1. I’ve worked for two billionaires. Here’s what I learned from them

    March 29, 2016 by ahmed

    PCB

    Originally posted on LinkedIn by Paul Carrick Brunson

    I have spent decades “being educated” – in college, graduate school, numerous professional certifications, and now a PhD program. All of that schooling and training helped shape the person I am today, but at no point in my life has there been a more profound education than my time working for Enver Yucel and Oprah Winfrey.

    Enver and Oprah are two extraordinary people. And on top of that, they’re both billionaires. On the surface, they appear to be totally different people. They are in different industries, have different family structures, practice different religions, and speak different languages. However, once you get past their written biographies and dig deeper, you will notice they possess many of the same successful habits.

    I had the opportunity to work with both Oprah and Enver for 6 years collectively and those were, hands down, the best professional experiences of my life. I worked my ass off for them and in doing so absorbed everything I could.

    It’s my honor to share with you what I learned from them. Here is Part 1 of the 20 successful habits I learned working for two billionaires:

    1) Invest in Yourself
    This is a very simple concept, but something you would think someone who has “made it” would stop doing. Not at all for these two. I saw them both spend a significant amount of time dedicating their resources to self-development (whether it be a new language, exercise, social media classes, etc). The moment you stop investing in yourself is the moment you have written off future dividends in life.

    2) Be Curious…About Everything
    What the average person sees as mundane or overly complicated is not viewed the same way with a billionaire mindset. I once had a 30 minute conversation with Enver about the height of the curbs in Washington DC versus Istanbul, Turkey. Billionaires are incredibly curious; what the rest of the world thinks is a problem and complains about — that’s what these people go and work on.

    3) Surround Yourself With “Better” People
    I hope this is why they kept me around :-). Seriously, I never knew my bosses to keep anyone less-than-stellar in their inner circle. There were many times I thought to myself, “Damn, they have dream-teams built around them.” Jim Rohn had it right, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”

    4) Never Eat Alone
    The last time I had dinner with Enver, as well as the last time I ate dinner with Oprah, there were easily 15 people at our tables, respectively. Coincidence? While most of us derive our key information from blogs or the newspaper, power players get their information from the source (other power players), directly. However, just because you can’t call up the Obamas and break bread with them doesn’t mean eating with others in your circle doesn’t carry value. In one of my favorite reads of the last few years called Never Eat Alone author Keith Ferrazzi breaks down how you can identify “information brokers” to dine with you. I’ve seen first hand how enormous the benefits are of this strategy.

    5) Take Responsibility For Your Losses
    I was working for Oprah during the time she was taking heat from the media about poor network ratings. I was also working for Enver during the closing of one of his prized divisions. What I witnessed them both do in response was powerful. Opposed to covering the losses up with fancy PR tactics, both stepped to the stage and said in essence “I own it and I’m going to fix it” and dropped the mic. Guess what? They sure did fix things (It’s widely noted Oprah’s network is realizing ratings gold and Enver’s assets have probably doubled since the division closing).

    6) Understand The Power Of “Leverage”
    This is something that was quite a shock to me. From afar, a billionaire appears to be someone who is a master at everything. But, in truth, they’re specialists in one or a few areas and average or subpar at everything else. So, how do they get so much done? Leverage! They do what they do best and get others to do the rest . Here’s a great article on leverage. Keep in mind I see this done with wealthy people and their money all of the time – they use OPM (other people’s money) for most or all of their projects.

    7) Take No Days Off (Completely)
    I recall going on vacation with Enver several times, yachting up and down the southwestern coast of Turkey (also known as the blue voyage). Sounds ballerific, right? No doubt we had a great time, but mixed in with all that swimming and backgammon was discussion of business, discussion of strategy, planning and plotting. The best way I can describe this habit is thinking about your business or your idea like your literal baby. No matter your distance, you don’t stop thinking of him/her (and after just having a second son, I can attest to this).

    8) Focus On Experiences vs. Material Possessions
    When you have money, your toys are big. However, the vast majority of money I saw spent on their “leisure” was on actual experiences versus the typical car, jewelry, and clothes we’re familiar with seeing in music videos and gossip blogs. I recall one time at dinner with Oprah, I spotted a table of about 20 girls off to the side. I later found out Ms. Winfrey was treating some of her graduating girls from her school in South Africa to dinner in NYC. Experiences create memories, and memories are priceless.

    9) Take Enormous Risks
    This is another one of those successful habits every entrepreneur can attest to. A matter of fact, Entreprenuer.com created a great infographic outlining commonalities of the world’s billionaires and one of the most prominent was this characteristic: billionaires are not adverse to risk. What intrigues me even more about Enver and Oprah was that even at their high financial status and success level, they still possessed a willingness to risk their most precious asset (their name and legacy) on new and bolder projects. If you’re not taking risks, you’re not making moves!

    10) Don’t Go At It Alone
    Nothing great in life is achieved alone. Especially in business, success isn’t a solo act. This character trait is akin to “surrounding yourself with better people.” It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

    What I witnessed from working for Enver and Oprah were characteristics and successful habits that not only apply to business “wins,” but also translate to general life success. I sincerely hope the tips I’ve shared here will inspire you to create (or maintain) great habits for your success.


  2. Where success isn’t an accident: Process management tips from a Baldrige award-winning school district

    March 23, 2016 by ahmed

    Originally posted on Blogrige by Christine Schaefer

    As superintendent of the Baldrige Award-winning Pewaukee School District, JoAnn Sternke is widely considered an expert on systematic process management (among other areas addressed by the Baldrige Excellence Framework). Sternke is frequently asked to share her district’s best practices to help other organizations around the country improve their systems so they too can achieve their desired results.

    Yet Sternke recently said something that new users of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence may find both surprising and reassuring. In regard to the “Operations Focus” category (where process management is assessed), Sternke admitted, “I used to fear category 6.”

    “Now I recognize that process is so vital to any organization’s success,” she added. “Improving processes will truly get us long-lasting results.”

    At the Baldrige Program’s Quest for Excellence® conference next month, Sternke—along with Pewaukee School District Information Technology Director Amy Pugh—will provide guidance on process management in the session “How to Manage Your Processes So They Don’t Manage You.” According to Sternke, “Participants will learn a five-step process to identify, document, measure, analyze, and improve processes.”

    Pewaukee

    “Without a process you don’t have a guide,” said Pugh. “Having a process makes it so much easier to identify targets and then collect key data points around those goals, monitoring them regularly and making changes as necessary.”

    Sternke agreed, “Success isn’t a happy accident if you can rely on process. [Having a systematic process] is what makes positive direction sustainable and predictable—and that’s what we aim for.”

    Tips and Insights on Managing Processes

    Based on her district’s experience, Sternke offered the following tips for managing key processes to support excellence across an organization:

    1. Have a process owner who is identified as the “go to” for this process, and have this person document the process so there is a collective understanding of the process.
    2. Know what’s key and measure this.
    3. Have a systematic review of the process—remember the “S” and the “A” in Plan–Do–Study–Act [improvement methodology]. Don’t become so busy doing the process that you don’t evaluate it or refine it.

    Sternke also shared her insights on innovation in relation to process management:

    “I’ve learned that innovation truly comes from process, not in ‘lightbulb moments,’” she said. “The quest to offer greater value to stakeholders is what drives both process improvement and innovation. They go hand in hand.”

    Benefits of the Baldrige Framework in Education

    Why is using the Baldrige Excellence Framework (including the Education Criteria for Performance Excellence) beneficial for school districts today? According to Sternke, she’s “better equipped to lead my organization using this framework” and doing so helps her avoid merely “pursuing random acts of improvement” as a leader, ensuring systematic improvement.

    “We can’t be successful if we just lead from one cool idea to another, thinking that is improvement,” she explained. “The people who come to work and learn each day deserve an organization that allows them to do the good work they want to do.”

    “The Baldrige framework is a proven means to better outcomes—and we all want that for our students,” Sternke added. “The Education Criteria focus our organization on the right things: the questions guide me as a leader and all of us in our organization to think more deeply about how we can make our organization operate best in order to be successful.”


  3. To forecast the future, look outside your industry

    March 20, 2016 by ahmed

    Can you hear me now

    Originally posted on Linkedin by Neil Blumenthal

    The most powerful influences likely come from outside your company’s sphere, not from within it. Warby Parker, the company I co-founded, sells eyewear. But we aren’t looking at competitive threats within the eyewear industry, because there simply isn’t a great deal of innovation within the eyewear industry.

    Instead, we’re looking at companies like Amazon, which hugely change customer perceptions and expectations about things that affect Warby Parker – like how easy it is to order something online (or through other internet-enabled methods like Echo and the Dash button) and, of course, how quickly that item arrives.

    Amazon has trained customers to expect items to arrive within two days. Or sometimes even within one day. I was reminded of this when I recently bought a pair of pants at a boutique in New York. It took two and a half weeks to get the pants tailored, and then a series of phone calls to figure out when I could pick up the pants or whether they’d send the pants to me. By the time the pants came, I’d spent way more time thinking about pants logistics than I ever wanted to. And, while it may sound crazy, I really believe that I don’t enjoy wearing the pants as much as I would have had they arrived on time without a hassle. One’s perception of a product is based on the entirety of the brand experience – from the moment someone hears about the brand to their decision to shop, to selecting an item, transacting, waiting for the product to arrive, unboxing and using the product over time.

    Uber is another example. On the surface, we have little in common with a mobile ride hail company. But Uber influences UX and customer interaction experiences for every company in every industry. For a prime example, I don’t have to look any further than myself! I often use Uber, but on the occasions when I do hail a yellow cab, I find myself noticing anew all the unnecessary steps built into the process: telling the driver your address, paying with a credit card, selecting a tip, and sometimes signing a physical receipt.

    A third example is GrubHub Seamless. Out of convenience (and a regrettable lack of cooking ability), I often order food online from local restaurants. Remember when you had to phone a restaurant to place an order? And read your credit card number three times over the phone? And you always ended up standing in that weird corner of your apartment that didn’t get service? None of this needs to happen anymore. We can order with a click. Why cultivate patience when instant gratification is so easy to obtain?

    Ultimately, it pays to get a broader view of how a handful of companies are redefining how we shop, eat, drive, and live. If you want to forecast the future of your own industry, look outside of it.


  4. Hot tips to increase customer satisfaction

    March 12, 2016 by ahmed

    funny_smiley_faces

    Originally posted on Biztorming by Luciana Paulise

    Customer is king, but do customers actually feel like they are kings?

    That’s’ a very good question. Poor customer service cost companies billions of dollars every year. And sometimes owners don’t even know about it. Customer satisfaction is hard to measure, but it I not impossible. Repeat sales, customer loyalty, recommendation to friends and customer claims are key performance indicators. While you can try to measure them, you need to focus on how to improve them.

    To increase customer satisfaction, you need to work on the 5 key aspects they value most: the product itself, the user, due care, customer service and finally the personnel.

    1. The product itself: The consumer is the most important part of the production line. Customers are the ones that put our company into business, they buy our products, so products need to be suited to them, that’s why Deming, the famous statistician would say that the consumer was the most important part of the production line. He would also say that it is easy to go broke making the wrong product or offering the wrong service. Companies need to increase value through products and services that delight customers, because profit and growth don’t come from the satisfied customer: Satisfied customers switch, for no good reason, just to try something else. They come from the loyal customer. He requires no advertising or persuasion, and he brings a friend along with him.
    2. User: Customer surveys and mystery shoppers are great tools to get to know the voice of your customer. Demands vary from year to year and from market to market, so it is necessary to study customer requirements deeply through Statistical methods such as run charts or scatter diagrams to determine the type pf product that will sell as it links studies of the consumer preferences with the design of products, improving competitive position. Top management then must bring design and customer research together. After starting a project and gathering VOC (voice of the customer) data, it is time to define the critical-to-quality outputs. To prioritize their actions during this process, practitioners may use a quality function deployment (QFD), also known as the house of quality. There are also new tools and methodologies to get the VOC faster and cheaper.
      Social networks: using Facebook, twitter, Instagram, blogs and other networking tools to promote your business, you can not only engage your audience and let them know what you are up to, but you can also get the their insights, depending on the number visits, likes, favorites and comments.
      All ears Personnel: employees are one of the best source of information in regards to customer desires. They should be trained not only to assist the customer but also to listen to them and communicate their needs to upper management.
      Pilot tests: many Entrepreneurs are already into it to develop new products. The most successful startups are applying the Lean startup methodology , which focus on WORKING SMARTER NOT HARDER, that is experimenting with your product as you soon as you have a first version and letting your early adopters test it for you, telling you what they like and what they don’t. A core component of Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. The first step is figuring out the problem that needs to be solved and then developing a minimum viable product (MVP) to offer the customer in order to begin the process of learning.
    3. Due Care: How the user uses the product is important. If the user doesn’t understand it, or doesn’t know how to take care of it, it can reduce his loyalty. Market research can also be used to understand how the product is used, installed and how it is taken care of. Instructions for use of the product and warnings on miss use are part of the records that establish the amount of care taken on the part of the manufacturer.
    4. Customer service: Deming would also say that “No one can measure loss of business that may arise from a defective product that goes to a customer”, that’s why quality of the products are so important. Quality of the products needs to be taken care of to avoid customer complaints and frustration. In the case the defective product goes to a customer, the company needs to take serious action. There must be a customer service department to help customers to use the product, to assist them if it is broken or to receive complaints about defects.
    5. Trained personnel: Front line employees in charge of customer service should be trained to be able to help the customer and provide information to improve the products, as they need to make customers come back, not their products. Front line employees are usually the less trained, the new ones in the Company, but they are also the first contact of the customer. They should be better trained than anyone on describing products and providing excellent service. They key from great companies is that they don’t only focus on the front line employees but also make sure everyone in the Company appreciates the customer, from the accounting department to the cleaning services. Answers like “ I am not in charge”, or “That’s not my business” should be banned. The customer should be the King no matter where you work.

    customer_satisfaction

    Happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience

    Any contact with the customer should be an opportunity to drive satisfaction. Several researches show that happy customers who get their issues solved tell 5 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied customer will tell 11 people about their experience. So always remember, the key to business success is keeping your customer satisfaction rates higher than your competition!


  5. Does your organisation have best practices in one of the following 13 areas?

    February 25, 2016 by ahmed

    dwl

    The Dubai Government Excellence Programme’s (DGEP) “Dubai We Learn” initiative consists of a range of organisational learning and benchmarking activities. The initiative aims to empower a culture of institutional learning and the transfer and exchange of knowledge within the government sector.

    One key part of the initiative is the undertaking of 13 benchmarking projects that are facilitated by the Centre of Organisational Excellence Research (COER), New Zealand. All 13 projects are using the TRADE Best Practice Benchmarking methodology with an expectation that most projects will be completed within a year (the projects began in October 2015). Currently most projects are starting the “Acquire best practices” stage of TRADE and searching for benchmarking partners and learning best practices.

    It is for this purpose we are inviting organisations with “good” to “best practices” in these 13 areas, Click this link, to contact us to explore if there is an opportunity for mutual learning. The respective government entity will be happy to share with you its own practices and the project work it has conducted so far. We would also be pleased to share with you best practices from other Dubai We Learn participants to thank you for your assistance.

    If you can help in our search for best practices, please send an email to Dr Robin Mann, Director – Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, r.s.mann@massey.ac.nz.

    For more information on “Dubai We Learn” read here.