0 comments on “The Negotiator”

The Negotiator

I am an expert negotiator.

Sure, I may pay full price for a car. I may get gouged for a water heater or a new air-conditioning unit. And I certainly lose most of the negotiations with my wife.

However, when I negotiate with myself, I always win.

Let me explain.

I train (exercise) everyday (with rare exception). Before I begin, I’ve already begun the negotiations. “Next item up for business: you planned to run 6 miles. Are you going to run 6 miles?” And then the process begins. It’s like an epic courtroom drama, the slick defense attorney vs. the conservative prosecutor.

Once I begin the run, the negotiations continue. Of course, the moment I sense a twang in my right knee or a ping in my left foot, it’s like a new exhibit has been entered into evidence.

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.” —Vince Lombardi

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” —Henry Ford

Sometimes I can convince myself to complete the 6 miles. Other times, I’ve negotiated a new outcome, one that realizes itself at around 3 or 4 miles. The evidence is almost always compelling: “You don’t want to get injured. Better to play it safe.”

While I think this process is healthy, it’s important to be conscious of one thing: do not allow your negotiations to become one-sided. In other words, if you’re regularly negotiating downwards (turning a 50-mile ride into a 30-miler, a 4,000 yard swim into 2,500), you must make sure to also negotiate upwards. On the days when you feel good, extend your bike ride, add an extra 20 minutes to your swim session, or run a couple extra loops around the block. And make sure this mindset transcends the treadmill and finds its way into your professional life. Negotiate upwards at work by minding the power of questions, daily goals, and self-talk:

Questions

Ask yourself carefully-crafted questions. “What can I do to increase productivity today?” “What can I do right now to help meet this quarter’s revenue goals?” The answers to these questions will help compel you to go forward.

Daily Goals

I like to jot these down in the morning, and if I’m spending a lot of time in front of a computer, I’ll put a Post-it Note or two onto the monitor to keep me focused on that day’s goals. Also, I’ll make an effort to visualize the attainment of these goals during morning meditation. Clear awareness of your daily goals should help you negotiate upwards, as daily goals should promote purpose.

Self-talk

Be mindful of your self-talk. As Lao Tzu noted, “Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions; Watch your actions; they become habits.” As you negotiate throughout the day, nudge your self-talk toward affirmation and optimism, employing language like “You can do this. Dig deep. Just make one more call.”

It’s okay to be an expert negotiator. But a real expert should be good at getting the most out of every negotiation.

0 comments on “Attention: Small Businesses who are LA Sports Fans”

Attention: Small Businesses who are LA Sports Fans

There is nothing like a fun day at the ballgame with your favorite client or hot prospect.  Grabbing a beer and a dog to build that relationship . . . what client or prospect wouldn’t want that invitation?

Figuring out how to use that limited marketing budget can be a slippery slope.  Does this key individual even like sports and if so, how do I determine which sport he or she is a fan of?  It might be easiest to simply ask.  But why not do some simple market analytics first, to get a better idea of local fan-base tastes and tendencies by various demographics?

This chart below, from the LA Times sports page, inspired me to put a little more thought into this. JA blog - LA sports teams infograph (1)

I like this infograph, as it is brief, clear, and provides good information in easily digested form.  I learned a couple of things very quickly.  The popularity of the Lakers is declining, but they are still the hottest ticket in town.  The Rams (“the same old Rams!”) are more popular with African-American Baby Boomers.  84% of Asian Americans prefer either the Dodgers or Lakers, and Latinos tend to bleed “Dodger Blue” more than other ethnicities.

Buying tickets to whatever event requires some level of planning.  For example, season ticket commitments occur long before the season starts.  Instead of blindly guessing how to allocate the client and prospect marketing budget, many small businesses reach out to boutique consulting firms to obtain market research to make better and more informed decisions.  Tickets are not cheap, so everyone wants to hit the bullseye the best they can.

It would be nice if there is an affordable and fast delivery of Infographics that cater to the specific and often unique target markets of your small business.  Local financial consultants understand the local market, including the trends and tendencies of sports team popularity by demographic.  Pulling data from the overwhelming but useful data available today, then organizing and distilling it using spreadsheets and graphs that are read and not ignored by your audience, is doable today at a low cost and low burden.

The local sports market is in the midst of further recent disruption.  Layered onto the LA Rams move from St. Louis is the pending moves of the Raiders (Oakland to Las Vegas) and Chargers (San Diego to LA).  This volatility is compelling many small businesses to seek experts to guide their navigation of the shifting LA sports team landscape.  Sharpening your decisions through high quality and productive market research and analysis supports the high profit margin, high growth, and maximized marketing ROI financial models of premier small businesses.

0 comments on “Like Stone”

Like Stone

On the front cover of this month’s The Costco Connection is Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. She is pictured up close, in focus, donning a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Behind her, in soft focus, is the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV.

If 19th century feminist Lucy Stone (1818-1893) saw this, would she be surprised? After all, Stone was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree (she attended Oberlin College in Ohio), but when asked to write the commencement speech for her graduating class, she refused. Her speech would have to be read by a man. Women were prohibited from giving a public address.

The uncompromising Stone searched until she found a venue that would provide her with an opportunity to speak publicly. Her brother allowed her to speak from the pulpit of his church in Gardner, Massachusetts. And the topic of Stone’s first public address? Women’s rights.

Too much has already been said and written about women’s sphere. Leave women, then, to find their sphere. —Lucy Stone

To make the public sentiment, on the side of all that is just and true and noble, is the highest use of life. —Lucy Stone

In the study of success, in the study of legacy, we can learn from Lucy Stone.  What did she do to effect change?

Persist

When the Bible was quoted to Lucy Stone in defense of gender inequality, she (according to Jone Johnson Lewis) “declared that when she grew up, she’d learn Greek and Hebrew so she could correct the mistranslation that she was sure was behind such verses!”

Takeaway: In business as in life, when we know our truth to be THE truth, we mustn’t acquiesce. We must go over, go under, or go around. We must find a way, for truth can become compromise, and compromise can become apathy. Stay strong. Persist. And remember, as declared by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “My life is not an apology.”

Champion

To walk a righteous path but not know where it’s leading . . . is a mistake. To champion a cause, however, indicates a defined goal or objective. Stone championed women’s rights, something she focused on until the end. In fact, as she lay dying, she uttered these four final words to her daughter: “Make the world better.”

Takeaway: In business as in life, we can spend much of our day simply fighting to keep our head above water. We wrestle with our life-preserver in an effort to stay afloat; meanwhile, we make little progress toward our objective.

  1. Make sure to have an over-arching goal; in other words, champion a cause for your company or for your life. (Answering all of your emails, returning voicemails, and attending the morning meeting with Client X and the afternoon meeting with Colleague Y might be the professional equivalent of flailing your arms to keep water out of your nose so that you don’t drown! Only you know if what you do each day is helping you progress toward attaining your over-arching goal.)
  2. Once you have your over-arching goal, you can begin with the end in mind. Certainly, your day will require allocation to maintenance. But make sure to set aside time for growth as well. Remember, maintenance is what you have to do to stay afloat. Growth is what you must assert if you ever want peace.

Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Business Writing”

Business Writing

The amount of time wasted by poorly-executed emails is astounding. It’s not simply time wasted through misunderstanding but misallocation of words. The time cost and the distraction cost lead to an unfortunate business cost. Of course, we cannot control the reader, but we can control the writer.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” —Mark Twain

“I only achieve simplicity with enormous effort.” —Clarice Lispector

When we put systems into place regarding our writing, we can influence our reader accordingly.

Focus

Business emails should not be written in a stream-of-consciousness style akin to a WhatsApp conversation. Your reader should not wonder if you are related to Benjy from The Sound and the Fury. Keep it simple. Before you write your email, ask yourself: What do I want to convey? What does my reader need to know?

Organization

This is the answer to “How.” How can I convey this to my reader? Again, keep it simple. You don’t need a cannon to shoot a rabbit.

Development

Sometimes we have a lot to say. Remember, though, that your long email will likely be processed in parts. And the notion that your entire email will be processed by the reader is optimistic. When you determine how extensively you need to develop your email (if it’s longer than two-three paragraphs), consider sending it in parts. (Don’t reveal your plan in the subject line, i.e., The Nestle Account, part 1.) Just set some reminders or alerts so that you know to initiate part 2, 3, etc., but do so after you’ve determined that part 1 was adequately comprehended and acted upon.

Logic

It’s not enough to proofread your email once before clicking “send.” Unfortunately, if it makes sense to you, that means very little to your reader. Many of us use inside lingo on the outside world, and then we are surprised that we’ve accidentally circumscribed our audience. Don’t proofread your email while asking, “Does this make sense to me?” Instead, proofread your email while asking, “Will this make sense to my reader?”

Arima Business Solutions has expert consultants in business writing, editing, blog writing, and ghostwriting. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your content-creation needs.

0 comments on ““To Do” and “Not To Do” Lists”

“To Do” and “Not To Do” Lists

If you’ve been active on social media lately, you’ve likely scrolled upon an article showcasing Leonardo da Vinci’s “To Do” list. The implication is not simply that da Vinci’s list is more ambitious than yours but, specifically, that “To Do” lists are composed by successful people.

“History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.” —Winston Churchill

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.” —Ayn Rand

While the “To Do” list has enjoyed great fanfare, the “Not To Do” list seems to be under-emphasized. What should make your “Not To Do” list may differ from others’, but consider these:

Smart Phones

When you need to focus on something, turn off your ringer (don’t allow it to vibrate either), and place your phone face down. Your focus is a hot commodity, and it should be protected. Of course, apps and telemarketers are competing for your focus. Do not surrender until you have planned to. In other words, when you are working, producing, thinking . . . when you are focused . . . build a fortress that phone notifications cannot penetrate. And then, once you are ready to switch tasks, once your focus is not at a premium, go ahead and flip your phone over, and have a look at your Facebook feed.

Carpe diem

To be clear, you should commit to seizing the day. What you should be careful of (on weekdays) is carpe noctem. This, of course, is a reference to seizing the night, and it is especially curious to see how we can arrive home after a long workday, and while we claim to be tired, we find ourselves suddenly possessed after a glass of wine (or two). We live in the moment, focused only on our immediate goal: “This feels good, so let’s fuel this feeling!!” Our less-immediate goals fall by the wayside, taking second place to a tired, tipsy, fun-loving fool. This may be why it’s not too crowded at the top. Remember, success is not an accident. If you have serious goals, then you must take them seriously.

Habit Changing

You have developed specific habits on purpose. You exercise each day for 45 minutes, or you include green veggies in each of your meals, or you kick-start your brain each morning by studying a foreign language. Maybe you meditate daily, or perhaps you make sure to read at least 5 pages from a self-help book every morning. Whatever your habits, know that when you skip a day, you are (often unconsciously) abandoning the habit and embracing a new one: the new habit, of course, is no longer doing whatever you were previously committed to. If you have deliberately chosen your habits, haphazard “habit changing” should make your “Not To Do” list.

What are some other things that should be on your “Not To Do” list? Comment below, or reach out to us today.

0 comments on “Remember “Think & Grow Rich””

Remember “Think & Grow Rich”

Any entrepreneur serious about his craft has likely read Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich. It’s been 80 years since its original publication, but the secrets offered to Hill by Andrew Carnegie remain transformative. Further, they remain fundamental to success. As Jim Rohn once said, “There are no new fundamentals. You’ve got to beware of the man who says ‘we’re manufacturing antiques.'”

“We see men who have accumulated great fortunes, but we often recognize only their triumph, overlooking the temporary defeats which they had to surmount before ‘arriving.'” —Napoleon Hill

“Defeat makes you stronger.” —Napoleon Hill

Here are 3 fundamentals from Hill’s essential work:

Thoughts Are Things

If your thoughts are buoyed by vague hope and imprecision, you will not likely transcend your place in life. If, however, you recognize that thoughts are real, then commit to making your thoughts clear and precise. This type of thinking is what Andrew Carnegie employed to turn desire into gold. He followed six steps, two of which shall be identified here:

  • First, write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire, name the time limit for its acquisition, state what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
  • Second, read your written statement aloud twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after arising in the morning. As you read, see and feel and believe yourself already in possession of the money.

Failure

There are 31 major reasons for failure. Many of the reasons play critical roles in our story (the story we tell ourselves and often unconsciously rehearse). Among these 31 reasons noted by Hill is number 4: Insufficient education. Hill writes: “There is a handicap which may be overcome with comparative ease. Experience has proven that the best-educated people are often those who are known as ‘self-made’ or self-educated. It takes more than a college degree to make one a person of education. Any person who is educated is one who has learned to get whatever he wants in life without violating the rights of others. Education consists not so much of knowledge, but of knowledge effectively and persistently applied. Men are paid not merely for what they know, but more particularly for what they do with that which they know.”

Positive vs. Negative

Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time. According to Hill, these are the major negative emotions: fear, jealousy, hatred, revenge, greed, superstition, anger. And these are the positive emotions: desire, faith, love, sex, enthusiasm, romance, hope. “It is your responsibility,” notes Hill, “to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence of your mind.”

A little bit of success literature can go a long way. Make the consumption of works like Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich a part of your daily ritual. As Zig Ziglar was fond of saying, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

For more motivation, reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Bookkeeper, Housekeeper?”

Bookkeeper, Housekeeper?

Bookkeeping. What is bookkeeping, and what are they “keeping?”

A bookkeeper is “a keeper of books,” not too different semantically from scorekeeper (keeper of score), housekeeper (keeper of the house), and timekeeper (keeper of time). What’s the common thread with these vocations? At first blush, they are dull, boring, unremarkable. They are things many wish not to do. But bookkeeping (at least for small businesses) is absolutely necessary.

When companies are doing well, it’s great. Cash is coming in, new accounts abound, territories are expanding, and there may just be an IPO looming. But when this happens, if a dollar is lost, stolen, or misplaced . . . no one notices. The mentality seems to be, “The cash is coming in. We got it covered!”

When companies are struggling, it’s an entirely different situation. The mentality pivots: “We need to upsize that line of credit! Can we ward off the bank’s credit committee? How did we get boxed into this financial condition? You want me to meet our future equity partner?” These are Dickens’ “worst of times.”

Now let’s talk about bookkeeping. It is suddenly important, yes? That loan increase or loan forbearance will not happen, not if the integrity of your books is compromised, not if the system of checks and balances is scaring the credit officer. And what if you’re looking for some equity cash? Sure, no problem, but the books are not current, and they are unreconciled, so the price point certainly will adjust for that.

Good bookkeeping departments or, if outsourced, good bookkeeping services can make or break a company. But once the strong cycle has transitioned to tough times, it is too late to package a clean and polished financial statement for banks and investors. The books are already closed, for better or for worse. As Chick Hearn would say, “The books are in the refrigerator, the P&L is cooling, and the miscodes are getting hard.” It is too late.

The requirements of bookkeeping can be simply stated. Book your GAAP accruals, reconcile cash, and close the books quickly. Begin with properly trained, reliable resources. Employ oversight and/or coaching by a competent supervisor. Establish accounting processes and practices with great internal controls.

Arima Business Solutions provides full-service bookkeeping. If you need an influx of talent and new perspectives, make sure they can bind the day-to-day bookkeeping so that it supports and does not detract from the company plan. Good consultants can sniff out fraud. They can identify red flags and mistakes. They can distill the information for easy understanding by owners, presidents, and Boards. They can speak to the financial trends, positive and negative. The competition is crowded and fierce in most industries today. High credibility from very well-kept books is, indeed, a strategic weapon.

Companies that are not focused on bookkeeping? Well, you know. The miscodes are getting hard.

ABS Financial Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “Public Speaking”

Public Speaking

If it were easy, everyone would do it. In fact, it’s reportedly the number one fear in the USA. (Number two is death.) This suggests that many would rather die than speak publicly.

Of course, like most things, public speaking is a skill developed over time, with lots of trial and error. Still, there are ways to fast-track your oratorical ability so that you can seem proficient now.

“Some people have a way with words, and other people . . . oh, uh, not have way.”         —Steve Martin

“There are a great many ‘wetless’ bathing suits worn at the seashore, but no one ever learns to swim in them. To plunge is the only way.” —Dale Carnegie

Consider these tips:

Envision Your Audience

Know, to the best of your ability, your audience. Sometimes this will require research. Other times it’s just common sense. This is not about pleasing everybody. It’s about being considerate of your audience’s needs and wants. Remember that language can connect people, and it can also create distance. Note the value and the detriment of the following:

  • Technical language
  • Conversational language
  • Profanity
  • Questions
  • The purposeful “um,” “like,” or “right?”

Don’t Read

Most people are bad readers. Further, unless it’s a bedtime story, few audiences enjoy being read to. Instead, consider having a list of your talking points. If you’re announcing a promotion in front of your staff, perhaps this is your list:

  • I first met Charlie . . .
  • He embodies our core beliefs by . . .
  • I’m pleased to promote Charlie to . . .

Questions Are Powerful

Another method for listing is to compose the questions you plan to answer. The human brain responds well to questions, and so should yours in a short speech. You don’t need to say each question aloud but, instead, use it to direct your speech. Here’s how it might look:

  • When did you meet Charlie?
  • How does he embody our core beliefs?
  • Why are you pleased to promote Charlie?

As you deliver your speech, imagine that you are a movie camera, panning left to right and right to left, capturing reaction shots. (If it’s a speech in a large venue, request that the house lights remain on so that you can see how your presentation is being received by your audience.) Make eye contact with audience members as you pan. Good speakers will do this. Great speakers will adapt to the reactions and adjust their content accordingly.

Of course, there is more to it, but this is where we begin. Would your business benefit from a nudge in this direction? ABS Professional Services consultants are eager to meet with you. Reach out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.

0 comments on “The Age of Big Data”

The Age of Big Data

I know. Another article on Big Data. Although I can’t promise an edge-of-your-seat, fascinating tell-all story that dazzles the senses on Big Data, we ARE in the Age of Big Data. To properly integrate Big Data analytics so that it delivers the expected customer value requires proper planning. It also requires people that are passionate about executing this type of innovation.

Analytics was once a back-office operation, driven primarily by actuaries and statisticians, but it is now a cross-functional group with executive-level visibility. When asking CIOs how they would spend a windfall of “extra” IT budgets, over one third said they would spend it on Big Data.

Let’s face it. Installing Big Data is a heavy investment in people and budgetary resources. Substantial risk is in play for failure to execute. Poorly-managed system integrations like this can produce overages in the time to go to market, budgets, and having an end result that does not satisfy the customer value objectives. Infrastructure modernization can be costly, estimated at $232 billion across all industries in 2016.

The inroads made in automating processes, combined with the increased access to data, have created realistic opportunities for companies to develop and launch Big Data innovations. In the race to drive top-line growth, there is great pressure to make use of Big Data advanced analytic tools. Clients demand greater depth and insights into their accounts. Larger competitors, who have the capacity to acquire the internal intelligence to build proprietary data platforms, are making smaller companies nervous about being left behind.

The good news is Big Data is available to all of us. The bad news is, well, Big Data is available to all of us, competition included. Notwithstanding, having an abundance of Big Data is a good thing, right? The answer is yes, if you are able to organize and develop a flexible system that is built for scale.

In the coming weeks, look for additional articles on Big Data from ABS. Until then, consider reaching out to us today. Let’s have a conversation about your needs.