Tag Archives: Business Management

Visiting New York on 9/11: A Note on Perspective

15 Sep

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Don’t Lose Sight of What Really Matters

I recently had the unique experience of traveling to New York City for a Business Marketing Association (BMA) meeting that coincided with the 15th anniversary of 9/11. Consequently, this year was a little different than past BMA meetings in that my trip was an opportunity not only to talk about the B2B marketing industry with some of the leading companies and agencies in the country, but also to gain some important and much needed perspective.

This year, I arrived on the day of September 11 and decided to visit the memorial and see the lights, which are illuminated only a couple of nights a year. As I walked around Ground Zero, I saw firemen in dress blues from Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Antonio, Las Vegas, Miami, and many other cities. These men and women had been at Ground Zero in the weeks and months after the attack, lending a hand with the recovery, clean up, and other support efforts for their brothers and sisters in the NYFD.

As I walked from the reflecting pools where the Twin Towers once stood, I saw a big crowd around the Irish pub next to the fire station. Approaching the pub, I realized this was the place to be for all the firemen and women. I wasn’t sure if I could even go in, but as I entered, I realized I was more than welcome.

The firemen and women in the pub and the streets surrounding it were all talking, hugging, laughing, and sometimes even crying with their brothers and sisters who work to serve so many Americans in different cities across the country. Several times I attempted to buy these amazing, everyday heroes a beer or a drink. But every time, they replied with, “No, let me buy you a drink.”

“What? You’re buying me a drink? I should be thanking you.”

But because of their honor and pride, they wouldn’t allow me to buy them one.

We don’t always value the relationships with the people we serve, or who serve us. If you were offered something by the very people you serve, would you accept—or refuse and offer them one instead? Do you say thank you enough to the people who work for you? How about the people you work for?

From the memorial itself to the people I met in the city on this day, the experience of being in New York on the anniversary of 9/11 is something I wish everyone could experience. While a somber reminder of the worst attack on American soil, it’s also the location where thousands of people perished on what should have been just another typical Tuesday at the office.

As marketers, we have lots of “typical days” in the office. They tend to involve helping our companies or clients sell their products and services—they don’t tend to involve saving lives.

For us, making a mistake means a painful meeting or a brutal phone call—it doesn’t mean life or death.

When every project is rushed, we say it’s hot—but it’s not actually on fire.

We might run into a crazy meeting—but it’s not a burning building.

There is always another “typical day” at the office. But as we recognize and recall the events that forever changed our world, let’s also keep our perspective and remember that we can always be more humble, more thankful, and more appreciative of the opportunities we have. In short, more kind.

Appreciate the people you work with and work for, and those who work for you.

Do good work, but remember that your work isn’t the only thing that matters.

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Book Review 3: The Fred Factor (Part 2/2)

12 May

4 Steps to Find and Develop “Freds” in Your Organization

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I recently wrote a blog post on Mark Sanborn’s book, The Fred Factor. While that post focused on explaining what a Fred is (long story short: a passionate employee who delivers an extraordinary customer/client experience) and how to identify one, this blog post will dig into how you can find and develop Freds within your own organization.
But first, why go to the effort? Quite simply, Freds—the most passionate people in your organization—are different. They do ordinary things extraordinarily well. Not surprisingly, Freds are also generally happier because people doing good work feel good, and people doing exceptional work feel, well, exceptional.

Sanborn uses the acronym FRED to explain how to develop “Freds”:

  • Find: There are three main avenues for finding Freds within and for your organization:
    1. Let Freds find you. If you really want your company to be world-class, it must become the kind of place that attracts Freds. To accomplish that, you must empower the Freds you have so their impact will be felt not only in the work your company does externally, but also in your internal culture.
    2. Discover “Dormant Freds.” There are many employees, also known as Dormant Freds, whose inner Fred has yet to blossom. To find them, watch for people that do things with flair (not to be confused with showing off or trying to attract attention)—an exceptionally well-done project, an elegant client meeting, or a clever suggestion are all possible tip-offs that a Dormant Fred is hiding in plain sight. Here are some questions to ask yourself about a potential Dormant Fred:
      • What do I remember about this person?
      • What’s the most extraordinary thing he or she has ever done?
      • How badly would this person be missed if he or she left his or her current position?
    3. Recruit and hire Freds. When you have exhausted your internal Fred pool, you may have to look externally to find them. Here are some great interview questions to find those prospective Freds:
      • Who are your heroes? Why?
      • Why would anyone do more than necessary?
      • Tell me three things that you think would delight most customers/clients/consumers.
      • What’s the coolest thing that has happened to you as a customer?
      • What is service?
  • Reward – Implement a rewards program to make sure Freds are recognized and appreciated, even if you are only recognizing good intentions and not a good final result. While nobody likes to fail, it is important to encourage employees to take chances. When people feel like their contributions are unappreciated, they will stop trying. And when that happens, innovation dies. My company, ER Marketing, recently implemented an award system in which employees nominate each other for exceptional work and attitude. This is meant to encourage employees who live up to the ER Marketing values of Curiosity, Respect, Accountability, and Performance (yes, we know what that acronym spells) with peer and management-level recognition.
  • Educate – Find examples of “Freds,” (both inside and outside of your organization), analyze those examples for commonalities that others can learn from, teach others to act extraordinary everyday—not just when there is a crisis—and set an example (invite others to act similarly).
  • Demonstrate – Set an example by inspiring, involving, initiating, and improvising. Here are some ways you can set an example and inspire employees to better serve your customers, vendors, and fellow employees better:
    • Inspire, but don’t intimidate.
    • Involve by creating a “Team Fred” of leaders in your organization.
    • Don’t wait for the “right” moment. It will never come—you have to make it.

One final, important thought from the book: Pull, Don’t Push. You can’t command someone to be a Fred. You can’t require someone to practice the Fred Factor. Command-and-control short-circuits the spirit of the Fred Factor, which is about opportunity, not obligation.

Invite people to join you. The most powerful tool you have to spread the Fred Factor throughout your organization is your own behavior—the example of your life and the effect it has on others. The best “Freducators” are themselves Freds. As John Maxwell says, “You teach what you know, you reproduce who you are.”

 

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Book Review 1/3: Built to Sell

1 Mar

Building Something with a Life Beyond You

As part of a blog series, I’ve decided to complete three reviews of three separate books. The books are about topics like marketing, business, and leadership. My goal with this series is to draw out some teachable lessons for anyone attempting to grow—personally, professionally, or otherwise. In this blog, I will cover some humbling lessons that leaders, business owners, managers, etc. can learn about creating a business and developing people to be able to grow independently of their leadership.

It’s a relevant topic to almost anyone with direct reports or a business to be accountable to. Haven’t you ever wondered how you can create a department or a company that can thrive without you? If you aren’t a business owner in the building materials segment, do you run a department or product category? Could some of the same principles necessary to generate a sustainable business work in this scenario—one without you?

To that end, I recently finished reading a book titled Built to Sell by John Warrillow. What a fabulous read. Throughout the book, John offers valuable insights and tips to help the reader build a sustainable business or department that can continue on without the leader.

I’ve compiled a few of the tips I found most interesting—and if I’m being honest with myself, the most humbling as well.

  1. Don’t generalize—specialize. If you focus on doing one thing well and hire specialists in that area, the quality of your work will improve and you will stand out among your competitors.
  2. Owning a process makes it easier to pitch and puts you in control. Be clear about what you’re selling, and potential customers will be more likely to buy your product.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you are serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service.
  4. Hire people who are good at selling products, not services—even if you are in a service business. This expertise leads to scalable solutions as opposed to all customized one-off solutions.
  5. Build a management team and offer them a long-term incentive plan that rewards their personal performance and loyalty.
  6. Think big. Write a 3-year business plan that paints a picture of what is possible for your business. Remember, the company that acquires you will have more resources for you to accelerate growth.
  7. Always know your pipeline prospects and what their worth is to your company. This metric is essential to be on top of market opportunity and your potential for a percentage of that.

Don’t take the book too literally—this concept is not just about business owners and it’s not just about selling; it’s about leadership and creating something sustainable beyond you. Elton and I aren’t trying to sell ERM, but the lessons from this book are ones that any business owner, manager, or leader attempting to make something bigger than themselves can learn from.

Whether you own a business or manage a department, these are tips that should influence how you approach the work if you want to create opportunities for long-term success. At the end of the day, none of us can be in our roles forever. The more you can do to lay the foundation for success, the more poised for success you—and the business—will be.

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It Works If You Work It

17 Feb

3 Reasons Networking in the Building Products Industry Helps You and Your Business

Account Coordinator_LexiGuest Contributor:
Lexi Copeland, Account Coordinator

After moving from western Kansas (shout-out to Hays, America) to Kansas City more than two years ago, I initially felt like a very little fish in a very big pond. Starting off my career, I wasn’t sure where I could fit in. So rather than aimlessly float around, I decided to make a plan to grow into my new environment. What worked for me? I started participating in networking events hosted by a professional association specific to my field. My employment is a direct result of these efforts and I now hold a board position on the local chapter of that organization.

Have you ever heard that sometimes annoying phrase, “It’s all about who you know?” This is a universal truth when it comes to building your business and growing your professional and personal network—especially within the building products industry, where the relationships you nurture throughout your career could make or break a sale. Here’s exactly how networking can help you in more ways than one.

  1. Grow Your Business: When attending events within your industry, you are gaining an opportunity to be struck with inspiration and insights from members of the channel that you might not normally be exposed to. One of the owners of ER Marketing, Renae, just wrote about how Silestone’s team of “Trendspotter” designers are the perfect example of this. By interacting with a group in a different section of the channel, they have helped make their product better, in turn improving business and setting new style trends that will impact everyone in the industry. You also never know where new leads will come from. Wouldn’t it make perfect sense for a contractor looking for a new supplier to attend an event hosted by suppliers?
  2. Grow Professionally: An article recently published on attending B2B events emphasizes the importance of prioritizing new experiences because they help keep us fresh and creative. If you get so used to a daily routine that you never branch out, opportunities for new ideas and possibilities will pass you by. People also greatly respect those that position themselves as experts in their field but also share that knowledge with others. So also consider the speaking opportunities professional associations have to offer. In the world of building, it’s important to make sure you’re constantly evolving to meet your customers’ latest demands. Professional networking events and education sessions provide you with the opportunities you need to grow in that way.
  3. Grow personally: Relationships are essential to life’s happiness, and you may be surprised by the amount of meaningful connections that can be made through networking. Relating to others—inside or even outside of your industry—can give you a sense of fulfillment, perspective, and camaraderie not always possible (or at least easily accessible) in our normal day-to-day interactions. You should feel more energized, motivated, and inspired by your involvement. Not only that, but seeing what other people in your industry are doing can help you feel more rejuvenated during times when you might otherwise feel disenchanted with the ebbs and flows of your career—and the building industry.

It is also important to mention that networking is no longer just about saving business cards in a Rolodex. With today’s technology like LinkedIn and others, maintaining a network has never been easier. But access alone isn’t enough—your best chance at success will come from being real, authentic, and dedicating effort to helping others as well. In other words, don’t go into networking thinking only of what you can take or get from others; think of what you can contribute as well.

Here are a few of the best networking organizations for those in the building products industry:

 

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What Building Products Marketers Need to Know About Millennials (Part 2/2)

14 Jan

Lip Service Ain’t Gonna Cut It

Change
Last week, my business partner wrote about the changes coming to the building products industry as more and more Millennials step into a new role as homebuyer. It’s important for building products marketers to plan and adapt their marketing accordingly, but it’s equally important to consider how Millennials will impact the industry as employees.

In one of my presentations, I discuss how the Millennial values that mark their habits as consumers also have an impact on the places where they work. Those expectations, demands, and values translate in very real ways to their lives as employees. Here are a few of the most important things to consider as an employer of Millennials:

  • Millennials are on a mission to end the traditional 9 to 5; 45% choose workplace flexibility over pay. Flex time is becoming standard as a company benefit.
  • Millennials want to see a culture change away from traditional employee management to reflect their values; 60% who left their company indicated that the primary reason was “cultural fit.”
  • 80% of Millennials want regular feedback from their boss.
  • One of the top four qualities Millennials desire most in a leader is transparency.
  • 79% of Millennials want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts or contributes to society.
  • Evolving to Millennial-friendly, participative marketing models will usually require actual structural reorganization. With access to more information than ever, lip service won’t work for this generation.

Millennials are the most connected generation to date. They like to be involved in—and informed about—the world around them. That includes the companies they buy from and the brands they’re loyal to. They do their research, they ask for recommendations and referrals, and they’re extremely conscious of where their money is going.

So what does that mean for companies who prefer to stick to traditional methods of employee management? My thought—they may just see the impact of that decision trickle all the way down to the consumer. In other words, companies that don’t treat their employees in a way that reflects these new and emerging values will likely experience a disconnect with their Millennial consumers as well.

For more Millennial employee insights, view the PowerPoint on SlideShare here.

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