Sunday, June 27, 2010

Outstanding Leaders Are . . . Leadership Is . . . Not Management.

"Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel.
If people believe in themselves, it's amazing what they can accomplish."

-- Sam Walton

Leadership is much more of an art, a belief, a condition of the heart,
than a set of things to do. The visible signs of artful leadership
are expressed, ultimately, in its practice."

-- Max DePree

Leaders are so different than managers. I have seen and experienced a lot of managers, but very few leaders. A leader cares, a manager dares. Essentially, a leader says, 'come, follow me!' and a manager says, 'I hired you to get this job done.' There is a world of difference between these.

Most managers that I have met and experienced did not really seem to care about people; instead, they cared only about results, filling the schedule, getting things done--in other words: tasks. They must have bought that old (old and very tired. . .) adage that management is getting things done through other people. I've seen these managers put people on schedules that are hard on their family life and in the end it decreases performance dramatically too. I've seen them command high expectations of performance, yet do very little, or ineffective training. Many of these managers were themselves untrained and skilled.

What the employees are really looking and hoping for is a manager who is also a leader. This person is someone who does care how many hours the employee is working because he or she is thinking long term and wanting healthy, happy employees. This leader understands how important the family life is to the longevity of their employees and the progressive realization of their own goals. This leader does effective training and is ensuring that the employees have the skills necessary to be able to make decisions that are in the best interests of the customer and the company. This person allows and rewards success while building character. Too many managers are focused on what is wrong, where leaders are focused on what is right and what works and how to make that better. It is a positive focus rather than a negatively oriented one. Huge difference.

A leader can leave for a period and the business will stay on course. This is not true with many managers I've known. Those managers would rarely leave because they couldn't let go of their 'control.' In reality, when they leave, the business does not thrive. What a world of difference that can be.

For you managers who think I might be talking about you, I recommend studying leadership. A great place to start is one of my favorite leadership books by one of the people whose quote I used above: Max DePree. The book is titled appropriately, Leadership Is An Art. He had a follow up book to that called Leadership Jazz. Any of Harvey Mackay's books are very good. Jeffrey Gitomer's books focus on sales in general, but really they are about leadership and I highly recommend them all, especially Customer Satisfaction Is Worthless, Customer Loyalty Is Priceless. I have a long list and each is excellent. Dive in anywhere and get thoroughly whetted. It will change not only your life, but all those in your management circle.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Who Needs A Deadline. . . It Will Take As Long As It Takes!

"Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."

-- C Northcote Parkinson

Ain't it the truth! You know, I am sure that procrastination must rely on this truth, for without it, there would be no time left to procrastinate.

Think about it. We put off decisions (work) by having loads of time available. If we shorten the available time, the decision would have to be made. Why should it take three weeks to decide on something that you know in your heart is already decided, yet just wanting to make sure it is the right decision fills the time. So many times the decision inside is done in a very short time frame. We know what we like, don't like and what works and doesn't work for us. Moving forward makes perfect sense, but we still have time left on the meter and we do want to make sure of. . . .something. It can't be this easy, can it?

I've been taught that super successful people are quick to decide and very slow to change their mind. How else could someone manage a large corporation, or other such project. Decision making becomes an art and it is something practiced daily on many levels. They must set arbitrary deadlines for the decision, so they can just get on with the workload. Makes perfect sense.

Here's to paying attention to the time we give ourselves to get things done, or to decide to get things done. It might make a major difference in our lives. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That's Just The Way We Do Things Around Here. . .

"The problem with most failing businesses is not that their owners don't know enough about finance, marketing, management, and operations--they don't, but those things are easy enough to learn--but they spend their time and energy defending what they think they know. My experience has shown me that the people who are exceptionally good in business aren't so because of what they know but because of their insatiable need to know more."

-- Michael Gerber

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dare To Be Naive!

"Dare to be naive."

-- Buckminster Fuller

I'm naive about a number of things, and I don't have the slightest problem with it. It is a risk I am happy to accept and take. Some people find this hard to believe, but I don't care. It really doesn't matter what they think, so that makes it easy.

I'm not naive about everything. I've been around a while and seen the way a lot of things work and know the methods and protocol in many things. Still, I think being naive about other things is exciting and makes my life much more interesting. I have something to learn and I'm willing to learn it as I go. There is great power in knowing that I don't need to know everything.

I'm naive about my business. That's one of the best things about it. I am learning something every day and I learn it from other people, business partners, clients, the Internet--a wide variety of methods. I find joy in that learning.

I was naive about starting a website/Internet marketing business. I still am. It's the best thing that could have happened because, frankly, if I would have known more, I might not have made the move. And, I'm so glad I did, but I had to figure it out and this is the power for me, because we have figured out some pretty cool things that really set us apart from the crowded Internet services marketplace.

It is my innocence or naivete that keeps me moving forward and allows me to be open to learn from anyone who decides to teach--especially experience by trying things and brainstorming and inspiration. Indeed, it is my naivete that helps me find more inspiration every day.

Yes, I dare to be naive and I find joy in it too. Try it. You might find it beneficial as well.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Positive Attention, Respect and Productivity

"The simple act of paying positive attention to people
has a great deal to do with productivity."

-- Thomas J Peters & Robert H Waterman, Jr.

"If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more
effective in helping them to become better than they are."

-- John W Gardner
It is amazing what a difference positive attention is to people who you might work with. The difference is everything to me and I have proven the premise over and over again as a long-time manager of sales teams.
It is interesting to watch some managers and how they try to manipulate people rather than encourage them. It reminds me of an angry mother who is punishing her children because they are behaving like children. Some managers will force excessive training meetings because they need the training, but that rarely, if ever, produces the results desired originally. Having people on opposite shifts come in to do training, then go back home, then come to work is more along the lines of discouragement, than encouragement. The focus is all on what they are doing wrong and the fact that they need to do it right and so "we will train them and train them and train them until they get it!" Dream on. They aren't the ones who need to get it.
We have to have more respect for people than this. Just because we hired them and they needed a job, doesn't give us the right to treat them poorly. Here's a different and better perspective: If there is a long-term failing person on your staff, it is the fault of the one who hired them, not the employee. One of the best things I've ever learned is this: The purpose of training is to find out who you have. Think about that fully. It is powerfully true.
Finding the right people--the best fit for the whole organization, is the best objective. So many times, I see companies hire someone who is never getting any better. That's not human nature, that's something entirely different. They're doing it because they need the job, or they're bored, or something else, but it surely isn't because they love their job. They would grow if that were the case.
And just because someone has been held over year after year, doesn't make them a valuable employee. If it is determined they don't fit well, I'm confident this won't change any time soon, so the best thing is to find a suitable replacement--and see what can be done to help the less than valuable employee find work elsewhere. If you kept them around failing, accept some responsibility of helping them find as smooth a transition to gainful employment elsewhere as you can.
When I hear managers talking about how bad their employees are and do nothing about it except complain or keep trying to "train it into them," it makes me ill. It is the management, not the employee in every case I can think of. I've been at fault myself. That's how I learned.
Treating people with respect is just as much a factor in an employer and employee relationship as any other, and it should be obvious how this positive attention is a natural at increasing and solidifying productivity.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Confidence Building Leader Is A Linchpin

"Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence in seeing how you react.
If you're in control, they're in control."

-- Tom Landry

In my travels, I have worked for a good number of business owners, managers, and supervisors who would like to think of themselves as leaders. To me, leader is not a default title for someone who is "the boss," the supervisor, manager, president, owner, CEO, COO, chairman, or any other business title. To me, leadership is an earned title and I have huge respect for those who earn it.

When I saw this quote, immediately my mind went to a number of so-called leaders who did nothing to build confidence and in fact, created the opposite. One that jumped out at me was a successful auto dealer who would go to a "dealer 20" group meeting and come back with "the next great move" toward far grander success. Then, a week or two weeks later, that huge change in procedure had evaporated and things were back to "normal." No confidence in his lack of confidence.

Then, another one popped in my head, where style was always much more important than substance. Style dictated where the money was spent and although it did look good, it was almost useless in so many cases.

Another (actually, several) "leader" would over-react to the most trivial of things and go "flying off the handle" spouting cuss words, accusations, idiotic statements and the like. I've even seen this in front of customers. These people should be restrained, or banished to work in an computerized warehouse in the valley away from any important people, like customers and employees.

What builds confidence in, and elevates a person to the Leader title is not a mistake-free demeanor, but one that inspires others to feel good about themselves and to feel good about the company they are working with. This person is human and will make mistakes. It is impossible to live without them. This person is always looking to build people up that they come in contact with. You don't hear them putting people down. They love people and they know that people is their business. They learn to provide much more value than they extract in attention, energy or expertise. Everyone who works with them or for them, comes away as having been better for the experience. The Leader is respected and wherever this person goes, the title Leader follows them because of who they are as a person, not what they do or where they work or what their other title may or may not be.

I celebrate and lift up the Leaders all over the world. As Seth Godin, in his newly released, and most excellent book, Linchpin, promotes, "The linchpin insists on making a difference, on leading, on connecting with others and doing something I call art. The linchpin is the indispensable one, the one the company can’t live without. This is about humanity, not compliance."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Banished To Foolishdom. Thank God!

"Never offend people with style,
when you can offend them with substance."

-- Sam Brown

I've studied a wide variety of people, alive and dead physically. In that study, I have learned a great deal and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the learning.

Recently, as I have done several times in the past, I quoted Anthony Robbins, aka, Tony Robbins of self-help fame and I was told that this is a serious mistake because he is a "has-been" and has stooped so low as to sell his wares on QVC. Of course, from a business perspective, if you're going on QVC, you have to do volume, or they wouldn't let you on there, so it is a logical place to do some one time or even oft time volume sales. I was told that to associate my writing with his name would banish me to foolishdom and that I could never be taken seriously as a result. Thank God!

Of course, it has nothing to do with QVC's status, or QVC at all. It doesn't really even have anything to do with Anthony Robbins, but what he does for a living. Some call him "the self-help guru," I've also heard other things, but to me, it only matters what I think about him and what he does.

I have the highest respect for Anthony Robbins. I have learned a great deal from him and I am very grateful for that. So many of the people who have something negative to say about him have never read one of his books, never attended a seminar or workshop, and in fact, know nothing of substance about him and his teachings. I think that is very interesting. And shallow. I, however, have read two of his most popular books, and one is in my top ten list, "Awaken the Giant Within." I've attended a weekend seminar that included walking on a bed of hot coals. Very interesting event and easily one of the most powerful and strange things I've ever done. I've also listened to many of his tape sets and I enjoyed the Personal Power series. My favorite is the Fire walk weekend and the Awaken book. What I have paid is a pittance compared to what value I felt I have received.

Sometimes people might look for style and miss the substance. I'm often offended with style, but rarely offended by substance and certainly not in this case. Thanks Tony!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

We Welcome Safe Side Security Inc To Our Trend Setter Package of Services!

Upward Trend is thrilled to announce our latest Trend Setter Package client, Safe Side Security, Inc. of Woodland, CA. Safe Side Security is an exciting addition to our rapidly growing client list for our completely redesigned Internet Marketing business. Their package will include an updated, expanded and improved website, blog, email newsletter, social networking, search engine optimization and more and these features will be updated and expanded every month. See their website we built for them last year at

Since we announced the Trend Setter Package in April, here is the growing list of clients with this valuable service:

Safe Side Security Inc, Woodland
Larry Geweke Ford, Yuba City
Corby's Collision, Vacaville
Talk of the Town Salon, Vacaville
Duya, Inc., Vacaville
Van Hatten Writing Services, Vacaville
Green Valley Floral, Fairfield
North Bay Truck Body, Fairfield
Vaca Valley Truck & SUV, Vacaville
Tamara Hansen, Realtor, Vacaville
ServPro of Fairfield
Grindco Concrete Grinding, Sacramento
North Bay Truck Center, Fairfield
Fairfield Chevrolet-Isuzu Truck, Fairfield
Queen of Marketing, Vacaville

Find out more about this awesome and very inexpensive package of services, see our new website at

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Upper Management 101: Don't Manage The Management

"Don't hire a dog, and then bark yourself."

-- David Ogilvy

Hey, any of you managers out there. . . yes, you! Can any of you relate to this hilarious and all-to-truthful quote? Been hired as a manager and then micro-managed by the owner or executive manager that just can't seem to learn the concept of letting people do their job? Been there, done that, and it ain't a bit of fun. In fact, it is more like torture. They could save a whole layer of management by doing it all themselves!

Here's a favorite quote by General George S Patton: "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." On the surface, this might seem like mediocre advice, but I think it is absolutely brilliant.

We are all creatures of our habit and our learning to date and so, we know what we know that we know, and maybe we venture out of town just a mile or two, but generally, we stay pretty close to home as a rule. Yet, bring in an out-of-towner and there may be all sorts of foreign ideas and procedures that you haven't seen. Of course, it is natural to have many of them be instantly rejected. You know the drill: 'That's not the way we do it around here! We've always done it this way and we've been successful, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it!' Of course, there is a management theory out there that says, 'break it anyway,' but you know what I'm talking about. We get stuck in our own ruts hoeing them rows and all. Busy, busy, busy.

I really like the Generals phrase, 'don't tell them how to do it, just what needs to get done.' When a company hires a sales manager to manage the sales team and then right out of the gate, they are told not to do it that way, it is sort of like pulling out a gun and shooting yourself in the leg. Then, the more that is injected into the new manager's plan of action, the more shots are fired, until finally, the company is full of holes. All kinds of holes. Enough to sink a large ship, or at least a day cruiser.

Yeah. I'm liking the idea of being left to some creativity. It has a taste to it, kind of like melted milk chocolate, or strawberry shortcake with real whipped cream, or my favorite, Mrs Fields oatmeal raisin cookies. In other words, delicious. I think it is high time we had more delicious across the whole country--or even the whole world.

Like David says, "don't hire a dog and then bark yourself." Amen to that!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Little Things Make A Faster Horse

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted,
they would have said a faster horse."

-- Henry Ford

I'm all for listening to feedback about services, products and experience, but I don't necessarily make my decisions based on that feedback. I think most of us know what we like and what we don't like as consumers of goods and services ourselves. If we then fashion our businesses around that very philosophy, I cannot see it going wrong.

Some of the things (and probably a majority of things) that affect our attitudes and feelings about a business are 'small' things. Many of those small things are commonly taken for granted. I'll give you some examples of what I mean:

  • Restrooms. It's one of my pet peeves for businesses. So many I go into have poorly maintained restrooms, even sometimes being out of paper, broken sinks, no soap, etc. Many of them are multi-million dollar businesses, yet they just don't think about the small important things. How expensive can that be to keep it up? It is expensive not to keep it up, because I choose to not do business there, so whatever it costs is a bargain. I applaud some like Starbucks, McDonald's and others who make sure this is taken care of almost every hour on the hour. I love Starbucks for that and they get a lot of my business, but I can assure you that if the restrooms weren't clean, I would stop doing business there. It is amazing how important this 'little' thing can be--and I'm more tolerant than many!

  • How the phone is answered and how the call is handled. When you want the phone to ring and then don't take extremely good care of the caller, what does that say about your business? Does it make a difference? Unquestionably. Without a doubt. Absolutely. My pet peeve here is getting voice mail when I don't want voice mail, I want to talk to a living, breathing, intelligent person. Sending people to voice mail without their consent is pure laziness and lack of care. I see big businesses blowing this as well as small businesses. Think of what money is spent to get the caller, then watch it be lit on fire as the phone is answered. Or not.

  • Respect. Don't sell them things they don't want or need. Think long term customers not short term customers. Think repeat and referral business!

  • Understanding and human courtesy. I talked with two companies and needed assistance and a solution that maybe I wasn't considering. One gave me the standard answers that I didn't need or want to hear. They quoted the rules and regulations and. . . you know, how it is here. The other, was kind, polite, understanding, even sensitive and absolutely gave me a solution that solved the problem within the hour. Guess who gets more of my business? Guess who I tell? Everyone!
The Golden Rule is not dead. It is alive and well and it is still the best method personally or in business. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Offer products that you will buy. Provide services that you want to have. Create the experience that you want to have. Create innovation to continually improve and expand to offer and do more on behalf of your customers. A successful formula in any business.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Our Newest Trend Setter Package Client: Larry Geweke Ford

Upward Trend is thrilled to announce our latest Trend Setter Package client, Larry Geweke Ford Commercial Truck/Fleet Department led by Paul Brown. Larry Geweke Ford is an exciting addition to our rapidly growing client list for our completely redesigned Internet Marketing business. Their package will include an updated website, blog, email newsletter, social networking, search engine optimization and more and these features will be updated and expanded every month. Look out world, Paul Brown is hitting the Internet running!

Since we announced the Trend Setter Package in April, here is the growing list of clients with this valuable service:
  • Larry Geweke Ford, Yuba City
  • Corby's Collision, Vacaville
  • Talk of the Town Salon, Vacaville
  • Duya, Inc., Vacaville
  • Van Hatten Writing Services, Vacaville
  • Green Valley Floral, Fairfield
  • North Bay Truck Body, Fairfield
  • Vaca Valley Truck & SUV, Vacaville
  • Tamara Hansen, Realtor, Vacaville
  • ServPro of Fairfield
  • Grindco Concrete Grinding, Sacramento
  • North Bay Truck Center, Fairfield
  • Fairfield Chevrolet-Isuzu Truck, Fairfield
  • Queen of Marketing, Vacaville
Find out more about this awesome and very inexpensive package of services, see our new website at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Keep Your Eyes Ahead Of The Ball

"Microsoft has had clear competitors in the past.
It's good that we have museums to document them."

-- Bill Gates

The first time I read this quote, I chuckled. The second time, I laughed out loud. Now I just get excited. It is an awesome quote to me and effectively uses humor to make a very good point: If you're leading, there is no competition. That is the best place to be--and here's the strange, but very good news: every business can be there any time they choose.

In my limited travels, I have seen businesses that are always watching what the competition is doing. Many of them are concerned what they will do next, upset about what they are doing now, complaining about how they do what they do and trying to understand why they do it the way they do it. They compare sales numbers and/or profit numbers when they can get them. They compare buildings, personnel, what they do on the web and the list goes on and on.

Here's a great suggestion: give it up and focus all that attention on your own business. Concentrate on providing not just good service, but off-the-chart exceptional service; something the customer cannot possibly forget. Concentrate on improving products and your building and all the things a customer might touch or see.

Concentrate on the most basic communications and expand from there. For example, I know of a number of companies where the phone is handled so poorly when a call comes in, yet they ignore this and focus their time, energy and money on things that don't really make a difference. If you're trying to get the phone to ring with advertising, the Internet, or whatever, it makes perfect sense to make sure the call is handled extremely well and effectively, right? Is it? How many calls go to voice mail without any attempt to gather information manually? I know I hate getting voice mail automatically myself, so I am sure I am not alone in that.

Common courtesy, kindly thoughtful service and pleasant people will never go out of style regardless of the market. I see a lot of shift of focus to the Internet but much of it is forsaking the most basic of services.

A business without competition is the one who is focused clearly on providing effective service to customers and growing their market by being the best they can be regardless of who else is out there doing similar things. Leaders are leading.