Finding our way through the work maze to retirement

Business leaders need to create a culture where everyone contributes with passion and where everyone can plan for their future

Finding our way through the work maze to retirementA girl recently told me she wants to quit her job – she doesn’t want to work any more or go to school. “It sounds like you want to retire,” I said. “What would you do with all your time?” “I might want to do some travelling or play basketball,” she said. “I really don’t…

Turning away a sales prospect might be the best thing you can do

Instead of thinking about closing every deal, we should be thinking about creating long-term value

Turning away a sales prospect might be the best thing you can doI recently told a prospective client I didn’t think I could add enough value and wouldn’t take his money for business coaching. I did this even though it would have been a nice-sized account and generate thousands of dollars in revenue. He has 20-plus employees and does $2 million to $3 million in business. But…

The hard knocks of opportunity

If we invested in every opportunity that was presented to us, chances are we would be broke

The hard knocks of opportunityYou’ve probably never heard of Ron Wayne, but had he not sold his 10 per cent share in Apple Computer shortly after it launched, ultimately for US$2,300, he might now be as famous as partners Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. He could now be worth $40 billion. But he isn’t. Joe Green was Mark Zuckerberg’s…

Why an SNC-Lavalin failure would be good for Canada

Canada shouldn't tolerate bullies. And we need to stand firm in the face of business practices we find unacceptable

Why an SNC-Lavalin failure would be good for CanadaWhen I was in secondary school, there was a bully who had to have his way. He figured because he was bigger and stronger than most other kids his age, he should be able to do whatever he wanted. He coerced other kids to do his dirty work and sometimes even his homework. He intimidated…

Waste not, want not and your business will profit

When you need to find savings in your business, look at the areas of systems, energy, people and inventory

Waste not, want not and your business will profitI was eating breakfast with my son Caleb the other day and noticed he left his crusts on the plate. “Caleb,” I said, “do you know how many kids in the world would beg for scraps of food like you’re wasting?” Watching him made me remember my parents’ reminders about the millions of starving children…

The cost of a smile – and the big payoff for your business

People are more likely to buy from those who are smiling. And happy staff solve problems easier than sombre workers

The cost of a smile – and the big payoff for your businessI was in a business recently where I couldn’t buy a smile. You know the type. You walk in and the clerk or receptionist seems to be having a bad day. Maybe you crack a joke or offer a compliment, but there’s no change in the demeanour. You feel awkward, like you’re an imposition to…

The entrepreneurial flaw that leaves money on the table

Too often we're anxious to move on to the next great idea. We don't spend enough time turning the current project into real profit

The entrepreneurial flaw that leaves money on the table“We want you to help us get our business ready to sell,” my clients said. “It’s been three years since we started this business and we’re ready to move on.” “Tell me more,” I said. “Why do you want to sell the business? What are you going to do once you sell this business?” It…

The entrepreneur’s tricky work-life balancing act

Our business problems are difficult to leave behind, especially when the business is tied to us personally, financially or emotionally

The entrepreneur’s tricky work-life balancing actI was in Jose’s office one morning recently and he asked why I hadn’t brought up the business at hand when we were at the ball game a couple nights before. “I didn’t want to bother you with my problem in your off time,” I said. “I figured I would see you at our next appointment…

The biggest mistake most small business owners make

We need to develop systems of hiring and monitoring our employees to ensure we have the right people

The biggest mistake most small business owners makeBob was frustrated, stressed and upset. One of his key employees, Keith, had just left to start his own business and had taken another staff member with him. I wasn’t surprised. I’d been working with Bob for several months and had met Keith several times. My impression wasn’t favourable and I had discussed this with…

The painful – and necessary – lessons that losing teaches us

Losing gives you greater clarity and insight, adds a little humility, and builds resilience

The painful – and necessary – lessons that losing teaches usI’ve been called a loser more than once. Often it’s by my kids, who don’t like some stupid joke I just played on them. But I’ve also made a bucketful of mistakes in my time on this Earth and have lost everything from money to employees to elections to friends. I’ve even lost the trail…

Five things your business could learn from Starbucks

Customer service, exclusive products, ambience, pricing and systems are all important to the coffee giant – and you

Five things your business could learn from StarbucksMy wife Margaret likes Starbucks but when I ask her what she likes about it, she can’t quite put her finger on just what it is. She tells me that the coffee is good (I don’t drink coffee so I wouldn’t know) but I have friends who say that McDonald’s coffee is even better. She…

Your business might be losing money on first impressions

Many companies spend more fixing their mistakes than setting up the systems that could prevent them

Your business might be losing money on first impressionsI want to tell you three stories about first impressions that happened in one recent week. First, my friend Freddy was mad. Freddy took his wife’s car into a dealer and had a terrible experience. The worst thing for the dealer was that it was Freddy’s first time dealing with them. If they were trying…

Sweet music for business: setting goals and reaching them

Establish ways to be accountable and do the same for your staff and the benefits will follow

Sweet music for business: setting goals and reaching themDo you play your guitar at work? In 1988, business was so slow that I would go to my office at the back of our store, close the door, take my guitar out, put my feet up on the desk and start strumming. While it was soothing for the soul, it wasn’t very productive. After…

Can your leadership take your business from good to great?

When leaders work through pain points and create an inspiring vision for the future, companies can thrive again

Can your leadership take your business from good to great?The ice on my neighbourhood skating rink is good but it’s not great, and that’s totally my fault. There have been years where the ice has been fantastic and people from all over the city came to skate on the rink. It even got nominated for best outside rink in the city one year. But…

The year of living to the fullest

By giving the year ahead a motivating label, and keeping that label front and centre, you can achieve great things

The year of living to the fullestA couple years ago, I was invited to speak at a conference where the hosts encouraged the attendees to “name their year.” The purpose was to come up with a name that would inspire and motivate the attendees for the next 52 weeks. When they were finished, people were asked to go to the stage…