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The Leading Edge April 2013
Small Business Success
Taking Care of Business  

    Contents
In this Issue

Why Are People So Unprofessional?

Failure - It Sucks

The Little Book of Leadership

How Good A Manager Are You?

Success & Failure

THE LEADING EDGE - your monthly link to groundbreaking ideas for entrepreneurs

Game-based recruitment tests unique skill-sets and boosts candidate engagement


Small Business News:

ENTER FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $100,000 SMALL BUSINESS GRANT - Sponsored by Telus and the Globe and Mail. Running a small or medium-sized business is an all-encompassing pursuit, filled with unlimited opportunities and often endless challenges. The best entrepreneurs thrive on both, and see the challenges not as roadblocks obstructing their way, but as stepping stones on the path to growing their business. Explain the biggest challenge your business faces today and how a $100,000 grant would help you overcome it. Our panel of business experts will review every entry, and if the most compelling is yours, you'll win a $100,000 business grant from TELUS. Plus, your company will be profiled in the pages of the Report on Business. Read More...


WIRE SERVICE - CANADIAN SMALL BUSINESSES MISSING OUT - WireService.ca Press Release - March 14, 2013 - In Canada according to Industry Canada calculations using information collected by Statistics Canada, there are over 1.1 million small businesses operating in Canada. These small business operations employ over 5 million of their fellow Canadians and are a major driver of the overall economy. Yet here in 2013 long after the dawn of the internet, a surprising number of them have little to no internet presence. Read more...


FINANCIAL POST - CANADIAN ENTREPRENEURS COMING HOME - The brain drain is a common complaint in Canada, particularly in regards to entrepreneurs, who often go south of the border to start their businesses because investment is easier to find, and the market is bigger. But the reverse is also happening - some entrepreneurs are finding their way back to Canada, driven by business and living conditions. Read more...


Canadian Chamber offers roadmap to close small business skills gap - Ottawa, February 20, 2013 - Today, as part of its ongoing skills initiative, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce unveiled the findings of its Symposium on Skills and Small Business held on November 14, 2012. Read more...

 
    Why Are People So Unprofessional?
 
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This article will be somewhat of a rant I am afraid. When did we all stop having the common decency to do what we said we would do, by when we said we would do it?

You may not agree with me, but when someone says to me, "I'll call you back on Thursday for sure" I don't expect them to call. At best I would say I have a 10 per cent chance they will get back to me. Same goes for emails; "I promise I'll get you those details by noon Tuesday" means "I'll forget about this call the second I put down the phone, and you will have to call me several times before I'll actually remember to do what I just promised."

Have you noticed in the last few years doctors, dentists, hair stylists, all call you the day before your appointment to say something like, "Dr. Smith is looking forward to seeing you tomorrow at 10:00am." They never used to do that, so are they just being super-polite in this new age of positively outrageous customer service? Not on your life - it's because we have all become so incredibly unreliable, and no-shows cost money.

Unreliability is endemic in today's business world. That's a big statement I know, but nevertheless true. I experience it in my business dealings Canada-wide; people simply don't deliver. It's like they just don't care - that it's not important to them to be on time, to deliver, or even be polite anymore.

I simply can't believe the level of inefficiency I experience on a daily basis. And, I'm not just talking about when I am trying to get someone to do something for me. I write for several major magazines and to be featured in one of my articles provides people with great media coverage. This might lead you to believe they would jump at the chance of speaking to me, and providing me with information, or an interview, but no - many simply don't call back, or miss a scheduled conference call, or simple go missing in action. Now think about the message that sends me. Do you think I'll ever call on them as an 'expert' source? No! Will I recommend them to others? No!

I think being reliable has gone out of fashion; it used to be a virtue, it used to be important. These days I simply accept that the vast majority of people will let me down; that I will have to spend my valuable time chasing them down. I know leaving a message on someone's voicemail is often like speaking into a black hole, and sending an email is akin to placing a book on a shelf in a library hoping someone will stumble upon it and take a look at sometime in the near future.

I know everybody is busy, that we are all under pressure, but that is just an excuse! I am busy too! I run two companies, but my customers, colleagues, and even strangers emailing, or calling me know I always answer them within twenty-four hours, and I ALWAYS deliver whether it's a simple quote, or a 100,000 word book, on time. ALWAYS - no excuses. That's not being freakishly efficient, it's demonstrating integrity.

The opportunity here, in marketing terms, is that when you make a point out of being exceptionally reliable, you stand out from the crowd. Isn't that what you want in this highly competitive world?

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Failure - It Sucks Top

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I've just had a major project fail:

  • I planned it well
  • I did my market research
  • I put together a great team
  • I worked exceptionally hard

But, it failed. Not only did it fail, but it failed miserably. And I felt bad; it sucks when you put so much effort into something that should have worked but didn't. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong life - who knows what the reason was - it just happened.

I'd like to say that it was my first big failure, but I'd be lying; I seem to often fail. Colleagues tell me it's because I'm ahead of my time; people at times aren't ready for what I'm offering - or at least ready to write cheques. I'm also unlucky - something comes out of left field and clouts me across the head like a foul ball just as I'm looking the other way.

But, you know what? As the song says, I keep getting up, I brush myself off and start all over again. Why? Because, I hate the other options. Give up? Roll-over and admit defeat? No ... the next idea might be THE one!

We all know Donald Trump - he of the comb-over and television show Celebrity Apprentice - you know, the super-rich, super-successful guy many people love to hate. Well in 2004 his eponymous company, Trump Hotels and Casinos filed for bankruptcy protection. It fought its way out of from under its financial difficulties only to seek bankruptcy protection again in 2009. Mr. Trump resigned from the board as the company listed debts of $1.74 billion. Today the Trump empire is huge and you'd never know that even the great "Donald" was once a failure.

Letting a little failure get you down will stop you being ready for the next big chance. Take Larry King, of CNN; he had to declare bankruptcy in the late seventies; in the same year he got offered the position of late-night talk show radio host in Washington. The rest is history.

If you don't get straight back up, you won't be ready and waiting for the next opportunity. Use failure as a learning experience - look for the lessons. We learn a whole lot more from failure than we ever do from success.

You also have to have a sense of humour about a failure, especially if it's a doozy. Humour is an antidote to stress, especially in those moments when it all goes wrong. You can cry, or you can laugh. Which do you think is going to help you move on?

It may seem strange, but allow yourself to feel a sense of relief when a project fails. You will almost certainly have been fighting hard to keep it alive: sleepless nights; throwing more money and resources at it; putting increasingly long hours into a losing battle - then it stops - you admit defeat and the pain ends, you are no longer bashing your head against a wall. Allow yourself to enjoy the moment. Then, look for the silver lining. Draw a line under the failure and take whatever you can from it, be it lessons, or new skills learned, new contacts, a stronger team, market knowledge. Mine that sucker for all it's worth, and don't forget to check the sawdust on the floor. Is there something you can sell, or build into something new?

Failure is a part of life. As babies we fell a hundred times before we took our first steady step; eventually we got the hang of it. No one is ever successful without failing first.

 
   
The Little Book of Leadership Top
 

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What follows is an excerpt from The Little Book of Leadership, that we thought we just had to share with you. The rest of the 'book' can be downloaded free of charge by visiting www.TheLeadershipHub.com

THE 60-SECOND PHD IN LEADERSHIP

Think back to the best boss and the worst boss you ever had.

  1. Make a list of all things done to you that you abhorred.
    • DON'T DO THEM TO OTHERS. EVER.
  2. Make another list of things done to you that you loved.
    • DO THEM TO OTHERS. ALWAYS.

And you thought leadership was complicated.

Source: Dee Hock, founder of VISA

A LEADER IS ...

"A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells: 'Wrong jungle!'"

Stephen Covey

Very true. But, don't make the mistake of assuming the top of the tree equates with the top of the organization. Listen to leadership wherever it is expressed.

LEADERSHIP IS... PROBABLY NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS

"The first problem with all of the stuff that's out there on leadership is that we haven't got a clue what we're talking about." We typically think of the leader as being the person at the top. "But if you define a leader as an executive, then you absolutely deny everyone else in an organization the opportunity to be a leader."

Peter Senge

IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU

"Many of you want to be leaders, to make a difference. But you might be spending too much time self-marketing and not enough time researching, building bridges by taking an interest in someone… In true leadership situations, listening comes before arm-waving."

Yahoo's Tim Sanders, blogging on www.execubooksblog.com

LEADERS DON'T CREATE FOLLOWERS

"The job of a leader today is not to create followers. It's to create more leaders."

Ralph Nader

THINK 'ACTS OF LEADERSHIP'

The great sociologist Max Weber said, over 100 years ago, that the organizations that will survive and thrive will be those that foster acts of leadership throughout the system, rather than assuming leaders only exist at the top.

TO DO, OR TO BE? THAT IS THE QUESTION - (Hamlet got it wrong)

Great leaders become leaders to achieve something, not to be someone.

John Boyd, the fighter pilot who invented the OODA loop fast decision-making matrix (Observe, Orientate, Decide, Act) said it's the fundamental choice facing us all in life: to do or to be. Too many leaders sacrifice integrity to 'become' a leader. They work out how to get there and play the system. Hence the paradox that a large number of great leaders are not in formal leadership positions within the hierarchy, as they refuse to choose placement over integrity. There's a lot of truth in that. Positional leaders – those who are most driven by the need to be the leader – often have a stifling effect on growth, as they see other potential and existing leaders as threats.

Phil Dourado

"ONLY CONNECT" E. M. Forster

"Your job is to touch everyone and get into their soul. Every moment you are in your office, you are useless."

Jack Welch

GREAT LEADERS TELL THREE STORIES

Great leaders

  1. Tell a compelling story about themselves: who they are, where they come from, what they stand for, what they expect.
  2. Tell a compelling story about the organization: its mission and purpose, why it is a great place to work, invest in and buy from.
  3. Make people feel an essential part of the story through the work they do every day…Remember this mythical JFK anecdote? The president was visiting NASA headquarters and stopped to talk to a man who was holding a mop. "And what do you do?" he asked. The man, a janitor, replied, "I'm helping to put a man the moon, sir." Knowing their part in your organization's story engages people and gives them a sharp sense of purpose.

Phil Dourado

There are many more great words of wisdom in the rest of this 'book' so we encourage you to check it out and keep on reading.

 
   
How Good A Manager Are You? Top

We all like to think we're great managers: efficient, quick learners, able to change direction if something isn't working, have reliable memories.

With tongue firmly placed in cheek, here's a test for you to see how good a manager you really are. Don't worry, if you fail, feel free to make those closest to your desk take it too. It's just four questions, so shouldn't take you long.

The first question looks at whether you tend to make things more difficult than they need to be.

How do you put a hippopotamus into a refrigerator?

Think about this before checking the answer below the following picture.

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Simple, open the door, put the animal into the fridge, close the door.

Okay, now to take it one step further...

How do you put a wildebeest into a refrigerator?

Again, think carefully before checking the answer below the following picture. No cheating - you're a professional aren't you?

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If you think you're smart and answered: Simple, open the door, put the animal into the fridge and close the door - you're wrong!

The correct answer is:

Open the refrigerator, remove the hippo, replace it with the wildebeest, close the door.

The management lesson here is: think through the consequences of your previous actions.

Let's change tack - question number three is a riddle: Tarzan has called a meeting of all the animals in the jungle. One animal doesn't attend - which animal is it?

Don't scroll down and cheat!

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The answer to this one is simple:

The wildebeest - because it's still in the refrigerator, duh.

This was a memory test.

Now for the final question, for which you are by now fully prepared. This will test both your planning and logic skills.

You must cross a crocodile-infested river. How will you manage it without being eaten?

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This question was designed to see how quickly you learn from your mistakes. If you remembered all the crocodiles were attending Tarzan's meeting and you could simply swim across safely, then you were correct. Congratulations - you really are a professional manager!

 
   
Success & Failure Top
 

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