Blog Post Cover: Business Operations Professional People Skills

We’re continuing our look at Marcus Whitney’s Book Create and Orchestrate by examining what it means to have a strong sense of business operations.

If you missed any of the previous posts, don’t worry, links are at the bottom.

At its core, the purpose of operations is the indefatigable elimination of risk in the business.*

The Structure Of Business

The United States has a dizzying array of tax codes, legal standards, and licensing requirements for businesses. I’m not a tax professional, and I understand very little about the different structures and benefits to each different type of business entity.

What I do understand, however, is risk mitigation and people management.

Yes, creating the right entity matters.

Of course, you need to have insurance, file the proper paperwork, and utilize the right tax incentives.

But above all, it’s the measure of people’s development, conflict resolution, and personal investment that really shapes the future of your business.

Effective Business Operations Includes Substantial People Development

Years ago, I was coaching an individual that often touted his own leadership capabilities. He was convinced that both his ideas and his methods were right. It came as an absolute shock then when he was passed over for a promotion.

To hear that he didn’t play well with others, handled criticism poorly, and was developing a negative reputation in the organization truly came as a surprise to him.

Early on he expressed his anger and frustration. Everyone else’s inability to see his greatness was offensive. It was then that I asked him a fundamental question about his leadership. Blog Post Cover: Business Operations Professional People Skills

“Great leaders produce more leaders. Who are other people you’ve developed that would identify you as their main source of influence?”

He sat in silence for several minutes, ultimately unable to come up with a single name.

He was slowly beginning to realize the difference between ordering others with tasks and leading people effectively.

To his credit, he took the insight seriously and began to change. His method and approach to interacting with others improved greatly. He led his team more effectively and radically improved his leadership capabilities. As a result, his overall business operations improved. His happier (and more well-developed people) made for a better culture, which made for a better customer experience. Everyone won.

Your Key Three Takeaways

To effectively grow your business operations and, as a result, your overall business, you must, as they say, play well with others. Ultimately it will all come down to how well you invest in the people and culture of your organization. Here are three things for you to practice this week:

1.) Think Through the HR Logistics

One of the reasons businesses call me is because they sense that a change is needed in their HR policies. People are leaving. Customers are unhappy. Turnover is high. What’s going on? Most times, the business owner hires an employee but then stops the conversation. Outside of the occasional business meeting, there is little to no talk of promotion, a pay raise, or leadership development. If this is you, your business operations are in need of a serious overhaul. Start with people. End with people. Develop people at every step along the way. Think through those logistical questions and treat your employees with respect, trust, and goodwill. It goes farther than you think.

If you’d like some help with this, feel free to email me and we’ll set up a time to talk.

2.) Praise Publicly – Criticize Privately.

I almost wrote, “Don’t criticize.” It’s not that people don’t need to hear good, constructive feedback, it’s that it’s so often done poorly. Coach your people through problems. This gives them the opportunity to listen and learn from their mistakes by applying critical thinking to their own actions. The most effective way to change behavior is through good, insightful coaching.

On the positive side, be generous with public praise. I once worked with an employer that openly refused to praise their employees.

“I give them a paycheck, why should I praise them for doing their job?”

The short version of that story is that employee turnover was extraordinarily high and morale was constantly low.

Praise frequently and extravagantly.

Let someone know when they do a good job.

Better yet, make sure others know it as well.

3.) Win Relationships, Not Arguments

Several years ago, mired in a personal conflict with someone else, I learned a very harsh reality: If I win the argument but lose the relationship, I’ve lost everything.

I’m sad to say that I lost everything. My moments of weakness, poor leadership, and even worse conflict resolution ability cost me a friendship and ultimately a job. As a person in charge of business operations, this decision haunts me.

From that moment on, I was determined to never let it happen again. Since then, I’ve never been disappointed. Even when it means swallowing my pride or allowing the other person to be right (even if factually I am) it’s always been worth the extra effort and energy to win the relationship.

As a business owner or other leader, be sure to win relationships. With your employees, your customers, your superiors, and your community. Sacrifice the idol of always needing to be right and instead work towards always needing to be loving. Demonstrate grace, compassion, and empathy as a leader.Create and Orchestrate Book Cover

Eight Core Concepts

This list is updated as the blog series continues. Click on any live link to go to that post in the series.

  1. Leadership
  2. Finance
  3. Operations
  4. Growth
  5. Product
  6. Service
  7. Sales
  8. Marketing

*  Whitney, Marcus. Create and Orchestrate: The Path to Claiming Your Creative Power from an Unlikely Entrepreneur (p. 69). Creative Power. Kindle Edition.

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Over the weekend, my eight-year-old wrote a story. It centers on Kaid and Bob and their experience in a typhoon. Like any good story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. There’s conflict, dialogue, character progression, a climax, and resolution. In ten pages, all handwritten and illustrated, he took the reader on a pretty spectacular journey. 

He was so dedicated to it, he spent almost all day Sunday putting the finishing touches on it. After he read it to me, you could see the pride beaming from his face. He felt accomplished. He knew he had done something hard, and seen the positive results from it.

More than that, it was actually a really well-written story. He’s clearly got a good grasp of what makes a story compelling and has started the long process of mastering it ahead of him.

I’m extraordinarily proud of him.

It also reminded of something we often forget ourselves.

What’s Your Story?

You are in the midst of a story.

Blog Post Cover with text overlay: "What Your Story?"

Right here.

Right now.

You are telling the world something about you.

2020 has been hard. Devastating for many. A huge setback at best and the fear of final failure at worse.

But your story isn’t over yet.

You get to author the end.

It can feel daunting. I get it.

I know you feel overwhelmed. Totally understandable.

I know you wonder about your business, your relationships, your family. That’s what great leaders do.

But I also know …. you got this.

Reframing The Possibilities

Recently, I had several conversations with individuals exploring coaching before the end of the year. 

One, a young twenty-something female was worried about her kids. The other, a late-career professional staring at the end of his working career both began the same way: “Justin, 2020 really messed me up.”

One had their whole career in front of them. The other only had a few years left before retirement. Both were worried that 2020 proved to be the end.

It’s helpful in these moments to remember that you own the rights to your story. You are the star. In the main drama that unfolds over your life, you are the lead actor, executive producer, and director. You have an incredible amount of power to dictate where your life goes.

I hope you find that liberating. Far from being over, your story is only just beginning. 2020 is not the end, it is a new beginning.

In my son’s story, the friends were displaced from their homes by a natural disaster. By the end of the book, they were off trying to find a new place to live.

Your story may be similar. Your life, your business, your family, your income, your routine has been displaced. You are working from home where you balance kids, a spouse, work, Zoom, a distanced social life, walking the dog, chores, and some quality downtime. 

That’s why I firmly believe that now is the best time for you to seize this opportunity and do something great.

Do Something Great

So what’s your story going to be?

There are 13 weeks left in 2020.

87 days.

2,100 hours.

126,209 minutes.

7,572,500 seconds.

Each one of those is precious.

Embedded within each is the chance to reclaim your life. You now have the opportunity to seize this moment, do something great, and transform your life.

Your day is over.

This month has just begun.

Your story hasn’t ended.

The plot may have shifted, but greatness is still in front of you.

Rise up, warrior, and seize this day. Reclaim your story. Rewrite your legacy.

Do something great.

 

To celebrate the release of my new book, I’m giving away copies for a limited time. To receive your free copy, plus my free 5 day course on productivity, click this link.

Carpenter staring into camera with title imposed text

There is one big difference maker to extraordinary business growth. As shops open back up, our favorite eateries allow for a dine-in option, and mom and pop shops across the country emerge from COVID, there is no doubt that the world has changed.

We’re all asking questions like, “Who’s left?” And, “Who can I trust?” In a world that has gone crazy quickly, much of 2020 feels like a blur.

High-Achievers and performers know how to adapt and overcome. Small business owners looking to pivot need to capture one vital truth: things will never be the same. So what are we all to do?

There is one big difference maker that will propel us to greater growth.

I made this video to help you understand the concept.

One Big Difference Maker

 

I titled the video How To Grow Your Business In Any Economy and it’s a truthful video. But the truth applies to more than just business growth.

Lead your family.

Give back to your community.

Engage in your own development.

Volunteer at your place of worship.

It doesn’t matter where you invest your time, this truth still applies: developing people is the greatest thing you can do with your time.

Developing others shows concern for those being invested in. However, it also enhances the customer experience and gives the developer a feeling of joy. When we invest in others, everyone wins.

Giving Back

Zig Ziglar once said, “The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave is not to train them and have them stay.” And despite how much people may complain about more training or education at work, studies reveal that they actually enjoy it.

Because we all know that given the choice between staying the same (and losing our joy) or growing (and finding life) we will all choose growth. We all desire to know, do, be, and become more. Carpenter staring into camera with title imposed text

In all my years and experience of coaching and consulting, I’ve never once known a person who regretted getting better. We make a commitment. Then we see growth. Finally we see progress.

Never knock progress.

Making Time

One way I’ve changed my vocabulary is how I see time. I’ve given up on the phrase, “I don’t have time.” Why? Because I’ve noticed that if it’s really important to me, it seems to happen. Instead, I ask a question like, “Am I willing to make the time to fit this into my calendar?” If it is, I schedule it. However, if I’m unwilling, then I just admit it. “I can’t do that at this time, I’m unwilling to make the time commitment needed.” I’ve found it’s actually very freeing and people are generally understanding.

If we wait for employee development, engaged parenting, committed volunteering, or any other format of self and other development to happen “until we have time,” it will never happen.

Instead, choose to make time. Give back. Love generously. Develop consistently. It’s the greatest thing you can do with your time and the one skill you need for continued success.

Picture of Lincoln Statue memorial with superimposed text, "Unquestionable Commitment"

Even as a young child, Abraham Lincoln was a person of unquestionable commitment.

As the story goes, he would sit in his parent’s parlor late at night listening to the conversation the adults were having. At the conclusion of the evening, he would go upstairs to his room. Instead of getting going to bed, he would instead pace his bedroom replaying the conversation. It bothered him that there were parts of the conversation he didn’t understand.

So he would replay it in his head. Over and over. Analyzing every detail until it made sense. Finally content, he could go to bed.

That was a skill that would serve him his entire life.

He became a lawyer because he understood the facts of the case better than anyone else, analyzing the details meticulously.

Widely regarded as one of the great orators of all time, he acquired that skill through his commitment to understand and effectively use words.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was no tactician. His peers included highly regarded West Point graduates and brilliant generals of considerable experience. Yet by the end of the Civil War, he was on par with any them when it came to military strategy. In fact, it was his policy that eventually won the war when adopted by Ulysses Grant.

In all matters of importance, Lincoln dedicated himself to study, master, and unquestionable commitment.

Our Own Leadership

Much could be said about this level of commitment to our own leadership. At least one report acknowledges that upwards of 49% of employees are disengaged, while another eighteen percent are “actively disengaged.”

Our people, those we have been called to lead, are showing up work in larger and larger numbers disengaged from the work they have been given.

The trend is troubling.

It needs to change.

Change starts with us.

What does our own leadership journey look like? Are we actively engaged in personal our own growth? Do we display the same level of unquestionable commitment that Lincoln did? Picture of Lincoln Statue memorial with superimposed text, "Unquestionable Commitment"

Lincoln spent time preparing. Whatever the circumstance or situation, he gave it his full attention. He committed himself to personal mastery and improving the outcome.

Change, personally and organizationally, starts in the mind of the leader. Our mindset, the way we approach not just our day but our every task will determine our ultimate outcome in life.

Those that watch us: family, friends, co-workers, direct reports, all will observe our actions and level of engagement and respond accordingly.

When our words and our actions don’t line up, they will always follow our actions.

Part of what we work on in the coaching relationship is showing up fully present. All areas of our lives must be accounted for. This means we pay attention to the following areas of health: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, relational, and financial. When we show up, fully present, fully engaged, and unquestionably committed, we see great things happen.

Three Tips For Leaders

When you’re ready to bring an unquestionable commitment to all aspects of life, it can feel like a daunting task. To help you on that journey, here are things to do today that can start you on that journey.

1.) Eliminate Distraction

One of the greatest wastes of time and energy is mental distraction. Emails. Phone calls. Text message. Phone notifications. We live in a world that prides itself on distraction. Eliminate them. Close your email application. Silence your phone. Turn off notifications. Better yet, put your phone in another room for a full sixty minutes. Give the task at hand 100 percent of your focus. High-achievers always operate by this principle and it’s what allows them to get so much done in so little time.

2.) Focus On Strength.

When interacting with fellow employees or direct reports, focus on their strengths. As Don Clifton revealed in his StrengthsFinder book, the chances of being ‘actively disengaged’ in work drops to 1% when we focus on our strengths. Eliminate distraction. Then, focus on strengths. This is true for your own, and those of your employees. Improve performance and by focusing on strengths.

3.) Expect Mastery

Expecting mastery is different than expecting perfection. We don’t expect perfection. We do expect progress. From ourselves, our employees, and from those we lead. Create a plan for intentional growth. Make it clear and compelling. Then make it inspiring and motivating. Expect to master a subject. In short, you gain unquestionable commitment by practicing unquestionable commitment.

 

Eye-Opening

The jarring blare of the alarm pries your eye-lids open and rips you into the land of the living.

What’s your first instinct?

The snooze button or the bounding first leap of a new baby gazelle?

Is your first thought, “Why me?” or “Why wait any longer?”

The way we set our mind first thing determines the much of the rest of the day.

Richard Whatley once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

Our mindset at the outset of the day determines our outcome. Whether we choose to attack the day or begrudgingly back into it determines how much we will get done.

And this has nothing to do with being a morning person or a night owl (but shout out to all my fellow morning people!).

Instead, it has everything to do with what we purpose in our hearts as valuable and worth investing in.

Our morning rituals have the chance to shape our souls, our character, our potential, and our enjoyment in life.

Habits on Purpose

Anyone who has worked with me knows we spend a lot of time talking about “habits on purpose.” Our morning rituals are no exception. Many of us waste large sections of our mornings instead of intentionally crafting them to serve us and help us reach our goals.

Two scenarios, which sounds more like you (be honest!):

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whatley

Option 1:

The alarm goes off. After snoozing the alarm a time or two, you begrudgingly get out of bed. Saunter down to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. After waiting for it to brew, you put on the television, drink the cup of coffee, and pray for “a few moments of quiet.” The (real) problem is not that these moments aren’t quiet. Instead, it’s that they aren’t productive or stimulating. After an hour of television and another cup of coffee (or two), you manage to scrounge up a quick (and mostly unhealthy) breakfast, rush out the door, only to wait in traffic on the way to work. You spend the rest of the morning wondering how you’re going to fit in everything you have to do.

After work, you might rush off to the gym, if you’re feeling up to it, stagger in the door, and eat a quick bite of dinner with your family. Some more television, and on the good days a few pages of light reading before a late-night Netflix series as you pass out into bed.

The weekends, only somewhat different. Instead of filling your days with work, it’s full of a week’s worth of overlooked errands and obligations. By the time Sunday ends, you dread the thought of going back to work, still tired, still behind, and still wondering where all your time went.

Option 2:

The alarm goes off, but you were already stirring. Gently awakening from a good nights sleep, you quietly make your way to the kitchen. After drinking twenty ounces of water to rehydrate your body, you then make a small cup of coffee and tip-toe into the den. Here, you engage in thirty minutes of intentionally designed habits that give you life and direction. Scripture reading and prayer, meditation, yoga, and a good personal development book are frequent habits. After that, you sneak off to the gym for a good thirty-minute sweat session. You return home just as the rest of the family is waking up. You’re fully awake, charged up, and ready to attack the day. You enjoy a good, nutritious breakfast with your family before heading off to work with purpose and conviction.

After work, you are still awake enough to get a few critical errands done, work on your side hustle, and enjoy another meal with your family. After dinner, you enjoy a myriad of activities together: movies, books, chess, or sports. Whatever it is, you’re excited by the purpose and direction you’ve given your life.

The weekends are similar. They are intentionally designed, purpose-driven, and leave you excited for another week to grow, learn, and serve new people.

Morning Rituals

I’m guessing you identify with one of these stories.

I identify with both.

For years, I would have firmly placed myself in option one. My life was chaotic, disorganized, and I was “average” (at best).

After intentionally taking steps to counter this drift, seeking out some great coaches, and getting a grip on my life and my purpose, I now find myself firmly in option two.

The difference along the way for me has been a lot of intentional habits and disciplines, specifically and most importantly, my morning rituals.

Now, they’re far from perfect. Right now, my morning habits are really broken up into to separate blocks. That’s the status of my work life right now. Eventually, it will happen in one chunk as I sense that will work the best for me.

So while I may not have my “ideal” calendar of morning rituals in place, I do have a target. I know what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, I’m like the boy learning archery who shot an arrow and then ran over to pain the bullseye around it. Instead, I want to know what the target is and then put all of my effort and talent into hitting it every time.

Below are the habits of my morning ritual and roughly how much time I spend on each one.

  • 20oz of water within ten minutes of waking up
  • 1 cup of coffee
  • Bible Reading and Prayer (10-15 Minutes)
  • Personal Development Book (15-20 Minutes)
  • Exercise (45 minutes)

Within the first 90 minutes of my day, I have exercised my body, brain, and spiritual muscles. I have found that this gives me focus, intensity, and purpose to my days. I’m still tweaking exactly how to flow from one activity to the next more smoothly but would love to hear from you.

What are your morning rituals?
What are your daily habits and routines?
How are you using your time to intentionally invest in bettering yourself at the start of the day?

Comment below!