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Take a piece of the pie with this business approach April 2, 2012

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, Business, Business Success Coach, Canada, Career Wisdom, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Gen Y's, Job advice, Notes for Business, quality of life, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Four Windows Process, Women.
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Today’s situation calls for some old ideas.


  1. The economies of many countries are battered and bruised by recent events.
  2. Many individuals, formerly employed and making a good living, are having a tough time.
  3. Others, particularly millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) with energy and a good education, aren’t able to get a job.
  4. Organizations, strapped for cash, are unable to create the new, innovative products needed to compete.
  5. Communities in many areas are not able to maintain necessary services and upkeep. Staffing of must-have services like fire and police departments are seeing budgets slashed.
  6. Governmental bodies/elected officials don’t seem up to the needs of the job.
I speak to people around the world each week – most tell me that things are tough. Some report that markets are tougher than they’ve ever seen. Even in the so-called BRIC countries (originally Brazil, Russia, India, China – now expanded to South Africa) things seem to be going off the rails.
It’s time to revisit some old ways of doing business to get things moving again. I’m talking about ideas born in earlier tough times – back when it looked like the good times were gone forever.
Here’s one that I think has long legs, it’s an approach that can work now in different cultures and economies. It’s succeeded in environments as diverse as Winnipeg, Canada, a small town in California, and Mondragon, Spain.
The idea?  The Co-op.
For those of you not familiar with co-ops – Wikipedia defines them as,  “an autonomous association of persons who voluntary cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit. Cooperatives include non-profit community organizations and businesses that are owned/managed by the people who use its services (a consumer cooperative) and/or by the people who work there a worker cooperative.”
  • In Mondragon, a web of co-operatives manages that country’s 7th largest business.
  • In Manitoba, the provincial government has promoted the establishment of new co-ops to help build that economy into its most vibrant in decades.  When I was there recently I was impressed with lower gasoline prices and service people while filling up my rental car.
  • In California, the success of co-ops can be seen in programs initiated by the Mayor of Richmond who has promoted the idea to create new organizations and employment opportunities in a place that is facing little new income or growth otherwise.
The US has a history of cooperative movements, many economists contend that this idea saved the lives of individuals, towns and organizations during the 1930s.  The benefits include new employment opportunities, revitalization of communities and downtowns, greater self-respect for workers and management, and a highly engaged workforce who can compete toe to toe with any individual or any organization.
Could you use a break?  Ready to try something old? Check out co-ops.
Here’s to your future!
Executive leadership coach

Goodbye DIRECTV; it was good while it lasted. July 14, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Business, Business Success Coach, Coaching, DIRECTV, The Secret, Veracity.
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abc1To succeed, and then stay on top, organizations need to be clear about what drives their business.  Regardless of the sector or industry, it always boils down to simple and fundamental factors.  Those who forget this rule of management become dinosaurs.  And they’ll suffer the same fate.  In this blog, executive and business coach John M McKee discusses why he is quitting DIRECTV’s service – an organization that he helped to become #1.


In 1992 I was recruited to become a part of the senior leadership team which founded DIRECTV.

At the time we had a vision to provide the best values, best customer service and biggest package of entertainment available anywhere in the US.  We had a lot of difficulty getting up and running.  Negotiating programming agreements, establishing an outsourced customer care department, getting hardware manufacturers like Sony and Hitachi onboard to complement Thompson, and hiring people who would be as evangelical about the new service as the rest of us.

Under the guidance of Eddy Hartenstein, who became the CEO before he left, and Jim Ramo who went on to become the CEO of Movielink after moving- on, the company developed the right culture at the right time.  It flourished of course and the rest became history.  I was proud to be a key member of the leadership team; and during my tenure oversaw managed the acquisition of Primestar, the creation of the Home Services group, and developing partnerships with many companies such as AT&T, airlines, and bars/restaurants.

Since leaving DIRECTV in 2001 to launch Business Success Coach.net, I have watched DIRECTV evolve and change.  All organizations change of course.  But some do it better than others.  While pleased that it became a dominant player, I became concerned about decisions it was making which ultimately affected customer satisfaction levels.  I believe this indicator is critical to the ongoing success of any venture in any field.

During the past year, my experience dealing with DIRECTV has been very disappointing.  Hardware failures, lack of interest from customer care representatives, increasing fees and service charges, and mistakes on my bills have combined to cause me to decide to quit using DIRECTV and switch over to FIOS.  This was a tough decision given my background with the company.

I decided to switch over to FIOS for a lot of reasons including customer service, bundled services and monthly fees – each of which are all in the control of any organization’s management.   Distracted leaders, or those with inappropriate objectives, can derail any organization.  When faced with aggressive and well-financed competitors, that type of derailment results in customer defections, reduced subscriber acquisitions and higher operating costs.

If the current attitude and business approaches are maintained after the arrival DIRECTVs new CEO; I believe we will witness this company take a downward spiral that will shock many industry players and observers.

Executive hiring is back on the rise May 7, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", anxiety, Business, career success, Career Wisdom, Coaching, DIRECTV, Personal action plans, small business coach, stress, Veracity.
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How is it that the reports say things are still getting worse, but many companies are hiring executives again?  Do they know something the rest of us don’t – absolutely!  In this article, executive and business coach John M McKee provides some insight.


Most people get our information from the mass media who report on government releases which are usually “lagging indicators”.   For example, we hear in early May that the first quarter of the year’s Gross Domestic Product actually shrunk by 6% from last year.

This causes an interesting effect:

For the average citizen, (s)he hears that things are still going south from several different sources at the same time.  This typical individual then believes that things are still worsening because that’s being stated everywhere.  They act accordingly.

But, the stock market goes up on this apparently bad news.

That’s because the investor community is using different tools to inform their decisions.  Those folks are managing based, usually, on information which is much more current.  Hearing about something that occured 5 weeks ago isn’t that relevant, they’re more focused on what the future holds.

I believe that something similar happens with those making business decisions.  How the small business person gets his or her information is often very different than the the executive in larger entities.  They see data from the Federal Government’s unemployment figures report which is based on information that is a month old, they look at their cash flow, and bank account and make the best decision they can.  When asked how things are, they tell you about the current state of their business for the most part.

Compare that to those business leaders who see forward-looking indicator information like that published by Execunet.  In a recent report I received, they noted that 31% of the executives they polled have new positions available in their companies, hiring is occuring and 9 % of the HR execs they polled said that their companies are adding new executive level jobs.  When talking to recruiters and job interviewers, 18% said the are confident or very confident about the executive employment market over the next 3 months.  That’s up from the last report.

The US economy and job markets are not out of the soup yet.  But the forward looking indicators say that we’re past the bottom and moving upward again.

I’m telling clients that they should act accordingly.


One of my favorite recession survival tools April 6, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, anxiety, Business, Business Success Coach, career planning, Career Wisdom, Coaching, DIRECTV, Job advice, SWOT analysis, Tempur-Pedic, unemployment action, Veracity.
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The recent unemployment figures and action at General Motors continue to reinforce that this is an equal opportunity recession.  It doesn’t matter what type of work you do, if your employer is looking for ways to reduce expenses, chances are you are at risk.  Here’s a good solid approach to prepare for that:

I believe that corporate employees, just as with business owners and executives, with serious aspirations would be very wise to analyze both their macro and micro environments with a “Self-SWOT” analysis to best assure both their survival and advancement in today’s volatile, recessionary business climate.

For decades, SWOT analysis has been a basic, straightforward model providing strategic direction to organizations worldwide. By assessing a business entity’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, SWOT analysis serves to maximize a business’ chance for success.  In the same manner, individuals should perform a Self-SWOT analysis to identify intrinsic qualities (strengths and weaknesses) that may help or hinder them in the workplace, as well as external issues (opportunities and threats) that may work for or against them as they attempt to climb the corporate ladder.

Conducting a Self-SWOT analysis with regularity is, in my opinion, the single most effective ‘power tool’ one can use in optimizing their career.  Once complete, the results will help you identify, hone and leverage beneficial qualities in the workplace, and minimize obstacles that must be overcome to achieve desired results relative to one’s career.  But, while the Self-SWOT exercise is of fundamental importance, it’s not enough to simply identify one’s inner strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats. Rather, the strategic application of that key learning is what will positively affect one’s success in the workplace.

Here are some basic questions to ask yourself in a Self-SWOT analysis, and how to parlay the results into tangible “workplace wins”:
·      Core competencies, experience, education?
·      Personal competitive advantages amongst peers?
·      Financial status (risk tolerance)?
·      Networks: personal and professional affiliations through which to make connections, contacts and garner support?
·      Reputation, philosophy and values?

·      Gaps in mission critical skills?
·      Gaps in competitive strength?
·      Reputation, presence and image?
·      Vulnerabilities: cultural, attitudinal, behavioral?
·      Location and geographical?

·      Timely developments and trends (personal, company, industry)?
·      Peer/superior vulnerabilities?
·      Technology development and innovation?
·      Support system(s): peers, family, personal other?
·      Tactical developments, information, research and findings?

·      Effect of corporate culture/politics?
·      Personal limitations and obstacles (i.e., geography, etc.)?
·      Sustaining/cultivating skills through ongoing practice/education?
·      Anticipated/possible/likely changes to business landscape?
·      Insurmountable competition (peers, etc.)?

Once your Self-SWOT analysis is complete:
·      Carpe Diem. Core strengths and opportunities should be immediately capitalized upon and, optimally, should be matched, or paired up, to optimize the potential for success.
·      Turn Weakness into Strength. Rather than simply downplaying weaknesses, one should attempt to actually convert them into strengths.
·      Turn Threat into Opportunity. Similarly, every attempt should be able to convert threats into opportunities.

Good Luck!

– john

Anxiety, sleeplessness and performance March 12, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, Business, career success, Coaching, DIRECTV, life balance, Personal action plans, professional speakers, replenishment, Satisfaction, small business coach, Tempur-Pedic, The Secret, Veracity, wellness.
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tn_john-002.jpgI was recently invited to become a Wellness Advisor for Tempur-Pedic, the company famous for making sleep products.

Subsequently, I did some research on them.  When they invited me, the folks at Tempur-Pedic didn’t know that I’d been in the home furnishing business earlier in my career.  I was one of the leadership team at a large chain of retail stores that was very big in bedding and mattresses.  But Tempur-Pedic had come to me because they’d seen and heard me when I addressed about the importance of sleep in regards to one’s performance on the job. They came to talk to me as a coach, with no knowledge of my former corporate experience.

I was interested to see if Tempur-Pedic offered anything different than those other brand names we all see advertised by retailers across the nation every weekend.  And I was impressed with what I learned.

I found out that they really are an interesting company with cool products.  Their beds and pillows are created using a proprietary Tempur pressure-relieving material, it’s not just a “memory foam bed” which I had mistakenly assumed.  And the Tempur material is made using a formula and manufacturing process known to just a handful of individuals (like the recipe for Coke or KFC).

The company sells products that are usually associated with furniture in the medium high and higher prices.  I wondered if these products were really worth the difference in prices than say a mattress from IKEA or a Simmons sleep set from Macy’s.  They are.

I went to a retail store and working with a very knowlegable sales rep I tested a bunch of beds and asked a lot of questions.  I found out that I really liked their beds compared with others of similar prices.  They really have something with their secret formula.  And, as anyone who saw the recent Jim Carey move, Yes Man, will know – it’s as good for 2 people as a bed can be.

I am now a Wellness Advisor for the company.

I took them up on their offer because it came with no rules or obligations that might put me in a compromise.  I am not expected to talk about sleep all the time.  I don’t have to  pitch their products.

However, Tempur-Pedic will provide me with information I can use as a coach. Some recent research they’ve caused shows conclusive evidence that the economy today is causing increased anxiety which, in turn, is affecting people’s sleep patterns.  This type of research can be shared with others to help them improve their game:

For a professional who is trying to keep employed, or someone who is out of work, this type of insight and information could be something never considered.  And it’s important because factors affecting one’s performance could result in a layoff; or hamper their ability to get another job.

In closing, I’m going to get a Tempur-Pedic bed to ensure that I really know what I’m talking about when it comes to pro’s and con’s.  But I think I know that answer already.  Will keep you posted.


The economy, wellness, and restoration March 2, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in Business.
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Noticed that the economy has already had a chilling affect on many folks’ attitude while increasing their levels of anxiety?

Maybe it’s just my profession as a success coach; but it sure seems like a lot of people are settling in for what may be a longterm  funk. Understandable, of course.

However, during times of uncertainty, it’s very important to do things which will help you maintain some balance with an outlook which is as positive as possible.  Exercise, prayer, volunteer work, reading more – whatever it takes to replenish you – are even more critical to your mental and physical health during this period.   Such activity doesn’t have to cost much.  Often it’s free (been to a library recently?).

In January I started a new workout regime.

My wife, Sue, had been doing it aleady but she’s always been a bit of a jock and I haven’t.  So I wasn’t sure if it was something that would work as effectively on my 57 year-old bod.

The Good News is: it’s working.  Better News is: it will work, I believe, for anyone at any age; regardless of their current physical condition or past experience.

It’s called Bikram Yoga.  Using the same routine (26 poses and 2 breathing exercises) as traditional Hatha Yoga, it’s all about stretching, posing, and improving one’s quality of life via a focus on mental and physical health.  The key difference – and this is a really big difference – is that it’s done in a studio that is 105 degrees (F).  So you enter into the room and immediately, before you’ve even started the workout, your core temperature is going up.  I know that this may sound uncomfortable but once you get used to it – after maybe 2 or 3 visits – it’s not.  It’s kind of like entering a nice, warm spa from then. I actually look forward to going in now.

But this isn’t intended to be a pitch for just Bikram.  All forms of yoga, like Tai Chi I believe, are a smart way to improve your physical well being.  And that’s a good enough reason to try out.  Because it is all about focusing on each pose, it’s also a great way to banish those negative and axiety-increasing thoughts that can plague us during the day and night.  Consequently, doing this workout has a great impact on your replenishment and restoration.

The economy is bad, and according to the studies I see it’s going to continue to slide downhill for the next 2 quarters at least.

Each of us has a choice in difficult times: we can continue as usual or we can add to our repertoire and try to improve ourselves.    My advice:  don’t wait for anyone else to make you feel better.  Take “ownership” of your body and emotional well-being.

Here’s to your future!