Friday, 28 December 2012

"The Three Signs of a Miserable Job: A fable for mangers and their employees" By Patrick Lencioni

There are several schools of management thought and thousands of books on the subject. Management theory can get pretty deep and technical. That's probably why most of it doesn't really work. How about your employees? I realize managers try not to know their employees on a personal level because one day they may have to fire them, but what does this do?

 People spend over 30% of their time on work related tasks. This is time spent away from family, friends and other activities. Gallup shows that 91% of employees are either disengaged or actively disengaged which means that they hate their work. Why do something you hate? All work has aspects that you will not like doing. Regardless, hating something that encompasses 30% of your time is really heart breaking and costly. Can this be fixed? The short answer is yes.

 "Three Signs of a Miserable Job" spells out three principles that are notoriously simple. The level of simplicity is probably why most organizations do not do it. I will chat about each one.

 1. Anonymity – People cannot be fulfilled in their work if they are not known. Belonging is a core requirement for humans one rung up from safety on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Belonging is so strong that you can parallel this to gang life. Gang members relate to each other and will do anything for another member because their desire to belong is human nature. Managers fear getting close to their employees because they may have to fire them one day. This is really unfortunate and can be fixed. The success of Facebook and social media companies today solidifies this notion that people need to belong. As an effective manager, it is your job to be genuinely interested in your people. There is an old saying in sales that applies here: People don’t care what you know until they know that you care and people buy from people they like. Why would it be any different from an employee / manager standpoint? It isn’t.

 2. Irrelevance – Everybody has a purpose and wants to perform. The goal is to help people become more of what they already are and help them perform for the company. In order to do this, people need to understand how their work is relevant and who depends on them. This is a bit easier to identify if you are customer facing but if you are in the back office then it is harder to see unless your manager points it out to you. Here is an example in our organization. Our software developers have to build great products or we cannot sell and create revenue. If they make bad products then our support staff’s lives become a living hell because customers are unhappy. Development makes a huge impact on customers, service and the company. EVERY position in the company has an effect just as powerful as this one. If we don’t acquire new customers as sales people then it does not matter how good the product is because the company will go out of business. Everyone needs to know that their job matters. It is the manager’s job to bring this out and show it to their direct reports.

 3. Immeasurement – College and professional sports generate billions of dollars per year in revenue. People love sports and love to compete. Would they love it if there was no scoreboard? Would they watch if there was no winner and no loser? Absolutely not! The same holds true for every job in every company. Each person has to have their own scoreboard and they need to be concrete and tied to relevance. This is the secret to great cultures. This is how to build employee engagement. Organizations with engaged employees grow 2.6 times faster than organizations with disengaged employees. You compound that year over year and you have the makings of an outstanding organization with huge competitive advantage.

I hope you found this short summary useful. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

 Until next time,
Joe at Success Progress


Friday, 21 December 2012

Mitigating Failure in Small Biz

E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work 
and What to Do About it
by Michael E. Gerber

FACT: 75% of small businesses fail in the first 10 years and 50% fail in the first five. These stats are horrible and with the right strategy, can be mitigated. E-Myth Revisited explains how to do this, as well as why most businesses fail in the first place. Franchise businesses succeed 75% of the time over the same 10 year period. We'll contrast the differences in this summary. 

Michael argues that three personalities are required to run a business and they all have different agendas. They are the technician, the manager and the entrepreneur. The tech wants to just do the work, the manager wants to organize the work and keep order and the entrepreneur wants to strategize about the vision and the future. Problems arise because most people who start the businesses are technicians only. They have to do everything themselves and end up buying a job and working triple time to get everything done. The personalities are required for a business to be successful but when there is only one person i.e. the plumber, hair stylist, dentist etc. who start the business then these personality types conflict. 

Here I cover three of Michael's key points:

1. Infancy, Adolescence and Maturity – These are growth stages in any business and if they are not handled correctly, then bankruptcy is the conclusion. Infancy consists of starting the business with you doing all the work. Adolescence is when you hire your first employees. Typically what happens is that the employees are thrown into the job with no training and they become your right hand. Maturity happens when the business finds its legs and is able to scale growth.

2. Why do franchises succeed and small businesses fail? The number one reason is that the franchise is a crafted system and the small business is started on a whim with no real experience. The franchise model is strong because it gives all the necessary training, steps and systems to succeed. McDonalds is the greatest franchise to prove this. They can hire low skilled workers to run the system successfully. This is important because everything is covered and checklists are required. The system is the business. The small business does not have this luxury and usually dies because of it.

3. Systems and Scalability – We can learn a lot from franchise businesses. They are always honing and creating better systems so the business can run by itself. I can personally attest to the power of this. My business is in enterprise software. When the business was first starting, 80 hour work weeks were standard. We did everything without a roadmap just to keep the business going. When I stepped back and asked for help, it allowed me to work on the business instead of in it. We now have systems in place that allow us to control quality, deliver on time and keep happy customers. This is not easy to do. System thinking is detailed oriented and is a culture change with the people. I can tell you that if you have a small business and want to stop trading HOURS for DOLLARS then start scripting and creating systems so the business can run without you. 

The goal of creating a business that can run without you is lofty but definitely attainable. The best example of this is Warren Buffett. He owns excellent businesses and does not run them at all. He has the right people in the right places and it frees him up to do what he does best which is capital allocation.

Work on creating business systems so you can have more time to either grow your business or spend time with your family. Working a 100 hours per week and having the business stress for a simple pay check is not the way to a happy life style. Creating systems is the way to true income independence and freedom. 

TGIF & Happy Holidays,


Friday, 14 December 2012

Navigating Important Conversations

I decided to write about this book because it's packed with relevant information on handling difficult conversations. "Difficult Conversations" happen in all areas of life – think about your relationships and work. This book is very relevant if you are responsible for other people. I recommend highly you read it if you are a leader and/or a manager of any group. What makes these conversations so hard to face is the fear of the consequences – whether we raise the issue or try to avoid it. These conversations are almost never about getting the facts right. They are about conflicting perceptions, interpretations, and values. They are not about what is true; they are about what is important. 

Whether you're dealing with an underperforming employee, negotiating with a client or disagreeing with your spouse, we attempt or avoid difficult conversations every day. The book is relevant in understanding why we avoid these conversations and give us insight into how to handle them correctly. Especially for the organizational leaders listening to this summary, the following is true: The ability to handle difficult conversations well is a prerequisite to organizational change and adaptation. Each difficult conversation is actually three conversations: 

1. The “What Happened?” Conversation – Most difficult conversations are about disagreements to what happened, who’s right, who said what, who did what and who is to blame. We often fail to question one crucial assumption upon which our whole stance in the conversation is built: I am right, you are wrong. This simple assumption causes endless grief.

2) The Feelings Conversation – Every difficult conversation involves feelings. Are my feelings valid, Should I acknowledge or deny them, put them on the table or check them at the door? What about the other person’s feelings. What if they are angry or hurt? 

3.) The Identity Conversation – This is the internal conversation we have to ourselves about what this situation means to us. Are we competent or incompetent? Are we a good person or bad person? Are we lovable or unlovable? 

"Difficult Conversations" addresses how to approach these situations in life. It also gives you sound strategy to navigate through these conversations.

1. What’s the purpose? When to Raise it and When to let go. Do we bring up the issue or let it go? This is an art form in itself. You need to know when to pick your battles. There is an old saying – It is not worth it to win the battle if you are going to lose the war. Before you raise the issue, work through the three conversations and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Also, is there another way to solve the problem without the conversation? Remember that action speaks louder than words so your actions could solve the problem without the conflict.

2. Begin from the Third story – Think like a mediator that has no emotional ties. Thinking objectively from the outside gives you a true picture of what is going on. If you think from the standpoint of having no stake in the outcome then you can be very objective in your thinking.

3. Learning – Listen from the inside out – This is really the most important aspect of the whole book in my humble opinion. Your ability to actively listen makes it much easier to have great relationships and solve problems. Active listening requires what I call “whole body listening”. You need to be present and focused on the other person. This gives you the true ability to understand their point of view fully. Remember understanding does not necessarily mean agreeing with the otherperson. The learning that will happen through active listening will lead to positive outcomes most of the time. 

I hope you have found this blog post useful. For more on this topic, I suggest you pick up the book! Have a great weekend and thanks for reading.



Friday, 7 December 2012

Care, Crush, Cash

"Crush It" is a great how-to book on using social media and being real with yourself about what you do. Gary is very passionate about his what he does. The key to his success is blending who he is with what he does. This is very important because a person's BS meter will go up if you are not genuine. I can tell you that I spend a lot of time on work. I love my work, and it would be a cardinal sin, in my opinion, if I hated it. This book will help you understand and find your true passion and monetize it.

Think about it. You spend roughly 2000 hours per year at work. This does not include drive time, traffic, at home preparation or extra hours at the office. This is roughly 30% of your life. Do you hate it? Unfortunately many people do hate their work and will not do anything to change it thus you end up trading valuable time for dirty green paper. This is a tragedy. What if you could meld what you love with what you do to make money? Seems like a simple enough question but most people won’t put the sweat equity into making it a reality. I suggest you put the hard work in now and make a mid-term plan to do it and you can send me a thank you later. Crush it will show you what Gary did to make this a reality. Note: This requires work but if you are doing what you love then it doesn’t matter.

This short book is packed with useful tips on using Social Media, your passion and your time to craft a wonderful career. I already touched on passion so I will profile three more things.
1. Great Content – Once you decide what to work on then do research and add value through content. If you read blog sites you will see what I mean by great content. This does not mean you need to be a literary expert to create great content. Think of it more as useful advice. People are driven by pain and pleasure so depending on your passion you either create the content to eliminate the pain or create it to create pleasure. Do this with energy and fire and good things happen.

2. Community – There is a difference between connecting and community. Think about this – how can you be true friends with 100,000 people? The real answer is – you can’t. You can be acquaintances but true friends belong in YOUR community. This means that you invest in them just like they invest in you. This is a two way street and Crush it profiles ways from Blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to maximize the community.

3. Monetize – Quick piece of advice. Don’t focus on the money. If you create great content, build a real community then the money will come. You can monetize your business several ways including – affiliates, product sales, intellectual property selling, advertising, teaching etc. The list goes on and on…. Remember – once you have the community and they are interested in your “Thought Leadership” then they will buy from you because it will help them.
The best marketing strategy according to Gary is to CARE. I agree with him. I can tell you from a standpoint of my business that we offer our clients a minimum of 110% guarantee. I know this makes them comfortable and I don’t want them to waste their time. Our average order size is $25,000 so an extra $2,500 to them if they make the wrong decision shows that we CARE. I hope you have found this short video summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is to start building your community through Twitter by following people. When you do this daily based on your passion then you can have two way conversations in which you can help them based on your passion.



Friday, 30 November 2012

The Riches of Life and How to Find Them

This is a must read for anybody wanting to improve their lives. Regardless of what you want to improve, Napoleon Hill shows the "Master-Key" works. Hill died in 1970, but the research he did was far ahead of his time. Did you know he mentored Charles Schwab? Carnegie also commissioned Hill to profile him and other successful people to see if there was a pattern. This book, along with "Think and Grow Rich," is a combination of that research. 

This book is important because Mr. Hill explains the 12 riches of life and how to achieve them. Are you where you want to be or do you need help defining true happiness? This book will give you the blueprint for these things.

The 12 Riches of Life are:

1. Positive Mental Attitude,
2. Sound Physical Health,
3. Harmony in Human Relationships ,
4. Freedom from Fears,
5. The Hope of Achievements,
6. The Capacity of Faith,
7. Willingness to Share One’s Blessings,
8. A labor of Loves,
9. An Open Mind on All Subjects,
10, Self-discipline, 
11. The capacity to Understand People, 
12. Economic Security. 

All 12 riches are important but for the sake of time we will dig into three of them in this summary.

1. Positive Mental Attitude – Mental attitude is important because it converts the brain into the equivalent of an electro-magnet which attracts the counterpart of one’s dominating thoughts, aims and purposes. It also attracts the counterpart of one’s fears, worries and doubts. This basically means that you will manifest in your life that which you focus on regardless if it is positive or negative.

2. Sound Physical Health – This one is self-evident and should be number one. In my humble opinion, without health, you cannot create anything. Health is the ultimate gift because with it, everything else is possible. This can easily be taken for granted but once it is taken from you then life changes instantly. This needs to be a priority for everybody.

3. The Capacity to Understand People: The person who truly understands people knows that we all come from the same core. The nine emotions common, according to the book are: love, sex, desire of material gain, self-preservation, freedom from body and mind, self-expression, desire for perpetuation of life and death, anger and fear. The capacity to understand others eliminates many of the common causes of friction among men. The Master-Key is a combination of 17 principles when used in combination will allow you to achieve the 12 Riches of Life.

But how do you obtain these? You're going to have to dig into the book to learn the "Master Keys" that will lead you to the 12 Riches I just highlighted and discussed.

The Master-Key consists of:
1) Habit of going the extra mile
2) Definiteness of Purpose
3) The Master mind
4) Applied Faith
5) Pleasing Personality
6) Habit of learning from defeat
7) Creative Vision
8) Personal Initiative
9) Accurate Thinking 
10) Self-Discipline 11) Concentration of Endeavor
12) Co-operation
13) Enthusiasm
14) The Habit of Health
15) Budgeting Time and Money 
16) Golden Rule Applied
17) Cosmic habit force.

For the sake of time we will profile three of the seventeen.

I hope you have found this blog post useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. I always say habits form in as little as 21 days. I highly recommend you read this book and put the principles in place. To take one thing away from the summary and make it habit will be the “Habit of Going the Extra Mile”. Put this front and center and it will help you in everything you do.

Do the thing and you shall have the power!!!! 

Joe Mosed


Friday, 16 November 2012

Brain Up, Age Down

We are just scratching the surface on brain research. The power of the brain is absolutely awesome. Dr. Amen is a leader in this field and this book is a testimonial of his research results. Alzheimer's, Dementia and Depression are all horrible diseases that really do not get much attention yet they destroy lives. In my opinion,Dr. Amen’s research will continue to bridge the gap and hopefully help people reduce their chances of getting these diseases.

My goal in doing this book summary is to provide value because I do not want to waste your time. A picture is worth a thousand words. If you were to look at two brain SPECT images comparing heavy alcohol use with Alzheimer’s, they would both look like Swiss cheese. A normal brain SPECT scan looks whole. What this is depicting are areas of non-activity in the brain.

The effects of alcohol use and Alzheimer’s look very similar. Brain health is directly tied to overall health. The brain uses 30% of the energy consumed by your whole body and through proper nutrition and exercise, we can enhance brain health.

"Use Your Brain to Change Your Age" is a collection of real patients and real results. These patients typically were overweight and had horrible diets. We will examine the what, why and how to brain health. I think this title is telling because most people are pretty vain when it comes to age and if it helps sell books then so be it. This book needs to be read and taught to the masses. The problems with our sick care system are only getting worse and the real solution lies with the individual taking control of their own health. This book is a great stepping stone in that direction.

1. What is it SPECT imaging? Dr. Amen uses brain imaging to show his patients their brains vs. a normal brain. A normal brain SPECT scan shows a solid brain in all directions. This signifies brain activity. If the scan looked to be filled with holes then those holes represent non-activity centers in the brain. Additionally, brain health typically can be reflected on the outside. Obesity has a major negative effect on the brain. Most of the patients Dr. Amen profiles in the book were overweight and had negative looking brain scans. Dr. Amen argues that your brain health can be enhanced and effectively reverse aging. Aging in this sense is sharpness of mind and body. One way to be younger is have more energy and increase your activity. These are looked at in the how to section.

2. Why is it important? The answer to this question is self-evident unless you want to die a horrible death. Brain disease is hard on the patient and really hard on their families. The responsibility for your health falls on your shoulders. Most people are looking for a miracle drug or somebody else to take care of them. This is not going to work and has not worked in the past.

3. How does it work? Dr. Amen goes into great detail on the how to but for the sake of time let me summarize the majors. First, diet is a key component to brain health. Dr. Amen recommends low Glycemic foods which he details in the book. For simplicity, eat vegetables and cut down on sugar/junk food, alcohol and soft drinks. Drink a lot of water and increase your daily activity. Exercise is a big deal and has a positive effect on brain health. The brain runs on Glucose and Oxygen so if you increase you oxygen intake through exercise and activity, your brain will benefit. Also, protect your head. If you do high impact sports then wear a helmet. Dr. Amen has worked with several NFL players and the damage to their brains is significant. Through diet, exercise and in some cases Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, he has been able to improve brain function significantly. The brain is a muscle so it needs to be exercised as well. Continuous learning is critical for proper brain function.

Read this book. Each "How To" is very straight forward and easy to do. One thing I recommend for all the people who work out of their house and have a treadmill, set up a treadmill desk and work from there. If you work 8 hours per day then work for 2 hours on the treadmill at a slow walking pace. This will increase circulation, reduce inflammation and increase oxygen to the body. 

Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday next week!


Friday, 9 November 2012

Focus First

Leo Babauta has an excellent mind set. To accomplish high value task and achieve goals, focus is required. To help in my quest to understand focus, I read this book. 

If you are investing your time reviewing this summary then it has to be worth it for you. Marcus Aurelius said, "Most of what we say and do is not essential." If you can eliminate it, you’ll have more time, and more tranquility. Ask yourself at every moment: is this necessary? Pablo Picasso said, "Without great solitude no serious work is possible." These two quotes have real power once they are implemented. 'Focus' is divided into 4 major parts. For the sake of time, I will touch on a concept in each section. 

1. Step Back – Email, web browsing, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. All of these mediums spell one thing – Distraction. Distraction creates stress and wastes time. In May 2011, Americans spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook. On average people spend 24 hours per week watching TV and surfing the web. That equates to three full time working days per week. Needless to say, these stats clearly show that people are distracted.

2. Clearing the StreamFocus requires setting a schedule. So one way to clear some of the distractions is to schedule your internet time. Once you put this on the calendar, you can monitor how much time you are truly spending on these activities. This also consolidates your usage and makes you more productive because you are focused on just the internet. Once the time is up then disconnect and tend to your other tasks.

3. Simplify - One excellent technique to simplifying your life is to de-clutter. This means eliminate the non-essentials. Clear off your desk and have a clean working environment. This will eliminate distractions. If you have a stack of crap on your desk then go through it and make a decision – File, Trash or Donate. Make the decision quick and move on. You can do this in your house as well. Having a minimalist life style reduces stress so you can use the same process for your house as you do your desk at work.

Focus is a quick book to read and provides functional “how to” tactics so that you can accomplish high value tasks. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish when you eliminate the non-essentials.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. Hope you all have a great weekend!

-Joe at Success Progress


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Think Smart, Stay Sharp

"Think Smart" is a book about the brain and improving your performance. There are highlights on how to significantly reduce your chances of Dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
To pursue your passion in life and achieve real meaning, physical and mental health is required. The benefits of physical exercise are numerous including, lower blood pressure, stronger heart and more energy. If you have ever been sick then you know firsthand that performance and ambition don’t mean anything because you cannot perform.
Mental health is even more important than physical health. Your brain functions just like a muscle, if you do not use it, you lose it. When your brain is firing on all cylinders, you can accomplish nearly anything. The more you exercise your brain the more you grow.

Here are 3 key points that I will point out for the sake of time:

1. Brain Axiom – The brain runs on Oxygen and Glucose. The greater the activity, the more blood flow to the brain to compensate. Plasticity allows us to sculpt our brains according to our activity. This means that when the average person spends 5 hours per day in front of the TV, the brain compensates for it. This is very interesting axiom because your habits and activities will dictate your brain function over time. This is great news because with a smart plan of daily activities, you can improve your brain performance on purpose. 

2. The Basics – Diet, exercise and sleep all improve/decline the brains performance depending on what you do. Things to do to improve brain performance: maintain low weight, eliminate saturated fats, eat fish (watch mercury levels), decrease red meats, drink moderate red wine and take in more fruits & veggies. Exercise increases blood flow which increases oxygen and glucose to the brain. Exercise daily based on where you are at physically and continually increase the exercise as you improve. The last key to the basics is sleep. Sleep reduces stress, energizes the brain and processes new information. Cortisol is released in high stress times; too much Cortisol is bad for the brain so reducing stress is critical to brain health. 

3. Cool things – You can improve your brain performance on purpose. Using your brain and consistently challenging it will increase performance. Reading, thinking, puzzles and some video games can improve performance dramatically. Some video games have shown improved reflex actions along with visual performance improvements. 

I hope you have found this short video summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is use it or lose it. I have read several books on the brain and all of them postulate that the brain does NOT decrease overtime like muscle mass. The exercised brain continually improves with age. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. You see this when people retire and don’t fill their time with constructive & challenging activities. The brain atrophies and performance withers. 

Joe Mosed


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Steve Jobs: Innovator

Unless you have been on the moon for the last 15 years, you know the impact Steve Jobs had on the world with his company Apple. It is great to hear the war stories but the real question is – “How does he do it?” 

We make money in the business, hold it in cash flow real-estate and invest profits in paper assets and continue the cycle. The one thing that makes this all work is the business. If you build a great business, you can garner wealth at a much faster pace than any other investment vehicle. Example: Facebook.

Steve Jobs has a compelling "why" and it has to do with his legacy. Simply, we will be dead soon so we need to make an impact. What is your compelling "why" factor? In my family the males don't live that long. My father outlasted each of his brothers and passed at the ripe old age of 58. Needless to say, time is precious so you need to invest it wisely. Who are your heroes? I point this out because only 3 percent of people are committed to designing the life of their dreams. The rest are sleep walking to the end. This summary is about innovation.

This book is packed with seven principles of innovation followed by Steve Jobs and Apple. They are all important and I review each of them in my video summary. For the sake of this blog post, I will just touch on the first three.

1. Do what you love. Nothing great comes out of misery. Life is way too short to work a job you hate day in and day out. Doing what you love takes guts. Most people will fight you on it and tell you that you will not make money or it is too risky or some other garbage. Be true to yourself. Steve Jobs took a calligraphy class because he was curious. Everybody thought he was nuts. We have the cool computer fonts today because of that class. Now that is what I call impact - Millions of people using cool stuff because Jobs decided to go against the grain. 

2. Put a dent in the universe. This is motivation for yourself and your team. People need to be inspired to produce at a higher level. This is not easy. With pressures from all angles, it is easy to be mediocre. If you are working on putting a dent in the universe on every project then you will make great stuff. On a much smaller scale, we create software for police and sheriff departments in their dispatch centers. It is our vision to make their jobs easier. This does not sound like much but if we can help them dispatch better than they can save more lives, faster. That is putting a small dent in the wall anyway……. 

3. Kick start your brain. People are creatures of habit and habits are formed to make life easier. To kick start your brain, we need to experience different things and look for solutions in different areas. If you are familiar with the power supplies on Apple laptops, they have a magnet that connects the cord from the computer to the wall. Thus if you trip over the cord then it comes off as opposed to having your laptop pulled off the table. This seems obvious now that Apple is delivering it but that is an innovative idea. Where did it come from? The Japanese have been making cooking appliances with that type of connector for years. Thus look outside your box for better ideas. This also means to look outside your industry. I can attest that sometimes you are so caught up in what the customers want that you forget that you need to innovate and your problem may be a simple routine in another industry. Keep your eyes open. 

I hope you have found this short summary useful. For the rest of Steve Jobs' innovation principles, check out my full video review on Success Progress. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

-Joe Mosed


Friday, 19 October 2012

Hacking Away at Creativity

In business, infrastructure equals money. In order to scale, you have to have a flexible infrastructure. When centralized infrastructure turns into bureaucracy and slow response, the company becomes lethargic. Jensen and Klein's "Hacking Work" examines these problems from the worker's standpoint and outlines things you can do by working smart. 

Most companies today trust their vendors and customers more than their employees. This is a problem because brilliant results require team work, and you can't have a cohesive team if there isn't trust. Companies want transparency and centralization similar to command and control systems. This is not a bad thing until it takes a salesman two hours to enter an order, or if the company blocks Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Actions like these kill results. 

Results are the name of the game. If you don't get results now, you're dead. The hub and spoke model for business is not a bad model just as long as the spokes have autonomy to deliver to the customers and are not tied up by bureaucracy. 

"Hacking Work" is broken down into four sections. For the sake of time, I will highlight one point from each section. 

1. Engaged Team Members – Engaged team members are four times more productive and profitable than disengaged team members. This statistic (if focused on) can transform any business. 

2. Slaves to Infrastructure – I understand the need for procedures and infrastructure because you cannot scale without it. With that said, I know that larger companies handcuff their employees with ridiculous rules and procedures that ultimately kill the creative spirit. Having stupid policies in place to limit creative freedom for the illusion of security is bad policy. 

3. Three Types of Hackers – Black Hacks are the ones that steal, cheat and create havoc. These are the people that have given hacking a bad name. This book does not advocate black hacks. Grey Hacks and White Hacks are what are necessary to get the job done in a more efficient manner. These types of hacks are simply clever work around that save an enormous amount of time and allow workers to use their creative freedom for profit and customers loyalty. 

4. Clarity – This one is a big deal. Take a look at the stats: one, three of the top five time wasters all relate to communication. Two, information in companies doubles every 550 days. Three, once every three minutes, the average cube dweller accepts an interruption and shifts her focus, consuming 28% of the day. Creating clarity and simple communication and information sharing networks can cure all of this. 

This is a good book that every company leader should read. I personally think that if we could eliminate wasted time on stupid procedures, we could create an additional economy the size of Texas. 

I hope you found this blog post useful. Thanks for reading!



Friday, 12 October 2012

Our Opportunity

Abraham Maslow defined the basic human hierarchy of needs as food, water and air. This is the base of the pyramid. Self-actualization is at the top of the pyramid. Image a world of clean, abundant energy, food and water, wellness and medical treatment for all. Now, imagine these things as self-sustaining systems and not as charity.

This is important to me because the major problems today are energy, water, healthcare, the environment and population growth. Every year, 11 million children die from infectious diseases. Most of these could have been avoided with clean water. This statistic is horrible. The U.S. has spent more than $1 trillion on wars to fight terrorism. The world water problem could have been solved for much less. People need to have a realistic perspective. Humans tend to think logically and linearly. Technological change happens exponentially. This is good news for us because all of these problems are solvable. 

"Abundance" is an excellent book that not only defines the problems but highlights technology innovation that is happening right now that will solve these problems. This book is broken down into six major parts but for the sake of time, I will profile a few key points, as well as focus on the What, Why and How. 

1. The Facts – Fact One: Currently humanity uses 30% more of our planet’s natural resources than we can replace. Fact Two: If everyone on this planet wanted to live with the lifestyle of the average European, we would need three planets’ worth of resources to pull it off. Fact Three: If everyone on this planet wished to live like an average North American, then we’d need five planets to pull it off. Abundance shows that we can solve these problems. When seen through the lens of technology, few resources are truly scarce; they’re mainly inaccessible. Yet the threat of scarcity still dominates the world view. The reason for this is because humans think logically and linearly while technological progression is exponential.

2. The Goal – Imagine a world of 9 billion people with clean water, nutritious food, affordable housing, personalized education, top-tier medical care, and nonpolluting, ubiquitous energy. Building this better world is humanity’s grandest challenge. 

Let’s look at the how portion with examples from Abundance.

1. Energy Possibilities – Energy has many components that need work. One is the production of clean energy, two is the transmission of that energy and three is the storage of the energy. What this means is that solar energy produced in San Diego (95% sunny days) could be stored and transmitted to rainy areas like Seattle. Smart grid technologies are needed as well. We are making progress. Corn produces 18 gallons per acre per year and palm oil about 625 gallons per acre per year. Modified algae (pond scum) will produce 10,000 gallons per acre per year. The technical progress with modified algae is moving fast. If this goal is hit and Miles per gallon improve with the cars then we could eliminate our dependence on foreign oil with 17% of the land mass of Nevada producing modified algae. Clean abundant energy is the source of fixing the rest of the problems outlined in this summary. These tasks create jobs which fuels economic growth. This is not a charitable problem. Charities may invest money but that is the way it needs to be looked at – as an investment not a gift. 

2. Water Possibilities – Dean Kamen created Slingshot. This is a water purification system that runs with a sterling engine. This setup is so effective that it costs .002 cents per liter. The system running in India can run on cow dung to power the purifier. Today the cost per liter is .30 cents. Building the Slingshot commercially could reduce the price down to $2,500 each. The water problem is a big problem because 97% of the world’s water is salt water. Basically fresh water consists of less than 1% of the total water supply. Another huge issue is 70% of the world’s water is used in agriculture while 50% of the food is thrown away. There are enormous opportunities in clean water generation locally eliminating the need to transport it. Smart Grid technologies are in huge demand because it makes sense to simply use what is needed without the delivery waste.

This is a great book that will get you thinking about solving these major problems we face as a species. Right now the world economy is sputtering and on the brink of a major shift. The ultimate goal of most humans is to have a job to sustain and better their lives. Jim Clifton wrote about this in his book the Coming Jobs War. These technologies and problems offer opportunities and business growth for people who have the foresight to take advantage of it.

One thing you can take away from this book: Problem equal opportunity through the right lens. Viewing the world through the right lens is critical to our success. To hone this skill, focus on root cause problems and looking for solutions. 

See you next week! -Joe


Friday, 5 October 2012

Make it Rain

George Foreman has a great saying – “If you can sell then you will always be able to eat.” In this economy, that really has meaning. Rainmaker discusses in detail the basics of improving your selling game. Remember one thing – Rainmakers do not get fired because they drive company revenue through superior client acquisition. 
As a selling professional, you need to understand that features don’t sell but the outcome of the solution to YOUR CLIENTS PROBLEM sells. B2B or Business to Business selling further delineates the pain / pleasure concept. Business clients buy to increase revenue, reduce their costs or mitigate risks. According to Jeffrey – Rainmakers sell money.

There are several key concepts in the book to help you become a Rainmaker. For the sake of time, I will profile three of them.

1. Never do anything without knowing what is going to happen next – Amateur sales people do not understand this rule. They will present their product, give away pricing and provide a list of their best clients without knowing the three main things: The prospects PAIN, MONEY and DECISION making process. Rainmakers know all of this before they give away their knowledge

2. Listening – 70/30You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Rainmakers know how to listen to their clients and help them discover their pain. Listening is the biggest skill that you need to learn to be successful in sales and in business. The prospect should be speaking 70% of the time and the sales person needs to speak only 30% of the time. In a one hour meeting, you talk only 18 minutes. 

How to Become a Rainmaker also talks about the 4 point daily plan. This is an excellent plan that every sales person needs to encompass in their career. It works like this: 1. Get a lead or referral and assign one point. 2. Get an appointment to meet a decision maker, assign two points 3. Meet the decision maker, assign 3 points. 4. Get a commitment to close or direct next step to close and assign four points. The goal is to get 4 points every day.

Until next time,
Joe at Success Progress


Friday, 28 September 2012

Game of Mirrors

"The Mirror Test" by Jeffrey Hayzlett unifies basic business principles with common sense. This book outlines very basic business principles that should be examined by business owners. If you are new to business then this book can benefit you. 

In business, you are either profitably growing or dying, there is no equilibrium. That is the true “Proof of Life” test. Jeffrey has real business experience. Several books will talk about high level strategy, mission statements, vision which is important but when the rubber meets the road, you have to make payroll.

If you have never had people responsibility then I can personally tell you that worrying about payroll when money is tight is very stressful. When cash is flowing, you run the business. When cash is not flowing, the business runs you.

The Mirror Test is broken down into three main parts. For the sake of time, I will touch on a few of them.

Say No to Low Price – Can you compete with Wal-Mart? No, neither can I. If your business value proposition is price then you are dying a slow death. There is nothing worse than racing to the bottom to commoditize your market. The purpose of a business it to get a customer and build stakeholder value. If you compete on price and hope you are low then there are several problems including: One, you don’t know how to sell value. Two, you are not creating a business that can be sold later for real value and three, you are buying yourself a job. The point of a business is to provide customer value at a PROFIT. If you fear profit or think it is a bad word then go work for somebody else.

Value- Now we know not to sell on low price so you may ask how we create value. This takes some thought and that is exactly why there are so many marginal businesses out there in the market today. Here are three things you can do to establish your value:

Control Your Message- Do you have a unique selling proposition? If not then create one. If you take away your company name and your proposition sounds like: “We are the best, lowest cost provider of widgets and I will do a good job for you.” You can work for any of your competitors and say the same thing. This is not a unique value proposition.
"The Mirror Test" has good common sense content. I diverged a bit from the book to outline three key points that will help your business succeed. Remember that Execution is critical today because the business environment is tough.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. Stay tuned- more coming next week.

Joe Mosed


Friday, 21 September 2012

Fostering Creativity for Greatness

Creativity creates great companies. The U.S. economy is driven by small business and small businesses need to be creative to stay alive. The result of not being creative is commoditization of the business. This means that profits are tight and price is the only differentiator. Disciplined Dreaming details a proven system to spark creativity throughout the enterprise. 

The key to economic growth is job creation. Job creation requires companies that add value and do not compete on price. Businesses have to differentiate themselves to foster profitable growth. Differentiation can be systematic using a proven system. Apple receives high marks for innovation but their landmarks to building a dominate company can be used by ANY business.

One critical component to creativity and differentiation is expanding the sphere of influence. Here is an example: The Apple laptop computers have a power supply that plugs in with a magnet. This simple differentiation is revolutionary to the computer world because if you kick the cord, your laptop will not fly off the table. This innovative feature was “borrowed” from the Japanese WOK. Steve Jobs expanded his sphere of influence and looked outside the computer industry for ideas. Innovation and creativity like this result in profitable growth for businesses and keeps you out of the commodity selling zone.

"Disciplined Dreaming is packed with relevant information. For the sake of time, I will profile the 3 of the 5 Steps to breakthrough Creativity

1. Ask – Defining the creativity challenge is the first step in the system. Asking questions around the challenge is the key to starting the process. Asking why, what if, why not. These questions bread concepts that have the potential to revolutionize your creativity challenge. Josh shows you how to build a creativity brief consisting of: Overview, History, Objective, Deliverables, Target Audience, Timeline, Client and Budget. Looking at all of these areas and questioning everything is critical to the “Asking” stage. The key is to drive curiosity and awareness.

2. Prepare – People learn through a combination of Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic mechanisms. They key to preparing is to foster all learning environments. The biggest challenge to overcome in the prepare stage is to eliminate barriers. How many times have you shared an idea and the knee jerk response is – “That will not work for us?” Developing a culture to express creativity with no consequences is the goal of the prepare step as well as doing things like: eliminating groupthink, changing the environment, discovering what you are not and fostering free communication. 

3. Discover – Looking through a different lens is a great way to discover ideas. A simple example of this is to describe the ocean from a scientist’s point of view, artist’s point of view, surfer’s point of view etc. When you do this, you will see a bunch of different angles to tackle the creative challenge. Another discovery technique is to invert. Billion Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) is a huge proponent of inversion. Looking at the problem in its opposite state reveals new insights. Legendary martial artist, Ed Parker created a whole concept of motion by watching Muhammad Ali fights in reverse.

Ignite and Launch are numbers 4 and 5, but you'll have to read the book if you want the inside scoop on those.

"Disciplined Dreaming" is packed with great ideas on how to foster creativity in your enterprise. Even if you work for yourself, you can garner great ideas from the book. Josh is very creative in his methods and I have an affinity after reading the book because his business, like mine is located in Detroit, Michigan. 

One thing you can take away from this book is mind dumping. Each day schedule 15 minutes when you are most energetic and mind dump ideas on a pad of paper. Simply write around concepts and problems that you are trying to solve and don’t discriminate. This habit will force your brain to provide you with alternatives to issues that need a creative resolution.