Category Archives: Personal

Are You Asking the Right Questions?

2015 again holds a high degree of uncertainty for CEOs

Deja vu?

You’re racing to the end of another calendar year and, guess what?  For a CEO, this one ends just like the last!  Not the details, of course, but you’ve been here before when it comes to the overall uncertainty about the business environment.

The U.S. economy has experienced its fastest 6-months growth in the past ten years, and yet the rest of the world economy looks much less sanguine, and many are concerned about how this may affect the U.S. economy.

On the national political scene we will have both a Republican House and  a Republican Senate come the New Year, and yet the most credible voices are predicting that gridlock in Washington will continue.

Technology continues its relentless advance, providing new tools for operational efficiencies; and yet it simultaneously confounds and frustrates most of us when it comes to marketing and the “promise” of social media.

With regard to finance, the business bankers are speaking more sweetly, but their banks are still behaving like the man who offers you an umbrella when the sun is shining but can’t seem to find one for you when it’s raining.

This uncertainty is nothing new to you!  A CEO deals with it, planning for it and managing through it.  But the real rub for most CEOs is on the personal side.  With the holidays upon us, and with the end of another year at hand, I encourage you to ponder:

  • Are you having any fun?
  • Are you making money?
  • Are you becoming more skillful at something?
  • Are you generally headed toward your destination, toward your vision?

Underlying these questions is the really big one: “How ARE you??”  That is, how are you doing intellectually, physically, and spiritually?

Do yourself a favor. Find a few minutes, no later than January 1st, to answer this question, in writing:  Indeed, how the heck are you?

 

Specifically, address your intellectual state, physical state, and spiritual state.  Then commit to taking actions that will result in progress in one, two, or all three areas in 2015.  After you’ve done this, go back to those four questions regarding fun, money, skills, and vision, and take a crack at them. It’s a great way to clean out the cobwebs and launch your next twelve-month journey.

I wish you the very best in the New Year!

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Family Business Best Practices

The CEO of a family business must deal with an added layer of complexity to the challenges of running a successful enterprise.

Family Businessmen

I recently facilitated a meeting of five business owners, all of whom lead a business with other family members involved. They were gathered to share best (and worst) practices based on their own experiences. The discussion focused on bringing the next generation into the business, and preparing them to take the helm. Here are the most significant truths that emerged:

  • The next-generation family member should start out “mopping the floors”. They need to earn the respect of other employees.
  • Establish the discipline from Day One of differentiating between “talking business” as employer-employee, and “talking personal” as mother-son.
  • A young family member in their teens entering the business, even on a part time basis, creates special challenges. Their lack of real-world work experience makes it harder for them to understand the necessary separation between family and business relationships.
  • They need exposure, over time, to all areas of the business. Ascertain whether the organization can compensate for their weaknesses and allow them to play to their strengths if and when they assume the leadership position. Be willing to accept the fact that they may not be cut out to eventually run the business.
  • You must manage your expectations, which may be distorted because you are personally close to the family member. Allow them to surprise or disappoint you, and make necessary adjustments to your expectations and plans as they do.
  • Differentiate between compensation and business ownership. Compensate based on contribution to business results. Allocate ownership based on any family considerations you deem to be fair.

Running a business is challenging. Leading a family business adds another layer of complexity which only family business owners can fully appreciate.

Driving or Being Driven?

The CEO who understands motivation is more likely to be successful as both a leader and individual performer.

Understanding Intrinsic Motivation

“I don’t know why, but I have no motivation right now to do anything with my business!”  I occasionally hear these words or something very similar from CEO clients.  Where does the motivation go?  How does a business owner get that “Mo” back?

Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, offers some research and some suggestions, specifically regarding intrinsic motivation.  He emphasizes that for those “right brain undertakings – those that demand flexible problem-solving, inventiveness, or conceptual understanding –“, extrinsic motivation doesn’t really work.  It has to come from within.  “Those right brain undertakings” account for a heavy portion of the most important work performed by a business owner/CEO.

This leads to the question of what fosters intrinsic motivation in most humans.  Pink’s conclusion is that it depends on “three nutrients”:

  1. Autonomy over task, time, technique and team
  2. A belief that Mastery is possible – that one can really get better at doing something
  3. Purpose – a belief that what they are doing really matters

Understanding this as CEO might lead to your becoming a great manager.  A deliberate examination of how each is affecting your own current motivation might also open a path to self-invigoration.

A New Season

CEOs need to recognize their need for an occasional spring training and to make the most of it

A tool from my past

I’m a baseball fan and the start of a new season is always exciting.  In addition to my interest in the sport, spring training reminds me of a business parallel – a comparison to a business in the mode of re-starting, or re-engineering, or resurrection.  Two of the qualities you want to see in your baseball team during spring training are: Hunger and Health.  Likewise, if you are leading a business with the potential for improvement, it would be good if you are also both hungry and healthy. Continue reading

Resolved to Grow

CEO New Year's Resolutions

My “Resolutions”

A new year is launched and they’re at it again – telling us we need to formulate our New Year’s Resolutions.  I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions (except…well… see below).  But it occurred to me that this resolution concept might be useful in dealing with the challenge of the first step in the strategic planning process – articulating your vision.

Yesterday I sent to my family members a list of my seven “resolutions” for 2012.  These were not goals – i.e., they were not specific and measurable in the manner of good business goals.  Rather, they were direction-setting commitments.  For example, number 3 was “to be increasingly creative in what I do.” Continue reading