Tag Archives: business concepts

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

2-1/2 minutes to read

You may know I read at least 50 books a year. With so many goods ones even at one per week it seems to make hardly a dent. My reading focuses on personal development, history & biography, business, and literature. My guilty pleasures are detective and historical fiction. It all unites to help my family and me live the life we’ve charted.

10 Books that Will Improve Your Life in 2017

I keep abreast of current works But I also look back to see what older books and classics I have missed. Here are the best. Why not treat yourself to one for a Christmas or Chanukah gift?

Personal Development:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz

We live amidst great abundance yet don’t seem to be happier. Is it nostalgic yearning? Barry Schwartz makes the case that too many choices bring about unhappiness as surely as no choice. He also gives you actionable steps to relieve yourself of this burden.

The Miracles in You: Recognizing G-d's Amazing Works in You and Through You by Mark Victor Hansen

If you sit around hoping for a miracle it’ll be a long wait. Mark Victor Hansen (the Chicken Soup Book Series) challenges you to become a miracle maker. He explains how to see them in your life and make them happen.

Great Work: How to Make a Difference People Love by David Sturt

In many ways, David Sturt’s book is a companion to Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated. No matter your IQ, talent, educational level, gender, or the circumstances of your birth, you can create a difference the world loves. The ability to innovate comes through the five skills that Sturt reveals. His illustrative stories prove you can execute them.

The 2-Hour Job Search: Using Technology to Get the Right Job Faster by Steve Dalton

Steve Dalton fills in a crucial piece of the job-hunting puzzle. His book will teach you how to connect with people who can help you get the position you want. I used his system. It works.

The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard

This 34-year-old classic details more than a sound strategy for managing people. Kenneth Blanchard gives you the formula to boost the quality of all your relationships. His simple steps yield clear communication leading to mutually agreeable outcomes.

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History and Biography:

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Orville and Wilbur Wright were not extraordinary mechanics, businessmen, or thinkers. David McCullough shows their success came through sheer tenacity. This story will inspire you to redouble your commitment to your life’s mission.

Bull Halsey by E.B. Potter

Arguably the navy’s most beloved admiral, William Halsey’s life testifies to the power of personal connections. E.B. Potter reveals how relationships with his sailors, peers, and family propelled Halsey’s legendary success.

Business and Entrepreneurship:

The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything by Guy Kawasaki

I’m not a Guy Kawasaki groupie. I checked out his work from the audio books section of the library so I wouldn’t run out of things to listen to on a car trip. His step-by-step breakdown of entrepreneurship converts a daunting process into manageable pieces. For veteran entrepreneurs and rookies, this book will accelerate your success.

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz & Joanne Gordon

I am a Howard Schultz fan. I loved his first book, Pour Your Heart Into It. In Onward, he emphasizes the bond between business success and foundational values. You don’t need to like Starbucks coffee to get inspired by this story of its rescue.

Guilty Pleasure:

The Road to Samarcand: An Adventure by Patrick O’Brien

If you saw the movie Master & Commander you got a taste of Patrick O’Brien’s rollicking adventure tales. A group of hardy sailors treks across 1930’s China to exotic Samarcand. This is old-fashioned excitement, breakneck horseback rides and hand to hand combat.

If you want to succeed you must read. If you have a specific challenge that none of these books address let me know. Happy to recommend material to help you.

What books did you read this year that you recommend?

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How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

2-½ minutes to read

You may think you can shortcut it. But there’s no substitute for devoting time when building a relationship. No amount of intensity, emotional or otherwise, will suffice. Nor can you replace time with money. You can leverage your time by using an assistant or technology. Still, one-on-one connections need your direct involvement. Since you’re going to invest time, make sure you think through how.

How to Invest Time in Relationships Wisely

Make Relationship Building the Priority

When I was a kid my room had to pass periodic inspections. Maybe she learned it from my naval officer father. But if she found my bed unmade inevitably I’d be reminded, “Your bed’s not going to make itself.” If since then someone had invented a self-making bed, a big source of conflict between my daughter and I would be gone.

Notwithstanding my mother’s obsession with smooth sheets and hospital corners (in truth the corners thing is mine), nothing important happens without effort. If you want to have quality, productive relationships you’ll have to prioritize time to work on them.

Strong connections lead to Physical ∞ Mental ∞ Spiritual success. So I devote the first three hours of my day to relationship building. I begin with an hour of prayer and study to strengthen my connection to G-d. The next hour or so is spent taking care of my family. I make lunch for my wife and daughter and take the latter to school or camp.

I focus the final hour on friends and business associates.

Invest Time Without Expectation of Dividends

During the third hour, I check in with people to find out how they’re doing and what they’re working on. If someone has an important project under way I look for ways to help her. I thank people who have helped me out. Between email, social media, telephone, and texting, I have a myriad of ways to contact people. I figure out which one the person prefers and use it.

I don’t use quid pro quo to determine how much time to invest in a relationship. Rather, I examine whether:

  1. I have the basis for periodic, useful interaction with the person.
  2. There is something of value I have to offer.
  3. The person shares my values.

We've already looked out who to connect with.  So if the relationship meets these three criteria, I know it will grow. And when I need help, the person will offer it at the appropriate time.

The truth is I like my friends and business associates so much I could spend all day looking for opportunities to help them. Regrettably, I am not independently wealthy. So I invest time in growing my relationships without jeopardizing my business. Of course, when there’s an urgent need, I find the time to help. Isn’t that what friends do?

As with so many things in life, balance is important. Just spending time will not lead to great connection or intimacy. Witness how many long-term spouses who don’t speak to each other. They may have spent the majority of the last 20 or 30 years in the same house, even the same room. But they have no relationship.

Devote yourself to being the best friend to the people with whom you’re building relationships. Like any sound venture, doing so will pay you unlimited dividends over time.

How do you decide how to invest time in building a relationship? Please comment below.

How to Go from Contact to Relationship

2 minutes to read

Networking may be the most frustrating part of finding a job and building a business. First you have to muster the courage to go to a meeting of strangers. Then you have to figure out how to approach them. Next you have to get a card or information so you can follow up later. Finally you have to follow up and create a relationship. If you feel overwhelmed read on. I’m going to simplify this process.

How to Go from Connection to Relationship

Be Selective

Everything you want in your life will come from relationships. Professional success, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual growth come from them. The more and better connections you have the happier you will be. But there are limits. Most people can maintain about 150 relationships. That may sounds like a lot. Still, you need to be intentional about the people in whom you invest time, energy, and emotion.

We tend to think of networking groups and meetings as being the best place to make connections. But that may not be true. Any situation where you organically meet new people is likely to be a better place to make new contacts. Social situations, classes, even church create a natural basis for rapport.

Look for people you like and sense a bond with. And if your gut says something’s wrong trust it.

Building the Relationship

I always figure you might as well approach life like everybody’s your friend or nobody is; don’t make much difference. Kevin Kline as Paden in Silverado

Unless you’re content to keep your connection at Facebook friends level you’ll need to set a foundation for greater depth. The building blocks are mutual trust and service.

No association gets beyond the acquaintance stage until both people feel they can trust each other. Some people offer you trust right away. It’s yours to lose. Others trust in stages. You’ll have to figure out into which mode you fall. It can be frustrating establishing trust when modes don’t match. But it may be worth it. In any event, the process will work better if you are aware of this dynamic.

Building and maintaining trust comes from helping the other person. I don’t necessarily mean by convincing them to buy what you’re selling. That may be appropriate if what you’ve got will really help the person. But you’ll want relationships with people besides customers.

Be curious about the person’s life and business. What challenges does he or she face? What resources or contacts do you have that can help? Think about how you can provide the means for success. Most importantly, give without an expectation of return. If you expect reciprocation every time you help you’re not building a relationship. You’re just contracting a series of debts. Most people don’t like feeling obligated. As a result you won’t create mutual trust.

The process may sound lengthy. In some case it will take time. But often you can move from contact to relationship in a matter of a few days or weeks. You’ve probably done it before, albeit not intentionally.

While I’ve focused on business relationships, all the above is true for personal relationships. Other factors may impact whom you choose for a spouse and friends. But fundamental to a marriage and companions is mutual trust and selfless service.

How have you built trust in your relationships? Please comment below.

On a Mission . . .

Do you have a defining purpose to your life? Does it motivate you to enthusiastically get out of bed each morning looking forward to the day’s activities? When your time on earth is just about done will you feel your life was worthwhile because you pursued this mission?

On a Mission . . .

One of the great aspects of the military is that no matter what our rate or rank we begin our service by dedicating ourselves to a mission: To support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic . . . This statement gives purpose to everything we do. When we experience the searing heat on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Sea during combat ops or have to de-ice that same flight deck to conduct humanitarian assistance operations in the northern reaches of Japan, we have a reason to endure the harsh weather and the punishingly long hours.

Why Will You Do What You Do?

So too in your life and business, you need to have a mission. Non-profit organizations learned this long ago because they have to motivate their workers, especially volunteers, to commit to a purpose and devote time and money to its fulfillment. The United Way provides a good example.

For-profit businesses can reap tremendous benefits from the same clarity of purpose. The mission statement for my company is: to help veterans secure a share of the American dream they fought to preserve.

Notice that this is not a goal per se. While it is written down, there is no objective to reach or time limit by which it is to be reached. Once you have a mission for your life and/or business, it becomes the litmus test by which you decide whether a particular activity or goal is relevant and purposeful.

A mission statement should be an expression of your most important values because if the two are in conflict you will be working at cross-purposes. Yet, if you are unclear about your morals it may be difficult to create a compelling mission statement.

5 Steps to a Personal, Business, or Family Mission Statement

Here are the steps for writing a mission statement:

1. Make a list of your five most deeply held values

Be careful not to mistake political positions for values. Look at why you have a particular political belief to determine the values the underlie it. If you need some help getting started check out this list.

2. Write down your elevator pitch

This is a brief explanation of what you want to do with your life or what your business is and does.  So called because you can deliver it in the length of an elevator ride. Harvard Business School has a website to help you build one.

3. Use your values to describe WHY your business does what it does

Write a paragraph with each sentence addressing how one of your values relates to your life or business. For example, if you are starting a plumbing company and one of your values is being thrifty, one sentence of your paragraph might be about providing the highest level of service at the lowest price.

4. Edit your paragraph to one or two sentences

Work on combining the essential idea of one sentence with that of another. Sometimes a single word can replace an entire sentence. For example, in my mission statement the value of “taking care of G-d’s children, especially my fellow service members” is expressed with one word: help.

5. Let it sit overnight then edit it

Once you have written your mission statement put it away until the next day then review it. Edit ruthlessly. Say it out loud. If it does not flow well keep working on it. Try using a thesaurus to find variations of words that express your thoughts more accurately. If you get stuck, set it aside overnight again. You may have to do this several times before you develop a compelling mission statement.

When you have completed your mission statement read it periodically, every morning before you begin work, or each evening when you plan your next day’s schedule. Even when you have it memorized, refer to it in written form. Its impact is greater.

Where are you stuck figuring out your personal and business mission?

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Do You Know THE Key to Wealth?

The California and Yukon gold rushes are probably the last times you could walk into the wilderness and come back wealthy. For about a century, to earn money you have to sell a product or service that people want to buy. Debates swirl as to whether people should buy a particular product, and therefore whether its producers deserve their wealth. But when people don’t want what you’re selling you won't make any money. You may believe your product or service will massively benefit humanity. If customers disagree, you’ll earn zero.

Do You Know THE Key to Wealth?

Skills ≠ Value ↔ Time ≠Wealth

Internalizing this simple lesson will make all the difference on your road to success.

Wealth Comes from Value Delivered

Admittedly it took me a while to learn this. During the first decade of running my real estate company, I equated the number of hours I worked with how well I served my clients. But after years of 60 to 80 -hour weeks, there had to be a better way.

I put a lot of effort into streamlining my processes. Within a few months, I had cut down the number of hours I worked by one-third. My clients didn’t even notice a difference. As long as their needs were met they couldn’t have cared less how much of my time it took. As new services like online banking arrived, I whittled down the hours even more. When I sold my property management company I had reduced my working hours by half.

If you’re starting out, the faster you determine the viability of the market for your offering the better. Fortunately, social media gives you the avenue to quickly and inexpensively see if people want what you are selling.

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Knowing this rule applies to everyone will help you let go of the disappointment if YOUR idea doesn’t pan out. It’s not personal. I started a t-shirt business and a real estate brokerage before gaining moderate success in property management and hitting a home run in commercial appraising. If people don’t like your first idea, NEXT!

The Key to Your Job-Hunt

The wealth-value formula applies equally to developing a career. Instead of having a pool of customers to whom you’ll market a product or service, you deal one-on-one with a few people who hire employees. What counts are their perceptions of the value of your skills. It used to be that a college degree was gold. But today, with 20%-25% of college graduates jobless or under-employed, that's not the case. Credentials may get you an interview. Skills that solve the needs of the organization will get you the job.

Another thing: The lower the value people put on your product, service, or skills, the more hours you will have to work in order to earn the income you want.

Lastly, the same formula, wealth comes from value delivered, is true of almost everything.

If You Want a Wealth of Friends You Have to Be a Valuable Friend

Any realm of your life that you want to prosper: health, self-care, faith, grows when richly and consistently nourished.

People in the military excel at executing the mission. Rarely do commanders care how many hours it took to complete. Rather, they value how prudently resources were expended and how completely the objectives were met. Today’s business world has adopted this same model.

Where can you get abundance for free?

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