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Top of Mind: December 14, 2017
December 14th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Tell the Story

When I dine in a restaurant, particularly one that is new to me, I like to ask my server what she likes on the menu.  I want to hear her story about what she likes and why she likes it.  She may also give me some added info about what the chef does to prepare it or something unique about the dishes she likes.  I also like to gauge my server’s enthusiasm for what she’s telling me.

Isn’t that what selling is all about?  Having a product or service worth sharing with others and telling the background story behind it.  That’s where a lot of sales are missed.  Salespeople are often ill-equipped to talk about a product or their service or their store in a way that conveys knowledge and enthusiasm.  They are often even less inclined to romance a piece or describe its distinctiveness.

But even before you start talking, you need to ask the right questions to get a conversation started and to develop a rapport with a customer that sells yourself and your business.  First impressions are critical, and when we can connect with people on their level we have a much better chance of gaining their trust.  Trust may be the most vital element in selling.  No one wants to buy anything from anyone they don’t trust.

So the next time you engage someone in selling – maybe even today – begin by asking the right questions and telling a story that connects you with your customer.  You’ll be much more successful if you do.

 
Here are a few Business & Life Tips to think about….

Business Tips:

  • When you show someone an exquisite product, much of what they think about it is based on what you tell them about it.
  • Standing ovations seem overdone these days. Save them for those rare speeches that move you to both emotion and action.
  • If you have something worth sharing, share it. If people like it, they’ll tell others. Good referrals are worth their weight in gold.

Life Tips:

  • Persuasion vs. Influence: It’s the difference between trying to convince someone vs. drawing them into your point of view.
  • Emulate the heroes in your life. You won’t always succeed, but you’ll find your true self, and become a hero to someone else.
  • Questions indicate interest. They probe for knowledge. Listen to a four year old ask questions of his mother. That should be us.
Top of Mind: November 30, 2017
November 30th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Have a Hobby

It’s important to have a hobby. Or two. Hobbies feed our creative juices even if we don’t believe we’re particularly creative. We don’t try to make money out of our hobbies, though sometimes we can and they become joyful businesses. And we don’t get famous from our hobbies, although we might gain some local notoriety if we’re really good at it.

But we don’t have hobbies to get rich or famous. We have hobbies to give us an outlet or two, and to make us happy. Hobbies give, rather than take. They keep us from being one-dimensional. They broaden our horizons. Hobbies make us whole.

Can we overdue our hobbies? Probably. I guess if we play video games all day, it may be a bit much. But generally, I wouldn’t worry. You probably have some kind of self-limiting time frame or consciousness that keeps you from overdoing it.

So the next time you feel obsessed with your hobby, relax. You’re doing what you love to do. You’re exercising your creativity. You’re making yourself into a more joyful person. It doesn’t matter if you’re strumming a guitar, planting a plant, knitting a sweater, cooking a delicacy, or swinging a golf club. What matters is you’re enjoying an extension of yourself. And maybe that’s all that really matters.

 

Here are a few Business & Life Tips to think about….

Business Tips:

  • To work is good. To work too much is bad. Pace yourself. Work is more a marathon than a sprint. Work will be there tomorrow.
  • Many entrepreneurs thrive in chaos, but their subordinates generally don’t. Maybe it’s time for those entrepreneurs to lighten up.
  • Ever wonder why your best business ideas occur in the shower, on a walk, or in the garden? Your mind is free to think.

 

Life Tips:

  • If you can create meaning in your life and derive happiness from it, you will become a joyful and complete individual.
  • People tend to want what other people have. We would be far more content (and happy) if we learned to appreciate what WE have.
  • A great goal is to volunteer your time to a nonprofit that needs your help and expertise. It’s good therapy for the soul.
Top of Mind: November 16, 2017
November 16th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Enjoy the Process

People usually want to know the end result, the finished product, or the climax to something they are moving toward. And that is certainly important. But as important is the process we go through to get to where we need to be. Seldom do people relish in the process because it can be hard, messy, prolonged, and tedious. But the process of learning, growing, building, transforming, and improving is what creates the end result, and it is that same process we need to embrace and enjoy.

In his best-selling book, Outliers, The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell made a big point about The 10,000 Hour Rule. His assertion is that in order to achieve a level of excellence, expertise, or superiority in anything from sports to music to money-making, you have to put in 10,000 hours of practice, involvement, learning, fine-tuning, or any such effort that takes your skill and talent to a world-class level. Ask any true expert in any subject and they will tell you that their success didn’t come naturally. It had to be nurtured and developed over countless hours, 10,000 to be sure.

That’s what I mean by enjoying the process. The end result of achieving a Ph.D. in history, making it to the major leagues in baseball, or even composing a concerto didn’t happen without endless study, constant practice, incredible focus, a measure of talent, and almost total dedication to the process. The end result, the goal for which you strive, is more than the sum of the parts it takes to get there. But the journey to achieve that end is what makes the experience so exciting. It’s the culmination of effort that makes the ride to the top so successful, not just the end result of getting there.

 

Here are a few Business & Life Tips to think about….

Business Tips:

  • Don’t extend your business dealings too far beyond your core knowledge. You’ve spent years building expertise in an area. Use it.
  • In business, it’s good to ask to what degree you are maintaining and improving what works, and purging or replacing what doesn’t.
  • Take a chance. Start a business that fills a need. Create the product that no one has. Do the work that doesn’t exist. Just try.

 

Life Tips:

  • If we learn something each day, help someone each day, and bring joy to another each day, we can consider that a really good day.
  • Things move really fast today. It’s good to practice slowing down. John Wooden said it this way: “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
  • Life is too short to waste, yet we think nothing of throwing precious time away on meaningless issues and irrelevant people.
Top of Mind: November 2, 2017
November 3rd, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

When to Terminate

One of the hardest things to do in any business is to terminate an employee.  It’s even harder if the employee is a family member.  Here are some thoughts on termination.
Let someone go if:

  • You are miserable.  When the value an employee brings is over-weighed by the frustration and anguish they cause – and you feel – it’s time to part ways.
  • The person is disgruntled.  Unhappy people make others unhappy.  It’s a cancer that spreads within your business or department.  You will be better off if they’re gone, and so will they.
  • You’ve done everything you can to save them.  People deserve a fair shot at succeeding, but if you have given them every opportunity to do well and they just haven’t responded, termination is the answer.
  • They haven’t performed according to the specific criteria you have identified for them.  It then becomes fairly easy because they effectively end their own employment by failing your well-documented expectations.

Terminating employees is hard, both emotionally and tactically.  But it must be done periodically to enhance the likelihood of your team’s overall success.


Here are a few Business and Life Tips to think about….

Business Tips:

  • The people closest to a business problem often have the best understanding of it. Ask the right questions and listen to your staff.
  • Good people leave bad bosses, but bad people seldom leave good bosses. And why should they. They’re along for a free ride.
  • “Flat” companies and organizations are moving from “managers” to coaches. Nothing is more important than coaching people.

Life Tips:

  • Blaming others for our problems won’t get us to where we need to go. Being proactive will get us moving toward solutions.
  • A bully berates people as a result of extreme insecurity and an inferiority complex. Don’t let a bully take you down to his level.
  • Who do you know that might be in need of help, who would benefit from a phone call or a word of encouragement today?
Top of Mind: October 19, 2017
October 20th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Play to Win

We’ve all seen it.  A football team is ahead by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter only to lose the game.  A basketball team is up by 10 points with three minutes to go but loses.  A golfer is ahead by four strokes going into the final round of a tournament and loses to a player who finishes strong.

 
We see it in sports all the time because the team or individual in front gets too conservative and loses.  It doesn’t make sense to abandon the one thing that got you a lead for a strategy that tries to keep you from losing.

 
It’s the same way in business.  We fight hard to become successful and then we become complacent, thinking that what got us to where we are will keep us there.  Trying to maintain the status quo – and playing it safe – will cause us to fall behind.  Every business needs to constantly innovate and experiment with new ideas and strategies.  Not every new concept will work, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

 
So instead of playing “not to lose,” we need to “play to win.”  Winning involves continuous learning, constant experimentation, and relentless innovation.  It isn’t enough to be good.  We need to strive to be great.  It’s the only way to stay ahead in the game, and win!

 
Here are a few Business & Life Tips to think about….

 
Business Tips:

  • Good leaders maintain a sense of urgency with controlled energy. They never get too high or too low. They operate like a thermostat.
  • Organizations, boards, and businesses struggle without new blood adding new ideas to the conversation and the strategy.
  • You can’t get hung up on what your competitors are doing. Be aware, for sure, but don’t let it get in the way of what you must do.

 

Life Tips:

  • If you know you’re biased, take yourself out of the decision. If you don’t know you’re biased, well, that’s a different problem.
  • Wisdom comes from living life skillfully. Experience matters and self-reflection assures introspection.
  • Behaviors – even immediate, automatic reactions – can learn to be controlled and modified if we recognize the choices we can make.
Top of Mind: October 5, 2017
October 5th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Food for Thought

  • If you want to be liked, you have to be likable.
  • If you want to be loved, you have to love others.
  • If you want to be respected, you have to respect others.
  • If you want to be noticed, you have to be out there and noticeable.
  • If you want a raise, do more than is expected.
  • If you want a promotion, prepare yourself for the job you want.
  • If you want to build loyalty, be loyal.
  • If you want people to believe in you, care about them.
  • If you want to have more meaningful relationships, be nicer.
  • If you want to show integrity, don’t put others down.

If you don’t believe any of this, well, that’s a problem.

 

Here are a few Business & Life Tips to think about…

Business Tips:

  • Build a good name. Keep it clean. Don’t worry about making money yet. Do good work. Your name will become your currency.
  • To get more time in your work day, analyze everything you do. Eliminate time-wasters, delete unwanted emails, and reduce interruptions.
  • Keep your day job. The routine is good for you, even if a little boring. Boredom forces you to take risks. Risks take you to new places.

 

Life Tips:

  • Insecurity is a debilitating condition. Why choose to be around people who have to put others down in order to prop themselves up.
  • Materialism is getting things for yourself. Generosity is giving things to others. There is no better time to give than now.
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it good. First impressions have lasting value, good or bad.
Top of Mind: September 21, 2017
September 21st, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Motivation

Motivating staff is one of the most vital elements of good leadership. Here are some keys to doing it right:

  • People are more highly motivated through positive daily interactions than the occasional “home run” you might hit.
  • It isn’t always money that does the trick. Public recognition, sincere compliments, praise for work well done, and regular thank yous go a long way to keeping people happy.
  • People play off a leader’s own attitude and motivation. So be “up” throughout each day.
  • Creating a fun environment does more to motivate staff than almost any other aspect of a business.
  • Encourage people with small wins.       They lead to bigger wins.
  • Reward people when they least expect it. You’ll get a lot more mileage out of it.
  • Create structure around clearly defined goals. People want to do a good job. Help them out by setting realistic expectations and holding them accountable for the role they play.
  • “Team” wins build moral. Be creative in how each person contributes to the “whole.”
  • Keep people informed about what’s going on in the business. People in the dark can get uneasy about what is ahead for them.
  • Acknowledge people and give them your undivided attention.
  • Show your gratitude on a consistent basis. Your staff will then go to great lengths to help you.
  • People are your most valuable asset, but your best people are multiple times more valuable. Take care of them.

 

Business Tips:

  • It isn’t enough to simply expect your staff to do their job and not thank them for doing it well. We all need positive reinforcement.
  • Employees who threaten an owner with ultimatums, lest they leave, must be reminded that they are free to leave any time.
  • Want to be successful in your business life? Then practice the 3As: have the right Attitude, ensure your Abilities, and be Adaptable.

  

Life Tips:

  • When you help others to grow, you help yourself to grow. Others’ success translates to your success. It isn’t about you alone.
  • Extraordinary people are ordinary — but commit to doing things in an extraordinary way — doing what others simply can’t or won’t do.
  • Unless you’re an Olympic-level athlete, the goal is not to be the best. The goal is to be better each day at whatever you do.
Top of Mind: September 7, 2017
September 10th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

Here Comes Generation Z

An interesting phenomenon is occurring that will most certainly create more diversity in the workforce. Generation Z graduates are about to enter the workforce, so for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who are still trying to understand the Millennial Generation, prepare yourself for the next wave of newcomers.

Generation Zers were born between 1995 and 2012. They are the newest employees and consumers to enter the mainstream. With Baby Boomers living longer and working longer, soon there will four different generations in the workforce, each with their own specific views about work, life balance, success, and what it takes to run a business effectively.

Whereas Millennials are all about flexibility, their own self-worth, and entitlement that often gets in the way of reality, Generation Zers are independent, competitive, and highly motivated not to miss out on anything. Every generation is a product of the times in which they grow up, and the circumstances that construct their own unique mindset about life and work and the future.

So with four distinct generations with perspectives that differ significantly, we are all in store for some interesting times, and some interesting challenges going forward. The key to success will be our ability to understand and cope with such divergent views and to learn to get along despite our differences.

 

 

Business Tips:

  • If you have an employee (or a boss, for that matter) who seems rigidly opposed to your idea, look for ways to enlarge his or her view.
  • For a team to display synergy in everything from athletics to business, there isn’t an absence of tension, but a harmonizing of it.
  • Look for trends. Catch waves early. Project where things will be, not where they currently are. Think future before it happens.

 

Life Tips:

  • Self-confidence produces contentment. If you trust yourself, try to create in you the kind of person you can be happy with for life.
  • If you want to attract people to your way of thinking, say and do what you believe. In other words, be authentic.
  • Failure is success if we learn from it. Failure often means you are pushing the envelope to do something great. Don’t play it safe.
Top of Mind: August 24, 2017
August 24th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

That Special Business Experience

I recently had dinner with some friends in a nice Italian restaurant I frequent in a city I visit on occasion. The owner always greets us at the door and even remembers us when we come in. He takes great pride in his menu, his décor, and his service to patrons. You can tell he loves what he does and delights in the nice comments he receives about the delicious food he serves.

It reminded me of how special it is to be greeted by an owner of an establishment and to be given that extra special touch that makes coming back so rewarding. Today we read about how people are enamored with the experience they get in almost any type of business. I suppose this is true, and people are certainly focused on how businesses differentiate their operations and activities from others with which they compete. But I sometimes wonder if it hasn’t always been like this to some degree.

I’ve always enjoyed receiving personal attention from the owner or manager of an enterprise. I’ve always appreciated someone remembering me when I patronize an establishment. And I’ve always enjoyed that special feeling of a unique experience when I receive it. I just haven’t always been as conscious of it as I am today.

It’s the little things that make the difference in every business. Take some time today to think about what makes your business special to people. Maybe that will be the difference between running a business and loving what you do.

 

Business Tips:

  • People who lead well inspire us to follow. Such leaders share why they believe what they believe, and people follow because of it.
  • To coach associates effectively, vary your leadership style to what is needed for different people to best follow your advice.
  • The balance between business life and home life is more blurred than ever before. When hiring, be balanced with your questions.

 

Life Tips:

  • The ability to create meaning in your work and in your life, no matter how mundane things can be, is a key to being happy.
  • Instead of retirement, try semi-retirement. Never stop the 4Cs of life: creating, changing, contributing, and caring.
  • Learn to measure your success in life by what you give away. This kind of success produces a life of significance.
Top of Mind: August 10, 2017
August 10th, 2017
by Bill Boyajian

In Pursuit of Retirement?

People dream about the day they’ll retire when life won’t be dictated by early morning alarms, regimented commutes, hassles at work, and limited free time. But retirement may not be all it’s cracked up to be if you aren’t prepared for it.

Most of us need the kind of daily structure that work provides, or at least some semblance of it. And we often derive a great deal of satisfaction and sense of purpose through our work, which can leave a huge void if not filled by something of similar value. Sometimes it depends on whether we are retiring from something or to something.

People who are happiest in retirement already have hobbies and extra-curricular pursuits well before retiring. Now they just have more time to enjoy them. But those who retire and spend the first year traveling, spending time with grandchildren, fixing up the back yard, or cleaning out the garage, are often left with the challenge of what to do next.

We all need a reason to get up in the morning and the opportunity to be constructive with our lives. Why not consider applying some of your considerable talents to helping a nonprofit with a mission and cause you believe in? This will give you a continued sense of purpose and will be good for your psyche, too. You made a difference in your working career. Why not consider making a difference in your retirement?

So instead of fretting about what you’ll do when your career ends, try to figure out how to continue your contribution to society in some meaningful way. Just do it on your terms, not someone else’s. The last third of your life can become the most fulfilling and enjoyable, and much richer that you might imagine. Our future can be more exciting if we find new ways of building upon what we already know and giving back in ways that can be very rewarding.

 

Here are some Business and Life Tips to think about….

Business Tips:

  • Passion is the feeling you have when you are doing what you love. It’s what you would do for free, yet someone pays you for it.
  • You don’t always need a so-called expert to do the teaching. Small groups of peers can learn a great deal from each other.
  • The best way to better your life is to support your friends and colleagues. Try giving more than taking. The return will be greater.

 

Life Tips:

  • Volunteer your time to worthy nonprofits because they need your support. It also makes you feel good to know you’ve made a difference.
  • To say you don’t have time for something is flawed. What it really means is that you have chosen to spend your time elsewhere.
  • Achieving a major milestone can only be accomplished by breaking it up into smaller goals. Small successes lead to bigger ones.

"Bill Boyajian is a leader people follow, with a proven track record of success. He will provide solutions to your biggest challenges and deliver terrific results."

–Howard Herzog
International Jewelers Block Insurance

"A sought after role model, Bill reminds us that how we lead our business has everything to do with how we live a fulfilling life."

– Pam Levine,
Levine Design Group