If you aim at nothing you will hit it everytime- Zig ZiglarThere is probably nothing that more graphically illustrates the importance of focusing on your goals than being in combat. Yet the same principles apply in any leadership setting. Having been in the US Navy for 19 years, I have had my fair share of military leadership and learned the discipline it takes to stay focused and help others around me do the same. In those years, I have excelled (mostly) and rose pretty fast through the ranks, despite some set backs in the early years, and have landed at the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer.

There are many factors to successfully leading in the military that also applies to leading your business, your sports team, even your family to success. But there is one lesson that is most commonly overlooked yet most critical to creating a road map to success- and that is to establish and disseminate your Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles. Before you jump into a series of tasks and tactics and find yourself wondering why you are somehow missing the mark, draw that mark!

1. Mission Statement:
Your mission statement should be clear and concise! This statement describes what your organization or department is about. Start by asking yourself these questions: “What are you aiming for?” “What is your overall objective that will guide the actions of your organization?” “What is it that you desire to achieve and how will you achieve it?” As you work on refining your answers, don’t confuse it with short-term strategies or specific goals. When writing a mission statement think broad scale- 10,000 ft view from here! Think about including these 3 key elements:
1. Key Market. Your WHO. Your target audience, primary stakeholders, or customers.
2. Contribution. Your WHAT. What product or service are you providing to those customers?
3. Distinction Your WHY or your USP. More commonly referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition, it answers the question “What makes you unique?” or “Why would a customer choose you over a competitor?”

One example of a good Mission Statement is:“To provide the fast food customer food prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably-priced & delivered consistently in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere.” I stole that one from McDonald’s! Your individual Mission Statement, whether you’re writing it for your overall organization, or just for a smaller department, may or may not include all the elements above. The Mission Statement for the US Navy Chief Petty Officer is: “Provide leadership to the Enlisted Force and advice to Navy leadership to create combat-ready Naval Forces.” You’ll notice no distinction statement, primarily because there’s nobody else that does what we do – no competition!

2. Vision:
Your vision should describe who, or what, you intend to be. Again, use as few words as possible, yet succinct, broad-term, but not too generic. Although the vision statement for the US Navy Chiefs is a little longer than some, it is concise enough and careful consideration was given to use necessary language to drive the point home to its leaders:
“A senior enlisted force that serves first and foremost as Deck-plate Leaders committed to developing Sailors and enforcing standards; remains responsive, aligned and well-connected to both Leadership and Sailors; and conducts itself in a consistently professional, ethical and traditional manner.”

3. Guiding Principles:
Although some organizations may use Values over Guiding Principles, the context is basically the same. There is a little more specific direction here for how you expect those in your organization to act. They are a set of shared beliefs that drive the priorities, behaviors, and perception, thus creating the organizational culture. I’ll share a good example from the Coca-Cola company that helps drive the point:

  • Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
  • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
  • Integrity: Be real
  • Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
  • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
  • Quality: What we do, we do well

Your first challenge of being a BOSS is defining what your Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles are. What are the things that have driven your success and what can you imitate from previous leaders that you have deemed successful? You can start there, but these should be extracted from deep within your soul – and they also have to align with the larger organizational statements. Whether you are a supervisor on a factory floor that makes widgets, a mid-level manager, or CEO, you need to develop these statements and values. If you can arrive to work on your first day with these statements already in place, you’ll be ahead of the power curve. If you’re already in a leadership position, it’s never too late to do a round-turn and get these on paper. Spend some time on them. And most importantly, you need to CLEARLY communicate these to your subordinates in order to provide consistent direction and expectations. It may not be a bad idea to share your MVS to the person you report to. Again, maintaining that alignment up and down the organizational chain is fundamental to your success. It will also show your BOSS that you have a true leadership prowess, and that’s NEVER a bad thing!

By: Brandon Keener is a Senior Chief Petty Officer at the United States Navy, a leadership position where he manages people, programs and policies. Brandon and his wife have also launched a couple of successful home based businesses based in San Diego, CA.

Be more than you are

Be more than you are

 

Valentine's Day in the Office

On Valentines Day, don’t forget to “love your employees”. It’s easy to treat Valentines Day just like any other day but if you don’t do something special for your employees today, you will have missed a golden opportunity to make an impact in their lives. Yes it’s corny and yes it’s commercialized,  but it’s a harmless excuse to show some appreciation to the people who you have entrusted your livelihood with. Here are three appropriate and thoughtful ideas:

 1. Hallmark hits the heart – That’s right, write your employees cards letting them know you appreciate all they have done to make your company great and don’t make it generic. People can smell generic a mile away so make sure you think about something they’ve actually contributed to the company and don’t be afraid to mention that you have great plans for them in the future. Hope is the most powerful tool!

2. Candy it upCandy is a fun and easy way to encourage your team. Chocolate for the ladies and swedish fish or sour gummies for the guys. At least that’s the way I roll, you may not care but I feel weird giving another dude chocolates.

3. Flowers for her Here’s one that when done right is great, when done wrong can be very uncomfortable. It’s a great idea to get some flowers for the office and if you’re really in the Valentine mood you can get each of the ladies a single rose (pink is a safe color). What you don’t want to do is get a dozen red roses for the cutest girl that works for you and a piece of chocolate for everyone else. The only exception to the rule is when the cutest girl that works for you happens to be your wife. That’s right, that’s how I roll….

If you haven’t done any of these things yet it’s not too late, run to your local grocery store and make sure your team feels loved today!

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd is married to the cutest girl in the office and he did give her a dozen red roses and a box full of chocolates, which their employees ate, along with the other chocolates and candies he gave each of them personally:-) Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.
 

Running

Running

Sales atmosphere is a tricky thing. In order for your team to be productive you need the right combination of pressure vs fun, fear vs safety, self motivation vs teamwork. Balancing the atmosphere can be a full time job, but if you pay attention every day you can stay on top of it before it gets lopsided and toxic.

Pressure vs Fun – Too much pressure creates “The Boiler Room”, too much fun creates an early 90’s dot com company. Both are bad for business and unsustainable so it’s important to find the happy medium. I have to look, listen, and feel the tempo of what’s happening on the floor. If the  atmosphere gets too tense I’ll go out and bring up some random sports news that get people to stop thinking about their problems and allows them to relax for a few minutes while discussing things like “Is Richard Sherman really a thug or not.” If the atmosphere gets too lax and everyone is having fun but practically nothing is being accomplished, then I need to go out and redirect everyone’s attention to the numbers. This usually sounds like a SONA (State of the nation address) but it jolts people out of dreamland and focuses them back on winning. Usually I will accompany this by finding additional cold call leads for each of the reps and adding it to their call list. If they can’t find any work to do, I will find it for them and once they know this they usually figure out how to stay productive.

Fear vs Safety – Personally I like my office to feel like a family atmosphere but that can backfire at times. Managers will tend to either make their employees feel too safe or too fearful and I’m definitely on the safe side. This can be good and bad; good because people like coming to work and enjoy the atmosphere which in turn creates camaraderie and loyalty, and bad because they can tend to get lazy, not hit their sales numbers and feel like it’s okay because their job is safe. To stop this from happening, it’s important to have regular meetings with your reps to go over their numbers along with plans to get them moving if they are behind. If for some reason their numbers stay down you need to nip it in the bud quickly by putting them on probation. Don’t let bad habits sink in or you will end up losing a good employee in the end.

Self motivation vs Teamwork – Every sales rep needs to be self motivated (this is a must). At the same time if you want to have a great team, the reps need to have some selflessness and be able to help the team. A good sales rep many times will hit their number a week or two before the end of the month and this is great but it also makes them tempted to sandbag deals to get the next month started off hot. I put individual numbers up on the board but I stress what the team goal is often to try and prevent this. In order to hit your team goals each month all the reps need to put that extra effort into helping the team and not just worry about themselves. A sure sign you have a sandbagger is that he/she always has a slow last week of the month followed by a bunch of sales turned in the first couple of days of the next month. This is a person you need to talk to about being a team player before it becomes a problem. You want every rep giving 100% each month, when they don’t, other reps see this and it becomes a cancer that has to be cut out.

Atmosphere is not hard to regulate as long as you stay on top of it each day. If you as the manager let this go too long, you will suffer one way or another, which usually means losing sales reps and costing you money to hire and re-train. To effectively run a company and keep your bottom line, it is important to avoid unnecessary expense and turnover. Take these tips to the bank and enjoy a prosperous year.

 

Successful Business Team

Successful Business Team

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.

what makes a man

what makes a man

7 Good Excuses To Spend Your Company Money

7 Good Excuses To Spend Your Company Money

In the world of small business where we don’t have the luxury of multi million dollar operating expense budgets, we have learned to pay close attention to where every dollar goes, what are the “need to have’s” versus  the “nice to have’s”. Because of this chronic cost consciousness, what owners and managers often miss is that there are a few expenses that not only justify their existence in their annual P&Ls but generate an intangible return on investment that impacts all business functions.

I am talking about having fun! Think about extraordinary team building activities that will blow your employees away. There is no faster way to build camaraderie and teach real life lessons of success, failure, humility, teamwork, perseverance, focus, planning and strategy than actually engaging in activities that require them. So here are a few of my favorites:

1. Take them to a gun range – Say what!? Yes that’s right, a gun range. Obviously if you employ people that, eehemm, wouldn’t be allowed in a gun range then this would not work.  Assuming you have a team with no criminal record or other issues, this is a great team building activity. Many people love going to the range on their own, so this is a good chance to take them to the range and let them show off. Many times there is a person that always wanted to go but never had anyone to go with so they never did (they generally will be the most excited). I recommend having competitions and prizes for “best shooting”, “rookie of the year” (for the newbies) and “most improved” for the guy or gal that is horrible at the beginning but gets better. Your team will love this out of the box activity and create great memories.

2. Sailing – Sailing is a great way to build teamwork. If you live anywhere near the water, taking your team on a sailboat and learning how to catch the wind and take off can be exhilarating.  If you have a few people that actually know how to sail you may want to consider renting Hobie cats, dividing your team up and having a race.  It’s pretty simple, just assign a Captain for each boat (usually the guy that knows how to sail), let them pick their teams and off you go. The winning team gets free lunch and beer  after the race paid for by the losing team or teams!

3. Mud Run – Mud runs are one of the most popular races today. They are fun, dirty and create great memories. The best part about it is that the whole team gets motivated to work out during the weeks leading up to the race, which is never a bad thing.  With the way insurance rates are going through the roof, keeping a fit and healthy team is always a bonus. Again, it is always a good idea to hook the winner up with something afterwards, even if it’s just a beer.

4. Paintball – The first time I took my team paint balling, I was worried some of the ladies would not take to kindly to being shot at.  Boy was I wrong! Not only did everyone love going to war with each other for bragging rights, but the most fanatical competitors where the ladies!   They ate it up and wanted more when we were done. Since then I try to have at least one or two paint ball outings a year and they have never failed me yet.

5. Go Skiing – Every company has leaders and this is a “leader” activity. Even Jesus had his special 3 apart from the 12 and so should you.  Money permitting, I like to take my leaders skiing because it’s the best way to show them they mean a lot to me. If you rely on people to make your business go, then you will have to do more than give them a bonus twice a year to keep them loyal. The key to keeping good employees is doing things for  your people they wouldn’t normally do for themselves. 

6. Four wheeling – There are many places that do guided ATV tours with either go cart style vehicles with roll cages or 4 wheeling ATV’s.  This is another one of those activities that’s a lot of fun but is not something many people would ever do on their own. Nothing bonds a team faster than getting dirty and muddy together!

7. Beach Rental – Renting a house on the beach will help your stressed out team unwind and relax. Personally when I do this I tell them to go ahead and bring their significant other but unless they are married they have to sleep in separate rooms. If I’m paying I make the rules! I’ve never had a problem with this and it keeps things professional even while relaxing on the beach and letting life’s worries pass by you

I have never felt like spending on fun, coupled with some strategic planning or plain old bonding was a waste of money. What usually happens is everyone goes back motivated, more inclined to go out of their way and help another team member even if they do not have to, or just more pumped up to work and be part of a winning team. If you stay consistent and learn to practice this wisely, you will see your bottom line grow slowly but surely. Work hard and play hard, it will never get old.

 

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.

Author’s Note: Watch out for a follow up article in the next few weeks about Travel and Entertainment Tips and Secrets that Do Not Break the Bank.

Key To Keeping Employees

Key To Keeping Employees

Owning a business or leading a team can be one of the most challenging things you can do, but it can be fun and rewarding if done right. I always say I’d take the worst day in my life as a business owner than the best day I had working for someone else, and I say this because for the most part (since I got to choose the industry I want to be in-sportswear), going to work has always felt like a lot of fun, instead of a tedious obligation.

It is easy to take for granted that my team members may not feel all the excitement and vision I have for the company. One of the biggest yet seldom addressed pitfalls of a small business is the psyche of the team members and how they feel about you, the company and the brand. I have learned over the years that pre-maintenance is a lot easier than damage control so in order to keep my office up and running on all cylinders there are 7 things I like to do:

1. Have a plan and write it – Sounds so simple but one of the biggest failures of small business owners is that you have dreams and ambition but it doesn’t make it on paper. This leads to constant changes, instability and employees losing trust that you’re the right person to lead them. Nobody wants to be lead by someone who changes their mind about the direction of the company on a whim (I’ve learned this the hard way). You may have a ton of brilliant ideas and in time you will get to them but remember you must first “plan your work and work your plan”.

2. Communication – Nobody will tell you that they like meetings but it’s vitally important that you have at least one scheduled each week to talk about where the company is at, what direction the company is headed and at least one personal victory story from the week before.  Personally, I like to start my meetings by casually talking about the weekend events and really try to get the team involved. When you are meeting with 12 and under this shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish; if the group is larger you may have to be a little creative. Next we go over each team members highs and lows of the previous week so we can learn from each other and finally we cap it off with this weeks expectations; it’s simple and to the point.

3. Food – Everyone loves food and there’s no quicker way to get a group moving and motivated than bringing in something delicious for them to eat before your meetings or during the week when you feel the momentum has shifted away from what you want. Every once in a while I’ll go out and buy each person the candy of their choice or just pick up a big bag of assorted candy and put it in a bowl… Be careful of candy coma (yes, this has happened to the office before). Also, never underestimate the power of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

4. Games, games, and more games – I own a sportswear company so games come easy. We have office brackets for the NFL and NBA playoffs, March Madness and pretty much anything else that comes up. We also play in an inner office fantasy football league which creates some very fun and colorful talks each week. Participating in inner office games like these will bond your team members and create a sense of belonging and loyalty.

5. Have a plan for each employee – Everyone wants to achieve and succeed at what they do. Your job is to map out a career path for each person working for you and let them know about it. When an employee knows you have a plan for them, it is easier to get through the hard times when they come (which they will, they always do). The plan also motivates them to work harder to achieve the next step in their careers. As a small business you may not have a lot of opportunity at the moment but you can plan to grow and when you grow, the new positions that become available should be filled by current team members if at all possible. This will give the next guy who’s working his way up some hope for his future as well and boost company morale.

6. Plan trips – Each year I try to take a company vacation with the team. This may sound expensive and unnecessary and at times it is, but if you can budget it in, your team will love you for it and make your company a place everyone wants to work at. We usually make our annual business planning session an excuse to hit the slopes or spend a weekend at the beach. When budget does not permit, be creative! Paintball nights or something that everyone loves to do can go a long way.The benefits  far outweigh the costs and create memories that will stay with you forever.

7. Get to know them – In America employers have a phobia about actually getting to know the people who work for them.  I find this to be one of the dumbest things American businesses have adopted. Knowing about your team members’ family and kids, or other loved ones and actually asking about them (God forbid) is a great way to help them achieve their goals and let them know you care. For some reason we have been raised up to believe the boss has to be cracking the whip and glaring through their office window at their employees to be effective, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. A great leader will know how to balance being personal and objective and when to be what.

Boosting Employee MoraleShow you care and your team will also care, that’s a win-win if I ever heard one. Morale is one of the most important factors of growth that a leader has to pay attention to in a small business. If your employees give up, your business will soon follow. I have had my share of letting it slip every now and then but it is always good to be reminded that it can turned around if we put the above tips into practice.

By: Todd Marinshaw. Todd owns and operates a sportswear business based in Orlando, FL and recently founded iPrevail, a non profit organization focused on relief and rehabilitation for victims of disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan.

Marcus Luttrell Quote

Storm inside us