Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Facts--the bad

Just as many of us don't use statistics and facts to guide us, others of us use them to make our decisions or to rationalize them.

How often is the cost of product (a fact) used as why a decision to buy or not buy is made? How often is a cold-hearted move made because of budget or a trends analysis?

A Board of Directors looks at a situation and merely turns to its by-laws and follows them. Usually that's the right move, but not always. Otherwise there would be no need for a Board of Directors.

As humans, we're supposed to be sensitive to the human situation as well. It's tough...facts, feelings... What's the answer?

That's what makes it tough to lead and why so few people want to be put in the position to make the tough call. There of course, is no one answer. We just have to gather the info and analyze the facts and the feelings. Then make the decision. And that's a fact.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Facts--the good

Facts, numbers, and statistics can be boring. But they can also make life easier if they're used. Too often we live by feelings or assumptions. A few facts sprinkled in here or there would sure help.

If we don't use facts or stats, then we're left with only partial information to make decisions on. So often, an avalanche of issues fall on us because we make one uninformed decision that snowballs.

If you trust your gut, don't ignore or avoid the facts, at least look at them and test how accurate you are.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, June 27, 2011

Leading by example

Leading by example ain't all it's cracked up to be. If people see a person who is tireless, determined and courageous, they may see someone who:
  1. Has no personal life and has plenty of free time on their hands
  2. Is strange
  3. Will take care of stuff for them
  4. Is happy carrying more than their "fair share" of the load

A true leader doesn't take advantage of a person like this, they celebrate them.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, June 24, 2011

Is now a good time?

When's good time to focus on improvement? Change? Realignment? Tough decisions?

The catty answer would be: now. But in all seriousness, if things are not going the direction you'd like, yet they're not terrible, this may be the ideal time. Why?

People will be more open to considering new ideas and you have the time and resources to enact whatever new ideas that you choose.

Wait too late, and you'll be making desperate decisions. Do it too soon and you'll get little to no support, since people will not be sensing it's necessary.

Is now a good time?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Too much talk

We talk too much. We love the sound of our voices. We think our voice and intellect will charm the snake.

We're wrong. Too much talk is too much.

If we have a brilliant product or concept, let it shine with as few words from us as possible.

It's tougher for us to choose those few words and deliver them tremendously than it is to fill up the air with our own noise pollution.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Charging for the right thing

Why do customers shop so much? Why is there less loyalty today than in the past?

I think it's because it's easy to get almost anything anywhere and it's easy to compare pricing. So consumers turn to "cherry picking" the best deal. They get the best price on the audio equipment and then install it themselves or get the best deal at the car dealership five hundred miles away and then take the car for servicing to the dealer down the street.

We can blame the Internet, technology, or society, but there is another factor:

We are charging too much for the wrong stuff, and not enough for the important stuff

Why charge more for exactly the same car that another dealer can get? But if your service is so great or you offer other benefits, why not clearly articulate them and charge for them?

Service sector companies are especially vulnerable to this. We charge little to nothing for our expertise, yet we do charge for the more basic stuff and get cherry-picked. That's our fault. It comes down to this:

If we really, really do offer something worth paying a premium for, why don't we have the courage to do just that?

If we did, then we could charge less for the more mundane, easy-to-get services or products we offer and it would be the death of cherry-picking.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, June 20, 2011

The problem I would like to have

Problems are hassles, who looks forward to them? It occurs to me that sometimes, though, we choose our problems...or at least choose to label them.

The car dealer with poor sales has a problem that they choose: the product the manufacturer is supplying is simply not interesting or attractive to the customer.

But is that the truth? Could it be the sales staff is not motivated or the owner has retired but hasn't told anyone yet?

Why not go to the source and learn what the root of the problem is? It sounds obvious, but when we do that, we just might find a solution.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, June 17, 2011

Silence--why? Part Five: Louder than words

Whether it's the CEO who is in meetings with the accountants or the dealership salesperson who hasn't returned your call on that new car you talked to her about or if it's the email that has remained unanswered for weeks...count on this:

People notice silence. Silence is louder than words. 

Silence is like a baseball cap or cowboy hat that a bald guy always wears. Think of the country music stars that wear those big cowboy hats. What are they hiding? Probably baldness.

Silence is like that crazy make-up or wild outfits that a pop singer wears. What's she hiding underneath all of that? Probably average-ness.

We all view silence in that way. What is she hiding? Why won't he at least respond? She must not respect me, he must must think he's too good to waste time on me.

It's time we all took off our hats, our make-up,  our shield of silence and just showed who we really are. We don't have all the answers or all the time in the world, but we can show respect to those we work with, live with or sell to by responding to them now.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Silence--why? Part Four: Teflon

So, your team is desperately trying to overcome a customer issue and you really need all hands on deck, but you don't hear back from two of your team members. The rest of the group functions well, but the people missing in action could really help. Yet all you hear is silence. That could mean:
  1. They don't care
  2. They feel they're too busy to respond
  3. They are afraid to do anything at all

This silence is often used for another purpose: to allow that person to be avoid the responsibility for the failure, but to be able to jump in and share the glory of the success, if either of those situations happen.

The invisible team members in that case, ares Teflon, nothing sticks to them. And quite often a busy team will not address that with Mr. Teflon because they are too busy doing his job to do that.

Solution: Jump in. Be transparent. Not Teflon.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Silence--why? Part Three: Catch me if you can

When you have a seemingly simple communication with someone over email and the other person doesn't email back to acknowledge or agree that could mean:

  1. They don't agree
  2. They do agree
  3. They aren't sensitive to basic communication

Or very likely, they think that their silence will now allow them to take control. It's now your turn to wonder, to fret, to track down or to throw your hands in the air and give up.

Taking control via silence does not work. The person doing that is not viewed positively and the don't have true "control" over anything. They are viewed as road bumps in every endeavor they're involved in. And often they wonder why are they not respected or revered as they would like.

Simple solution: Answer back. Now. Clearly.  Respectfully.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Silence--why? Part Two: Was it something I didn't say?

When we asked for help and we hear nothing back, why is that?
Maybe the person you asked:
  1. Feels they're too busy (important) to respond to you
  2. Doesn't know what to say and is avoiding sticking their neck out
  3. Doesn't care
  4. Routinely ignores emails or voicemails and doesn't care the consequences
  5. Drawing the line because your request was after hours or on the weekend and they are letting you know their personal time is more important than helping you

Maybe you did something that will allow people to not respond:
  1. You asked too many people (mass email)
  2. You didn't spell out your situation clearly and when you needed a response
  3. You don't respond to others in similar situations and they're just giving it back to you
Silence is a two-way street. If you don't give input, don't expect it. In fact, count on it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, June 13, 2011

Silence--why? Part One

Silence can be a weapon. It can show disinterest, disagreement, disrespect, etc.

When we email for help, call and leave a voicemail with an idea, or spend time with someone and all we hear back is crickets, it's up to interpretation.

The effort it takes to communicate, respond or at least acknowledge you received the cry for help, is minimal. So, why the crickets?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Customers Want, Part Five: Energy

Customers want to feel good, assured and energized. It's not enough to be sold something, a customer wants to feel the buzz of purchasing something special or smart or unique.

If we can't provide enough energy to get the customer excited, then maybe we're not very excited about what we're selling them.
Energy is pretty easy to figure out. It comes in many sizes and colors and styles. We're not judged so much on our style of energy as we are our amount of energy. Energy can be shown in our mannerisms or our excitement and belief in our product or service. Low energy = low customer engagement.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Customers Want, Part Four: Transparency

Customers want to know they're not being ripped off for two reasons: 1) they have to protect their money and 2) they don't want to look stupid.

No one believes a car dealer only makes $100 on selling a new car. No one believes a wireless company will never lose a signal. But, we're told those kind of things every day.

We need to trust the customer with the truth. Otherwise, they'll assume the worst.
Most customers have jobs and work. They understand economics, they don't expect us to lose money, they just want to be shown respect and given the truth.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

What Customers Want, Part Three: Critical Thinking

Customers want to work with a company that is more critical than they are. A customer hates to have to bring up problems to a dumbfounded, surprised salesperson or customer rep.
If we really are looking out for the customer, we should be able to do even better than they expect, even if it's in small, seemingly unimportant ways.
A customer can relax if he or she knows their supplier or dealer is picky and demanding of themselves. We all want a relaxed, happy customer, don't we?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, June 6, 2011

What Customers Want, Part Two: Respectful Disagreement

Customers want an expert. Someone to go nose to nose with them in areas they are weak in.

Don't tell a motorcycle maker how to build a better bike or an airplane manufacturer how to improve aerodynamics (unless of course, they hired you for those specialties). But don't be the order-taker that is in awe of the customer's greatness when it comes to why they hired you.
The smart customer wants and expects a respectful argument with you, they want you to push their thinking--after all why would they have hired you in the first place?
If you don't assert yourself in your areas of strength, the customer will assume you either 1) just want their money and take their orders or 2) aren't suited (as in good enough) for them.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What Customers Want, Part One: It

Customers supposedly want value, quality and service,  right? Well, they want more than that.

They want you to figure it out...whatever it is.
If there's an issue, a problem, or a situation, it's up to you, even if it means you have to read minds. The problem may even be of the customer's making. Doesn't matter, you have to solve it.

All of us who work with and for customers are responsible for it. If we decide that it is not our job or our fault, the customer will eventually decide we don't get it or their business.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, June 3, 2011

Rock star Bios

I've been reading the rock star bios of Keith Richards, Steven Tyler and Sammy Hagar. Very enjoyable, interesting reading.

What I find of note is that each of them feels he's a genius, that there was always one guy in the band that they had a huge problem with (usually the other main star in the band--it was that guy's fault), usually one guy they loved (he was always the bass player or rhythm guitarist or drummer--no competition) and that somehow, these stars survived to live into their 60's while many of their friends are no longer alive.

While each of them made, and in some cases lost and then made, a lot of money; money became a central issue--too much of it opened them up to temptations. Too little of it, led to them damaging relationships.

But above all, these bios show that these guys are human: they have failed marriages, personal tragedies, great triumphs and are searching for a meaning in their lives.

Not much different than the rest of us.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why motivate?

Why spend the time to explain why you need something to get done? Or how it will play a big role in the future. Or make a huge difference for all?

Why not just tell the person only what you want and expect them to do it?

Because, if you want an extraordinary performance, you won't get it with a "text" or "telegraph" communication. It will take more than "do it" or "get 'er done" or "you know as much about this as I do, so get moving" to receive anything other than a mediocre result.

We, all people, need to understand as much as possible when tackling a challenge so that our brains engage, and just maybe we come up with a great idea or a tremendous performance.

Minimalist communication gets you minimal results. Now get 'er done.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Words. Words. words.

We use them too often to get an affect, to get approval, or permission. But do we mean what we say? Or do we say it so we can move on and do what we want?

Words are just that, words. If the volume was shut off as you spoke, would your actions tell the same message?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond