Which Business Owner Are You?

Which Business owner are you?

Last fall Alan Hauge, a 17 year St. Louis Vistage Master Group Chairman, spoke to our South Texas chair group and stated that 20% of the business owners, presidents and CEOs that he is in contact are trying to win and 80% are trying not to lose.

His talk has helped me increase my attention on what’s important vs. what’s urgent. My members are spending the majority of their time increasing revenue by having and restructuring a productive sales team with stretched yet attainable monthly, quarterly and annual goals; by developing a predictable sales and revenue pipeline and by holding your sales team accountable for results. Members that heard Gil Cargill http://www.gilcargill.com last year are spending more money, time and resources with getting new customers by holding their sales team to x# of 1st meetings every week and by restructuring their sales bonus/commission compensation to focus on incremental new business vs. business from existing customers.

Keeping profitable customers came from Franklin Hall, CEO of Lone Star Foodservice http://www.lonestarfood.com and is another important focus. When was the last time you looked at the lower 10% of your clients and considered raising your prices or better still firing those that did not meet your 2011 EOY profit results? I am seeing a greater attention toward creating a cohesive management team, individuals that are aligned with you, your purpose, culture and life balance with their attention being on the important vs. the urgent.

Over the past 3 years, my members feel they have done an above average job in eliminating costs. Some have added software and eliminated or minimized talent acquisition when their sales came back. Others turned over every rock and looked for waste in overtime, duplication of efforts, soft job descriptions on what’s essential vs. what’s preferred.

To me this suggests that those that aren’t able to focus on the above are probably being distracted with the day-to-day reactive tasks that pull us all back into “in the business” instead of “on the business” activity. Do you fixate on your own success and the curse of your success and sense your work/life balance is out of whack and needs attention? If yes to either and you live in Austin, I would like to get to know you better and maybe be of help.

In closing this blog – the president, business owner or CEO is the person in the organization who is ultimately responsible for identifying, selecting, pursuing and realizing opportunity. After 33 years with 3M and now 5 years as a chair with Vistage, I honestly believe a 15 to 18 member peer-to-peer advisory group, i.e.: with the collective wisdom of 200 hundred years of leadership; will enable you to reach and exceed your stated business and life/balance goals. I remain humbled that Austin based business owners benefit from our time together. You are all so busy, yet if you will make the time for our monthly coaching sessions, you will be rarely disappointed. Since we meet monthly as a group, imagine a safe place for you to “discuss the undiscussable” with like minded executives, knowing that you are being helped and are helping others in sharpening your saw to be a better leader and make better decisions.

If you are that 20% with 5 to 100 million in annual revenue, pencil in the morning of April 17th and email me at ed.stillman@vistage.com or call my cell 512.422.6232. I’m interviewing business owners for Austin’s next “Chief Exec” Advisory Group. Let’s connect for 10 minutes over the phone and explore your needs and wants to determine if we should meet for lunch in the 2nd half of March.

Ed Stillman spends the majority of his time working with business owners and CEOs who are focusing on growing their profitability greater than their competition. He is a central Texas business/life balance coach working with two dozen company executives that want to take themselves and their companies to the next level.

Kodak fades in the digital age…

Kodak Fades into the Sunset…

Today, a TECHMONDAY article in the Austin Statesman written by Ben Dobbin, Associated Press told his version how a 125 year old iconic company lost their vision. Here’s the link to the article:


…and here’s the last paragraph:

If you’re not willing to cannibalize yourself, others will do it for you,”
said Mark Zupan, dean of the University of Rochester’s business school.
Technology is changing ever more rapidly, the world’s becoming more
globalized, so to stay at the top of your game is getting increasing harder.”

As a business and life balance coach for a couple of dozen Austin senior executives, I could not agree more when he said the game is getting increasing harder. You are going at the speed of light, many of you are on a cone of a rocket and there’s just not enough time in the day to get it all right, is there?

Here’s 4 thought processes to ponder as you set yourself up for success in 2012.

1st. These are my four QBQ questions when I hear someone thinking or wanting to go in a new or different direction. Have you ever had a brainstorming session with your management team with the intent to put yourself out of business? I encourage you and your leadership team to ponder these questions the next time you do a SWOT analysis or have a strategically critical decision needing clarity:

Is it real?
Can we win?
Is it worth it?
At what costs?

What is your process/procedure when considering an acquisition, product extension or a new product launch, a new competitor is in town, additional geography, a new branch office, and the list goes on and on? What is your methodology to arrive at the right/correct decision? Considering adding or asking the above questions to yourself and your management team and dive deeper than you have ever gone before with what and how questions. If looking for an interesting read in drilling down to the QBQ. Read John G. Miller’s book The Question Behind the Question.

2nd. Patrick Lencioni summed it up in his book “Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive” with:

Be cohesive
Be clear
Over Communicate

As the CEO, Owner or Team Leader:
• Building a cohesive leadership team is critical if not essential to the health and well being of your organization.
• Creating organizational clarity and which behavioral values are fundamental.
• Determine which messaging works internally as well as externally
• Hiring, managing performance, rewards, recognition and dismissals

Each of my members has placed this approach as one of their top priorities for 2012. We have dozens of position openings across my clients with many if not filled in Q1 will challenge and possibly prevent the company from delivering their 2012 Revenue & Profit Plan.

3rd. Over the holidays, I came away from reading “The Oz Principle” by Roger Connors and Tom Smith with:

See it
Own it
Solve it
Do it

Accountability starts at the top with a complete buy-in and developing alignment at all levels within your company will take time. Be your word to me means, say what you will do and then do what you said you were going to do. So, to me, seeing progress can become the most rewarding companywide behavioral change you will do in 2012.

4th and last. Entrepreneurs, business owners, presidents and CEO’s are facing the fastest changing landscape in modern time. Where can you turn to for help? Who has the silver bullet? Who can you trust? This link is from MP Mueller, who is the founder of Door Number 3, a boutique advertising agency in Austin, Texas. Her NY Times article is a “heart felt” sharing on what a peer advisory group now means to her. I believe we can make a difference. Take a leap of faith and reach out to me for a 90 minute evaluation on if you could benefit and qualify for selection into one of my CEO and senior executives advisory groups.

Ed Stillman spends the majority of his time working with business owners and CEOs who are focusing on growing their profitability greater than their competition. He is a central Texas business/life balance coach working with two dozen company executives that want to take themselves and their companies to the next level.

Ed Stillman

…being your word

Successful leaders are over achievers in many ways yet they have a couple of traits that I have found over the past 5 years as a group chairman for Vistage International that stand out over their many other strengths. They are consistent in their management style with a reasonable control over their emotions and they are men and women of their word. Steve Portner, CEO of JMJ Associates headquartered in Austin comes to mind as one of these exceptional individuals. He’s a founding member of my CE3331 leadership group and has provided “spot on” guidance to members over the years.

Do you know if you are considered trustworthy? How do you know? I now ask member-candidates “What does …being your word mean to you.” Great leaders lead by example, they walk their talk. This trait enables their direct reports to respect, trust and follow them. Great leaders develop leverage and are able to get more done than if they had to do it themselves. Successful leaders whether they know it or not, get to know, like and trust their leadership or management team. This allows their team to do the same in return not only back up to the CEO but to their direct reports. Strong managers and leaders develop strong direct reports by being their word. Is there trust or distrust in your organization? Do you and/or your team leaders promise too much and find it difficult to deliver said promises?

If there was a dramatic increase in trust, partnership and collaboration in your team or company, what would it look like in terms of performance and/or revenue and profit results? What meaning or core value does … “being your word” suggest to you or more important mean to you? My sense is trust is a practice and the biggest challenge to building trust in a group, tribe, team or company is being your word.

Encouraging or requiring your management team to say what they will do and do what they said they would do starts with you doesn’t it? If you want to improve results, create greater ownership further down into your organization focus on …being your word. Performance contracts with your direct reports is a great place to start with monthly and quarterly reviews, not you defining expectations but your management team establishing their goals to line up with company expectations. They too should have performance contracts with their direct reports. Who have you designated to be your replacement or your COO? Who have your direct reports singled out to replace them thus making themselves promotable?

Jim Collin’s book Good to Great suggests at least to me that leaders by being their word are in a much better place to take on the challenges facing owners and CEOs in our ever changing world today. Wanting to be more strategic and less tactical? Give this thread some time and ponder what …being your word means to you.

Ed Stillman leads a leadership advisory group in Austin Texas which is full and is currently interviewing Austin based owners, presidents and CEOs that would thrive in his 2nd group of like minded individuals interested in investing in their personal growth and development.