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Posts Tagged ‘Success’

By Mark Zimmerman

mapWhere are you going?

When I first meet a new client here at MaRS my first question after hearing the overview of their business idea is often “What does success look like to you?”  I’ve been surprised by how often I get a blank stare or a cliche in response.

At the risk of being cliche myself: If you don’t have at least a general vision of where you want to go how can you make smart decisions on how to get there?

There are lots of factors that make entrepreneurship appealing: the autonomy, the creativity, the excitement and energy, the joy of working with smart people you respect, the reward of building something great from nothing and the possibility of creating wealth.   Understanding the relative weight of these is important both at the start and as you share your vision with others.

It’s particularly important that co-founders, early employees and investors all agree on the destination.  And that you revisit the topic and confirm that alignment regularly as your business evolves.

Mark advises entrepreneurs in the information technology, communications and entertainment practice at MaRS. He specializes in B2B enterprise software, SaaS business models as well as security and privacy.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By David Pasieka

I am truly inspired by those Chicago Blackhawks. Although I would have loved to see the Leafs followed by the Habs in the Stanley Cup, I am happy that one of the original six has made the cut. It will, of course, be truly special if this team can erase its Cup drought and put the light once again on our Leafs to have a miracle 2010/2011 season!

One of the inspiring things about the Hawks is their bench strength. So far in the first two games, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines have been carrying the day. The Hawks top two scorers Kane and Toews remain off the goal sheet. Given that the team, up 2 games at this writing, (Editor’s note – they lost last night in overtime) has a historical 94% chance of winning the whole thing, the bench has clearly done its job!

For early stage companies it is often a challenge of having just enough players on the ice to cover each position -let alone having enough talent on the bench to substitute in. For established companies, the problem is one of building from the pool of talent that you already have and boosting your strength from within.

The Annual Performance Review process provides an excellent opportunity for the Supervisor to sit down with their employees and have a “development” conversation. This discussion should follow the review of the past performance and capitalize on the things that worked well and things that needed some improvement.

I am of course a big fan of starting with the end goal in mind – specifically: “What are my career goals and aspirations? Where would I envision myself working and at what level 5 years from now? Are my goals realistic and possible within this time frame?”

Once the end game is established, an assessment of strengths and weaknesses needs to be completed. A great exercise is to have both the Supervisor and the employee work independently on these lists and compare notes in a joint session. Many employees find that they are tougher on themselves when they do the self assessment. Tools such as 360 degree evaluation provide a comprehensive approach to capture all of the components from several stakeholders.

Often to get to the next level, additional leadership competencies or technical skills need to be identified and developed to achieve the desired results. The creation of a personal development plan is the next step in the process. The Supervisor and Employee will need to work on this program together addressing the individual and departmental needs, time and budget. Components of the plan could include formal training programs, on-the-job cross training, participation in special assignments, coaching services, volunteer work and gaining access to webinars on industry topics.

In a week I think that we will look back on the Stanley Cup finals and do a complete analysis of the outcome. In this review I know that we will find that bench strength made all of the difference.

Are you doing all you can to Win your Cup?

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here. Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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By David Pasieka

We read a lot about the selling process and how to target the real person who makes the final purchasing decision. The problem is that the approach may in fact be all wrong. Instead of concentrating on a Person we should in fact be focusing on a Thing – specifically the Brain.

I recently attended a quarterly meeting of the CEO Global Network – an organization that provides peer-to-peer mentoring for CEOs. The guest speaker was a co-author of a book called Neuromarketing (Morin & Renvoise).

Christophe Morin indicated that at least 80% of business self-help books purchased or given out at conferences remain unopened and on the shelf. After a couple of hours with the author I was truly convinced that this book would not be destined for the unopened faith. Let me provide some of highlights to hook your interest and demonstrate how you will need to change your sales approach to increase the probability of success.

The Human Brain has three distinct components which evolve as we grow. The First or Reptilian Brain is present at birth and ultimately becomes the trigger in our decision-making process. The Middle part of our Brain develops and processes our emotions, while the Outer part develops our ability to think. Research has shown that Reptilian Brain will make the final decision by considering emotional and rational input from the other two components.

Morin and Renvoise’s research suggests that the Brain reacts to 6 key stimuli. By Mastering and Re engineering your selling proposal you clearly will increase your probability of success. These stimuli include:

  1. It’s All About “Me” – The Brain is motivated by anything that pertains to itself. Presentations that spend too much time talking about your company and its products without focusing on what it will mean for prospect will be wasted effort.
  2. Clear Comparison – The Brain is sensitive to comparisons that provide clear differentiation. By making a product claim that is a sharp contrast to the competitive product you have speed up the decision-making process of the Brain.
  3. Concrete – The Brain will be stimulated by having the facts presented in a clear manner. The more thinking that has to go into the process, the slower the decision that ultimately gets made.
  4. Strong Open / Powerful Middle /Strong Close – The Brain is a very efficient machine with an embedded energy management system. It will look for ways of conserving energy by forgetting about details in the middle. In sales mode the MRI studies suggest that you need to have a Strong Opening, a simple but Powerful Middle and a Strong Close. Recognizing the Brain’s energy management system you will only have 10 Minutes for the complete process and your Middle section should be constrained to Three key messages.
  5. Stunning Visuals – The Reptilian Brain is directly connected to the optic nerve. This means that of all your senses, sight has the most immediate and lasting impact on a decision-making process. We have written in previous blogs about the importance of this item and how it relates to crisp and uncluttered PowerPoint charts.
  6. Hook me Emotionally – The Brain recognizes more than 16,ooo emotions which lead to chemical stimulations. It’s no surprise that the most memorable commercials are those that somehow play to our emotions including Joy, Laughter, Sadness, Fear and Anger.

When we wrote about Messaging for Success the concepts were essentially the same. The neat part here is that we can tie the Science of the Brain to understand why it works the way it does. Back to that ugly statistic on Business books on the shelf – I can assure you that this is one of my books that is already highlighted, dog-eared and in active use.

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here. Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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By David Pasieka

Fresh out of school I started my career at one of the icons of Canadian business – Bell Canada. Included in the icon group were other national brands such as IBM, Xerox, Petro Canada and Imperial Oil. At the time, the world was still thinking about starting and finishing your working life with the same company. These organizations were legendary for Leadership Training, Skills Development and Coaching programs that included “a new job every 6 months”.

On my first day on the job, I was given a team of 12 individuals who I had to coach, motivate and manage. To support my efforts, I was sent to leadership training courses every 6 months to fill in the gaps. In hindsight, I now realize how fortunate I was to be part of a New Graduate Training program – my education and practical on the job training has been part of my fabric ever since.

In today’s world a lot has changed. Clearly, the concept of employment for life” has a new time horizon and companies are spending less on their graduate programs. Company training and education services have also been severely cut back. Gone are the days where companies would hire you for your ability to learn and proceed to train you to fill in the gaps. Recruitment today is looking for the individuals who can do the job with their existing tool sets and hit the ground running.

Working with our new breed of entrepreneurs has a different twist. A full 50% of entrepreneurs fall between the ages of 19 and 30. How and where do these individuals get their training and skills development in today’s environment?

In a recent study conducted by OI Partners (www.oipartners.net) a number of key items were identified that were consistently leading to the failure of newly minted leaders. Five of these factors include:

  1. Leadership & Delegation – the ability to get results through others.
  2. Motivation – the ability to rally the troops to higher levels.
  3. Communication – the ability to provide clear and concise messages.
  4. Personal Skills – the ability to relate on an interpersonal level.
  5. Recognition – the wiliness to celebrate the successes no matter how small.

When you scan this list you conclude these factors can be theoretically” studied, but the realty is that they have to be “experienced”. So where do entrepreneurs get the experience to fill the gap?

In a previous blog,we chatted about the importance of Advisory Boards and their impact on improving company success. These boards are helpful to gain traction in the marketplace – but today’s young entrepreneurs will need more. To supplement the experience & training gaps, a strong prescription of Mentorship from a seasoned “been there done it” Coach is clearly warranted.

Coaches will come in many forms and range from a “certified” professional, to a relative or simply a trusted friend. Often coaches are joined together in business forums, where the entrepreneur can open up amongst a group of peers in a “risk free” environment. Regardless of the background or format, the coach will need to add value by identifying and filling critical experience gaps. Rounding out the theoretical with practical experience, will clearly enhance the probability of commercial success.

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here.  Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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