Monday, January 27, 2014

Manage the talent, not the job description

Many of you are lamenting that you can’t keep up with all the new business that’s come in recently. If you’re expecting us to say admiringly, “That’s a nice problem to have,” then think again. Chances are, you’re not keeping up with the client promises you’ve made; you’re team’s getting burned out; you’re not scaling up to take on bigger and higher profile clients; and you’re probably losing opportunities to firms with deeper bench strength. Still think that’s a nice problem to have? If you stopped hiring and interviewing prospects during the downturn and you weren’t developing your staff and knowledge base internally during those dark days of 2008-2010, then you may be playing a dangerous game of catch-up just when the demand cycle is on overdrive.

Zero turnover in six years
I recently
interviewed Stephanie Drake, head of the American Hospital Association in Chicago. A human resource professional by training, Drake told me she manages talent, not job descriptions.
The person who manages our publications also handles all of our finances,” she said. “That person has a unique skill set that you can’t interview for. I want people to do their best work and utilize as many of their talents or interests as they can.”

Does this approach work? Drake’s had had no voluntary turnover in the six-plus years she’s been at the helm. That’s right, zero turnover. Drake shared another example: “Suppose you’re a marketing person and you’re interested in conference planning even though you’ve never done it before. We’ll encourage you to shadow someone in our conference planning group and try it out and see if it’s a good fit for you.”

Charles Boinske, founder of Independence Advisors  in Wayne, PA agreed. “Team development is critical. Educate them. Provide them with learning opportunities. Doing so will increase your firm’s knowledge base and lead to better results for your clients and more satisfied team members,” said Boinske, a new client of ours.

Now if you’re really committed to exponential growth, not just a few percentage points every year, then Gary Klaben, Family Manager of our client
Coyle Financial Counsel in Chicago, said the kind of people you have on the team will be attracted by a “10x” growth philosophy as well. “They’re going to be more alert, responsive and curious. And they’re going to take ownership of the business. That’s very important in wealth advisory services because there are so many moving parts and things going on that we need folks to be looking out for the best interests of the business. It’s not just a job.”

Never stop innovating

AHA’s Drake said her organization is willing to try anything at least once to see what happens. “If it serves a member need and has the potential for positive ROI, then we’ll give it a try. Our new HR professional certification program is an example of that [philosophy]” she said.  Boinske agreed that you should never stop innovating.  “I tell my staff, ‘If we dont fail periodically then, we aren't trying hard enough.’ Keep a logbook of your successes and failures and celebrate both.”

According to Klaben, if you really want to create exponential growth in your business, then you have to “pull the future toward you by embracing technology and change.”

Get your team invested in the business, not just in promotions, new job titles and bonuses. The more they feel like stakeholders in the business and less like employees, the more likely they’ll go the extra mile for you and help you bring in, develop and retain like-minded high achievers.

It’s Monday. Let’s get to work. Time to bring in all those great opportunities that you and your team deserve.

There's more on the FREE Resources page of our website.

Tags: Manage the talent not the job description, Stephanie Drake, American Hospital Association, Gary Klaben, Coyle Financial Counsel, Charles Boinske, Independence Advisors


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Skill vs. Luck in Investing, Business and Tomorrow’s Big Games

Here we are three weeks into the new year. It looks like the economy will continue its slow, upward slog back up the mountain of optimism and the Fed will wean us off its QE stimulus program. Sure interest rates are likely to rise, but most of the experts we have consulted agree there’s still some nice upside to the equity markets. The difference is it won’t be as easy as it has been the past two years and there won’t be as many “geniuses” anointed by the financial press this time a year from now.

Since many of your firms are directly or indirectly tied to the investment world, now is you time to shine—not to be worried. If you’re smart, you’ll position yourself as a thought leader--not a follower—and use this financial climate to distance yourself from the pack.
As Investment News noted this week, “Most investors are fairly optimistic that 2014 will be a decent year for performance, but financial advisers intend to inject a little more caution into client conversations.” According to a new survey of 302 advisers sponsored by Janus Capital Group and completed by Market Strategies International, 93 percent of respondents cited rising rates as one of the top five most important topics to discuss in 2014.

This might mean tougher sledding in the equity markets and some tougher client conversations. But it’s when professionals with true skill will distance themselves from those who’ve been merely lucky.

NFL playoff predictions and market expertise

Back around Thanksgiving time, a number of you participated in a Market 2014 Forecast article that we edited for our client CEG Worldwide. We’re pleased to announce that many of your predictions seem to be coming true, including the likely winner of the Super Bowl. At the time we checked in with you, about 16 teams had a realistic shot of making the playoffs, but as a group you chose only one of three teams to win it all (Denver, Seattle or San Francisco). As the final four teams head into tomorrow’s conference championship games, all three are still alive and two are favored to win.
All four teams in tomorrow’s conference championship games are stocked with great athletes, great coaches and veteran teams with ample playoff experience. They’re evenly matched and there won’t be any easy touchdowns, so it may come down to whoever makes fewer mistakes, manages the clock better or doesn’t choke under pressure. In other words, skill.


Speaking of skill versus luck, several of you have recommended Michael Mauboussin’s thought provoking book “The Success Equation: Untangling Skill and Luck in Business, Sports and Investing.

We agree with that recommendation. Mauboussin, an investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management, uses a combination of rigorous statistcs and real-word anecdotes to explain how we can really learn to distinguish how elements of skill and luck factor into so many important aspect of life and learn to make better, more confident decisions.

DISCLOSURE: We have not ties to the author, publisher or any of the online retailers that carry this book.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.
TAGS: Luck versus skill, David Mauboussin, NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl contenders, Legg Mason, Investment News, Janus Capital

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Don’t Fall into the Too Long, Didn’t Read Pile

We know this is when many of you are catching up on your weekend reading. You’re probably distracted by the NFL playoffs or having some fun on the slopes, at the pool, in the mall or at the museum. But we know you can’t help yourself from staying connected to the grid. You’re still doing your best to absorb the endless flood of information you feel you to process in order to keep pace with the rest of your world.

Here’s our advice: Stay connected, but be selective.

The great thing about today’s technology is that you can keep track of your messages, workflow, calendar, project plans and contacts just about anytime, anywhere on any device. The bad thing about today’s technology is that YOU’RE EXPECTED to keep track of your messages, workflow, calendar, project plans and contacts anytime, anywhere on any device.

Here’s another conundrum about the modern professional’s life. With today’s technology, anyone with an Internet connection can be a publisher or broadcast network with a worldwide audience. The BAD THING about today’s technology is that anyone with an Internet connection can be a publisher or broadcast network with a worldwide audience.

“There's too much noise, too much poorly written, overly written, defensively written and generally useless stuff cluttering your life,” futurist and blogger, Seth Godin posted this week. As a result, he said we have too much TLDR --"too long; didn't read."

As most of our clients know, you can’t be a thought influencer unless you share your insights regularly with a TARGETED audience that you’ve carefully built over your career. You respect them and they trust you. They’ll forgive the occasional typo, grammatical error or broken link. What they won’t forgive is anything that isn’t relevant, or get to the point ASAP. Sell your content we always say, but make sure you deliver what you’re promising in the headline and the subject line. And for goodness sake, respect how busy your followers are.

That’s why we’re such sticklers for Key Takeaways at the top of each story, post, article or video you create. Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.


There are many very smart, insightful people out there who are worth following….and worth having as followers. Why not be one of them? True thought leaders are consistent, disciplined and concise. They deliver on what they promise and return favors done unto to them. This hasn’t changed much over the past 2,000 years. We just have better, faster and more powerful tools for doing so.

Tags: Seth Godin, thought leadership, TLDR; tl;dr, importance of being relevant


Saturday, January 04, 2014

Our Top 5 Posts of 2013

Motivation, innovation, self-actualization top the list along with grappling with angry customers and stress reduction.

Based on comments and feedback from you, it would seem that getting an early start on New Year’s resolutions was our most popular rant of 2013. It was up there, but it didn’t make the Top Five. Sure it’s only January 4th, but we advise our clients to start their resolutions (i.e. habit-changing exercises) at least a month before the new year so you have time to work the bugs out of your resolutions and re-set your goals to more reasonable aspirations. How are you doing on that?

Contact us here to share your stories of triumph or self-loathing.

That being said, you should never set the bar low and forget about your BHAGS (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). As our analytics confirm, our most popular post of 2013 was about why it’s a great time to be self-motivated. Our other most popular posts came from a wide variety of topics.
HB Publishing/Online Marketing B2Beat Top 5 Posts of 2013

For instance, the sports world was shocked last winter by the International Olympic Committee’s rash decision to drop wrestling from the Olympic program. That’s like banning hot dogs from the ball park and as many of you know, the great sport of grappling was recently reinstated thanks to a massive worldwide outcry of support. A couple of important lessons really seemed to resonate with you: (a) Never take your status as a “must have” for granted no longer how long you’ve been in business; (b) Never give up fighting for what you believe in; (c) Don’t underestimate the power of social and mobile media to galvanize a worldwide community and (d) You’ve got to address your angry clients/customers ASAP or heaven help you if you ignore them. Here’s the post if you missed it.

We were also pleased to learn that most of you are not satisfied with the status quo and you Don’t fall victim to things that stifle innovation (our No.3 post). You also learn to adapt as many of you finally made the switch from Blackberry to IOS or Android smartphones (see Bye-Bye Blackberry) and we noticed more of you than ever checking us out via mobile device. Thank you.

Finally, we all need to do a better job or reducing stress in this always connected, hyper-competitive world. The year 2014 should be a good one overall, but it’s not going to be easier less eventful than 2013. If you haven’t done so already, please check out No.5 on our most popular post list: Real-world tactics for reducing stress.

If you can follow the advice of the late Steve Jobs and “stay hungry and foolish” while staying motivated, avoiding innovation stifling traps and keeping your anxiety level in balance, then you’re a step ahead of the rest of the pack and in for a great year and more.

Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.

Getting motivated, end of Blackberry, reducing stress, Olympic wrestling, don’t stifle innovation


Our blog has more as well as the FREE Resources page of our website.