Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trying to be the ideal boss...or parent

A ton of bricks fell on me one day. Actually it was more a ton of revelations fell on me. Here goes:
Am I trying to be the ideal parent for my children by being the parent I wish I could have had? It sounds good, but my children are different than me. They don't need the parent I wish I had. They need the parent they need to have. Big difference.

Likewise, am I trying to be the boss or leader that I wish I had when I was younger? If so, is that the boss my employees really need? Probably not.


Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


A dealer doesn't meet its quota
An employee continually fails to perform her job
A division loses millions of dollars for its corporation
The above scenarios are frustrating, all-too-common and seem to point to one response: punishment. Something has to happen, someone needs to feel the pain, there must be consequences... Right?

Usually what happens is: nothing. Then after numerous repetitions of the above, something does happen, the dam breaks and there are firings, quittings, reductions, penalties, etc.

The real problem is that punishment should be the least common response because there are responses that are far more effective. They include: better communication, improving relationships and training. If those happened as a rule, there would seldom be a need for punishment.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, March 28, 2011

Everyone has a story--two ways to look at it

I was fortunate to be in a workshop where I heard two people say exactly the same phrase yet express two totally different beliefs. Here's the phrase:
Everyone has a story

Lady #1 uttered the phrase as she complained about her "no-good tenants" (she's a landlord) and said that she never listened to her tenants' sob stories about why the rent was late. "Everyone has a story" she coldly and bitterly stated.

Lady #2 told of a breakthrough she had with her ex-husband's new wife and how she learned of that lady's struggles and faith, which transformed their relationship from contentious to compassionate, "Everyone has a story," she said with a smile.

Same phrase, different meanings and different outcomes for the people who spoke it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, March 25, 2011

Talent versus Choice

Isn't it interesting when an actor, comedian or musician does an interview and comes off very poorly? Perhaps in that particular interview, he/she talked of questionable behavior or beliefs or was arrogant or condescending towards others, including his/her audience. If so, that talented person makes one mistake that applies to most of us in our businesses:

Our audience chooses us. We don't choose them. They have the choice of buying us or not buying us and quite often if someone doesn't like or approve of you, they won't buy you (or from you), no matter how talented you are.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When does the buying experience end?

You walk into a dealership. The salesperson seems smart, honest and engaged. Long story short, you buy the expensive product, in part because you like the salesperson. You sign on the dotted line. Then everything changes.

Before you take delivery, there are few small details that the dealer has to fix to make the product right, no big deal. That should take a day or so and then you get that exciting product to take home. Except...

You come back to pick it up and some of those little things aren't done. The salesperson acts different, almost aloof, distracted. It's now a different experience. You're no longer as important to the dealer as you were a day ago. Finally, you get what you want, although it takes more pushing than it should have taken. You leave with your brand new product. The salesperson sees you leave and assumes all is good. It is not.

Yes, you leave with what you bought, but you take something else with you: a bad taste for the experience. You no longer are excited to help him. You planned on sending more people to him to buy, but now he's blown that. He's now just another salesperson or maybe even a little worse than that: a salesperson who blew it with you.

Next time, you'll shop around with no loyalty to that dealer. The dealer and salesperson may then think of you as a disloyal customer. By that time, they'll have repeated this scenario numerous times with other customers.

The buying experience doesn't need to end when the customer signs on the line.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Awards are polarizing

When you see the term: award-winning, what does it mean to you? Like religions, coasts (as in east coast versus west coast) and sports (college versus professional basketball, for example), awards contests are polarizing.

You either are real impressed or you're ambivalent. Maybe it's because award-winning work doesn't necessarily equate to result-achieving work. You can create a beautiful ad that doesn't differentiate its brand versus the competition, but it certainly is eye-catching. A car can be award-winning yet not be attractive to the eye, but it was best-in-class for rear seat legroom and trunk space.

Let's face it; we use awards to our advantage. When our product wins an award, we trumpet it. When it do ownership experience or winning a JD Power award? If it's the latter, your goal is to win the award, not necessarily provide the best ownership experience. They are two different animals.

The ideal award will motivate the competitors to do the right things in order to win. But that's a rare award.

Maybe there should be an awards contest for the best award contest?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do what others can't...or won't do

Part of being different or special is what you don't do. Most companies have the "fog the mirror" approach: they'll take any customer who can fog a mirror.

Maybe you can be different because you don't just take any customer, you take only special customers.Maybe you don't allow discounts or you don't do bids. What makes you different?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, March 21, 2011

So your customers buy from you because...

Why do your customers buy from you? Stop--don't answer that question quickly. Do you know, really know?

The standard answers you hear when asked that question are:
Our people
Our technology
Our pricing
Our value

Blah, blah, blah...

Do you really, really know? If not, find out why customers buy from you: It could be the lady who answers your phone. It could be that nutso founder who shows up and talks to customer once in a while. It could be one product you carry that brings them in.

Find out.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, March 18, 2011

Being impeccable with your words

Words have great power. Here's an example. The word convenience used to mean something different ten years ago than it does today. Convenient ten years ago meant close to home, easy to access, friendly, etc. A store that was nearby that had most of what you wanted and had a friendly staff serving you was convenient. Back then, a store such as Blockbuster was convenient--it had almost everything and it was only a few miles from your home.

Today convenient means easy to access, great selection and fast. It means that you can go to your computer and shop and get anything you want for a great price and have it delivered within a day or two. Amazon does this well as do many other online stores.

That's why Blockbuster stores are disappearing. It's no longer convenient enough. How does that apply to why customers have chosen your product or service?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you have the first shot

If you have the first shot to sell a customer, you better:
Move quickly
Not take them for granted
Make sure you are completely clear as to what they want
Be willing to go to others, including your competition, to find the perfect answer

They'll lose confidence in you
They'll look around
You'll feel insulted and hurt and show that to them

You'll lose your opportunity.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We are happy to pay for what we value. But...

We're happy to pay for what we value: a great idea, a beautiful design, an intriguing insight, a cost-saving machine, a trusting relationship...

But we're ****ed-off if we pay too much for something we think is of little to no value like: mediocre work, pedestrian ideas, average quality, poor service and stuff we can do on our own far cheaper.

And there's no middle ground...

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the tenth time: How can you take advantage of the economy?

The economy is improving. It's gone from disaster to anemic to sputtering.
How can you take advantage of it?
Companies are hungry, there is an abundance of people looking for jobs.
How can you take advantage of it?
Reale estate is cheap, costs are down.
How can you take advantage of it?
Competitors are dying.
How can you take advantage of it?
Customers are finally ready to hear the truth.
How can you take advantage of it?
Employees may actually be appreciating the fact they have a job.
How can you take advantage of it?
Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, March 14, 2011

You are not the healer

We want to solve the problem. We pick up the pieces and try to glue everything back together. We work so hard to fix what went wrong or try to will something to happen with hard work. But one person can't do it alone.
You are not the healer, you can't do it alone.
The pressure to be it all and solve it all is excruciating. And it's a waste. You can't do it alone, your team has to be on-board and doing their jobs, too.

You are not the healer.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, March 11, 2011

Take what you're given

In sports such as golf, even if you execute well, you sometimes are not rewarded with the ideal outcome. You may get a bad bounce or maybe there's a terrible wind you're hitting into. You have to take what you're given and respond to that. No reason to pout or be frustrated or try to overcome something that's impossible to overcome. You deal with it.

In business that's what we sometimes deal with. It might be the economy or a new trend or a customer who disappears from the planet. You deal with it. No time or reason to be angry or rationalize. You just make the best of it and move on.

And quite often that tough break you're dealt will make you even better.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nice words

A top executive walks into an elevator and is recognized. People greet him with accolades. Unfazed, he says thank you and gets off on the next floor. He realizes that nice words are just that: nice words. They mean little or nothing most of the time. He still has to perform, he still has do his job and prove himself.

In an office, a young intern is given the chance to be a full-time employee. She's greeted with "way to go" and "I'm proud of you" and "the company is smart to recognize you." Her temptation is to feel she's made it; after all, everyone is so impressed. Hopefully she'll realize those nice words were just nice words. She now has to show that she can do the job.

The same goes for resentful or jealous comments, they're just words--unless they affect our performance adversely.
Nice words or resentful words are many times meant to do the same thing: take your eye off your job, your focus, your performance.
Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

We have it all figured out

A friend introduced me to a president of a company, the thought being my company could help his brand. After thirty seconds, I had a pretty good idea that it was not going to happen.

He said hello and immediately launched into a reverie of all the great things his company was doing, how they had everything figured out and the tremendous results his leadership had brought his company.

He may have done many, many smart things but one thing that's not smart is shutting off your mind to new thinking. Will he do well? Maybe. Would it have hurt him to be humble, open up and be vulnerable to a different approach? It couldn't have hurt.

I can't afford to feel I'm the smartest guy in the room because 1) I'm not and 2) I'll never hear the smart things others have to offer. But I did appreciate his attitude because I didn't have to waste any time or energy trying to help him. He had it all figured out.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Answer We Like to Hear

A friend of mine just passed away. He had been sick a long time. When he first told me about it, he was healthy looking and told me his doctor had given him a clean bill of health. He didn't go for a second opinion, he was satisfied with what he heard.

Similarly, a friend's dad had been sick and was told that he was going to fully recover. No second opinion was needed, he liked the answer. He passed away shortly.

Fortunately in business, we don't often deal with life and death issues. All the more reason not to avoid the few people who tell it to you straight and, when necessary, seek out second opinions from trusted sources.

Whether it's a customer, a co-worker, boss or friend, we need to share the truth with them and ask the truth of them.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, March 4, 2011

Accidental Entrepreneur

I'm an accidental entrepreneur. I didn't mean to do it. It just happened. Really.

I'm not saying I'm any good at being an entrepreneur, but if I am at all, it's because it wasn't in my plans. I had no dream of being my own boss or having a company or my name on the sign out front. None of that mattered. So I kind of stumbled into it and looked at it with a fresh, almost child-like manner.

My story is not unique. Many people have started out in one direction and ended up very happy doing something they never contemplated for a living.

So maybe that means when we're asked to do something different or try our hand at a job or task we've never considered doing before, it just may end up being what we do best and what we love doing most.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Protect and Arm

One of my very favorite clients told me she was having a problem with her boss. She didn't feel he appreciated her efforts at all. Here was my suggestion to her:
Don't just protect, but also arm him
The important, ultra-busy boss (or client, for that matter) will not appreciate your efforts if you merely protect him from the details. If all you tell him is that "it's all taken care of" he will probably think it must have been easy to do. And you at some point will feel unappreciated.

I don't recommend bragging or puffing up what you're doing, btw. I recommend arming the boss with enough info (usually no more than two or three sentences) so that he understands what went on and is prepared to speak about it if his boss asks about it.

That way he not only knows you took care of it, but he also knows what it took to be taken care of. Do this and you give him a chance to appreciate what you're doing.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Leave on a high note

I was at a client party, it was filled a lot of laughter and an abundance of bigger-than-life personalities. The VP of advertising was pointing at a lonely grand piano sitting alone in the huge room. He and a few other execs were talking about how they'd love to sing a song but didn't know how to play. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was faking my way through "The Piano Man" doing my best Billy Joel imitation on that grand piano along with the execs who had very loud and actually pretty good voices.

We finished up and a little while later, a lady walked up and said, "Do you know how to play 'Proud Mary'?" Within minutes it was an equally raucous rousing rendition of the Tina Turner version of the song. It was hilarious. I could see on the expressions of the people watching us that we were quite entertaining.

Then it was time to leave the party. Two rowdy songs were great. But one more performance might have made us the "people who wouldn't stop playing those stupid songs." My work there was gotta know when to leave on a high note.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

You're All Right

As children, we believe everything our parents say. When I was about to go in for a surgery as a child, my dad talked to me as I was swinging from a tree in the backyard and told me, "Everything is going to be fine." I believed him and it turned out just fine. Maybe because I was so confident (based on my dad), I recovered faster.

As we become older we still need to know if everything is going to be fine. My parents are both long gone and I sometimes wish I had them whispering in my ear, "It's going to be all right." It would make things easier and maybe it would affect my performance and life.

It's a gift to give someone the sincere assurance that indeed, it will be all right, that what you're going through is common and you will do just fine.

How would you act if you knew it was going to be all right? Would you be doing the same things in the same way you are today?

It's going to be all right...