Monday, February 28, 2011

Let's have a No-Leap Day

I don't trust him, maybe it's his moustache
I know the customer is going to steal our idea
I'm not going to work too hard, the boss wouldn't appreciate it
No use asking for more money, the client won't pay it
I'm not going to ask for help, they wouldn't pitch in anyway

It's easy to leap to conclusions, to make assumptions, but they cost us. We already deal with the letdown and disappointment when we assume something will not work or will be rejected. I'm guilty of that, maybe a lot of us are.

Why not today, since it is February 28th and it's not a leap year, we have a no-leap day? Today, make no assumption, don't leap to any conclusion and allow people to reveal who they really are and what they really think. They may surprise you.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, February 25, 2011

If only things were simple

If only there were a simple way to:
Lose weight
Save money
Stay healthy
Go to heaven
Be happy
Be a good parent
Be a good citizen
Be a good company

It's not that things are too complicated, it's that they're actually too simple, which complicates it for us...

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Faux CEOs and neck strain

According to basic business principles, there is no more than one CEO per company. That makes sense. Then how come there are so many more than that in companies everywhere?

A common view of a CEO is a person hovering above the fray of a company, sitting in a huge office with minions doing all of his/her work. But, the best CEOs I've met are deeply committed to their company and pay attention to their people, results and of course, their customers.

Many, many others who do not have that title seem to feel they are too busy or important to commit, to get their hands dirty or roll up their sleeves. They don't know the status of their responsibilities, departments, customers or their people. They are faux CEOs. They may or may not have impressive titles, but that doesn't matter, they are too busy or whatever to contribute meaningfully.

So that means many times there are real, engaged CEOs who have teams of faux CEOs reporting to them. You can tell by their necks. When the real CEO asks a question, the faux CEO constantly needs to turn to his/her subordinates to find the answer.

The fewer the CEOs the better. What is more important than being hands-on and engaged with your people, product and customers? And think of the neck strain we'd be eliminating.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Control Freak

Many people call themselves a control freak. Is that a good thing or a bad thing or something in-between?

Maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe what does matter is truly identifying what it really means.

Does it mean you're ensuring that everything goes well, that no detail is left unattended, that you take complete responsibility? If so, I think that sounds pretty good. That control freak will be a welcome addition to any team.

Or does it mean you want to do it your way, that you choose to define success by your own definition, and that you are fiercely independent? If so, that's a different story. That control freak may cost their company and clients a great deal in hassles and anguish.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, February 21, 2011

Leverage what you've got

You can build a brand new product
You can invest in new technology
You can establish new procedures
You can look to hire the perfect person
You can raise capital to expand
You can pursue a new market
You can re-organize your company


You can leverage what you've already created and produced, which doesn't sound as exciting or glamorous. But it might be smarter.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, February 18, 2011

Being Mature

Another way to look at the economy and the pressures we face in business is from a maturity standpoint. When the economy was going gangbusters, we could do almost anything and not pay a price. We could take out loans to buy things we couldn't afford, we could expand our business anticipating sales that couldn't possibly happen, we could price our homes so high it's now laughable. But then the bottom fell out of the market.

Now, we have to start maturing. If we can't afford it, we don't buy it. Don't expand until you need to. Work hard and earn the business, don't wait for it to drop in our laps.

It's time to mature, to grow up, and to earn the business.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Balance the Have-to with the Love-to

Keep your nose down, keep pushing, do what it takes.

The above describes many hard-working, determined people. They're great. But you know what? It can be better than that and they can be better than that.

What if you also consciously had a voice in what work you were doing? You did not only what you were supposed to do, but you had a voice in it, too. We can do that. But we have to be just as aggressive in pursuing our next horizon as we are dealing with what is on our plates right now.

How about looking at the one or two customers or industries or kind of work you'd love to work with? What if they were just as important as doing a great job on your current work?

My bet is you'd have an even better life and do an even better job. Why not take the step to select what you want to do next and start seeing how to do that?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

There's Always A Story

the tough exterior of the policeman,
the smile of the sweet, laid-back lady,
the laughs of the jokester,
the serene, cool demeanor of the woman who seems to have it all,
the bluster and bravado of the fat-cat business guy...

is a story. That person's story. And it's like no one else's. We need to remember that every day as we meet, work with, deal with and yes, even endure, others.

They (we) all have a story.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I'm not a handy guy around my house, although I'm proud to say that in high school I took the Marine Aptitude Test and it said I was outstanding in the area of construction, manual dexterity, mechanical comprehension, etc. It shows how wrong a test can be.

When I was a poor college student, I tried to tune up my car and put on a muffler by myself. Each time it resulted in me having to get a friend or a dad of a friend to come by and fix my handiwork.

We do the same thing in our businesses; we try to do it ourselves too often. Sure, you can spend the weekend painting the office or you can try to do your tax work or your advertising and you will save money. But if putting a muffler on my car improperly could've cost me my life, maybe I should've sucked it up and paid for a professional to do it. The same goes for the critical areas of our businesses.

How much will it cost to save all that money?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, February 14, 2011

You did everything right

You did everything right, but:

The weather didn't cooperate
The customer had a personal issue and couldn't buy it
The employee had an issue that was beyond your control
You were given inaccurate information
The boss got fired and now there is no agreement

So often we face undesirable situations and beat ourselves up for them. Sometimes we should kick ourselves.

But sometimes we did the right things and it didn't work out. No need to kick ourselves, just be gracious, re-load the focus, and move on.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, February 11, 2011

Take it Back

Why is it that for many of us, if we give, we need to take something back as soon as possible?
For example, a person spends extra hours making a customer thrilled. The next day the employee takes a three hour lunch and then decides to go home.

Or a person travels several days with his team on the road. They return and come into the office in a leisurely fashion the next day, except for one of them, who is now sick and stays home for two days.

Or a person pitches in to help win a project and without telling anyone, drops her responsibility on another project and allows it fail.

When we behave like that, is it because we don't trust our company or fellow co-workers to be fair? Or is it because we can't trust ourselves and we're projecting that we would take advantage of others in those situations? I wonder.

The extra effort put in is spoiled if that person immediately grabs something of equal or greater value to make up for it. It also demoralizes the team. They all know what's going on and could feel resentment.

My opinion is that in the short run, you can play sick or disappear or drop something else and get immediate gratification. But in the long run, you'll be unhappy because you'll still feel underappreciated, which will be in part add to the need to take it back.

How about doing a great job as part of the team, not keeping score and trust you will be dealt with fairly in the long run?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

He needs to change

We're all okay with the world changing as long as it's the other guy who does the changing and deals with it. But seldom, almost never, is it that simple--and it shouldn't be.

If I want you to perform better, is it really enough for only you to change? Or does it also require that I do a little changing, too?

If I don't grow and understand you better, then I'm just going to have to hope you do 100% of the heavy lifting. That's possible, but my inaction has just dramatically reduced the odds of success.

The more both sides give a little and grow, the better the chance of a lasting, meaningful change. Or I could just tell you to shape up or ship out. Which one sounds more likely to succeed?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Truth, Transparency and Chemo

We pride ourselves in telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but. And we should. It's the right thing to do. But how much can people take? Is all the truth always good or can too much of a good thing (truth) actually be unwise?

Talk to a CPA firm and ask them how much financial information should be shared with employees. They'll usually tell you to be very careful--people can only handle so much, we don't want to know each other's salaries, some of us can't handle knowing how much a company profits because we can't fathom it.

It doesn't have to be about money, the truth can be twisted or misinterpreted whether it be regarding lay-offs, downsizing, lost customers, new customers, benefits, new hires, etc.

A doctor once told me that telling too strong a truth is like giving too strong a dose of chemo. The right amount is great, too much can kill you.

Truth is good, but sometimes it has to be metered out, based on the audience.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, February 7, 2011

I don't want to hear about

Jenny isn't available, her grandson's birthday party is tonight
I can't make the appointment, I have to be at a party this morning
Excuse me, my son is at the airport and he's calling me
My boss would be with you except she had to be somewhere else

All of the above are actual comments made to me as I was trying to buy a large ticket item. I did not buy from the above people. It's not that I think it's wrong for any of them to deal with their son or grandson or go to a party. It's that I don't think I should have to hear about it. It actually hurts a sales opportunity, in fact. Had they been more discreet, I would have assumed they were on the phone with a customer, maybe buying the item I was interested in. But no, they let me know that my sale was less important than a party or a call or a meeting.

The less said the better.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, February 4, 2011

Little Stevia Wonder

Stevia is a well-known sugar substitute. It's about 300 times the potency of sugar so a little bit goes a long way. And it tastes good. Due to my age and my fascination with a drop of it equaling a teaspoon of sugar, I've named it Little Stevia Wonder in my household (for those of you under 100 years old, Stevie Wonder was originally known as "Little Stevie Wonder").

Those of us whose job it is to inspire and motivate should look at ourselves as Stevia. A little bit is just great, but too much is not desirable. Too much of us poking around will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those we work with.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Love the Hunger

This economy has been tough but it also has woken up the hunger inside many companies. It was tough when every company was making a lot of money spitting out okay products and doing a decent job motivating their dealers to sell those products. Factories were popping up everywhere, millionaires were being created by the hour, more was better.

What I love now is that so many of those companies are back to their roots and focusing on great products and making money on purpose, not accidentally. Those companies are so exciting now, they're fun to be with and they are more functional than ever before.

That revolution has affected the largest and the smallest of companies to the point the arrogant, stodgy, fearful, and/or complacent company is now the odd one out. They stand out, they don't motivate and they look tired and old.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Battle of Perspective

If we don't sell more units, we'll shut down
If we don't keep this employee, they'll leave and we'll be hurt
If we don't land this account, it's over
These terms are completely unacceptable
My tests are in and they say my blood pressure and cholesterol are way too high

Most of the time we're caught up in our lives and everything feels like it's the end of the world. A lost project or cholesterol over 250, all seem to point to imminent doom.

That's why bad customers, employees, bosses, drug companies and other entities in our lives trump up those scary scenarios. We feed on them and we feel we need to do something right now. We're living in desperation making desperate decisions.

We need to fight the urge to knee-jerk. I remember over a decade ago, a large client of ours was threatening to go elsewhere and I felt like I was letting everyone down if it happened. A lot of pressure. After weeks of anxiety, I was at my home changing after work and it occurred to me that somehow we survived before we had that client and we would somehow survive after them. A wave of reassurance washed over me and I was able to see things clearly.

We saved the client for a little while, but eventually did lose them as they constantly tried to dumb down and cheapen the project to the point that it was no longer the exciting, dynamic relationship it had been. We moved on to better things and today most of our employees don't even know we worked with that company.

If everything seems like the end of the world, how will we know when we are really facing the end of the world?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Costco Pizza

My buddy Dan is a luxury kind of guy. He has spent years in the luxury business. When I first met him he had a $3,000 suit on and it looked right.

Imagine my surprise when he offered to meet for dinner and said he'd bring the food--a Costco pizza. I thought he was joking. He was serious. "It's fantastic, you gotta try it."

He showed up with it and it was great. If Costco can offer up a pizza that tastes great, then what does that tell the pizza shops in that city? What does it tell any of us who have businesses?

The bar keeps being raised. Real good is normal. Great can be found in many places. Extraordinary is still rare.

If I'm a pizza shop (or any business), I better find a way to differentiate myself or I'll be bringing home Costco pizza to my family every night.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond