Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Arrogance of "Know-it-all" Business Owners

Who Think They Know it ALL, Proves They Often DON’T (Know It All!)
Today’s post comes to you from a place of great personal PAIN for me.  I will share with you my lifelong love of my favorite NFL team and the business owner who thinks he knows it all…and proves he DOESN’T on a nearly daily basis.
But before I get to that, let me start by saying as a business coach and strategy consultant, I see the harmful impact that a business owner, leader or management team  who thinks she/he knows everything can have on their organization’s performance.  WE ALL HAVE BLIND SPOTS.  There are things we simply don ‘t (can’t) know, and are NOT an expert in.
For 20 years working in Corporate America and now in my work with business owners, entrepreneurs, and start-ups I have witnessed first-hand how business owners who refuse to admit they can benefit from the help of peers, co-workers, direct reports, suppliers, vendors, contractors AND THEIR OWN CUSTOMERS damage their organizations.
Which takes me to my Team…America’s Team…YES, the DALLAS COWBOYS!
I realize that just mentioning my life-long love for my team might alienate a LOT of people.  But I take you to the world of Jerry Jones, in an effort to prove to you how bad things happen to organizations led by people who refuse to admit they don’t know everything and could benefit from the expertise of others.
Jerry first made his millions in natural gas and oil.  He’s gotten rich on SPECULATION.  He bought my team in 1989 for $150 million and appointed himself the General Manager.  What qualifications did he possess?  Well, he DID play college football at Arkansas in the 1960s so I guess that could lead him to think of himself as a “Football Man.”
He initiated his team ownership by in effect firing a revered coach (Tom Landry) and in his place hired unproven college coach Jimmy Johnson thinking he would be able to control Jimmy.  He then placed his son Stephen (now VP of Operations) in a significant role DESPITE his son having ZERO qualifications proving nepotism beats on the job experience.
Long story short, the team traded their aging star Herschell Walker to  the Vikings who turned over to the Cowboys a large number of draft picks in the hope that Herschell Walker was the final piece their team needed to get to the Super Bowl (he wasn’t and they didn’t!)   Jimmy then used his college football coaching connections in Florida (he coached at the University of  Miami) to use those Viking draft picks to rebuild the team’s roster with future stars like Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.  The team  experienced immediate success by winning 3 of 4 Super Bowls from 1992-1995.  Jerry’s ego which was fueled by such rapid success led Jimmy to leave.  All that early success as owner and General Manager led Jerry to think he knew everything about NFL football success.
It was the delusion of his exceptional narcissism that led him to believe falsely that he had an understanding of what it took to achieve greatness.  He has refused to admit he was the beneficiary of many unprecedented events (a perfect storm.)  In the process he alienated Jimmy Johnson who eventually left Dallas.  Since Jimmy’s departure the team has suffered through a steady turn-over in head coaches, coaching staffs, and players that have collectively gotten the team (MY TEAM) a total of ONE playoff victory in SEVENTEEN YEARS.
Sure Jerry Jones has grown the team’s worth to $3 billion over the past two plus decades.   This just goes to prove that he is the consummate snake oil salesman…NOT an NFL General Manager.
To THIS day Jerry Jones refuses to admit that he and the team would benefit from him giving up his General Manager responsibilities.
The lessons learned to any business owner who wants their organization to succeed could not be any clearer.  None of us know everything.  Those who are mature enough to seek advice and counsel from others who have expertise often benefit from the additional insights provided.  By giving up control and tapping into others’ collective skills, well-adjusted leaders can spend time focusing on developing a long-term vision that they need, to grow their business.
In order to succeed, it takes great personal, professional and business maturity.  You have to willingly and actively seek others’ help in the areas you don’t possess expertise in, whether you are the head of a multinational corporation, a not-for-profit organization, a Government, or…an NFL team.
This is why I urge my clients to seek out coaches and mentors, and ask lots of questions as they are planning their business. Talk to other entrepreneurs and start-ups especially people in your own industry.  Talk to vendors, suppliers, contractors, potential customers and people who work in the industry.  Learn as much as you can.  And once you launch your business, KEEP SEEKING COUNSEL from the people that have the desire and expertise needed to help you.  Another good idea is to take a skills inventory or personal assessment, to determine areas that you are strong in as well as the areas that you might benefit from enlisting the help of others.
You can get my Entrepreneur Self-Assessment from my website.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.

Creating a Great Organizational Culture

The Power of a Great Organizational Culture
In my work as a business consultant I invest a tremendous amount of time and effort providing executive coaching to entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners.
It is often a challenge explaining how critically important it is to establish a winning organizational culture for lasting competitive advantage.
The concept of “culture” can seem nebulous, poorly defined, and difficult to quantify from an ROI perspective.
However, culture and the many benefits that organizations receive from creating and maintaining a great culture or competitive advantage in the markets they compete in make it an invaluable asset for those that know how to create one.
Organizations like Microsoft, Apple, Google, LinkedIn all gain tremendous benefit from creating a great organizational culture and winning workplace.
Well, what then is “CULTURE?”  Simply stated, culture ids the PERSONALITY of the company.
By becoming known as a great place to work, your company can and will gain many benefits in terms of access to the best employee talent.  Not only will the best and brightest employees flock to your front door for a chance to join your workforce, but the brightest stars in your organization will stay with you through the good times and bad.
When you build a winning culture vendors, suppliers, and business partners all will be eager to work with you and your brand (“buzz”) the reputation will make you the organization that your customers will all want to buy from again and again and again.  Having a world-class culture gives you built in economies of scale, increases your efficiencies, and delivers lasting competitive all from the act of creating a world-class organization with a winning culture.
Ask yourself what makes certain companies like Tom’s Shoes, Disney, Marvel, Starbucks, Marriott, Virgin Airlines, Southwest Airlines, etc. GREAT places to work!
The answer is, they ALL build everything they do with their employees best interests at the heart of everything they do, and their customers are a close second.
Here are some best practices that you can implement immediately to build a great culture:
You, your founders/business partners MUST define your own values and beliefs.  This is especially critical for entrepreneurs and start-ups just starting out with their new business.
Spend time discussing what you want your legacy to be.  What do you want to leave behind when all is said and done as a lasting contribution to the greater good.
Assign someone whose primary (ideally ONLY) responsibility is to maintain your world-class culture.  They must be empowered to do everything necessary to keep your culture as a world-class competitive advantage.  Create a culture initiative, or list of all the strategic actions required to build and maintain that culture.  Set aside budget to fund the creation and maintenance of culture.
Define, articulate a compelling VISION and MISSION statement.   Here are working definitions of BOTH provided by Bruce D. Johnson so you can better understand (and articulate) the differences between them:
 Your Vision statement explains what you want to be/become.
It’s entirely aspirational.  Your vision should inspire the hearts of people who work for you and engage with you.
Ex. Norfolk Southern logistics company: “Be the safest, most customer-focused and most successful transportation company in the world.”
Define what your organization does and does not do, and who you do it for.
Ex. U.S. Tennis Association: “Promote and develop the growth of tennis.”
Mission statements drive everything your organization does.  They should be simple, direct, and operative.
List all of the qualities that you want your ideal employees to have.  Define the types of people that you want to work with (and don’t) in terms of suppliers, contractors, vendors, and service providers.
Once you define your organizational culture, you MUST communicate it by stating your organizational values everywhere, from your job descriptions, to your website, employee orientation handbook, as well as your social media, press releases, and website.
Treat your employees like your MOST valuable resources.
It is critical that you develop the programs needed to reward, recognize, empower, challenge, train, coach, mentor, and compensate your employees.
A company MUST care about the culture and work very hard to build it and maintain it.    The good news is, if you care enough about your culture  you WILL have a GREAT place to work!
Leadership sets the tone.  your leadership team must embody the spirit of your culture and convey the company’s culture to all they interact with, inside and outside of the organization.
Need help in gaining a clearer understanding of the importance of CULTURE?
Check out this video in which Tony Hsieh of Zappos explains what makes a business a truly great place to work.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach and Business Consultant.
Helping you unleash your full potential and plan, launch, and grow a wildly successful business.

How to Choose a Business Partner

How to Choose The Right Business Partner For You

There are two approaches that you can take when deciding whether or not someone would make an ideal business partner for you to join forces with.
Unfortunately, while both strategies are required I find that many entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business people almost always fail to factor in BOTH considerations.
#1 Find the ideal match to compliment your skills.
The first approach you must take is to determine which skills you are best at (ex. sales, marketing , operations, etc.) then find a short list of folks whose own skills compliment yours by having strengths in those areas you lack the needed background, experience, and skills in.
For example, if you are socially oriented (extroverted) and you love  to interact with others but you hate doing detail-oriented work (such as data analysis and conducting research), then those are the exact skills that you want to be looking for in your ideal business partner(s.)  Many people fail at this because they naturally seek out potential partners that they “get along” with. Most often this means they connect with folks who share their background and experience.
The cold hard truth is, no one has experience in every facet of running a business.  Therefore,  you and your partner(s) should collectively have experience in all of the following functional areas that are required to plan, launch, and grow a successful business because you need to have a well-defined division of labor by splitting up the duties required.
– Sales
– Marketing (Advertising, PR, Sales Promotions)
– Communications
– Customer Care
– Product Development
– Financials
– Operations
– Market Research
– Human Resources/People management
#2: Find others whose values, beliefs, and work ethic matches your own.
You want (need) to be able to work with people that share your passions, interests, morals, values, and beliefs as well as your entrepreneurial “spirit.”   Some strategies that you can and should utilize in order to determine who might be an ideal “fit” for you as a business partner include:
– The both of you should write your own profiles and share those them with each other.
– You and any potential partners should develop a list of all the things you each want to accomplish professionally.  This list must include all of the reasons why you want to go out on your own and start a business.
– You also should develop a complete list of all the resources you each bring to the table.  These resources must include:  financial contributions you both can make, skills, your background, professional training, certifications, organization memberships and affiliations, work experience, personal and professional networks of key contacts, any clients you maintained from your previous jobs.
This comprehensive list of assets will be of critical importance as you determine which potential partners and you share the deepest, broadest collection of assets to be leveraged for the good of your business.
Ask those people closest to you who you trust the most for personal referrals of people whose skills compliment yours and whose values and beliefs most closely align with yours.
Both of you should write down what you want your (business) legacy to be when all is said and done.  Any person you consider partnering in should know what it is that you hope to leave behind/contribute to the greater good (society) as a result of planning and launching your own business.
You and your partners should therefore have skills that compliment one another.  Your strengths should match their weaknesses, and vise versa.   Your values and beliefs have to be in perfect harmony with each other, in order for you to be able to get through all of the initial emotional hurdles we all face in planning, launching, and growing a business.
Lastly, get your commitments down in writing.  Have a business attorney develop a formal partnership agreement that stipulates all of the following:
How much capital you will contribute. your credit rating, work experiences, and capital you can allocate.  Do you both have people willing to co-sign?  Do you both have a small inner circle of business advisers.   Ideally you should both have  completed a formal personality assessment tool such as Myers-Briggs, Birkman, DISC, etc. and share the findings from those assessments so you have the best possible appreciation for, and understanding of, your partners’ values, beliefs, background, experiences, hopes, and skills.
Some other criteria you can apply in your search for the ideal business partner:
– You should genuinely like each other and get along.
– You should have the same vision and mission
– You should be physically located in the same place.
– You should be able to pick each other up when you are both feeling down.
These are just a few guidelines.  Here are some additional resources for you to use in determining how to conduct an effective business partner search.
  * How to find the perfect business partner on
  * How to find the right business partner on WikiHow
  * How do I find a business partner on Inc.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Business Coach. Helping you to plan, launch, and grow your business.