Posts Tagged ‘Hypnosis’

Show them the numbers!

November 26, 2012

I remember standing on stage, speaking to 300 people on how difficult it is to demonstrate our hidden value.  My point was most people don’t trust what they can’t see and for us to prove our worth we have to make it visible.  I really thought I had this group convinced when one person stood up and said, “Curt, if people don’t trust what they can’t see, why does three quarters of the world believe in God?” Well, I will tell you I had a divine intervention; I looked back and said, “I think God has a better sales team!”

Think about it. There are two times in your life you adopt religion: first, you are cultured through those you trust, or second, you come to a point in your life (i.e. crisis) where you see how life would be different with God in it.  It’s now five years later and I still believe that this is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned, and I believe this simple lesson is the foundation on which powerful employee relationships are built. Employees need to see how their life will be different with you, the employer, in it and they have to see how the company’s life is different with them in it.  Employees want to appreciate what they do, and they absolutely need to know that what they do is appreciated.  So how can you make their contribution visible?  I say take the time to show them the numbers.  Let them see, first hand, how they make a difference.

When I was President of ExecuTrain Canada, I made a decision that every employee should be invited to review our corporate financial statements and learn the basics of how their involvement impacted our performance.  What happened was that we started to see employees take ownership for managing their business and making great decisions.  Even though our business was struggling, they could see how their commitment and efforts were moving us in the right direction.  For example, when the employees saw the huge amount of money we had tied up in accounts receivable, everyone made a commitment to collect the money that was rightfully ours.  Every week we reviewed the numbers, we strategized new ideas, and the employees got further excited about the difference their contribution was making.

Our business was in very bad shape. We were trying to fend off bankruptcy. But because the employees could see how their work was making a difference, we were able to keep them focused and motivated on the task at hand —  surviving.  By letting your employees see under the hood and truly understand the challenges and opportunities of the business, you can also improve morale.  When employees are not given access to information they tend to fill in the blanks on their own.  Their thinking can often be very different from reality.  This can result in employees distrusting senior management and, more importantly, distrusting what is being communicated to them.  In fact, according to a study by Discovery Surveys, just 53 percent of employees believe the information they receive from senior management.

So let me ask you, are your employees invited to participate in a financial review?  Do they understand where and how their contribution impacts the business?  Are they empowered to suggest ideas that could help to reshape the business?  I am always surprised by how many businesses keep financial performance a secret.

Stephen Semple, president of Thinc Strategies, a Toronto based management consulting firm says that employees today want to be tied to clear actionable results.  He also says employers need to minimize performance review surprises by communicating clear expectations throughout the year.  He says that surprising employees during their performance review is a great way to lose trust and deflate morale.  He wholeheartedly believes tying performance back to financial or objective business indicators is the best way to open communication.
At ExecuTrain I created a very simple one-page report that allowed our management team to see the basic business indicators all in one view.  The report contained more than just numbers. It looked at financial performance, customer metrics, employee satisfaction, business process and investments in R&D.  It contained all of the indicators against which our business performance was measured.

This month, take the time to educate your team on the numbers.  Show them clearly how they can make a difference in the business.  Create a one page scorecard that shows them these numbers.  In the end there are no surprises, and you may just be pleasantly surprised to find your employees showing more ownership and taking more responsibility.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at
www.curtskene.com

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What if this was meant to be good news?

October 25, 2012

Einstein once said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, which is the inspiration for the following question.

Many years ago my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a devastating situation with absolutely no recourse. While many of us would have gotten stuck in the pain of the situation, my brother saw things differently. He looked at the news he had been given and asked himself, “What if this was meant to be good news?” He knew he couldn’t change what had happened to him, all he could do was change how he interpreted the situation. My brother chose to believe that the cancer that had invaded his body was there for a reason. Armed with this passionate belief, my brother shared his story with everyone who would listen. He visited churches across Canada; he spoke to friends and strangers alike. He spoke of hope, awareness and the bountiful life he would lead in Heaven. He opened hearts and healed old wounds; he gave back life to people who had been dying inside! He moved countless people with his story of seeking out a greater purpose.

When my brother passed away he left as an accomplished man, someone who had lead his life with meaning and shared his pain so that others could heal in theirs. I still think today about the awesome lesson he taught us. How he looked at a devastating situation and how he asked himself, “What if this was all meant to be good news?”

Think about your own business, where could you apply this lesson? If a new competitor moves into your market space, a new technology threatens your existence or your VP of Sales resigns, how would you handle the news? Too often in most companies panic sets in, pessimism and skepticism are a natural and common reaction. However, what if instead of panic you were to look for the underlying opportunity in the cards that have been played.

For example, what if a new competitor was in fact moving into your market space? How could you turn this into good news? Here are some ideas:

You could leverage off their branding and awareness activity to build your own name.
The new competitor could cause your other competitors even more pain and distraction therefore allowing you to take an even bigger step forward?
This new competitor could help reinforce the significance of your product or your market sector therefore leading to more people wanting to buy what you sell.
You could learn new ideas, new ways of positioning and new insight from a new competitor.
A new competitor could reinforce to potential customers just how complete your solution is.
You could welcome this as a wake up call and start connecting more with your own customers.
What are some of the other possible benefits that would support the belief that a new competitor in your industry could in fact be good news?

Every company needs a strategy for turning the low points in their business into good news? What could you do to reshape your interpretation of the world as it has unfolded for you? What new beliefs could you have? Shifting your thoughts from negative to positive can give you a whole new view of the situation, a whole new perspective of what lies ahead. Shifting your thoughts can turn a negative stranglehold into an empowering view of the future!

BRAINSTORMING IDEAS

List as many ideas for the following questions …

  1. What are the current aspects of your business that you have been treating as bad news?
  2. How could you shift each of these situations to be considered good news?

Spend a few minutes and think about this, share your thoughts with others and explore the possibilities that will uncover themselves.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

Do you have a song in your heart?

September 7, 2012

This week as I prepare to take my son Jonathan to see KISS in concert I thought what a great time to talk about the power of music and the impact it can have on your life.

I have to tell you I could write a rock opera with the songs that play in my mind all the time!  Don’t laugh music is great therapy no matter what’s going on in your life.  Music can energize, sooth, motivate, stimulate, calm, strengthen, you name the emotion, music can take you there instantly!  For me, if you live with a song in your heart you always have a safe place to call home.   If you have pressure or need to prepare for an important meeting try using music to change your mood.

On days when I am speaking I am often humming “Start Me Up.”  In fact, it would be very rare for me to not wake with that song on my mind.  Music has that wonderful way of pulling you out of the moment and giving you the confidence to launch forward into a better and more powerful place. Personally, I sing all the time, not well, but I sing nonetheless.  I truly love being at the beach looking out at the water and singing at the top of my lungs.  This summer I rode my bike in the early hours listening and singing to my list of the ultimate tunes.  Everyone one has their own special relationship with music and I am here to remind you to take the time to connect with the songs in your world.   

So this month instead trying to write philosophical dribble drabble I thought I would share my philosophy in the spirit of song and share  just a few that have shaped who I am.  You can check them out on YouTube.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BruEmB7_1ok

For me, dreaming is where it all begins because if you can’t imagine your future you will never get there to enjoy it the way you want.  This song has been on my 8-track, cassette tape, record player, Walkman and I-pod since I was 15.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQN87SEXKds

I often speak of the power of reflection, just taking time to be one with your thoughts and to give yourself permission to process them and let go of those things holding you back.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19JN50bLKjY

I had the honour and great fortune to be in Australia when this song was released for the first time and became a mega hit (and Australian anthem). If you listen to the words and take them in then nothing can or will stand in your way because you truly are the voice!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xg39uu-dlo

Call me philosophical but making today a great day really is your choice.  I have a brother who died at the age of 41 who would trade with you any day if you ever lose sight with that idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHDoiG2Bax0

On one of my last days at Microsoft I said goodnight to one of the co-op students.  I never did see her again as she was killed instantly on her drive home that night.  What a bitter reminder to never take for granted the things that make you sing out loud, so kiss your kids, hug your spouse, tell a stranger something to make them smile and always remember that the things you love dearly can disappear quickly with no opportunity for a proper goodbye. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aSbKvm_mKA

Just imagine marrying the girl of your dreams, aging 22 years by her side, testing every limit you can possibly imagine and still being able to lay beside her each and every night extremely happy with the decision you made.  I still sing this song with as much passion and enthusiasm as I did on the day we married.

This is your life go sing it proud!

What if you stopped trying so hard?

September 3, 2012

The Law of Reversed Effect is very simple, it states the harder you try to force something the more difficult it becomes to do.  Simply put… you can’t force natural progression just because you want to. 

For example, how many times have you tried to force a relationship only to find the other party starts to drift away?  How many athletes have tried to force themselves back to greatness only to find they get worse?  How many times have you tried to find something only to have someone else walk in and find it right away?  My point is trying too hard often has the opposite effect.

I was reminded of this law recently when a good friend (and client) landed their dream job.   They were dedicated, diligent and trying very hard with no success.  Oddly enough this opportunity came out of the blue the moment they stopped trying to look for it.  It may not make any sense but trust me the law of reversed effect is at work everyday.

So are there areas in your life where you are trying too hard?  Are there areas in your business where you are trying to force the natural progression of a situation?  Are you trying to force something and notice that it’s drifting further away? Here’s my advice, first… get very clear of what you want and why you want it and lock that vision deep in your subconscious, second… take a deep breath, third… step back and focus your attention on something else, forth… BOOM my bet.. there it is!

“Curt Skene was the opening keynote speaker at the Canadian Institute of Management, Toronto Branch’s “Developing Professional Excellence” conference. As the event manager I was thrilled with Curt’s performance. He was the perfect kickoff speaker. His energy, knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of humour was infectious and set a positive tone for the entire day.”

Mike Aoki, Event Manager, Canadian Institute of Management (Toronto Branch)

I know I can’t force myself to write, I have to be inspired by something.  When I do try to force it, look out writers block here I come!  So I step back, take a walk, play with the kids or go to sleep then I come back (sometimes at very weird hours) and voila it’s all good now.

I will admit it can be scary to step away because thoughts of “what if I miss it” can fill your mind.  But remember the old adage “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours and if it doesn’t, it never was!”

So this month I want you to take a giant leap and just stop trying to make something happen.  That doesn’t mean stop doing the “right” things, it means stop doing things just to try to force the natural flow of how the world is about to unfold.  If you are trying to land a new job or big contract continue to plant seeds but at the same time have the confidence to step back and open yourself up to other opportunities that you may not have considered yet.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at
www.curtskene.com

When Was The Last Time You took Time To Dream?

May 3, 2012

Dreams imageDo you remember the stories of how the Wright Brothers dreamt of putting a plane in the sky and how they celebrated their first flight which was less than 100 yards?  Now today we are putting planes into outer space travelling an unprecedented 28,000km an hour.   How about Roger Bannister who dreamt of achieving the impossible of running a four minute mile?  Roger had a dream that others laughed at but once achieved it was quickly surpassed.  Bill Gates had a dream of putting a computer on every desktop, a farfetched vision when you think about the fact that computers took up a small room at the time, now in my home alone we have five.  My point is dreams are the fuel that sets us on a journey for creating something brilliant.  So my question this month is, what are your dreams and what are you doing to make them come true?

Let’s agree that dreams are massive undertakings that are going to take all that you have in order to succeed.  If dreams were easy then they just wouldn’t be dreams!  Living your dreams is about letting yourself see a world of possibilities and letting go of all the old history that says you just can’t do that.  Dreams are there to inspire you to do great things.  Dreams are about evolutionary living.

So do only great people dream or do dreams actually make people great?  I personally believe that dreams don’t know how to discriminate against us yet we can often discriminate against living our dreams.  We convince ourselves that we don’t deserve a better outcome so why would we ever dare dream? 

Customer Testimonial
“Curt is simply brilliant and his message is brilliantly simple!” 

I remember taking my kids to see the “Bucket List” and then asking myself what dreams do I want to achieve?  The first thing on my list was to play on stage with my son’s band and if you heard me on the guitar you would know what a dream this will be!  But it’s that dream that still has me picking up my guitar and strumming out chords in preparation for the big day.  I also remember watching “Pay It Forward” and witnessing Trevor McKinney endeavouring to change the world by paying forward on acts of kindness.  What amazed me most was this was a dream that moved the world yet it was so simple to put into place.  My mission of “Simple thinking that changes lives” was inspired by this movie.  I also have to confess that I often get teary eyed watching Extreme Home Makeover because the thought of stepping into a stranger’s life and making a massive difference is undeniably a dream come true.

So what about living your dreams isn’t that what you should be doing?  I can hear you now… are you kidding?  Have you seen my bank account?  Do you know how much crap I have to do?  When in heck would I find the time and money to live my dreams?  Dreams belong to those who don’t live in my world.

The funny thing about dreams though is they really can pick us up often at times when we need it the most.  Think about it, when was the last time you read a “dream come true” story where the leading player had a perfect life?   Most dreams start from very humble beginnings.  The purpose of dreams is to give us the reason to believe in our future, especially when we have stopped believing in ourselves.

So this month give yourself the gift of dreaming.  Pick a future that you deserve and start creating a path to make it a reality.  The more we dream the less opportunity we have to think about all the things that could possibly get in our way!

Here’s to you and all your dreams!

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit www.curtskene.com

Second Best Also Deserves A Chance!

January 24, 2012

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to meet Canadian Olympic rower Alison Korn. I remember asking her, “What was it like to row in the Olympics?”  She said, “It’s funny, even though we practiced for years, we never found the passion and energy until we saw the finish line.  But when we knew that we were one thousand metres from the finish line and all that we had worked for would be lost, we found more passion and energy than we ever thought possible.”

I remember that race. They went from fourth to second and narrowly missed winning the Gold.  Why is it that teams who have struggled the entire game monopolize the final five minutes?  How come they couldn’t figure it out for the first fifty-five?  It’s because they didn’t see their finish line.  Professional athletes need the clarity and finality that the finish line provides them.  A finish line is that point of no return that you can shoot for.

In our world, the goal is to attract and keep great people, but I find myself wondering:  are we giving our employees a clear target to shoot for? In essence, do our employees know what it means to be great?  Do they know what the expectations are and do we give them the room to exceed them?  Maybe instead of attracting great employees we need to be focusing our attention to grooming great employees.

“Congratulations! Your keynote was a great hit.  Out of 8 speakers your reviews clearly defined you as the highlight.”
Ms. Laurie Campbell, Conference Chair, E2E Conference

Basically, I believe there are three types of employees out there.  There are those who get it, those who want to get it, and those who are there just for the ride.  For the employees who get it, their abilities are natural, their skills are instinctive and our role is to clear any obstacles and stand out of their way.  On the other end, for the employee who is just there for the ride, our role is to prompt, prod and motivate but quite frankly I seldom, if ever, have seen these people turn into our star performers.  So this leaves us the middle, the employees that want to get it but just can’t do it on their own.  I believe we need to spend most of our time working with them.  These are the employees who want to make a significant contribution, who want to overachieve but for whom it just isn’t as instinctive for whatever reason.  This is where I believe you can find real gold!

As managers, I think one of the things we do to confuse employees is have them chasing too many targets. Sure, we create goals and objectives, but over the year we let too many other “priority one” initiatives land on their plate.  Am I the only one who has had a boss that believed everything in the business was priority one?  In the end, we water down our potential performers by having them focus on way too much.  If we want peak performance we have to give them the clarity of a finish line and remove many of the other distractions.

Another challenge I find in managing this middle tier is confidence.  Quite often they have the skills but lack the confidence to go out and take self directed action.  They are often waiting or seeking approval.  One of the best things you can do is encourage them to take a risk.  Encourage them to step out on their own and take the initiative.  Encourage them to think and do what’s best for the business.  Because this group is naturally risk adverse, you will seldom see them take on too much risk.

Finally, you need to consider the team dynamics.  Are you giving as much publicity and promotion to this middle group?  I often find that, in most organizations, all of the attention goes to the “stars,” the ones at the top.  The problem is you end up alienating others along the way.  Our role in coaching peak performance is in balancing the amount of attention and promotion we give.

Think about the roles and expectations you have defined for others.  While they may appear clear to us, remember it doesn’t come as easily and naturally for everyone.  Give more guidance on what it takes to overachieve.  Also, try taking the time to segment your team and focus more attention on the employees in that valuable middle group.  In the end, their contribution will be invaluable.  Remember that every company needs a balance of performers.  While it’s important to attract and keep great employees, it’s also critical that we groom and coach new ones.

We need our stars. But we also need our second and third stringers.  In fact, if you think about it, the teams that win championships are often the ones where there is less focus and expectation on the stars and more emphasis on developing the team.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at www.curtskene.com

What do you regret?

July 4, 2010

Let me ask you, do you have any regrets and if you do what are you going to do about them?

While most of you won’t know this, in the last 6-8 months I started to write this blog as a form of a rant towards the different people in my life. The person I am writing about always knows the entry is about them but no one else usually does. It’s my hope that my writing helps them and it’s often a great thinking experience for me. This entry is no different other than the fact, the deserving recipient of my own timely advice is none other than myself!

To start off, I have always believed one should never live with regret. Whatever you do must always begin with the question, “Will it lead you to regret?” We all must be accountable for our actions and decisions and know that a lifetime is a long time to live with the pain of the regret we may cause ourselves. I remember when my brother was going in for cancer surgery and my father wondered if he should fly out to Calgary to be with him. All I said was, “Dad are you going to regret flying out there to find out he is ok?” Then I asked, ”Will you regret it if you stay here and he is not?” He flew out that very same day.

If you think about it, regret is a funny thing because not only can you regret something you did, you can just as easily regret something you didn’t do. So if one is truly to live without regret in their life, there is a fine balance of power between, the action and inaction you may take.

For me, it’s never easy to admit fault or error especially when you know you have others who look up to you, put trust in you and hold you so dear. But its part of the process and it opens the door to forgiving yourself for the regrets you may have.

Whenever you regret something you can always catch yourself asking why. Why did you do it? Why did you let things turn out that way? You can rack your brain for hours and days trying to trace your steps and think about how you could have done things differently. You can pray for a different outcome in hopes you can reverse history and take the pain away but in the end things happen because we are all human and it’s the human in us that makes regret so real. I will be the first to admit I am not perfect. I will go even further and say I can sometimes fall well short. In my life I have made career, money, relationship and business decisions that I will always regret. However, one thing is for certain, I will never regret being who I am as I am clear that more days than not I live with brilliance, integrity and a caring compassion for changing this world.

I wish I could say why people do things that they would later regret. I honestly don’t know the answer, sometimes I am sure its greed, sometimes it may be fear and many times you may be too plain stupid to think about the magnitude of your decision. You can also regret that you don’t regret what you have done. I know for me, many ask if I ever regretted leaving Microsoft or working on my own and the answer is never. It was a choice I clearly made. Whatever your regret might be, it’s most important that you forgive yourself and allow that regret to subside so you can carry on.

I know that as soon as you start to regret anything then that alone indicates it’s already history and you can’t take it back anymore. All you can really do is carry it forward in the context of a lesson learned. How you choose to let regret shape your future is the powerful question you need to really ask. I meet so many people who live in anger and pain because of what they regret but the past is the past and always will be. However, there is nothing saying you have to stay the same course and that you must always do what you have done. As humans we are the adaptable species so we can take our new knowledge and make better decisions.

I am sure I am not the only one who has regrets for what they have done or maybe didn’t do. As smart as I might like to think I am, everyone including me, is more than capable of shooting themselves in the foot once in a while. However, when I find I am living with regret I simply remind myself to hold my head high, look to those I love and those who I may have hurt and let them know I will be smarter and wiser because of the lesson learned in my regret. I do hope they hear me, I do hope they believe me and I do hope they know I will never regret for a moment the decision I made when I invited them in to be an important part of my life.

Final Thought:  Regret for something you did is tempered by time but regret for what you didn’t do is almost always inconsolable.

Caring shouldn’t be contrived!

November 26, 2009

The phone in my office rang. It was Frank Clegg, President of Microsoft Canada. Frank had just heard that my brother was very ill, and he wanted me to know that my place was to be with my family. His message was clear: go home. Microsoft will survive. My obligations would all be covered. In bold words, he told me that Microsoft cared. I was on a flight to see my brother that night. He passed away that same week. Now it’s ten years later and I still remember Frank’s voice — and I know he meant every word. The company cared.
 
Each year, we set aside a day — Valentine’s Day — to say we care. It’s kind of funny isn’t it?  Is a “caring” day really necessary, and is it effective? Do you feel more “cared” for when you receive a dozen roses at three times the price?  Do you feel any more appreciated waiting in line at your favourite restaurant all because other people are out caring too?  Stop the insanity! You can’t schedule caring, it just won’t work. You either care, or you don’t.
 
Now I realize I run the risk of being considered flaky when I bring up the notion of being a caring organization. After all, business is all about the profit and loss, right? It’s about creating shareholder value. Well, I don’t have to tell you that it’s the employees who are our real corporate value. I’ve read it, you’ve read it, and we all know it. So why is it that the number one reason employees leave is because they think we’ve stopped caring? They think they’re no longer valued or that their contributions are just not appreciated. Why is it you think you cared but your employees didn’t get it? What can you do about it? And do you even bother? This is the essence of my message this month.
I will be honest: caring is painful. It means making sacrifices, committing time you don’t have and putting the needs of your employees well in front of your own. Why are some companies so bent on caring? I think there are two main reasons. First, the law of reciprocity teaches us that people give back in kind what is given to them. You go the extra mile and they will be there for you. I may be an optimist, but I believe it’s true that employees want to be cared for and that they’ll give it back to you in spades. They will give many hours to your company, and they’ll go beyond their employee commitment if you go beyond yours. Caring organizations create employees who want to raise the bar.
 
I should warn you, though, that you can’t force reciprocity. It has to be natural, it has to be intentional, and it has to come from the heart. If people feel your caring is focused on personal gain, it won’t work. Sales professionals are notorious for calling up and inviting managers for lunch when there is a new sales opportunity on the rise. They don’t show up at any other time, but when there is an opportunity to be had, they’re right there. The best time to buy someone lunch is when they least expect it. That’s when you really show you care. Many managers are just as guilty; they give employees lots of attention when they think the employee is a flight risk or they need the employee to take on more responsibility. That’s not reciprocity, that’s manipulation and you will get caught. Caring organizations do thoughtful things without condition. They do things because it’s the right thing to do.
 
The second reason organizations choose to become caring organizations is because it is extremely expensive to replace great talent. The Workforce Consulting Group states that the cost of replacing an employee ranges from 42 percent to 244 percent of base salary, and this does not include the lost intellect that just left your building. 
 
So what can you do? First, put yourself in your employee’s shoes. If you were in their position, what might you want? A few years ago I was president of a struggling business. While cash flow was an immense struggle, we needed the undying commitment of our employees to survive. Here are some of the things we did:

  • We created a relationship with a local counsellor for any employee who needed help. 
  • We provided babysitting assistance for the spouse of any employee who was required to be out of town more than a week. 
  • When needed, we reimbursed expenses immediately to ensure that no employee was ever inconvenienced.

Being a caring organization doesn’t mean you forget about the bottom line, it just means you think about the impact your actions will have on others. Since I was president, it was my role to make tough decisions about layoffs. I made those decisions, but I did it with dignity. We extended benefits, we provided career counselling and we looked closely at each person’s situation to ensure we always did the right thing.
 
When Valentines comes around, I will no doubt have flowers and chocolates for my wife because I really do care, but it’s when I show up that one day in June and I hand her a single rose then she (and I) will know how much I really do care. Now, what are you going to do?

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at
www.curtskene.com

Is it time to call your own baby ugly?

November 26, 2009

Relax… it’s just an expression! I wouldn’t really do it to my baby!!

Own baby uglyYou got to admit that calling your baby ugly would be a pretty darn tough thing to do. After all this would be the epitome of personal slander, wouldn’t it? I say this because sometimes the best thing you can do is take a good long hard look at yourself and call your own bluff.

I do a ton of executive coaching (business and career) and my favourite question is.. now that you know what you know would you hire you? You may be surprised how many people say no. If you are one of them it’s time to call that baby ugly and rapidly change.

Many things inspired this blog (including my own self reflection) but today was the last straw. I met an executive who has struggled for over 10 years and they can’t understand why. To me, as an outsider, the answer was pretty obvious – they needed to step back, swallow their pride and re-launch. While I hate suggesting this to a once successful executive I have to ask which is worse.. calling the baby ugly or letting the person drown? I bet if you think about it you can come up with many examples where companies (or people) held onto a failing proposition for too long and the results were devastating. We all have personal attachment to what is ours but lets not let that blind our judgement.

So, is it time to call your baby ugly? Is your business struggling because of your leadership? Is your career search stalled because of your lack of effort? Are your skills/product obsolete for today’s active market? These are tough questions to swallow but they could be real life savers for you! A favourite book when I was growing up was “That was then.. this is now.” It was about the pain of admitting things had changed and making the tough decisions to right it all. Remember: what was king yesterday might not cut it tomorrow. Companies fail because they don’t get it, just make sure that you don’t too.

This month, have the guts to sit down and ask the question that none of us want to hear… Is my baby ugly? I guarantee whether you like the answer or not it will put you on the path to a brighter future. You can blame me if you wish but I bet some day you just might be writing to say a big thanks!

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

If you had two minutes for your perfect customer what would you say?

October 25, 2009

A few months ago I had the opportunity to speak at a large consumer trade show. Before my talk I was walking around the show floor trying to understand their business more (and hoping to spend some money too!). As I looked at all the booths I noticed one in particular. At this booth they sold “painted” plates and I remember thinking to myself that they were really nice plates that were likely brought in from overseas like everyone else does. Not that a plate from another country is bad it was just my assumption that this booth was likely just like everyone else. As luck would have it I ended up speaking with the business owner and he told me that each plate I had been admiring was actually hand painted in Canada by a single artist in Alberta. In fact, as we spoke he constantly came back to this same compelling point of difference. In the space of ten minutes he likely mentioned it 5-6 times. I finally looked at him and said, “If I was your perfect customer and I agreed to give you two minutes of my busy day what would you say to me?” He looked at me and said, “All of our plates are exclusively hand painted by one artist in Alberta.” I said, “Great!! Show me how you communicate this powerful message in your booth.” He walked across the booth and pulled out a flyer and handed it to me. I said, “WOW you are making a few big assumptions aren’t you? One, you are assuming that I will enter your booth. On top of that you assume that I would be interested enough to stop and have this conversation with you. If I don’t, I completely miss your compelling point of difference, don’t I? The look on his face said it all. He knew I was right. If his selling value was all focused around a single artist designing every plate he needed to communicate that message in everything he did. He needed to communicate it in the name of the store, in the advertising and in the way the products were displayed. He needed to ensure that message jumped out at people. We spent the next 30 minutes redesigning simple things that would allow him to clearly communicate his message… “one Canadian artist, hand drawn, every plate is exclusively unique.” We designed a place for the artist’s photograph. We changed his slogan and we even turned some of the plates over so people could easily see the single signature on each and every plate.

I share this with you because my chance encounter that day really got me thinking about the question, “If you had two minutes with your perfect customer what would you say to them?” If you know the answer, great! If not, you better set aside some time to think about it. However, once you know the answer start asking/challenging yourself on how you communicate this important message in everything you do.

At Microsoft we called this our eight second elevator pitch. The idea was, what could we say to someone in the span of eight seconds that would get them to say, “Stop… I want to know more.”

So how would you answer this question? Would you even know what you wanted to say if the perfect customer came along? Is your message compelling enough for people to want to notice? Does your business communicate your perfect message in everything you do? More importantly, ask yourself does your message resonate from a distance. You see, most of us can do a reasonable job selling our value if we get close enough to the customer.

The challenge is getting the opportunity to get that close. As the world gets busier and time gets shorter you need to have a strategy for the customer to start seeking you out. Your message of value has to jump right out and stop them in their tracks.

If I go back to my story, I was very busy that day. This show was huge and my time was extremely limited. I wanted to spend money but I really needed someone to reel me in because every booth was becoming a blur. In your industry chances are there are lots of people who sell what you do. But no one does it quite as uniquely as you. At least you hope! This month take the time to capture the essence of what you stand for and then figure out how to communicate it loudly and clearly in everything you do.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com


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