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A Business Carol

The Past
A Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas Past leads Scrooge on a journey to some of his past Christmases, where events shaped his life and character. A Business Carol: As a business owner, you reflect on some of your past business decisions that shaped the direction of your company. Dr. Govindarajan: “Box Two involves selectively forgetting the past.” Here you thought we were to learn from history not to repeat mistakes from the past! Partially true. In Dr. Govindarajan’s opinion, “not everything that you do today will be relevant in 2025.” So therein lies the rationale of selectively forgetting the past so that you can remain relevant and prepare assertively for the future.

In the original story “A Christmas Carol,” (first edition 1843) Charles Dickens writes about an old and miserly Ebenezer Scrooge who undergoes a life-changing experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night. The plot goes like this ( “If the experience doesn’t change Scrooge’s ways, he will end up walking the Earth forever being nothing but an invisible and lonely ghost, like his deceased friend Jacob Marley.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about how “A Christmas Carol” parallels much of what we do every day within our businesses. First of all, Charles Dickens himself was a struggling entrepreneurial author fretting over how he was going to pay off his debt when he penned “A Christmas Carol” - all 18,000 pages - in just six short weeks. But this is nothing new on genius spurts because many bright and creative folks produce some of their best ideas under duress. A great mind reacts naturally to dire circumstances: Do something spectacular! And in this case, “A Christmas Carol” was not only cranked out in a limited amount of time but also went on to become one of the most popular and enduring Christmas tales of all time. What’s so remarkable is how this story has become a metaphor for operating a business during our current tumultuous economic times - what I refer to as “A Business Carol.” A related concept that recently caught my attention comes from Dr. Vijay Govindarajan, a professor of international business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. An expert on innovation and strategy, he spoke with The Wall Street Journal (http:// about his theory of how business strategy involves three boxes (hence, the image). The Wall Street Journal article describes Dr. Govindarajan’s theory: “Box One involves managing the present - for example, improving the efficiency of today’s businesses. Box Two involves selectively forgetting the past [interesting twist]. And Box Three … is about creating the future.” I could not help but think of good old Scrooge. But let’s take a further look at how three different perspectives - “A Christmas Carol,” my makebelieve “A Business Carol” and Dr. Govindarajan’s real-life interview with the WSJ - all tie together to help us better understand how to prepare for the economic recovery.

The Present
A Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas Present takes Scrooge through the streets of London on the current Christmas morning. They observe the Cratchit family’s happy celebration. When the Spirit predicts an early death for son Tiny Tim if things remain the same, Scrooge wants to change the future. A Business Carol: You observe the celebrations of the neighboring business and their new product that was launched on a shoestring. When you see signs of an early death for the product if things remain unchanged, you wish to change the future. Dr. Govindarajan: “Box One involves managing the present - for example, improving the efficiency of today’s businesses,” the WSJ article explains. Dr. Govindarajan states that companies tend to focus on this and cost control. “That’s inevitable because, for many companies, sales revenue has dropped by 50%, 60% or 70%. When your sales drop by 70% and you’ve got to maintain margins, you’ve got to cut costs,” he says.

The Future
A Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come frightens Scrooge and haunts him with a vision of a future Christmas with the Cratchit family but without Tiny Tim. 

A Business Carol: You are haunted by a vision of a future in which the neighboring business’s product has failed. Dr. Govindarajan: Box Three is about creating the future, according to the WSJ article. Can you really plan for the future? “You cannot plan for the year 2025, but you can prepare for it,” says Dr. Govindarajan. “Preparing for the future simply involves asking what the broad trends are.”

The End
A Christmas Carol: Scrooge changes his life, becoming more generous with his time and money. A Business Carol: You change your life and revert to the generous, kindhearted soul you were before the death of one of your ideas. You anonymously send the neighboring business the biggest business tip you can think of, and you spend time with employees, independent contractors and the neighboring business. Dr. Govindarajan: Often, “companies spend too much of their time managing Box One - the present - and think that’s strategy. Instead, he argues, companies need to spend more time and energy on thinking about Box Two [selectively forgetting the past] and Box Three [creating the future],” the WSJ reports. There you have it. Three different perspectives, all with a common theme: There is still time to make a difference in our world, to learn from your past yet choose to forget certain parts of it to remain relevant and to make improvements in your life and your business in preparation for a more vibrant future. And remember, just like Scrooge, if you don’t change your business ways, you might end up being nothing but an invisible and lonely business ghost. 

# Business Resilience How to Weather Economic Storms
Tom just learned that his business loan with a big bank won’t be renewed, which means the new business he recently picked up will not be properly financed. Mary discovered her best, longstanding employee stole proprietary information from her company and channeled it to a key competitor. Harry recently received a recap from his project team leader and the projections are 200 percent over budget. What do all these people need? Business resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change (Merriam-Webster online dictionary: Are you resilient? Does it matter? Let’s find out here.

Because living a full life, which may or may not include running a small business, more than likely includes unhappy events. You can either choose to be a victim or become resilient. Choosing resiliency sets you up for some additional challenges, but it also offers a chance to become an even healthier human being or a stronger organization in the process. Long before Elizabeth Edwards wrote the book on resiliency, influential thinker and management guru Gary Hamel ( was already onto it. With Liisa Valikangas, he co-authored, “Quest for Resilience” in 2003 for the Harvard Business Review (electronic download available here for U.S. $6.50: He states, “Continued success no longer hinges on momentum. Rather, it rides on resilience — on the ability to dynamically reinvent business models and strategies as circumstances change.” So let’s take it from there and I’ll share a couple of actions that have worked for me when it comes to business resilience. First, when bad news comes your way, be brutally honest with what’s happening and establish an action plan. There’s nothing worse than pretending a problem does not exist! So, remind yourself to ask, “What’s really going on?” For example, if you lost a big client, admit it. Determine why and what to do about it from here on in. Think: Create a new strategy on how NOT to lose clients! If you find out someone in your firm is stealing trade secrets for the benefit of others, take action. Think: Create a better strategy on how to protect your intellectual property, and decide what you will do if the process is breached. Usually business bumps can be caused by the inability to anticipate what’s ahead. If it’s not a bump but a dropoff, say a pothole, it’s a business process problem or someone is totally “not on it.” Second, if you can bounce back fast, efficiently and effectively in response to whatever bad news comes your way, you can use the new reality as a competitive advantage going forward. Don’t waste time longing for what “may have been.” Take action to build your business more strategically around the new reality. After all, you get a chance to strengthen a weakness, and the faster you move on it, the faster you save dollars spent in the wrong direction. In order to maintain continuous business momentum, respond swiftly to risks or a crisis, as well as opportunities. Third and last, draw strength from the episode. Lately, business assumptions or forecasts are being blown away every nanosecond due to the exceptionally volatile global business climate, but your resiliency allows you to move through it. Though it may be haunting, daunting or even devastating, deal with it in a way that makes you feel good about your business 

Face life’s personal and business adversities head-on.

On a personal level, nobody knows resiliency better than Elizabeth Edwards. She wrote a book about it — “Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities” ( She appeared to live a life of luxury when, over the course of time, she lost her 16-year-old son in a freak car accident, learned about her husband’s infidelity and discovered her own life was on the line when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After rounds of treatment, the cancer went away only to return in 2007. Is Elizabeth Edwards resilient? You bet. Why? Because she just keeps moving forward. Why is it important that Elizabeth Edwards faces adversity head-on? And why is it crucial that you, too, face personal and business adversities head-on?

and your life. And don’t let other people’s disappointments disparage your worth or your businesses’ value. After all, you want to be known for your stellar leadership qualities every day, not just during a time of crisis. Resiliency should live on not just during a one-time crisis or a short ride of tumultuous times, but forever. When is the last time you were resilient? Did it work? Has your business become stronger as a result? Don’t wait for the obvious. Do something different, now. 

# Five People Who Live LOUD
Do you? Wear that pink tie. Color your hair purple. Pursue the passion you love. Ask for the raise you deserve. Start a business. This is no time to be shy, because shy people blend in. You want to live loud - take crazy, calculated risks and keep us guessing at what’s next! When the title of this entry popped into my head, I searched for “Live Loud” on Google and Bing to see who may have been on to this before me. Surprise, surprise. There are only two key listings and both have to do with music: Live & Loud on Wikipedia and “Live and Loud,” a live album recorded by singer Ozzy Osbourne of Black Sabbath (one of my favorite groups, I might add) that was released on June 28, 1993. To me, living loud is about you living your passion boldly without caring what others think while leaving an indelible mark on the world. It’s about your ability to take measured risks for the sake of fulfilling your goals. Let’s examine five people who represent what living loud means:

moment and I own it.” Visit Danica’s website and the first thing you see is a sexy Danica holding her racecar helmet. At the bottom it says, “Choose your experience.” Racy enough? You bet. Living loud? You double bet. Click on normal screen and you are in for quite a ride: Danica racing (first woman to win the Indy Japan 300; http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Danica_Patrick), Danica posing for a “Got Milk?” ad, Danica modeling swimsuits for Sports Illustrated (on the Web) and Danica Twittering away @DanicaPatrick (I’ll let you find out!). The living loud comes at you on all fronts, but particularly in the lyrics of the song that plays on her site: “I live for the moment … (http://www.“ 

. Danica Patrick. “I live for the 

. Tony Adams. “It’s a six-foot tall interactive machine.” That’s what

1. Former President George H. W. Bush. “Don’t sit around drool-

ing in a corner,” says George H. W. Bush, who decided to skydive again ( on his 85th birthday (He jumped on his 75th and 80th birthdays as well). Here’s what living loud means to him: “It feels good. There’s an exhilaration, especially when you start out of the plane. You feel exhilarated. You get charged up, excited. That’s not easy to do at 85. . . and it sends a message all around the globe, just because you are an old guy, you don’t have to sit around drooling in a corner.” And as former President Bush says in his video, “Do something. Get out and enjoy life.” That pretty much sums up living loud.

18-year old Tony Adams ( is into these days. The machine holds 4,000 gumballs and is known as the Wowie Zowie. It’s a show that lives loud, but Tony is the guy with guts behind it - entertainment at its best. The gumball spirals, zigzags, coasts on a Ferris wheel, then drops down the chute. There are graphics and sounds. How can one resist? 

. Nobuyuki Tsujii. “I would like people to listen to my performance

just as a pianist.” Nobuyuki is a blind 20-year-old Japanese pianist who shares the first prize from the 13th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition ( in Fort Worth, Texas. He didn’t have to try for the prize, but he did, so he can claim his live loud moment. About 10,000 copies of his CD “Debut” had been sold since it went on sale a year and a half ago, but the prestigious prize more than doubled that number in just one day. Last I checked, 50,000 copies of Nobuyuki’s CDs have been shipped. 

. Ashton Kutcher. “I make stuff, actually I make up stuff, stories

mostly, collaborations of thoughts, dreams, and actions. That’s me.” That’s what you will find on Ashton’s Twitter page ( Aplusk). But yes, he’s also a famous actor and married to actress Demi Moore so he’s been living loud for quite some time. But the Twitter deal catapulted him over the top when he said he could get one million Twitter followers faster than CNN, and he did ( Why wait for opportunities? Create them. Start loving yourself. Be who you are. Live loud. Tell us how you do it. 

# How A Business Owner Can Sleep Like a Baby During Tough Times
Be scared. You can’t help that. But don’t be afraid. ~ William Faulkner One of the classic ways to find out what is really going on with a business owner or top-level executive these days is to ask, “What’s keeping you up at night?” Being a small business owner and a formally trained facilitator, I decided to take a different approach and asked twenty presidents of small businesses in marketing, interior design, insurance and a variety of other industries what’s allowing them to get a good night’s rest. Here are the highlights of what they shared. 1. Put in a good day’s work. Jumping out of bed, getting to work early, being productive an extra hour or two at the end of a normal day if needed and staying focused and committed to growing the business — these were, of all the pointers, the ones most commonly shared. No one wanted to be seen as a slacker, indecisive, depressed or out of touch with what’s going on in the world. The word “leader” came up in nearly every conversation or email, as did the importance of being looked at as one. 2. Connect with upbeat, enthusiastic, high-energy people who share similar business concerns and offer up a whole host of action-oriented solutions to extraordinary day-to-day problems. One of the things I heard time and time again is that it costs nothing to smile, and oftentimes we forget to do just that (not in a fake way) on a daily basis. When we don’t smile, it can bring a whole operation down into the doldrums — even when it needn’t be. 3. Communicate with the executive team and employees as often as possible to convey what’s going on and the steps that are being taken to keep the company strong. Actively seek input from every paid employee on how to improve the company’s performance while maintaining profit margins. These business leaders are involving everyone in everything, something they said they had not done up until now because they didn’t think the employees needed to know. Well, now they do. Their lifestyle or job is on the line. 

4. Obsess over listening to customers, employees, vendors, colleagues and friends, and actually take action on what is said. The presidents even report back to those who shared their thoughts and ideas on exactly what they did differently because of the information. Of all the tools, this one has helped them the most to sleep peacefully at night. It’s very empowering to everyone. It shows they really care. It humanizes them. And that’s a good thing during a downturn. 5. Emphasize a back-to-basics approach on everything, from how they buy office products to choosing cleaning services (do-it-yourself mentality) to who gets wooed over lunch or dinner for new business initiatives. The key question to ask before spending money is: Do we really, truly need this? 6. Enhance everything they do, from response time to continuous improvement (quality) to total flexibility in how they manage projects. If they did something in fourteen days, they do it now in four days, with half the number of people. If a client says, “We’re not sure if this will be a marketing, advertising or PR push,” they say, “We can be flexible until you decide because we have the expertise to handle all or any one of those areas.” 7. Eliminate unnecessary expenses, from telephone bills (e.g., call waiting, call forwarding) to credit card balances to daily doughnut runs. They are squeezing out every last little penny to keep their organizations as lean as possible. An employee at one of their companies said, “We’ve put the business on a treadmill to trim waste.” No fat, no worries. 8. Learn to not just live with but love uncertainty, the unpredictability of what’s yet to come. There’s a certain strength (oftentimes you don’t even know you have it until in a crisis mode) that comes over you when you acknowledge that this might not pass and could be forever. The business leaders said they look at it this way: It’s not your last dance; it’s your first, so get in step. 9. Reconfigure how to become a more nimble, value-added, innovative product, service or market creator. You can’t get ahead in an environment like this unless you disrupt industries, trends or markets. Their intent is to get out there and fire away with untried and untested ideas. If they don’t work, so what? They said they’d fail fast and move on. The goal is to generate revenue with a profit wherever and whenever possible. 10. Deal with it. Don’t think of surviving. Think of thriving. Action, not words, says it all. Imagine yourself five years from now and where you will be. If you can envision it, you can do it. As Faulkner says, you can be scared, you can’t help that, but don’t be so afraid that you cannot take appropriate action to move your organization forward. Sleep well, dear reader.

# For Advice That’s Never Stale, Pick Up a Classic Business Book
The key to a leader’s impact is sincerity. Before he can inspire with emotion he must be swayed by it himself. Before he can move their tears his own must flow. To convince them he must himself believe. ~ Winston Churchill During a time of such unprecedented economic turmoil and change, lately I find myself visiting my trusty (and dusty, I might add) in-home library of business books, looking for answers and timeless wisdom from influential authors who just might be capable of leading us fearlessly into the future. Out of hundreds of books to choose from, here are five that deserve a spot in any collection of business classics. I’ve summarized the insightful advice I took away from the authors, all business visionaries who helped transform the world with their genius. You will find that most of the advice is more timely, practical and relevant than you could possibly imagine considering today’s economic climate.

• The capacity to exercise a relatively high degree of imagination, ingenuity, and creativity in the solution of organizational problems is widely, not narrowly, distributed in the population. • Under the conditions of modern industrial life, the intellectual potentialities of the average human being are only partially utilized. Advice: During tough times, we must discover how to realize the potential represented by our own people. Learn to manage the most valuable side of your enterprise — the human side. 

. In Search of Excellence ( ) by Thomas

Peters and Robert Waterman, Jr. (1985). In this classic book that went on to become an all-time best seller, the authors unveil the secret to successful business management. The roadblock to success didn’t have to do with ignorance. It had to do with how American corporations tend to be too shortsighted to permit experimentation and innovation — a similar issue we all face with our current economic market condition. Skimming the table of contents of the book provides a healthy dose of solutions to this question: What should we do next to lead our company out of this mess? Part III is titled “Back to Basics.” The subsections include: • • • • • • • • A bias for action Close to the customer Autonomy and entrepreneurship Productivity through people Hands-on, value-driven Stick to the knitting Simple form, lean staff Simultaneous loose-tight properties

1. The Human Side of Enterprise ( ) by

Douglas McGregor (1960). Through his Theory Y view of management, McGregor calls upon us to reassess our assumptions about human behavior in the workplace. Some of his major points in Chapter 4: • The expenditure of physical and mental effort in work is as natural as play or rest. • External control and the threat of punishment are not the means for bringing about effort toward organizational objectives. Man (or woman, to make it more current) will exercise self-direction and self-control in the service of objectives to which he/she is committed. • Commitment to objectives is a function of the rewards associated with their achievement. • The average human being learns, under proper conditions, not only to accept but to seek responsibility. 

Here I see – don’t you? — the eight basic practices the authors find to be characteristic of successfully managed companies. Advice: Get back to basics. Treat people decently, ask them to shine, and make quality products that you can sell for a profit. Even for today’s tough times, that’s a door opener to a future filled with promise. 

. Beyond Entrepreneurship: Turning Your Business Into An Enduring Great Company ( ) by James Collins

and William Lazier (1992). Since the publication of this inspiring, littleknown book, Collins went on to write Built to Last and Good to Great, but Beyond Entrepreneurship is one of my all-time favorites by Collins. It’s about growing a business that has staying power and that can bounce back from difficult periods (like now) stronger than ever. Scan this book’s table of contents and you will find leadership style, vision, strategy, innovation and tactical excellence all essential elements of attain-

ing corporate greatness. Straight from the book: Leadership style: It’s impossible to build a great company without an effective leadership style. It all starts with you. Catalyzing a vision: Every great company has at its foundation a compelling vision. Demystify the topic of strategy: Once a vision is clear, you need to make good decisions and have a road map for making the vision happen. Innovation: How do you stimulate creativity and keep your company innovative as it evolves? Tactical excellence: How to translate vision and strategy into tactics and, most important, how to create an environment that produces consistent tactical excellence. Advice: You can build an extraordinary organization capable of long-term health and success provided you lay a foundation for greatness now and are faithful to your values. It’s based on YOU. Trust people. Be decisive. Set priorities. Walk the halls. Give positive reinforcement. Communicate the vision of your company. Inspire people. And despite, or in spite of, our harsh economic times, continue to move forward with anything new, bold and risky.

outstanding leader who enables a business to flourish. 

. The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done ( ) by Peter Drucker

(1966). He identifies five practices essential to business effectiveness that must be learned. They are: • • • • • Managing time Choosing what to contribute to the organization Knowing where and how to mobilize strength for best effect Setting the right priorities Knitting all of them together with effective decision-making

If you look at what’s going on in the world, the bottom line is this: It boils down to executive effectiveness. Advice: If you read one book this year about how to improve your own effectiveness as a business owner or executive during tumultuous times, this is it. Executive effectiveness can be learned, and there is a difference between being busy and being effective — one of many gems covered in this masterful book. What’s next? Gather your wits, practice everything outlined above, pay attention to your people, collectively come up with solutions, discover there’s a world out there for doing business, declare “we are doing the change we want to see” and keep going. Believe that success, even now, is possible, and by your actions and your attitude, convince others that it’s true. 

. On Becoming a Leader ( ) by Warren

Bennis (1989). According to Peter Drucker, “This is Warren Bennis’s most important work,” and many would not argue with that. The lessons in this book are just what Dr. Economic of the 21st Century would order up for us in a pinch. Examine the table of contents and you will find a recurring theme of understanding the basics: knowing yourself, knowing the world, operating on instinct, deploying yourself, strike hard, try everything, move through chaos, get people on your side and forge the future. Sound all too familiar? It should. These are all the traits and characteristics you need now to lead during a time of great uncertainty. For today’s leaders, according to the book, three things make a difference. 1. 2. 3. Staying with the status quo is unacceptable. The key to competitive advantage will be the capacity of leadership to create the social architecture capable of generating intellectual capital. Followers need from their leaders three basic qualities: direction, trust and hope.

Advice: Manifest the qualities above, says Bennis, and you will become an 

times or bad — growth is always possible, provided you take some precise actions. But before we move on, get over wishful thinking and the dumb tactic routine! Think company strategy on steroids. Are you ready? Because double-digit growth is your decision! Let’s examine the five actions, or disciplines, that Treacy talks about in his book.

1. Hold on to your hats — I mean customers! If you can’t do

that, you are in denial! “One of the easiest ways to improve growth is to slow the loss of your existing customers,” says Treacy. Losing customers left and right? Then figure out why and change course. 

. Get traction with your market share. Poaching your com-

petitor’s customers is no easy feat. “This is the toughest, nastiest way to grow because it requires tearing customers away from a competitor,” proclaims Treacy. All companies must establish a way to either grab market share organically or acquire it with a well thought-out initiative. Go do it. 

. Leverage market position. Treacy refers to it as exploiting

#  Actions For Double-Digit Business Growth
This nasty economy is no excuse to settle for status quo or to not push hard for double-digit (10 percent or more) business growth. This article will give you five action items to get you out of your “hold steady” mode and into high, predictable growth gear with your business. In Michael Treacy’s “Double-Digit Growth: How Great Companies Achieve It – No Matter What (,” he diagnoses a huge problem with this summation: “The truth is that corporate America has a growth problem — a broad, profound, systemic problem that worsens quarter by quarter because of constant denial.” When is the last time you asked, “Am I in denial about what’s going on with my company?” Have you ever wondered what causes a no-growth disease to spread over a perfectly healthy company in the first place? I have. So has Treacy. “Actually, the degeneration of a major company is more often a case of self-destruction than of being lapped by a newer business model. Most decaying enterprises are brought down by their own managers, yoked to wishful thinking and dumb tactics that fail to deliver growth,” says Treacy. Pathetic but true. So whether you run a small business or a Fortune 500 company — in good

market position rather than leveraging it, but with the advent of social media and networking platforms, it’s more about leveraging what you have right in front of you to get the biggest bang for your buck. Treacy declares, “Show up where growth is going to happen to achieve the easiest growth.” Still not on Twitter? According to Treacy’s theory, you’re blowing it. 

. Move into new markets. Can you build or acquire additional

capabilities on an as-needed basis? These new markets can be adjacent, emerging or overseas, but only “if you have practical and immediate advantages there,” adds Treacy. Have you thought about going global? What’s stopping you? Somebody in another country is probably yearning for your product or service because they need it. 

. Commission new lines of business. When opportunity strikes

and it’s unrelated to your core business, “you need the skills of an investor more than those of a manager,” Treacy emphasizes. Your top marketing manager isn’t going to know whether the acquisition of ABC Company that’s up for sale is a good fit for your company, but a competent CFO or independent investment banker will.

Regardless of the economic environment, growth is possible. You may be practicing only a few of the above disciplines to keep your business strong and on the path toward double-digit growth. But by carrying out all five, you are guaranteed to pull ahead of the pack.

# Turning Limes to Limeade: Entrepreneurship Can Surface in Many Ways
Lots of entrepreneurs get off to a rocky or humbling beginning yet go on to become wildly successful. Here’s a glimpse at five who, despite their early challenges, managed to make their own way in life. We can learn from their endeavors and find opportunities in the unlikeliest places.

perform recitations. From age 6 to 13, she lived in Milwaukee with her mother. After suffering abuse and molestation, she ran away and was sent to a juvenile detention home at the age of 13, only to be denied admission because all the beds were filled. As a last desperate measure, she was sent to Nashville to live under her father’s strict discipline. At 17, Winfrey’s broadcasting career began. She was hired by WVOL radio in Nashville, and two short years later signed on with WTVF-TV in Nashville as a reporter and anchor. She headed for Chicago in January 1984 to host WLS-TV’s “AM Chicago,” a near hopeless local talk show. In less than a year, she turned “AM Chicago” into the most popular show in town. The format was soon expanded to one hour, and in 1985 it was renamed “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” When Forbes magazine published its list of America’s billionaires for 2003, it revealed that Winfrey was the first African-American woman to become a billionaire.

1. Start a juice stand. As a

young boy growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, Steve Case (http://; demonstrated his undying entrepreneurial spirit by starting a juice stand with his brother using limes grown in their backyard. He and his brother Daniel went on to share a paper route, sell seeds and magazine subscriptions and start a company they called Case Enterprises. Case eventually worked for Procter & Gamble and while traveling, tinkered with the personal computer, which back then was considered a novelty device. He became intrigued with the possibilities of the online world. His brother Daniel, who had become an investment banker, introduced him to the directors of Control Video, a struggling computer game company. They offered Case a job as a marketing assistant on the spot, and he took it so he could pursue his vision of an interactive world of computer-based communication and entertainment. In 1989, Case created his own branded online service named America Online. Quantum Computer Services, a company Case had founded and was running, changed its name to America Online, Inc. in 1991. Case now devotes much of his time and energy to philanthropic activities. 

. Develop an independent streak. At nine months, Larry Ellison

(; contracted pneumonia, and his unmarried 19-year-old mother living in New York gave him up to her aunt and uncle in Chicago. Until he was 12 years old he did not know he was adopted. As a boy, Ellison showed an independent streak and often clashed with his adoptive father. From an early age, he showed a strong aptitude for math and science. During the final exams in his second year in college, Ellison’s adoptive mother died, and he dropped out of school. He enrolled at the University of Chicago the following fall, but dropped out again after the first semester. His adoptive father was now convinced that Ellison would never make anything of himself, but the seemingly aimless young man had already learned the elements of computer programming in Chicago. He took this skill with him to Berkeley, California, arriving with just enough money for fast food and a few tanks of gas. For the next eight years, Ellison bounced from job to job, working as a technician for Fireman’s Fund and Wells Fargo bank. As a programmer at Ampex, he helped build the first IBM-compatible mainframe system. In 1977, Ellison and two of his Ampex colleagues founded their own company, Software Development Labs. They went on to win a two-year contract to build a relational database management system (RDBMS) for the CIA. The project’s code name: Oracle. They finished the project a year ahead of schedule and used the extra time to develop their system for commercial applications. They named their commercial RDBMS Oracle as well. In 1980, Ellison’s company had only eight employees, and revenues were less than $1 million, but the following year, IBM itself adopted Oracle for its mainframe systems, and Oracle’s

. Read aloud and perform recitations. Born in Kosciusko, Mis-

sissippi, Oprah Winfrey (; and was reared by her grandmother on a farm where, at the age of 3, she started building the foundation for her broadcasting career by learning to read aloud and

sales doubled every year for the next seven years. The million-dollar company grew into a billion-dollar company. Ellison renamed the company Oracle Corporation, for its best-selling product. Oracle went public in 1986, raising $31.5 million with its initial public offering.

original animated cartoons, and later perfected a new method for combining live-action and animation. In 1923, Disney left Kansas City for Hollywood with nothing but a few drawing materials, less than $50 in his pocket and a completed animated and live-action film. His brother, Roy Disney, was already in California, with an immense amount of support and $250. Combining their resources, they borrowed an additional $500, and constructed a camera stand in their uncle’s garage. Soon, they received an order from New York for the first “Alice Comedy” feature. The brothers began their production operation in the back of a Hollywood real estate office two blocks away. Mickey Mouse was created in 1928 with his first sound screen debut in “Steamboat Willie,” the world’s first fully-synchronized sound cartoon. In 1940 construction was completed on the Burbank Studio, and in 1955 the Disneyland Park opened. What lessons can you learn from these global entrepreneurial icons who changed the face of American culture? In going after a dream, exercise unbridled enthusiasm until you achieve it. So do something unusual to manifest your own latent entrepreneurial capabilities: start a juice stand, backpack to India or sell a sketch to a neighbor. You never know where it will lead. 

. Backpack through India. Steve Jobs (

wiki/Steve_Jobs; was born in San Francisco to Joanne Carole Schieble and Abdulfattah John Jandali and adopted by Paul and Clara Jobs. He spent his childhood in the South Bay area, a region that would later become known as Silicon Valley. During high school, Jobs held a summer job at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto before attending college. His original association with Steven Wozniak began as a result of attending lectures and working at HP. Although he attended Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Jobs never graduated, having spent only about six months at college. He returned to California in 1974 and began attending meetings of the Homebrew Computer Club with his friend Wozniak. At the same time he took a job at Atari to save money for a spiritual retreat to India. While working there he discovered that a popular whistle recreated the tones needed to make long distance phone calls with AT&T. Jobs convinced Wozniak to go into business with him to make blue boxes and sell them to people desiring to make free long distance phone calls. Jobs ended up backpacking through India but returned to work with Atari. He continued to work with Wozniak on other projects and finally convinced him to market a computer Wozniak had built for himself. On April 1, 1976, Apple Inc. was born. Jobs has grown Apple from a company bordering on bankruptcy in the 1990s to a very successful company today. He has helped establish the new electronic divisions and personally helped create the iPod, iPhone, and other personal devices. 

. Sell sketches to neighbors. Walt Disney (
wiki/Walt_Disney; was raised on a farm near Marceline, Missouri, and became interested in drawing at an early age, selling his first sketches to neighbors when he was only 7 years old.

In 1918, Disney attempted to enlist for military service. Rejected because he was only 16 years old, Disney joined the Red Cross and was sent overseas, where he spent a year driving an ambulance and chauffeuring Red Cross officials. His ambulance was covered, not with stock camouflage, but with drawings and cartoons. After the war, Disney returned to Kansas City, where he began his career as an advertising cartoonist. In 1920, he created and marketed his first

stand or how you can be of further service. Call those you are comfortable calling. Email those who prefer that method of communication. And socialize online with the rest (Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, et al.). Offer something new or different that they didn’t know they wanted and that can’t be refused. After all, you want to grab more sales. Take more market share. Grow. 

. Increase your marketing efforts. We keep saying this over and

over again here at OPEN, but let me repeat in case you don’t get it: launch a blog, get on Facebook, YouTube, My Space, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Most of these platforms are free to set up. The goal is to make it very easy for people to find you on the Internet, and this is the most economical and easiest way to do it. Hiding out in your office makes it very difficult for people to find you! 

. Join a peer group. Generally in a peer group, the people are equal
in power but bring different perspective and expertise to the table. For example, my solace is the Women Presidents’ Organization (, a peer advisory group that comprises women presidents who have guided their businesses to generate at least $2 million in annual sales (or $1 million for a service-based business). We help each other grow our businesses. The investment more than pays for itself by the war chest of resources, information and knowledge shared each month. (Disclosure: I serve as the facilitator Chair for the Chicago market). But there are other peer groups that may serve you better. Do a Google or Bing search on “peer-to-peer” or “peer groups” to see what comes up in your local area. And don’t forget about SBA’s SCORE (www., which offers free online and face-to-face business counseling, mentoring, and training. It is a great resource for helping you start and grow a business.

# 11 Tips to Help You Thrive After Losing Your Biggest Client
Theresa just lost her biggest client, one who generates 80 percent of her company’s total revenue. She’s been in the branding business for six years. In response, she can hide in her office and wait for the phone to ring or she can take swift action. Some of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs during difficult times are maintaining an upbeat attitude and being action-oriented even when the chips are down. That feeling of a business going in reverse is not fun. What should Theresa do? What would you do if you were in her shoes? Certainly not despair because plants even grow in sidewalk cracks. Here are 11 tips that ought to help Theresa, or you if you ever find yourself in a similar situation. 

. Set up an Advisory Board (AB). It costs little or nothing to get

1. Call the client. It can’t hurt to check in one more time to make sure

there isn’t something you missed, such as asking the right questions, offering extra value on proposals already in the pipeline, renegotiating existing proposals to increase their value or offering to serve as a consultant one-on-one and on an as-needed-basis. You want to leave the door wide open for when they are ready to come back or refer or recommend you to someone else. And don’t forget to ask for a testimonial for the work you have done well over the years (or recommendation on LinkedIn) if you haven’t already! Post it on your website or blog.

started (revisit Anita Campbell’s excellent article here: ABs work brilliantly when the board establishes a specific purpose and members are asked to contribute ideas or industry information on an objective and consistent basis. It is also best that members meet each other regularly to share best practices, swap industry standards, network and put forward recommendations. A company that is working in global website hosting, for example, may develop an AB made up of highly specialized programmers and designers. Start with who you know (big names help) and trust and then focus on what you want to know. Encourage diverse perspectives and skills that complement your own. 

. Buy a brightly colored punching bag. When the going gets tough
you are going to need it to let off steam (hand-to-hand combat works wonders for releasing anxiety) so I wholeheartedly suggest you invest in

. Contact existing and prospective clients to see where things

a punching bag and protective gloves (so you don’t hurt yourself!) to take a few swings when all else fails. Gives you time to think and get hardy at the same time. If you can’t find a smart, colorful bag, outsource it and start a business! 

. Host a conference call with your key customers, prospects or raging fans. Start with (maximum size is 150 call-

ers). Give your base one hour a week of your valuable time on the house! Start small with 25 people, see how it goes and grow it from there. Sure beats a podcast where you do all the talking (educating) and participants just listen. A conference call engages your constituency base, keeps you alert, allows YOU to listen and address questions as they arise and helps you stay at the pulse of what matters. Always end the call with, “Thank you for joining us and how can I help you going forward?” 

. Seek out happy times with people who enable you to be your happiest. Maybe it’s your yoga instructor, massage therapist, best friend,
partner, spouse, parent, pet, executive coach, psychologist, sister, brother, local bartender — whoever it is that makes you bust out laughing more often than not — reach out to them constantly! Feeling good is a powerful motivator to doing good. Laughter is the best remedy for just about all ailments. 

. Emulate those you admire the most for their great leadership skills. There are people who keep going even under the most direful cir-

cumstances. Why? How do they do it? Tap into that power (take them to lunch!) to keep your spirits up and your energy high.

10. Hang a picture in your office that reminds you of what is really important in your life (your family, pet, Harley, whatever).
This ensures you maintain focus, clarity and a sense of purpose as you move forward. I have several nicely framed family photos sitting atop a file cabinet in bird’s eye view of where I work. They remind me each day of the wonderfulness in my life.

11. Put up a sign that forces you to laugh and take action whenever you feel you are at your wits end! Behind my office door, dis-

creetly tucked underneath a jacket, reads: “Don’t let the !@*%!-ard’s get you down!” I look at that whenever my chips are down and I need a dose of “get going medicine.” Cowering in fear waiting for the phone to ring is not the solution to a problem. It is the problem. Brush up on the tips above and you just might find the solution you are seeking.


things differently and making things happen in a very restricted economy. Let me explain. I just returned from Evian, France, where the World Entrepreneurship Forum (, the first worldwide think-tank dedicated to entrepreneurship and its role in society, took place. The forum brought together more than 80 participants, representing 35 nationalities, of the highest level: entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, political decision-makers and international experts. The central theme of the forum was “Entrepreneurship as a creator of economic wealth and social justice,” and attendees came away with recommendations for how we can create a more favorable environment for entrepreneurship, how we can assess the actions taken by entrepreneurs and how we can better train the entrepreneurs of the future. Throughout the entire rigorous two-and-a-half day program, never did I hear a word about how bad the economy is. Our focus was on creating an environment in our world where every citizen has a chance to become an entrepreneur — in good times or bad — and ensuring improved economic conditions for all. Why? Because it’s the entrepreneurs and small businesses in the world that will lift us up to a new and improved global economy. Whether it is through client work at my own business (www.globetrade. com), membership in the World Entrepreneurship Forum ( or serving as a facilitator for women presidents of multimillion dollar enterprises (, here’s what I’ve heard many entrepreneurs and small business owners saying repeatedly about what they are doing to dodge the economic crisis: 1. Be resilient. You can’t predict the future, but you can make a plan with a lot of good built-in choices and adjust along the way to accommodate circumstances. When things stabilize, you will be in good shape to go full speed ahead — on something. Keep things simple. Don’t over-commit or over-strategize on projects or ventures where only a rocket-scientist can decipher what’s going on. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) theory applies more than ever now. Create new avenues of growth. Stop heading down the same dead-end path and start a new one (for example, going global) that achieves more favorable results.

# 1 Ways to Dodge An Economic Crisis
I sure am tired of hearing and reading about the global financial crisis. Why just Thursday The Wall Street Journal headline was: “Market’s Fall Deepens as Concerns Mount on Banks.” Yes, it’s a reality — we are in an economic crisis and the flow of capital to grow our businesses stinks — but we don’t have to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. What should you be doing to deal with this situation? My advice is to stay as far away as possible from negative, can’t-make-it-happen kind of folks. Hang out with like-minded global entrepreneurs and business owners who are on a mission to change the world — crisis or no crisis, money or no money. And believe me, it’s these kinds of individuals who are doing





6. 7.





12. 13.




Start a new company. Focus on a new beginning as opposed to meeting payroll. People will be hungry to work with you during a slow time. Tighten all controls, but don’t turn into a control freak. Be mindful of metrics and how to track results but give enough freedom that people can feel empowered to get things done. Bill in advance, during and afterward on all projects until funds are in the bank. Cash flow is what keeps you in business. Keep morale up. Communicate as best you can and as often as possible with your employees and stakeholders about the health of the company and the impact the global economy has on it. Work smart to stay lean, mean and strong so that when the tide turns, you are in a healthier position to take on new initiatives — together. Terminate underperforming business units, divisions, product lines or service offerings. Don’t let pride get in the way of taking action on things that, if not treated, may deteriorate the entire organization. Rediscover your balance sheet and P&L statement. Take stock of actual sales versus projected sales and where you stand financially this year compared to last year on sales and profits. Do better work. Mediocrity is not sustainable during a downturn. Exceptionalism will become the norm and a way to set yourself apart from competitors. Look for value. Buy real estate, stocks, companies or cars, for example, or, if the price is right, rent that space you always dreamed about. Cut costs. But not so much that you can’t obtain prosperity. Trim the fat and nurture what’s left to get as lean as possible. Invest in social capital ( capital). Launch social media and networking platforms to make connections within and between social networks as well as connections among individuals to foster a sense of common good and community. Learn how to sell. Prior to tough times, some business owners stopped going out on business calls because they preferred to focus on big picture thinking. Not anymore. CEOs now go on calls to impress big clients and teach everyone else in the organization the importance of generating revenue for the firm. Lead in a new way. Be the change you want to see within your organization. Pretend you have just been brought in to the company. Make tough decisions that you were afraid to make before difficult times to illustrate newfound leadership skills that employees can be proud to imitate. Don’t be a wimp. What I mean by that is, never let the com1

pany’s problems or your bosses’ or your colleagues’ problems become yours. Yes, times are tough, but show courage under fire. If you do, you will be first up for a promotion after the dust settles. So, while others are lamenting the state of the economy, you can take these steps to overcome the crisis and strengthen your business and the world.

#10 Questions for the Author of “Rules of Thumb”
Allow me to get this off my chest right off the bat. I have had a major intellectual crush on Alan M. Webber ever since he wrote a gem of a book called “Going Global,” ( which was light years ahead of its time on the subject of globalization (published a decade earlier than Thomas Friedman’s classic bestselling book “The World Is Flat”). Ever since then, I have both admired and deeply respected Alan’s work from afar. Considered one of the brightest minds, you’ll understand why after you read his interview. For those of you who are hearing about Alan for the first time, he is former editor and co-founder of Fast Company Magazine, former editorial director and managing editor of the Harvard Business Review, a columnist and author of a new book, “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self” (http://tinyurl. com/qyvmv9). It is hands down one of the best and wisest business books I have ever read. Alan doesn’t believe in spin for the sake of spin to get the word out on his book. If he did, it would have hit the best-seller list overnight. Instead, he relies on folks like me to tell the truth and slowly put the good word in. That said, if I had a bottomless piggybank, I would gift this book to everyone I know so they could reflect on it and become a better and wiser person. It’s a must-read. I set out to ask Alan critical questions relating to how his book came about. Here’s our interview:

business, government, or organized religion. When I got home from that, I realized that we all need to be moral leaders, and that we need to devise a way to create a conversation about the kind of future we want to create together. “Rules of Thumb” is my invitation to that conversation. 

. Who did you write it for?
I wrote it for my children, of course, and also for anyone who is looking to learn, to teach, to grow, and to perform as a leader and a person during this time of enormous uncertainty and transition. 

. What’s the gist of it?
I suppose the gist of it is that we all need to pay attention to the new rules of work and life; that the world is changing and we are all responsible for how it changes — and to guide our own lives, our companies, our families, and our communities in a direction that makes sense, that works, that has positive results, and that is sustainable. 

. What will readers learn from reading the book?
Readers will learn how I see the world; how to begin to see the world for themselves with fresh eyes; some things about leadership, creativity, innovation, that could help them as they find their own way in the world. 

. If there is one rule of thumb you had to live by, what would it be and why?
Rule #52, the last one I wrote tells us all to pay attention — there are teachers everywhere. If we pay attention to what we’re doing, to who we’re meeting, to what is actually going on around us, we’ll all make better choices, have a greater awareness of what matters, and be more alive to the possibilities in life and in work. 

. According to your book and your own life experience, what is the recipe (key ingredients) to becoming a great leader?
Being an active listener; a passionate and involved person; a person with high standards and moral clarity; being focused on things that really matter; caring about more than just yourself.

1. Why did you write “Rules of Thumb”?
I wrote “Rules of Thumb” after giving a speech to a CEO and his executive team on leadership. At the end of the speech, the CEO asked his team to name one person in America with “moral leadership” — the kind of person you’d follow based on their character and life-view. The entire room was silent for about 5 minutes. No one could think of a single name — not in

. How will your book change our world for the better?
Ah, good question! By telling the truth, I hope! 

. Where can people go to learn more about “Rules of Thumb”? Thank you, Alan, for sharing your wisdom. Now, to all of you: What’s the rule of thumb that you live by? Share here or go here ( to add to the conversation.


Ever hear the expression “Fake it until you make it”? According to Wikipedia (, it means to “imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence.” Some folks live by it. 

. Discipline.
You’ve got to be organized, detail-oriented and a self-starter. When you’re carving out your own path, you can’t expect round-the-clock guidance, so don’t rely on anyone except yourself. Creating disciplined business processes as well as clear goals and objectives are vital to track and to understand eventual success. Take the recent movie “The Providence Effect (,” about Providence St. Mel School in Chicago, where President Paul Adams III has managed to break the cycle of poverty and give poor children the same opportunities as wealthy ones by practicing one old-fashioned high-performance trait: Discipline. Without it, he says, you can’t get a student’s attention.

#11 10 Traits of High-Performance Leaders
Achieving high performance in tough times is a serious challenge small business owners face. The ultimate goal may be extraordinary business performance, but you can still get comfortable and slip into mediocrity. To obliterate status quo, do you have what it takes to become a high-performance leader? Ten traits characterize the people who do. 

. Imagination.
There are people who have an imaginative scope and natural creativity, but to be creative in every situation takes an unbelievable amount of energy. Imagination, creativity and innovation are all vital to thriving in your business, especially now more than ever during turbulent economic times. Creative genius Walt Disney said: “I can never stand still. I must explore and experiment. I am never satisfied with my work. I resent the limitations of my own imagination.”

1. Positive attitude combined with energy!
According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter (, “Some people become leaders no matter what their chosen path because their positive energy is so uplifting. Even in tough times, they always find a way.” And the nice thing about this form of energy is that it is potentially abundant, renewable and free, says Kanter. Focusing on the good in any situation doesn’t mean you’re naive. It means you don’t want to waste time on negative thinking. Taking the constructive approach — seeing what your options and resources are, and making use of them fast — will always get you somewhere. 

. Initiative.
The more ambitious and innovative you are, the greater the need to take inspired action and make something happen. Without initiative, ideas go nowhere. 

. Emotional intelligence.
You can be smart as a whip but if you don’t know how to handle tough conversations with sensitivity, you won’t last long with colleagues, employees or peers. Everyone is looking for authenticity, transparency and purity of the heart and mind. When it comes to life’s sticky moments, get unstuck. Learn a different way to be smart. Author Daniel Goleman gets it ( Do you?

2. The two Cs: Courage. Confidence.
Courage: To grow, you must face painful issues, conquer your fears and confront adversity head-on. More often than not it can take more courage to walk away from a situation than to leap into the fray. Moving forward at any pace when you’re dealing with the unknown takes courage, so apply it in everything you do. Confidence: Even if you don’t know what you’re doing, act as if you do.

. Patience.
In the global marketplace, pursuits take time, and your patience — the ability to endure under difficult circumstances — will be tested time and again. Riding out the highs and lows of running a business leaves an in-

delible mark on your mind about how you must learn to practice patience. It is a virtue. 

. Perseverance.
Keeping up the struggle when there is no tangible benefit in sight takes perseverance. Think along the lines of one of my favorite quotes by William James: “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” Isn’t that the truth? 

. Purpose.
Where are we going? How do we get there? Stick to what you stand for, get everybody on board and don’t forget that you will have to face yourself and live with your decisions every day. Take a time-out right now and ask yourself: What’s my meaningful sense of direction for the company, with precise strategic goals that can be measured?

10. Trust.
To become an effective, high-performance leader you must earn the trust and confidence of others. Once trust is established, keep it, maintain it and guard it because it is a gift that should never be taken for granted. To foster trust, meet with clients, employees, colleagues and other key influencers. Face-to-face contact is important — it builds trust. Show people you are paying attention and that you care deeply about the health of your relationship. Highlight best practices, be honest in your dealings and do what you say you are going to do, no ands, ifs or buts. Becoming a high-performance leader doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a slow process that requires thought, discipline and lots of hard work. A little dose of humor helps, too. Small businesses have always been known to combine a vision of the seemingly impossible with a plan to shape the future and make things happen. Put these 10 traits into action, and you could fulfill your own version of the ideal, fully developed high-performance leader. 


cause I prefer to maintain my reputation as being trustworthy). I had the help of the 2009 Edelman Trust Barometer ( trust/2009/). The report highlights why trust is down. Government bailouts, the near implosion of the American auto industry and PSGW (Ponzi Schemes Gone Wild) are some contributing factors. So I decided to check in with six of my trusted colleagues to get their thoughts on why trust matters and how they build it. Here’s what they said:

1. Marilynn T. Mobley, Senior Vice President, Strategic Counsel, Edelman
(; author of Baby Boomer blog (; United States Trust must be earned every day and yet it can be destroyed in a single day. ~ Marilynn Mobley

#1 How To Build Trust
With the current market condition of tight credit, the escalating cost of doing business and the ubiquitous Internet, global competition is hot and crowded. And what’s one of the issues that keeps surfacing? Trust. That’s what this entry is all about: Why trust matters and how to get, keep and maintain it. It’s the one thing we need and want, yet it’s so hard to get and keep. But why? Case in point. While running a global small business, I meet a lot of people via email, on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, through our blog and at conferences, and I think I can trust them. (Why not? There’s no reason not to until proven otherwise.) But in most cases, I probably should not because I have no history with them. With the Internet, anyone can claim to be an expert in anything at any time. Competitors are everywhere on the planet, but can they be trusted? How do you distinguish yourself from them? How do you prove to the world that you are the real deal and can be trusted? To me, a trustworthy person is someone who is totally authentic, transparent in their dealings, has a strong sense of who they are (a noticeable sense of purpose), takes responsibility on things (no excuses, just results), and always does what they say they are going to do. Is that what you look for, too? Since this notion is so prevalent globally, I declare the next new trend or deliverable in 2009 will be trust. But I can’t take total credit for it (be1

Trust is one of the most important factors in determining a person or company’s reputation. When people believe you will always do the right thing, that you’re transparent and forthcoming, they want to do business with you. The companies that are most trusted are those that truly engage with their customers. They listen to them, act on suggestions, look for opportunities to support causes that matter to them, and focus on continual improvement. Trustworthiness can’t be faked. It isn’t something you do — it’s what you are. Trust must be earned every day and yet it can be destroyed in a single day.

2. Dara K. Griffith, CPA, CMA, CFM, Director, Entrepreneurial Services
Group; Co-Director of Women’s Leadership for the Great Lakes Economic Unit of RSM McGladrey, Inc. (; United States Having the courage to say “I don’t know” can sometimes create trust more effectively than having the instantaneous answer. ~ Dara Griffith It is important to be technically competent in order to create professional respect in my line of work. But to create trust with a client, it is even more imperative not to feign expertise. My clients trust the accounting advice that I give them because they know that if I do not personally have the answer, I will find the expert in our firm who does. Attempting to talk around an issue or give less than accurate information will quickly diminish any trust that you have built. I learned this valuable lesson several years ago after a job interview. I was told that my sincere answer of, “I don’t know what that is, but I do know where to research it,” was refreshing. It was the final factor in their decision to give me the offer. Having the courage to say “I don’t know” can sometimes create trust more

effectively than having the instantaneous answer.

3. Paul A. Dillon, CMC, President/Owner, Dillon Consulting Services LLC (; United States
Trust is not a one-night stand. ~ Paul Dillon In my more than thirty-five years in business, government, the military, academia, and the non-profit sector, here is how I’ve earned the trust of companies, colleagues, and clients:

Also, I go out of my way to make people feel professional, and I never try to gain an advantage at someone else’s expense. I feel there is plenty of room for everyone to be successful — it’s not a zero sum game. Unfortunately, we live in a time when people think it is perfectly OK to just blurt out some utterance about how they just absolutely hate something, or they harshly criticize someone on the Web, using words and a tone they’d never use if they were speaking to someone one-on-one. I would not like to be on the receiving end of such statements. I would feel blindsided. Anyone would. So I try hard to temper my own statements so they are more thoughtful and measured. I just try to cut people some slack. Don’t we all deserve a little slack, some common courtesy? Now the big question: Do I always succeed? No, I’m not perfect. I just do the best I can.

Do what you say you’re going to do. Nothing builds confidence in

your trustworthiness more consistently and unfailingly than doing what you’ve said you’re going to do. And, conversely, nothing destroys people’s perceptions of how trustworthy you are than failing to live up to your commitments.

5. Patrick Molle, President, EMLYON Business School, educating entre-

The truth shall set you free. Speak the truth, as you see it, forcefully
and clearly. Don’t pander. Don’t worry about not being politically correct. Don’t worry about what other people might think. You can do this without being offensive, and people will see that you are worthy of their trust.

preneurs for the world ( aspx); Founder, World Entrepreneurship Forum (; France (Total disclosure: I am a member of the World Entrepreneurship Forum) When in doubt, I use time, personal intervention, and feedback to assess the extent of trust I will give. ~ Patrick Molle The way I maintain trust in business is by focusing both on results and on continuous development. • Results: My conviction is that trust builds up every day and needs to be regularly nourished by concrete evidence that the partnership is working. • Continuous development: By setting higher targets all the time and sharing new dreams with our partners, I try to conduct a movement forward that attracts, retains and commits partners to support us. Trust can be challenged, and crises might arise: I consider it a normal part of life. I do not try to avoid them, and I sometimes create them to clarify a situation. My experience shows me that, by holding position, even going through turbulent and difficult phases, these kinds of situations help me identify who I can or cannot really trust. When in doubt, I use time, personal intervention, and feedback to assess the extent of trust I will give.

It isn’t about you; it’s about them. This is the hardest part. In all of

my working years, I have met only a handful of people who are truly committed to the welfare of others, even at their own expense. Most people are much, much too selfish. But, demonstrating to people that you put them first is absolutely critical to building trust and confidence in your ability to lead. You want to be somebody people would follow to a place where they wouldn’t go by themselves.

Trust is not a one-night stand. It takes years to convince people that
you are truly worthy of their trust and confidence. It is something that is built up slowly and consistently over a long time. So, get started now.

4. Anita Campbell, Editor, Small Business Trends (www.smallbiztrends.
com); United States To instill trust, I try to treat people as I would like to be treated. This shows up in ways big and small. ~ Anita Campbell One thing: I never quibble over minor sums of money — just pay it. For instance, when I pay via PayPal, I try to include an additional sum to cover any PayPal fee that may be charged to the recipient. It makes a nice difference to the recipient and costs me relatively little. I also stand behind whatever I say, even if it is about something I spoke hastily about and later regretted. Going back on my word is more costly than living up to something, even if I made a mistake and it costs me money.

6. Alan M. Webber, former editor and co-founder of Fast Company Maga-

zine; former editorial director and managing editor of the Harvard Business Review; a columnist and author of a new book, “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self” (http://tinyurl. com/qyvmv9); United States. 

Stay alert. There are teachers everywhere. ~ Alan M. Webber Alan Webber reminds us that, when it comes to trust, be willing to change your mind about someone, and learn to trust yourself. Straight from his new book: Rule #52: You simply have to stay open to what you’re hearing and be willing to listen and learn. You may be with someone you’ve already written off when all of a sudden that person says something really smart, the kind of thing that makes you sit up like you just got hit between the eyes with a smart stick. It may even come out of your own mouth and leave you wondering, “Did I say that? I wonder where that came from. I wonder if I could do that again.” You won’t know if you’re not listening. You need to be alert. You need to pay attention. You need to be ready. Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready? Are you paying attention? Do you think trust matters? What do you do every day to get and keep trust? 

#1 A Powerful Solution to Our Current Economic Crisis
You know the feeling when the whole world has let you down. Isn’t that what we are experiencing right now? To get you in the right frame of mind, let me ask you this: What would you do if you were at the beginning stage of an enormous snowstorm that showed no signs up letting up? Surely, to get ahead of it, you’d grab a shovel and start shoveling or jump in your car to buy the last snow blower on the floor. Well, in our current economic mess, the solution is right in front of us, too. Hire the best and brightest entrepreneurs (yes – that’s us!), and put them to work! Who else is going to try something new that will shake us out of these tiresome doldrums? Here are ten things entrepreneurs can do that make them smart power resources. 1. Diagnose and fix the problem. It will take a whole slew of entrepreneurs to see what nobody else sees, do what nobody else can do and act on a sustainable global solution. An entrepreneur knows how to bring good ideas to life and turn them into viable enterprises. They also know that to treat a crisis, you have to identify it first and then offer plenty of options. For entrepreneurs, those options are only as limited as their imaginations. 2. Fix problems of any size. For the entrepreneur, no job is too large or too small. Besides, it’s not the problem that is worth tackling, it’s the challenge, which empowers an entrepreneur to do something, anything, to mitigate the problem. 3. Give you accurate and timely results. Entrepreneurs are known for taking baby steps (and jumping leaps and bounds too, if required to get a job done), tracking progress, reporting results and tweaking a plan as they go. 4. Help you control expenses. How many entrepreneurs have started a business on a shoestring? Raise your hands. Mine’s up. An entrepreneur knows that every penny counts even after sales and profits roll in — or don’t roll in, whatever the case may be. Many entrepreneurs track month

ly sales and gross margins by hand until they get a feel for the health of an organization. Once you’ve been in a “How do I pay my people?” position, you never forget or go there again without involving the people. 5. Achieve results. Where there is a will, there is a way. There is no greater will than that of an entrepreneur’s spirit. But before an entrepreneur can achieve results, he or she must take financial responsibility for an idea and morph it into something we hadn’t envisioned. Think Sam Walton. Steve Jobs. Thomas Edison. A good example of this is in The Wall Street Journal article, “Entrepreneurs Can Lead Us Out of the Crisis” ( 6. Reach a whole new level of work ethic. A product, service or whole new business launch, for example, is not complete to an entrepreneur unless, in the process, ideas continue to spread, profits are made, jobs are created and there’s a great feeling of, “We’ve changed the world!” Nobody knows this eureka notion better than the Kauffman Foundation, often referred to as the world’s largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship ( 7. Take action until it’s right. We don’t want bureaucratic inaction. We want smart small-company or entrepreneurial action. Never underestimate the vast creativity and importance of the entrepreneur. It’s not so much the size of the operation that matters; it’s the ability to turn ideas into viable enterprises or turn problems into marketable opportunities. 8. Assume significant accountability for the inherent risks and outcome. Think the employees at Enron or WorldCom thought this way? Had each of them thought it was “my” business instead of “theirs,” things might have turned out quite differently. For entrepreneurs, there are no excuses, just results. Entrepreneurs don’t let excuses or distractions get in the way. If they screw up, they take the blame and talk next about how to make it right. 9. Focus on value-add and value-creation. Call it what you may – vision drive, passion – but entrepreneurs have what it takes to formulate a unique selling proposition that no one else can duplicate. They are experts at this and clearly let nothing get in their way of keeping the value chain clean and clear. 10. Look at crisis as an opportunity. The Chinese word for crisis shares a character with that for opportunity. Have you ever known an entrepreneur that did not look at a crisis as an enormous opportunity? In that spirit, let’s collectively take charge of our future. Hire that smart power resource called an entrepreneur, and let’s start celebrating our successes.




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Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of (a Global TradeSource, Ltd. company). She also is the creator of “Borderbuster,” an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog (, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage. You can reach Delaney at or 773381-1700.

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This collection of articles was assembled on June 1, 2010 and is based on the best thoughts of the author and information available at the time. To keep learning, visit The Global Small Business Blog (http://borderbuster., the American Express OPEN Forum ( and Small Business Trends (