Tag Archive for 'Jim Blasingame'

Do you value your soybeans more than your time?

Ever think about time as a commodity? Commodity: something in common use, readily available and virtually the same wherever you find it.

Time certainly fits that definition, doesn’t it? But so does a soybean.

Time may be the only commodity we haven’t synthesized. Until we do, it will continue to be unique among commodities and, consequently, our most valuable. And yet, as precious as time is, it’s an expensive irony that it’s the commodity we often waste the most, sometimes as if it were worth nothing. Meanwhile, we take extreme measures to protect every soybean.

So, what’s the solution? Organization – it’s the nexus between time and productivity.

We commit resources to acquire all kinds of stuff – information, materials, etc. – with the intention of accomplishing something, like a bid or a marketing project, which typically will need to happen within a predetermined period of time. But whether it happens as planned — including on-time —often depends more on how organized we are than our capability, or the information and resources we’ve acquired.

If someone stole your new $2000 computer, you would have them arrested. But how often has being unorganized cost you more than $2000 in an unsuccessful bid, loss of a contract or other opportunity? In the justice system of the marketplace, that’s the same as being arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and sentenced to some level of failure. So what does your organization “record” look like?

But let’s cut ourselves a little slack. It’s not easy for a small business to be organized when you have one person doing the work of three, or 25 doing the work of 40. Such ratios are one of the markers of a small business – doing more with less – especially these days. Consequently, a large project can be so intimidating that it creates the dread disease that’s worse than anything your soybeans could get: procrastination.

Professional organizers say cure procrastination with one critical practice: Break large projects into an assembly of smaller ones. Instead of thinking about a large project like it’s an elephant you have to eat all at once, split it into an assembly of smaller pieces and take them on one at a time.

How small is small? How about small enough to complete while you’re waiting on hold? Not with the IRS. Much shorter, like with a customer.

Break big projects into bite-size pieces to help you work smarter, not harder; increase your competitive advantage; and use that most precious commodity - time - more efficiently.

Write this on a rock … Value your time like you’d value a load of soybeans.

Poll results: Your local economy and sales

The Question:
Halfway through the 1st quarter, what’s the condition of the local economy and your sales?

13% - Our economy is strong and sales are great.
50% - Our economy and sales are good, but not great.
34% - Our economy is weakening — sales volume is off.
3% - Our economy is very weak, and we’re in trouble.

Jim’s Comments:

I think our poll response reflects exactly what the economy is doing: fewer are doing great, more are getting a little better and, after seven years of a moribund economy, most of the troubled companies have already closed up. I’m going to have a lot more to say about this in my Featured Column next week, so stay tuned.

Thanks for your abiding support of our poll each week. Check out our new one below.

With the success of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, is the political midpoint of the American electorate shifting left?

4 Power Questions That Will Cultivate Your Leadership Tree

Most agree that there are many traits of a true leader, including: highly competent, professional, visionary, trustworthy, instill confidence, good communicator and, of course, courageous.

But great leaders have three other qualities that further set them apart.

  1. In the 21st century marketplace, the prime devotion of leaders is to their people because they know it’s through engaged, high-functioning teams that their “bottom line” goals are achieved. If you can deliver on this trait, you’ll be more likely to accomplish your professional and personal goals.
  2. The most successful and beloved leaders I’ve known had another trait that’s sometimes overlooked: They mentored their people to become leaders. Great NFL coaches like Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, Tom Landry and Bill Parcels became legendary through the subsequent performance of the coaches they mentored. It’s called the Coaching Tree. Whose names will be on your Leadership Tree.
  3. This quality has two parts that are as inextricable as the sides of a coin: 1) They’re devoted to asking questions; and 2) they listen.

Number 3 is so important that I want to offer four cardinal questions that will help you become a legendary leader and build your own Leadership Tree. The first two are from my friend and Brain Trust member, Chester Elton, co-author of “What Motivates Me.” The last two are mine.

How’re you doing?
Chester says this isn’t a drive-by question. It’s a look ’em in the eye, “I’ve got time to listen” question. The setting has to be where the leader can be “in the moment” with the other person. And answers are not pre-supposed – might be about their job, their aspirations, or their personal life. Great leaders care about all of that.

How can I help?

Chester says this question creates a safe environment. A mentor once told me, “If you’re in trouble in your job, don’t go down by yourself. Get me involved early and let me help you get out of trouble.”

What do you think?
I call this the Leader’s Power Question and it produces two kinds of fruit: 1) few things cultivate the illusive engagement factor more than when the boss asks the opinion of an employee; 2) valuable information almost always spouts.

What did we learn?
I call this the Leader’s Magic Question, and it may be the four most important words in management. Surely redemption is the most human behavior a leader can demonstrate. And the most powerful mentoring moment happens after a team member makes a mistake taking initiative and the leader says, “Okay, now we know what happened,” then redeems him with: “What did we learn?” Powerful!

Write this on a rock … Become a legendary leader with your own Leadership Tree.

Blasingame’s Law of Sales Pipelines

Here’s a sales maxim: Selling is a numbers game. Even though there are a thousand things that could prevent a sale from being completed, it’s still your job as a small business owner to close enough sales to keep your doors open. Enter Blasingame’s Law of Sales Pipelines.

Click on image to watch with Flash. Don’t have Flash? Click here to watch.

6 steps that can make a banker your champion

At some point in your career as a business owner, you’ll need a business loan; probably from a bank, but perhaps from a non-traditional source, like a crowdfunding lending platform. Allow me to help maximize your chances of getting the loan by introducing you to the fundamental underwriting elements any lender will use when considering your loan proposal. Meet the “Six Cs Of Credit.”

1. Character – What’s the character of the borrower? To a community bank, character still means a lot. For larger banks, digital credit scoring dominates the approval process and this “C” is less compelling as an analog factor. Regardless, the appraisal of your character will always impact the loan approval process. Guard it well.

2. Capacity – What’s the ability (read: cash flow) of the company to repay the loan? A banker once told me if he could see only one loan proposal document he would ask for the projection of cash flows, because that’s where he could see if there would be enough cash to repay the loan. Remember, profit is an accounting concept. Bank payments are made with cash, not concepts.

3. Capital - Is the loan amount justified by the financial strength of the borrower? For example, sales volume, profitability, CASH FLOW, retained earnings, the underlying value of the asset being purchased, etc. If you’re unsure about your capital appraisal, take your banker to lunch and talk about it.

4. Collateral - This is the bank’s fall-back position. Collateral is whatever a banker can get you to pledge as their Plan B in case you default. But remember: Once you give a banker collateral, getting a partial released prior to payoff is like getting a she-bear to hand over her cub.

5. Coverage - Bankers are prepared to take certain risks, and the interest rate and terms are based on the level of risk with which they feel comfortable. When possible, banks look for opportunities to shed or minimize that risk, like various kinds of insurance products. Be prepared.

6. Conditions - Bankers ask themselves, “Does it work? Do we like this deal?” You can improve your chances by explaining how you’ll use the money, how it will help you grow your business, create more jobs, strengthen your market position, make more money, etc. Practice your pitch on someone before you go “live” with your banker(s). If a banker doesn’t understand your deal and how you’re going to make it work, you won’t get the loan.

The title of the shortest book in the world is “Loan Officer Courage.” Help a bank become your champion by showing you understand and support their underwriting process.

Write this on a rock … Improve your loan chances by understanding the Six Cs of Credit.

The Power Question: Ask it and then deliver

One hundred twenty years ago, lawyer Paul J. Harris moved his practice to Chicago. While he enjoyed the new opportunity his adopted city afforded, Harris missed the friendly relationships he knew growing up in a small Vermont town.

One fall day in 1900, while walking around the Windy City’s North Side with Bob Frank, Harris noticed the connections his friend had made with local shopkeepers and it made him long for this kind of interaction. He wondered if, like himself, other professionals who had emigrated from rural America to the big cities, might be experiencing the same feeling of loss.

Over the next few years, Harris couldn’t stop asking himself this question: Could such human connection activity be channeled into organized settings for professionals and business people? Today we know the answer to Harris’ question is civic groups, but at the dawn of the 20th century, this innovation had yet to be invented.

Then on February 23, 1905, Paul Harris put his connection question to the test when he and three friends founded the world’s first civic club. They named it Rotary because they planned to rotate weekly meetings between each member’s office.

Now an international success story, 33,000 Rotary clubs around the globe are still based on Harris’s founding principle of “Service above Self.” Harris’ original dream was to connect people for the benefit of all parties. He probably didn’t use this term, but his 1905 connecting formula is the modern definition of networking.

Three-quarters of a century later, Ivan Misner had a dream of creating a structured networking model when he founded Business Network International. Misner’s goal was very much like Harris’s but with the specific purpose of business people meeting regularly to help each other grow their businesses.

Though not a civic organization, the motto of BNI’s 7,400 chapters worldwide, “Givers gain,” is completely compatible with Rotary’s founding pledge. If you turned either one into an offer to someone else, you get what I call the Power Question: “What can I do to help you?”

The significant international success of Rotary and BNI has revealed and reinforced two important truths: 1) networking is an essential professional discipline; and 2) putting others first is powerful.

This month Rotarians will celebrate the 111th anniversary of Paul Harris’ dream-come-true, and BNI celebrates International Networking Week. Whether you participate in a civic club, a BNI chapter, your local chamber of commerce or other group, become a more frequent, accomplished and selfless networker. Because face-to-face networking is the original social media and it’s still important.

Write this on a rock … You don’t have to join any group to ask and deliver on the Power Question.

Click here to listen to or download interviews with Ivan Misner.




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