Category Archives: attitude

The blame game

Goddamn the …?

My Dad grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan where the most hated institution was the CPR, responsible for the railway across the prairies. He liked to tell us the story of the poor farmer who complained “I lost my crop in a hail storm, my truck broke down, my dog died and my wife left me. Goddamn the CPR!”

angry_man ragingQuebec politicians for decades explained their every failure, “c’est la faute du fédéral!” It’s Ottawa’s fault.

We have lots of scapegoats available to us today. For every failure, foul-up, screw-up, disaster or disappointment, choose your favourite. Blame the oil companies, the media, or Donald Trump. Evil rich white guys. Google or Microsoft. It’s a long list if you try.

But the blame game is too easy and it gets us nowhere. Just a lazy way to end the conversation and stop doing anything to tackle the issue. It’s not my fault, there’s nothing I can do.

Let’s stop looking for who to blame.

Let’s look harder for who can fix it and how we can help.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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Modern managers are smarter

Are you? 

Remember the bad old days when managers judged performance by all the wrong indicators?

angry bossA managing partner who questioned a consultant ready for promotion because, “I’m not sure of his commitment to the firm, I never see him taking his briefcase home at night.” Not noticing the same consultant was usually going home after six and had a roster of very happy clients.

Or the ambitious manager promoting himself by denigrating a colleague for arriving late to his staff meeting, ignoring the fact he was the same individual willing to forego family obligations to attend corporate events on evenings and weekends.

Modern managers are more likely to look at real performance, not work habits or personality traits. Judging and rewarding for results, not effort and time spent at the office. Enabling work-life balance and accommodating family needs to improve employee satisfaction.

There is a very enlightening book on the subject, called First, Break all the Rules © 1999, by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, based on a study of high performance managers and how they succeed through their employees. The essential theme is to ignore the rules and standard company policy, treat everyone differently. Don’t try to change who they are and how they work, find out what they like to do and are good at, then let them do it their way.

Modern managers do not follow the lead of their rule-bound old-fashioned predecessors. Which group are you in?

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com or contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

More celebrations

Fewer apologies 

It seems to be part of the new approach to historic anniversary celebrations to give more attention to apologizing for past failures and the sins of our ancestors than on recognizing our accomplishments and the progress we have made on all fronts since those evil events in our past.

celebrationsThe celebratory narrative is interrupted by vociferous activists and protestors directing the audience to their issues and raining on our parade. They do get our attention, but it’s not usually the time and place for constructive action on challenging issues. It is too easy to respond to the rhetoric and symbolism with more rhetoric and symbolism, instead of initiating creative and ambitious programs to make real progress. Another time and place, starting with an exchange of mutual respect and goodwill, will more likely lead to practical long-term solutions.

In life, business and politics, it is important and instructive to recognize our accomplishments as well as our failures. It is acceptable to create a mythical version of our history and who and what we are, without denying our errors and imperfections, as long as it inspires us to strive continuously to achieve those high ideals.

Apologizing is not enough. Let’s be more ambitious.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com or contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies.

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

 

Having a bad day?

Don’t expect so much. Be grateful for what you’ve got.

Business Person Unhappy and Happy Smileys WorkingAfter one more setback it’s easy to slide down the road of regrets…,

“If only…,” “I should have, could have,” “How did I get here?”, “Is this all there is?”, “Why am I not rich and famous yet?”, “Are my best years behind me?”, “There is no way out.”

That thinking will not help. Time to change your mindset.

Instead of moaning and groaning and dreaming of what might have been, take a look at what you have to be thankful for. Think of the people who have real concerns and complaints in their lives. Imagine the millions around the world who are much worse off.

Do you deserve your good fortune? Did you earn it?

A little humility and gratitude will get you started on a better road of acceptance. Be happy with what you have, instead of unhappy with what you do not have. Start by indulging in some spontaneous kindness or a generous gift to the unfortunate. Then go with the glow of feeling good about yourself.

The world will be a better place. And you will be a better person in it.

Be better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Contact DirectTech Solutions at www.DirectTech.ca for consulting assistance on your strategic business issues, growth and profit improvement plans or your exit strategies,

Join our mailing list at LearningEntrepreneurship.com for ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Read more articles at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

 

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Take a break

It’s spring

on-the-beach #2I know it’s blowing snow and -7C in Montreal today, but all the kids and parents are talking about Spring Break, so let’s take apply the concept more generally. Take a break.

Take a break from all the distractions that keep us from making progress on improving our lives, achieving our business objectives, supporting family and friends and making a difference in the world.

Take a break from exaggerated news headlines, from outrageous political rhetoric, from ranting celebrities and activists of all stripes and briefly set aside your concerns for the victims of terrorism, natural disasters, racism and systemic discrimination. Take a break from the business issues that demand attention. Stop trying to manage everything for a week or so, let nature take its course and the markets run where they will. Try not to watch.

Take a break and turn your attention to thoughtful and intelligent commentary from sources you do not normally have time for. Reflect on your own assessment of the big issues. (Then check off a few of the small things you have been neglecting so that you can feel better about accomplishing something useful during the break, instead of just worrying about everything.)

Take a break to assess your personal priorities and time commitments, then re-align your plans to get on track.

I highly recommend regularly taking a break.

Spring or otherwise.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

Be Prudent not Paranoid

checking youSoon after starting my business in computer products distribution, I got burned by a couple of retailers passing bad checks. Whether they were dishonest or just bad managers, the result was the same:  Whack, NSF!

I was still an inexperienced young entrepreneur, so it was easy to over-react and go beyond caution and become suspicious and distrustful of every customer. Not a good idea. I started to notice that the sales reps and customer service staff were following my lead too well. Aggressively pushing for cash-on-delivery or making unreasonable demands before accepting sales on credit.

Now we had a new problem. Customers were getting turned off and going elsewhere to competitors who were easier to do business with.

We adjusted our attitudes and went back to dealing in good faith and treating customers and other business partners with more respect. That means trusting them implicitly and expecting the best of intentions. Then if things ultimately go badly, we can still be friends and work it out.

It does not mean blind faith or being naïve. Prudent business practices are necessary and that includes clear terms and conditions on every sales order and purchase contract.

Be aware of the risks of doing business and then manage them.

Unfortunately, they cannot be avoided. Unless you lock the doors and don’t answer the phone.

 

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at:Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

9781496932259_COVER.inddThis Real Life Story is an excerpt from Uncle Ralph’s book, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way.” Read the book.

Real Life Story: The Best Advice I Ever Got

In three words

This story should be shorter. Otherwise it appears to contradict the best advice I ever got.

However, I am choosing to reinforce the message and help make it more memorable by telling the story that goes with it (in keeping with the theme of this book). You may choose to read it for the same reasons.

It was at UBC in 1964, my first year in Engineering. All first-year engineers were given the Engineering Handbook providing all the advice and information we needed to successfully complete the following four years of study. The book was full of useful material and started with welcoming comments from the Dean of Engineering, the University President and other dignitaries – with all the usual flowery clichés expected in these publications.

One page was reserved for Steve Whitelaw, then President of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. Steve was a popular President with a reputation for bright, creative leadership. That reputation was partly based on his past leadership in a number of engineering student stunts that made the national news, like the time the engineers kidnapped another university’s mascot or hung a VW beetle from the Lion’s Gate Bridge. His biggest coup was bringing to a conclusion a long campus debate over some weird-looking concrete modern-art sculptures that appeared one-year on campus when we came back in September. The sculptures had received the scorn and contempt of ‘ignorant and uncultured’ engineering students, but were vigorously defended by arts students, their faculty and the administration.

The intensity of the debate exploded both on campus and in the local papers on the day the engineers went on a rampage and completely destroyed all the sculptures leaving them in heaps of broken concrete and steel. Then Steve announced that the engineers had built and installed them all in the first place.

So his advice in the Engineering Handbook would have received our attention. It was a blank page with his signature and the three words:

DON’T WASTE TIME

Call it leading by example.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Read more at: Learning Entrepreneurship Blogs. 

Join our mailing list for more ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Click Here to check out Uncle Ralph’s books, “Don’t Do It the Hard Way” and “The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans” Both are available online or at your favourite bookstore in hard cover, paperback or e-book.

trudeau-economic-policyOn November 4th, we will have a new Prime Minister (in the second coming of a Trudeau) and a new Liberal cabinet responsible for managing the Canadian economy.

Are you ready for the changes that will affect you and your business?

Do not expect Trudeau to implement all the promises he made. He will inevitably have to make compromises and changes as he bumps into the real-world facts of life in government finances, economic challenges and geo-political issues.

In some cases, he will welcome reasonable excuses for backing away from some bad ideas. The Senate is not the only place for sober second thought. I’m sure his advisors have already coached him on hedging their bets for many issues.  We should not to be too cynical that popular promises were only made during the campaign to get elected without any intention of delivering on them.  I think Trudeau and his team are too smart politically to get caught making that mistake. They were pretty cautious about avoiding specifics so they did not have to contradict themselves. I’m sure the experience and advice of former Prime Ministers Martin and Chretien were helpful with those tactics.

So what can we expect? First, you may be looking forward to that “middle class” tax reduction.  It’s more likely you are going to unhappily discover that you are not in the middle class. For tax purposes, it ends at taxable income of $89,401. Welcome to the wealthy 1%? Then you are going to lose that very useful Conservative tax-splitting opportunity that the Liberals are cancelling (except for retired seniors, like me). And be sure to quickly stuff your TFSA with the maximum available to you while the limit remains at $10,000.  Trudeau’s plan is to go back down to the $5,500 annual contribution limit, but I’m betting he will be wise enough to fumble that file until after the January 2016 contribution limit is available, so that a few of the angry wealthy taxpayers will start to love him a little more.

Now what about the Liberal plan and your business? First the good news. Middle class tax cuts should mean more consumer spending and if you can participate in the proposed infrastructure projects or their spinoff benefits, then you may also see growth in your revenue from those initiatives. If they successfully pump up the economy with their deficit spending plans, then everybody’s business will benefit. Let’s hope it works.

If your business depends on the oil or resource industries, things are going to get worse. Those sectors will be under more pressure from an eco-friendly government listening to the global warming activists. But I think the Trudeau team will also be cautious in this area as they try to prove their mantra that good environmental policy is also good for business. But business leaders will have to do better at satisfying the relevant cabinet ministers that the pace and direction of their energy and environmental programs will meet the desired goals soon enough. There will be some difficult exchanges.

There is a proposal to reduce small business taxes, but the details are still being “reviewed” and the discussion seems to focus on removing loopholes to ensure that the small business tax breaks are legitimate. Hopefully, the newly elected caucus will include some strong advocates for small business and will work on making it easier to succeed, not more difficult.  The proposed changes to Pension Plan contributions (being pushed by Ontario’s Premier Wynne) are also up for discussion, but may well be stalled completely or implemented very gradually. It will be difficult to justify adding another payroll tax to all the existing obstacles for job creation. It does seem to be an important Liberal policy mission, however, to improve future payouts from the Canada Pension Plan.  Expect some changes before the end of this four-year term.

In summary, nothing too radical affecting business or the economic environment is expected, but the generally positive mood arising from the change of government to a young, energetic and enthusiastic team allows us all to be more optimistic about our prospects. However, it will not be enough to simply watch and wait to see how soon the good times arrive and how long they last. Now is the time to engage and move forward with your own plans to make good things happen. Trudeau is right, “better is always possible”.  But it’s up to you.

 

Most of us tend to over-use the special acronyms that are familiar to us and our colleagues in the same industry or profession.  They are useful for confirming membership in HRthe group and for excluding outsiders. (You know them.) But they often create a barrier to communicating effectively with a wider audience that is unfamiliar with our jargon.

On the other hand,  there are two widely used acronyms we have a habit of using that enable us to avoid really connecting with the issues: HR and CSR.

How did we ever arrive at calling employees Human Resources? They are people, right? That’s a perfectly good word.  What consultant or accountant thought we would manage them better by describing them like capital equipment.  People are more complicated. They all have different aptitudes, abilities and interests. They have families, health and financial concerns, personal objectives and career plans. People we can relate to and empathize with.  They are not assets to be used and written off.

CSR

And we now have a lot of attention on corporate social responsibility, but we immediately desensitize business leaders and operating managers by calling it CSR.

Like it’s a software product. So it gets delegated to the marketing and public relations department to keep those annoying socially responsible employees and customers happy and out of our way.

Why don’t we just say, “Stop pollution!”  Or “Be kind to our neighbours” and “Protect the planet!”  Those are clear and easy to understand as socially responsible behaviour.

Let’s stop hiding behind the acronyms.

 

A great weekend for Canadians at Wimbledon.

Eugenie Bouchard is runner-up in the final,

 


Milos Raonic loses to Roger Federer in the semi-final and Vasek Pospisil wins in men’s doubles.

 

Impressive results getting the attention of media, fans and opponents.  All three are young contenders that can only get better and do better.

That is a theme that also works for entrepreneurs. Learn from your losses, then get back into the fray with new tactics, skills and energy.

The winning will come soon – for these young tennis stars and for you.