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Are YOU a Game Changer?

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Regular readers of my blog know that this summer was pretty exciting for me as I had the opportunity to teach at two universities (Brandeis and Boston University) and visit Lagos, Nigeria where I spoke with over a thousand students about innovation and entrepreneurship.

However, the lesson that stands out the most from this summer is that one-time speaking engagements and short-term (3 to 5 day) conferences don’t really ensure nor support meaningful change. It’s great to speak with motivated students and business owners about change and innovation but it can also be quite disappointing if the impact you are aiming for is fleeting.

How many times have you left a seminar charged up and inspired to execute change within your organization only to return to your ‘daily life’ and ‘business as usual’ never implementing the much desired change? I can personally attest that this is something that plagues me and sometimes leaves me pondering why I bother attending or speaking at conferences if it isn’t going to make a difference.

This month we explore how to shake things up and become the game changer you need to be!

Beth

 We all know that change is hard, really hard, but if you (and I) don’t take the steps required to execute on our dreams, then nobody is going to do it for us.  Change is in your hands but it won’t happen simply by attending a few workshops or networking occasionally to make the ‘right’ connections. These are activities that are great starting points but you must take the time to create very specific and measurable goals in order to achieve the vision that you are aiming for.

As a trainer, my desire to have a long term impact on individuals I have the privilege to work with led to the creation of a business card handout used to capture an important SMART goal. It asks ONE simple question: “What SMART goal do you want to achieve in the next 30, 60 or 90 day period (you pick the time frame)?” Plus, there’s space for only four actions to be executed during that period to ensure you don’t become overwhelmed with too many activities that simply won’t get done.

Since I started handing these out at seminars I have been thrilled with the responses I have received. Months later participants in a workshop or talk I gave have come up to me to show me their SMART Goal card and tell me that they carry it around to ensure they actually do what they had committed to. This takes the prize when it comes to my own job satisfaction. Would you like your own card? Feel free to click here to download the SMART Goal Card.

 I’ve seen the benefits of follow up in my workshops and in the classes I teach at BU and Brandeis. One example is a course I taught over the summer called the BU Urban Business Accelerator. This is a 10-week course designed to help students gain expertise through consulting with small business owners in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The students achieve solid experience as they begin to truly grasp what it means to be a small business owner and see first hand the obstacles encountered in growing and maintaining a business. The business owners get support from dedicated, hard working students who research their specific industry (e.g., beauty salons, electronic stores) and help them better understand how they are doing relative to others in the industry and learn how to manage their business by the numbers.

This course, masterminded by a BU student in his senior year, has a unique twist that is at the heart of its success and differentiates its impact and value from other programs. There’s a 24-month follow-up.  The program doesn’t end when the course does, unlike most traditional classes and business growth programs. This follow-up provides a chance to review what’s working, what’s not and what midcourse corrections need to take place to ensure the companies are using the new tools provided to them by the students. While we are still in the early stages of gathering this post-initiative data, I am convinced, based on early data collected, that this is a critical element that will help make this program a true game changer. In fact, I believe it makes enough of a difference that I am reviewing other business growth classes that I offer to determine how I can ensure that the lessons taught are lessons executed

Long-term success has a better chance of occurring when individuals measure their success not by the strength of their idea but by the actions they take to directly achieve their goals.

Like a great diet or exercise regime, success depends on what happens when we leave the protected environment of the classroom and return to working IN the business. Without making time to work ON your business and make appointments with that very important VIP – you, you may have had a nice experience but the bad habits return quickly.

Ready to set your SMART goals now? Simply visit the SMART Goals page here on my website for a worksheet to help you define your goals and executable action steps and to download my SMART Goal card.

http://www.m-edge.com
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Everything Critical About Business I Learned From My Dog

biscotti_ben_spaghettiThis month’s newsletter is dedicated to my recently departed dog Biscotti (pictured above with my son Ben about 10 years earlier showing their beautiful trusting relationship). Biscotti reinforced in me (and my children) the values that we hold true in business and life. After 15 years of loyal companionship and love, Biscotti is no longer with us, except in spirit.
The story I share this month is about a disastrous lobster bake I hosted for Ben’s high school graduation (he’s grown up since the picture was taken) and exemplifies the best and worst of people in business. I’m confident Biscotti is looking down upon us grimacing at the horrible traits that not even a bad dog would exemplify and secretly wishing he had been there – simply to have feasted on the lobster that splattered to the floor after 3 hours of cooking.Beth

Lessons From Our Canine Friends

Beth GoldsteinWhat are the most important traits that define a business and exemplify its brand? They include: establishing relationships built on trust, being loyal, making good connections, following through and showing unconditional compassion. Those characteristics are ones exemplified by our canine companions and the reason we call dogs ‘man’s/woman’s best friend.’ Biscotti held these traits, and as a member of our family, he was loved and respected by all. In the best business relationships, these same characteristics are self-evident. In the worst, they are completely mutilated, and my Lobster Bake story unfortunately shows the complete obliteration demonstrated by the owner while his young crew showed the best of these qualities.

It all began when I saw a Groupon for a Lobster Bake and thought – wow, what a great idea for my son’s graduation. I looked up the company, Saldoni’s in North Chelmsford, MA, (yes, in this rare instance, I am sharing the company’s name) and didn’t find anything negative about them. Since the Groupon was a bit vague, I called the owner directly to make sure I understood what was included, and he pitched me an offer to go directly through him. Knowing that Groupon would have provided him just 25% of what I paid, it sounded acceptable, and I hired his team months in advance. He told me his crew would arrive at 5 p.m. on the day of the event to setup and we’d be eating around 6 p.m.

A few days prior to the event, he called me to confirm, and we reviewed times again. Things, however, went downhill from there. On the day of the party, no one showed up at 5 p.m. The owner didn’t answer or return my calls to him at 5:15 p.m., 5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. My messages began in a gentle tone and then escalated as time passed. I grew annoyed as my guests grew hungrier. At 6:20 p.m., he finally called back. That’s when the ugliness began. He told me he was sorry, he was catering another affair, and didn’t know where his crew was but that he would solve the problem ASAP. They showed up a few minutes later looking innocent and honestly surprised when I asked them why they were so late. They told me they were instructed to arrive at 6:30. Nonetheless, they could not have been sweeter. It was obvious that they felt terrible and quickly pulled things out of their car to begin the lobster bake.

Immediately, I felt better seeing this as a communication gaffe that wasn’t their fault but clearly the owner’s responsibility. I was watching them work hard to set up the equipment in my back yard when the owner called back and told me, “My crew had a flat tire!” Really? I exclaimed because they told me they were instructed to arrive at 6:30 p.m. I asked, “Which lie is the correct one?” and he got mad at me and said, “This is my business, and they had a flat tire.” I knew he wasn’t telling me the truth but checked with them any way. They were as surprised by the lie as I was and they were looking me in the eye telling me there had been no car problems.

The situation then went from bad to ugly. After learning that the owner had thrown his team ‘under the bus to protect himself,’ I then discovered there was a problem with the equipment. To make a long story short, they couldn’t get the water to boil because the equipment wasn’t working. Two hours later, we gave up with their efforts and attempted to cook the lobster on my stove (in my lobster pot) and finally got them semi-cooked by 9 p.m. The rest of the food couldn’t fit in my home-style pot so it had to be thrown away or frozen (anybody interested in frozen corn? I have a lot).

Talk about a WOW (NOT) experience! This was beyond disappointing. To top it off, the owner told me his policy was to never provide refunds (even when he’s at fault?) and kept insisting that I accept another meal on ‘the house’… personally cooked by him. Seriously, the last thing I wanted was this dishonest business owner, who treated his staff with disrespect, to cook a meal for me and my friends. It took me two days and one nasty YELP review (social media can be quite powerful) to convince him to give me a refund. Let’s face it, people make mistakes and equipment fails. I am very much pro small business and would have forgiven him (and not gone to the web to voice my disgust) if he had been honest.  But when he tried to place the blame on his honest employees… that was the last intolerable straw for me.

What does this tell us about his business and his brand? Nothing positive, for sure. He’s not trustworthy, doesn’t deliver on promises made to customers, is unfaithful to his employees and doesn’t follow up. If only he had taken a lesson from my dog BIscotti or perhaps yours, and shown loyalty and compassion… he wouldn’t have a really awful review on the world of social media (feel free to check it out).

In closing, as you manage your business, always keep in mind the important lessons of honestly, trust and loyalty that our four-legged friends teach us every day.

Now, please excuse me as I go give our other dog, Twizzler, a belly rub! Next month I will share stories of my adventure in Nigeria as I head out next week to speak at conference on innovation and entrepreneurship in that fascinating country.

 

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Can Dog Breath Teach You About Creating Loyal Customers?

 

Happy Holidays! As 2012 comes to a close, I want to thank you for your support and friendship. Many of you have reached out to share your stories of success and disappointment. I have appreciated your honesty and hearing how you have overcome challenges throughout the year.

Can dog breath teach you about creating loyal customers (and I don’t mean the already-loyal, four-legged kind)? 

To find out, please read the article below.

Is your 2013 growth plan in place? If not, I have a special offer to help you create a plan. As part of my latest book, Lucky By Design, I created a 5-part webinar series where I walk you through the process of creating your Lucky By Design Roadmap (your growth plan).

The Webinar Series is on sale now (through the end of the year) for only $20.13 (that’s a 65% discount). Plus, if you haven’t purchased my book yet (or would like another copy), you can buy it for $10. Interested? Click here for more details!

Wishing you a joyous new year!

Beth

How Dog Breath Taught Me a Valuable Lesson About Creating Loyal Customers

If we’ve spent any time together, you know that I’m an ‘over the top’ dog fanatic. Our home boasts two, four-legged canines (Biscotti and Twizzler), and they delight us on a regular basis. So, you won’t be surprised that as critical members of our household, they are clearly the most spoiled in the family (yes, even more than my 2 teenagers!)

Last month one of my students sent me a link to a video related to dogs. Naturally,  I dropped everything else I was doing and clicked on the link. It featured a clip about Orapup, a tongue brush designed to help dogs (well, actually humans) manage dog bad breath problems. Let’s face it, the dogs don’t care that their breath stinks.

As you might guess, I purchased the Orapup for both of my pups and waited for shipment to arrive this month. Now, the product wasn’t actually ready – they were taking pre-orders. Since I love to support startups and it seemed legitimate, I figured I didn’t have much to lose. It’s not like the dogs would know that their Hanukkah presents arrived late (they are really bad at reading the calendar).

On Dec. 12 I received an email stating:

Beth,

I want to deliver a personal message about your Orapup Preorder Status in the video below.

Sincerely, Dr. Bob

Orapup

It turns out the factory didn’t deliver their mold on time so while Orapup had anticipated a December delivery, it was now going to be January before shipment arrived. Having spent many years working with manufacturers, this is not an uncommon challenge. But how they handled it was less common.

If you watch the video (click here or on the image above) you will see how they use self-effacing humor, provide real information and sincerely apologize for the delay…even offering money back to the >14,000 people who pre-ordered. Their video was short, engaging to watch and very real and honest. What more can you expect from a company? Assuming I like the results of the product (better dog breath), this is a company I am very likely to engage with in the future and recommend to friends/colleagues.  I’ve told you, right?

Let’s face it, mistakes happen, no matter how hard we work to prevent them. However, the true nature of a person and an organization can ALWAYS be measured by HOW they react to the mistake. Remember this the next time an error occurs – on your part or somebody else’s. Think of your reaction as an opportunity to demonstrate the beliefs and principals you adhere to in your company (and life). In addition, you will also learn a lot about a colleague, business or friend relevant to how THEY react to their own mistake. It will help you determine IF this is a person or organization with whom you want to engage in future endeavors.

Charles Darwin said:

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.

As I await my order of Orapups, I wish you health, peace and happiness plus the ability to respond with dignity when needed. Please continue to stay in touch and share your stories with me. They provide me with great inspiration.  From my home to yours, happy holidays!

Beth, Ben & Jacqui
Beth, Ben, Jacqui, Biscotti & Twizzler

 

 

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24 Hours Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

The Small Business World Summit starts tomorrow. 

 Keep Your Friends Close but Your Enemies Closer
 Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

Competition is not limited to companies that offer products or services exactly like yours. Companies compete on solutions and their value to customers. Therefore, competition is about fulfilling a need, not about offering an identical product or service. What needs do your products or services fulfill? How else can your current or potential customers have their needs met? What companies fulfill this need? You must continually assess companies that offer like solutions, ensuring you understand their value proposition and benefits to your customers. 

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch starting tomorrow and throughout all of Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to register!

 

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2 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

 TIP OF THE DAY:  Continually Check-In With Customers
Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

The Small Business World Summit begins in 48 hours! TODAY IS YOUR LAST DAY TO Pre-register and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE!

There are many variables that influence customers’ needs and you must be aware of current as well as future ones if you are to grow your business. Even if you’ve been in business for a significant number of years, it’s critical that you constantly check in with your customers to see how their needs have changed over time. Simply take the time to step back and look at your business objectively. Force yourself to ask your customers questions about their needs, even if you are 100% convinced that you know the answers. Some of the responses might surprise you.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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3 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

Initiate Tactics That Directly Align Your Unique Value With Customer Needs
Beth Goldstein, Marketing Edge

The Small Business World Summit begins in 3 days! Pre-register now and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE! 

While it’s important that you understand the products and services that you offer customers, it’s even more critical to understand what your customers value and why they buy products/services from you rather than your competitors. What common needs and characteristics do your customers share? By understanding how much each customer spends with you, how often they frequent your business and why they value their business relationship with you, you can more easily execute activities that will impact all of these factors and increase your value to them and consequently their value to you.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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4 Days Until the Small Biz World Summit Begins: Tip of the Day

Understand Your Employees’ Expectations to Be a Great Leader
Suzi Lemen, Dynamic Corporate Solutions

The Small Business World Summit begins in 4 days! Pre-register now and get the Small Business Growth Package worth $149 –  FREE!

The new worker has different expectations than employees in the past.  Understanding these expectations can make all the difference in leading successfully.  One of the expectations is that there will be opportunities for continuous learning.  Leaders need to develop formal and informal learning plans for their workforce.  Don’t find out when someone quits that they felt like there were no opportunities for growth.

The Summit gives you the answers you need to take your business to the next level – FAST! We answer your questions about marketing, sales, building online customer communities, cash flow, leadership, HR, and other challenges that you face every day.

Plus, it’s completely free to watch during Small Business Saturday Weekend (Nov 23 – 26).

Click here to learn more and to pre-register!. Plus, when you pre-register you will get a Small Business Growth Package worth $149 for FREE that includes:

  • Keeping Score Manual, Ribbon
  • Business Boot Camp Accelerator eBook: Setting the Stage for Growth, Marketing Edge
  • Building an Email List that Build Your business, Constant Contact 
 

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