY important. It’s much easier to weather an online reputation crisis when you’re on a strong foundation.

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When facing a reputation crisis   most people will ask, “What is it going to cost me to resolve this attack?” That’s actually the wrong question to ask. Better is to ask, “What will it cost me if I don’t resolve this attack?”

Repairing – Don’t underestimate how much time and money you will have to spend to clean up your online reputation. Many online reputation firms charge in excess of $10,000.

Yes! Bravo to Andy for bringing this up. It’s a hard question to ask, but very, very important. This question reflects attitude – and if you’re just looking to get rid of the “problem” you’re not going to fix the underlying issue … and not fixing the underlying issue will cause you a lot more problems down the road. Being proactive is important as well. “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

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Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation (Amazon Affiliate link) by Andy Beal – a great guide to ORM for individuals, those who run SMBs or those who wish to improve their online reputation practice skills.

EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey – Book Review

A few years ago, I attended the EntreLeadership 1-Day event in Dallas, Texas. I was already a fan of Dave, having read “Your Total Money Makeover” as well as attended and coordinated his Financial Peace University class at our church and my former employer. His book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Amazon Affiliate Link) was released in September, 2011 and has been on my “to read” list since then. I finally caught up with it last week, and I’m glad I did …

Cover shot of the book "EntreLeadership" by Dave RamseyA few years ago, I attended the EntreLeadership 1-Day event in Dallas, Texas. I was already a fan of Dave, having read “Your Total Money Makeover” as well as attended and coordinated his Financial Peace University class at our church and my former employer. His book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Amazon Affiliate Link) was released in September, 2011 and has been on my “to read” list since then. I finally caught up with it last week, and I’m glad I did.

Much of the information I remember from that event was included in the book, and a whole lot more. The ideas included in the book aren’t just a bunch of theories put together by someone who hasn’t “been there and done that.” Instead, it is filled with practical knowledge that lets you learn from someone with experience (read: learning from someone else’s mistakes).

The book is laid out quite well and is filled with stories from Dave’s experience starting his business on a coffee table in his home to the multi-million dollar enterprise it is today. There are chapters covering:

  • Setting goals and creating mission statements
  • Time Management
  • Making tough descisions
  • Marketing
  • Launching your dream
  • Hiring and firing
  • Sales (selling by being a servant)
  • Money issues
  • Communication
  • Building unity and loyalty in your team
  • Recognition and inspiration
  • Dealing with contracts, vendors and collections
  • Compensation plans
  • Delegation

Each chapter is built with information, illustrative stories and different ways to approach different challenges with pros and cons of each. While Dave points out the things that led to his success, he also shows there are sometimes more than one way to solve a problem. I got the iBooks version which also came with videos that further illustrated finer points of the chapter’s content.

Here are some quotes from the book and some ideas they brought to mind:

The big deal here is to remember that the very things you want from a leader are the very things the people you are leading expect from you. You must intentionally become more of each of these every day to grow yourself and your business. And to the extent you’re not doing that, you’re failing as a leader.

Dave mentions throughout the book that leaders should follow the “Golden Rule” and treat others as they would like to be treated. This is key to help leaders treat those they lead with dignity and respect.

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… it means you are more than a corporate bureaucrat who treats his people like units of production.

“Leadership” does not equal “management.” I just mentioned this idea in a recent post. You lead people, and to the extent you look at them as “units of production” you fail as a leader. This type of “leadership” doesn’t work as well as people think.

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Passion is so key in leading and creating excellence that I will hire passion over education or talent every time. I prefer to have both, but given a choice I will take passion. La Rochefoucauld once said, “The most untutored person with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without.”

Passion is so important to look for when hiring. Look for those who are passionate about your products and services. This also applies to those who are looking for work. If you can’t be passionate about who you work for, then you should start looking for another place to be.

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Big decisions should take big time and little decisions should be done instantly. The more money involved the more you should slow down. The more time involved as a result of the decision, the more you should slow down.

This is a good formula for figuring out the difference between big and small decisions.

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There was a line forming at my office to ask permission and direction on every single detail. This is a normal progression for the small-business person to grow past emotionally, but be quick to recognize this as a bad process and grow your people to make the call.

I was once part of an organization where the head of the unit pulled all his junior leaders (20-30 people) into his office every morning to tell them what their teams were going to do. What a complete waste of time and energy! Once you grow beyond 12 or so people, you have to start splitting things up. Start developing leaders NOW!

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Sometimes as organizations grow they get confused and stick by the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. People who never change the process, who worship process, are called bureaucrats. If your team can’t explain why you do something, you are filling your building full of bureaucrats and you have sown the beginning seeds of your destruction.

This is very wise … an important lesson.

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With social media like Facebook and Twitter you can ask your customers their opinion quickly, easily, and inexpensively.

The web can be the greatest and least expensive focus group you can use. Get feedback from real customers to learn how to improve products, or what new products might be needed.

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Have you ever sat down with a friend to discuss a problem and by the time you finish describing the problem you know the answer and don’t need his advice anymore? The reason is simple: when you force your thought process through another layer and verbalize your thoughts, you reach a higher level of understanding. This escalation of your thought process happens yet again when you write out your problem. Thoughts are one level, verbalization is another level, and by writing out a problem you have processed it once more.

Sometimes the best solutions come from just talking about it for a few minutes. I remember once I was writing code for a complicated web application and got stuck on this one part. I spend the better part of a week trying to work out the logic for this one piece of the process. I happened to be talking to my mom toward the end of that week, and, as sometimes happens, I started telling her about how work was going. I started to describe the project I was working on and how I was stuck on this one part. As I described the process to my non-nerd mom, the solution came to me. It was through the process of explaining a complex problem so it would be understood by someone outside that the solution came to me.

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People don’t want to be “marketed to,” they want to be “communicated with.” – Flint McLaughlin

“Markets are conversations.” Check out The Cluetrain Manifesto.

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… a guy who owns a heating and air company thought … he just did HVAC repair and replacement, but by flying over his “field” … he saw something new. He went home and changed his website to reflect the funnel. He first offered free downloadable reports on how to make your furnace, air-conditioning, and hot water heater last longer with some simple free maintenance tips. … He asked for an e-mail address to get the free reports and offered his e-mail newsletter to continue the free education. … Next down the funnel he offered a $59 HVAC tune-up, which included a fourteen-point checkup and cleaning to make the system run better … and make sure the unit is safe. Of course sometimes the tune-up led to the discovery that the system … would have to be replaced. So the funnel started with a free report and ended for some folks with a $3,500–$5,000 purchase. … He sent me a note to say that simply viewing his product offerings through the funnel had opened up a ton of new business for him.

The funnel approach is simply having some inexpensive or free and quick ways to interact with your company. The quicker and cheaper the product or service, the more people you will draw. This can be as simple as having lots of quality content that the customer can get for free on your website.

This is a great example of content marketing. Anyone can “Be That Expert.”

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We were there working hard, helping people, doing media all along. The national media just happened to notice and I wanted our team to understand that this particular event in our company wasn’t random. Instead it was more like we had worked our tails off for fifteen years and we were suddenly an overnight success.

There is rarely the real “overnight success.” Most of the people and brands that seemingly come from nowhere have been working hard for a long time before they got noticed by a larger audience. Hard work pays off and there are no real shortcuts.

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Companies whose stock is publicly traded often fall victim to worrying about Q1 profits so much that they lose focus on the future.

It’s sad to see companies sell their future for one quarter of numbers instead of looking to see where they will be (or want to be) in 5 or 10 years.

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Two years ago we alternated three different types of graphics on our website to sell live event tickets. The one that I hated sold the most. So we dropped the other two and went with what worked. So your ego and your best guess may be proven to be as pitiful as mine was.

A/B Testing – Do it! The “Conversion Scientist” says the same thing.

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Not only do I want to convince you that you as an EntreLeader are always selling, but I want you to convince your whole company that they are in sales. Customer service is sales, shipping is sales, production is sales, and quality control is sales. If the customer has a wonderful total experience they will remain a customer and send you more customers.

This is so true. Think about your team members driving around town with your logo on the truck. Everyone is involved in the sale!

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The trick in our business is to create such quality that we go viral with positive referrals in the community and on the Internet, creating instant rapport. And we must be very intentional about pushing referrals into the market as part of our sales plan. That can be as simple as asking for referrals.

This can also apply to asking satisfied customers to review your business online. A sticker on the door or a message on the register receipt might be enough of an ask.

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Once you have that connection you should do research on the person to learn additional points of common ground before you meet with them. Again, we are not trying to be manipulative; we’re trying to avoid major rapport mistakes by knowing who you are talking to. My personal assistant will have a bio on you on my desk before we talk on the phone or have a meeting. We do that so I do not say something offensive or stupid, not knowing any better. Do a little simple research and find out who you are meeting with before you enter a meeting.

This makes a lot of sense. I agree that it’s not good to do this as manipulation, but as a way to build bridges.

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In order to serve your customer with passion you have to know so much about the competitor that you know why you are better. You can point out the brand differentiation without trashing your competitor. I am sure you have noticed that it is hard for you to trust someone who is selling you by tearing down their competitor. Just point out the differences and why you believe you are a better choice. You cannot do that if you have not studied your competitor in detail, as if you were going to sell their product

This is very key. It’s like what Santa did in “Miracle on 34th Street.” If Macy’s didn’t have it, they referred customers someplace that did.

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It is really hard to imagine, but people actually think using a credit card to finance a business is smart. The person who thinks that is a very naive businessperson—basically, a gambler. Yet according to Businessweek 50 percent of small companies use credit cards, with 71 percent of them carrying balances. This extremely expensive form of debt is an indicator that the person running or opening the business isn’t putting much thought into the finances. They are under the illusion that they can outearn their stupidity.

I can speak from experience that this is true. I tried financing my first internet business with credit cards after reading an article in Entrepreneur Magazine telling how much it made sense. I finally paid off those credit card balances 7 years later. A very expensive lesson!

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Annual reviews are often the one time a person gets real feedback on their job and personal performance, and the time that a raise is given. At our place job and personal performance get continuous, almost weekly feedback, positive or negative. I do not wait a year to course-correct mistakes. Team members don’t need to wait a year to bring problems to leadership either; that is silly … We do not use the annual checkup as a job-performance discussion; I require my leaders to make that a fluid ongoing discussion.

Even if your company does do annual reviews, you shouldn’t wait a year to give feedback. Meet with your team members weekly. Let them know what’s going on and where they stand. Don’t wait until things become a huge problem before dealing with them.

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One of the hallmarks of winning companies is they are very intentional and effective at communication. As a matter of fact the EntreLeader’s goal should be to create a company culture of communication. Communication is the grease in the gears. You can have great gears in your company and it will still freeze up, grind to a halt, if you don’t put the grease of communication into the engine. When the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, great frustration and distrust sets in.

The more you communicate the better. Even if something comes up you can’t talk about due to special circumstances, because you are open about everything you can be, people trust your judgement.

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Jacques Plante, Hall of Fame NHL goalie, said, “How would you like a job where every time you made a mistake a big red light goes on and eighteen thousand people boo?”

OK – big bonus points to Dave for having a Jacques Plante quote!

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… the EntreLeader values his team and never mistreats them, but I am discussing our legal obligation. We don’t have, nor will we have, a legal employment obligation arising from a contract. I don’t want someone to stay on my team because of their contractual obligation; this would mean they have no passion, have no creativity, and add a lousy element to our culture. Nor do I want to be forced to keep someone when it is time they leave.

This illustrates the difference between building a team and hiring a bunch of “employees.”

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Are they compensated like a valued partner or like a unit of production that can be tossed to the curb like last week’s garbage? If you have team members like I am describing and you make a net profit of $10 million this year, would you be okay with paying them $1 million? … Realize your team is your secret weapon. Bad companies become so worried about Q1 profit that they squeeze their secret weapon and kill the culture that brings profit. When in doubt, be generous. You will live with fewer regrets and you will profit more by attracting and keeping extremely talented and passionate people.

This is a question every business needs to ask itself. Of course shareholders deserve a return on the money they risk investing in your company’s, but are they more important than the people who make success happen day in and day out?

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EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Amazon Affiliate Link) by Dave Ramsey. Great book filled with leadership and business knowledge. This book is ideal for anyone aspiring to leadership and those who run (or who are thinking they might one day run) a business.