Posts Tagged ‘business owner’

Over the last three years, I’ve asked hundreds of business owners this question:

What’s Been Harder in Your Business Than You Expected?

More than 95% of the time, the answer was immediate and unequivocal:

The People!

Jason Colleen owns Colleen Concrete and when I interviewed him he employed about 50 people.  Jason’s response to the question captured the essence of what I heard over and over again.  He said,

“I didn’t expect so many headaches to come from the employees.  Every little problem they have somehow becomes my problem.  People are just so high maintenance.”

Dealing with employees seems to be a universal challenge.  The truth is, people have issues and the more employees you have, the more issues you have.  But there’s another truth as well, and that is:

Great Companies Grow One Person at a Time

Or more precisely, great companies grow one great person at a time.  One of the things I’ve discovered in my own business and in the experience of the owners I’ve interviewed is that you can’t stack enough good people up to make a great one.  Good simply isn’t good enough.  Great people are far more likely than good people to do three things on a consistent basis:

  1. Initiate: Fundamentally, initiative is thought or action that is not prompted by others.  It’s the ability to assess independently and the willingness to take charge before others do.  The soul of initiative is an intensely active engagement – engagement with the company, client, problem or opportunity.  Initiative requires thought, which as Henry Ford said, is probably the hardest work we do.
  2. Stretch: Stretch is about setting your sights higher, much higher, than what seems reasonably achievable. Unless there is a critical mass of people in your company that are willing to reach for incredible, you’ll never achieve incredible.  When you stretch, even if you fall a bit short of incredible, you will inevitably wind up doing better than you would have if you didn’t stretch.
  3. Grow: Employees usually have an expectation that you’ll pay them more next year than you paid them this year.  But why would you?  The only logical reason would be that they contribute more next year than they did this year.  Great employees get that.  They’re always looking for ways to make themselves more valuable.  They improve their skills; they learn how to use new tools; they take classes to expand their knowledge.

That’s what great people look like.  Now, I’m not saying these great people won’t also have some issues.  But if I have to deal with people issues, I’d prefer to be dealing with the issues of highly productive contributors as opposed to the issues of the mediocre, uninspired or disengaged.

Why just TGIF? Why not TGIM?

by Himanshu Jhamb on July 20, 2009

tgimEver wonder why you feel all peppy and refreshed to ‘live and let go’ on Friday evenings and tired and weary on Sunday nights?

How come you never see a facebook status that says “Oh god! Not a Friday again!” or why we don’t have an acronym or a food chain called TGIM?

Here’s a hint: Its got something to do with your thoughts about your immediate future. We, as humans, do not live in our past (though our thinking is surely shaped by our past), neither do we live in the present (which we ought to!); instead, we live in our immediate future… and that’s what shapes our thoughts and feelings.

I’d like to share a story of my childhood, to put things in perspective. I grew up in India and consider myself very fortunate to have lived with my grandparents through my childhood. At that time (this is about 3 decades ago), there used to be many electricity cuts during the hot Delhi summer nights (read 90+ degrees Fahrenheit) and we used to come outside on the front yard with folding beds (something like folding chairs – only, they are beds, instead) hoping for some refreshing breeze. My grandmother, seeing the suffering me and my younger sister were going through, invented a game which she claimed would bring the breeze! Here’s how:

In her own words:

If you keep on naming cities in India that end with the name “pur” – like Jaipur and Udaipur, and keep going, you’ll feel the breeze blow.

I bet you’re thinking: How could this work? Well… it did! Or it least we felt it did! So, what really happened? My grandmother somehow knew that our suffering would be taken care of if we are engaged in a story that helps us think that we can create a better immediate future (the breeze blowing), for us.

Now, apply this to whatever it is you do for a living… you might be an entrepreneur, a business owner or an employee… ask yourself, what story are you in about the future possibilities you see for yourself? Do you see how you can get that ‘cool breeze’ to blow or do you just see it as a mundane task and wait for TGIF!

If you answer this questions honestly, you just might invent 6 more acronyms other than TGIF… or at least take action to move towards creating them!