7 figure partnerships
How would you like a process that can help your people deal with changes faster and easier than you ever thought possible? What if the process not only opened you and your team to endless possibilities but also ensured faster buy-in from all the various stakeholders you impact. I’ve been guiding serving leaders through change for over 20 years, from small startup businesses to family businesses over 100 years old continuing to change to keep up with the many challenges businesses face as they grow and prosper. In one client engagement, I was dealing with a large medical practice. I was assigned a psychiatrist to work with to determine how medical professionals deal with change in high stress specialties. I asked several of my better clients to be involved in the pilot program. This allowed me to explore the topic further and it gave me access to a great team of people who deal with high stress on a regular basis.
I can’t imagine a much more stressful job than running a small or mid-market privately-held business today. I share the best process I found and help you apply it to your life starting today. I use this four step process when dealing with my clients to help them see the possibilities in their life and organizations. The process is called Appreciative Inquiry Method and was originally developed by David Cooperrider, PhD. He has continued developing and evolving the process over the years. Continue reading
In the course of daily business activities, I spend time at various meetings, conferences, and other organized functions where I meet a lot of entrepreneurs. Inevitably, the conversation turns to, “So, what do you do?” I explain that I help entrepreneurs plan and get their businesses ready for sale. I’m amazed how often I get the response, “Oh, I’d never sell my business. My business is my life!” Really? Are you one of those entrepreneurs that started a business because you don’t have a life and this was how to get one? I didn’t think so, either. Entrepreneurs start their businesses for a wide variety of reasons, but here are the four most common ones and how planning to sell your business can help you accomplish them. Continue reading
I’ve been involved in mergers and acquisitions for the past 25 years. I’m always asked how my clients and businesses decide who to buy. Why do they choose to buy certain businesses and pass on others? Sitting in a conference on Succession Planning for Private Businesses last week reminded me of my earliest exposure to mergers and acquisitions, including working with a larger business bought by Berkshire Hathaway back in the mid 80’s and then working in several different divisions within that business. I came away understanding a key component to acquisition success is buying companies with enduring competitive advantage in their markets. This hasn’t changed over the length of my career. I was also involved early in my career with several venture funded buyouts that did not work out for either the acquired and/or acquiring businesses. I wondered why it worked out well for some companies while other acquisitions ended in failure. What made some owners financially successful when they sold their businesses, and others not? Continue reading
First, to attract great advisors, become a great connector. Today there are so many different ways to connect with people that your first real decision is to decide who you would like to have on your team. This sounds easier than it is to accomplish. I always train my teams to start a relationship with a question, not an answer. I learned this from several of my best mentors but it’s all about what you can bring to the other person. If you lead with a humble attitude and a clear understanding of what you want, you will be surprised at who pitches in to help when you ask. You should always be open to making an introduction to others in your network.
Second, do your homework. When you ask for a favor you should know who you asking. Before you pick up the phone or send a formal introduction, do your homework. Take the time to research the person to determine why they should take your call and what you may be able to give back to them. When I first started working with Berkshire Hathaway, I researched Ralph Schey, the CEO of Scott & Fetzer, a subsidiary of Berkshire. I called several friends and told them I was looking for either an introduction to him or a better understanding of who he was. As I began my research, I uncovered several interesting facts that I thought might help me get Ralph on the phone. After reading several biographies of Ralph, I found that I had several direct connections to Ralph. There were three that stood out: He graduated from Harvard, he had a military background, and finally, he owned Kirby Vacuum. I had friends in both the military and at Harvard that would have been happy to introduce me. But I had worked for Kirby. I was one of their top sales professionals in the early 80s and knew that company inside and out. I chose to approach Ralph through a mutual friend at Kirby.
Third, earn the right to an introduction. I approached Ralph Schey only after I went out and met with my friends at Kirby. After uncovering several unique challenges facing them at Kirby, I helped them create a unique solution to their problem. This served as a way of earning credibility. With that credibility, they felt comfortable introducing me to Ralph. Without the earlier success at solving their problem, it might have been awkward pursuing a meeting. With the success and the time spent working with one of his companies, I knew quite a bit about the corporate culture and the unique challenges facing his companies. The lesson here; don’t be in too much of a hurry to build a better connection. The more visible the person is, the more time you might need to invest to begin a relationship.
So how do you build a stronger relationship from the very start of your partnership? A critical element of success is knowing the right person to help your client. You should be able to call on any number of people who can help your client achieve their goals. To do this you must have a strong understanding of what expertise other people have and what roles they are comfortable playing in partnership with you. Over my career I’ve made it a practice to ask every person I talk with a question which allows me to effectively categorize their expertise and what they do best. The question can vary depending on their experience and strengths but I make sure I understand what they are great at. I make a note of that expertise and follow-up on a regular basis to keep up with their careers and lives.
People are always surprised what I remember about them. It helps to take an active interest in their lives.
Now that you know how to get that introduction, how do you become an advisor to those with whom you connect? It’s not just hocus-pocus. It’s a learnable skill. Next week I’ll begin to share with you the steps required to become a trusted advisor to your network and deepen your connections with clients.
Our blog on Tuesday covered how to research a potential big donor. Today’s blog covers how to approach the potential donor.
The third step is the most challenging aspect of building this new relationship because it means to create the actual approach. How might I warm up the call based on what I’ve learned during the first two phases of our system? A warm call is when you have a connection to the person you’re calling, as opposed to a call out of the blue. This part took me the longest time to master but may be the easiest for you. I reverse direction by leading by from behind. I ask the person I’ve identified for help in locating the right person to talk with. Yes, even with all the research I’ve done in advance, I approach the person as if I don’t know a lot about them and their unique needs. I know what you’re thinking, “Why do it this way?” I learned this from a very successful mentor of mine. If you open your mouth, there is always room to insert your own foot, but don’t be afraid that you don’t have enough to offer, your organization does, and so do you. By asking for assistance, you are more likely to get the person you’re calling to relax. You’re also more likely to bring them onto your team more successfully. Asking is a better form of leadership than trying to impress them with all of your research. I look at it as the research we’ve already done is for us. I don’t know about you, but for me having all this research gives me confidence. I feel comfortable and I know I’m prepared if they turn the tables and ask what I know about them and their lives. I’m ready. You just never know when you will be asked.
The two resources I would recommend to get you started are How Today’s Rich Give by Harvey McKinnon, CFRE and The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J Stanley, Ph. D. Both of these books and CDs will help you better understand individuals in today’s society who have accumulated significant wealth and how they see the world. The world has changed a lot since Thomas Stanley wrote his book, but if you’re working with executives or small and mid-size business owners it will help you get a better understanding of them. The CDs by Harvey McKinnon will help you better understand the new wealth that has been created by high growth, technology, and social businesses .These business executives and owners are younger , hipper and just starting to get involved in philanthropy.
In next week’s blog, we will share how to avoid potential landmines in dealing with your new donors and how to maximize their involvement in your nonprofits.
Tripp Braden is a Funding Strategist, working with nonprofits to increase their funding options and optimize their revenues by building on their strengths. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I believe true motivation comes from within. It’s the internal desire to want to do something. Outside influences like fear (you’re fired) or greed (bonus money) last only so long. Therefore it’s not in my power to motivate others. I can encourage and attempt to inspire but I can’t make someone want to do something. Instead, I think motivation operates in reverse. Ideally, once the coach or leader gets to know his team, he develops a love and affection for them, not unlike that of a parent. This causes the leader to try to do anything for his team. His players, picking up on that love and enthusiasm, respond. They then want to please their coach and start performing better. This leads to a continuing upward spiral of success.
A perfect example of this type of motivation is when my daughter Nicole was first placed in my arms after her birth. As a first time parent, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was overwhelmed with love. I remember how impressed I was with her calm demeanor. Everyone at the hospital commented on how alert she was when she was awake, and that has continued to be the case. My love for her has motivated me to do the very best for her, and that’s how it is with my team.
When I first started to coach however, I thought I had the old dictatorial style of motivation all figured out. I marched into practice the very first day and laid down the law. This is the way it’s going to be. These are the rules to follow, which I had written out ahead of time, before ever meeting the players. As I glanced up to see how my message was being received, I saw eyes rolling. It was as if the players were saying, “Come on, Coach. We just want to play chess.” I made the mistake of projecting my goals upon them rather than letting them arrive at them on their own.
So I backed off and started to get to know my players. What a neat bunch of kids! They were smart, funny and individually responded to a wide range of motivators. One size clearly did not fit all. Probably the most satisfying part of coaching for me has been the individual relationships formed with my players over the years. I look at them as life-long friends who I hope will always feel free to get back in touch with me as a mentor, a reference and a friend. I’d go to the ends of the earth for my kids, and I hope they know it.
Eric Nager is an Investment Advisor Representative with Southern Capital Services and the author of “Checklist for Checkmate: 15 Keys to Building a Successful Team” (2012, Southeastern Press), available on Amazon.com. The above is an excerpt. Eric can be reached at email@example.com.
If you’re a nonprofit and you are not using social media, you may be missing a key ingredient to developing stronger relationships with your key stakeholders. It might seem obvious to you, my reader of my blog, that social media is critical to your organization’s long term success in sharing your mission, vision, and values beyond your organization. But, of course, you already know this or you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
I don’t see social media as a standalone process for most of the organizations I work with. It is part of their marketing mix but cannot stand alone and be successful. For many of my client organizations, they have failed to embrace social business as a concept. I find that their failure in social media has come from three key breakdowns. Without these three elements, it’s very difficult to get any traction in your new social marketing efforts. It took me a long time to get the hang of social business, but once I understood these strategies I started seeing results from my time investments.
The first element is that you must reach critical mass before you start to see the results you expect. Now what is critical mass for your efforts? I find that even a small targeted following can insure success on the right social platforms. If you build your following based on similar interests and values, you will begin interaction almost immediately if you provide content that has value to this group. You also must consider who your ideal partner is for your information. Many unsuccessful nonprofits have huge followings with limited engagement with their followers. They send out their messages to the world, but wonder why they have so little interaction with their community. Sending out messages using only one way is like traditional advertising, you need huge numbers to get any results. Try to engage several people every day and you will start to see your messages taking off. Then use different search tools to help find the right people. I could write a blog on this topic alone and still have a lot more to share on the concept of targeting your message and how to influence key people in your causes marketing efforts.
The second element is that you get more by sharing some great information than you do by sharing a lot of average information. People are very busy today and they don’t have time to go through 100 tweets to find a gem. They are looking to find great information for themselves or their fellow peeps. Sometimes they are looking to keep their name in front of others and other times they are looking for a solution to their own questions. Make it easy to find and share your information and they will share it. Learn how to find great material and then share or create it. There is nothing wrong with using others’ content to help build your own credentials and expertise. I have built lasting relationships based on sharing a review or article for a well known author.
The third element is to share others’ information in the spirit of giving, but not expecting to get anything out of every time you contribute. I know that not every I share is brilliant but I appreciate people sharing it with their friends and people in their community. Take time to share others first and after a short time you will begin developing partnerships with key people within your community. They will share your message with others. Some people will never share your message with others. They come from the world of there is not enough business to go around. It’s not true, but they feel they are so important that you can’t live without their wisdom, they may be right and you should still share it with others. You don’t know what future influencers you might meet along the way. I found several of my best guest bloggers in this way.
The bonus tip for today is learn how to keep the spotlight on others and your efforts will be rewarded tenfold. I discovered the more I do for others, the more I get back, not always from the people that you highlight, but by people who appreciate your efforts for the community. When I follow people, I always try to find something of theirs I can share with others. It’s my way of starting the relationship on a positive note. I also use Follow Fridays on Twitter to highlight new people I uncover in my reading to help them build a stronger following. When someone is new to a platform, I try to help them get positive feedback early so they can feel more comfortable sharing with others. I always say it’s a very quiet place on Twitter when you first start out, but providing early support can make all the difference to the new person out there.
I hope this helps you understand several key philosophies behind social media. I will be sharing more in-depth breakdowns to some of the platforms I use and some tips on how to use social to amplify your reach for your cause over the next several weeks. Stay tuned and don’t be afraid to share this!
The recent success of The Avengers has got me thinking about what elements we might use to help our writing get and keep our stakeholders engaged in our causes and, ultimately, our organizations. I will share what Stan Lee’s been doing to engage his readers and viewers for over 50 years. I will also provide tips on how you can use these tools to build long term lasting relationships with your key stakeholders. Now, “Avengers Assemble,” and let see how our team of superwriters can defeat the forces of boredom in our weekly blog.
Tip #1 – Keep your story fresh. How did you get involved in your organization? I bet there is a good reason that you feel so passionately about your nonprofit. For many of us, we’ve been involved for so long we may have forgotten our origin story and how it affects the way we introduce our stories to others. For others, you might even have a finely honed story that shares how you got involved. Has it been updated or are you still using references from the 1970’s? Stan Lee has proven even legends need to be rewritten occasionally if they fall out of context. It doesn’t mean a complete rewrite but updating helps you connect with new people. One of Stan Lee biggest secrets is how he updates the story but maintains the core concept. He has a fascinating writing trick of giving kudos to the people who have been involved in the character for a long time by including small clues only the long term fan would understand, but the new fan will ask about. It’s a great bonding time for the different generations and it provides the glue to engage future generations in discussions. If you’re looking for a great example consider how the Ironman story origin has evolved. Rent the two disk set and watch the movie first. This is a great example of Stan Lee at his best. Then check out the added bonus DVD material to see how this wonderful story has evolved.
Tip #2 – Create a story I can see myself in. The second tip is he creates stories that we can be involved in. His stories could happen in our neighborhood. We can see ourselves in his story lines. He uses emotions to move people through his stories and you should too. He’s very careful to not overdo the emotions. Today, we see much of the advertising yank on emotions. We see so much death and destruction, we almost become immune to the emotions we should be feeling. I see this in many of my client’s most powerful stories. The gifted storyteller uses both positive and negative emotions in the right proportion. If your story becomes a sermon, you risk putting off the readers who really care about your cause. No one wants to be lectured 24/7. Since many of our messages are shared through the social media universe for days, it can be very easy to overdo the negative and forget to include the positive. People don’t mind a rollercoaster, but they need to feel good at the end or they won’t return. You have to set the expectation for return.
Tip #3 – Keep it simple. The final secret of Stan Lee’s stories is their simplicity. I know you’re thinking, “How challenging can it be write a comic or a graphic novel?” I’m not sure if it’s that simple. How do you transition your story quickly, keep people engaged, go viral and then make sure they return for the next installment? When you think about these challenges, you need to make your transitions quick and powerful. Stan and his team do this by using easy transitions and easy to remember lines. Who doesn’t remember “Hulk will smash!!”, “ Avengers Assemble!!”, and “ It’s clobbering time!!” These simple transitions take the reader into the action but also make great tee-shirts. It allows readers to pick sides and easily to relate to their favorite characters or stories. It seems so easy, but it not. It takes planning and repetition, but the payoff is huge.
So what do you take away from today’s blog? Hopefully some new tools and ideas that will make your writing more powerful. It’s critical to understand the three tips we talked about to make your writing easy to enjoy. You have to create drama in your writing and share characters people can relate too. Don’t be afraid to use emotions to help make your points, but be careful not to lean too far in using negative feelings to sell positive change. Finally, simplify your message so that it fits on a tee-shirt or bumper sticker and can be shared easily with others.
Next week, I’ll start writing about one of my favorite parts of our jobs as leaders of nonprofits, how to raise money and awareness for our causes in challenging times. As Stan Lee would say, “Nuff Said!!”
In the last blog we talked about the market forces that are impacting your nonprofit organization today. Serving Leaders face challenges today that were not even thought about five years ago. The rate of change has accelerated and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down in the foreseeable future. We need to create an organization able to engage our patrons and members to create stronger communities and bring in the best partners. If we do this, we are guaranteed an opportunity to grow and prosper. Talk about tough! You can do all the right things for your community and you may be given a chance to continue being part of your members’ lives.
Because of this, I think it’s critical that as leaders we remind ourselves why we do what we do. For many of you, this is a reminder of what you’re currently doing. The problem I’ve seen is that many serving leaders are so challenged on a daily basis they have limited time to create a lasting organization.
I use Jim Collin’s Good to Great Framework to put a common foundation under all of our discussions. There are many leadership models available for us to use but I find the simpler the better. I believe this is one of the reasons Jim’s book sales have exceeded several million copies. The other thought I’d share is if you haven’t read Good to Great, go out and pick up a copy. It’s a great investment and provides you with significantly more information on how to do the things we talk about here on the blog. I was exposed to the Jim’s thinking over a decade ago and it shapes the way I see organizations.
My favorite Jim Collins quote is, “Greatness in not a function of circumstance.” Greatness, it turns out is largely a conscious choice, and discipline. Today that message is more critical than ever before. We are overwhelmed by situations, character challenges and being over communicated to on a regular basis. Leaders who want to provide value to their communities must continue to provide direction while engaging in willful, decisive leadership. The only thing worse than an organization that fails because of lack of courage is one that fails because of lack of purposeful action. Not that I feel strongly about this.
What are you deeply passionate about? As a man with many different passions, I can understand how easy it is to get sidetracked on a regular basis. Many of my better clients have more passions than I do. In the past that may have been okay but today, too many passions lead to diffused messages in the marketplace. When you think about you passions, in what direction to you want to lead your organization? For many new leaders, it’s the first question that must be asked if you hope to lead your team to become a breakthrough organization.
Passions come in many forms but to be an extraordinary organization you must choose what you want to be known for. It must be an active choice and must represent what you and your organization believe because you might need to share it with others who want to join your cause. People are not moved by whispers but by a message that moves them to their soul. In our social media driven world people receive over 30,000 messages every day. Because of all this competition for our attention we have learned to tune out messages without passion and can self select what messages we hear on a conscious level.
We have always put a high level of weight on social proof but today we can find out anything on just about anybody within five minutes using a simple Google search. Your choices on what you share and like tell us how we should approach you, where you are, and connect with you on a personal level. Little things take on significant meaning when you are overwhelmed by others barrage of low cost messaging systems. You must be able to share your passions in a concise manner and in a way that allows others with similar passions to find you. Shared passions play a larger and larger role in your organization’s success. Give me a small band of men and women with passion and I can change the world. In later blogs, we are going to share more how to do this, but for now just remember to start with your passions and purpose in mind.
Our next blog will help you identify your organization’s strengths and how to leverage them to build a great organization. See you next week.
I once heard a speaker use the statement, “I have been sentenced to success!” I heard that almost twenty years ago, yet it still sticks in my head.
Imagine that. What if we had been given a life sentence to serve, say 75 years, and the sentence was to do time in a place called “Success”? The truth is that we have.
Let me back up. We have been given a life sentence. But, unlike a sentencing in a real life courtroom, we get to actually choose where we will “do our time.”
Here are some of the choices people make:
The prison of poverty. Poor people are no better or kinder or anything else than people with money. People are people regardless of how much money they have. Frankly, I have had little and I have had a lot, and yes, I will choose having a lot! When you choose to live in poverty you are in a prison that does not allow you the freedoms we were intended to experience. We are unable to help others as we desire. My advice? Don’t choose a sentence to the prison of poverty.
The prison of depression. Depression is like a blanket that overwhelms you and eventually smothers you. Now before you go accusing me with, “Chris, you just don’t understand.” Yes I do. I have had a history of depression. Depression is rampant in my family of origin. I know firsthand what a prison of depression is. When you are locked up in depression you cannot live life as it was intended. But you can get out! My advice? Don’t choose a sentence to the prison of depression.
The prison of the lack of health. Lacking health is a real pain! The freedom we lose when we choose to live in a state of a lack of health is terrible – and unnecessary! We don’t have to live in that prison. We can choose a different sentence! We can choose health! My advice? Don’t choose a sentence to the prison of the lack of health.
The prison of doubt, worry, and fear. This is a dark, dark prison. It is one that haunts you the whole time you reside there. It makes you believe that the surroundings are worse than the really are. It keeps you from enjoying life and becoming the kind of person you were intended to become! My advice? Don’t choose a sentence to the prison of doubt, worry and fear.
There is another option. You can choose to be sentenced to success! You can choose to actually be set free! You can choose to walk out of that courtroom and live the life that you choose!
What can you experience when you are sentenced to success? How about these:
A career you love
And how will you experience these? By choice. Your choice. You choose exactly what kind of life you will live. You choose the sentence you will serve here on earth and the experience that you have.
Will you languish in a dark prison or in the open freedom that comes from the sentence of success? That depends on the choices you make.
I challenge you to choose this day to:
Pursue financial independence
Develop yourself spiritually
Make a change so you are in a career you love
Re-commit yourself to loving relationships
Achieve emotional health
Make a choice TODAY. Do not spend another day in a prison where you do not belong!
Where will you serve your sentence? You get to decide.
As for me?
I’ve been sentenced to success!
Chris Widener is an internationally recognized speaker, author and radio host. Chris is the author of eight books and audio series as well as over 400 success articles. To learn more or to order Chris’ products, including his newly released book, The Angel Inside (top seller on Amazon.com, The New York Times top 10 list and The Wall Street Journal top 10), or his other books including Live the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of, The Image or Twelve Pillars co-authored with Jim Rohn, or his newest CD series, Twelve Pillars – The Skills You Need to Succeed, or Winning with Influence, The Extraordinary Leaders Seminar go to http://www.chriswidener.com or call 877-929-0439.