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Getting There From Here Requires…Business Planning

Getting Here From There, and There From Here.
In my work as an executive coach, career counselor, and business consultant, I often work with clients that are stuck in their business planning. Simply, they are unsure how to move forward.
This is true whether they are looking to advance their career, are considering going back to school or pursue a graduate degree, or identifying opportunities to change direction in leading the organizations they created or work in.
One strategy that I employ when I work with a client is to take a step back and revisit their past.
Call it hitting the “PAUSE” button, if you like.
We revisit how they arrived at the point in time in their careers that they currently find themselves stuck in.
Specifically, we identify the strategies they used in the past that worked for them.  We revisit their career/professional goals, or the business plans they created when they launched their business.   The driving force behind this effort to revisit the past is to see what goals they still have not achieved, and (equally important) to identify the goals they set in the past that are no longer relevant to their future plans.
Additionally, we look to see if their own personal life goals, ethics and values have changed over time. Changing values lead to changing aspirations, hopes, dreams…and GOALS!  It’s akin to re-visiting your life insurance policy,  health insurance, or your tax filing status.  Your life changes over time.  So should your plans.
Once you complete that look back, it’s time to look ahead over the horizon.
This is one part visualization, another strategic planning.  Ask yourself where you see yourself in the next 2 or 3 years.  Some call this document an action plan, career road map, or visual cue board.   No matter the title, the key point in this looking forward exercise is, you MUST write your plan down.
Because…a plan that is NOT written down is NOT a plan at all.  It’s a dream.
Otherwise, you’ll find yourself looking down the rabbit hole…
any road alice in wonderland quote
Once you document your short term goals, it’s an empowering process to identify the following:
1.) Measurable Tasks to Achieve: In order to set realistic goals, they have to be quantifiable, so you have to use numbers to tell a story. (ex. in next 3-4 months complete my 2015 marketing plan with associated budget of no more than $15,000 total spend.)
2.) Realistic Time Frames for Completion: Use specific start and end dates, with as many “WHAT-I F” scenarios.  You can call this contingency planning but you need to be able to hold yourself accountable to meeting key deadlines.  It helps to use the Steven Covey Time Management matrix guide of  assigning TWO variables into prioritizing each task.
One factor to assess is the degree of importance/impact for each task, the other is the mount of time you have to complete a task. for example, completing a national advertising plan to launch October 1st has a tremendously high impact and a VERY short lead time.  These tasks are all assigned a TOP priority.
covey time mgt matrix
3.) Required Resources: what will it take to complete this goal?  List any/all certifications, professional Association memberships, a bank loan, hiring contract or full-time staff, etc.  In order to achieve your goals you have to set aside the requisite resources in order to see them through to completion.
4.) Contingencies: Identify any and all foreseeable potential barriers, that may prevent you from competing your tasks and achieving your goals.
Once you have your revised forward-facing plan, you can begin implementing.  Remember, you MUST be sure to set aside the time needed to revisit these revised goals and future plan on a regular (daily, weekly, monthly) basis.
Good luck!

The Fallacy of Great Business Leadership

The Fallacy of Being an Effective Leader
Many times when I am coaching professionals and business leaders on how to lead an organization, the topic of leadership arises.  It is extremely ironic that many folks who are in a position to lead mistakenly assume they are LEADING when in fact all they are really doing is MANAGING.  Great business leadership is NOT synonymous with managing.
There is a significant difference between being an effective leader and managing.
Management is detrimental to strong relationship-building.
Leadership is absolutely critical for organizations to succeed.  What’s the difference, you ask?
Plenty!  Here’s the clinical definition for both, as a means of highlighting the difference:
“Management” (from the Old French ménagement is defined as “the art of conducting, directing”.  Management’s derivation from Latin comes from the phrase manu agere which literally means “to lead by the hand”.)
Thus, management characterizes the process of leading and directing all or part of an organization, often a business, through the deployment and manipulation of resources (human, financial, material, intellectual or intangible.)
On the other hand, leaders all possess a VISION, build consensus, guide, and/or inspire others, are generally in a position or office of an authority figure, have an inherent ability to get people to follow them willingly and create Team-based “buy in” to what they are attempting to accomplish.
There are many different types of leader. Which one(s) describe YOU:

  • Autocrat: rule with an iron fist, don’t tolerate opposing views, demand complete allegiance, and never seek out consensus.


  • Bureaucratic: Extremely process-driven, adhere to guidelines, rules, policies and procedures.  Can only function optimally in stringent structured settings and shut down when confronted with ambiguous roles, undefined roles, and drastically changing market conditions and circumstances.


  • Charismatic: the epitomy of the charming manipulator, have very favorable perceived socialization skills, are convincing, influential.


  • Democratic/Participative: Function best in situations in which they can distribute decision-making, engage their Team to play active roles, and love empowering others.  May prove problematic when quick decision-making is required, but benefit from gaining the broadest input from their members.


  • Laissez-Faire/Delegative: Very “hands off.” Spend lots of time huddled away in their offices with closed doors, allow their direct reports to operate with free reign have little issue delegating but take little ownership for Team performance and typically are quick to place blame on others when problems arise.


  • People/Relations-Oriented: Outgoing, affable nature and figuratively feed off of interactions with others. Extrovert personality types, are at their best when they are practicing “leadership by walking around” and need to be in the trenches working side by side with their teammates.


  • Servant Leader: these leaders are slavishly focused on serving others. They put aside personal needs (and gain) for the greater good of their team, their organization, and society.  You find a hue preponderance of these servant leader types in public office, leading non-profits and working in government capacities.


  • Task Oriented: Strive for task completion, need a literal and figurative list of projects, have to have work flow documented, processed, and structured, and tend to think in linear “IF…THEN” scenarios.


  • Transactional: Prefer to maintain the status quo, enjoy established routine, predictable schedules and work are extremely attractive to these types.


  • Transformational: Subscribe to the notion of “If it ‘aint broke…break it.”   These are the quintessential leaders in that they exist and operate best when they feel they can change the world.

For a classic depiction of Transformational leaders, check out Apple’s classic ad:”Here’s to the cracy ones” –
The Ethical (4P) Model is instructive for defining leadership values
Under the ethical construct of leadership, effective leaders are concerned about the impact they have on the planet, are motivated by a very clear sense of purpose, are most engaged when they are workign with others, and operate with a strong sense of ethical construct (they have a deep moral compass that guides them effectively from wrong to right.
Great quotes that you can use, that get to the heart of what a leader is all about:

  • “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  Sir Isaac Newton


  • They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you make them feel.”  Carol Buchner


  • “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”  Thomas Edison


  • “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”  John C. Maxwell


  • “Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”  Malcolm Forbes 


  • “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence.”  Unknown


  • “To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.” Pearl S. Buck


  • “Outstanding leaders appeal to the hearts of their followers – not their minds.” Unknown


  • “Praise loudly, blame softly.” Catherine the Great


  • “Never doubt that a small group of committed individuals can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead


  • “A leader is a dealer in hope.” Napoleon Bonaparte


  • “The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone.  You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.” Elaine Agather


  • “Do you wish to rise?  Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” St. Augustine

Developing Great Decision-Making Skills is a significant precursor to becoming an effective leader.  Some guidelines on effective decision-making that you can (and should) work on:

      • Don’t make decisions that aren’t yours to make


      • Choose from alternatives, not “Right & Wrong”


      • Avoid snap decisions


      • Make decisions while you have time


      • Do your decision-making on paper

To become a great leader, begin with the basics of building a strong personal foundation:

  • Check Yourself…Who Are You?  Conduct personal exploration to understand your values, and what motivates you.  Remember…people have to WANT to follow you.


  • Possess Self Knowledge:Get to know your strengths & weaknesses by seeking out the opinions and criticisms others who know you well have about YOU.


  • Become a Role Model


  • Make Your Words Your Action: your actions should ALWAYS mirror your words.  In other words…”practice what you preach!”

Following is your Five Step Plan to become a truly effective leader.  Focus on these guidelines and you’ll be on your way:
Step #1: Plan. Have a blueprint for becoming a great business leader.
Step #2: Have A Vision. If you don’t know where you want to go, NO ONE will follow you (willingly.)
Step #3: Share Your Vision: Get those communication skills going!
Step #4: Takes Charge: Know the way…show the way…GO THE WAY!
Step #5: Inspire Through Example!
Okay, so you finally have people following you.  Now what do you do?

  • Serve People’s Needs


  • Listen HARD!


  • Keep Earning Their Trust


  • Pursue Change


  • Share Leadership


  • Build Teams


  • Leadership & Development

Finally, here are a bunch of GREAT resources you can begin using IMMEDIATELY to become an effective leader:










Let me know if you would like to discuss my training your management team on how to go from good to GREAT by becoming effective leaders others will follow.
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan BIG.

Building Relationships Means NOT Networking

To Network Like an All-Star, Don’t Network. Instead, Focus on Building Relationships.
To become a powerful networker, it is critical to first understand that you DON’T build strong relationships by networking.
Networking is not even a term used to define human interaction.  It evolved in the 1950s as a technical term for connecting computers, so they could communicate with other computers in case of a nuclear attack.
Forging strong relationships in your personal and professional lives requires an approach that many people fail to understand and embrace.
What is THAT approach?
It requires that we seek out and attempt to establish mutually beneficial, “symbiotic” relationships where BOTH parties gain value from that relationship.
To that end, to be effective at building strong relationships requires that you care enough about others to learn their pain points.  Then go ahead and figure out how to provide solutions to the problems keeping them up at night.
This holds true whether you are in the midst of a job search, are “networking” for your career, or looking to build a rolodex of relationships to plan, launch and grow a viable business.
Start by being a FACILITATOR.   That means that there is power in bringing people together by introducing folks that can benefit from you making introductions to others.
To advance your own reach, you also want to become known as a subject matter in your field.  This can be accomplished by writing a blog, getting articles you have written published, write a book, serving on panel discussions, give talks, and become actively involved in your local community by doing volunteer work.
Start by writing down your IDEAL TARGET profile.
Write down in complete detail the attributes and characteristics of the type of people that you want to meet with the following details:
* What industries / sectors do they work in?
* What professional clubs, groups, and associations do they belong to?
* What are their interests and passions?
* Where did they go to High School…College…Graduate school?
* What professional certifications do they have?
* What types of professional training & development do they seek?
If you don’t know who you are attempting to target, you are in effect flying blind.   That never works when you are trying to forge new relationships.
Next, create a strategic networking plan of attack.   Why?  A plan that isn’t written down is only a DREAM.
Once you have a written plan you then have a strategy to follow including a calendar of the events you know you need to attend i nthe next 30, 60, 90+ days.
Your strategic networking plan should include:
1.) Your ideal target profile.  Sound familiar?
2.) List all of the relevant industries that your ideal customer belongs to and the key industry associations that serve these industries, and the upcoming events planned by these organizations.  You now have a calendar of upcoming events for your ideal targets. THIS is what it means to network STRATEGICALLY.
3.) List all of the business networking groups or trade associations that your ideal prospect/contact belongs to.
4.) What strategies do you currently pursue to find prospects, then qualify those leads in order to pursue in your new client acquisition efforts?
Craft a truly compelling and engaging “Elevator Pitch.”
1.) Clarify your target. You’ve done this already, right?
2.) Put it on paper. Again, it isn’t a viable working document until you’ve documented it.
3.) Format it. A good pitch should answer three questions:
– Who are you?
– What do you do?
– What are you looking for?
4.) WIIFM!  Tailor the pitch to your audience, not you.  When you talk to people at the WIIFM level you are simply addressing people’s primary concern: “What’s In It For Me.”
5.) Eliminate industry jargon.  Slang doesn’t help you.
6.) Practice, practice, practice (then get feedback.)
7.) Prepare a few variations in case you have more than one ideal target.
8.) Nail it with confidence.  That’s where practicing it comes in.  Ultimately there is no greater power than the “DOING” so get out there and PITCH yourself.
Be sure to brand yourself.  A “brand” is a promise that every experience that people have with you is consistently UNIQUE, INVALUABLE, and MEMORABLE.  What makes you all of these things?  In other words, you build your own brand by defining your unique selling proposition (USP.)  Your USP is the collection of all of your passions, strengths, skills, background, experience, education, training that distinguishes you from EVERYONE else.
To network does not mean you just got out to any and all events that you’re invited to. you need to have a plan of attack and that comes from developing a strategy but only after you define who you want/need to meet, build your brand, become an expert and focus on serving others by making introductions and solving people’s problems.
No problem, right?  It all starts with caring about others and NOT trying to SELL.  Build TRUST instead.   The strong relationships will follow.
Happy NOT networking!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan BIG.

The Benefits of Being Professional

Acts of Professionalism Can Super Charge Your Career.
Our careers, business ventures, and professional pursuits are driven by the nature of the relationships we forge and maintain.  That is why being professional can pay off for you in  all of your professional pursuits.
Often seemingly innocuous acts can have the undesired consequence of alienating others, thus cannon-balling any hopes we have to pursue a successful career, grow a business, or forge stronger relationships.
Following are acts of unprofessionalism to avoid in personal, social, and business dealings if you wish to achieve career, professional, and business success:
1. Avoid Little ‘White Lies’:  You know, those insincere comments you let slip in the moment?  Comments like: “We should definitely get together.”  That translates into: “I have no intention of following up with you.”   We do this to avoid discomfort. But those little white lies can and often do add up, to reflect a lack of (perceived) sincerity.
2. Craft Compelling E-Mail Communications: There are many ways to sabotage yourself using email. Some bad practices to avoid include using vague subject lines, not including a “call to action” or statement clearly defining what you are seeking, using long drawn out rambling messages. Also, email is an extremely difficult medium to use since there is no voice tonality to gauge the emotional state of the sender, so being clear with words used to convey feelings are critical.
The worst types of emails are often the ones in which you suggest having a meeting.  you may say: “Let’s schedule a time to talk.”  This is a really bad communication practice, since you fail to suggest specific days and times you are available.  By not providing dates and times you creates a burden associated with unnecessary back and forth, to confirm a meeting day, time, and location.
3. Poor Follow Up: Do you apologize often for taking a long time to follow up?  Not only does that send a very poor message, but it likely reveals a much deeper issue you have such as poor time management, disorganization, or inability to manage areas of your business effectively.  And people REALLY don’t like doing business with those kinds of folks.
Do you want to be known as the person who almost always remains true to their word?  Or do you want to be THAT person who commits to something, and people who know them roll their eyes because they know you will likely NOT follow through?  Being seen as reliable ensures people see you as a “Go-to” take charge kind of person who they can do business with.
4. WIIFM Practitioner: The sad truth is most human beings are selfish creatures (it’s in a our nature) who worship at the temple of “WIIFM.”
You may have heard of WIIFM… “What’s in it for me?”  Most of us can spot those people a mile away, and are turned off by such behavior.
For example when you are networking, rather than looking at the experience of meeting new people as an arduous (and awkward) task of cultivating “leads” to sell to (acting like a hunter) take a page from the farmer playbook.
Plant seeds by bringing value to your relationships.  In the professional business networking organization ‘Business Networking International’ they teach you that “giver’s game.”
Try bringing people together, by making introductions.  People who focus on helping others and bringing people together are seen more favorably and others will gravitate towards them.
5. Not Having an Agenda: While we all have “agendas” or goals and purposes in our dealings with others, we often fail to provide people with actual agendas.
You should get into the practice of always providing an agenda when you schedule meetings with people.  Not using agendas for meetings and calls is a tremendous lost opportunity. By providing agendas you can maximize meeting time, help others prepare for conversations with you, do necessary research, have answers, and generally know what your desired outcomes are.
6. Last Minute Cancellations: Look, it is a fact of life in this fast paced world with so many work-life balance challenges we can get overwhelmed, over-extended, and struggle to manage our schedules.  Sometimes, you have to cancel on people. when you know you cannot honor scheduling commitments it always helps to give people as much heads up as possible, and if you need to cancel, then it is your responsibility to provide make up dates and times.
And this leads me to the next act of unprofessionalism…
7. Not Apologizing: Look, it is always a good practice to simply say “you’re Sorry” when you have to cancel/reschedule.  Don’t make excuses. We all have them.  Simply say “I’m sorry” and suggest reschedule dates.
8. Procrastination: This is a tremendously dangerous self-inflicted wound. By putting off the unpleasant tasks we create a ripple out effect by creating chaos, scheduling challenges, missing deadlines. Break up daunting projects into manageable parts, and start early to give yourself ample time, esp. when you hit a roadblock midway through the task/project or get bombarded with other unexpected tasks.
9. Being Insincere: Nowadays with online communication including chat and “social” media, it is easier than ever to be someone else online. But when you misrepresent yourself, you are not building an accurate reputation.  When people meet you “face-to-face” they will be turned off that you misrepresented yourself.  That creates ill-will and can destroy your brand.
10. Overextending:  Sometimes we get so caught up in the helping that we end up committing to too much and then may have difficulty seeing projects through to completion.
There you have it. My top 10 list of ways you can maximize your professionalism. I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, perhaps even your own pet peeve?
What do you think?
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan BIG.

The Chazin Group Turns Ten

I Am Proud to Announce That The Chazin Group Turns Ten This Month.
Back in 2004, I launched The Chazin Group while toiling away working for others, as a way of unleashing my passion for helping others.  It was really just an interest of mine at the time, that I pursued when I wasn’t working.
The focus back then was to help as many people as possible realize the goal of finding their ideal dream job, or successfully going out on their own to start their own business.
It has been quite a journey since then, with MANY ups and downs along the way.  My travels have taken me all over the country, from senior citizen centers to prisons, military bases, community centers, Chambers of Commerce, business incubators.
I have spoken to over 500 High School students, given talks in 50 colleges and Universities, taught as an adjunct professor, authored the book “Bulletproof Your Career in These Turbulent Times,” appeared in the media and on television, launched MeetUp groups, given job boot camps, and conducted a weekly radio program: “Chazin The Dream” on pursuing one’s passions and interests.
In 2009, I left Corporate America to dedicate my efforts full-time to focusing on serving clients.
So after TEN YEARS spent conducting 500 presentations to 12,000 job seekers, and coaching and consulting with 750 businesses (many of which were start-ups and entrepreneurs) I feel like I am only now just beginning to make a difference.
I have met so many insanely talented and motivated people along the way who for many reasons were never fully appreciated by their employers or given the opportunity to rise.  So many supremely talented people were forced to go out on their own after careers of being under-appreciated, under-compensated, and often downsized, outsourced, and off-shored.
By staying true to my commitment to help others achieve their life’ and career goals, I have been able to live my own dream by maintaining a clarity of focus and sense of purpose in doing what I do.
And after a decade of this roller coaster ride called being in business for oneself I am more energized than ever.
To all the folks that I have been fortunate enough to work with, I want to take time out to say “Thank you” for the trust you exhibited in me.
To those folks that I have not had the good fortune of working with yet…why not give me a call to discuss how you too can realize your life’s pursuits and find your passions whether that means going out on your own or finding your DREAM job!
If you love what you do you’ll never work another day in your life.
Start pursuing your dreams NOW!  Life is simply too short to toil away in jobs that don’t fulfill your passions, expertise, and interests.

Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.

How Businesses Can Emulate the Spurs Organization Success

What Business Can Emulate From the San Antonio Spurs Success.  
Okay, I know that writing about the San Antonio Spurs right after their NBA championship win over the Miami Heat might make me a “Homer,” but there are so many invaluable lessons that organizations aspiring for greatness can take away from the Spurs success.
Since the Spurs began play in the now defunct American Basketball Association that merged with the NBA in 1976, they have won FIVE (5) championships.  They are fourth on the list of all-time franchise leaders in basketball championships behind ONLY the Celtics, Lakers and Bulls.  In the Spurs 38 seasons since the 1976 merger, they have captured 20 Division titles, made the playoffs 24 of the last 25 seasons (since 1989-1990) and 17 times in Tim Duncan’s 18  years with the Spurs.
So, what lessons can organizations wishing to be great learn from the San Antonio Spurs organization success over their last four decades?
Great relationships between ownership, management, and employees (the coaching staff led by Head coach Greg Popovich) are absolutely critical for success.  The Spurs are led by their core three players Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, who have played together for 12 years.   Leadership is top-down, and begins with ownership headed up by Peter Holt , and trickles down to the General Manager R.C. Buford, and Head Coach Greg Popovich.
Just watching this team the past few seasons, it is clear from the relationship that head coach Greg Popovich has with not only his core three players (Parker, Ginobli and Duncan) but extends to all of the players as he emphasizes trust and tremendous loyalty.
The team exudes an aura / sense of family through the outward affection displayed and the entire team’s on the court intensity.
All players are expected to contribute.  Every player has a role as evidenced by the fact that the Spurs bench players (non starting 5) are the highest scoring bench in the NBA.  Players one through twelve ALL contribute.  In an era of individuals moving their team mates out of the way so they can play one-on-one ball to gain highlight footage of themselves, the Spurs game is predicated on constantly moving the ball, giving up good shots for great scoring opportunities. Further, every player is required to commit themselves in playing aggressive, intense “TEAM” defense.
Recruit top talent, but have a culture and consistent approach to talent management by seeking out a certain kind of player (employer.)  The Spurs organization aggressively seeks out players (from all over the world) who understand their roles.  It takes a tremendously confident individual to compete at the professional sports level yet who is willing to check their egos at the door, by placing the good of their team ahead of their own self.
The Spurs top 3 players are significantly under compenstaed relative to league pay scales, but take lesser pay for the benefit of staying with the team.  They have played together for 12 years, and Coach Popovich has been with Tim Duncan for 18 years.   Popovich is the elder statesman of pro US sports coaching.  His 18 year tenure as head coach of the Spurs leads all four U.S. pro sports leagues.  In this era of players (and employers) showing almost no loyalty, this type of loyalty between team, coach, and players might never be seen again.
Over the past 3-4 decades, the Spurs leading players have passed the leadership torch down from team to team, from greats George Gervin to David Robinson, the triumvirate of Avery Johnson, Sean Elliott, and Tim Duncan to their heirs  Kawhi Leonard, Patty Mills, and Danny Green.
Keep your core team together to buid tremendously strong relationships.  In this day in age of constant layoffs and contract based workforce, it is refreshing to see a successful franchise that values keeping its team intact to build unrivaled esprit de corps and sense of togetherness for a shared mission.
Create a culture of pride in your team with your fans (employees, customers) to validate a lasting legacy.  The Spurs don’t just give lip service to caring about their fans and their community.  They live that credo.   It starts with ownership setting affordable pricing so blue collar folks can go to games, and their players are consistently recognized as most active in giving back to their community.
Cultural diversity is a central tenet of this team’s roster construction.  They field players from all over the world.  That ethnic diversity contributes to open mindedness, a willingness to embrace other life styles, philosophies and willingness to embrace others as individuals.
So there you have it.  Take a lesson from the Spurs play book.  Create a recipe for success that focuses on organizational excellence, a commitment to a winning culture, finding true leaders in management and exceptional employees that exhibit the very best qyualities you could hope for, in order to achieve lasting competitive advance.
Congratulations to this year’s NBA Champ San Antonio Spurs!
Ethan Chazin, The Compassionate Executive Coach, Management Consultant, Business Coach
No Organization is Too Small to Plan Big.