Friday, December 24, 2010

A Best of Barry: Finding trust within corporate decision-making

We're a jaded society. We're skeptical. When we hear of a lay-off or a downsizing, it usually implies that the corporation has a focus only on money. It usually implies that the corporation doesn't care about people.

Sometimes that's true. Often it's not.

A poorly run corporation will seek to survive at any cost--including its morals, its people and its reputation.

But the good corporation--and I think most are good--makes decisions the best it can at the moment given the information they have. They will make mistakes but they will make good decisions, too.

Here's an example: a corporation must downsize. It gives severance packages to its departing employees. Now they have a flat organization, meaning the remaining employees have greater responsibility and autonomy. The corporation empowers them to make decisions at their local level, to run their part of the business entrepreneurially.

If we interpret the above scenario skeptically, it may say:
The evil corporation is now asking more of people, paying less money and making more for themselves.
If we interpret it from a positive standpoint it says:
The corporation made some tough decisions. It trusts their remaining employees to a greater extent than ever and is giving them the chance to be successful.
Even if the corporation is good overall--if they don't communicate their message so the employees realize they trust them, there will still be plenty of skepticism.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond
Originally posted 10/28/09

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Best of Barry: Silence is golden

Blah, blah, blah

Have you ever daydreamed during a presentation or while a salesperson is going on and on talking? I have. Too much talk, not enough meaning. Blah, blah, blah.

The worst infraction of all is not allowing for silence in any conversation, whether it happens to be on a sales call or a business presentation. We all want to fill up the "space" and talk, talk, talk.

Mark Twain said it well, "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."

Want to improve your presentation or increase your sales? Do this: after you ask a question of your audience, shut up and allow for silence. Let someone think and respond. It may take a few more seconds than is comfortable, but it's worth it. Avoid the temptation of filling that space with blah, blah, blah.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
Originally posted 05/21/10
LaBov Sales Channel
PB&J Newsletter

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Best of Barry: Setting goals and overcoming fear

There's a strategy in golf that many of the greats employed. Instead of practicing and playing a few rounds on a golf course, many of the great golfers would instead play the course backwards.

"Playing the course backwards" meant they would stand on the green and look back to the fairway to examine the hazards as well as the open areas where they could land their ball. Then they next walk to the fairway and look back to the tee and everything in between--the trees on the left, the bunker on the right, etc.

Why do this and...what does this have to do with business?

Golf courses are designed to trick the eye and to scare a golfer, to demand execution. Many times those hazards, trees or lakes out there are merely illusions (they're not in play), but if we don't watch out, they'll affect our swing and ultimately our score. Playing backwards allows the golfer to see the reality of those hazards and be able to overcome them.

In our businesses, we can employ this approach. Look at your business not from today's standpoint, but from next year's, for example. Looking back to today, what's in your way? Is it real or an illusion? What's the smart play?

The business world is designed to scare and intimidate. Play it backwards.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
Originally posted 04/12/10
LaBov Sales Channel
PB&J Newsletter

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Best of Barry: Don't wait for fulfillment

Fulfillment is a great concept: you do something and then you get a response that makes it all worth while. Problem is, if we wait for that to happen, we may wait a long, long time. Sometimes it may never happen.

It's best to do the right thing with no expectation of a fulfilling response. That way, you do what you think is right and if someone just happens to say, "thanks" or it turns out that you're a hero, it's a bonus.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
Originally posted 09/07/10
LaBov Sales Channel
PB&J Newsletter

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Best of Barry: CEO--Decisive leader or PR guy?

In this economy, it's interesting to see what's happened to the CEO position. Is the CEO the dynamic, hard-charging, take-no-prisoners leader? Or is the CEO the lovable, charismatic, brand magnet?

Many of the CEOs were chosen years ago when the economy was robust. Those CEOs needed to be a magnet--the person that made the employees feel better, feel included and excited. But now, that's not the priority. Many of those employees are gone. The decisions are much tougher.

Now there's a mandate to ensure the corporation survives. Being the feelgood CEO won't cut it. Give employees credit--they know it. They want more than charisma; they want real, grounded hope that things are on the right path.

That requires decisive leadership, which may mean feathers are ruffled and convention (business as usual) is questioned. And who better to deliver that message than a charismatic, brand magnet?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
Originally posted 10/16/09

A Best of Barry: I'll take that opportunity when I have time

Opportunities are priceless today. An opportunity can be the difference in you keeping your job or not. Or the difference in your company staying in business or not.

Yet opportunities are not looked at accurately, in fact they are often avoided. Many times they are viewed as burdens, options or timeless. So when a person or a company is faced with an opportunity, too often the answer is: I (or we) will tackle it when I (or we) have time, when that current campaign is over, when the current project finishes or even when I (or we) feel like it.

The problem is, by that time, the opportunity may be long gone. Think of it like this: you have an oncoming project that keeps you 60% occupied. It will conclude in two months. At the same time, an opportunity that would be phenomenal appears. What do you do?

Do you wait until the current project concludes? If so, the opportunity will gone. So might you, because what guarantee is there that there will more work after that?

If you tackle the opportunity, however, you might fear that you'll not have enough time. This is where the really successful people and companies shine because they use their resourcefulness to solve this issue. Sometimes it means getting help, sometimes it forces you to deal with issues quicker--asking the tough questions or making the tough decisions that normally would bog you down.

Taking on that opportunity will make you better because you'll have to think entrepreneurially, you'll take ownership, become more decisive--it's exhilarating.

It's not a pleasant reality, but if companies don't attack opportunities, they will lose. If employees don't jump at opportunities, their job security plummets. There is simply too high a value on growth and productivity today--being the opportunity person or company makes you invaluable.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond
Originally posted 11/20/09

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Best of Barry: Perspective

s so easy to get caught up in the activity and craziness we deal with daily. The cell phone interruptions, text messages, phone calls, meetings, etc. They all crank up the intensity and diminish our ability to see and think clearly. Everything is an emergency if we don't watch out.

To succeed and help others succeed, we must step back, we must wait and think before responding... That's not easy.

When we were children and we were scared, our parents would tell us that everything would be OK. And they were usually right. And it felt good. And we could enjoy our lives and go on being kids.

We need to have that perspective as adults because often we have influence over other people's careers or companies. Step back. Think. It's going to be alright.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
Originally posted 2/10/10
LaBov Sales Channel
PB&J Newsletter

Thursday, December 9, 2010

People vs. Objects

Do you look at people as persons like you with emotions, needs and desires? Or do you look at people as objects, something that is in the way of you getting things done?

I have to admit that I have been guilty of the latter in the middle of the daily business whirlwind, not even realizing it. Running around, trying to get something accomplished, overcoming issues, dealing with pressure, I've forgotten I was working with a person.

I wasn't aware of this until one of my friends told me she looked at people as objects and was trying to improve. At first I thought it was weird, uncomfortable to even use the term "object" in describing that situation. But after reading the book, Leadership and Self-Deception, I now understand the meaning.

We can accomplish things, we can be firm and resolute, as long as while we're working with others, we are seeing them people--people who are no different than we are. That alone will make a huge difference.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Technology and Loyalty

Isn't it interesting how technology is re-defining what loyalty?

We don't think twice about going to a website, gleaning information from it and then using that info to make an informed purchase elsewhere. For example, I can go online and research which tires Tire Rack recommends and then go call my local tire shop or go to another online tire outlet and buy those exact tires from them.

In the old days, we would be expected to buy from our local store because they spent time with us. Now, we access the info and feel little to no obligation.

That begs the question of how much we should give away online. Some people feel they should show little, others are adamant about giving away great value.

What's the answer?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Simple isn't it?

Business is simple, isn't it? Do a great job, do your best, make sure the customer knows that, make sure the customer is happy, charge what is fair for both you and the customer, follow up to make sure the customer is happy.

If we did that every time what would happen?

We'd need less customers because we'd be able to profitably focus on the few we have. Which would mean we'd do our best work and thinking for the customer, who would want us to do more of that for them.

It is that simple. But why is it soooo hard to do?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hiding in the Cave

I was recently at a seminar workshop and met some great people. Wonderful, smart, honest, caring and good people. One word kept being mentioned as we discussed our lives and issues:


So many of us avoid dealing with tough situations. We hide in the cave and wait for things to change, for the monster to go away. We rationalize this by coming up with great excuses, but when it is said and done, we're living in avoidance.

Some pretty smart people avoid things, some very nice people do, too. But as we're hunkering down in the cave, the monster may be getting bigger and more powerful.

I personally think that facing tough situations isn't the romantic, death-defying act it is sometimes pumped up to be. It may be as easy as openly discussing a concern and asking for feedback--with no pressure to solve it or make it perfect at the moment.

Much of the time, that's all it takes for things to start to get better. But that means we have to stay out of the cave.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Honor the inspiration

I spoke with a client this week and she said she had been looking for business books on and was shocked to see some books my company has written. She didn't know we wrote books. It was fun hearing the excitement in her voice.

It made me stop and think about why we wrote those books. It certainly wasn't to become rich or famous. It was not easy to write them, and often they were not viewed as a priority internally at our company. In fact, they were viewed often as an impediment to getting other things done.

I had hoped they would help our company, and most importantly, I had hoped they would help others. But the most important reason they exist is because we were inspired to write them. And we honored that inspiration--we completed the books.

It sounds simple, but it's a powerful reason to do something:
Because I was inspired.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Playing Santa Claus

When you think of Santa Claus, what words come to mind?

Jolly, fat, gifts, fairytale, impossible, etc.

Notice the kinds of words that didn't come to mind:
Respect, trust, real, admire, etc.

If we're to have a grown-up, mutually positive relationship with our customers, suppliers or employees, we need to realize that playing Santa Claus may feel good temporarily, but it isn't the foundation of a long-term, healthy relationship.

Whether it be with customers or employees, we need to be real, honest, open and vulnerable. If all we say are the nice things or if all we do is give away our work, ideas or product in an effort to be liked, it will backfire on us.

Santa is nice , but we all know he's not real.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Overlooked Resources

Unless you're the most brilliant, perfect, and lucky person, there's one thing you need to thrive in business: resources.

Sure, resources can include money and great product, but the most overlooked resource is people--their minds in particular.

Instead of sitting there wondering what to do or feeling overwhelmed trying to tackle something new or strange, if you can find a resource who can help you from their experience, life will be much better. So why don't we do this?

Sometimes we're too busy and just don't think. Other times it may be pride, or maybe it's fear of how we may look asking for help.

No matter, if we use our resources to avoid a problem or to help a customer on a challenge, we're in far better shape then if we fail on our own.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond