Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Are you a pace car?

At the beginning of the Indy 500, the pace car leads the cars around the track to keep things safe, and then quickly exits and the race begins.

How often do we pace our activities all day, all week and all year long? We make sure we don't push ourselves too hard, we don't try to get things done early, we don't want to shove too much into one day. We talk in terms of weeks or days, not minutes or hours of the day. A slow, measured pace is just that--slow.

Speed is good as long as it's not reckless. Speed will help us learn how to think quicker, how to prioritize better and how to achieve more.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rather fail than bother someone

Here's a question:
Do you find "honor" in not bothering your boss or co-workers, even when if means you might fail?

Many of us would rather not intrude upon or show our weakness to someone who could help us. Maybe we think we'll look bad or stupid or maybe we're afraid what someone would think about it.

If it's all about you, then you avoid help. If it's all about the team's success, you seek help ASAP.
There is no honor in failing when there is someone nearby who can help you.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Too much opportunity

Oh help me, we have too many good opportunities to put our time and effort in to be successful!
Sound familiar? It does to me. We have limited time and bandwidth, which means our enemy isn't a lack of prospects, it's a lack of discipline.
The lack of discipline to:
Say "I need help"
Say "no"
To focus on the best stuff, not the easiest stuff
To ask the tough questions to make it easier
To ask and demand performance from your team

The above is where we need to put our hearts and souls and our time.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Progams still need to make sense

Corporations love programs. They take the human element out and make it real simple: follow the program or fail.

Many programs are smart. Most sure beat the alternative: blindly wandering around doing whatever, hoping for a good outcome.

But, programs must make sense. When they stop making sense, they begin to fail and all the good that was accomplished will be diminished, if not forgotten.

When we see the beginning of slippage in a program or process, it's time to re-evaluate and ask if it is still relevant. It's better to make numerous tweaks to it and keep it alive then to sit back and demand compliance. Because like a wall with a weakened foundation, that program will eventually crumble to the ground.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can Buy Him Love

I just read that Paul McCartney is engaged to be married again. The last marriage he had ended in disaster: public embarrassment and about $50 million in a settlement. So why does a guy jump back in and do something like that again?

Because he can. He has enough money that he can buy his way out of it if it fails.
When you have the money to solve a problem, you don't have a problem.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

There are times when we listen and times when we won't listen

Mike is a consultant, a good one. He's a crotchety old guy with a lot of great experience and insight. He consults with businesses to help them grow. He does well but told me that timing is critical in being a consultant:
You can tell a company they need to change and that they will be better for it. But if they feel they're doing well at the moment and don't buy in to a reason to change, it'll fail. It's better to focus on companies that know they need help. They'll listen.
That applies to any of us in our businesses. My company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, saw more new business after this recession than we had in ten years. We landed some of the most respected, exciting companies in the world during that time. The reason? It was timing. Those great corporations were now ready. They were hungry and knew they needed to rock the boat.

Look for the companies that know they need to rock the boat.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, May 23, 2011

They're not the same

We face decisions every day. The more decisions in front of us, the more likely we are to view them as similar, as the same.

For instance, let's say you're considering two job offers. It's easy to look a number of factors such as location or the personality of the individuals you met at those companies. But what about the compensation? If there's a difference of double, the other factors cannot be considered equally.

If you're considering responding to two bids and one is ten times the value, then is it wise to invest in them equally in terms of time, resources and brain-power?

If you are reviewing your customer base and one customer is consistently costing you money while there are others who are pleasant and profitable for you, is it smart to treat them all the same and give even the unprofitable one your best people and best thinking?

These are tough decisions, but with resources stretched and opportunities rare, we have to realize all situations, decisions and opportunities are not equal and neither should be our approach to them.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spell it out

The more technology we have, the worse we communicate. I thought the telegraph was dead. It's been re-invented and now we have text messages. Broken language, partial thoughts, and of course, bad grammar.

There is a coolness and a power in cryptic communication. The sender sounds smart and of course, very busy (they don't have enough time to fully explain their communication to you).

I think we have turned bad communication into a hobby. We play with it all day. We have fun with it. It creates its own work (we have to spend time to explain what we didn't make clear after the vague message you sent yesterday and so on).

There is a simple solution: Spell it out. When in doubt, spell it out.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A baby cries because she wants attention. It's the only way she knows to communicate. And it usually works. The louder and longer she screams, the more attention she gets until she is satisfied.

In our daily whirlwind of business, we hear the grown-up cries of discontent or problems. Those will normally get noticed, based on how loud and how long those cries go on. But the person that is doing the right things for the right reason is not making the ruckus or the racket. They may get lost in the all the noise.

It's our challenge to appreciate the quiet beauty of a great performance and give it the attention it deserves.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New and NOT Improved

I test drove cars with my daughter recently. We were excited to check out a particular car. We drove the 2011 model and were sorely disappointed. Shocking, because the older versions of that car were so great. What happened?

Evidently the brilliant strategists at that brand decided to dumb down some of the best features and eliminate some of the other great features. They figured they could save money that way and we wouldn't notice. Well, we did.

We all can be guilty of this. If we don't know what the customer truly values, we just may get rid of what makes us special for a variety of reasons, some positive, some negative.

What makes your company or product special? What features or attributes do your customers want you to leave alone?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Look for the energy

What is your brand, your talent? What is your weakness, your worry?

We're all human, no matter how strong we think we are, no matter how smart we are. We cannot fake or cover up who we are.

Look for the energy. If you're energized about something, you're probably good at that. And if you're not that great at it, you're probably excited enough to work and work at it until you are.

We have to stop and monitor our level of energy, no differently than as if it's the battery on your cell phone. A fully charged life beats a drained one.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, May 16, 2011

Might've been lucky

A few monhs ago, I got to listen to a consultant analyze a corporation's performance and he used a surprising word: luck. He said that perhaps that huge corporation was lucky, they just happened to be in the right place at the right time and voila, they were successful!

It's amazing luck could play a role like that. But maybe it does. If we accept luck plays a role, we have to accept bad luck can affect a company's fortunes, too.

But no matter. Good luck, bad luck or no luck at all, our fortunes depend more on what we do to the various "lucks" we're dealt. Hard work, determination, and a constant restlessness to improve ourselves can overcome bad luck or enhance good luck.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, May 13, 2011


Experience is overrated. Too much of it can get in the way. You can think you know it all or you can confuse years on the job with experience.

A client of mine mentioned a 25-year employee of his as not having enough experience. I asked how could that be? His response was, "He's had five years of experience five times over. He never grew or learned after his fifth year here."

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Leaving it on the table

We interviewed the clients of a customer of ours. We were in the midst of an assessment and trying to learn what those clients thought of our customer. The recurring statement we heard was:

They're leaving a lot of business on the table
Amazing response in light of the fact our customer felt their job was to do whatever their clients asked and nothing more. Turns out, their clients wanted them to think more and to offer more services.

How often do we think we're bothering our clients and don't offer an idea? How often are we afraid to suggest something because we're afraid the client will not want to pay for it?

Maybe we should realize many clients expect ideas and recommendations and are actually dissappointed in us when we don't show that initiative.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A personal touch makes a difference

Two employees have medical issues. Their company does a good job helping each with their situation, being supportive and offering resources. Both employees pull through and do well.

One says nothing to her co-workers and boss. The other reaches out, talks, and thanks the various individuals.

It's all the difference in the world.

The first person's response makes the team wonder if what they did was appreciated at all.

The second person's response inspires the team and strengthens their bond.

There are reasons why we sometimes don't acknowledge what others do for us. Maybe it's pride, embarrassment, entitlement or whatever. Sad, for everyone involved.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, May 9, 2011

Thinly veiled

A large manufacturer wants its dealers to sell more units. That's the goal because the parent company has made it clear it must reach those numbers or it's the end of the world as they know it.

So, the manufacturer is now offering to "help" dealers run their businesses better by providing assessments and consulting. Sound good? It probably won't work unless they take the veil off this "opportunity."

The truth is the manufacturer wants more sales. Period. The dealer feels pressured to sell more units and will not be responsive to the message of "sell more." But it won't take long for the dealer to realize that this new program is a thinly veiled approach to selling more units no matter how it's positioned.

The only viable option is to deal with the invisible elephant in the room: the manufacturer is desperate for more sales. If both parties can face this and create an environment where they both get what they want, there can be hope. Otherwise, it's just an exercise.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, May 6, 2011

Old Buddy

I just heard from an old client of ours. We worked together for years and then it all stopped due to many circumstances, including his company being sold and us not being able to deal with the extreme politics at his company.

I had given up on ever working with him again, but then I heard his voice and it all changed. It was good to hear from him. He seemed to be far happier. His life had changed dramatically and he was healthier in every way.

We may end up working together. But I've already learned from this. When we were working with him in the past, we didn't realize the stress he was under, maybe he didn't either. That stress tainted all we did together and led to tension and frustration. To his credit, he's made tremendous progress personally and professionally since then.

Hopefully, not only has he grown, but so have I. Maybe we can be a better team than before.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How Long Does it Really Take?

I don't have the time to:
Call the customer back
Prospect for new business
Improve my skills
Work on my relationships within the company
I do have time to:
Take a break
Scan the internet
It takes less than a minute to email or text a client or prospect. In short order, you can read an article or take an online module to improve your skills. In seconds, you can begin to repair a relationship.

We make time for what we want and for what we value. We make excuses for the rest.

Baryy LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

We Need a Hit

Way back when I played music, I was taught that in the world of popular music, you need a hit. You need that one song that puts you on top of the charts. That one song can make all the difference between being a superstar and being washed up.

In business, too often, we think the same way. If we just land that one customer, everything will look just great. The sun will always shine, the rain will never fall.

Problem is, with popular music or business, we're more than just one hit. To really succeed, we have to do more than that one one thing that one time. If we focus our energy on just getting the one hit, we take our eyes off the things that matter.

Eventually, the hit or the success gets old. It no longer has the shine it once had and we're back where we were, only we've lost time and opportunities.

None of us wants to be a one-hit wonder.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Observations and Ideas

I believe we confuse observations with ideas. An observation is:
We need to sell more product
Our dealers should take better care of the customer
We should produce services that our customer base values

The above are just observations. They require and inspire no bravery, no brilliance, and no inspiration.

An idea is:
We must focus all efforts on our top six markets and forsake the rest
We must create our customer-care guidelines and educate our dealers so they will align with each other
We have to use our customer research to identify the services our customers value and train our staff to perform

There is no energy behind a typical observation. But a great idea can ignite a team, a company and the future. The two should not be confused.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, May 2, 2011

Patience or low standards?

So what is it? Are you patient or do you just have low standards?

Is it OK to allow a person to miss a deadline or should they feel the heat?
Is it smart to accept an under-performer for who they are or should you push for more?
Is it better to have high long-term retention of employees (or customers) even if they don't achieve to your desired level, or should you constantly rebuild your team (and client base)?

Who is the judge of all this? Who decides if you're too patient or if your standards are low or vice versa?

These are tough questions that I suspect have answers that shift on a daily basis.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond