By | Follow-through, Leadership, Motivation | No Comments

I officially declare that Spring is here! 

Spring is about re-birth, energy, and hope. It’s about opening day, grass between your toes, and sunshine on your face.

Hope: For a brighter day. For a better world. For a stronger future.


Hope moves us forward. Hope to change our selves, our business, our lives.

I recently read about a study done in the late 60’s about hopelessness and dogs. The researches would ring a bell and quickly follow it with a mild electric shock. At first the dogs looked for a way out, but could not find one.


After a few days of this, the researchers split the area in two. One side was insulated and would keep the dogs from being electrocuted. A small barrier was placed in between the areas that the dogs could easily overcome.


What surprised the researchers, was that the dogs never attempted to jump the barrier to the “safe” zone. They had accepted their plight and had no hope to alleviate it. Without the hope that they could change their situation, improve their world, they simply gave up and accepted the pain imposed on them.


The good news – researchers worked with these dogs to show them that moving to the other side of the barrier would alleviate their pain. After several attempts, the dogs discovered they could control what occurred and began jumping the barrier.


Hope moves us forward. Hope to change our selves, our business, our lives.

What have you just accepted in your business? Have you give up trying to improve it? What causes you “pain” in your business and what do you need to alleviate it?

All the Wrong Things

By | Follow-through, Time Management | No Comments

focused on non-productive thingsI picked up my kids from school the other day. As we pulled out of the parking lot, I asked how their day went.


My son started describing his day, when his sister started arguing with him about whether he had played tag or wall-ball during recess. There did not seem to be any point to the argument besides who was right and who was wrong. It was merely about who would win the “uh-huh/nyu-huh” war.


After a few seconds of the back-and-forth I asked, “Is anyone going to be injured by whether Josh played one or the other today?” No. “Is there something that will be damaged?” No. “Is anyone going to hell because of it?” Definitely no.


We had a quick conversation about what is important and what we spend our energy on. That got me thinking about what we all seem to spin our wheels on.


We often find a way to keep our selves busy; somehow believing that because we are busy, we are productive. Often we busy ourselves with the wrong things – like my kids arguing about something that has no relevance besides feeling they bested the other in their “who is right” contest.


Are you the right kind of busy? Can you see sales growing, service improving, teams developing, and profits improving?


Time to refocus priorities.


Success in business is defined by the measures you put on it.

What a Succesful Business Looks Like

By | Accounting, Follow-through, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments
Success in business is defined by the measures you put on it.

Stop chasing the horizon.

Almost everyone wants to be successful. I say almost because I have met many that would be content without it.


Most people look back over a day or a week and see all the things they didn’t accomplish or complete. Or they look at the mile marker they had set and measure the distance between where they are and where they believe they should be. They measure their success by what the didn’t accomplish – which only discourages them.


Most people don’t know how to measure success.


I once heard Dan Sullivan, the creator of Strategic Coach, explain that success is like the horizon: you can never really “arrive.” 

I feel that it is much easier to set a mile marker and see how much closer you can get to it than yesterday. Don’t measure the distance left – look back at the distance you covered and the obstacles you passed.


What are you mile markers? 


When working with new clients, I often find they are not keeping track of how they are winning. Most are balancing the books on a regular basis – but they cannot tell you their margins, their COGS ratios, or what it costs to provide their service. A budget is the first mile marker you business should put in place.


The other problem I see is that many chase the wrong mile markers.


Define what your mile markers are. Make sure they are going to lead you to the right horizon. Then when you measure your progress towards success, consider the distance and the victories. You’ll be surprised.

Good Follow Through Is Critical for Business

Follow Through

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, Operations, Systems | No Comments

Good Follow Through Is Critical for BusinessIn 1994 I was in St. Louis wrestling in the AAU national wrestling tournament. I had done well and made it to the quarter finals. However, I lost that match by two points – the only points scored in the match. I had shot in on his legs for the take down, but somehow, he countered and ended up taking me down. 


I rarely did this, but I was so baffled by it that I found him afterward and asked what happened. “You hesitated after the shot. It was just enough for me to counter.” I hadn’t followed through with the take down and lost the match.


In business, poor follow through is one of the most common mistakes businesses make.


Some say this is a question of integrity. I think it moves beyond that. It is a question of systems and habit. We have every intention of following up after the service, calling that lead one more time, or getting back to someone. Often when a ball gets dropped, we have a tendency to just leave it and hope no one notices. Eventually they do. We judge ourselves by our intentions, but the world judges us by our actions.


As a business, balls get dropped by the team because we have not put together the processes and not created good accountability. Creating a habit for our team and a culture that enforces those items are the key to creating a business that exceeds expectations.


So what now? How do you follow through better?


Take a look at your habits, systems and accountability. Pick one, work at it until it improves. Then, move on to the next.

The Magic Bullet of Success

By | Accountability, Follow-through, Leadership, life style, Marketing, Motivation, Strategic Planning, Time Management, Uncategorized | One Comment

What's the secret sauce?I’ve been reviewing the many clients I have had over the years and looking at what the difference has been between the ones who grew their business and those that did not.


As I developed my list, here is what I have determined made them successful:


Follow-Through – This was the single most important factor in who succeeded and who did not. The ones that I saw increase their sales, hire better employees, and create exstatic customers were the ones who put into action the things they committed to doing. 


Burning Desire – not a passing craving, or a “that-would-be-nice” motivation. They were almost obsessed with changing their business to become something incredible.


Willing to Be Challenged – they did not mind having someone challenge their way of thinking. They were humble and wanted to learn. However, when they would defend an aspect of their business, they had a well thought-out reason and could logically defend why it was that way. Emotions were important in the decision, but there was  logical basis to it.


Time to Think, Plan and Dream – Successful clients I have worked with took the time to think through what was happening every day. They (usually) did not allow everyone else to dictate their schedule or the just rely on their to-do list to determine what would happen next. Dreaming was an important aspect as well since it allowed them to re-focus on what they wanted to accomplish (see “A Higher Ideal” below.)


Support – As a coach, I help provide support and provide accountability. Those who are amazingly successful, however had another person or group that was cheering them on.


A higher Ideal – The success of the business was merely a symptom of something bigger. Successful people started their business because it was their passion. They did have to find a way to monitize and leverage it for it to be able to grow. Sales became easy then and their focus became more about doing what they love – the money followed.


Faith – Faith in something greater than yourself is critical. I don’t mean an ideal or a passion. I mean someone or governing power that controls the universe. Faith in God is an easy one to identify. Some of my succesful clients have been agnostic or aethiest, but they believed in something – that people are basically good, natural energy, etc.


Creativity – The ability to see potential in the mundane is key to any success. People that I would deem successful were able to look beyond what is right in front of them and finding value where others could not.


Discernment – Beyond seeing the potential in the mundane, the people I know who have moved to great heights are those who can push away the distractions and the waste of time. They did not spend much time on failing efforts. They either changed it or abandonded it.


Courage – I don’t just mean the courage it takes to branch out on your own. I mean the quite courage it takes to do the most important thing when no one is looking or holding you accountable to it.  


So the challenge for today is this: What are you missing within yourself that is keeping you from growing?



By | Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | One Comment

2013-Ferrari-1“Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”


—Andy Warhol (1928 – 1987)
American artist who was a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art.

Have you ever wondered how some people seem to make money for breathing? (The Academy Awards are a good reminder of that. . . ) It isn’t because they are smarter or necessarily given more advantages. Some of the biggest successes and fortunes in my lifetime have started from a garage.


So what is the defining factor? What sets these individuals apart?


The longer I study business and the difference between successful businesses and flops, I have come to realize the difference comes down to one phrase: perceived value.


This is probably why Andy Warhol said it was a true art. As with any art, value is determined by the end user. Many incredible artists starve because of three basic reasons:

  • They fail to identify the values of their audience and then deliver that value.
  • They fail to communicate the value to the right audience in the right way.
  • It costs more to create it than what people are willing to pay.

Unfortunately, most perceived value is what your audience learns from your marketing message. Ferrari can sell a vehicle for drastically more than what Toyota can sell a vehicle. The essential function of both vehicles is the same, but a person that buys a Toyota is looking for economic and pragmatic solutions. A person buying a Ferrari is more interested in power, speed, and social standing. What they value and their ability to buy that value.


As a side note – there are only 39 Ferrari dealerships in the Continental United States. Compare that to the 1,234 Toyota dealerships in the same area. It boils down to perceived value and how you communicate that value.


What are you worth and are you communicating that worth?

onehundred bill

Wealthiest Man In Town

By | Follow-through, Marketing, Systems | No Comments

onehundred bill“The difference between a one-dollar bill and a one hundred-dollar bill is the message on the paper.”


Joe Polish


Last summer, my family took a trip to see the Ape Caves near Mt. St. Helens. It was a lot of fun become amateur spelunkers as we explored this long lava tube. The kids had a great time and it wore us out completely.


Since we had planned to stay for an extended weekend, I had planned for us to visit the Ceder Creek Grist Mill the next day. This is an old grain mill that had been restored and demonstrated how they turned large amounts of grain into flour. One thing the mill operator told us during his demonstration surprised me:


The Mill owner was often the wealthiest man in the county.



It didn’t surprise me when I found out why . . . .


Farmers would bring their grain and pay the mill owner to grind it in preparation for selling to the area merchants. The interesting thing is that the farmers would bring the raw grain in large barrels or sacks and then refill the same containers with the flower that was milled.


However, when grain is ground, it actually creates up to 50% more volume than the grain itself. So if I  mill one bushel of wheat, I will end up with 1.5 bushels of flower.


The miller would keep the extra half bushel and also sell that to the merchants. This was a standard practice and the farmers had no issue with the arrangement.


What are you creating that you are not getting credit for? Even if you don’t feel you should charge for the extra service – do your customers recognize the extra value they get?


I once suggested to a client that if they provide a courtesy service, they should still create an invoice and then discount it. This does two things:


  1. Helps you track and measure any inventory and how much you discount.
  2. Provides tangible proof to your customer the value they receive. Chances are they are going to see the receipt a couple of times before it gets thrown away – extra reminders that you are looking out for their best interest.

Don’t just create value – make it count.

success concept


By | Accountability, Follow-through, life style, Motivation, Strategic Planning | No Comments

success concept“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”


Abraham Lincoln


I had the special privilege of being in a Silverdale Rotary meeting where six high school kids were being honored for the many great things they are doing with their lives. All six came from different backgrounds, different family structures, and different cultural heritages.

Each of them was supposed to address the audience.They talked about the many activities, clubs, teams and other efforts they were making in their lives. The reason they gave for doing everything was simple: they had a large horizon that they planned to cross. There was little desire for the award they were receiving – the awards they craved were much larger than the little framed certificate and small gift they were receiving that day.They want to be greater than themselves.

So that got me thinking: “these teens are defining success in ways they understand it. Most of us had the same ambitions and dreams.”


Do we still define success the same way we did in high school?

What caused us to change how we measure success?


I can’t define success in life for you.

Business success is just as elusive. A “successful” business is often defined as growing, making a profit, long-term viability, attracting investors, . . . . The measures are endless.

Make up your mind. Set your horizon. Determine your measures. Make it happen.


Blind Hog

By | Follow-through, life style, Motivation | No Comments

Blind_Hog“Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in a while.”

Southern Proverb

This is the type of thing my very Texan grandfather used to tell me. While this is not something I directly remember him saying, he would enjoy it just the same.

So what does that mean exactly? You can take it two ways, I guess.





  1. Even the handicapped get lucky sometimes
  2. You don’t need every advantage to be successful.


I prefer the second meaning.


Anytime you start out on a new venture – I’m sure you feel like that blind hog. Rooting around the ground with your nose hoping to find the first sign of the acorn you need. That first acorn sure is nice, isn’t it?


So, here is what happens. You start out and trip, stumble and even run headfirst into the trunk of the wrong tree. After stumbling along, you find the first acorn. Sweet success!


If you are observant, you can pick up on the “unseen” signs that point you to future success. You begin to discover what works and what does not. 


It requires tons of time and failure to get to that big “win”.


This brings us to the fifth element that determines if a wrestler or business owner is successful: Determination.


There is another side to this. You don’t have to “root around” for too long. A little help from a coach can get you moving in the right direction without running head-first into the wrong tree.




By | Follow-through, life style | No Comments

flex“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”


Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)


I know I have said it before, but as I look back I realize:


I was a short and scrawny kid.


I started wrestling in the 4th grade to learn to defend myself against bullies. After about a year of wrestling, my coach pulled my father aside and told him that I really needed to work on my upper body strength. He suggested my father buy a climbing rope and have me climb it as often as I could. The goal was to get me to where I could climb the rope and then lower myself back down using only my arms.


My wise father could not find a ready-made rope – so he made one by tightly twisting smaller rope strands together. He hung the 10 foot rope in a tree and told me that if I was to get better in my wrestling, I should learn to climb the rope as my coach had suggested.


I remember getting to the point where I could climb up and down several times in a row with only my arms. It wasn’t until recently that my father related the following to me:


“I would get calls from your mom a couple of times a week,” my father told me. “She would be almost in tears saying ‘He’s at it again!'”

The way he tells it, learning to climb the rope was such a struggle for me at first that it worried my mother. 


As my father told me the story I came to realize something about myself. I hate to quit. At times I have been absolutely destroyed because I refused to admit that I was beat.


Sometimes, I am not sure if it’s strength, stubbornness, determination or just stupidity.


In your business – what is your strength? Besides expertise, knowledge, or resources. What inner strength do you have to keep plugging along?


For your business to survive, you have to find it.



Build to Sell!

Dan Martin with Seattle Score will lead a discussion on how to build your business with the intention of selling it for a profit.

Dan co-founded a book publishing business with his wife, Nancy, in 1976. He boot-strapped the small start-up out of his garage and grew the company to $10 million in annual sales before selling the company to his employees in 2007. He remains a member of the Board of Directors and now volunteers for Seattle SCORE.

Panera Bread will provide Coffee and Bagels for the Event.

Eventbrite - Kitsap Business Forums - Business Built to Sell