Success & Inspiration

The Challenges of Executing and Delivering

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Wish_Group_Summer_ReunionWhether you only have one employee or 50 employees, execution will always be difficult. By execution I mean of course the way that you are completing tasks that will grow your business, and deliver positive results either to your leadership in the company or to yourself.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the Wish Group went away for our bi-annual team building trip a couple of weeks ago. During these trips we like to have an overall theme for the event that will put a focus on the learning we’ll accomplish, with this year’s theme being execution.

The main goal for these trips is of course team building, but taking the time to discuss challenges and triumphs with your team is also an excellent way of doing that. When it comes to executing, we focused on four different areas that were loosely based on the four disciplines of execution, with a spotlight on sales of course:

Make Important Goals – The only way to achieve great success is to make goals that you can focus on. It may sound simple, but without a goal to focus on you simply won’t have the same drive that other sales people or companies have. One of the tasks we asked everyone at our Summer Reunion to complete is to write down their Wildly Important Goals for the year. This first step is really what sets the tone for how you’ll achieve success, since it’s important to actually define what success means to you!

Define Your Lead Measures – Even if you have a goal, what’s the point if you don’t have a practical way of reaching it? I put an emphasis on practical because it’s common to rush towards a goal instead of tackling it strategically. The best way I can explain this is with a common weight loss analogy. Your important goal may be to lose 50 pounds, but you can’t just make this goal and hope for the best. You’ll be keeping track of how much exercise you’re doing daily and even how many calories you’re taking in. The same thing applies to your sales team. Sure, they want to close a certain amount of deals, but victory lies in preparation. They’ll need to keep track of who they’re contacting, what prospects make the most sense to reach out to and what hasn’t been working for them in the past, just as a few examples.

Track Your Progress – It’s hard to admit, but there are only winners and losers when it comes to sales and business. People don’t pay to see two sports teams kick a ball around and not keep track of who wins. We pay to see one team win, which means another team has to lose. Keeping a scorecard of all of your successes will keep you focused on your goals in two ways. On one hand, having a visual record of the times when you didn’t quite reach your goals will motivate you to keep trying harder to turn those failures into triumphs. On the other hand, with the notes you keep from your lead measures combined with your scorecard, it’ll be extremely rewarding to have a solid trail of your success and how hard you’ve worked to get there.

Accountability to Yourself and Your Team – Your plans, your efforts and triumphs don’t mean anything if you don’t hold yourself accountable by actually following through with your action plan. It’s important to understand that this means keeping track of your failures too, because you’ll never be able to improve if you don’t look at both sides of your endeavors.

As you can clearly see, executing is by no means an easy task, and overnight results shouldn’t be expected. Like with most things in life, if you want to achieve greatness, you’ll need to take it one step at a time. And like most things as well, the first step is always the most difficult – but after that I guarantee that you’ll be able to do it!

The Wish Group Summer Reunion

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting our annual Summer Reunion for the Wish Group and all of companies that we own. We have been doing these events for many years, and every year they somehow get better and better. Next week I intend to write up some of the more business and sales related issues we discussed at the event, but this week I wanted to share a few of my reflections from the event and why I believe events like these are essential for companies.

When you’re working day in and day out on tasks, meetings and other things, it becomes easy (far too easy) to lose sight of the most important asset in your company – your people. Your people are the reason that your company is successful.  Your people are essentially the secret sauce of why your company is different than any other company. That’s why it’s important to see where your people are coming from, and what motivates them to do what they do – and holding team events is the perfect venue for that.

At the Wish Group, we organize these events bi-annually – once at the beginning of the year to set goals and review the previous year, and one in the summer time to regroup and discuss how things are currently progressing. Even though we meet on a quarterly basis and do practice an open book management policy, we hold these more extravagant events so all of the leadership team has the chance to connect with staff on a more personal level and build rapport. Once your team understands why you’re so passionate about what you do, and vice versa, it’s easier to accomplish all of the goals you set out to do.

Another great benefit of events like this is the fact that your team will get to know each other better. This is arguably the most valuable thing that you’ll get from this event. Your team members are probably used to working with core people that they’re comfortable with, but these events provide the chance for them to build new relationships with team members they’ve never had the chance to mingle with. What this ends up doing is building peer accountability across your team. Peer accountability is crucial for any business, as it means that your team will work hard to finish projects and not let each other down – allowing you to grow your business without worrying.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be an extravagant event that you host. No matter how many employees that you have, you need to get your team together outside the office so they get to know each other better, and so you see what kind of drive they have towards your business. Once you see how dedicated your team is to your common goal, I guarantee that you’ll be inspired.

3 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

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YoungerSelfI’ve made plenty of mistakes during my time as an entrepreneur. While I could have dwelled on them and got crushed by them, luckily I’ve always used them as lessons to push me forward. That being said, there’s a reason why mentors are usually those who are older than us.

Simply put, they’ve lived through the mistakes first hand and as such, know how to deal with any new problems that arise by thinking back on how they handled previous problems and applying these lessons to their current situation.

Now that I’m at an age where I frequently mentor young entrepreneurs, I honestly wish that I could tell my younger self some key lessons. Although there are many of them, here are my most important ones.

Learn to Say No – This one is one of the most difficult things to learn because we often see any new opportunity as an opportunity for growth. However, not all opportunities will be valuable in the long run. Take the time to evaluate your opportunities and cut the cord if it will act as a roadblock to your success.

Learn to Listen – Two ears and one mouth – they should be used in that order. Few people actually stop to take the time to listen, preventing them from truly understanding and learning. There are often times when you need to slow down because your deeper understanding of a subject that you got from listening will take you to the next level.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be You – We spend our childhood trying to fit in and our adult years trying to be different. Sometimes we never grow out of the desire to be like those around us. However, trying to be someone that you’re not will lead to an unfulfilled life. The best thing that you can offer those who you do business with is your genuine self. Your unique personality and insight is what your clients are truly after, since those traits and talents shine through your company.

These are the pieces of advice that I simply didn’t understand when I was younger. In fact, even I was to go back and tell my younger self this, I’m not sure if (a) I would understand or (b) if I would even listen. I believe that, for better or worse, people learn from harsh lessons rather than always heeding advice from others. It may not be simple, but try to keep your mentors advice in the back of your mind the next time you make a big decision.

Ups and Downs of Working on Holidays

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For many of the Canadian business owners I know, this past two day weekend turned into a four day Canada Day long weekend – for better or worse. While some entrepreneurs may be taking a well deserved break, the majority that I know will probably be working in some capacity during these days off.

Throughout my years of working holidays, I’ve come to discover that although there are many advantages of working those extra hours, there are also disadvantages that you don’t fully realize:

Disadvantage #1: Missing Out on Family Time: Long-weekends were made for family-gatherings. When working all weekend long, you miss out on time spent with your family that you will never get back. Take the time to put down the laptop and set aside the work, and just enjoy good company. Surrounding yourself with the love and kindness of your family will help you get back to your work with more purpose.

Disadvantage #2: Burning Yourself Out: Taking a break has actually been proven to increase your productivity. If you continuously work yourself to the bone, when the time comes for you to meet an unexpected deadline you simply won’t have the energy or stamina to do so. Pace yourself.

Disadvantage #3: Draining Your Creativity: Putting all your focus on one project may seem like a good idea, however, it’s not beneficial if you are trying to come up new creative solutions. Taking your mind away from a project will allow your mind to wander and come up with incredible new solutions to old problems.

Of course, working during a holiday definitely has its advantages:

Advantage #1: Capture Opportunity: When the rest of the competition is sleeping during the holidays, working allows you to capture opportunities that would have otherwise been taken by your rivals. Entrepreneurs want to maximize their business’ potential and continuous hard work allows us to do that.

Advantage #2: Momentum: Like I mentioned in a previous post, once you stop, it’s hard to start again. We’ve all heard that before in many different aspects of our lives, and work is no different. Keeping a steady working momentum allows entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward because they almost forget how to stop. As any entrepreneur will tell you, achieving success requires persistence.

Advantage #3: Cut Down Your To-Do List: As you run from meeting to meeting, your to-do list often gets larger and larger. Now that you have those extra couple of days, it’s time to cut down some of that list. In fact, this might be the perfect time for you to focus on lesser tasks you’ve been pushing aside, leaving the priority tasks for your return to the office.

As much as we want to continue pursing success by working hard, balance is required to get there. The best entrepreneurs don’t have a fully “off” mode. They’ll lounge by the pool or lay on the beach relaxing, but something will always spur their next great idea.

The Definition of Success Changes With You

By | Comments & Opinion, Success & Inspiration, Entrepreneurial, Achieving Wealth, Business Insights, Foundations of Success | No Comments

entrepreneur-successIn my blog post last week I talked about how failure makes you a stronger person, but this week I want to focus on success. Success can mean a number of different things depending on the individual, and your definition of success also changes as you continue your career.

For example, it was announced last week that my company, The Wish Group, made it on the PROFIT 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing companies – number 364 respectively. Of course I’m extremely proud of my team for getting us this far, especially since this is the third year in a row that we’ve received this award.

This is considered a success, but this wasn’t the end game for me. My end game is becoming one of Canada’s premier providers of business solutions – a goal that’s radically changed since I first started my own business. Back then, I was simply focused on becoming a world-class leader of teleconferencing solutions. Thanks to multiple meetings with different entrepreneurs and spurring ideas back and forth with different people, my goals have now changed.

From chatting with these various entrepreneurs throughout my career and watching my own goals change, I’ve found that people define success in two different areas:

Money Made – This one is the most common definition, for better or worse. I’d say that the majority of people and not just entrepreneurs define their success by how much money they make. While money is important, becoming wealthy shouldn’t be your only goal. The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met are the ones that see the wealth they’ve accumulated as a means to further their business, be it by funding new ideas or improving their current ones.

Difference in People’s Lives – This point is a big one for me. I personally want to help as many people as I can find their true calling in life, be it an entrepreneurial endeavour or otherwise. This means that I create as many jobs as I can, and mentor people to watch them grow and become successful on their own. While this may not always work with everyone who walks through my door, I at least hope that I touch their life far beyond just a paycheck.

How you define success isn’t important, what matters is how you reach that success. Let the accolades and positive feedback that you receive along the way motivate you towards your goal of success, and then push yourself one step further.

Failure Isn’t The End

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Failure-Isnt-The-EndThere’s a big misconception when it comes to failure. Ever since we’ve been children, we’ve seen that failing is nothing but a negative experience. Teachers would be disappointed and parents would yell at you for failing a test. If you failed a course, you’d use up your valuable summer time taking make-up courses. There has always been negativity associated with failure.

Things change once you’re an entrepreneur. By no means am I saying that failure gets easier. It still sucks, and it still stings and lingers with you for quite a while. However, when either your business or your product fails, it doesn’t mean that you should call it quits and give up. Quite the opposite, actually. I’ve touched on this in a few previous blog posts, but I thought it was time to dedicate an entire post on the often not discussed upsides of a failure.

It Makes You Stronger: As I mentioned in my previous post, when an athlete experiences failure, they don’t let it crush them. How many times have you seen a team lose a game, only to have the whole team give up? Obviously they don’t and neither should you. There is no one failure that should completely make you give up entirely. You need to dig deep and find out what you could have done to prevent the failure. If you couldn’t have prevented it, at the very least the experience will make you a better person and teach you about yourself.

It Teaches You Multiple Lessons: Besides teaching you about yourself, you’ll also learn a lot about your business. Specifically, it’ll teach you about the strengths of your team, which is always valuable to know. While you shouldn’t necessarily blame a team member for the failure, you’ll know what areas they can improve on, and where you can mentor them to become better. If the failure revolves around a product launch, you’ll be able to pinpoint what needs to be changed about your product and why the market didn’t latch onto it.

It Makes You Re-Evaluate: Once failure teaches you a lesson, the obvious next step is to re-evaluate. As hard as it might be to accept, perhaps there simply isn’t a market for your product, or perhaps there’s a crucial element that you’ve over looked. This is the time where you make changes to your work formula and make some tough decisions to continue moving forward. This is also the time to listen to any feedback that you’ve received, particularly negative feedback, as this is what will accurately tell you what you need to reconsider.

At the end of the day, don’t let one or even multiple failures stop you. You need to build your own path, and stay strong while you’re on the road to greatness. I’m curious to know what failures you’ve had as entrepreneurs, and what lessons have they taught you?

Heartbreaking Lessons from the Habs

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Heartbreaking_HabsMany Canadians had faith in the Canadiens this year, as they were the only home-based team that made it to the playoffs. It’s no secret that I’m an avid fan of the Habs, so of course I found their loss this year particularly heartbreaking, given all that they had been through to make it that far. The team obviously knows where their weak points are and what they need to improve for next year. With the Habs learning lessons from their tough games, I also picked up on a few business related lessons while watching them play game six:

Stay Calm During the Unexpected – There’s no doubt that losing Carey Price to a knee injury had a massive impact on the Canadiens. While naysayers will argue from watching the series that they didn’t lose because of goaltending, it’s still a mental blow to the team. It was extremely difficult to predict they wouldn’t have their gold medal goalie in the game, but it goes to show that you can’t always expect things to go smoothly. The unexpected will happen – be it your company’s internet going down, a key presenter being suddenly called away or even dangerous weather preventing you from making an important business trip. You need to always have some sort of contingency plan, or at the very least, stay calm under the pressure of the unexpected.

Sometimes Your Best Won’t Cut It – I, along with many other people, believed that once the Habs conquered the Bruins, the cup was theirs. While the Rangers aren’t a pushover by any means, I assumed that by sweeping the first round and fiercely battling through their grudge match with Boston that they had built a solid momentum that would take them to the finals. They clearly tried their absolute best, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. This is an invaluable lesson to learn when you’re an entrepreneur. Your pitch to a new client may have been the best you could do, but your best won’t always take you to the top, for various uncontrollable reasons. This doesn’t mean you should give up – far from it in fact, which leads to my next point…

Failure Makes You Improve – Montreal players have already said they were proud of their team and vowed that better days were ahead, which is nice to hear after a defeat. You need to have the same mentality when things don’t go your way as well.  It’s difficult to see your absolute best efforts crushed right in front of you. There are many people I know who latched onto a promising opportunity and gave it their all, only to be rejected and then they essentially gave up after that one experience. Don’t let failure stop you on your way to greatness. Everyone has failed in their life, multiple times, be it professionally or personally. As cliché as it sounds, you can’t let one failure crush your dreams. If everyone gave up on their dreams after one setback, the world would be a much different place.

You can learn many valuable business lessons in almost anything, be it sports teams or movies or anything in between. What are some of the most unexpected places that you’ve learned valuable lessons?

Creativity – An Entrepreneur’s Blessing and Curse

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There is one trait in particular that all entrepreneurs share, and that is a being naturally creative people. Entrepreneurs need to have creative minds in order to come up with new ways to enhance their business, or devise original product ideas. I’m not sure how other entrepreneurs feel about their creativity, but I personally find my creativity to be two sides of the same coin.

On one hand, I think that my creative nature is a curse. I say this because I have many different ideas that I have that I want to create and spread with the world, but unfortunately life is finite and there isn’t enough time to accomplish all of these things. This means that many of the what I feel are great ideas never see the light of day because I’m attempting to bring various other projects to fruition.

That being said, I also consider my creativity to be my greatest asset and a blessing. Here are the top three things to remind yourself when you’re focusing on the curse instead of the blessing.

Your Pain is Your Customers Gain –While you may not have all of the time you would want to get all of your ideas to life, when you finally bring one of your ideas to life it will no doubt be of tremendous value to your customers. Whether it’s painstakingly refining a current product to become something better, or creating an entirely new business venture, your new product will be fueled by passion which will make your customers happy, even if the process in and of itself can be grueling.

The More You Create, the More You Learn – Even if all your ideas don’t see the light of day, once you have an idea you’ll immediately begin to research any related topics to see if it makes sense or to learn about any intricacies of a new industry. For example, my company the Wish Group operates multiple businesses in multiple industries, such as event webcasting, staffing, teleconferencing and marketing to name a couple. Once I had the idea to start these companies, I had to learn as much as I could about these industries to see if my business plan made sense, and if there was about the industry that I was overlooking.

You’ll Grow Professionally and Personally – Whether your idea is a success or a failure, you’ll grow from the experience. Apart from all of the new knowledge you’ll gain, you’ll also get a better understanding of why this particular venture was unsuccessful when compared to your other ones. You’ll also get a better handle on what your customers actually want, and of course if it is a failure, it will only make you stronger.

Do you ever feel that you don’t have enough time to bring your ideas to life, of that you simply have too many good ideas and not enough time to act on them? I’d love to discuss this topic with you in the comments.

Pushing Aside Fear When Selling

By | Comments & Opinion, Success & Inspiration, Self Education, Business Insights, Sales Advice, Foundations of Success, Personal Accountability | One Comment

In my blog post last week, I talked about fear holding you back when you’re an entrepreneur and discussed different methods that I thought would be useful for getting over your fears. Once you’ve understood and overcome your fears, you’ll be able to help others get over theirs. This will come in particularly handy with your sales team.

Your sales team may be holding themselves back from getting new clients simply because of their fears. However, like I discussed last week, these can be overcome with constant work and luckily most sales people have very similar fears, either consciously or unconsciously. Here are the most common fears of sales people that I’ve seen, and what you can do to help them overcome it.

Fear of Closing the Sale – No matter how amazing the product or service you’re selling is, it’s extremely rare that people will blatantly tell you that they want to buy it. Most of the time, you have to ask people to buy your product – which is a surprisingly big fear for most sales people. When I’ve asked people in the past why they’re afraid of closing the sale, they told me that they were afraid of coming across as forceful or stubborn. In reality, you should NEVER be afraid of what other people think of you. At the end of the day, you’re doing your job just like everyone else. You shouldn’t fear how someone will react to you doing something that you love.

Fear of Following Up – Tying in with the above fear of other people’s perception, some sales people never follow up with their prospects because of a fear of being perceived as annoying or obnoxious. You need to put this aside, simply because it’s extremely rare that you or anyone will sell something successfully on your first try. In fact, according to The National Sales Executive Association, only 2% of sales are made on the first contact, while an astounding 80% of sales are made on the twelfth contact or higher. If your sales people never follow up due to fear, they’ll never sell your product or service.

Fear of Rejection – This is the big one, and it doesn’t only happen to sales people. Fear of rejection is one of the biggest and most common fears that people have. There’s no set method to get over a fear of rejection, but the best piece of advice that I can offer you is to not take it personally. While your personality does play a role in whether or not you make a sale, most of the time your prospect won’t buy a product from you for a variety of reasons, not because they dislike you, so there’s no point in blaming yourself for a lost sale. Just learn your lesson from it, and move onto the next prospect.

Does your sales team regularly talk about their fears with you? If so, how do you mentor them to overcome them? I look forward to discussing this topic with you.

Don’t Let Fear Hold Back Your Entrepreneurial Instincts

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Don’t-Let-Fear-Hold-Back-Your-Entrepreneurial-InstinctsIf you decide to leave your job and open your own business, there are a few things you assume you’ll leave behind as well. Job security, consistency and a personal life are what some people think they’ll leave behind – and sometimes this is true. The problem here is that when people really start to think about these things, they get worried, and that worrying more often than not leads to fear.

This fear can be used as motivation for some, but more often than not this fear will inevitably stop you from taking the plunge and stop you from creating your dream company. We’re all familiar with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote on fear: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” While the quote may be used quite often, that’s simply because it rings true, and if you can overcome your fear you will head towards greatness. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind to keep your fears in check.

Take That First Step – No matter what your instincts may be telling you, the hardest part is taking the first step. However, if you find that the results from this first step aren’t encouraging, don’t abandon hope so quickly. Much like with losing weight, the first step is difficult and most get discouraged when they don’t see any immediate results. Just have patience, and know that the road is long but well worth it. Creating a business plan, getting your financials in order or reaching out to other entrepreneurs are just a few things that you can do to get you started.

Keep The Big Picture In Mind, But Take It One Step At A Time – Tying in above, once you take that first step, make a list of other goals you want to attain. You should keep the big picture in mind, like wanting to become a multi-million dollar company for example, but also make sure to have smaller attainable goals first. Acquiring a certain number of new clients, finding an office space and other similar things are small goals you can start off with. Meeting these smaller goals will keep you motivated as well, since reaching them will let you know that you’re well on your way to the end game.

Drop The Negativity – One of the biggest side effects from fear is the non-stop negativity that comes with it. Your fear makes you believe that you’re incapable of meeting your goals, or worse, that you don’t deserve to reach your goals. There’s no one way to get over this, but it’s important to know that this will take time. Write down what is making you afraid and then list off realistically if your fear is based on facts, or simply something you’ve made up in your head.

Do you feel that you’re now over your fears, or are there still things that you feel are holding you back? I’d love to discuss this topic with you in more detail.