Category Archives: leadership

Are we there yet?

Back to Normal

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

The surrounding political drama and pandemic crisis continue to preoccupy us, but we do expect that life and business will return to normal later this year.  Not the old normal we are missing so badly, but the new post-Trump, post-pandemic normal.

Things have changed, permanently. Like post-9/11, we have new threats to our health and security and new ways of managing the risks and preventing further damage to our way of life.

So what’s changed and what have we learned?

  • A new awareness of our shared responsibility to take care of each other. And the need to change the behaviour of those who disagree because of ignorance, fear, selfishness, anger or ideology.
  • A heightened appreciation of the importance to our health and welfare of maintaining close personal relationships with friends and family and of actively supporting our networks of friends and 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 better solutions.
  • Increasing adoption of the virtual world, 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?

Should we worry about the looney, left-wing radical socialists who want the government to take control? No.  Will the radical right-wing militant conservatives succeed in taking over our government? No.

Can we count on intelligent, caring and compassionate, rational human behaviour that allows all of us to be better and do better together? Yes.

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

 

Neglect the negative

Be creative

(This article is based on ideas from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

In our current preoccupation with pandemic paranoia and political drama, we need to redirect our energies to more productive plans for next year. Start by looking back and deciding what is most worthy of a repeat performance.

Remember the good old days?

Not a year ago, before Covid 19, and not five years ago before Trump, but ten or twenty years ago. Remember the nineties?  Before Twitter and Facebook filled all our unoccupied headspace.  Before we wasted time on another angry or inane Tweet, a much too personal post on Facebook or a self-obsessed photo on Instagram.

Remember the pleasure and the serious, revealing and rewarding communications we used to have with a thoughtful email exchange or a long leisurely telephone conversation? How long ago has it been?

Be Creative

Turn off the news channel and the incessant preoccupation with the pandemic and politics. Be creative. Remember the good old days and pick some favourite memories – things you’ve done, places you visited and the people you were with. Share the memories and plan to do it again.

Next year is coming soon. Make plans to make it better.

Don’t sit and wait for somebody else to fix everything that was wrong with 2020.  As David Brooks says in The Second Mountain, “society is a massive conspiracy to distract you from the important choices of life in order to help you fixate on the unimportant ones.”

Don’t be distracted.

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

Are you ready for post-Covid?

 The new era of life and business after this pandemic period is coming soon

 (This article is based on ideas from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

Even in the current period of Covid pandemic protocols that are actually getting stricter, there is still optimism that vaccines will be available early in 2021 and we’ll start the transition to the new world of post-Covid-19 by March. Maybe get back to more tolerable social lives and business activities by May. Maybe September?

Regardless of the timetable, the first requirement, of course, is to stay healthy and financially secure until then. Hopefully, you can count on that from your own resources or from the temporary government support to help get us to the next phase. We’re all being required to overcome new challenges and the pandemic frustrations have heightened anxiety and stress for everyone.  It’s impossible to ignore the legitimate fears and the strains on our support systems, health care and otherwise.

Here are some ideas to consider as you meet the challenges of the current pandemic and plan ahead for the post-Covid era:

Play safe. Take care of each other – family and friends and your customers, employees and associates. These are challenging times and you can be among the Enlightened Entrepreneurs who will lead the way.

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

 

Covid Customer Service

 (This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

 Empathy on steroids

In this period of Covid pandemic protocols we are meeting new challenges and obstacles to delivering outstanding customer service. It’s time for new levels of empathy and understanding. And customers are likely to be in no mood for tolerating deficiencies.

 

The pandemic frustrations and isolation from normal social and business activities has heightened our levels of anxiety and stress to the point of explosion at the slightest disturbance.

Customer service has always been the ultimate test for Enlightened Entrepreneurs – demonstrating how well they treat their employees by how well their employees treat the customers. It’s the final decision-making factor in how we vote with our purchasing dollars, both as consumers and as business-to-business clients.

This period presents a severe test.  

How well are you responding to the fears and obstacles arising out of the Covid-19 pandemic – meeting protocols for hand sanitizers, maintaining social distance and wearing masks? How do you handle people who don't behave; who refuse to follow the public health guidelines or who are not at all sympathetic to the current restrictions on your normal levels of staffing, facilities and services? Are your staff well informed, well trained and prepared to respond appropriately? Will you retain existing loyal customers or gain new ones? Or both.

These are challenging times. But with sufficient compassion and understanding we can take care of each other and get through this together. Enlightened Entrepreneurs will lead the way.

Be better. Do better.

Del ChattersonYour Uncle Ralph

Maybe autocratic leadership is better

 (This article is based on extracts from Uncle Ralph’s Random Ramblings in DON’T DO IT THE HARD WAY - 2020 Edition)

As we observe political leaders around the world getting their way, dictating arbitrary policies, behaving badly and revising the rules of play, it would be easy for business leaders to conclude that autocratic dictatorship is a better way to manage.

Democracy doesn’t work

These cult-like leaders seem able to persuade their fanatical followers to believe whatever they say, forgive every failure and do whatever is demanded of them, even against their own self interest. “Stick a fork in your eye to prove your loyalty to the cause.” Yes sir! Absolutely.

And democratic methods are so cumbersome, inefficient and difficult to manage to the conclusions we want. Even if the majority wants the same thing. Democracy is too easily manipulated by corrupt politicians and the people behind the scenes spending enormous amounts of money to protect their power and privileges.

Don’t be fooled

You will not be a more successful leader as a dictator and your business will not do better because of it. But I don’t recommend democratic decision-making in your business either. The misinformed, disinterested, angry or unhappy employee or customer is not likely to vote for the right solution. It is always more complicated than it appears and requires the right combination of knowledge and experience with rigorous analysis and good judgement. You’ll still be wrong often enough.

I do recommend participative management. An Enlightened Entrepreneur will involve the management team, staff and front-line employees in the decisions that affect them, as they have a vested interest in getting it right. They also may know more than the owner or the senior managers about the specifics of the problems and the planned solutions and can make a valuable contribution to the process of doing better for themselves and the business.

The downside of cult-like leadership is that it attracts followers who are not willing to accept responsibility for their grievances and or more willing to do as they’re told than to make a contribution to making things better.

Don’t be a dictator.

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 articles at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

Time for a new plan

Everything has changed.

 (This article is based on an extract from The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans - 2020 Edition)

Rethink, Review and Rewrite

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything – in our lives and in our businesses. The only questions that remain are – What exactly has changed?  By how much? For how long? What happens next?

We don’t yet have all the answers and the ones we do have keep changing. But there is no question that we have to change our plans and to stay resilient and creative to survive. It’s time for a new business plan, but the standard checklist has changed.

Can you answer these questions clearly and concisely?

  • Have your personal plans and objectives changed?
  • Has the purpose of your business changed?
  • Do you want to retain past customers or attract new ones?
  • Do you need to change your business model?
  • What is the revenue required to be profitable now?
  • Are your planned changes temporary or permanent?

Simple questions that need to be answered before you revise your business plan.

Remember the objective is to develop a road map for you and your management team to survive this period of crisis and eventually return to profitable growth.

Now is the time.

Rethink, Review and Rewrite your Business Plan for this pandemic period and beyond.    

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 articles at: LearningEntrepreneurship Blogs

 

Random Ramblings from your Uncle Ralph

 In the current environment of a corona virus pandemic with its devastating effect on lives, businesses and economies around the world, this article seemed appropriate for reconsidering.

(An extract from Don’t Do It the Hard Way – 2020 Edition, p.117)

Managing in Difficult Times

Ignoring or avoiding a difficult business environment is simply not possible.  It will happen, sooner or later. A credit crisis, stock market meltdown, or a looming recession all affect the attitudes and actions of consumers, employees, investors, lenders and business managers. What are some helpful ideas to respond effectively?

Stay focused

Avoid being distracted by the bombardment of bad news. Stay focused on customers and employees, especially the ones that you have and want to keep. Don’t freeze. But don’t over-react.  Be calm, rational, reassuring and pro-active.

Don’t just share the pain, provide relief.  Misery may love company, but everybody still remains miserable if you just talk about it and do nothing. Try to be more creative and take appropriate action. Don’t neglect the good news; look for the silver lining in the dark clouds – maybe currency exchange and interest rates are down temporarily, so now you can expedite foreign currency sales or re-finance some lending to improve cash flow.

Be relevant

Take a close look at your customers’ changing needs and your product or service offerings.  Do you have recession proof products or are they vulnerable? Costumers will be postponing or redirecting their purchase decisions in the current challenging climate.  Can you keep their business with a new cost-reduced service or a more creative approach to packaging, pricing, terms and conditions?

Leverage the sense of urgency

Nobody is unaware of the current economic circumstances affecting your business. Employees are already aware of the issues and the problems in front of them, so it will be easier to get them to accept the solutions. That means it’s more likely that they are receptive to expense reductions, removing frills, postponing projects, reducing assets and conserving cash. It may be opportune to revise compensation or bonus plans, change distribution channels, move marketing programs to lower cost online approaches.

Take advantage of the sense of urgency that exists. Now is the time to resolve lingering problems; just be cautious not to do permanent damage to key employee, customer and supplier relationships that you want to retain.

Recognize the changing environment

You probably started the year under different assumptions that affected corporate budgets and business plans.  Sales targets may now be unrealistic and should be adjusted downwards to maintain the rewards and motivation for top performers who continue to deliver in spite of challenging times. Try to use an external benchmark to justify the adjustment and not give the impression that you are forgiving poor performance.

Look for opportunities generated by the crisis

If you have been smart enough to stash cash and build a relatively secure business, then you can take advantage of some unique opportunities that exist.  Build your team by attracting top performing employees who may be ready to move from shaky competitors into your welcoming arms. Or buy out a competitor, if the company is suddenly for sale at a bargain price.  The big boys are doing it; so can you.

Talk to your banker

Make sure she is not worrying unnecessarily. Or at least worrying for the right reasons and hearing them directly from you.

If you are in better shape than most and credit is available, then increase your credit limits now to handle the potential unexpected impacts and to support the new opportunities you may want to pursue.

Avoid being the unwilling prey

Recognize that competitors may also see you in difficulty and seize the opportunity to raid key employees or buy you out at a distressed price.  You need to keep close to your key employees and ensure their career plans remain with you. If you are a likely target for merger or acquisition, then start working on your choice of preferred partner and determine your business valuation under normal circumstances, not current crisis conditions. Then take the initiative before you lose control of the situation. You and your business will be better for it.

In summary:

  • Be brave, be flexible, be creative.
  • Analyze, decide, take action.

And don’t neglect to wash your hands!

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, 

Del Chatterson

The false comfort of simple answers

Comforting, but wrong.

I know we shouldn’t quote Albert Einstein. As he often tells us, “Don’t believe all that sh*t you read the Internet.” But I can’t resist.

The important statement attributed to Einstein was, “For every critical and complicated problem, there’s always an obvious simple answer, that’s wrong!”

Whoever said it, they must have had their own references to prove their point. Now we have examples everywhere. Leaders demonstrating manipulative politics, intellectual dishonesty, laziness and ignorance, by promoting simple answers to critical and complex issues.

Politicians have been successful in countries around the world by exaggerating and repeating the easily understood and accepted simple answers to major problems, conveniently ignoring the fact that they’re wrong.  It’s a winning strategy in any democracy where the public does not exercise adequate scepticism and critical thinking. Where they can ignore the experts and analysts in favour of their preferred commentators, who agree with them.

But it’s selfish, unprincipled and lazy leadership exploiting an ignorant, equally selfish and lazy audience, who are ready to believe the easy answers. We all need to try harder to understand the problem and the root causes and then find real solutions that will work for everyone over the long term.

Leadership has to have the character, the intelligence and the moral courage to listen to the experts, accept the facts and introduce change with articulate, compassionate and well-reasoned communication. Leaders need to be able to convince their audience, including critics and opponents, fighting to protect their own ideology and self-interest, that there is a better answer in support of the common good.

The biggest flaw in liberal democracies everywhere is that simple, comforting answers are popular and that ambitious, unprincipled politicians have learned how to exploit that appeal and rise to power, where they inevitably work in their own self-interest, not the common good.

We need to demand better from all our leaders. In politics, in business and in life.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

Wrong. Character matters

angry bossWhether you are a CEO, politician, celebrity or simply a humble hard-working entrepreneur or employee, performance is continuously being assessed by the results you achieve. Does it matter how they are achieved?

Some people think not, results are all that matter. They’re wrong.

Character matters. Ethics, attitude and approach matter. Tactics and methods matter. Success and the desired results may appear to be achieved, regardless of the behaviour. Immoral, irresponsible, ruthless, and aggressive behaviour may even appear to have been necessary to achieve the results. Wrong again.

The apparent short term gains will eventually be lost to long term reactions. The used and abused will get even. A legacy of accomplishment may be completely forgotten, when the true character is revealed. Just ask Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein or Rosanne Barr.

Be better. Do better.

Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

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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.

Listen to Mom

Even when she’s not there

 

My Mom passed away almost eighteen months ago, but I still hear her talking to me, telling me her favourite stories, responding with great one-liners and encouraging me to do better and be better. I still try to make her proud.

MOMSound familiar?

If you can, be sure to tell her she's loved and appreciated. Everyday, not just on Mother's Day.

Happy Mother’s Day!

These are my favourite Blog posts to share for Mother’s Day.

Happy Mother’s Day to Mom’s everywhere.

 Your Uncle Ralph, Del Chatterson

 Visit LearningEntrepreneurship.com for more Blog posts and articles.

Join our mailing listfor regular e-mails with ideas, information and inspiration for entrepreneurs.

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.