Friday, July 29, 2011

Three guys who didn't like each other

There were three guys who didn't like each other. They competed against each other, even worked for each other and then left each other. They just didn't like each other one bit. No love lost.

Years later, they are sending each other business, two are now working together and are happy about it. They all get along well and respect each other with no underlying issues.

Did they have a knockdown, drag-out fight? Did they get counseling? Did they talk from the heart? Did they apologize? Did someone intervene?

Nope, they just got older. They realized what they did best and fortunately they stopped stepping onto each other's turf; and maybe in one case, one of them became realistic about what he could (or couldn't) do without either of them. Time and distance have brought them closer together.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Can-do to Can-think

Our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, just completed a brand assessment for a company. We found they were a "can-do" company.

Can-do is not necessarily good. It may mean you always say yes, no matter what. If so, that causes stress internally and it usually does not lead to clients respecting you, because they never get a true sense of how tough it is to do what they want.

Our company has the same tendency and we have to keep focusing to be not only can-do, but can-think, also. We have to make sure we're thinking first, before we say yes.

If we think first and calmly analyze what we can do to help the client, they will probably appreciate us more and be very reasonable.

We can still do what is needed, but with a little more thinking, it will be more rewarding for all.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let it sink in

A consultant talked to me one day and was critical of an approach our company took in a particluar area. It wasn't a huge deal, but I thought about it and considered changing things to "fix" that. Then I forgot about it, fortunately. A month later, that consultant came out with an article in his newsletter touting that approach and giving our company credit for it. He obviously had changed his tune.

My learning on this is that some things take time to sink into our brains. Those things may be unattractive or uncomfortable at first. But after a while we see the beauty in them. Just like a song you hear the first time--maybe you don't like it or it's weird. Then a week later, you're humming it in your head and love it.

Our first response to ideas is not a guarantee, it may be only a reaction to something that feels different or unexpected. Likewise, had I knee-jerked and changed what the consultant spoke of, I would have been embarrassed reading his article.

Let it sink in. If you're humming the tune a week or so later, maybe it's a hit.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The value of a customer dashboard

I just hired a technology firm to do some work for my company. It's a small project, so I was surprised when they said I could go online and follow their progress via a customer dashboard.

I went online and found it fascinating. I can check and see what has and what has not been done. No more guessing, no more wondering...

At first I thought this was a great customer perk. But it's more than that. It also keeps their company in line--they can't hide, they can't miss a deadline without it being apparent.

Think of how many multi-million dollar projects are going on that have no such transparency. You, the customer, have to track down the company to get an update. Is it because the small project is easier to track, or because the company doing the larger project doesn't want to be tracked or doesn't know how to set up a dashboard?

Maybe if we realized transparency works both ways--for the customer and the company providing the service--more of this would be happening.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, July 25, 2011

Got No Money

We've got no money:
to waste
to throw around
to lose
to make a mistake with
unless it will make us more money and/or make our lives better

Friday, July 22, 2011

Look for the Passion

Talent and smarts are great. Good looks help, too. But passion trumps them all.

If you're fired up about what you're doing and you love it, love it , love it and want to be the best (at least your best, maybe even the best in the world), then wow, you're amazing.

And then if you happen to also be talented, smart and your looks won't scare the bark off a tree, you're a superstar.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & beyond

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Traffic, that's what's needed in most stores. People walking in and looking at stuff to buy. No people walking in, no people buying.

Doesn't matter what your displays look like or how shiny your product is or how pleasant your staff is. No traffic, no sales, no people.

If you're a manufacturer and you produce a really nice product that your dealers sell, that's really good. But if you also help that dealer generate traffic, you're great.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Play a game

Have a lot to get done? Play a game. See how many things you can get done by 4:45.
Have a task that you're dreading? Play a game. Promise yourself that once you do that, you reward yourself with a candy bar or hour off.
Don't know what to do next? Play a game. Pick a bunch of things and do them in alphabetical order.

Just because we have to do stuff, doesn't mean it has to be a downer.
Think of this:
If you were told you needed to advance ten yards in four attempts or you'd fail and then have to make sure your opponent couldn't advance ten yards in four attempts, wouldn't that seem like torture? Or you could call it football and make it a game.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The middle ground can be the toughest

Somewhere between the lands of "hardball" and "just get it done" lies middle ground.

In the land of "hardball," the answer is usually "no." There is a harsh, arrogant, cold, legalistic approach to dealing with customers and situations. No warm fuzzies live here.

Far away in "just get it done," you hear things like "yes" and "sure" and "no problem." There's a tireless,  order-taking atmosphere that will eventually wear down the inhabitants.

The area in-between is the toughest. In middle ground, you have to deal with tough situations, yet still serve the customer or fellow employee. You're pressured to think, to really think.

People will flock to the extremes of "hardball" or "get it done" because they require less thinking and less ownership. But in middle ground, you can find purpose and quite often, respect.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, July 18, 2011

Scrappy and Scalable

Scrappy and Scalable. No it's not the name of a '70s TV sitcom. That's the mantra for an upstart company I know. They have a small budget, they're going to get stuff done with duct tape, gum and barbed-wire--whatever it takes.

I visited their facility and it was remarkable. Nothing fancy, noisy, no one had their own office, no conference room--just a bunch of office cubicles (old ones) and a ton of energy.

Their goal is to grow to be huge. When that happens, scrappy and scalable will have left the building. They will no longer be part of the company, but without them, there would have been no company.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, July 15, 2011


You know what is the most common cause of stress on the workplace? Implosions. Not low pay, long hours, or a mean boss.

An implosion happens when outside pressures hit the company and instead of dealing with them as outside pressures, we try to overcome them internally.
Service companies understand this well. You have a client who is great, but let's say they are under their own pressures and don't live up to their promises to you. Those promises could include timely response, timely payments, consistent feedback, etc. If the client doesn't live up to that, then you will:

Deal with the client
Ignore the problem
Try to solve the problems ourselves so we don't bother/anger the client

The problem is that if we try to solve the problem totally on our own, we can't. If we ignore it, it probably get worse. Our fear is that if we deal with the client, we'll lose something--their friendship, happiness or business.

So, if we either ignore the issue or take it on internally, that's where we implode. With the best of intentions, we try to solve, we try to re-do, and we try to please. But that will seldom to be the answer, in fact, it will add stress to an already stressful situation.

We have to do the tough thing, to solve the issue at the source. That does not mean it is always the customer's fault. It does mean the customer has a role and a voice in solving it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Work-Life Balance

What is work-life balance and why do we talk about it so much? Work is part of our life, in fact we see our workmates more than our family. So wouldn't it be work-family balance or job-personal balance?

Plus, the one thing I don't understand is the thought that an intelligent company would actually want to overwork its employees. I run a focused, intense company of great, dedicated people, but never have we discussed the idea of overworking a person. A burned-out person is no good for anyone--themselves, their family, their company or their clients. It simply doesn't work. There are plenty of studies that show a person working 60 hours a week will get less done than one working 40 hours a week.

So does that mean we should never work one second longer than our minimum? 

No. There are times when we need to pitch in and help the client, save a situation or lend a hand to a struggling team member.

But what this does mean is that each of us has to do our best to make sure we are fresh, positive and valuable. If we're burned-out we are none of those things. 

If our focus was on how to communicate and how to remove obstacles in our path that stop us from being at our best, wouldn't we all be better off?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Time to Not Save Money

Companies are still struggling as the economy either goes down again, stabilizes or moves upward--
who knows what will happen? The tendency is to avoid hiring suppliers and just cut costs and do-it-yourself as much as possible.

But now is the time to invest in the right things. A dealership I know has avoided hiring an additional admin they need desperately--a person who would clean up their sloppy operation and force their team to follow the rules. Up until now, the dealer has not pulled the trigger and just expected his general manager (who has no clue as to what to do) to take care of this.

Hiring that person will cost more money, true. But it will also clean up the mess and expose the weaknesses at the dealership. If they hire her, the general manager may not survive it. The longer they wait, the worse it will get.

Many companies have gone through a lot during the downturn, they've sucked it up and kept pushing and grinding away. It's time to call in the reinforcements.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


I've been told many times that I'm prolific. I've written hundreds of blogs, over a hundred songs, a dozen books and have been a part of thousands of ideas and concepts. That does NOT make me good or creative or valuable.

It DOES increase the odds that an idea here or there may be good. Sometimes that's enough. If we save ourselves or limit our ideas, we generally lose.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, July 11, 2011

Do you care?

A client of ours just received troubling survey results from its dealers. The bottom line was that the dealers felt our client didn't care about them.

Of course the client cares, but what caused this is common. The client has been so caught up in trying to save itself, that it neglected to look at the dealers as allies. They've viewed the dealers as obstacles, roadblocks and impediments.

Now our client has to clean up that mess. They're going to spend a lot of time and energy talking one-on-one and listening. Then the goal is to improve things, and hopefully rebuild the relationships.

When the pressure is on, it's best to look for allies, not make enemies.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Battle of Hands-on

Whether it's at a dealership, store, corporate headquarters or at a small supplier's business, we face the same things every day. It's a battle between being the helicopter pilot hovering over the scene and being a ground troop waging hand-to-hand combat.

Provocative thought: the more you avoid the hands-on and day-to-day, the more it is elevated. The ground troops, if left up to their own devices, will be free to do more than they are equipped to do and without the guidance, can lose the war or certainly not wage a good battle.

The general still needs to walk the ground, listen to the troops and play an active role. The troops need the input--the good and the not good, they need to learn, and they need a real leader.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Giving Too Much

We beat ourselves up for not "giving enough." Not enough focus or care or effort or whatever. That little extra would've made the difference. Sometimes that's true.

But we can also give too much. Too much attention or time or resources or whatever. Sometimes people need to stand on their own and if we give too much, we're actually hurting them.

Another nasty byproduct of giving too much is that when you do that, you have expectations. You expect the person to do well or to appreciate what you've done. If neither of those happen, that can cause even more trouble.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

If we could just stop for a second...

If we could just stop a second, we could:

Catch our breath
Consider the formerly un-considerable
See the garbage in our path and throw it out
Focus on the few things we do of value
Catch our breath again and repeat

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The money is there

Have a good idea? An ambition? A passion that just won't quit?

Why not pursue it?

If the idea can increase sales or save money, it's worth it, someone will find the money to do it.

If your ambition is so strong that it all but guarantees success, someone will invest in you give it a shot.

And if that passion is so strong, there's no chance you'll fail. You may have a few missteps, but you'll keep pushing and learning. Someone will be smart to fork up the cash to support that.

The money and the opportunities are there if you are.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, July 1, 2011


Beware of snipers. Not the ones hiding in trees or behind bushes, beware of the ones who hide behind smiles or emails who undermine or add doubt.

A sniper isn't always some evil stranger who is out to get you, he can be a close friend or associate who is trying to carve out a position for himself by fueling negative thoughts or criticisms.

A sniper is looking to control or win over people and does it by trying to tear others down. Usually the sniper doesn't really stand for anything, he just causes enough confusion to add to his power.

First of all, we have to make sure we're not snipers. And if we think we might be, then the question is why? Second of all, we have to communicate often and well enough that we can eliminate most of the breeding ground for snipers. Snipers will prey on confusion, lack of communication and conflict.

And if we think we are dealing with a sniper, we have to face him out in the open, where he is less comfortable.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond