Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A LULU of an idea

At LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, we're experimenting with an idea we call LULU. LULU stands for LaBov University of Learning and Utilization. It's different from the typical online university in that it is not mandatory for employees and it has a growing list of learning opportunities presented--most of those fed by the employees.

We've created a website where our employees can find modules, webinars or videos on any topic they are interested in. Plus, they are free to post the ones that they find themselves. We also are giving each employee a "bank account" of money they can spend any way they want on learning, no questions asked. All of this is on the honor system--if any employee says he used his learning bank account to buy a book, fine, we believe him.

The employee can choose to keep score of their learnings by logging what they read or viewed on a spreadsheet on the site. They can also receive more points by conducting a Lunch & Learn of that material for employees.

What does the company get for all this? A lot. We can refer to the points a person has at review time or when she is requesting to travel to a seminar, for example. If she has been a voracious learner, she will be rewarded. If she hasn't participated in learning for a year, maybe we discuss that.

But best of all, we get an environment of learning where our people are contributing to it. Will it last, who knows? But if we can offer a world of learning to great people, it will only help us be a better company internally and externally to our clients.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Preserving the culture

I met with an incredible individual who represents an iconic brand. He was gracious, opened his world up to me and shared his focus and vision. The number-one priority on his list? Preserving their culture.

His company's culture has been extraordinary for over a century. The values they have could be compromised if they don't watch out. And if those values disappear, so will his company. That simple.

To be clear, he was not saying he wanted everything to stay the same, far from it. He's very involved with new technology and they have very aggressive growth goals. Rather, he said, the only way to reach those goals is to protect the culture.

One insight he gave me was balance. He said he noticed the departments of the company that were challenging the culture the most were the ones that had an imbalance between long-term employees and new ones. He felt there needs to be a dominance of long-term employees in every department to make sure the culture didn't become weak or confused. That makes sense, it's entirely possible a department may have fifty new employees from forty different cultures from all over the world. A little of that is great, too much, he argues, will be damaging.

His iconic brand will live on beyond any of us, as long as the culture is preserved.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 28, 2011

Five Steps in No-Compromise Hiring

I was speaking with one of my favorite friends. She's a brilliant doctor who is trying to build a new business. She's struggled in vain as she's attempted to hire the perfect employee. She's also fallen short trying to find a business partner. It's been tough. As we talked, she asked about our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training. In the past, we, too, had struggled with finding the right people and have come to realize a few things:
  1. You're far better off NOT hiring the wrong person. It's worth the wait to find the right person.
  2. It is not about people, it's about quality people.
  3. You want to find people who already have what you need and/or value. Don't hire a person who will need to sprint to keep up with your company. Find a person who is hopefully better in her/his area than you are.
  4. You want people who inherently share your values. If you're a luxury brand, hiring an otherwise wonderful person who is a cheapskate simply will not fit.
  5. Don't be a savior. Don't hire a person who you think you can fix or mold. Hire a person who is ready to do great things. Support them and get out of their way.
And after you hire? Stay connected, especially in the beginning after you hire them. Be a sounding board. If they're good, they'll be irritated about things, which is good. You don't want them to assimilate, you want them to stand out and inspire others.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being thankful

It's never enough:
We want more (money, fame)
We want less (weight, hassles)
We want bigger (buildings, client lists)
We want smaller (risks, problems)
We want faster (results, sport cars)
We want slower (change, pulses)
We want much of what we don't have and don't realize or appreciate what we do have. Time to be thankful.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cheap versus making memories

For a couple extra bucks a month, you can get the car of your dreams or you can save those dollars and drive a four-wheeled piece of you-know-what.
For a little more money, you can buy the perfect gift for the person you love most in life, or you can compromise and get something decent that is nothing to get excited about.
For a little more time invested, you can make that project truly inspirational, or you can do the minimum and check it off your "things to do" list.
 We can cut corners and survive. We can invest less money, time, care or thought into something, but while we'll get away with it, we'll never make memories, we'll never do something remarkable.

And that robs us too, not just the recipient.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 21, 2011

Now You've Proven You Can Do It

There are daredevils who make a living doing dangerous things. That's their job. They know the risks, so do all the people in their lives.

Then there are everyday people who take risks. Their family, friends and associates didn't buy in to that, that's not part of their deal. That everyday person loves the thrill and exhilaration but is usually not equipped to handle the danger, because that's not their day job, it's their hobby.

Risks come in all shapes and sizes, some are obvious, some, not so. There are daredevils, pilots, big-game hunters, and even professional criminals who take calculated risks and more often than not, get away with them.

But to the everyday person, the question is: So, now that you've proven you can do it and survive, what's next?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fight for it

In this economy, there is no abundance of business opportunities. Each one is critical. It's no longer like the Lay's Potato Chip commercial telling you eat them up because, "Don't worry, we'll make more." If you lose a chance or a customer today, you lose. You can't go and make more. They're gone.

That's why we have to fight to keep customers and fight to make sure they know what we are bringing to them. The balance of power is in the customer's favor, they are more comfortable than ever dropping the bomb on their suppliers or vendors, because they know they can very easily "make more" vendor relationships.

So, what can we do? We fight, while showing respect to the customer. It may be exhilarating for them to see we care and we believe. That's rare, something they can't easily "make more" of.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Tell 'em something they can't get on the web

There are plenty of training programs out there. Our company, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Training, has seen them all. Here's what people will tell you they want in training:
Give me something I don't already know or can't easily find online
Think of how much training is merely taking what's already out there and dumping it into a module or a PowerPoint? Why waste time going over the same ground? Only two reasons, and neither are good: It's easy and it's safe.

One more reason to adopt our approach: not only will the salesperson have access to specs and materials online, but so will the customer.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Attention Span Opportunity: Communication Burst

It's a fact. Our attention span is shortening. Look at an old movie from thirty or more years ago and tell me you don't squirm in your seat at times, waiting for something to happen, for the scene to change, for the actor to stop talking and just get going. We want things faster and in shorter doses.

Then why do we prepare verbose reports or ramble on repeating the same thing two or three times? It's as if our presentation IQ has fallen way behind what our audiences need. The best way to communicate with today's audience is to assume they have attention issues and create a message that is short, high impact and to-the-point.

Think of it as a communication burst. It's loud, fast and gone in a few minutes.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Listen to corporations sharing their goals and they'll say they include:

Increase market share
New products
Engaged employees
Satisfied customers

Can't argue with all of that. But there is a missing ingredient, that if present will launch and maintain all of the above: adrenaline. They need the energy, the shot in the arm to get all of this accomplished or it will go the way of other pleasant goals that drop away over time.

Either they have the people who can do it, or they need an outside agency to at least quick start it, but either way, pleasant goals will only be achieved with adrenaline.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 14, 2011


Research comes in many packages, from informally experiencing something to a polished discovery document. Many times we fight doing research: it's a hassle, it takes time and of course we assume that we already know the answers.

At our company, LaBov & Beyond, we don't do research for just the answers, we do it for the intangibles: the energy and inspiration it provides us and for the look of surprise on the client's face.

Spending a few hours in their customers' shoes, experiencing what it's like to buy your client's product, will change everything, even if it's just a subtle change. That small change may be as simple as realizing the customer doesn't view your company as a design firm, but as an engineering genius. In the customer's mind, that's a huge difference. In the client's mind, the terms may be synonymous. It doesn't matter. The customer wins.

Good research brings data, great research provides energy.

Barry LaBov
LaBov and Beyond

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leverage what you've got

We were at our LaBov & Beyond offices with a new client and she shared that she wanted things to be figured out before she went forward on a large launch. That sounds logical, no marketing or training until things are in line.

But is it? The client's company had also invested millions of dollars in various activities that were bold, and in my opinion, would be perfect to communicate to the world. My answer is: follow the money.

If her company is placing millions on a couple initiatives, then what is better: doing nothing until everything is perfect, or at least leveraging what they are doing? I opt for the latter.

In reality, you are what you invest in. Communicate that or lose on that investment.

Barry LaBov website
LaBov and Beyond

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Leave me alone and I'll do great

The world is full of people begging to be left alone to do their jobs.

After all, if people didn't inflict their opinions, personalities or ideas on them, all would be just right.

There's a huge difference between interruptions and valuable input. Interruptions are noise, they are the result of nervous activity or disorganization.

Input can make you better, it can be at least considered, it can inspire and it just might be better than what you were thinking of doing.
Treat all interruptions as input and you'll be burned out.
Treat all input as an interruption and you'll end up with plenty of alone time, more than you want.
Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Earning Angry

Angry about something?
Your home life?
Your divorce?
Your marketshare?
Your sales?
Your golf game?
The environment?

If you're really working hard on any of the above and are totally committed, I'm OK with you being angry. It's understandable. You've earned it.

On the other hand, if you're frustrated because something hasn't come easy, something wasn't handed to you on a silver platter or you just feel uncomfortable, well then, that's tough. No sympathy. It's all posturing, bluster and indignation. Who needs that?

If you're dedicated, focused, tireless, if you're volunteering, changing, practicing--whatever you feel needs to be done to make this work out, then it's OK to be frustrated and show it. Anger is understandable but you have to earn it.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond
PS Thanks to John Robinson for inspiring this!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wanting it All

Why can't you want your dealership to increase sales, profit and customer satisfaction? Why can't you want your corporation to increase marketshare, morale and stock price?

What's wrong with wanting a great home life and a great work life?

We're too often caught up in the clever mantras you see in car repair shops or roadside diners:
We offer price, service and quality. Choose two.
The above is a funny approach to customer service, but it doesn't inspire and it doesn't stretch the minds of the people at that store or shop to perform smarter and better than before.

What have we got to lose? Want it all? Then figure out how to do it. At worst, we'll get two out of three. And that ain't all bad.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Monday, November 7, 2011


How much does luck play in success? Many successful people say that you make your luck. Or if you're a blues singer you say, "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

Maybe you guessed right on the stock market or stumbled into a technology that makes your product unique. Maybe you randomly bumped into and befriended a person who ended up being your most profitable customer.That's luck.

And maybe, on the other hand, we don't acknowledge (good) luck enough because we feel it belittles our accomplishments. Let's admit it, luck is everywhere. Why not see it, run with it and enjoy it?

Feeling lucky?

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Friday, November 4, 2011

Six questions to predict success or failure

It's not all that hard to predict success or failure. We try to make it that way by using spreadsheets, data and trend analysis. And that stuff is valuable, but not in predicting success or lack of it.

90% of the time, you can predict whether a person or company will succeed by answering these questions:
  1. Do you really believe, are you totally committed?
  2. Are you learning, growing, and truly better than you were yesterday?
  3. Do you look at people as the answer, rather than the problem?
  4. Does fear rule your life or are you bold enough to be totally transparent?
  5. Do you believe you are making a positive difference in your customers' lives?
  6. Do you enjoy what you're doing?
If you pass the above test, then the data and spreadsheets will provide you tremendous value. If you flunk the test above, spreadsheets will only be used to mask your lack of energy and belief. And BTW, if you answer the first questions in the affirmative, your last question (Do you enjoy what you're doing?) can only be answered yes.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Give the emotions time to catch up

Most big ideas or decisions are initially received negatively by people. Why? Because our emotions automatically reject anything that is foreign, strange, different--all that scares us.

It's as if we have to turn-off our emotions and view change logically first. Once we become more comfortable with the change and we have analyzed it, the change isn't really as big a deal.

The more emotional a person or a company is, the more critical the need to give the emotions time to catch up to logic.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reactive, proactive

There are really only two approaches to business or to life in general:

Being reactive is a survival approach, you're dealing with what comes at you, you're living to face another day, you rationalize your shortcomings, you keep your head down and say as little as possible.

Being proactive is a success approach, you're focused on progress, on making things better, getting to the bottom of issues, you realize that you will make mistakes but you feel your body of work more than overcomes that.

At some point, the reactive person will face the fact their approach is, indeed, not a survival response at all, because it will be their demise.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond

You're either reacting or you're taking initiative

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Folly of Follow-up

A salesperson talks to you about a product. You're interested. The sales guy is a bit stiff, stodgy and doesn't want to negotiate. You desperately want the product, but you need to feel good about the deal, you need to negotiate. Sales guy ignores your need and promise to call back and check on you in a few weeks.

You are irritated and check out competitive stores, find the product and a sales lady who is more than happen to negotiate. You buy, you feel good and you're happy. So is the sales lady.

But...the original sales guy keeps sending emails or phone messages to "follow-up" on your conversation. Think about it: he is calling, but for what reason? To really seal the deal? I think not. At best he's calling to repeat the previous discussion. At worst, he's just doing what he has been told: follow up after giving the customer a price. No more, no less.

Follow-up without a productive purpose is folly.

Barry LaBov
LaBov & Beyond