14 Ways to Transform your Talent into Profit (Part 3)

14 Ways to Transform your Talent into Profit (Part 3)

As an innovator, technical expert and/or visionary you probably ask yourself every day: What do I need today to come closer to realizing my vision — solving tough technical challenges while also making my invention dominant in the marketplace? How can I turn my talent into profit?

Note from the Executive Director:  This is the third article in a series of posts on becoming a world-class CEO by Intelliversity partner and author Dr. Stephie Althouse, a respected leadership consultant (previously practicing research chemist). When we think about visionaries such as Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Mark Zuckerberg, we think of leaders that may not be particularly gifted with emotional intelligence, but who partnered with key executives who could co-execute their visions (Tim Cook, Gwynne Shotwell, and Sheryl Sandberg).

We added Dr. Stephie Althouse to our growing family of Intelliversity faculty because she shares our insight that winning execution requires an executive team with complementary talents and shared values and that the founder must know how to create and lead such a winning team. Thanks for reading. — Robert Steven Kramarz

To read Part 1, click here.
To read Part 2, click here

Part 3 of 14: Practical Business Planning with the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan

In the second article, we discussed the importance of vision and mission statements and how they differ from one another. We also illuminated the important question how mission and vision are related to your personal purpose, i.e., we asked you to reflect on WHY you are working on this mission and vision?

In this article, we are going to show you a very simple, highly effective and practical way to write out an overall business plan. To be clear, this business plan is only a page or two long. We call it the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan™. Its purpose is to have all the main elements of your business clearly and concisely defined. With this plan at your fingertips as a living and breathing document, it is much easier to run and grow your business! Let us get started!

The Elements of the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan

As an introduction, let us look at Tip 17 of our recent book “Top-Notch CEO Guide Vol.1: 101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies”,  June Davidson and I describe the process of concise business planning as follows:

“Tip 17. A One-Page Business Plan Often is the Most Powerful of All

We all have seen them: Huge business plans that take months to write and then probably end up in a drawer, ignored. Admittedly, they are required when you need to raise money. However, to effectively run and guide your company, a much shorter business plan typically provides more clarity. In fact, one that is only one-to-two pages in length will produce much more effective outcomes—with the additional bonus that it takes much less time to write.

Jim Horan, the author of the One-Page Business Plan, states that a business plan requires only five sections:

  • Mission
  • Vision
  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Plan of Action

Start with a vision, then build a company.”

—Jim Horan, Author of The One Page Business Plan

Since the publication of the book, we saw that adding one more section was quite useful, namely, a brief statement of personal purpose. Therefore, the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan consists of six sections:

  1. Mission
  2. Vision
  3. Personal Purpose
  4. Objectives
  5. Strategies
  6. Plan of Action

In the previous article, we covered the first three sections. If you have not yet done so, we invite you to use this article to guide you through writing down those first three brief, yet critical sections.

Great, now you are already halfway done with writing your first Top-Notch CEO Business Plan!

Let us tackle the next section; Objectives.

Define your Objectives

The “Objectives” section is the next section in the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan. Objectives are bigger, overall goals. For example:

  • Goals related to revenue and/or profit by a given date
  • Goals pertaining to the impact of your work by … (date)
  • Goals pertaining to your life quality by … (date)
  • Goals pertaining to the legacy you are committed to achieving, again by a date you set

Choose your time horizon. Some of the goals may be three months out, some one year, some three or five years. This is not the place in the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan to define specific action steps (that happens in the last section of the plan). This is the place to define the bigger goals; the bigger picture of the outcomes you want to create. Also, do not quite worry yet about HOW this will happen (that comes next).

Ask Yourself:

  • What are my overall objectives?
  • By when do I want to achieve what?

Here are some examples of objectives you might want to create:

  • $…+ in revenue in 2017
  • $…+ in 2018
  • $…Mill+ global company by 12/31/2021
  • Brand my company as … by ….(date)
  • Establish a succession and exit plan by 12/31/2018

Defining Your Strategies

It is time to define your strategies by asking:

  • How will I achieve these objectives?
  • Which strategies do I need to get there?

Here are a few examples of areas in which you might want to develop a strategy:

  • Branding
  • Better definition of your ideal client
  • Intellectual property
  • Marketing (online, offline, joint marketing, affiliate programs, etc. – be specific)
  • Networking
  • Systems
  • Team building (partner, contractors, employees, joint ventures, alliances)
  • Customer Service
  • Distribution channel/s

A word of caution: Please do not succumb to the temptation to tackle too many areas all at once!

Reverse Engineer Your Goals

With having decided on some strategies in a few select areas of your business, reverse engineer your goals to make sure your strategies make sense. To what extent are they effective in getting you to your goal?

“A good engineer thinks in reverse and asks himself about the stylistic consequences of the components and systems he proposes.”

—Helmut Jahn, German Architect

A Reverse Engineering Example

For example, if you want to earn an annual revenue of $5Million, calculate how much of what your company needs to sell to earn that amount.  Is your strategy of reaching these sales aligned with the goal? Can you picture at least approximately, how you will get there?

In reverse engineering, it is more accurate

  • To make many assumptions – they may all be somewhat wrong but likely cancel each other out to some degree giving an overall more accurate estimate, rather than
  • To make one big assumption. For example: “We will get 5% of the total available market of $1 trillion, hence our revenue will be $50 million.” – When you only make one assumption, it is likely to be wrong.

Also, if you make multiple assumptions you have better metrics for tracking progress.

Let Us Move On to The Action Plan

Fantastic! Your Top-Notch CEO Business Plan is almost done. The action plan is the final section. You might start creating it by establishing a few big action steps that are relevant for up to a year ahead from now (such as attending conferences or events that are planned some time in advance). Other than that, we recommend that you focus on fleshing out a 90-day plan in more detail. The tasks in your action plan show how you and your team are planning to implement the strategies you have listed in the previous section. Importantly, break down the tasks into smaller chunks or steps such that you will not feel overwhelmed.

When that is done, you can hold yourself accountable to specific tasks. Better yet, you can be held accountable (by team members or, better yet, your Executive Coach) for completing these tasks.  As you complete 30 days of your action plan, add another 30 days onto it.

(Maybe this paragraph could be an inserted box? What do you think?)

A great Executive Coach, preferably one who has run and grown businesses him-or herself, can help you with completing this plan, assist you in tweaking it, give you accountability, be a sounding board, help you navigate around challenges and much more.  Some entrepreneurs attempt to go it all “solo” because of financial reasons or a sense of independence. Statistics clear show the vast acceleration that is typical for entrepreneurs who arm themselves with a well-matched Coach.  Professional golfers have at least one, or in all likelihood, several coaches. Top-Notch CEO has a proven record of accelerating CEOs and business owners of high-talent companies to success!

The Top-Notch CEO Business Plan at a Glance

To recap, in the previous article, we guided you through defining clear statements about your vision, mission, and personal purpose. If those do not feel “right” to you, i.e., they do not fully excite you, or you do not feel that your vision and mission are fully aligned with your personal purpose, then please go back and address that. Look under the proverbial rock and see what is underneath your sense of misalignment.

In this article, then we talked about the rest of the Top-Notch CEO Business Plan. First up was the setting of your objectives, i.e., your big goals. You need to be specific and make it measurable so that you will know for sure you have met your goal when you get there.

The next step is to establish your strategies in a few areas of your business, from marketing to establishing systems, from creating and protecting intellectual property to refining your focus on your ideal client. Do not pick too many areas all at once (by the way, the ideal client one should be near the top of your priorities).

Use reverse engineering to get an idea of what it will take to meet your goal. Of course, I always recommend staying open to the possibility that you will reach your goals even faster than you thought. Once you set you take actions towards these intentions, new paths often open up.

In the next article, we are going to talk about setting SMARTER goals. Until then I say ciao. And remember:  Be Top-Notch!

Dr. Stephie (aka Stephie Althouse, Ph.D.)

Get a complimentary copy of the first five chapters of “101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies.”

The full book can be purchased on Amazon here.

In the first article, we discussed the importance of the mindset of the CEO/business leader. It is simply THE foundation for your success. In part 2 of this article series, I will address the next key questions:

What is your mission that gets you out of bed every morning and drives you in your business efforts?

How is your personal purpose connected to that mission?

What is your vision? In other words, what do you see as possible, even inevitable?

How do you express this mission and vision with such clarity that you easily enroll investors, partners, employees and other team members into contributing to the mission’s and vision’s success?

It is much simpler than you might think. “Simple” does not necessarily mean easy because you will need to work on it a bit to gain the necessary clarity, which is paramount to your success. Without clarity, your road to success will take much longer or might be blocked altogether.

Let us start with the first two components: your mission and your vision. Chances are, as a highly talented innovator, you have spent way more of your time thinking about innovation than about how to formulate mission and vision statements. “What is the difference between those anyway?” you might wonder.

In our recent book “Top-Notch CEO Guide Vol.1: 101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies” June Davidson and I describe the mission statement as follows:

Tip:  “State Your Mission in Eight Words or Less“

“A mission statement needs to be short and sweet. It is not a lengthy paragraph that sits in a drawer that no one can even remember. Your team needs to know it by heart, and you need to jump out of bed every morning, excited just thinking about this mission. […]”

Here are some examples:

  • THE innovative leader in the XYZ industry
  • Training and coaching women non-stop to the top
  • Transforming talent into wealth

“Sometimes we play too small and too cautiously. Or we get off the main path because of a distracting opportunity. The mission statement, written in no more than eight words, will become your guide. For example, when you need to make a business decision, ask yourself whether it will further your mission. Can you see how the mission statement can keep you on track?

By the way, “Earn money with our XYZ service” is not a very inspiring mission. While of course you want to earn money, the mission of a business needs to be bigger than that to inspire everyone in the long run—not the least of all, you. Your mission statement should be the solution to your target market’s problem.

Our mission statement about treating people with respect and dignity is not just words but a creed we live by every day. You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management. That’s the contract.

—Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks”

This tip may appear to be very challenging at first. How can you express your mission, i.e., the essence of what you want to accomplish, in such few words? I invite you to write it down. Your first version is likely a little longer than eight words. Play with it a bit. Run it by others. Ask yourself, “Does it convey the essence of what your business is here to accomplish? Is it memorable and easy to say?”

Here are a few more examples. Yes, some of them are slightly (!) longer than eight words. The key word here is “slightly.” The shorter and more memorable you make your mission statement while expressing your mission’s essence the better.

  • Provide miniature precision fasteners with indelible quality and customer service
  • Save lives by providing innovative fire retardant materials to the construction industry
  • Transforming the rulemaking process of governments worldwide via technology

Now, let’s go on to the vision statement:

Tip: “Write a Powerful, Focused Vision Statement.”

“A vision statement is mostly for you and your team.” Here is an example format: Company XYZ is an employee-owned company providing ABC services/products. We specialize in serving (describe the ideal client profile). We are an authority in addressing three common problems: 1) … 2) … and 3) …

As the example shows, the vision statement is more extensive than the mission statement, and specifically calls out the riche niche—the particular market segment(s)—in which the company specializes and is the solution to the problem/s of their ideal client.

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

—Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric”

(From “Top-Notch CEO Guide, Vol. 2: 101 Quick Tips for ESOP Leaders,” by Stephie Althouse Ph.D. and June Davidson, Ph.D.)

The tip about the vision statement refers to a key piece that is often ignored and/or badly defined. It is one of the most common reasons businesses either linger in mediocrity or fail altogether: the lack of defining the “Riche Niche,” i.e., the market area, which is your primary target and your primary area of specialty. The sixth article in this series will address the topic of identifying and defining your core niche. For now, let’s look at one example.

Here is my company’s vision statement expressed in this format: “Visiting CEO™ is the world’s leading executive consulting, coaching, and customized leadership training company that works specifically with high-talent companies. We solve three common problems in high-talent companies:

1) Not growing revenues and profit at the rate a company’s talent deserves
2) Aligning employees with the owner’s mindset
3) Lack of a succession plan that ensures the company’s continuity

By addressing these problems, we see each of our client companies fulfilling its owner’s personal purpose and its business mission, growing at the rate its talent deserves and sustaining its success into the long-term future, and with that, combining the impact of hundreds of such clients to make a disproportionately large impact on the world.”

Notice that the impact I see my company making in the world is part of the vision statement. I encourage you to do the same.

Here is another example: “To become a successful insurance agent and the leader of a highly productive team. My agency will grow to $1 Mill+ in annual revenue by 2/01/2026. After selling the agency at that time, I will have the funds for a nice retirement and to provide my children with a legacy. The goal will be achieved with aggressive marketing, great service and a balance of all of our lines of business (personal lines, commercial, life, specialty and financial).”

The second example includes the financial aspect of the vision as well as the vision for an exit strategy. The clearer you are about where you are going the better.

A Powerful Example of a Mission and Vision Statement

You might run a physics based company that is very good at developing sensors for diverse applications ranging from medical uses, sensing objects and people, geological exploration and more. When you think about who your main customers are (or who you want your main customers to be) and what their core challenges are, the niche is likely to become much clearer. For example, you might realize that what you do is to provide advanced electromagnetic sensor systems. Your customers are the US troops. Your mission statement become very powerful, such as “Protecting our troops through advanced electromagnetic sensor systems.” This mission statement has exactly eight words and is very clear.

The vision statement of this company might be “Within the next 5 years, grow our company ABC into a $XXX million or more company that provides compact, advanced electromagnetic sensor systems with unique embedded algorithms, for US DOD and national security customers.” This vision statement is very clear, too. The vision statement is a bit longer than the mission statement, and in this case, it has some metrics to it. Metrics are great because a) you thought about what you feel is achievable and b) you know when you reached your vision.

A word on metrics: I believe in establishing stretch goals. However, I don’t think setting goals that are so unrealistic and they feel equivalent to “turning off gravity” typically make sense. YOU have to believe in it, even if others don’t initially. It is up to you to figure out what you think is possible.

Another Important Tip: Think About How Your Mission Relates to Your Personal Purpose

Let us talk about your personal purpose for a minute. Ask yourself “Why do I choose to pursue THIS mission rather than any other? How is your personal purpose connected to that mission?” This tip is not contained in our book – we might add it in our next edition. I am giving credit to Robert Steven Kramarz, founder of Intelliversity for bringing up this question. While I always felt the importance of it, business plans rarely discuss it.

Here is a powerful example: A recent CPA client of mine realized his own personal purpose was to protect his clients from the IRS. In his childhood, he had experienced what can happen when the IRS thinks someone owes them money. He witnessed the IRS seizing assets from a family and saw the painful consequences this caused. He vowed to do whatever possible to keep such situations from occurring. During our coaching sessions, he realized that he could and should focus on tax resolution as his core specialty. He realized that this niche was his “riche niche” and that it is innately connected to his personal purpose. He also understood and trusted that tax resolution as his core specialty was not going to drive away his other tax and accounting clients. The fear that defining your niche tightly leaves money on the table is very prevalent, yet quite the opposite is actually true. Shortly after making the decision to put tax resolution into the center of his business, he got speaking engagements and investment money. He has already attracted new clients and has exceeded his original revenue expectations so easily that he has quintupled his revenue goal for the year!

The story of the CPA illustrates that our personal purpose stems from our past. Connecting to your personal purpose helps you refine your mission and your niche. It could be that you experienced or witnessed something that bothered you. It could be that you were given honors or assistance that you want to magnify and pass on to others.

The conversation got me to think about my own personal purpose, which I am also happy to share with you. Learning, discovery and innovation have always been of great interest to me. During my school days, I have sometimes been called a “nerd” or “geek” – sometimes that was meant as a compliment – yet, often it was not. When I graduated top of my class from high school in Germany I was nominated for the most prestigious scholarship available in Germany. The German National Academic Foundation (German: Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) awards stipends to the top ¼ percent of German high school graduates. After an intensive selection process, I was chosen and found myself amidst very bright peers. I have no doubt that some of them were at the genius level – and they often had trouble relating their concepts and ideas to others. I also noticed that for some it was more difficult for them to connect with other people.

As I grew older, I realized a couple of things:

  1. Smartness alone is not a reliable indicator of success.
  2. Many highly talented people gain neither the impact nor the reward of their talent. Some do, yet many do not. As a result, a lot of talent is lost that otherwise could have made our world an even better place. In many cases, the genius, innovator, visionary or entrepreneur ends up taking much of his or her talent to the grave. So much of our human potential remains untapped.

To me the second thought is frustrating, if not outright painful. I see and have experienced that there is a big chasm between talent on one side and making a difference and earning profit with that talent on the other side. I realized that I could bridge that gap by focusing my mind on that issue. As a result, I have learned how to transform talent into wealth. Wealth to me means making a positive difference and being rewarded for it, too (that is the profit aspect).

I hope these two stories inspire you to dig out your own connection between your past and your personal purpose and to explore its connection to the mission of your business.

Key takeaway:  Imagine you are sleeping. In your dream, you see yourself sweating over writing a 40-page business plan. The traditional business plan template seems just a tad overwhelming. It seems as if dark clouds are hanging over this dreadful project, yet it is a necessary ‘evil’ for doing what you really want to do: Grow your business and accomplish the things because of which you started this business in the first place.

Suddenly the clouds give way to sun rays coming through.

“Just say your mission, what you want to accomplish, in eight words,” is the message of a beam of sunlight.

“Your vision is what you see you will do and become,” says the second beam.

“Some metrics in your vision can be great,” says the third.

“Including the long-term impact your business will make on the world is inspiring,” says the fourth.

Encouraged by that you look to your right, and you notice another beam of light. It says, “WHY do you want to do this anyway? What is your personal purpose?”

You wake up with a great sense of clarity and grab a piece of paper. 20 minutes later, voila, you have written down your mission, your vision and your personal purpose. Your sense of clarity has been memorialized, and you feel great!

In the next article, we will build on your vision and mission statements and show you how to be very effective in planning your business. Did you know that business planning on a single page is often the most powerful of all? I will show why and how exactly to do that.

Until then I say ciao and thank you for reading. And remember: Be Top-Notch!

Get a complimentary copy of the first five chapters of “101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies.”

Part 1 of 14: Honing Your Top-Notch CEO Mindset  

Most of us have received extensive training in the science and art of what is at the core of our invention, our vision, our groundbreaking “widget” or service. Few of us ever received any “formal” training in the other areas that are required to bring our talent to fruition. To use a metaphor here, let us assume you have invented the perfect tire – or at least, you are sure that your idea for the perfect tire is going to work and will revolutionize the tire business. Now, the question is “How can I make sure the rubber will hit the road?” i.e., “How can I be successful in executing my vision and make it happen?”
In this article series, we will discuss 14 critical areas you need to know to implement to successfully transform your talent into profit. Profit means both impact and financial rewards.  More than likely this means that your talent is going to make a positive difference in the world. For example, if you develop a new landmine detector it is great that you developed ways to detect ever-decreasing amounts of explosives under increasingly challenging conditions. How many lives exactly are saved by a technology when it sits in your lab and is merely published in IEEE Symposium papers – rather than being used in actual demining efforts? Of course, the answer is none. I was involved in such project some years ago and fortunately, the technology is in use now.

Profit and impact go hand-in-hand. If your innovation, your vision has merit and has the potential to bring significant value to enough people, you as the inventor or visionary, your team and, if applicable, your investors, deserve to make a profit as well as positive impact. Yet, so many inventors and visionaries fail. Most of the time, it is not because their vision is bad or their technology does not work well. The failure is typically due to all the other aspects that are needed to be successful. Those are the areas most of us did not learn about in graduate school or wherever we got our training in our “craft.” For example, you may have focused on learning how to write software, engineer new systems, or develop new materials during your professional training and your career so far. Most of us learn those other areas the “hard knocks” way, by trial and error. It costs us many lessons; sometimes too many.

One confession upfront: I am one of you. I am a trained chemist who always has had a keen interest in developing something new, something that was exciting and useful. Along the way, I got outstanding recognitions for my research and development. MIT Technology Review Magazine declared me as “one of 100 most promising young innovators under the age of 35.” Two technologies I developed were named “SBIR Technology of the Year.” I understand the mindset of the innovator and the scientist because I share it.

Curiosity is a part of that mindset.  Soon I got very curious about how our innovations, in which we invested so much heart, sweat and soul, would “make it.” I took extras classes, and importantly, gained experience by building a business unit in the high-tech company where I worked. What are we designing and for whom, and what is the real problem this user has? This was my start. Eventually, I created my own business. A bit later, one of my clients asked me to “run” their company. Initially, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but we increased revenues by 41% my first year during a terrible economy. Since then I have helped many bright innovators and visionaries and their companies to succeed in transforming their talent into profit and making an impact. Recently, my coauthor June Davidson and I published a book “Top-Notch CEO Guide, Volume 1: 101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies.”  The tips in these articles are from that book. Click here for a free copy of the first five chapters. 

Okay, that is enough of an introduction. In this article, let’s talk about the first and most important critical area that you must master to make sure your talent and vision becomes a success story: Your mindset.

Tip:  “Your CEO Mindset Matters Most”

The experiences and results you get in your business and your life all start with what is “between your ears”—your mindset. What do you believe? What do you expect is possible? There is a tight connection between the results you get and the beliefs you have acquired throughout your life. Beliefs create feelings that, in turn, create actions or inactions, and those then lead to the results you get. These results align exactly with your belief or your original expectation.

(This is not to say that you will accomplish anything you believe, which is essentially woo-woo “wishful thinking.”  I’m not from that school.  What is true is that having the correct top-notch CEO mindset is an essential, not sufficient, element in seeing your vision become real.)

“By far the most difficult skill for me to learn as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology. Organizational design, process design, metrics, hiring, and firing were all relatively straightforward skills to master compared to keeping my mind in check.” — Ben Horowitz, American businessman, investor, and author of “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers”

This concisely phrased tip has a lot more depth than one might suspect. For example, let us suppose as a visionary you believe that once the technical hurdles with your innovation are overcome it will be easy and straightforward to go to market. The feeling is, hey, the technical stuff is the hard part – the rest will be easy. Therefore, you hire only technical experts, go to technical conferences in your field and focus on developing the magic widget. Yet, you do little market research or build a more diverse team. To you, that’s “later.” In many high-tech companies I’ve seen that “later” often doesn’t come. Even when the company eventually looks for a marketing manager technical skills are often considered more strongly than necessary while marketing skills might get the backseat.  This won’t work and it’s a result of a mistaken mindset.

Another example: Delegation. Many entrepreneurs have a hard time figuring out how others can help with work they know so well. In fact, they often have trouble delegating even the tasks they hate. What is the belief there? It could be “to get it done right I must do it myself.” There are other possible beliefs as well that could lead to this behavior. The result is often overwhelming, being overworked and overly tired, and slower than necessary progress.

Speaking of delegation, team building is a challenge in many innovative companies, driven by founders’ visions.  To understand why, ask “What is my mindset?”  How open are you to assessing people’s top talents and then building a team that actually complements each other? How willing are you to work with other leaders who, because of differences in style, actually annoy you?  Along with this question, comes another one: How open are you to admit that something is not your top strength? I found repeatedly that once we understand that our position, wisdom, and control of the organization are not in danger, there is an actual sense of relief when we release the duties we are not best at.  This gives us the freedom to focus on our top talent areas.  It’s the best of all possible worlds.

While we are on the topic of team do you think that talking about your vision, mission and core values is a waste of time or are you open to the possibility that it can be a compass for your company as it grows and attracts new team members?

One of the other tips in the mindset chapter of the “101 Quick Tips for High-Talent Companies” deals with your open-mindedness:

Tip: Consider New Perspectives and Be Open to Improvement

Even a Top-Notch CEO cannot clearly see all aspects of the business. It’s simply physics. Think of a truck driver in an eighteen-wheeler who can easily miss seeing more than four cars in his blind spots. Employees may not tell you what they see—or perhaps you don’t fully hear what they are attempting to communicate. Also, employees may miss opportunities or trends that may be of vital importance to the success of the company.  This is a problem you must address to succeed.

In short, it’s important to periodically get, from your team members and employees, an unbiased assessment of all aspects pertaining to the business. This will make certain that you don’t get unpleasantly surprised by something that’s been lurking in your blind spot.

Sometimes, people slip into the habit of thinking they have the necessary answers. Don’t let that happen to you. We invite you to accept that no matter how smart you are, you do not have all the answers. Be open to recommendations from other people. You do not have to agree or even follow those suggestions, but make sure to listen and consider what was said. You never know when someone will have an idea that will make things easier and more functional. Keep an open mind, even with beliefs you have held for a long time.  Ultimately, this helps you arrive at your goal more efficiently.

An added bonus is that your open-mindedness will stand as a great example to your team. The overall payoff will be earning tremendous profits and producing real impact with much greater ease. It will increase the value of your business. Your team will feel more valued and be more productive.

Bonus tip:  “In business what’s dangerous is not to evolve.” — Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon”

While we are on this subject, I strongly recommend surrounding yourself with a diverse team of advisors who can and will offer fresh perspectives. Studies clearly show that companies with a diverse board of directors or advisory board do better than those that lack diversity. The reason is simple: If all the thinking follows the same path, beneficial options will be overlooked. More discussion of different perspectives and from different realms of experience, if done correctly, lead to more options, better decisions and better outcomes.

To wrap it up, remember that honing your top-notch leader mindset is never done!  I invite you to be open-minded on a continuous basis, even (or especially) in areas where your strongest convictions lie. Leadership is a skill, which requires on-going honing just like any other skill.  You’re not going to perfect yourself as a leader; that’s impossible.  Perfection is an illusion. Be committed to excellence in leadership without being paralyzed by the need for perfection. To end on a pun: Mindset is never set. It is always evolving. I invite you to embrace and enjoy that journey.

Key takeaway:  Imagine that you are paralyzed in a wheelchair and can only communicate a few meaningful sentences each hour (visualize Steven Hawking.)  Yet you bring a compelling vision for your company and its impact.  Your whole mindset around running the company would have to change in order to be successful.  You would have to give up running the day-to-day of the company and even give up creating the details of execution strategy.  How would you run the company?  What type of people would you hire or partner with?  How much time would you spend listening to them rather than telling them what to do?  This post invites you to ask these questions in order to create a top-notch CEO mindset, because even though you don’t believe you’re in this situation or ever could be, what can you learn from this as a metaphor.

In the next article, we will talk about your vision (what do you see as being possible?) and your mission (how do you want to get there?). We will talk about why it is important to express both vision and mission clearly and succinctly and how to do exactly that.
Until then I say ciao. And remember:  Be Top-Notch!

Get a complimentary copy of chapters 1 – 5. Please click here to receive your copy.