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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.

Consider:

  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!
John
Executive leadership coach

You should know the Rule of 3 June 28, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business intelligence, career planning, career success, coaches, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Personal Success, The Plan, Veracity.
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Today, more than ever, it’s important to face up to the idea that your employment or professional success may be impacted by factors beyond your control.  In this blog executive coach John M McKee discusses how to apply a planning approach that’s used successfully by organizations to your own career.

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Headhunters are receiving a lot of resumes these days. 

One I spoke with yesterday told me that her office is being flooded with them while there’s still no dramatic increase in hiring.

2011 is, and will remain, a difficult year.  Depending on which stats you believe, it’s likely that we’ll close the year in the US with about 8.9% reported unemployment, growth for the economy will be about 2.2% in real terms.  For most businesses, the prospects are no more positive.  Clients are developing an attitude of playing it safe and spending – in many cases – the minimum possible.

More than ever before, I’m hearing requests for information and guidance. To boil them down, they are, more or less in one of these areas:

  • How can I guard against ending up as another one of the statistics we’re seeing on the news every day?
  • Are there tools or approaches that one can use to help ensure that (s)he is proactively managing his/her career more assertively?

Here’s one I’ve found to be very successful.  It’s called The Rule of 3. It’s predicated on the premise that nobody should be managing-by-crossed-fingers.

 The Rule of 3 is the opposite of hoping.  You know:  Hoping to not get fired, or Hoping that one’s clients will start buying more, and then Hoping they’ll pay their bills more promptly.  Crossed fingers as a strategy isn’t going to do it.  Much better to buy some lotto tickets.

The Rule works for an individual who’s employed, self-employed, or contracting.  It works for small business and large organizations.

It assumes that none of us is smart enough to ever see everything ahead.

It’s about keeping options open, being thoughtful, and rolling with the natural shifts in cycles.  I suggest you give it some consideration, and noodle about how to apply it to your situation.

So, my advice is – starting today – determine 3 options for your professional life. I’ll use an example of someone who works for an organization to show where these options could be:

1. I have a job and will do whatever it takes to keep it.  For most people, this means stepping-up.  Doing, and being seen and recognized for doing, things beyond which others in similar roles would ever do.  Showing – more than ever – that you’re the one who the company simply must keep even if others have to be laid off.  It could involve more work, more hours, helping out in different areas beyond your role, taking courses to show that you are capable of doing other projects or activities.  You want everyone to know that you, more than anyone else, are a keeper.

2. Accept the reality that you still may lose your job. Despite your best efforts personally, other factors can come into play. The company may go down, or the offices where you work may be shuttered, or your department could be outsourced.

With that as a possibility, now is the time to start planning what the ideal alternative would be.  What I mean is:

  • “If I became victim of this environment, what would my preferred outcome be?
  • If I could choose my next job, what would it be and where would it be?”

Get clear on this and start investigating, while you’re still in your current role, what it would take to get that other job.  It could be internal or with another company or another industry.

Now you’ve got the beginnings of a back-up plan that you could use in the event of the worst case in the current job.  With some groundwork now, you would be in a strong place to move from a sacking to a job you could be happy with.  Start taking actions that will help ensure you will not be immobilized by actions taken by the current employer

3. Recognize that your preferred outcome may not materialize as expected and hoped.  So, you lost your current job and then went after the preferred alternative but your plan didn’t come together as intended.  Now what?  Here’s where the Rule of 3 is even more important because, as ugly as it is, you’ve already contemplated this scenario.  You’ve noodled about other jobs, or sources of income, that you could do and that would keep some cash flowing into your life.  Not necessarily the kind of activity you’d prefer; but it can keep the rent paid and buy you some meatloaf.  Creating this fallback plan while you’re still employed is important because you’re doing it more dispassionately.  Your ego is intact, your common sense more in play.  I once had a company executive tell me his #3 was working at a call center providing service to others.(!)

Hopefully, neither he or you  will never have to use your #3; but creating a plan now that is more likely to help you through the possible worst case scenario will reduce the chances of having to find out.  You are becoming more active in managing your future and increasing the chances of effectively dealing with any problems that may arise.

For more ideas about creating a plan. Check out my new book The Plan.  Right now it’s available as a download at no charge.

Here’s to your future.

John

Message to college grads – you have it all wrong! May 31, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, American Dreamers, anxiety, career success, coaches, Coaching, emotional decisions, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Gen Y's, life balance, new jobs, Personal Success, professional speakers, Satisfaction, succeeding during a recession, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Plan, Veracity.
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Takeaway:  What’s the benefit of an education if you can’t find a job?  In this week’s blog, another perspective.

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It’s that season again.  Across North America young adults are joining with fellow students to get their diplomas at the Grad Ceremony.  I hope this will be a wonderful day or weekend for them all.  They’ve invested a lot of time and money to get an education, and, certainly they deserve to celebrate their success.

Unfortunately, the grad ceremony may their last celebration for a long time.

Here’s why:

These young people graduate expecting to be able to put their education to use in a job that they care about; but unfortunately, real life’s not like that. You would hope after making such a major financial investment in their futures, the grads would be better prepared to move forward into the next phase of their life.

But they’re not.

Even after, for some, 4 years spent in college, new grads rarely have the tools they need to create a satisfying life. In fact, college focuses on all the wrong things. Anyone wanting a life that’s both successful and satisfying needs to know how to take a long term view and picture their lives 10 years from now. This doesn’t have to be difficult, there’s a method that’s been used by both individuals and organizations to do just that. But, without a clear idea of what you want, and how you’re going to get there, it’s unlikely that your college degree by itself is going to get you where you want to go.

Many colleges know that they’re not giving students the tools they need to enter into the real world successfully – a few years ago I was invited to speak on the subject to an organization called The International Academy of Business Disciplines.  One of the key purposes of this group of academics is to assess current trends in the real world to ensure that the schools they represent are preparing their students adequately to succeed.

Unfortunately, far too few colleges and course providers are doing that as proactively.

Consequently, in college, many students focus on the current term and not on what happens after graduation. Unfortunately, many carry that same approach into the real world. And that can lead to disaster and disappointment. The key is to know what you want, and how you’re going to get it.

We talk about that a lot in our new book, The Plan, which was co-written with Helen Latimer.  In it we outline essential techniques to realize true life-balance, career success and financial independence. We use an approach to creating a plan for their lives based on a method of planning used by successful businesses and organizations around the world.

The good news is that it’s not too late for grads to get on the right track. There are clear steps to achieving a full and satisfying life.  Hopefully, they recognize this themselves, or someone will point them to the benefits of making a clear plan.

Here’s to the future.

John

Audience targeting to survive May 11, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Action Plans, business success, Business Success Coach, Coaching, DIRECTV, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Personal action plans, SWOT analysis, Tech Republic, Tempur-Pedic, The 3 Key Life Aspects, The Four Windows Process, The Plan, Veracity, women in management.
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In my coaching practice, the clients are mostly in either media (video, newspaper, movies) or technology (including gaming).  But what we talk about is far more universal.  Most of our time is about addressing perhaps 4 to 6 issues like

  • leadership and effectiveness
  • balance between career and personal “lives”
  • planning (and execution) of a solid plan
Of course we get into a lot of technical conversations related to their jobs because it can be the detail stuff (“how do I actually do that?”) that derails us even when we get the theory.
A lot of what we discuss and work on can be found in our new book, The Plan.  Additionally I’m impressed by a few new ideas we’ve discussed that I now see floating to the surface in these sectors. These will impact all of us in our daily lives.  Some of them:
1. Groupon – is moving into concert sales.  This can save a bad tour, help fill an otherwise unsuccessful venue, and democratize the event by making it less expensive for most people.
When that succeeds I think it will spread to movie theaters.  There are too many chairs empty in nearly every showing.  People will go if the show is less expensive.
2. Newspapers and magazines are moving into the digital world but aren’t sure how to monetize (eg: make money) now when they get there.
I’ve seen a few ideas that showcase the future and thought these 2 quick videos seem to be the most likely outcomes:
Any entrepreneur or small business faces the same needs to understand audience targeting.  I believe that algorhythims are going to lead us there.   Anyone know some great geek?  Grab ’em while they’re available.

– John

“Everything’s excellent”. Really? January 28, 2011

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", Action Plans, business and career coaching, business intelligence, Business Success Coach, career success, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Veracity.
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“John, You impress me. You’ve got great experience in the real world, unlike most coaches.  And your reputation is excellent.  I want to tell you that when we need a leadership coach in this organization; your office is the first one we’ll contact.  But right now – I can’t think of anyone who could use a coach.”

I was talking to the CEO & Chairman of a very large media company.

A smart guy, I like him a lot.  But he’s clearly out of touch with what’s really going on.

In effect, here’s what he was saying:

1. All of my managers are performing at, or above, expectations.

2. I don’t have anyone who is roadblocked; they’re all moving forward successfully.

3. Everybody here is fully aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.

4. Business is great, profits are great, the outlook is great.

5. Nobody on my team is a flight risk (meaning, none of the really good performers will ever leave here – they love their jobs and this company).

Can any thoughtful boss – in any organization – say all of these things?

I recognize it’s very possible that this CEO was really just trying to avoid the conversation with me.  Perhaps he doesn’t feel he has the “expense money” to engage me.

But no boss or organization, can “Save their way to success.” Especially in a dynamic industry.

  • Any good business opportunity comes with an investment cost.  But there’s a key  difference between prudent business people and the rest of the pack:  the smart  ones look for assurance that they’ll see a solid Return on that Investment (ROI).
  • I learned this myself years ago when I was asked to turn around a failing business. Only after discussing ROI was I prepared to make any decision about spending the little money we had.  I’d expect nothing less from our clients.

But the CEO above, with his hasty response, may never know that he could have engaged us with no risk. Consequently, he missed an solid opportunity to improve his organization’s results.

All in the name of “expense savings”.

At Business Success Coach.net, I believe in the importance of a Guarantee. And, because I’ve led $B organizations myself, I fully recognize that there is a critical need for achieving a ROI. In my practice, we provide both.

Like any astute business person, the CEO above should have asked before responding.  But he didn’t.  And that’s just unfortunate.  For everyone there.

John

Here’s to Your Future!

Why most leaders suck at personal cash management: October 6, 2010

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, Action Plans, business success, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, life balance, Personal action plans, quality of life, The Four Windows Process.
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Most managers are inept when it comes to managing their own cash and personal finances.  And today – more than ever – one needs to be more conscious about how they look after their financial situation, especially their cash flow.

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Over the years, as both an executive and as a coach, I’ve witnessed something about managers and leaders over and over:

Many make ample money but are, technically speaking anyway, bankrupt.  They owe more than they own.  They’re entirely dependent on their paychecks to make even the minimum monthly payments, in many cases.  And the situation doesn’t neccessarily improve as they get promotions and raises during their careers – they simply start spending more so they still end up in dangerous waters.

At my coaching practice, Business Success Coach.net, we use The Four Windows Process in our client coaching.  Simply put, it’s predicated on the belief that each of us has 3 key aspects which combine to determine who we are.

These 3 aspects are:

Career side – This is the side of you who goes to work each day to earn money while working at something you’ve chosen for a job or career.

Personal / family aspect – This is that part of you which focuses on doing things which replenish you, with your friends and loved ones.

Finance element- This is the aspect of your life focused on how to manage the money you have over the short term and long run.

When properly done, using a plan and ensuring balance between them, they can create a life of great satisfaction.  However, if one or more of these life elements are not looked after, the result is often an individual who, despite some good successes – for example in her/his career or personal life – is very dissatisfied with their life overall.  Very frequently, it is the financial management aspect of their life that has them disappointed and frustrated.

Here’s a quick quiz to see how you’re doing.  Give yourself 1 point for each one you answer “yes”:

1. Do you know your actual monthly cash burn rate (how much you always spend)?
2. Do you know what your total monthly fixed expenses (the minimum you must spend to live) are?
3. Do you have a savings plan?
4. Are you keeping to the plan you made?  (eg: is it growing as planned?)
5. Do you have at least 3 months of cash for an emergency fund?
6. Conservative planners have 6 months. Do you?
7. Do you pay off your credit card balances at least 9 months out of 12?
8. Are is current total debt load (value of all you owe to anyone) lower than it was 12 months ago?
9.. Do you know your net worth (value of all you own less the value of debt including home)?
10. Do you rely on a bonus or other financial incentive to play “bill catch-up” each year?

Rating scale:

10 – please call the Commerce Secretary & offer to fix the US. We need you out there!
9 – awesome! You are one of a very few who are doing it right and you’ll reap the rewards
8 – excellent job – stand up and take a bow before the rest of the world!
7 – Nice work – with a little more focus you’ll be in a great place
6 – Good – you’re doing better than most people, but more effort is needed
5 – Seems like you understand the mechanics but need to be more dedicated
4 – You may want to consider marrying someone for money.
3 – This is not good.  You are in dangerous waters. Get involved. Now.
2 – A little better but you’d better start buckling down before it’s too late.
1 – This is serious.  You need to start getting more involved before it’s too late.

Here’s to your future!

John