Roy's Blog: Millennials

May 13, 2019

How to be hungry and have a successful career

What separates the individual who has a rewarding career from those that merely show up for work every day and leave unsatisfied?

My experience shows that successful individuals are more hungry than their competitors; it’s as simple as that.

Certainly there are other factors at play that influence performance and success such as education level, practical experience, reliable mentors, and good old fashion luck, but I have seen that “being hungry” is the one single thing that stands out from all others.

In fact, many individuals manifest the common traits and capabilities of success yet don’t rise to the top of their game. I have seen highly educated people, for example, with a deep experience profile and excellent skill set fall short of their potential while others who possess less emerge to finish first.

Those “qualified” individuals who fell short lacked the desire to finish; they didn’t seize and apply the raw power of emotion to grab the opportunity presented to them and drive to capture it like no one else.

The hunger drive to succeed isn’t an intellectual matter; it’s a visceral one which is a fundamental part of who they are.
People don’t think about applying their hunger, they do it involuntarily just as you don’t have to tell your heart to beat.

This is the profile of “the hungry one”.

They’re the first one in

They are the first one to put their hand up and volunteer for a new project. They are driven to find a way of being part of new horizons rather than perpetuate the status quo. They want to be known for coveting uncharted waters.

They love change

They are always leaning in to conversations that address a different direction the organization should take. They are at ease with personally introducing the necessary discontinuities required to force current momentum to another path. They are a true change agent.

They don’t talk about the past

They talk about what needs to be done not what yesterday achieved. They don’t suffer “custodians of the past” lightly. Dwelling on what worked yesterday frustrates them to no end. They see reflection on the past as an impediment to taking action and moving forward.

They are mindlessly focused

They are extremely focused on the critical few things that need to be done in order to achieve the end objective. They are not a fan of brainstorming and see it as only a way of defining what COULD be done as opposed to what MUST be done.

They never stop learning

They are voracious learners who pursue knowledge paths that are consistent with the new competencies the organization needs to adopt to perform at high levels. A shift from a monopoly business to a competitive one requires adopting marketing and customer service expertise; the hungry person acquires the knowledge and skills necessary.

They take risks

They are extremely proactive and never have to be told to do anything. When they see that something needs to be done that gather the expertise around them they need and they just do it. While others around them ask for permission, the hungry ones assume the inherent risks of taking action and are confident they can achieve positive results.

They execute first; plan second

They monitor execution relentlessly. They understand that the plan isn’t good enough to achieve results; rather flawless implementation is required. They are fanatics about ensuring that people assigned tasks complete them on time and on budget.

They have “spider senses”

They are restless, waiting to be on the move. They are anticipatory people who are always poised to act. Some might describe them as impatient and frustrated when they are hovering and waiting as opposed to acting. Their “spider senses” are alive to spot the opportunity to jump.

They have ridiculous goals

They have “unrealistic” career goals. They declare a bold audacious goal without any idea of how they will achieve it and they go for it. They trust trust that they will find a way to get to where they want to go.

They value what you’ve done not what you know

They are proud of their practical achievements and don’t dwell on what they have accomplished at school. In fact they rarely mention their intellectual strengths, but love to discuss a tough project they successfully implemented despite the roadblocks, barriers and impediments the organization threw in their way.

Successful people have competencies that go beyond the normal. They are based on the instinct to survive and win by standing out from those around them.

They don’t win by being the smartest.

They win by being the hungriest.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 5.13.19 at 04:58 am by Roy Osing
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May 6, 2019

The best business plan for the entrepreneur

Every entrepreneur is faced with the challenge of creating a business plan to communicate the opportunity they see for their new idea and to attract investors.

Where do they turn for guidance? Business planning templates are plentiful and can easily be found on the internet.
They are all pretty similar in content and format and generally follow “accepted principles” of academics and consulting pundits.

But I think most traditional approaches to build an effective business plan for entrepreneurs miss the mark because they don’t recognize their very unique needs.

Entrepreneurs usually have these things in common:
— they usually have limited financial resources;
— they think they have an amazing idea;
— time is not their friend; if they are unable to secure funding for their idea, their business will join the many other good ideas that fail;
— they are inexperienced when it comes to what will turn an investor on to a new investment opportunity.

A business planning process for entrepreneurs must recognize their reality; a plan for them should meet these 5 critical requirements.

Keep it simple

Long winded strategy documents may satisfy the academics’ thirst for exhaustive analysis and theoretical completeness, but it won’t enable the entrepreneur to get their idea to market very quickly.
I have seen new CEO’s spend way too much time grinding out a plan just to feed the prescribed content and format rather than produce a simple strategy that tells their story with only the relevant chapters in it.

So, toss out the parochial planning boilerplate and adopt my proven strategic game plan method that produces the right plan by answering the three critical questions necessary to launch a new business idea:
— HOW BIG do you want to be?
— WHO do you want to serve?
— HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?

Minimize costs

Your strategic game plan can be created in just 3 days or less because of its simplicity. Time is not wasted on feeding the template with information you don’t require to produce a document investors will like — btw, I’ve seen potential investors roll their eyes when a budding entrepreneur tables a 50-page planning document and begins to recite SWOTS.

The strategic game plan is created in a workshop mode with the leadership team responsible for launching the new idea.
It may be the CEO alone or it may include other partners. In under 3 days your game plan is produced — with minimum paper damage to the environment — at a cost that will surprise you!

Keep the plan action oriented

You won’t produce any results if your plan is theoretically pristine and follows all the prescribed planning rules. If your game plan doesn’t drive action in the market, nothing happens; no value is created, investors won’t notice you and you will fail. It’s as simple as that.

The reason I call my product a strategic game plan is that it is totally focussed on what has to be done to “move the ball 10 yards” (pardon the analogy but it’s accurate).
It’s the appropriate balance of strategy and tactics which results in the right stuff getting done to progress your new idea.

Keep it focused

This is where the discipline of the mandatory replaces the art of the possible. You don’t achieve real progress by chasing rainbows.

The strategic game plan uses the rule of 3: focus energy and priority on the critical few (3) things that are likely to determine 80% of the outcome you intend to achieve.

Trying to achieve “the possible many” will waste your time and energy and will likely kill the success if your breakthrough idea.
Objective setting in the game plan has the rule of 3 as the filter; the process disallows scattered thinking.

It is in this area that most entrepreneurs fail in the development of their plan. They have too many things they say they have to accomplish in order to succeed. The opposite is actually true: the more you attempt, the greater the likelihood you will fail at the startup stage.

Define your uniqueness

If your idea isn’t different from all others competing with it, why should it attract interest? If it can’t be distinguished from competitive offers why would investors be convinced that it has any chance of succeeding?

THIS is the area of your business plan that needs the most attention; it’s the critical piece in answering the “HOW do you intend to COMPETE and WIN?” question.

The core concept behind this work is what I call The ONLY Statement; declaring the distinctiveness of your product or service with the audacious claim “This is the ONLY product that…”.

It is a claim that is binary: it is either true or it isn’t and it is backed up with proof points that legitimize it.
It’s founded on the notion that rather than be the best of the best, you need to be the ONLY one who does what you do.

Most entrepreneurs use words like “better”, “best”, “leader” or “number 1” in their product differentiation claim; they don’t work — no one believes these words and they can’t be proven in any event.
BE DiFFERENT; go with The ONLY.

The entrepreneur game is all about cash flow which in turn is based on how fast a new idea can reach the market and start generating revenue.

My business plan process was designed with speed, simplicity, cost effectiveness and competitive advantage in mind.

Who wouldn’t be interested in a new idea with a pitch like this?

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 5.6.19 at 04:23 am by Roy Osing
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April 22, 2019

Why are great leaders close to the people who execute?

There is a HUGE misconception that remarkable leaders are separate from the common folk in an organization; that they exist in rarefied air that only the great consume.

Don’t be fooled.

Pundits push the view that distinctive leadership is extremely complicated to achieve given the knowledge silos a leader must be proficient in.

Gifted leadership is much more than being expert in the tools of the trade such as strategic business planning, risk management, organizational theory or interpersonal relations.

Yes, you have to understand the basics, but they alone will not place you in the “the chosen few” of leaders.

They are merely table stakes to be in the leadership game.

My experience is that standout leaders are special due to their common folk attributes, in particular connecting with others in a casual way with honesty and integrity.

Leaders who can “see” others; understand their needs and wants and are motivated by a strong desire to help them in any way they can.

Throughout my career I was pressed to conform to the standard leadership practices promulgated by experts who believed that if I followed traditional thinking more closely, I would be a better leader.

I refused. It didn’t make sense to me given the “in the trenches” execution challenges facing the organization to be successful.

Organizations perform well when they execute flawlessly; people performing their assigned roles brilliantly to deliver expected results.
Achieving amazing results doesn’t exist within a strategic plan or conflict management theory.

Rather than go deeper and learn more about traditional practices, I chose to go broader and add a behavioural dimension that I believed would make the difference for the organization.

My approach was simple: to listen to the people doing the work and try to find a way to help them; to make their organizational life easier.

My game plan was to build a team that was unmatched in their ability to execute.

My style was very informal and I was approachable.

I focused more of my efforts than my peers in the workplace to understand and solve the problems preventing people from doing their jobs effectively; to break down barriers and grunge that impeded effective execution.

The upside — my teams consistently punched above its weight; the downside - my personal currency took a hit because my “common folk” approach was deemed inappropriate by some old school executives.

And if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Cheers,
Roy
Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 4.22.19 at 04:34 am by Roy Osing
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April 15, 2019

How to prevent people from turning off and bailing out

One way to think about employee engagement is to identify the new practices an organization should adopt to motivate and retain its employees; this is the normal approach promulgated by the experts in the field.

To get employees more engaged by this method typically requires an organization to select a best practice and then convince everyone to start applying it. This usually requires a lengthy implementation cycle with engagement benefits realized in the medium to long term.

Eliminate the piss-off-factors

Another approach, however, is to define the things that organizations typically do today that turn employees off (“piss-off factors” — POF’s) and drive them to look elsewhere for career opportunities.

Improving employee engagement using this approach requires leadership to demand what specific current behaviours are to STOP and to identify the benefits of cessation.

Benefits of this approach are usually realized fairly quickly (assuming the practices in question are indeed stopped) and some breathing time is earned to develop and start implementing a longer term engagement strategy that adds new programs.

The approach an organization should take depends, of course, on the levels of employee satisfaction and engagement they are currently facing.
In most cases, however, there is a sense of urgency to see short term improvement in the face of market forces challenging financial performance.

This reality suggests that the most effective approach is to launch an all-out offensive on what needs to be stopped BEFORE evaluating the new programs that should be added for longer term cultural change.

As the new president of our data and internet company, I was facing some tough POF’s that completely overwhelmed the option of exploring new practices and programs to get employees more involved and committed to our strategy.

I chose to eradicate the immediate roadblocks to engagement through what I called a “Cut the CRAP” initiative which was intended to eliminate the highest priority dis-satisfiers as quickly as possible.

Based on feedback from employees, these were the things my leadership team chose to STOP! and prevent people from turning off and bailing out.

STOP! delegating

Stop delegating communicating and selling the organization’s strategy to employees.
Don’t ask junior or middle level managers to do it. Employees need to be convinced that the strategy is right and that they have a meaningful role to play in its achievement.

As president, I made it my job to be the point person to try and convince people that our chosen path was the right one, and that there were exciting opportunities for everyone. Was it easy? Hell no! Was it painful? Hell yes!
But in the final analysis it paid off as people saw their leader answer the tough questions and take the hits necessary to convince them that the proposed path for the organization was worth going down.

STOP! expecting people to get it

Stop expecting employees to somehow understand by serendipity their role in the execution of organization’s strategic game plan.
Don’t assume they will get it.
Leadership must translate in detail what people in various functions — sales, marketing, customer service, finance — need to continue doing and what they must do differently. Without understanding, engagement is impossible.

My leadership team held workshops with every function in the organization to define the precise role each had to play to execute our strategy and to develop performance plans for every individual to make it happen.

STOP! commanding

Stop directing people what to do as a leadership style.
Stop telling and start asking… for opinions, advice, suggestions and help instead of shoving instructions down people’s throats.
Why would anyone be engagement-minded if they have zero freedom to express themselves in their job?

I was satisfied that my leadership team was on the “serving page” but felt we had work to do at particularly the frontline supervisor level. We held one-day Servant Leadership workshops with all supervisors to reinforce the expected behaviours.

STOP! using social

Stop sending email and using social media tools as the primary way to communicate with employees.
Stop one-way talks and start active two-way conversations through face-to-face real time engagement. Employees need to ask questions and get immediate feedback if they are to actively support the organization’s goals and objectives.

We declared a policy to management to cease email communications as a vehicle to disseminate information on strategy and to schedule regular face to face meetings with their employees to discuss the direction of the organization and how they felt about it.

STOP! being predictable

Stop doing everything “by the book”; preventing people from stepping out and showing some creativity. Start having fun.
Introduce levity and informality.
Allow people to break the rules to stimulate innovation. Surprise people — introduce “The Greatest Risk Taker Award”.

We introduced the notion of “Dumb Rules” to our values statement and declared that rules, policies and procedures that made no sense to customers and employees would be changed or outright killed.
And we held the management team accountable to do it.
Monthly Dumb Rules contests were held to recognize the person or team (with their manager) who killed the dumbest rule. A workplace party was held for the winner and fun was the word of the day.

STOP! thinking they will fall in line

Stop expecting people to align with the values of the organization.
Today’s workforce is not a homogeneous mix of ethnic backgrounds and life values; it’s a mosaic of heterogeneous cultures and expectations.
Stop thinking everyone will support your efforts; you have to earn it by recognizing and addressing the reality of diversity.

Our teams varied considerably and we chose to communicate our actions in a way that reflected the divergent value sets of our employees. This required detailed background research work but it paid off in the end.

STOP! playing favorites

Stop favouring any particular group.
Stop treating specific functions as “the chosen ones” in terms of the critical skills they possess or the strategic value they represent.
Marketing may be a vital element of your strategic game plan, for example, but constantly putting them on a pedestal will only alienate others to the detriment of universal engagement.

We treated my entire organization — over 2,000 people — as one team. There were no favourites. Each was expected to contribute equally to our strategic goals.

STOP! thinking small things are small

Stop ignoring the little things.
Stop thinking that a small act that doesn’t align with motivating employee engagement is no big big deal and will slide by unnoticed. It won’t. People always connect the dots and burn you when your words and music don’t match.

We included this issue in the employee surveys we conducted regularly, and discovered initially there were valid criticisms which, thankfully, decreased substantially over time as we made “what we say and what we do” a critical priority.

STOP! playing ping-pong

Stop flavour of the month change. Stop jumping from one tactic to another. It’s disingenuous and will convince employees that you are not committed to the course of action you have chosen.
Stay your course and tweak it only when you are hit by an unexpected negative event, not simply because you had another brainwave.

Our action plan was to knock off each POF with the top 3 leading the way. We didn’t vary the plan. Employees believed we were emotionally invested in a solution set that would improve things for them — and for us with higher levels of engagement.

STOP! the we-they

Stop separating the leaders from the workers. Stop the “us vs them” treatment in the workplace. How can people be willing to engage more if they don’t feel important and valued?
As long as they consider leadership team as the elitist group with special privileges they won’t change and engage more. Their suspicions that upper management isn’t prepared to work along with them will be confirmed; no progress is made.

As president of an organization that was geographically dispersed, I had a number of offices which I did NOT locate on the top floor with other executives (I took some heat from my peers for this). I tried to have each office in a building location that would increase my availability to people and made it known they were welcome to drop in unannounced if they so desired.
It took a while, but eventually people believed me and took advantage of the opportunity to meet and chat — since I spent most of my time in the workplace doing my “LBSA”, my office became a secondary focal point in any event.

Preventing disengagement by addressing POF’s as the first priority WILL result in more engagement.

It plays to what people expect of their leadership — first, listening to what upsets employees, and second, doing something about it.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series

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  • Posted 4.15.19 at 04:40 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink