Viewing entries tagged
consulting

Comment

Nine Signs You are a Normal Therapist . . . and encouragement to break the mold.

Image: villagehat.com

Image: villagehat.com

In the BBC hit series, Sherlock, the protagonist, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, characteristically known by his unusual double-billed hat called a “deerstalker,” given to him by his faithful Dr. Watson, describes himself as a “consulting detective.” Further, he also describes his nemesis, James Moriarty, in similar fashion, as a “consulting criminal.” This description, of an external expert as consultant, is something we need. In the profession of mental health, we need more “consulting experts” and fewer “normal therapists.” Consulting experts . . . ready to use their knowledge and skills to assist in all kinds of venues. Medical, legal, business, government, education. Here’s why.

I’ve been a professional therapist for over 35 years. I don’t consider my journey within the profession to be that remarkable or different from the “average” or “normal” therapist. Where it has been different, has been in the things I have done outside the “normal” parameters. In working with manufacturing companies, with family-businesses, non-profit organizations, and others.

Being a “normal therapist” myself, I’ve also supervised, administered, trained, and taught hundreds of other normal therapists over the years, and . . .

Let me be blunt . . . there are a lot of things about being “normal” that, over time, will drastically increase the risk—the risk of practicing in a manner that will undermine the therapist’s life and career. Over time, doing significant damage if not understood, addressed, and overcome.

What do I mean? Well, let me tell you. I mean that I have cringed as I have heard too many therapists, often nearing the end of their careers, that don’t have good retirement savings, do not take off quality time from their practices (some skip vacations and have not had a quality vacations for years), are not in a position to financially help their children or families and who are burned out, tired, and, sometimes, defeated by the very career they chose to support and sustain them and their families.

From a business/career stand point, the normal therapist is often their own worst problem. Let me lay it out for you . . .

Nine signs of the normal therapist:

  • Believes that working for an organization is safer than working for themselves. Ah the benefits! Salary, insurance, paid time off, training budget . . . there are several aspects of working for an organization that appear to make it the safe choice. But is it? It feels like it until the the layoffs, down-sizing, closings happen. Most businesses, even Fortune 500 firms, don’t last more than about a couple generations. It’s just not as safe as you think.

  • Thinks that the most reliable way to get paid is to be dependent upon insurance reimbursements. I hear many talking about wanting to get away from insurance but most, even the experienced, see insurance as a reliable source of revenue. Okay, sure, it is. But, organizations—who provide coverage for your clients— change insurance providers. Reimbursement rates are dropped. Getting paneled becomes more limited. You either spend time chasing the payments or pay someone to chase them for you. Is this really the most reliable form of income? For me, the answer is, “No!” Contracts, several that have laster more tan 12 years in my case are far more reliable. Negotiated rates with organizations that appreciate the value you offer is far different than the insurance panels trying to minimize costs.

  • Worries that peers, or others, may think they are driven by a desire for money. Occasionally I wonder if the worst thing you could say to a “helping professional” is that they seem to be “interested in being financially successful.” Most deny this by quickly pointing to other priorities for their work. But, just because it is not their primary goal, does it mean that they don’t want to be financially successful. In most cases, “No.” However, they are uncomfortable acknowledging this. They constantly make sure that peers know, and will not judge them, by downplaying and insisting their focus is not on money.

  • Are willing to trade time for vague benefits. They are wooed by vague benefits to their own career and live based on hopes reaping “marketing benefits,” unplanned “giving back” to the community or profession, and “just a good experience. They accepting being on call, providing free phone support, writing letters, and other tasks without much, if any, benefit to their business. I’m not suggesting that none of these things should happen—circumstance dependent, any and all of these may be appropriate or necessary; my point is, that the normal therapist simply does this, and accepts doing it, because it has been the standard practice historically.

  • Makes excuses about the unsavory elements of their career rather than working to change them. Long term complaints about hating paperwork, insurance, no shows, without taking assertive steps to remove those things from their business life. Most will simply accept these things as part of the profession rather than re-examining their utility in today’s environment or seek other forms of practice that minimize or eliminate some of these elements.

  • Constantly seeks to reassure themselves that they are competent. I hate to say it, but a majority of normal therapists have a lot of self-doubt. Just like the college student taking Psych 101 and wondering if the symptoms described in class men that they have a certain diagnosis, therapists, perhaps due to the personal intensity of their studies or primal interest, often give marquee attention to their weaknesses or deficits rather than their strengths. Few feel confident that they “know enough” or are an “expert” beyond a narrow and specifically trained knowledge base and skill-set. Yet, in truth, their life-experiences, knowledge, and training make their utility much more broad then they imagine.

  • Doesn’t take risks, even small ones, that could provide significant improvements in their career. You’ve probably heard the old joke, “How many therapists does it take to change a light bulb?*” How about the correlary, “How many therapists . . . will change.” Therapists tend to play it safe. Leaps of faith for the sake of their career are rare. This includes wisely spending money to increase the likelihood of progressing in their careers. So, they go to mediocre trainings, don’t pay for supervision to gain expertise, do not spend money to learn new processes or products that could make their practice stand out and separate them from other providers.

  • Follows the rules. While their are pioneers in our field, out there breaking new ground, as a group, therapists are prone to follow the “tried and true” of that the profession has dictated health care “is.” There are few “disrupters” or “contrarians” as a rule in the group and thus not much innovation. Tendencies run more toward “am I doing it right?” and against, “could it be done better?”

  • Feels victimized by outside sources. Let’s face it colleagues. We often “play the victim.” Whether it is society, insurance companies, culture, history, etc. there is often a stain of helplessness norms in our thinking. These professionals, among the highest educated and trained people in the world, feel trapped and powerless by forces outside their control. We may seek to liberate others from the forces that we fear may be in fact constricting our own trajectory.

Professionals that stay trapped in this normative mindset may have an adequate, or even good, careers. Many do. They will, however, be subject to operating within the confines of the health care system and their own perceived limitation of their profession. The tragedy of this is that their are no “consulting therapists” in daycare centers, oncology offices, pediatrician practices, legal firms, or on family business boards—among many other places where they could provide significant benefits. More sadly, most professionals have never even asked themselves the question, “Could they benefit from my consulting?” Thus, the inquiry is never made. No discussions take place. No services are defined or contracts completed . . . and no help is available.

Do you see these signs in our profession? How does it affect the careers of your colleagues? How many of the nine traits influence your thinking?

As a profession, we need to focus on becoming more entreprenurial, taking a broad view of our capabilities, and turning those into non-traditional areas that could use our help. IN as sense, we need to see our selves as “consulting professionals” and not just therapists. Are you ready? If so, grab your “deerstalker” and let’s go. The game is afoot, dear Watson.

Ready to be abnormal? Share our post, make a comment, or more than one, and include in your comments how you shared the post, and you will be entered in a drawing for a digital copy of our book Beyond the Couch: Turning your behavioral health degree into cash without losing your soul and other prizes. To encourage comments, we will give away one copy of the book for every 10 comments. So, even if you already have it, or are not interested in the book for yourself, you can tell us who you’d like to give to or we will give it away for you!

*So, how many therapists does it take to change a light build? “Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.”

Comment

Comment

Consulting "glam" or "other duties" of a consulting.

IMG_20190607_083144-1.jpg

Today’s tasK: Assemble all the materials for our training next week in Missouri. Using a “bomb difusal” game to teach principles, and train skills, of high-functioning teams. One thing I don’t mind about running my own consulting company is the “hands on” work. It’s a nice day of listening to music, mindless tasks, and dreaming about other ways to help! Having worked in the health care system for 35+ years, it’s a nice break from heavy clinical work.

By-the-way, this is the same process that we will be demonstrating in our June 23rd free training.

Comment

Comment

24 days . . . 5 open seats

SpaceEx on Unsplash.com

SpaceEx on Unsplash.com

"Please think about your legacy, because you're writing it every day." --Gary Vaynerchuck

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." --Rosa Parks

The Countdown

We’re 24 days away from our free on-line training and we fave 5 seats left open. The training is on Sunday, June 23rd from 3-4 pm. By the time we do the training we will be fresh from completing another (6 hour) training using our model with a governmental agency. We purposely piggy-backed our training at this time, after providing the training to yet another sector of the work force, a governmental agency, to continue to be able to inform and provide value to trainees who have a special interest, or opportunity, with in serving governmental teams.

Those that attend will learn . . .

  • How our decision to use a “bomb-defusing” game with a group of professionals (Head Start, Counseling, Family Support) unveiled the power of games to create a “low-risk” setting to deal with team dynamics and teach real skills.

  • That the game-training format tends to yield enthusiastic support for the learning process and avoids many of the typical defensiveness of more direct approaches (conflict resolution).

  • How the training format can prepare leaders to be ready to sustain and act to follow up on the training with actions that will promote improved team functioning and growth.

  • That providing training’s to organizations can be economically viable (not marketing opportunities or “giving back”) to allow professionals a “day away from the couch” and not lose their ability to pay their bills.

In the training we will give you an overview of the process we use, the slide presentation that includes instructions on the entire process, access to the various games we have found to be useful, and other resources.

How to Reserve Your Seat

Are you ready? Come and join us! It will cost you nothing and you may walk away inspired to use your skills and knowledge in a new, fun, and creative way.

There is a $20 reservation fee, refunded to those who attend, to prevent “no shows” and empty seats.

Want to know more?

Watch our You Tube trailer.

Email Bryan

Reserve your seat at Gumroad. A $20 fully refundable fee required —to prevent no shows.

The training doesn’t work for you but you still want to know more? Check out our website where you can Subscribe, become a part of our community, and get a free eBook in the process.

As always, thanks for recommending us, commenting, and subscribing!

"I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions." --Stephen Covey

"Courage is the greatest of all virtues, because if you haven't courage, you may not have an opportunity to use any of the others." --Samuel Johnson

Comment

Comment

2019 Coaching Class is Set!

Photo by  Fancycrave  on  Unsplash

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

Our 2019 Coaching Class is set. Thanks to everyone who applied! . . . We are officially closing the application period.

Those of you who are subscribers to our blog may note that we had originally talked about taking applications through September. No, September isn’t over, yet. But it is time to close the applications and move forward, to put 2019’s “recruiting class in the books” so to speak. Thanks for the interest and if it didn’t work for you in 2019, we would encourage you to continue to follow our blog. We can’t promise we will do another round of coaching in 2020 but we haven’t closed the door to that yet. Stay tuned, as they used to say!

For those new to HSC—and the concept of contracting, coaching and consulting as part of a behavioral health practice —below is a brief history of our journey . . . .

We have been training students and professionals to work with organizations and businesses —through private practice contracting, coaching, and consulting—since 2006. In 2019, we will be using our proprietary developed workflow (developed for the Trello platform) to work with our coaching class. This is the next step in our ability to help behavioral health professionals diversify their services and escape the dependence on insurance and governmental sources of income.. .

Her's a quick history of training behavioral and mental health professionals to work with organizations and businesses.

  • 1998: As part of a class on Qualitative Research, Bryan and a colleague started—as part of a university class— a consulting contact with an international manufacturing company. Supported by a couple of our professors originally, the contract would be repeated in 2000 and in total cover 4 years. We were learning and HSC was off and running!

  • 1999: Bryan starts working in senior management positions in behavioral health.

  • 2002: We repeat the consulting work with the international manufacturing company.

  • 2005: Dr. Miller established Human Systems Consulting and HSC begins contracting with organizations.

  • 2006: Tasked to teach a doctoral-level course on Consulting with Larger Organizations. Continued until 2016.

  • 2008: Conducted local trainings for behavioral health professionals on consulting and coaching.

  • 2011:  At the continued urging of the students and colleagues, published Beyond the Couch: Turning your behavioral health degree into cash without losing your soul. (By the way, our Gumroad store sells this for $7.99 a huge savings over Amazon at $24.95!)

  • 2015: Published Engaging Your Team: A framework for leading difficult people.

  • 2016: Published Private Practice through Contracting: A path away from insurance dependency! (Our most popular title since it’s publication)

  • 2017: Presented our model in a day-long institute at the AAMFT national conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

  • 2017: Training professionals in a 6 hour workshop as part of the ICET conference in Louisville, Ky.

  • 2018: Re-tooled our Trello-based tool to facilitate and lead professional coaching for 2019 coaching class.

Looking forward to 2019! Last year we were in Georgia and Kentucky, next year we are in discussions to finalize agreements for training in Nebraska and Missouri. With these commitments, we will limit our out-of-state commitments to 1 or 2 others in 2019.

Hope your 2019 is a great year!

Bryan

P.S.— BTW, Facilitating trainings can be an interesting and fun way to enter into contracting—while providing high visibility for your organization, develop a position as a thought-leader or resource, and open up new possibilities for contracting. If interested in facilitating a training in your area using HSC’s expertise, just contact us!

Comment

Comment

Broken shovels and new handles.

The poor old shovel . . . yellow fiber-glass handle finally gave out!

The poor old shovel . . . yellow fiber-glass handle finally gave out!

Sometimes you just gotta do it. I was replacing my mailbox post when it happened. The old shovel handle broke. I've been expecting it. This old, yellow, fiberglass handle was never the best. It quickly began to weaken; the digging becoming a maddening-test-of-stubborn-resistance as the handle flexed, twisted, and alternatively held it''s rigidity as a project progressed.

Now it was caput. Finished. Should I "pitch it" in joy of the cessation of the frustration and hold a wake to it's demise? No. I would replace the handle with a good, solid, wooden one. I grew up in that era. Don't through away things that still have value. Even if the time, the replacement parts, and ultimate finished product are less than ideal.

Changing that handle (see the finished product below) reminded me of the process of helping professionals with "old" skills upgrade to "new" ones. Learning to add contracting or consulting to their professional practice. The tools essentially remain unchanged but the experience is transformative.

Check out our no-coast, no obligation, webinar on Private Practice through Contracting!

Almost makes me look forward to digging.

Almost makes me look forward to digging.

Comment

Comment

Continuing Education: Take Aways from Presenting at a National Conference

Take Aways from Presenting at a National Conference

Getting Started . . .

Getting Started . . .

Just finished presenting "Beyond the Couch: Using MFT skills with Organizations" at the national conference for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT). The presentation was delivered in a pre-conference, 5 hour, "institute" held in Atlanta at the Marriot Marquis.

This pre-conference institute requires attendees to come a day early, pay an additional $175, occur additional costs of an extra day in training, and be willing to commit from 9-3:30 to this training. We had good turnout with 35-40 attending.

As an educational endeavor, I am listing the learning I got from presenting this institute. Incidentally, If you are a member of our FONS group (a private Facebook group) or a subscriber to my email list then I will give you some more personal insights later that I won't share publicly.

A beautiful day in Atlanta.

A beautiful day in Atlanta.

Here a some of my take aways . . .

Things I kind of knew that were re-confirmed:

  • Therapists are some of the nicest people to have in a presentation
  • The interest in working on contract, avoiding the insurance market, and working with organizations is growing
  • There is still little, or no, training in masters programs on business skills, contracting, or working with organizations
  • There is a strong interest in learning the tools and techniques of developing contracts
  • Therapists don't know where to find mentors when it comes to contracting and working with organizations
  • Seasoned therapists get requests to help with organizational issues whether they are trained in this area or not
IMG_20171005_080540409_HDR-1.jpg

What should I have known, that i learned:

  • Teaching people, even highly skilled therapists, how to do contracting takes more than 5 hours
  • People are going to be interested in connecting personally with me for support
  • I need a plan to capture the contact information of those who show interest in connecting
  • People are going to want to buy my book, from me, right there at the conference
  • There always is at least one attendee who already has extensive experience as a consultant who is present just to get new ideas
  • There are decision makers present, often with funds, that may be looking for ways to enhance their program offerings.

What I still don't know . . . 

  • Is it worth losing two days of revenue, paying for the cost of a plane ticket etc., the time to develop the presentation, and paying for the cost of the conference (really? the presenter has to PAY to attend their own presentation?!?!)
  • As a corollary, to the point above, will I ever present at the AAMFT conference again?
  • Will the institute have an impact? Will there be any follow through for attendees who expressed interest in developing their own contracts and consulting?
  • Will the attendees who expressed an interest in coaching, training, connecting, follow through with contacting us?
  • Did the institute give attendees enough to go out and develop their first contract?

We are finalizing our 2018 schedule for training, consulting, etc. The next opportunity to get in on learning about contracting and consulting is in the Interactive CE Training (ICET) Dr. Miller will be presenting on-line October 29th. I

To reserve time for a  presentation or coaching, contact Bryan directly.

For those interested, we also have two products to help therapists get started.

Beyond the Couch: Dr. Miller's seminal book on consulting with organizations.

BTC Ebook Cover.png

 

Private Practice through Contracting: an eBook to reduce insurance dependency and help develop contracts as part of a private practice.

PPContractingCover.png

 

 

 

 

Comment

Comment

Family or Business? Ten Tips for Preserving the value of the family firm.

Family Legacy Cover.png

The Chicken or the Egg?

If you are in a leadership position in a family firm then you face the dilemma of, “which comes first the family or the business?”  But,“Wait a minute! You can’t just arbitrarily separate the two.  It’s not as simple as just asking yourself, “Which comes first?”  Okay, you’re right.  This dichotomy is a distortion . . . that’s true. But not asking this question can lead some family owners to poor management practices such as management by fear, over-committing to work, and to the demise of the family.  Later, I’ll share 10 tips to help you preserve the value of your family business, a task that is indicative of understanding the integration of the family and business. . . . .

But first, consider this . . .  If I audited your business, which part would I find gets the most attention and resources--including cash--spent on it?  Which domain has the largest share of advisers?  I just recently attended a social for family businesses where one owner indicated that they were about to have their "first ever" family meeting to plan for the future. "First ever!" for a large on-going firm with multiple family generations working in it.  This, unfortunately, is the norm not the exception.

Now ask yourself, this, "Which part of the family-business world gives you the most worries? " Are the biggest worries the business decisions you face? Or, are the biggest concerns for the family and the impact the business will have, good or bad, on the individual members and the family relationships? Family-based businesses that thrive find ways to preserve the value of both the family (including ownership) and the business. 

But many family leaders don’t pay adequate attention to the family dynamics and as a result the family suffers from unresolved conflict, damaged relationships, or all out family war.

I have seen it happen in so many ways . . .

  • brothers who can’t get along, each trying to one-up each other and prove their value to the firm; 
  • sons who feel entitled to taking over the firm and having a guaranteed career only to have that taken away (and then regretting not pursuing other careers;
  • daughters who can’t move on due to the loyalty and needs of the parents;
  • in-laws at conflict with their spouse’s family, each suffers from the grind of working, playing, and fighting together on a daily basis;
  • parents who have given control over to partners to hold for their minor children only to find the partners and children at war over control of the company;
  • husbands and wives at odds over a looming family crisis and how it should be handled. 

No mixing family and business is not easy. The very closeness and complex relationships that can be its strongest asset make family firms much more emotional environments than traditional organizations.

Still, family businesses are the most common type of businesses world wide. Many labor toward common goals, dealing with the family baggage well enough to survive . . . but living in the heightened emotional crucible of family-business tension. Others face transitional points (children entering the business or passing the baton) but have no road map for how to successfully deal with that transition. Yet many family firm leaders will tell me that the family is the business’s greatest asset.

Preserving the Family Business

So how do you preserve the value of the family business?  By taking the task of growing the “family assets” as seriously as you value the “business assets” of the company.  Here are ten ideas on how do accomplish it:

  1. Develop a family constitution, mission statement, white paper, or some other guiding document for your family.  When my Dad died a few years ago (after working in one organization for fifty-one years!) I found a list of goals he had set for himself early on in his career.  It was remarkable how many of those goals had been met!  We shared it with the President ofthe organization and he shared it at the funeral. It was interesting to me that not all of the goals were business goals, some were personal goals and others familial. It became clear how he had stayed in a leadership position for over five decades…
  2. Have regularly scheduled times (family board meetings) to focus on the family aspects of the family business.
  3. Develop a strategic plan for the families’ growth.
  4. Deal with baggage that is threatening the family and/or business quickly.
  5. Identify and use family advisers.  No not your accountant, lawyer, or banker. I’m sure they are all competent professionals.  But there competence lies in accounting, the law, and banking.  Not families. Look for a family therapist (who understands business), a family-firm consultant, or another type of mental health professional.
  6. Develop a clear understanding of the risks associated with each developmental stage of the family business.
  7. Create a family “balance sheet” of the pros and cons of the family-business interaction and examine in annually.
  8. Find ways to clearly distinguish “family time” from “work time.”
  9. Proactively market the family business to family members.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to be transparent, vulnerable, and forgiving.

If you own or work in/with a family based business, what has been the single best thing you have done to preserve the value of the family business?

For more on preserving your family business, enter your email and download our free eBook, or if you'd prefer, purchase it at Gumroad.

 

Comment

Comment

Preventing and Handling Conflict in Family Business

Plan or fail. Is your family business proactive about protecting the family in the business?

Plan or fail. Is your family business proactive about protecting the family in the business?

 

 

The following is an excerpt from our free eBook. Family Legacy: Protecting Family in Family Business.

Preventing Conflict

Rarely do families implement guidelines or procedures for managing family interactions within a family business. However, in many consulting situations, ground rules for communication are a helpful tool. Consultants who work in emotionally-charged groups will often set up guidelines for communication to help the consulting process succeed. Thus a simple rule such as “Refer to titles not people” or “Only speak for yourself” can help to reduce the risk of escalating conflict, as a comment like “Everybody knows that Robert is failing as a leader” can become “We need more leadership from the President position.”

Family businesses often do not implement structures that could prevent conflict. Suggestions regarding setting up a family constitution, holding regular family councils, or annual family assemblies are often met with resistance. “We don’t have time” or “I don’t want to mix family and business” are two of many reasons cited not to formalize the family’s interactions with the business and ownership dimensions. Even more resistance can be felt when the suggestion is to bring in an “outsider” in the form of a “family expert,” as many see this as unnecessary at best and a threat at worst. Attitudes persist that “good families” don’t need help. Unfortunately, most wait until problems have festered for years or decades and much damage has already been done.

A recent conversation will illustrate this sad situation. The author had a family business owner referred for possible consultation due to the fact that three siblings were beginning to “lawyer-up” for a fight over the assets of the parent’s estate and business holdings. The discussion was about how the siblings had reached the point where two had retained lawyers and the third was feeling compelled to “do something.” As we discussed the situation, the brother decided that it was unlikely that he could engage his co-owner siblings in a consulting process. He stated forlornly, “We should have had you come in years ago.” It is a sad comment family business consultants hear far too often.

When families are passive about the family issues, when they delay acknowledging tensions, and do not avail themselves of quality help, they often allow resentment, bitterness, conflict, and separation to grow and congeal. Businesses develop plans, engage in strategic thinking, hire experts to assist them . . . families deserve no less consideration and support. 

“Strong fences make good neighbors.”  Old Saying

“Love thy neighbor, yet don’t pull down your hedge.” Benjamin Franklin

Robert Frost, in his poem “Mending Wall” bemoans the division that barriers represent. He indicates “something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.” Most of us, especially in our families can agree. We want connection, not separation. But . . .

Handling Conflict

Family members need to understand what it means to be a good bystander. When humans experience conflict they often respond in one of three basic ways: avoid, freeze, or fight. When a family member sees conflict between two other family members, the tendency is to try to determine who’s right or assess who needs their loyalty or protection. This usually serves to broaden the fight from a two-person problem to a three-person problem, or even a whole-family problem.

Yes, there are times when assessing and acting if someone behaves in an unfair, unethical, or aggressive way—and confronting that issue—is necessary. But with most family conflicts the problems are less black and white and usually come from real differences in opinion, experience, or coping strategies. 

How to Protect the Family: Structure and Process for Family Businesses

Researchers have found that families benefit from structure, routine, planning, and communication. Recent attention in the news to findings like the positive impact of families who eat at least four meals together a week would be one example. Family businesses benefit from these structures as well. Here are some of the vehicles that family firms use to protect and help the family succeed:

Family Constitution or Mission: A document created to state the family’s values and goals. Used to continue to provide an anchorage for the family to return to as the family business grows and changes.

Annual meetings: Annual events, often combined with a family reunion, to engage the family and inform them of the strategic planning and performance of the family business.

Family Councils: A representative group meeting regularly to develop plans, policies and procedures for the family business; with a particular focus on creating good communication and interrelationship between the business and the family.

Succession Planning: A process to create a plan to guide, sustain, and promote the health of the family and business as ownership, management, and family roles change and pass from one generation to the next.

Sadly, the old adage, "those who don't plan . . . plan to fail" is still often proved true, even  often in the modern day family business where information and resources are widely available. 

Help your family business or the family businesses you serve. Get our free eBook: Family Legacy.

 

 

Comment

Comment

It's Here! . . . It's Free! Our newest eBook.

Well, it's finally here. Our new eBook on Protecting the Family in Family Business. We apply our knowledge and experience with families, business consulting, and work with family businesses to five our readers ideas on how to minimize the risks and maximize the advantages to the family who works together.  We hope you enjoy it!

You can also get our other free eBooks below . . .

Engaging Your Team: A Framework for Leading "Difficult" People

Private Practice through Contracting: A path away from insurance dependency.

Comment

Comment

The Right Tools

For 18 months I have been working with a contractor remodeling a large three-season porch and kitchen in our home. We live in our town's old train depot--remodeled and moved to the country--where very little in the original construction conforms to your standard "balloon-frame" modern homes I am used to working on. The challenges encountered in the remodel have been multi-varied and . . . interesting. 

I say "multi-varied and interesting" because our discoveries, and the resulting discussions, go something like this . . . "Remember. the guy who moved the depot was a train engineer, used to working on motors, so he reversed the white and black wires." Did you know that wiring color--one "hot" and one "common"--in motors are the reverse of the colors used in standard house wiring? I didn't.  

Another one was, "What they did here was combine a patio, a small porch and a deck to make this three-season porch floor. Then they shored it up with extra posts." What?  Or another, "The floor boards here are planks instead of finished boards because this was the baggage area." How do you finish a floor with half-inch gaps between the boards? (Answer: You nail in strips of boards and spend $300 on wood putty.) "You see the ceiling here used to go all the way to the roof . . . you can see where they boarded up the windows and put in trusses to create a lower ceiling." Oh, that's why I have to duck under that 5 foot ceiling in the attic!

I mean it when I say "multi varied . . . and interesting!" 

But that doesn't preclude other words . . . frustrating, confusing, even maddening.

Suffice it to say that each change in the remodeling process has resulted in head-scratching and sometimes finding "out-of-the-box" ways to solve each new challenge. Some of these challenges would have stumped my limited ability and knowledge, were I on my own, to find a solution . . . thank goodness for a contractor who has the skills, knowledge, and tools to find a solution. But there is a "down side" . . . I find myself wanting, and buying, many of the tools we've used. Maybe its and "up side?"

One of these tools is a Kreg Jig. Do you know what a Kreg Jig is? Well, that's a "Kreg" as we call it in the picture at the top of the post. A Kreg jig helps you build cabinets, shelves and other projects where having tight, well fitting joints is important. What does it do? It simple helps you get the right angle and depth for your fastener (a screw) so that you have a strong joint. That's it.  A $100 tool to make sure you put your screw at the best angle and don't drill too deep. Now that's a specialty tool. I've been building for years and making do with the "eye-ball-it method" of setting my screws at an angle and drilling carefully. But, the results are not always what I hope for. The Kreg takes all the guess work out of it and produces a superior outcome.

It reminds me of consulting.

Organizational leaders can ask questions, conduct interviews, run focus groups . . . but the results are not the same. Consultants bring an expertise, technique, and the tools of the trade to the task. This enables them to help leaders come out with a better product.  These tools include consulting methods, business knowledge, business experience and a host of other features.  But consultants are more than just "tool providers" they themselves are "tools" leaders use to impact their work teams. As "outsiders" consultants contributions are different than the leaders contributions even if they are doing the same activity! 

As I said earlier, I have built shelves and cabinets which you can do without a "special" tool like the Kreg Jig. After all, the only thing this does is help you put screws in at an angle to make a strong joint. I can do that on my own can't I? The answer is "Yes," however the results speak for themselves.  Leaders do well when they consider, "Do I need a consultant for this job?" And if the answer is "yes," to further consider "which consultant is the right one to use?" In this consideration, the core discipline of the consultant, should be considered as well.  Do I need legal expertise, business knowledge, an understanding of the human dynamics? Focus on the consultant's core expertise as you ask . . . is this the right "tool" for this job?

Here are the cabinets and the plank flooring. . . the right tool is worth the cost!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!

Cabinets and plank floor. Floor sanding and finishing is pending. The stove?  It's called a "Flair" made by General Motors!

Comment

Comment

Meeting with My Social Marketer/Graphic Designer Consultant

Andrew doing a TedX talk

Andrew doing a TedX talk

So, how does an "old dog" learn "new tricks?"  I refuse to believe that I . . . strike that . . . they, the old dogs, can't. Maybe that's why I stubbornly strive to complete my training as a fingerstyle guitar player despite having limited skills and no talent . . . or it could be just that sheer stubbornness. Anyway, I digress from the point.  How can someone . . . you or I . . . learn how to use the newer forms of marketing when we were not part of the technological generation?

Consultants. In my case a Social marketing/Graphic Designer who is 27 years old.  I know. I was there when he was born.  Yes, he is my son. But he is also someone who has developed two very successful Kickstarter campaigns, professionally works for firms in this capacity and, despite his youth, has widely read on the topic.

I know all of you don't have the good fortune of having a "kid" with this background, so, in this post I am going to summarize what I am learning.

1. Everything you do on-line should have a purpose. Is it to get traffic to your website? Get more people contacting you? Check out your free resources? Sign up for a newsletter?  You should have one goal and bend everything about your on-line connections to that goal.

2. A few simple, consistent, activities are better than a complex unmanageable plethora of activities. An active website where people can connect to your email list may be the one thing that your activities should support. So creating a blog, connecting no LinkedIn and Facebook (or your own 2 favorite venues) maybe enough.

3. Providing value is key.  You need to have good content, provide real value, and focus on helping others . . . not selling. People only buy things when they perceive that it has a value to them.

4. Having an outside consultant who doesn't get bogged down in the day-to-day fluctuations of operating your business helps tremendously.  A meeting with my consulting son clarifies what needs to be done, how to do it, and unleashes my work ethic in a dynamic way that makes the time and cost well worth it.  I'm a hard-sell on this myself (some would call it being cheap!) but I have learned to appreciate the value it provides. 

So here's how it is laid out for my business . . . 

  • Create high-quality "landing pages" on my website where people can get free ebooks

  • include links to these landing pages through blog posts, LinkedIn and Facebook

  • Add people to our email list and continue to provide them with valuable emails

  • Hopefully those who have additional needs will be interested in connecting with us at a higher level . . . through our publishing, training, and consulting

And here's the connection:  Free ebook Engaging Your Team: A framework for leading "difficult" people.  As a bonus you will get to see Andrew's graphic designs in the ebook.

Comment

Comment

October Toast & Jam

Mom's homemade grape jelly!

Mom's homemade grape jelly!

Our monthly "the best article I have found" series "Bread & Jam."  Sharing one or two influential articles you can read while you make toast . . . and, of course, a little Jam--just for fun!

Enjoy!!  

Please recognize that inclusion in the monthly Toast and Jam does NOT mean I agree with the author's opinions! In fact, sometimes it is quite the opposite! I plan to include cogent articles that challenge the reader's  thinking and that, I hope, will get you asking "better questions"about  your own particular situation!

Organizations and Business:

How to manage a toxic employee. Harvard Business Review

When you fix problems with mid-level managers you fix everything. Entrepreneur

The strange relationship between power and loneliness. Harvard Business Review

Consulting:

12 ways to generate leads for your consulting business. Entrepreneur.

The only 2 answers you need to make your next move. Great questions when exploring a consulting job!

Churches:

Why church leaders will never understand Millennials.

How to get people to respect your leadership.

And Jam: Fun and Curious:

Leadership Styles on TV entrepreneurs can learn from.

Interesting infographic on coffee beans.

 

Get our free ebook: Engage Your Team: A framework for leading "difficult" people.

Questions?  Contact us.

Comment