Friday, July 31, 2009

Making the Best Out of Your Networking

In the past nine months I have learned a lot about networking. I almost consider myself a professional at this stage. First and foremost there are a lot of gracious people out there that are willing to help. Taking the time out of their busy day to network with someone they don’t even know and may never meet again is commendable. People’s willingness to help is rooted in the fact that they have either been or know someone out of work.
People differ on ways to get networking appointments; I prefer “warm” calls based upon a reference from a friend or networking contact. Emailing is the mode of contact that works best for me. But after you get the appointment how do you get the most out of the meeting? These are a few simple rules that work for me:
Begin and end every meeting with a “thank you”
Ask questions about them personally and professionally
Listen, Listen, Listen
Ask for 3 additional networking contacts
Ask how you “can help them”
Always send a thank you note to the contact and whomever referred that person to you.
Keep great records of who you contacted, when, and who referred you.

Following these simple rules won’t guarantee a job but it can help you build your network and increase your chances of finding that next great opportunity.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

There is always time to LEARN

Don't let your ego get in the way of your desire to learn. Successful leaders keep their minds open to new things because they know that no matter how high their level of mastery is, there is always more to discover. If you've become an expert in one field, seek out other fields where you can transfer and apply your expertise. When facing challenges, even ones you've faced many times before, adopt a learner's approach — ask questions or find new ways to solve the problem.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Never Let Your Ego Stop You from Learning" by John Baldoni

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Banks developers launch inclusion efforts

The master development team of Carter and the Dawson Co. will host its first general information session for the private development portion of the Banks, the massive development being built on Cincinnati’s central riverfront.
The goal of the event is to encourage the participation of small, disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprises and minority and female workers. The session also will provide general information about private development phases of the Banks and encourage both disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) and small business enterprise (SBE) certification.

The event is free and will give interested people and businesses the opportunity to hold one-on-one discussions with members of the Carter-Dawson project team and other project personnel. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged. Those interested in attending should contact Ellington Management Services at
The session will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 28, at the Community Action Agency at Jordan’s Crossing on Langdon Farm Road.
The Banks is a joint project of the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Construction is under way on the first phase, which will include a revised street grid, a parking garage and at least 300 apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail.
Once completed over the next decade, the project cost will reach nearly $1 billion and will be Cincinnati’s largest mixed-used development with a blend of residential, office, hotel and retail components.

Monday, July 27, 2009

3 Tips for Leading Without Authority

In today's flat organizations, leaders need to influence and persuade not only their direct reports, but a cast of peers, contractors, and managers. Here are three tips to assume authority in any situation, whether or not you're the official leader:
Remember enthusiasm is contagious. Your genuine excitement about a project will motivate others to become engaged and care about it.
Take care of your own ego. No one wants to be responsible for making you feel important. Assume authority by demonstrating excellence in your field, not soliciting others' approval.
Lead quietly. When you don't have formal authority propping you up, others will be suspicious if you grab the reins too forcefully. Don't be overinvested in the outcome; lead quietly, get everyone involved, and ask questions along the way.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Leading When You Don't Have Formal Authority" by Steven DeMaio.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Good News in Home Sales for a Change

Greater Cincinnati's June home sales notched their first year-over year gain in more than three years, while Northern Kentucky's record improved from last year, but remained in minus column.
The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors reported 1,955 June home sales, up 0.8 percent from 1,940 in June 2008. The average price dropped 13 percent year over year, to $164,450, from $189,372, and gross volume was off 12.5 percent, to $321.5 million from $367.4 million.

Compared to May, home sales jumped 16.6 percent, with the average sale price rising almost 6 percent and gross volume up 23.4 percent.
For the first six months of 2009, 8,460 homes were sold, down 11 percent from 9,524 in the same 2008 period. The average sale price fell 12 percent, to $145,201 from $165,472, while gross volume dropped 22 percent, to $1.23 billion from $1.58 billion.
June home sales in Northern Kentucky jumped more than 17 percent over the previous month, according to the monthly report from the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors.
Sales are off about 7 percent year over year, but the drop seems to be moderating, the association said in a news release.
Homes sold in June totaled 491, compared to 529 in June 2008. In May of this year, 405 homes were sold, according to the report.
Year over year, the average sale price fell 17.7 percent to $133,320 from $162,007, while total volume decreased 23.6 percent, to $65.5 million from $85.7 million.
First-time homebuyers taking advantage of a federal tax credit have helped push up home sales, said Johnny Hodge, president of the association, in the release.
For the first half of 2008, home sales fell 18 percent, to 2,210 from 2,699. The average sale price dropped 21 percent, to $134,757, from $170,112, and total volume plunged 35 percent, to $297.8 million from $459.1 million in June 2008.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What McDonalds Can Teach Us About Recovery (long but worth the read)

With all the news coverage today on financial mismanagement, I can tell you from first-hand experience about a company that continues to prosper amid all the chaos. And I think it is worth trying to understand why.
I have spent most of my career inside McDonald's. First, as a crew member, peeling potatoes and flipping burgers in my native Stockholm, Sweden; then, as most McDonald's executives, advancing through the ranks and learning the tricks of the trade through marketing, training, HR and operations. After nearly 10 years at the helm of the Swedish operations, I moved to the U.S. to assume the role of chief strategy officer.
This was a time when McDonald's was facing its toughest headwind in the history of the company. Some of it was self-inflicted; some of it was just evolutionary. Most institutions die young, as they fail to reinvent themselves. As we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin, it is important to remind ourselves that only the most adaptable species indeed survive. So it didn't come as a real surprise that after decades of steady growth rates, even McDonald's would stall. It happens to almost everyone. But as I studied the corporate history books, I realized that the rather short list of companies that had reinvented themselves was intimidating and certainly humbling.
At McDonald's, we tried many things. Some might say, too many things. But at least we tried them with a sincere intention to find our "inner voice" again. The job of chief strategist in times of rediscovery is closer to "corporate psychiatrist/philosopher" than traditional strategist. Your tools are less about spreadsheets and data and more about introspection and deep discovery. If you once were successful, chances are that somewhere in the past lie the building blocks of your future. Your job is to find whatever it was that connected you to your audience in the past and then to adjust it to be more relevant in today's marketplace -- without losing its essential connectivity.
Fortunately, there were many people wanting us to succeed. But there were also many, often loud, voices that couldn't wait to see us fail. Perhaps they inspired us to try harder. Few things motivate us as much as proving the cynics wrong.
What emerged out of years of hard work were two important insights. Both are simple and powerful.
The first was that there was really nothing wrong with the original premise of our business model. As our chief marketing officer at the time, Larry Light, said: "The time we need a new business model is when we believe that our customers no longer 'Deserve a Break Today.'" Clearly, in today's time-starved landscape, this was not the case.
The second insight was that we had confused size with success. Over time, we started to believe that one more restaurant meant "job well done." And sooner rather than later, all our metrics, all of our incentives and all of our capital were chasing growth -- the bad form of growth: growth from quantity, not quality.
As we dug in, we realized that growth must be "deserved" in order to be sustainable. As long as you are getting better, it is good to get bigger. But if you are buying size, particularly at the cost of quality, then you are on a slippery and ultimately unsustainable slope.
In 2003, we launched our new strategy, "Growth from being better." We aligned the entire company around this very simple idea. Human and financial resources were now directed at truly improving, not just increasing, their activities. The rest is really history. The turnaround of McDonald's has been a remarkable one.
To me, it has been a labor of love for a few reasons. First, McDonald's is an important company. Its success matters to so many -- particularly the hundreds of thousands (probably millions) of people who get their first job there and who learn critical skills for life. Secondly, McDonald's is a decentralized company. It is really a system of companies -- thousands of them. Most of them are small entrepreneurs who have invested their savings in a dream to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves.
I believe there are four important lessons that can be learned from the remarkable turnaround at McDonald's.
1. How you grow matters as much as that you grow. The financial services industry would have benefitted from a focus on "growth by quality, not by quantity." Clearly, the "growth at any cost" credo of some led to exactly that: any cost.
2. Changing your business model may not be needed, but belief in it is. Start by asking yourself what business you are in and whether customers still have a need for it. If they do, commit to it -- fully. At McDonald's, we knew that people still "deserved a break today" and we were willing to let go of all other initiatives (many of them very exciting) in order to demonstrate unwavering commitment to the core business.
3. None of us is as good as all of us. It's the system, stupid! Understanding that you are leading a system, not a company or a person, is a critical insight if you want to successfully change something large. McDonald's is extremely good at this. To some people (me included), it is a frustrating process. It takes time. It requires buy-in and plenty of patience and tolerance from everyone. It also requires adequate policing, oversight and incredibly detailed measurement systems. This is tedious work, and intimidating to those being measured. But it's needed.
Large systems work best with a hard-wired operating system in the hub that enables innovation, entrepreneurship and decision-making in the nodes. The Internet would not have happened without HTML. Our country would not have prospered without the U.S. Constitution. But it is worth all the pain. And it must start with the humility that you are in the service of something larger than your own institution. As we say at BE-CAUSE -- the company I founded -- a purpose bigger than your product.
4. Plan your work, and work your plan. At McDonald's we created a "plan to win." Some would argue that it wasn't perfect. Perhaps it wasn't, but we decided that it was. And we haven't looked back. Even through tragic circumstances -- losing two CEOs in less than one year due to tragic deaths -- the plan stayed intact and is still central today to the focus and alignment of the organization.
So often, companies feel a need to change something for the sake of changing it. I say, "If it works, don't change it."

Mats Lederhausen is a former senior executive with McDonald's and the founding partner of BE-CAUSE, a company focused on building businesses with a purpose bigger than their product

3 Ways to Avoid Micro Managing Yourself

Training yourself to avoid micromanaging others is one thing; but handling controlling tendencies toward your own work can be even harder. Here are three ways to keep the micromanager in you from impeding your own progress:
Keep your eyes on the prize. Don't focus on details before the big picture is laid out. Keep the larger project goal in mind and resist temptation to dive into minutiae.
Don't second guess yourself. You'll inconvenience yourself and the people who work for you if you shift project direction midstream. Take a complete pass through a project before deciding to change course.
Micromanage when it's time. Almost every project requires some detail work. When you reach that point, unleash the micromanager in you and handle it.

Today's Management Tip was adapted from "Are You Micromanaging Yourself?" by Steven DeMaio.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Quote for a Lifetime

Tought times don't last forever, but tough people do!

Greatest Business Book I Ever Read

The ages are filled with great business books. The book stores devote entire sections to “Business”. Most of us have read “Good to Great” “First Break all the Rule” or the books by Jack Welch of GE. But the best business (and life) book that I have ever read is Patrick Lencioni’s, Five Dysfunction of a Team. This is a first in a series written by Lencioni but is the cornerstone of his work. Five Dysfunction of a Team describes in detail the problems that teams have in accomplishing their goals and meeting objectives. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions allows teams to prosper and become successful. The main building block on accomplishing success is trust.
Few businesses or teams are built upon the concept of TRUST. Without trust you can not resolve conflict and will not be able to become successful. If we could begin every relationship, whether it is in business or in life with TRUST, we would be much more successful.
I highly recommend this book and the series he has written. It is quick read but highly worth the time.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

18 Minute Plan for Managing Your Day

Yesterday started with the best of intentions. I walked into my office in the morning with a vague sense of what I wanted to accomplish. Then I sat down, turned on my computer, and checked my email. Two hours later, after fighting several fires, solving other people's problems, and dealing with whatever happened to be thrown at me through my computer and phone, I could hardly remember what I had set out to accomplish when I first turned on my computer. I'd been ambushed. And I know better.
When I teach time management, I always start with the same question: How many of you have too much time and not enough to do in it? In ten years, no one has ever raised a hand.
That means we start every day knowing we're not going to get it all done. So how we spend our time is a key strategic decision. That's why it's a good idea to create a to do list and an ignore list. The hardest attention to focus is our own.
But even with those lists, the challenge, as always, is execution. How can you stick to a plan when so many things threaten to derail it? How can you focus on a few important things when so many things require your attention?
We need a trick.
Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru, knows all about tricks; he's famous for handcuffing himself and then swimming a mile or more while towing large boats filled with people. But he's more than just a showman. He invented several exercise machines including the ones with pulleys and weight selectors in health clubs throughout the world. And his show, The Jack LaLanne Show, was the longest running television fitness program, on the air for 34 years.
But none of that is what impresses me. He has one trick that I believe is his real secret power.
At the age of 94, he still spends the first two hours of his day exercising. Ninety minutes lifting weights and 30 minutes swimming or walking. Every morning. He needs to do so to achieve his goals: on his 95th birthday he plans to swim from the coast of California to Santa Catalina Island, a distance of 20 miles. Also, as he is fond of saying, "I cannot afford to die. It will ruin my image."
So he works, consistently and deliberately, toward his goals. He does the same things day in and day out. He cares about his fitness and he's built it into his schedule.
Managing our time needs to become a ritual too. Not simply a list or a vague sense of our priorities. That's not consistent or deliberate. It needs to be an ongoing process we follow no matter what to keep us focused on our priorities throughout the day.
I think we can do it in three steps that take less than 18 minutes over an eight-hour workday. STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you've been productive and successful? Write those things down.
Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.
In their book The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz describe a study in which a group of women agreed to do a breast self-exam during a period of 30 days. 100% of those who said where and when they were going to do it completed the exam. Only 53% of the others did.
In another study, drug addicts in withdrawal (can you find a more stressed-out population?) agreed to write an essay before 5 p.m. on a certain day. 80% of those who said when and where they would write the essay completed it. None of the others did.
If you want to get something done, decide when and where you're going to do it. Otherwise, take it off your list.
STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don't let the hours manage you.
STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?
The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It's simple.
This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.
And, at the end of the day, isn't that a higher priority?
Written by Peter Bregman

Monday, July 20, 2009

Good News from the VC World

The U.S. venture-capital industry showed signs of recovery in the second quarter as venture capitalists invested $5.27 billion in 595 deals, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.
The second-quarter total is still dramatically lower than the $8.33 billion put into 726 deals during the year-earlier period. But it’s a 32 percent improvement over this year’s first quarter, which saw the lowest quarterly investment since 1998, with $4 billion invested.

“As the venture-capital industry’s rebound gains traction, we’re seeing a new landscape emerge,” said Jessica Canning, director of global research for Dow Jones VentureSource. “Investors are diversifying their portfolios away from traditional investment areas like biopharmaceuticals and software toward segments like medical devices and information services, while also pulling back on how much they are willing to invest in each deal.”
The health-care industry saw $2.23 billion invested in 184 deals completed in the second quarter. That’s a 14 percent decline from a year earlier, when $2.6 billion was put into the same number of deals. It’s the first time on record that health-care investment outpaced investment in information technology, which attracted $1.88 billion in the latest quarter.
As usual, California dominated venture-capital activity in the second quarter, representing 42 percent of the nation’s deal flow and 46 percent of the capital invested.

Welcome to my BLOG

Welcome to my Blog.
The purpose of this Blog is to keep you informed and up todate on business issues that are going on in the market place. Information that is important to you and might make you say "Oh I didn't know that". Stay tuned for news from the intelligent WORLD