Viewing entries tagged
consulting

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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!

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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.

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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
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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.

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

PPContractingCover.png

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Consulting and the Cold Hard Truth

Statue of Veritas, Goddess of Truth, Wikipedia

Statue of Veritas, Goddess of Truth, Wikipedia

 

Avoiding the Truth

How hard is it to ignore the obvious? Well, if you work in a field that causes you to work closely with people that are having problems you would know . . . it's not that hard. As an example, I remember working with a lady who was dealing with end of life issues with her 80-plus year old mother. As we talked, she repeatedly aid "if she dies" then . . . as a therapist I gently kept reminding her that it was not "if" but "when" she died . . . we have a remarkable ability to see, or not see, uncomfortable truths. As a consultant working with organizations you need to ruthlessly make yourself, and often your clients, deal with the reality of their situations . . . not the dream of how it could, or should, be . . . .

I once worked with an organization where the outside experts had worked for a year with leadership to bring them to a "path forward."  They had created an agreement. They had endured a great deal of conflict, the loss of several of their board of advisors, had their primary leader go through an evaluation and remediation process and finally to the construction of the "agreement.". They were ready to go forward. Except they weren't. An hour of listening to them talk about the history and the creation of the agreement told me, "this leadership team is still split into two camps . . . those for, and those against, the current executive."

Risking Change

So I said it. "It doesn't seem like this leadership team is on the same page." My next thought was, "I'm so fired!" You see it's my firm belief that many people do not appreciate those who tell them hard truths. I often underestimate people in that way. To there credit, they were able to say to me, "You're right!" The hierarchy of the corporate structure and local leadership supported the conclusion and we threw out the agreement plan. Instead, we worked on a time-limited plan to see if we could get the leadership team on the same page or separate amicably for the good of the organization.

Speaking Truth . . . Anyway

I am aware it does not always end well if you risk speaking the truth.  I've had one manager who, when given the results of interviews with her employees (which were a mix of positives and negatives) exploded with "What is my manager going to think? I promised to share the results with him!" While uncomfortable, these moments allow for you to continue to guide leaders into confronting the truth . . . "Did you think you would only hear positives? Wouldn't your supervisor want you aware to the challenges to your team's success? or if you are in a coaching situation with that leader maybe it is a more personal "What makes you afraid of what your boss is going to think?"

Truth is the Only path to Change

Many experts on business have noted that leaders have to have an accurate picture of where they are and a vision of where they want to go. It is consultant's responsibility to help leaders look at all the facts of where they are in the present--without distortion or fear--and enable them to focus on how to take realistic steps toward the preferred future. In this, consultants themselves must model a willingness to confront the truth of their own involvement with the leader or organization. This includes the fact that your own view of the "truth" may not match the of the leader or organization. Do not run from this! When these views collide you very well may be at the moment of peak effectiveness to make change happen. A non-anxious presence of someone speaking truth at that moment can be transformative!

 

 

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One Tool to Rule Them All . . . My favorite tool by far!

Wikipedia

Wikipedia

"One Tool to Rule Them All, One Tool to find them, one Tool to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."   Someone other than J.R.R. Tolkien

My precioussssss . . .

Ever find something that captivated you like nothing else? Something you could not get off your mind? Something you constantly return to over and over again to find new facets of it's nature and utility?  No, it's not time for a trip to Mt. Doom to rid Middle-Earth of the dangerous ring. It's only an awe-inspiring app called Trello.

Trello is by far my favorite tool. I use it for almost everything I do as an entrepreneur and consultant. Among other things too numerous to mention, I use Trello to: track my business operations, market my business, store and deliver products and services, communicate and provide value to customers, create "tool carts" of resources to be used again and again with new customers . . . and I just keep finding new ways to use this tool.

The best thing about Trello is that it is so flexible and so intuitive.  You can learn to use it in minutes and you can still be finding new ways to use it after more than a year. Oh, another nice feature is it is free for the basic app--which will be all that most users need.

I am so excited about Trello that I have trained my HSC consultants on using it, provided a free web-training, and tout it's use to my customers.  Finally, because others continue to ask, I decided to record a video of my basic training so it can be shared by more people.

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

Pic by . . . me.  Hobbiton near Matamata, New Zealand

While Trello itself has really good resources to train you on it's use (and I would recommend using them) they often are very broadly applied--there simply are so many ways to use Trello that it would be impossible to target the training to a specialized interest. Thus you often have to search out applications that help you apply Trello's usefulness to your business needs.

In training consultants, I demonstrate the basic structure of Trello, introduce them to the common features they need to understand, and then show them the many ways we have put this to use working as a consulting firm. We think it will open up new ideas for how consultants can increase your efficiency and make the work easier. If you check it out, just don't get too obsessed with it, you don't want to end up like Frodo.

 

Available eBooks:

Private Practice through Contracting: Decreasing dependence on insurance.

Engaging Your Team: A framework for managing difficult people.

Family Legacy: Protecting family in family business.

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Taking your business on line.

First, I should tell you that I am not an IT expert.  However, I am fairly competent with IT (for my age). Although I the language I learned was "Basic" on a Wang magnetic-tape drive computer . . . I still have a basic handle on how computers and, simple, coding works.  Thus, in my own assessment, I'm not entirely without "an idea" but neither am I a professional.  I tell you this to help you put the following in context.

I am currently working to take much of my consulting services on line.  With the dramatic changes that continue to occur in IT it is at times overwhelming to try and sort through the "chaff" to get to the "grain" (Forgive the agricultural reference, but I am from the midwest . . .).  So here I want to tell you about the very best tools I have found. If you do any contracting (or want to) then I would encourage you to check these out.

If you are not very IT savvy, you can still go operate on line but you may need more "professional support." Once you get comfortable running, what I call a "team of teams" it becomes much easier to take on complex tasks outside your direct line of experience. This is critical in being a model leader, entrepreneur, or consultant.

All the best!

Bryan

 

The best tools I have found for taking business on line:

Squarespace:

For you website, I don't think you can do better than use this.  My IT son would probably disagree (but then again, he has had to spend a lot of time helping me transfer over information from the origin website we programmed together several years ago).  Why Squarespace?  Because it is a locked down version that allows a lot of flexibility.  

If you want to spend your time coding and creating your own very unique and specially designed website then Squarespace may not be for you.  Although you can introduce your own coding, it is purposely limited.  The upside? If you just want something easy to use, flexible, powerful, and professional looking then this is a great choice. After all do you want to spend your time building a website or building your business?

Trello

Trello is an awesome project management and organizational system. I use Trello to organize my operational tasks, as a marketing contact manager, to do project management, track my invoices and payment, create job-specific calendars for clients, share information and resources, and to promote and connect others to my products.

The primary reasons I use Trello are to build a strong brand for myself, develop products and processes that can be replicated (for myself and others), and connect clients with my business.  It truly is one of the most flexible and useful tools out there.

Gumroad

Have some products to sell?  Gumroad is a great place to set up shop and sell your physical and digital products.  Easy to use and connect to your website there is nothing out there that surpasses it as a vendor at this time.

Google Forms

Want to do a survey for a client?  Hope to set up a survey on your website to engage them and get people interested in your products and services?  Google Forms is a great way to create surveys, collect data, and display the results.

Join Me

For video conferencing (and sharing your desktop) I have found Join Me to be a friendly and useful tool.  They software is easy to learn and the basic services work very well.  The very first time I attempted to use Join Me . . . it worked with little or no struggles to "learn the software."  

I have other services and software that I use regularly but none of them live up to the satisfaction I have had with these five.  As I find other alternatives that are especially good, I'll share them here.  I hope you will share your "finds" here as well. A good recommendation is a great way to cut through the clutter and find the few jewels that will set you apart and make succeeding more likely.

Google Forms

I have used Google Forms for multiple purposes. Created my own on line surveys, signed up attendees for conferences and had the fill out a post-conference evaluation, created employee satisfaction surveys, and other sundry items.  It is user-friendly, intuitive, and can be shared with others easily.  Check it out!

If you have some on line tools you find very useful, please share them and we will check them out, and write about it as well!

Thanks, in advance, for sharing!

 

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