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You Can Avoid the Mistakes that Brought this Business Down

quote There’s a great post by Roger Ehrenberg on his Information Arbitrage site. Roger was an investor, board member and leader in Monitor110, a company that planned to become the internet version of Bloomberg. The team had impressive credentials, but ultimately the business didn’t make it.

Roger spells out the reasons why. We admire him for sharing these lessons because most of us don’t like to talk about our failures. These are mistakes that any of us could make, so he provides a great opportunity to learn from others. But even more than that, it’s the way he wrote about it that impressed us – he doesn’t cast blame; he just discusses the lessons he learned in the hopes that we may benefit. And we did!

That’s why we highly recommend that you read the whole post. We’ll hit his highlights here.
 

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7 mistakes that led to the demise of this business

#1 – No single leader
Monitor110 had two leaders – a technology person who was one of the founders and Roger, who was a business person. Roger said this structure just didn’t work.

This reminded us of the number of times we’ve seen two people start a business. It’s pretty common to split everything 50/50. But it’s a recipe for disaster. In almost all cases, there has to be someone who has the final say for a business to succeed.

#2 – The technology-side drove the business
This made us think of the number of entrepreneurs who start a business in their craft. They’re technically oriented. They love their product or service, but they ignore what the customer wants and needs.

#3 – Too much PR too early
Roger’s company was featured on the cover of the Financial Times. You wouldn’t think that would be a problem, would you? But Roger says this raised the bar with everyone – customers, themselves, and financiers … which led to the next problem.

#4 – Too much money
Too much PR. Which led to too much money. Sounds like a company that’s been blessed. But Roger says the blessing turned into a curse.

  • Because of the great PR, expectations went up significantly.
  • Within the financial community, so money flowed in
  • With their customers
  • And most importantly – with the people of Monitor110.

With all these high expectations, they didn’t push a product to market because it needed to be just right. And that didn’t matter because they had a cushion of cash.

#5 – Not enough customer feedback

By now, you see how all of these mistakes were interrelated. Because of the great publicity, they were afraid to show the customers what they had. They didn’t want to disappoint them and be disappointed. But it wasn’t a problem at the time because they had plenty of money. One mistake was feeding another which was feeding yet another.

#6 – Slow to adapt to the market
On a post not long ago, we talked about a military concept called OODA loops. OODA is an acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. The idea behind the concept is that by getting into the loop, you gain information. Then, by adapting to what you’ve learned, you gain a competitive advantage.

#7 – Disagreements about strategy
This stemmed from the technology side and the business side not being able to come to terms. It’s also an outflow of Mistake #1 – without a single leader, it’s hard to have a clear vision.

Just get started!

All of this made us think of the saying, “You don’t have to get it perfect; you just have to get it going. That’s one of the things that we did with Bigg Success. We talked to a lot of people who had all kinds of great ideas. Some diametrically opposed to each other! We could have easily just got caught in the quagmire.

Ultimately, we just launched. It wasn’t perfect – we knew that. We’ve learned a lot. There are things we would do differently if we had it all to do over again. But by launching, we were able to learn from the most important people of all – our community. We learned from you.

We’re happy to let you know that you’ll be seeing some bigg additions in the near future. So keep checking in and let us know what you think! We’re listening!

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Failure to Do This Harms Relationships

Have you ever had a service company just show up at your door even though they told you someone would call first?

Have you ever had a co-worker promise they would get information to you but then drop the ball?

Have you ever asked a sales person to get back to you on a proposal but then they never did?


What was your impression of that company, co-worker, or sales person when they didn’t follow-through?

It probably wasn’t favorable. You realize that you can’t count on them to do what they say they’ll do.
   
Follow-through: an essential element to building your personal brand.
A brand carries with it the promise of expected benefits. Every time a promise is not delivered, the brand suffers.

Promises are easy to make, but not as easy to keep. But if you want to build trust, you have to make good on your promises.

“Say what you’ll do, then do what you say.” Author unknown
 
This separates people who achieve bigg things from people who don’t. Even if it’s just a little thing, you risk leaving the impression that you don’t follow through.

We often have the best of intentions, but it’s impossible to judge someone on their intentions. So we do the only thing we can do – we base our opinions of people on whether they deliver on their promises.

Be careful not to over-promise.

If we surprise someone, we should surprise them in a good way – by doing more than we say we’ll do. It’s not good to disappoint them by doing less than what we say … or not doing it at all.

Today’s bigg action item – Develop a system to record every promise you make.

Do whatever works for you, whether that is an old paper system or something using new technology.

One simple way to do this is Jott. Whenever you make a promise, just call and leave a message about what you need to do. Jott will send you an e-mail or text message reminder. That coupled with your personal calendar can keep you on track. Here’s the best part – Jott is a FREE service.

There are two keys to making any system like this work:

  • Budget a little extra time after each activity.
    This will allow you to write down or record anything you promised.
  • Make it a habit.
    Really focus on using your system every day for the next two weeks.

Or you could do what George does. Mary-Lynn reminds him of his promises. Speaking of which, he has to go pick up the dry cleaning that was ready last week!

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Why Work Life Balance Doesn’t Work

An increasing number of people have given up on the balancing act. They have found that it’s impossible to draw a line in the sand and divide their lives into two parts.

We only have one life to live, so why complicate it by trying to reach our goals in two separate worlds as if one doesn’t have anything to do with the other one?


You might find that it pays to NOT try to balance your life!

Thus the emerging trend of work life integration. This concept is still in its early stages, but more and more people are finding that it works better for them than trying to keep things in balance.

Work life integration is all about flowing seamlessly from one area to the other. Your spouse may say something that helps you at work. Your co-workers may give you insight for things at home.

Pay attention to all the important people and priorities in your life all the time, rather than thinking that you need to segment them.

A paradigm shift

That’s the essence of work life integration. It requires a paradigm shift … thinking about your life a different way. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to be great in two separate areas of your life, focus on doing your best in your single life. Remove the limitations that you’ve placed on yourself.

Limitation #1 – Place
Work only occurs at the office; personal only occurs at home. We shouldn’t mix the two. It’s how we’ve been trained to think. The problem is … it doesn’t work!

Limitation #2 – Time
Many people think they of work as the activities they do during certain times of the day (e.g. 9 to 5). Then they live their personal lives. It may make sense for you to adjust your schedule, depending upon the flexibility your employer allows.

A recent study by Hudson, a leading international recruiting firm, showed that nearly one-third of the people surveyed ranked flexibility as their #1 priority in considering a new job offer.

Limitation #3 – Daily reconciliation

We think that we need to achieve balance every day. In reality, sometimes work demands more of us; at other times, our personal life needs the most attention. Give yourself permission to focus on what’s most important. Don’t worry about whether everything is balanced every day.

If you think about it, work – life balance is sort of an unnatural expectation. Work – life integration is more congruent with how most of us actually live. It’s just more natural.
How we use work – life integration

Here at Bigg Success, we understand this concept very well because we live it. We work together, often at home. We play together. We often get to travel together, combining some pleasure with the primary purpose of the trip. We also find that a lot of personal conversations lead to ideas like the one you’re reading now.

Of course, not all spouses can (or should) work together. Do what works for you. The good news is that, according to the Chartered Management Institute, there will be a blurring of boundaries between work and family because more and more of us will be working virtually.

Our bigg quote today comes from Karl Weick.

“Simply pushing harder within the old boundaries will not do.”

So pull yourself together … integrate your lives.

Next time, we’ll discuss four things to pay attention to that pay off. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Abandon Ship!

Yesterday, we said that persistence is the single most important ingredient for your success. If you persist long enough, you’re sure to succeed! However, you have to be smart about it. With that in mind, here are four signs that it’s time to abandon ship!

Internal signs
#1 – It’s affecting your health.
Your health is more important than any career. You may be having anxiety attacks, experiencing constant stress, feeling burned out or fatigued. These are indications that it may be time for a change.

To succeed bigg, you’ll feel stressed from time-to-time. You need to push on, unless it’s affecting your health long-term. NOTHING is worth that. If your long-term health is being affected by what you’re doing, it’s time to abandon ship!

#2 – You’re bored beyond belief.
You’ve been there, done that. Every day feels like a week. It’s harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning. You don’t look forward to work. You feel like you’re stagnating.

The first sign covers your physical health. Here we’re talking about your mental health. When you’re bored to tears, it’s time to abandon ship!

External signs
#3 – There’s no room for growth.
This is related to the second sign. However, in this case, it’s beyond your control. It may be that you’ve been promoted as far as you can go. Perhaps you can’t expect any significant increase in your income. Maybe your company is reaching maturity.

You’ve taken it as far as the circumstances will allow. If there’s little or no opportunity on the horizon, it’s time to abandon ship!

#4 – The trends are bad.
Change happens. It affects your industry – for good or bad. If it’s creating damage, ask yourself 

Is it a trend or is it a fad?

Fads are short term – they will come and go. Trends are long-term things that you can’t change. Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha, said, “When management with a reputation for brilliance tackles a business with a reputation for bad economics, it is the reputation of the business that remains intact.”

We don’t doubt that you’re good. But even you can’t buck the trends. If it’s a fad, push on! If it’s a trend that’s devastating your industry, abandon ship!

Have you felt the need to abandon ship? Or maybe you’re considering it now?
Share your experience with us … leave a comment below!

But don’t just jump ship … prepare your life boat first.

Store up provisions.
Find ways to save some money – skip that latte or pack a lunch until you get settled. Set it aside to provide for you and your family.

Don’t forget your life jacket.
This is your support network. Talk to people who will encourage you, weigh in with ideas, and perhaps refer you to good opportunities.

Remember your compass.
Obviously, you need to know that you’re headed in the right direction. Check out these great resources for guidance:

Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part I)    

Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part II)   

Coping With Life Change    

Your Potential Power    

Are You Going Through A Mid-Life (Career) Crisis  

Is It Time For You To Rock And Roll (Change Careers)    

10 Signs That You’re Ready To Quit Your Job And Start A Business    

Stretch Yourself Anew    

What Makes You Tick    

Finding The “Good” In Good-Bye    

How Do You Define Success      

Visualizing The Life You Want (Part II)    

Climbing The Stairway To Success    

Take your oars.
You don’t want to just float, so grab your oars. These are things you can do to steer you in the right direction – like take a class or get a part-time job in a field you think might be interesting.

Bring your flare gun.
Prepare to market yourself – spruce up your resume and cover letter. Think creatively so you get the attention of the right people.

Our Bigg Quote today comes from George William Curtis.

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

You are the captain of your own ship. Usually you will persist and stay with the course. But occasionally, the best thing you can do is to find a new ship and start your journey anew. Bon voyage!

Next time, we’ll answer a question for one of our newsletter subscribers. He wants some tips on wooing potential investors over dinner. We’ll talk about how to be dashing while dining!

Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Should You Count On Your Counter-Offer

Bigg Challenge:  We received an e-mail from Patrick, who was approached about a job. He met with the prospective employer and accepted their offer. Then he got an unsolicited counter offer when he told his current employer that he was resigning. He wants to know if he should accept it.

Bigg Advice: Congratulations, Patrick! Isn’t it nice to be wanted? It sounds wonderful, but the reality is that it can be quite stressful. We feel the need to preface our comments – we can give you general advice, but only you can decide which offer you should accept.

  • Why did you accept the offer from your prospective new employer?
  • It’s unclear from the e-mail why you wanted to leave. There are many possible reasons why you may have been drawn to your prospective employer’s offer. Was it money? Maybe you were unhappy at your current job – you just hadn’t started actively searching yet. Perhaps the new job seemed like a better opportunity. We’ll assume that if was a combination of these factors.

  • Why did your current employer counter?
  • We can think of two possible explanations for your employer’s counter offer. First, they may be buying time. Perhaps they’re not prepared to do a search now. The timing is bad because of current business volume. There could be any number of reasons for them to buy time. Just be aware of this. Second, they may truly value you. They really don’t want you to go. They’ve invested in you – you’re part of their future plans. It’s hard to judge intentions. Assume the best, but keep the worst in the back of your mind.

  • Get it in writing.
  • Negotiate your counter offer as if it was a brand new job. If you’ve been promised more money, it will be easy to judge whether they come through. It’s more difficult with other factors. You may want to travel less. Maybe you want more flexibility. Or you need more time off. Perhaps it’s growth opportunities that you seek. These factors are harder to deliver. So ask your current employer to put their offer in writing. Tell them that you appreciate their counter. You want to fully evaluate it. You prefer to stay with them, but you want to know that you’re making the right decision. Seeing it in writing will help you do that.

  • Maintain your relationships.
  • We don’t believe you should let your prospective employer know about the counter offer. They probably expect that anyway. However, you should make your final decision very quickly. Somebody will have a position to fill. Lingering only makes that a bigger problem. Whatever you decide, don’t burn bridges with the affected party.

Thanks for sharing your bigg challenge with us, Patrick. We hope our bigg advice helps you!

Do you have a bigg challenge? We’d love to help. E-mail it to bigginfo@biggsuccess.com

Our Bigg Quote today is by Karl Albrecht.

“Start out with an ideal and end up with a deal.”

You’ve been dealt a good hand. Play your cards well. Maintain your poker face. Draw from within and then place your bet.

Next time, we ask you, “What’s your pickup line?” We’ll discuss how to grab someone’s attention with a great opening line. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Create a Code of Conduct to Create a Covenant with Your Troops

By Bigg Success Staff
03-11-08

Leadership Skills

people 

As a leader, you have to establish the ground rules for your troops. Your rules, also known as your policies, define the code of conduct. If done correctly, they are not a negative. They are a covenant between you and your troops as well as between your troops themselves.

What they are

The problem is that, much of the time, ground rules are written as negatives. So your people view them as negatives. It doesn’t need to be that way. They simply establish how all of you must proceed to get where you want to go.

Your ground rules define how your people work with people – each other, you, your customers, your vendors, your community, and more. They are designed to minimize individual behavior that harms the group effort. Period. When all of your troops understand that, they will buy in to the rules.

Your ground rules should answer these questions:

  • How do things work under your leadership?
  • What behavior is acceptable and unacceptable?
  • What are the consequences for inappropriate behavior?
  • What resources are available to members of our team?
  • What are the team rewards for achieving victory?


Why you need them

Your attorney will tell you that you need ground rules to protect yourself from liability. That’s true – and you should get your attorney’s advice throughout this process. However, there are even more important reasons to establish the ground rules.

Your ground rules help new troops get acquainted with your culture. They will be able to get “up to speed” more quickly when you clearly define the expected behaviors.

They also establish that you are trying to be fair to everybody. There’s a set of rules to which you refer when a certain behavior is called into question. It’s not a who’s who where favorites get treated one way and everybody else gets treated differently.

Occasionally, you will override the rules because of a specific situation. After all, your troops are humans, not machines. You’ll use your best judgment to determine when the good of the group calls for bending the rules a little. If done correctly, your troops will respect you for that.

Keep it simple
Make sure your rules aren’t written in legalese. They should be easily understood by all your troops. If it takes a lawyer to interpret them, rework them.

How extensive your rules need to be depends in large part on the emotional maturity of the people you lead. In general, the more mature your people are, the fewer rules you need. And the fewer rules you can get away with, the better.

Resist the 1% rule

Novice leaders often create rules in response to specific acts by a minority of people (1%) that are infrequently repeated. Then, the overwhelming majority (99%) of their troops has to live with them. This is a primary reason why people resist rules.

For example, picture a leader who says that there is a new dress code because one person out of a hundred is wearing inappropriate clothing to work. Instead of dealing with that one employee, this leader chooses to create a rule for all of the employees.

These leaders see it as an easy solution – it’s easier to write a policy than deal with an individual employee. They may have the time or they may not like confrontation. Whatever the reason, it may be easier in the short run, but it is almost certain to create even bigger problems in the long run when dealt with in this way.

The code of conduct you establish for your troops is essential to insure you reach your goal. You want rules that your people buy in to so you create a covenant between yourselves that insure a smoother path to victory.

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Ride The Wave, Dude!

By Bigg Success Staff
01-31-08

Life Changes

eyes_of_a_child_jpgBen Franklin said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

Isn’t it comforting to know that nothing has changed … wait a minute, a lot has changed!

Isn’t there another implicit certainty is his famous quote? You can be certain that things will change.

The question is: are you leading change in your life or is it leading you?

As technology continues to develop, change is occurring more and more rapidly. Isn’t it safe to assume that, in the future, this will continue?

You have a choice to make. You either develop the skills to anticipate change so you get ahead of it or you just respond to it, after the pain becomes too great to do anything else.

Hopefully, you’ll see that as a simple choice. After all, you’re a bigg goal-getter, aren’t you?

You have to ride the wave!

Here are four things you should evaluate to prepare for your ride.

Understand your risk tolerance.
With risk comes reward. Studies of wealthy people show that they take more risk, on average, than people who aren’t wealthy.

Some people are so risk-averse that they do nothing risky at all. Unknowingly, they may be taking the biggest risk of all in today’s rapidly-changing world!

Ride the wave!

Test your perceptions.
As we grow older, we develop a point-of-view based on our past experiences.

We put our hands on a hot stove. It hurts! So we don’t do it again. We learned our lesson.

Sometimes, though, we take the wrong lesson away. We get out of our comfort zone and get burned. So we don’t test ourselves anymore. That’s a dangerous attitude today!

Maybe you’ve been thrown off your surf board before. Get back on! Ride the wave!

Look for trends.
There are fads and there are trends. Fads come and go. Don’t worry about them. Trends are long-term. You need to get on board with them.

What will affect your future income? Something will – for good or for bad! Is it a short-term phenomenon? Or is it likely to continue?

You can position yourself properly by seeing the change coming. What opportunities will be created? What skills will be important? Do you have them? Can you get them?

Pick your wave and ride it!

Don’t expect perfection.
If you take risk and try to get on the forefront of trends, you’re going to make mistakes. Expect them! Celebrate them!

The key, though, is to learn from them. Think about it – you’re gaining valuable knowledge while most other people are still on their heels. You’re even further ahead!

You can embrace change or you can begrudge it. You only have one life to live. Why not find a bigg wave and take the ride of your life?

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Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Only You Can Prevent Burnout

By Bigg Success Staff
01-26-08

Work-Life Balance

heart_of_a_fire

Physical discomforts get our attention. We quickly buy a new chair for our desk or get an ergonomically-designed keyboard. We may even go to our doctors for help.

So why don’t we approach mental “discomforts” the same way?

When we experience these symptoms, we tell ourselves that “we must be strong”, “we have to push on”, or something similar.

But these symptoms may be early signs of burnout. Burnout happens gradually as a result of prolonged, unresolved stress.

Smokey Bear says, “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

It’s also true that only you can prevent burnout.

No one will do it for you. It’s up to you to recognize it and do something about it. Here are three things you can do:

# 1 – Don’t get caught in the “superman” or “superwoman” trap.
You have a set of expectations. Others have expectations of you. Are they realistic?

You need to have goals, but these goals have to be achievable. Otherwise, you’ll just get more and more frustrated with yourself.

Learn to say “no” to others when you know that you’ll have to do something superhuman to give them what they want. And by superhuman, we don’t mean “leaping tall buildings”.

We mean setting aside time that you don’t have. Taking on another project when your to-do list is already insane. NOT doing something that’s important to you in order to do something that’s important to them.

Accept the fact that you’re only human – it’s a good thing.

#2 – Get past the “buzz killers”.
Some people are all “take” and no “give”. They expect a lot from you, but when you need a friend, they’re no where to be found. Get past them – find some new friends! That’s easy to say, but no so easy to do. However, you’ll be richly rewarded for hanging out with the right crowd.

Places can be buzz killers, too. The most obvious one is where you work. If you’re being asked to do more and more with less and less, you may need to move on. Change the job or change jobs.

#3 – Find more “buzz builders”
One of the secrets to preventing burnout is to make sure you have plenty of enjoyable activities. Work should be one of those, as we just discussed. But you need more than that or you will burnout at some point.

There are many ways to build buzz in your life. Some examples are:

  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Volunteer for a cause in which you believe
  • Take a class
  • Get a hobby
  • Start a personal journal
  • Read great books

How about you … what builds you up?

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Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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The Home Stretch

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How To Succeed The George Costanza Way

By Bigg Success Staff
01-24-08

Timeless Principles

U-turn_sign

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where all the characters turned into their opposites?

George was unattached, unemployed and still living with his parents. He decided that every decision he had ever made was wrong because he was 180 degrees from the life he wanted.  

Since his life was the complete opposite of what he wanted, George decided that he would do the opposite of what his instincts told him. Then he should get his dream life.

Guess what? It worked! The next thing you know, George had a girlfriend, a job with the New York Yankees, and his own place.

We can learn a timeless lesson from George Costanza. There are two ways to succeed.

  • Do what successful people do.
  • Do the opposite of what unsuccessful people do.

We’ve heard it before – successful people do what unsuccessful don’t. While this saying is easy to remember, it doesn’t explicitly state an important fundamental of success.

It’s often easy to do something once. It’s a little harder to do it twice. It’s very difficult to make it a habit. Yet successful people have different habits than unsuccessful people.

That’s the difference – the habits!

You have to consistently pursue success. Moment by moment. Day after day. Year after year. It doesn’t happen in a flash.

It’s not always exciting. It’s about the nitty-gritty. Paying attention to little things.

It’s self-discipline. To do what you need to do, not what you want to do.

It’s delayed gratification. Accepting less now so you can have more later. 

It’s persistence. You have to keep on keeping on. No matter what. Overcome obstacles and keep pushing. Never give up.

Remember this basic principle …
If you continue to do what you’ve always done, then the best you can expect is what you already have.

If you don’t want more of the same, you’ll have to change your habits. Find out what makes successful people successful and do that, or look at unsuccessful people’s habits and do the opposite.

That’s how to succeed the George Costanza way!

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Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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Review: Fire Them Up

By Bigg Success Staff
01-24-08

Bigg Book Review 

Fire Them Up!: 7 Simple Secrets to: InspireColleagues, Customers, and Clients; Sell Yourself, Your Vision, and Your Values; Communicate with Charisma and Confidence

Carmine Gallo, communications coach extraordinaire, award-winning journalist, and successful author, has done it again. In his latest book, Fire Them Up, he shares seven steps to inspire people to be their best.

He personally interviewed leaders from companies such as Google, Travelocity, Cranium, Gymboree, The Ritz Carlton, and Cold Stone Creamery. They share secrets you don’t learn in any business class. Secrets to developing relationships by communicating your vision and showing people you believe in them.

Here are Carmine’s 7 steps to “fire them up” along with our quick summary:

#1 – Ignite your enthusiasm
It starts with you. If you’re not fired up, how can you expect anyone else to be? Lead by example. Once you’re fired up, you can move to the next step.

#2 – Navigate the way
Spell out your clearly stated vision of the future. Your vision should be so simple and to-the-point that it can be written on a cocktail napkin.

#3 – Sell the benefit
Explain WHY your vision is important. How will it affect them? How will it affect the world?

#4 – Paint a picture
Tell stories that reinforce your vision and call your people to action.

#5 – Invite participation
Get your team involved in creating a strategy. How do we get from where we are to where we want to be?

#6 – Reinforce an optimistic outlook
Expect obstacles along the way. Keep your vision in front of your people. Persist. Keep inspiring.

#7 – Encourage their potential
Show your people that you believe in them. Offer regular feedback on their performance. Give them a pat on the back when they excel.

We think you’ll find this book extremely valuable, no matter where you’re at in your career. It’s chockfull of stories and tactics from people who have been there. This is “rubber meets the road” advice. When you understand how to apply these principles, you’re on the road to bigg success!