Category Archives: Enlightened Entrepreneurship

Are you an Activist CEO?

Leading with your values?

It’s no longer an option. It's now expected, by your employees and your customers. They have choices to make – who to work with and who to buy from. That’s the new reality in today’s hyper-sensitive, highly politicized, and widely publicized world.

Or are you a politician, avoiding the issues and trying to please everybody, not wanting to offend anyone? 

That used to be the best strategy to attract and retain employees and customers, but it’s no longer good enough. We already knew that the ruthless, selfish, greedy and irresponsible CEO was nobody’s first choice, but don’t be evil is no longer good enough either. (Unless your objective is to appeal to evil people who are selfish, greedy and irresponsible.)

There is more joy and more opportunity to do well by being good - an ethical, enlightened, and socially responsible CEO and entrepreneur. Leading by example is a good start.

Stepping up and speaking out comes next. The people you need to succeed are watching and they expect you to do more. More than a Tweet, more than a press release, more than a new tagline or marketing slogan. Action proves how you really feel and who you really are. Do more and you’ll attract the people you really want to do business with, and you will have a real impact on the people and the planet around you.

Whether you have 40,000 employees around the world or only four people working in your local shop, you can make a difference.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

It looks simple

Obviously …

It’s usually a bad start to a productive conversation if your opening comment starts with, “It looks simple enough to me…,” or “Obviously, they should…,” or “Why don’t they just….”

You’ve probably now confirmed that you really don’t know what you’re talking about.

You may have already heard me quote the genius scientist and mathematician, Albert Einstein, who allegedly said, “For every complicated problem there is an easy and obvious solution – that is always wrong!”

Maybe you have a better solution or a simple answer to a difficult question, but if you are going to convince anyone that you know what you’re talking about, you should start with asking for clarification of what exactly is the problem.

Once you confirm your understanding of the problem you can more likely present a well-reasoned argument for the solution that seemed simple and obvious to you. It may now seem more clear to others. Further discussion may even lead to a better conclusion.

It starts with a conversation, not a speech trying to prove how smart you are.

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

This is the new normal

Get used to it.

Like the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, twenty years later, has changed everything and I think we have to accept that we have arrived at the new normal for our lives and our businesses for the near future.

From now on we will be applying new measures and following new rules and regulations to avoid unnecessary risks to our collective health and security and to mitigate the negative effects on the global economy and our personal lives. We would prefer, of course, to go back to the old familiar routines without all the distractions, annoyances and hazards arising from the pandemic, but the danger continues and the pandemic threats may never end. So let’s get used to it.

Is this really as good as it gets?

A lot has changed in people’s attitudes and behaviour over the past two years. It’s not all bad, some of the trends toward more positive changes in society have been accelerated. We have learned some new approaches that should continue to apply –– to be more socially aware and to take better care of ourselves, and each other, and the planet. We still have to get better at persuading those who deny the problems and resist the solutions to have them accept what we consider more socially responsible approaches.

Remember the important advice to listen and seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

In adjusting to the new normal in your business and personal plans, here are a few points to consider:

  • Customer and employee expectations have changed. Personal health and safety have become extremely important issues for both. They want to avoid contact with the unruly and irresponsible disrupters who ignore health guidelines. (Or they want the freedom to make their own choices and be among others who feel the same way.)
  • The selection criteria for doing business with you, or working for you, have changed too. The price, quality and service level will be less important than shared values and beliefs on social issues, not only related to the pandemic and public health concerns, but also issues of equity, equality, diversity, racism, bigotry, and the environment.
  • Keeping up with innovative competition and new business models is becoming more challenging.

Are you ready to retain and acquire the most demanding customers and the most capable and effective employees? Do you have the same selection criteria as they do? Are you ready to live and work in the post-Covid19 era and make your personal and business decisions accordingly?

Don’t forget to take care of yourself, take care of each other, and still have fun and make a difference!

Be better. Do better. 

Del Chatterson, your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

Thoughts for the day

Be Better. Do Better.

Hello {First Name},

Thank you for joining us to share Ideas for Entrepreneurs and for supporting and promoting Enlightened Entrepreneurship.

DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY

I’ve often suggested that all my business advice can be summarized in just six words:

  • HAVE A PLAN.
  • AVOID THE MISTAKES

I would prefer, of course, that you bought my most recent books for entrepreneurs to get my full repertoire of words of wisdom from your Uncle Ralph with all the real-life stories that reinforce the lessons learned.

But here are a few extracts for you to consider as thoughts for the day:

  • Look before you leap.
  • A dream is not a plan.
  • Continuously rethink, review and revise your Business Plan.
  • Find the exit before it’s an emergency.
  • Give equal weight to Strategic Leadership and Effective Management.
  • Ensure short-term action and consequences are consistent with the long-term plan.
  • Good marketing is not enough.
  • Remember the 4 Ps: Patient, Persistent, Polite & Persuasive.
  • Balance the logical head with the intuitive heart.
  • Look after employees and customers first, but don’t neglect your own needs to stay strong and carry on.

Have a good day

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

 

Build, Buy, or Franchise?

Had your Subway yet, today?

The original co-founder of the Subway sandwich chain, Peter Buck, died earlier this month at age 90. He was a 34-year-old nuclear scientist (and expert in subway sandwiches, apparently) when, in 1965, he loaned $1,000 to a family friend, 17-year-old college  student, Fred DeLuca, to start a sandwich shop called Pete’s Super Submarines in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Today, Subway is the largest restaurant chain in the world with about 20,000 restaurants in the U.S. and 40,000 worldwide, and Buck’s net worth has been estimated at almost $2 billion.

Sometimes those loans to a friend turn out to be good investment. And you don’t have to be a nuclear scientist to make good choices.

What’s a good franchise investment today? Would you like to own and manage a fast- food franchise or buy shares in the franchisor and watch your investment grow? Be an active or passive investor? Recommendations by the experts – business brokers and financial advisors – are not very helpful. They’re always working to promote their own choices and are often biased by their own self interest. You’ll have to do your own research. Like Buck and DeLuca, visit a lot of sandwich shops and then eat your own cooking before you test it on customers.

There are lots of franchise opportunities, not just fast-food and coffee shops, but also personal and professional service companies from body-shops to fitness centres. I’ve always suggested to entrepreneurs that the choices for starting a business are to build, buy or rent. The rental option is to become a franchisee and pay to use the established branding and proven business model of the franchisor. You lose the freedom to make your own choices, which is the appeal that motivates most entrepreneurs, but you reduce the risks of making bad choices and unsuccessful investment decisions. Maybe get the experience with a franchise while you’re still a college student and learn how to reduce the risks and improve the results before you start.

For passive investing, there are many currently recommended stocks in the franchise and fast-food sector. But again, you should do your own research and make your own choices.

That’s the essence of successful entrepreneurship, confident and competent decision-making.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Best Advice Ever

In only three words

And it still applies - Don’t Waste Time!

One of the bizarre side effects of the economic shutdown and being told to self-isolate and work from home is that the pressure to be productive and meet deadlines seems to have evaporated. The sense of urgency has dissipated. Everybody is preoccupied with the pandemic and keeping themselves safe more than meeting their obligations at work.

With lots of time to ourselves, procrastinating is easy. Nobody’s watching. Who cares anyway? It can wait until we’re more in the mood for it. It’s a bad attitude and a bad work habit to get into.

This article from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY, is a timely reminder to make better use of the time available to you, pandemic or not.

The Best Advice I Ever Got - In three words: DON’T WASTE TIME.

In providing the following background story, I may appear to be ignoring that advice by taking more time to write about it and requiring you to take more time to read about it. But the advice is really about making choices on how to use the limited time available in one lifetime. It does not exclude learning, relaxing, or quiet contemplation instead of continuous frantic activity. In this case, I am choosing to reinforce the message and help make it memorable by telling the story (in keeping with the theme of the book). You may choose to read it for the same reasons.

I was at UBC in Vancouver 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 messages.

One page was reserved for Steve Whitelaw, President of the Engineering Undergraduate Society. Steve was a popular President with a reputation as a very bright, creative leader. That reputation was based on his leadership in a number of engineering student stunts that made the national news, like the time they kidnapped another university’s mascot or hung a VW beetle from the Lion’s Gate Bridge. His biggest coup was bringing to a conclusion the long campus debate over some weird concrete modern-art sculptures that appeared one-year on compass. They had received the scorn and contempt of ‘ignorant and uncultured’ engineering students, but were vigorously defended by the arts faculty and administration. The intensity of the debate exploded on campus and in the local newspapers on the day the engineers went on a rampage and completely destroyed all the sculptures leaving them in heaps of broken concrete and steel. That’s when Steve finally advised everyone that the engineers had built and installed them all in the first place.

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

DON’T WASTE TIME

Call it leading by example.

Thank you for your continued interest in sharing ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Cultural sensitivity  

Tread carefully     

It seems to be a pandemic side effect. Everyone has exhausted their tolerance with all the  minor annoyances and the reaction on bigger issues may be exaggerated or extreme. Tread carefully. Nerves are exposed, fuses are short, anger and frustration are bubbling close to the surface.

You may think it’s over reaction or hyper-sensitivity to something insignificant and unimportant. You never intended to be insensitive and are not unaware of current social issues, but you might also recognize the symptoms in your own reaction to what someone else would consider insignificant and unimportant. Expect strong reactions to perceived insults, insensitivity, or neglect.

Using politically correct language and media approved acronyms or hashtags, like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, or BIPOC, is not enough. It is too casual, too easy, and a too convenient dismissal of white privilege. It’s a lazy claim to being “woke,” without actually doing anything to change attitudes or behaviour.

We need to make the effort to create change. It takes more than repeating popular slogans or using all the right words to make progress on the issues of racism, equality, diversity, and inclusion. Seek to understand, listen and learn, before trying to dismiss, defend, explain, persuade or apologize. Pay attention, it’s a minefield. There may be casualties.

Old-fashioned politeness and respect for individual differences are a good start. Necessary, but not sufficient.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com

Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

The Enlightened CEO

Obviously  

Most outspoken critics of CEOs are lazy. They find an easy target in the stereotypical greedy, selfish CEO, and they shout their loud accusations. Unfortunately, some of those CEOs are easily found and they are equally lazy about explaining or defending themselves.

As my mother used to tell me, “Don’t confuse them with the facts, they’ve already made up their mind.” But I keep trying.

Most CEOs, business owners and successful entrepreneurs didn’t get there because they’re ignorant of the requirements to stay successful. Many of their critics and self-proclaimed pontificators of the new rules for “people and the planet before profits,” make it sound simple and obvious, but are more arrogant and ignorant of how difficult and complicated it really is to be successful as an Enlightened CEO.

My definition of Enlightened Entrepreneurship:  Building a sustainable business based on loyal, long-term, profitable customer relationships while recognizing and respecting the needs of Employees, Customers, Business Partners, Communities, Society and the Planet.

Obviously, focusing on short-term profit is a formula for long-term failure. Obvious to me and to you, but it does require explaining, to some CEOS, business owners and entrepreneurs, and to their critics. It’s worth trying.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Pandemic notoriety: Naughty or Nice?

Which list are you on?

 (This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph’s books for entrepreneurs, DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans.

“Awesome! What a profit opportunity!”

Probably not what you will be reading in the press releases.

It will be all about the socially responsible entrepreneur, pivoting and showing remarkable resilience and creativity. Re-aligning research and manufacturing processes toward the production of face masks, hand sanitizers, personal protection devices, ventilators, emergency care facilities and Covid-19 vaccines.

Companies in the right place at the right time, like Amazon, FedEx, Pfizer and Uber all exploited the unprecedented opportunities of the global pandemic. Their billionaire owners and the happy shareholders saw unexpected jumps in revenue and profits while so many other businesses were devastated in the retail, hospitality, travel and entertainment industries.

But, since “exploited” and “profits” are dirty words, if not cardinal sins, to many people, did these companies end up on the Naughty List? Or did they do well by doing good as enlightened entrepreneurs are supposed to do. What about the businesses that failed to make the most of a good crisis?  They’re now on the naughty list of both their unemployed workers and their unhappy shareholders.

It’s been a challenging test for us all. As business owners and as customers and consumers, we now have to live with the consequences.

Which list are you on?

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

The Beginning of the End

We’re not there yet

(This article is based on the ideas in Uncle Ralph's DON'T DO IT THE HARD WAY & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans, 2020 Editions) 

I’m feeling safer, and closer to the end of the pandemic effects on life and business after receiving my first dose of the Moderna vaccine for Covid-19 this week. (Old-timers first! Thank you for allowing us the first shots.)

The good news arriving with 2021 keeps on getting better as we start to return to normal this year.  But we’re not there yet – in Montreal, my favourite coffee shop is still closed, breakfast and lunch stops are take-out only, the curfew still restricts any evenings out and social contact is still constrained to small groups, wearing masks and keeping their distance.

These may all be signs of the new normal for post-Covid-19 after the global war on the pandemic has ended. (If it ever does.) Like the new security measures after post-9/11 and the global war on terrorism, we will have new security measures against deadly contagious disease everywhere. Not just for getting on airplanes or entering foreign countries, but for entering bars and restaurants, live concerts and sporting events, enjoying museums, libraries and movie theatres.

Have you noticed what’s changed and what we’ve learned together?

  • A new awareness of our shared responsibility to take care of each other. And the need to listen and understand before trying to change the behaviour of those who disagree because of ignorance, fear, selfishness, anger or ideology.
  • A greater sense of urgency for fixing the social services network and supporting our front-line health care workers and first responders.
  • A heightened appreciation of the importance to our health and welfare of maintaining close personal relationships with friends and family, neighbours, associates and colleagues.
  • A better understanding of the need to tell the truth; to be a critical and skeptical listener; and, to engage in civil discussion of ideas and issues with those outside our usual circle of friends and fellow travelers.

What can we really expect of the new normal?

  • Innovative, creative and ambitious entrepreneurs continuing to respond with effective solutions.
  • Increasing adoption of new technologies and digital, online services in all areas of our lives; from work and recreation to education and entertainment.
  • Better regulation and oversight of the technology giants who dominate social media and control our access to, and sharing of, information both public and personal.
  • Better choices made by socially aware customers and consumers to support businesses, products and services that meet responsible, ethical and moral standards to protect people and the planet.

Can we be hopeful and optimistic? Yes.

Will we be among the intelligent, caring and compassionate, rational human beings who allow us all to be better and do better together? Yes, let’s do that too.

Be better. Do better.

Del Chatterson, Your Uncle Ralph

Learn more about Enlightened Entrepreneurship at: LearningEntrepreneurship.com Read more of Uncle Ralph's advice for Entrepreneurs in Don't Do It the Hard Way & The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Editions.

 Read more Blog posts at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs