Author Archives: russell_j_white

Success is 25 No’s Away

The process of creating success in your life is truly not that difficult to understand. It’s in the execution where most people get tripped up, because it requires a change of attitude and a change of heart.

When I have shared this with audiences, I hear many comments, or as I see them, excuses, for why they are unable to say “No.” Success is a personal choice. Once you understand the road map to success, it is a matter of staying the course and expending the right amount of effort to realize the winning results of those efforts.

Many articles have been written about the “yeses” of success. I have one as well. But this is about the obstacles to success to be avoided and cleansed from your life.

1. Procrastination – Delaying your effort can quickly become an ingrained habit. Luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. If you aren’t prepared, you will miss your opportunity.

2. Indecision – Gather the available facts, recognize what you want to accomplish, and then act. If you don’t act, your competitor will.

3. Unhealthy food choices – We don’t need nutritional facts to know what food is bad for us. Too many people simply decide to make being unhealthy a choice.

4. Sleep deprivation – Your body needs restorative sleep like your bank account needs deposits. Too little of either will make you inefficient and cranky.

5. Ready-made excuses – Anyone can find a reason not to do something. Doers make success their personal reality because they ignore the excuses.

6. Television – The hours spent watching TV are wasted minutes you will never get back. The average American age 35-49 watches 33 hours of television a week. What could you do with 1716 hours a year spent being productive?

7. News noise – Broadcast news is more interested in getting eyes and ears than in truly educating the public. Once upon a time in the distant past, news was informative. Now it is negative opinion, conjecture and noise. Turn it off.

8. Social media – Social media is having a significant impact on social interactions and how people perceive others and themselves. Unfortunately, frequently, it’s not in a positive way.

9. Being a hater – Haters love to spew on social media and that negative noise can be infectious, causing you to see everything in a negative light.

10. Being a hater on yourself – The hate effect will cause that hate to be turned inward. A self-hater never found great success in any aspect of life. In fact, it can be the largest obstacle to realizing one’s potential.

11. Bad jobs – Life is too short to languish in a bad job. Your self-esteem erodes, negative influences worm their messages into your mind, and soon you don’t believe you are worthy of anything other than the situation you are in.

12. Clutter – Clutter is an obstacle. Whether it is junk laying around the house, in the back of your car, or bad thoughts you’ve not cleaned out of your mind. Clutter will never help you achieve the success you desire.

13. Spending for flash – Stop spending money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t know, on items you don’t need. Invest in your future, not in your flash.

14. Negative influences – Family and friends can be the most caustic elements in our lives if they are a constant source of negativity. Time to let those negative influences go.

15. Me first – Putting yourself first in every situation is narcissistic and creates a perception you don’t need anyone else. No one achieves success as an island. Be giving and willing to help others.

16. Me last – If you are always putting everyone else first, leaving yourself only the scraps of time, effort or funds, you will never see your way to the top.

17. Impulse decisions – Being impulsive indicates a lack of planning, waywardness and a lack of focus. What-the-heck rarely leads to lasting success.

18. Laziness – Excuses are the fuel for the lazy machine. Success is about taking ownership of your life and taking action to achieve your goals.

19. Laissez-faire living – “Whatever happens, happens” is not going to bring success to any aspect of your life. While I agree you can’t engineer every moment of your life, leaving your life completely up to fate is not a path to success.

20. Waste – Time and money are the two most wasted resources I see with unsuccessful people. Monitor your time and financial expenses to see where you are wasting your valuable resources.

21. Drama – As if we don’t have enough drama in our lives at the speeds we are living at today, people invite drama into their homes through media programming. Drama is an energy sucker than will drain you dry if you let it. It is also the tunnel into your mind of negativity, excuses and self-doubt.

22. Ruminating – Have you ever been in the shower and relived that conversation from earlier, thinking of all of the things you wish you had said? Ever notice how your heart rate and emotions achieve almost the same levels as when you were actually having that conversation? Ruminating can increase anxiety and depression.

23. Bad people – With over 325 million people in this country there are bound to be millions of jerks, puddin-heads and ne’er-do-wells all around us. Choose not to let them drag you to their level. Their bad day wants your bad day to join them. Resist the temptation.

24. Old routines – Success is about being relevant, current and alive. Old routines are grooves that have devolved into ruts. Break free from the old routines to allow fresh ideas to engage your thinking.

25. I’m not worthy – People can create their own glass ceiling with this type of thinking. If you don’t think you are worthy, then you won’t believe extra effort will pay off, so why bother. When you think you are not worthy, you stop before even getting started.

The art of saying “No” is critical to achieving the success you desire. Now is the time to take control of your journey toward reaching your personal success. I hope this list helps you reach greater success in your life.

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Perception and Preparation Create Performance

Whether you are in sales, guiding employees or dealing with upset customers, perception and preparation will determine the outcome of the situation you are facing.

Perception

No matter how we try to deliver information, how it is received and perceived can have all the impact in the world. Recently, I watched an overwhelmed waitress take a series of food orders when someone made a special request that was going to require extra work on her part. Her immediate response was, “Well, that’s just not going to happen.”

Everyone who heard her comment immediately forgot how overwhelmed she was and saw her in a very negative light.

When working with people you must create the perception that you are interested in more than just what you want. If the employee, prospect, or customer believe you are only interested in what you want, they will shut you off and immediately go negative.

How can you do your best to control that perception? Preparation.

Proper preparation gives you information on what the prospect, employee, or upset customer is looking for.

Do your research. Never walk into a sales call cold. Never meet an upset customer without knowing exactly the details of the situation that upset them. When working with employees, know how to tap into their motivation and truly listen to what they are telling you.

Once people believe you have their best interests at heart, and you fully understand where they are coming from, the value you will gain from this is significant.

The other piece of preparation that is important is preparing yourself for battle. Dealing with the pubic is no doubt the hardest job in the world. If you are in a service position (which includes every manager with employees to serve), you need to prepare yourself for your day and what may come your way. Most damage in relationships comes from knee-jerk emotional response, usually, when unprepared to face what just happened.

In today’s pace of business, most people aren’t taking the time to make these steps of preparation. Because preparation is in such short supply, those who are fully prepared to respond can create the proper perception and annihilate the competition.

Do your customer, employees and prospects perceive that you care? Take a hard look at your preparation because proper preparation will create the preferred perception to create a powerful performance.

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3 Marketing Mistakes that Kill Small Businesses

Small business owners usually focus on one of three areas of the business: addressing employee issues that can create problems and reduce service effectiveness, enjoying the passion for the task of creating their products, and making sure cash flow is in good shape. 

Marketing for the small business owner is frequently tossed together with what monies they have left over after everything else has been taken care of. Of all businesses, small businesses have to be more savvy about using their marketing dollars than any other sized business.

Here are three small business marketing mistakes that will kill a small business and exhaust a small business owner.

Failing to have a plan in place to get new business

Small businesses need to have a specific marketing budget and annual plan for promoting products and creating opportunities to purchase those products. Attracting new business, regardless of how many loyal customers you have, is critical to keeping the customer pipeline flowing to build your revenue and customer base. Marketing brings people in. The quality of the service, product and price will keep them coming back.

When designing your marketing plan, keep in mind when high season is for your business, when people are most interested in your products. Consider whether you are building brand recognition, promoting a specific product or generally educating your community on what you have to offer. A properly planned marketing program will be a great investment and not a dreaded expense.

Not nurturing the new customers/clients they do get

Let’s say your marketing plan is working. In fact, you have seen a significant increase in new customers coming through your doors. That is great! Be careful not to fall into the trap of moving all your marketing focus to what’s working and forget how to keep those you do attract.

Marketing to retain customers and turn them into a foundation of loyal customers (and free salespeople as they tell everyone else how great your products are) is every bit as important as getting people in the door for the first time.

Retention marketing comes in the form of loyalty programs, insider specials, freebies, and individual recognition. Treating your customers as the best thing to ever happen to your business (they are), and they will keep coming back to your business.

Marketing as an afterthought

Many of my clients struggle with social media marketing. Older owners find it distracting to deal with, so they delegate it to younger people who aren’t as committed as the owners to crafting the right message.

Those who properly use social media messaging and boosted posts are seeing real value in their marketing dollars invested. Don’t let the many facets of marketing burden you. A solid workable plan while understanding how marketing best fits your small business will have great returns and will be an integral part of feeding your bottom line results. If marketing is simply an expense, you are doing it wrong.

Marketing should always be an investment with solid returns for your business.

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7 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Build Personal Wealth

Making a pile of money and keeping a pile of money are two very different things. I’m frequently puzzled by professional athletes and executives who make very good wages yet still struggle with money troubles. There are no secrets, just solid habits for building personal wealth.

  1. Live within your means. My advice to my clients for this is don’t buy goods you don’t need with money you don’t have to impress people who don’t matter. Fancy cars, boats, vacations, and, yes, jewelry are meant to impress. Unless you are investing in a growing asset, you are spending money for flash, not future.
  2. Grow your money through investments. There is no sure thing. However, there are low-risk, proven ways to increase your money through sound investments. Creating the habit to invest as a monthly or annual practice is the best way to allow your money to work for you.
  3. Never be a slave to your wages. Own your property, never let your property own you. I’ve watched entrepreneurs in good times overspend lavishly only to be bound by long-term payments that become a burden and a significant cause of financial stress.
  4. Explore new frontiers. Be willing to experiment and give new ideas a try. Long-term business owners can fall into the rut of comfort and get satisfied with the common. To keep a business fresh, you have to explore, experiment, and try fresh ideas. Not all of them will work, yet a few will help your business grow and expand.
  5. Gamble. Life is filled with risk and business owners probably recognize this more than most people. Let 10% of your investments play on a gamble. A new stock, cryptocurrency, and a start-up opportunity are gambles that could pay off huge dividends without breaking your bank roll. Let 10% of your money breathe.
  6. Eliminate the waste. Most successful business owners are very good at monitoring and controlling costs, yet their personal money habits are wayward. In working with one client, we found he was spending $5,000 a year on Starbucks and cigarettes! Another found he was spending over 50% of his food budget on eating out, but not for fancy celebratory meals. It was most often for convenience and from a lack of planning.
  7. Manage your money like it’s a business, because it is. Look at your home finances. Do you have a monthly finance meeting? Do you dig into expenses as you would with your business? When it comes to your personal money, monitor it, measure it, and manage it monthly.

Financial pressures are one of the greatest causes of family stress. As an entrepreneur, you already have significant stress in your life that comes with owning and running a business. Your most valuable resources to manage are your money and your time. Use these 7 methods to better manage your money and build your personal wealth.

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Part of the Pack or Part of the Herd?

Which approach best fits your style of running your small business? Are you more part of the (wolf) pack or do you align with being part of the (sheep) herd? Other than the obvious, what really is the difference? From a business standpoint, plenty. And your business results are predicated on your choice.

A pack mentality has a distinct hierarchy where every wolf in the pack has a place in order behind the strongest leader. When the leader of the pack decides it is time to attack the prey of choice, each wolf has a role in bringing down the chosen target and they operate as a team functioning with a singular goal. They are swift, efficient and have a common end in mind.

A herd mentality is led by the will of the majority. There is no strong leader and roles for the members. Each member acts on the actions of their neighbors. There is no focused effort. A herd is frequently looking for individual survival and is driven by its own impulses.

Which of these animals are more likely to be the predator and which are more likely to be the prey? The same could be said for your business.

A “Pack” business has a strategic focus where employees are fully aware of the company goals and the roles they play in bringing those goals to fruition. They have a solid leader for others in the pack to follow and take their cues from. Like an animal pack, the business pack has a predatory focus – taking down the competition, feeding the pack (bringing in new business) and refining their techniques to improve their effectiveness.

A “Herd” business is typically led by a soft leader who doesn’t offer much in the way of direction of the business other than trying to keep the doors open and secure a small bit of profit based on the swings of the economy. The rest of the herd has little respect for the edicts of the leader and frequently do as they wish, regardless of how it impacts the herd.

A “Pack” business has better sustainability in difficult times and can engage in total effort to benefit the entire pack. A “Pack” business also easily recruits the best talent available because top talent understands having specific goals and results they are trying to achieve.

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3 Digital Asset Investment Strategies

As the masses are just now learning about digital assets and the exciting world of cryptocurrencies, I see many cases of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) causing people to jump onto a fast moving ship in volatile waters with no idea where it is going.

Breathe. Cryptocurrency is not a fad. It is a change in monetary and investment paradigms that will truly shift how we think about our investments as the Internet shifted how we think about shopping. (Get any Amazon deliveries over the holidays? Of course you did!)

So, treat your foray into this crypto-verse like any other investments you have – with a strategy. Unlike the well-established stock markets, this is highly speculative, and I recommend getting involved only with money you can afford to lose.

Strategy #1: Invest in the long-term. This is a buy and hold strategy you probably already use in your retirement savings. You (or a broker you trust) makes mutual fund or stock purchases for you, and hopefully you watch it grow over time. Same philosophy for your digital assets.

Make an informed, smart purchase and hold on to that investment and hopefully watch it grow. This is what I am doing with my Bitcoin. I made a purchase and I have it stored for the long term in order to watch my investment grow over time.

Strategy #2: Short-term investing. This is a more aggressive play in the market place. This strategy is to identify under-valued coins and ride them up to a point where you decide you want to sell and take your profits. There are thousands of coins in the digital asset arena and more coming out every day through initial coin offerings (ICOs). This is the opportunity for speculators to research these new coins and find one they believe they can ride up in price. Obviously, this is highly speculative and requires hours of research and a gambling mentality. I have a much smaller position in this strategy.

It is also a way to make some fast money if you are lucky enough to time it correctly. For example, Ripple has been meteoric in the last 30 days. I imagine there will be some profit-taking very soon and the price will drop; however, investors will make a nice return on their short-term investment.

Strategy #3: Revenue-generation investing. A revenue investor, or sometimes called a day-trader, makes a job out of watching the variability of the market place looking for pure revenue generation opportunities through timely buys and sells. Revenue-generation traders have a dollar amount in mind they want to make monthly that they can remove from their investments to cover their home expenses. This can be time-consuming. More so, during downturns in the market or when speculative plays go bad, this strategy can be kind of scary, not making enough revenue to cover your income needs. These investors like to play the pump and dump game (watch the coin spike (the pump), then sell it off for a quick profit (the dump).) This is truly a eat-what-you-kill type of investment strategy and not for the faint of heart.

By all means, now is a great time to get involved in this new marketplace. Stay within your comfort zone, start slowly, and find a strategy that works for you.

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3 Components of Work Culture

Employees are moving on from companies because the employer’s work culture no longer fits their needs. I’m surprised when I ask small business owners about their work culture by how different their perspective is from that of their employees.

As we see daily in the news, the evolution of culture of a workplace is changing rapidly with executives being called to defend habits and behaviors from years ago. In other words, work cultures will be a hot topic in the coming year and business owners can suffer greatly if they are not in tune with what real work culture exists in their organization.

I advise all business executives to take the time to truly understand how their culture functions in the workplace. Truly explore each of the following three segments:

The stated components

Most companies have a stated list of core values, mission and documented beliefs that they say rules the functions within the organization. Frequently, these are left over ideas from a previous era of work and should be regularly revisited to see if they are still in line with the needs of the workplace and the customers. As workplace issues evolve, customer expectations shift, and employee beliefs change, companies are responsible for adjusting their work culture expectations and policies accordingly.

The unstated components

The stated components are supposed to guide the workplace culture, but the unstated components are the actual, day-to-day functioning of a work culture. Underlying assumptions, rituals, acceptable office humor, and leadership behaviors are truly shaping the work culture of your business, regardless of stated guidelines. Ask yourself, do the actions of leadership match the intent of the stated expectations of your work culture? The disconnect here will become a much bigger deal as employee lawsuits and big stories such as NBC and the Weinstein Company bring this issue to a greater light. Get to know the unstated norms within your work culture.

The atmosphere

The Old Boys Club attitude hasn’t fit the workplace for decades, yet it still thrives in many organizations. What is the attitude and feel within your business?  Do people feel comfortable working together and with their managers, or is there a palpable toxicity in those relationships? If people struggle to work together or feel intimidated by management, these are indications your culture is broken. An exodus of quality employees, low morale, and high stress are not going to improve any business. Take the time to truly explore your real work culture before you are facing leaked reports, employee lawsuits or a damaged reputation where no one wants to work within your organization.

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Retaining Millennials

For most managers, this is proving to be a complicated generation of workers to understand and retain in the workplace. In fact, 68% of Millennials surveyed say the longest they will stay at the same employer is 3 years. Surprisingly, today the average U.S. worker spends just 15 months in one role in today’s working environment. Retaining millennials is a significant issue facing businesses today.

The generation that desired employment with the same employer for the entirety of their working careers is left dumbfounded by this constant need for change and mobility. To better understand how to retain workers (for as long as they are willing to stay), wrap your mind around these three ideas that speak to Millennial retention.

A good fit

Every company has their work culture. Forget quoting the core values, I’m talking about the reality of how work is conducted within your business. Certain personality traits fit that culture and some personality traits will not. Identify the traits that keep your long-term employees on your team and hire to match those traits.

This is the time to be honest. I had a client tell me the reason his long-term people stayed was because they loved working as a team there, when in fact, the reason they stayed was because none of them were interested in moving up (since there was nowhere to go) and were comfortable with the routines they had developed.

If you are looking for go-getters and driven employees to be working in this environment, think again. This isn’t a good fit for that personality. Know your culture and know who fits that culture. Want to change your culture? That begins with leadership, and that is another article entirely!

A job that matters

74% of Millennial job seekers want a job that feels meaningful and makes a difference. Does your company make a difference in the community? Do your new employees get the opportunity to meaningfully interact with customers? These are job characteristics that rank high in job satisfaction. Millennials are three times more likely to stay with the same company if they feel fulfilled as a person while working.

Develop me

87% of Millennials expect managers to develop them personally. Without a clear path of professional development for the individual, the retention of Millennials will stay low for employers not willing to make this a priority.

This is not the “start at the bottom, pay your dues and work your way up the ladder” development old-school managers experienced in their youth. This is a clearly defined program to grow and develop skills for not-too-distant future opportunities.

To build your workforce with the newest and largest generation of workers, make sure they fit your culture, give them a job that makes a difference, and develop them and encourage them to build their careers.

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3 R’s of Entrepreneurial Success

Success as a business owner can be a constant chase. As soon as you believe you’ve figured out the puzzle, the rules change and you are chasing success in a new way all over again. How can a person continue to be successful in a constantly changing environment? Here are three habits that will bring entrepreneurial success to a business owner regardless of changing conditions and circumstances.

Resiliency
Resiliency is the capacity to absorb energy from disruption and use it positively. To be a great golfer on the highly competitive PGA Tour, a golfer must have a short memory of mistakes. Once a poor shot has happened, golfers talk about blocking it from their memories and stepping up to the next shot confidently. The same goes for the business owner.

We all have bad days, weeks, and sometimes even months. Being resilient means simply focusing on moving ahead and not letting mistakes attack your thoughts of success. That doesn’t mean forget the lesson learned from the mistake, but don’t let it haunt your next choices and impact your confidence. As a business owner, you should be ready for a long haul in business. That means mistakes, problems and unforeseen circumstances should be expected. Be resilient through those testing times, which can also be some of the best growth experiences.

Risk
It is impossible to be a successful entrepreneur without continually taking risks. There is no such thing as a safe path to reach ultimate success. Yes, it is important to make safe choices and sound decisions, but there is always a component of risk involved in making significant decisions that will frequently face your business. I’m not talking about financial investment-type risks.

How do you react to a new competitor in town? When do you need to remodel to stay fresh for your customers? When do you change your hours of operation to better serve customers? These are all risk-taking decisions. Be prepared to make the right choice for your business, even though it may not be the most comfortable decision.

Responsibility
Success has many parents, but mistakes are orphans. When you own the business, you own all of it. If one of your employees makes a mistake, it is still on you. Playing the blame game will never help a business owner win. That means your social media presence (even if you are delegating that task to your resident youngster, which is a mistake I will address in another article.) That means your quality control, how your employees interact with customers and clients, and how you reach your target market.

As soon as the owner recognizes everything that happens in the business is ultimately her responsibility, she will then know what to do to drive her business to success.

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Working With Someone Who Drives You Nuts

Working with someone who drives you nuts can range from the co-worker who is simply too loud to the one who has no control over their “personal habits” (Did he just hack up a hairball?) to the person who is an outright ogre to be around. Every one of these employees obviously make some contribution or they still wouldn’t be there (we hope.)

So how do you work along someone like this?

Listen more and talk less.

We spend so much time trying to convince the other person we are right, we fall to actually listen to try to truly understand where they are coming from. The division of political discourse is falling into our work communication. Compromise is becoming a sign of weakness, instead of a sign of strength, and this is making finding common ground much more difficult.

Anticipate the discomfort and prepare.

Instead of fretting over the impending confrontation, why not strategize how to find something you can both agree upon and build from there? Through relationship building, words become clearer and intentions become known, therefore, constructive criticism tends to be received better from friendly acquaintances than from combatants.

Focus on what you enjoy, instead of what you find frustrating.

Thinking “If only he would…” is an exercise in fantasy and a waste of time and energy, not to mention creates a mindset rife with disappointment. Focus on what the other person does well (there is always something) and give that greater weight in your thoughts of this person than in the habits that frustrate you.

Ask for their help on something they are very good at.

When you invite people to help you out on something that is in their wheelhouse, you get to have a common victory. Winning together builds bridges.

I’ve had to remind myself over the years, “No one can make me have a bad day, unless I let them.” If I allow them to drive me nuts – they win. If I can find a way to get beyond that – I win. If you work with someone who drives you nuts, it’s an opportunity for you to find a victory.

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