How does your company hold a strong vision and track progress amidst today’s economic hailstorm?

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In my work with high performing companies, we find that they create two categories of indicators: “Leading indicators” and “trailing indicators.”  In companies such as Zappos and The Beryl Companies, it is not uncommon for the CFO and CEO to maintain slightly different success “dashboards.” …

May 27th marks the one year anniversary of my Dad's passing. Coincidentally, Dad served our country in World War II, so this time of year is especially significant to me.  Edgar George Lizotte left an indelible impression on me.  If it weren't for him, I would not be as committed to lifelong learning as I am today.

I am sharing below my tribute to my Dear Old Dad.  I hope this letter, which celebrates his life, inspires you to acknowledge a mentor in your life, and the many women and men who have proudly and fearlessly served our country.

Vancouver Oct 2006 

If we are leading growth companies, we have an obligation to our communities, our clients, and our employees.

We are in a strong position to fulfill this obligation.  Our revenues are solid, we boast marquis clients, and are respected in our field. Our clients look to us to lead the way on many fronts.

This is an ideal time to inspire our clients, help them focus on key priorities, and give them hope. Here are five ways you can bolster their confidence.  You will help them—and your business—thrive during these volatile times:

In our last posting, we looked at how our company values and beliefs play a pivotal role in our strategic growth planning activity. 

If you ignore your company's mindsets during the strategic planning or marketing planning process, your plan will fail.

Consider these five additional areas, and face them “head on” with your teams.  They include: attitudes, memories, decisions, your language, and thought patterns.  I promise you will break down some of the common barriers to growth. Here's more detail:

"The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them." ——Albert Einstein

Our beliefs can pose one of the biggest threats to our business growth. Yet many business owners completely ignore the toxic beliefs that invade their company. Let's face it–it is much easier to focus on improving the balance sheet, laying off non performers, and generating more sales.  Unfortunately, those actions may not fix our company's performance in the long term, or help us attract the best team to position us for the economic recovery.

Do you believe strongly enough in your company’s culture to share it with the world–unfiltered?
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh does.

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You see, Zappos publishes an annual Culture Book. You can actually order a copy and read it.
Even if you are a competitor. (learn more by watching my brief interview with Tony below)

Inside their annual Zappos 2008 Culture Book, you will find all kinds of revealing comments across multiple Zappos departments and locations….

Are your strategic planning activities done from the inside out, or outside in? How often do you rely on client feedback and interaction to refine your plan? And why does it matter?
 
It matters alot.
 
In these challenging times, it's easy to focus intently on improving your internal processes. When that happens at the expense of your clients, you will miss out on obvious growth opportunities. Your strategic growth plan becomes little more than an academic exercise. 
 
My meeting with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (see videos below) reinforced my belief that it is possible to balance your internal planning activities with your client-focused marketing and selling initiatives.  

In these challenging times, you need ideas you can implement immediately. You want to learn what's working and emulate those business practices.

My meeting last week with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh reinforced my belief that it is possible to grow, even during these difficult times.

How can a shuttle driver affect a company's valuation and brand?

In every way you can imagine.

Jo_zapposI had the pleasure today of visiting Zappos in Henderson, Nevada.  My first exposure to the Zappos Way arrived at my hotel doorstep.  She drove the Zappos shuttle, and her name is Jo.  Her passion for Zappos' culture and values was downright infectious. 

Listen to what Jo had to say about Zappos values, and why she loves working  there.

Well worth the 3 minutes.
Click to watch Jo from Zappos Video here.

Is your business growth outpacing your strategic marketing plan?

This is good news and bad news…

The good news is that you are probably too busy delivering great services and products to your clients. You just cannot find that precious time to work ON your business.

The bad news is that your website is probably giving people an impression of your former self.

I recently interviewed Chad Barr of CB Software Systems.  He and his savvy web team are helping dozens of high performing growth companies leverage technology to market their firm.  His clients include Alan Weiss of Summit Consulting Group – a true pioneer in building online communities and powerful content.