small business commentary Category

Relentless and Obsessed

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

TonyScelzoEd

Someone once told me I was relentless and obsessed. I took it as a negative personality flaw. It made me feel like I needed balance. Over the years I learned to like my obsessive characteristics. If I focused on the right things this could be a positive thing. About a week ago I started reading a book called Relentless, “From Good to Great to Unstoppable” by Tim S. Grover.

Grover trains the best athletes in the world on recovery, getting stronger and mental toughness. You may have heard of Michael Jordan, one of the best athletes he trained..

The characteristics he finds in his best athletes is their sellout commitment to outwork their opponents. These athletes own their space on their field or court and in their sport.

Think about the toughest competitor you have competed with in business, life, health or even spirituality.

Were you willingly committed and relentless to win at all expenses of time, energy, and money?

Just think about how scary it is to face someone who is willing to die to get better.

Jordan was the most relentless, obsessed, and focused individual in the game. There were many that matched and exceeded his physical stature, but it was his steely eyed determination, and relentless obsession to be better than the rest of the league that separated him from the good. It didn’t stop there, it made him the best.

It is unreasonable to be relentless and obsessed. Jordan, Jobs, Gates, Picasso, and Hemingway were so unreasonable in their pursuits they became the best.

Tony Scelzo
Gear Marketing
tony@gearbfd.com

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The Power of Patience in an Instant Everything World

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Here’s the biggest challenge facing most people today in relation to pursuing their dreams and passion. In an age of “instant everything” and the Internet, success rarely happens overnight. Most of the mega successful people I associate with have worked for years and through multiple setbacks to achieve their ultimate objectives. It also doesn’t help that we’ve increasingly become a “lotto” mentality society. I firmly believe that the term “get-rich-quick” is a bold faced lie. There are the occasional needles in the haystack that pull it off, but keeping and sustaining success for the long-haul is an entirely different story.

True champions know they’ll have to put the practice in like a top athlete and stretch much further than they ever thought possible if they really want to hit the goals they seek. New habits, associations and disciplines will be required. The classic quote from business philosopher Jim Rohn sums it up best: “No one can do your pushups for you.”

Far too many people wing it, give up or have no road map consisting of successful books, mentors, and the proper mindset to guide and push them to discover and go after their inner genius.

I never once found a class in my high school or college titled: Goal setting and Success 101. Far too many of our schools teach people book skills and completely skip the life skills component. What a tragedy. We have millions of high school and college graduates trying to enter the work force with lots of book skills but little if any success mindset skills. They go into the employment game with a severe disadvantage right out of the gate. I sometimes forget that I was blessed to not only have the ability to pursue a college degree but also become exposed to two things even more beneficial along the way: mentors and personal development.

Tony Rubleski
Mind Capture
616-638-3912
www.mindcapturegroup.com

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How Much Does Your Excitement Matter to the Customer?

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

A smile and excitement are worth quite a bit if my experience in New York City was any indication of it.

During my recent visit to NYC I was in Penn. Station. It so happened it was “National Oatmeal Day” so the Quaker representatives were handing out free oatmeal. It was interesting watching the response they were getting from consumers. . Some of the reps. were very enthusiastic, smiling and making a big deal about the day. Others didn’t smile and just tried to get people to take the oatmeal. The ones that were smiling and excited were getting people to take two; the ones who didn’t smile literally “couldn’t give the oatmeal away.”

I kept thinking back to something I say in sales training. “Remember whatever you have it’s catching to the customer.” The person with the highest or lowest energy will shift it to the other one. If you’re excited, it’s catching, if you’re miserable, it’s catching. It was incredible how obvious it was today.

I took the oatmeal with a smile on my face. I also took a good look at it and read the ingredients. The woman’s excitements made me curious and want to know more. Hey, not a big thing; we’re just talking oatmeal now!

I consider NYC the place for looking and shopping. I had an appointment in the city but instead of taking a cab, I choose to walk the 1.4 miles. (Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea in heels.) I went into several stores to watch salespeople and look around.

My favorite store is Desigual out of Spain. The clothes are very arty and super different. The people, who work there is darling, just like the store. They laugh with the customers and talk about how you have to be careful how many of their prints you wear together, or you’ll look like a clown! I left laughing and energized. They truly have an energized brand.

For me NYC is energizing. There are many different types of people, interesting fashions and the most helpful that I know. I left my phone on my car seat and had to keep asking directions to my destination. I choose to ask many people to see what type of reception I would get. People took out their phones to look for directions, some walked with me to make sure I was heading the right way.

We all need to reenergize. Some of us get it from alone time and others from other people. Getting refueled is about connecting with yourself and who you are. Get out of the house and go to the movies, get to the gym. I enjoy being around people who have lots of energy because I feel lifted. In fact, it will carry me thought many days of work. I also love when I can share my energy with others. Energy goes both ways.

If you get a free moment, check out your energy and the people around you. Are you in a major slump? People can energize you as well as deplete you of your energy. Take a minute and think about yourself.

Remember what the flight attendant says, “Put your oxygen mask on first before helping anyone else.”

Lisbeth Calandrino
Fabulous Floors
Associate Publisher & Director of Consumer Research
lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com

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Value Based Pricing for Professional Services

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

Way in the back of the room, a young man in a crisp blue suit, raised his hand.

“Do you know how we make money?” he asked.

I was in the middle of one of my favorite topics, teaching attorneys how to increase their productivity by more effectively managing their time.

The crowd got real quiet because he was addressing the pink elephant in the room.

I responded with – “Thanks for having the courage to ask the question everyone in the room wants answered. Why would anyone want to get more work done in less time when most are incentived to bill for as much time as possible?”

This is an extremely important question – with no easy answer. However, we’ll discuss how to make this happen.

The Current State

Today, the majority of legal and accounting firms (referred to as “professionals” for the remainder of this piece) follow the same business model.

Get a new client, provide them with a billable rate, bill them as many hours as possible, and if they complain about your invoice, write down a portion of the charges.

Truth be told, no one likes this model.

Clients hate the idea of engaging with a $350 an hour professional who indicates that the fee will be “however long it takes.” In addition, these same clients are well aware that most professional’s compensation is tied directly to the amount of hours they bill.

NOTE: I’ve worked with hundreds of professionals over the years. To my knowledge, not one of them has intentionally delivered work in an inefficient manner just to increase their fees. However, this doesn’t mean that the current model is the most effective method for delivering these services.

Many professional services firms are frustrated by the fact that there are only two ways to grow revenue – Increase the amount of hours worked or the billable rate.

In 2015, the problem for these firms is made worse by 2 unrelated factors.

First, younger professionals (millennials) don’t typically have the same career goals as previous generations. They are very interested in work/life balance and are more likely to walk away from the big payday if it means a 70 hour work week.

Second, technology is commoditizing most professional service industries. By that I mean, it’s easier than ever to understand who delivers the exact service needed, compare prices and pit providers against one another in a bidding war. This competition depresses the average hourly rate and will only get worse as low cost providers (typically in foreign countries) get better at delivering their services in the US.

Shifting Paradigm

Maybe, it’s time to consider a different approach?

Instead of putting up with the status quo, I’d challenge you to consider the following question – What if I could charge for the value I create, rather than the number of hours I work?

I know what you’re thinking – Thanks for pointing out the obvious. What are you going to talk about next – how to eat whatever I want and lose weight?

In understand that charging for value instead of hours has been an elusive pipe dream for years.

However, the demographic/technological changes are forcing the industry to move beyond dreaming about value based pricing and work towards making it happen.

It’s Not Going to Be Easy

Let me state the obvious – this is not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be one of the biggest challenges your firm will face.

I’ve heard many of the standard objections…

It’s impossible to know how many hours a project will take. What if I guess low and end up losing a ton?
My clients haven’t even mentioned this idea. Why would I want to risk introducing a controversial new concept to a stable relationship?
Accountants/attorneys have been keeping track of their time in 6 minute increments for thousands of years – getting them to change behavior would be impossible.
What if my competition points out all that could go wrong with this approach and my clients agrees.
If I were running a large firm, I would look at these legitimate doubts and be very tempted to declare – “This challenge is simply too big.”

Your peers within the firm will push back the hardest. Next, many of your clients will be skeptical assuming this is simply another attempt to line your pockets.

As I mentioned, it’s not going to be easy.

Walk Before You Run

Because the challenge is so significant, I recommend you take a very careful and slow approach that follows these key fundamentals.

Customer First – If your motivation behind making this change is simply to increase the bottom line, you‘ll struggle. The goal of this (and just about any) effort should be to bring more value to the customer. This focus will ensure you have the right conversations both internally and externally.
Understand the Data – Before you do anything, take the time to carefully detail the services that are a good fit for value based pricing (e.g. – simple contract reviews) and those that aren’t (e.g. – complex M & A transaction). In addition, put together a list of the clients who would be a good or bad fit for the initial conversations about this new approach. Keep in mind some clients (those that use you sporadically for small projects) may never be a candidate for this change.
Be the Leader – In the professional services industry, you’re either a commoditized vendor sitting and waiting for the next “project” or a trusted advisor. Assuming the latter role will allow you to have meaningful conversations about a change in your approach. You can then advise the client that considering value based pricing could help them effectively budget for legal services and efficiently utilize resources.

Start Small – Pick a small project and see how it goes.
Reflect and Adjust – Once the project is completed analyze the effort to understand the profit margin, the effectiveness of your team and most importantly – the satisfaction of the client.

I am fully aware that there are thousands of details left to be addressed before you do anything.

Changing the way you value and bill for your services is one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a firm. It

To paraphrase a former president – I feel your pain.

Before you push this conversation to next year’s partner meeting, remember that it’s not 1995.

Today, the marketplace evolves at a pace we couldn’t have even imagined 20 years ago. The organizations that grow will be those that embrace innovation in its many different forms.

Get out in front and lead.

Help your clients perceive your firm as a valuable provider of services that help you to grow.

C.J. McClanahan
317-576-8492
cj@cjmcclanahan.com

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