Monthly Archives: February, 2016

Why Choreography in Business Can Hold You Back

February 29th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Goal, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner 0 thoughts on “Why Choreography in Business Can Hold You Back”
What's holding you back

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Is your business constrained by choreography? What’s holding you back?

The following is an edited excerpt from the book Business is ART. It was originally posted on 12/13/2014 at the former Business is ART blog site and has since been modified.

Business is ART – Chapter 2 Excerpt

I hate line dancing. I hate when those two or three songs inevitably start at wedding receptions, parties, or when the band or karaoke DJ decides to take a break, and people get up, line up, and begin doing whatever it is that they do to those songs all in unison. I hate it.

So when people ask why I’m not joining them in a good, old-fashioned line dance, I like to say, “Because I refuse to be constrained by the shackles of choreography,” followed by, “That means I can’t dance.”

The reality is, I actually can dance. If I was famous, you would never see me on “Dancing with the Stars,” but if you did, I would likely get through a few rounds before being sent home. I would not win nor make it to the final round, but I can dance passably when I want to. I just really don’t like line dancing.

It is probably more accurate to say that this phrase means that I don’t like playing within certain boundaries. I like to be creative and play outside the boundaries. ‘Refusing to be constrained by the shackles of choreography’ means staying relevant. How?  Here are a few thoughts.

Don’t Get Comfortable

Rockstar Jon Bon Jovi said “Don’t get too comfortable with who you are at any given time – you may miss the opportunity to become who you want to be.”

There’s nothing like a nice bed or a comfy couch to stretch out on and snuggle in for a while to watch a movie or your favorite team.  But don’t let life be that couch.  If you do, you’ll fall asleep while everyone and everything changes around you.  When you wake up, you may even find someone took the remote.

Things Change – So Should You

Pay attention!  Things are constantly changing.  Particularly in business, if you aren’t paying attention, you will become irrelevant in relatively short order.

Think past current demand.

Andy Warhol said, “An artist is somebody who produces things that you don’t need to have.”

If you find yourself saying “The customers aren’t asking for it and they don’t need it,” you probably need to rethink your strategy. More likely, you don’t have one.

What’s Holding You Back?

Here are 4 simple questions to ask yourself:

  1. What shackles do you wear (what is holding you back)?
  2. Can you think of a time when you threw off the shackles?
  3. If so, what motivated you to do so?
  4. What would you do if the shackles were removed today (what’s your plan)?

If line dancing is your thing, more power to you.  But, in business, don’t be constrained by the shackles of choreography.  Throw off those chains and do a little free styling.  Make up a new, smooth move of your own.

With a little luck, pretty soon all the cool kids will be doing it.

4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, CEO, Entrepreneur, Goal, Leadership, Owner, Social Media, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success”

Business is ARTToo many young business leaders charge headstrong into the foray of their industry only to realize that they bit off more than they can chew. When it comes to starting a business and making it a success, you have to be prepared to take on anything that the business world will throw at you.

And that can often be a lot.

Between the competition, the costs and the unexpected bumps you are going to hit along the way, getting your company off the ground is never a straight shot from point A to point B. Instead, it is a winding road that will lead you all over the place. There will be days when you surge forward, days when you are left at a standstill and days that set you back more than you’d like to admit.

Nevertheless, you need to keep pushing forward with your business vision.

Tools that Build Success

Sounds easy, right? You’ve got your vision, you’ve got your business plan and you’ve even got a team in place to help you build it.

For some, this is all that is necessary. They have a lot of luck and their business just seems to take flight out of nowhere But these lucky first-timers are few and far between. Most people have to work very hard at building their business, and they often need a lot of help along the way.

You need more than a business plan to reach your definition of success. You also need tools to help you with everything from planning to your day-to-day operations. Even if you know exactly where you are going, you still need a means by which to get there.

Free Resources to Help You Out

There are quite a few free business tools out there that can help your business out. Some of the best that you can use are:

  • Google Apps: It’s like having Microsoft Word and Excel for free on your work computer. Plus, it is easy to share documents with your co-workers and clients.
  • Dropbox: A must have for businesses that need free cloud storage space. You can get 2GB of space for free, with paid plans upping your storage capacity.
  • LinkedIn: If you want your business to be taken seriously, you have to have a customer-facing image that is impressive and professional.
  • A Strategic Plan: What is your company’s vision and goals? It is essential for business owners to know where they want to go, but it is even more important to know how to get there. We have a free “One Page Strategic Plan” in our “Freebies” section that you can download to help get you there.

Learn as Much as You Can

The Business is ART book talks about not only having a plan, but always being prepared to revise that plan as the circumstances around you change. To do this, you have to learn all that goes into business planning, execution and more. The book, and our software subscription that is set to release soon, are two great tools that you can use to help you achieve success.

4 Secrets to a Good Meeting

February 22nd, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Delegate, Leadership 0 thoughts on “4 Secrets to a Good Meeting”

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We’ve all been there. Maybe you are there right now, reading this blog instead of paying attention to the drivel going on around you. The mindless, pointless, waste of time meeting that must make someone somewhere feel good because there seems to be no other point to it.

The title of this post is 4 Secrets to a Good Meeting but most of what I’m about to tell you is no big secret. Just a subtle reminder of the things you already know. But if we all actually followed through, we wouldn’t need to keep saying it over and over again.

The First Secret to a Good Meeting

The first secret to holding a good meeting is to know when not to have one. Before scheduling a meeting ask yourself, “What is it that I hope to accomplish in this meeting?” followed by “Can it be accomplished through other means?”

Be honest with yourself. Most of us like to feel important or in control of some things here and there because most things are outside of our control. Is that what this meeting is REALLY about? If so, don’t schedule it.

The Second Secret to a Good Meeting

The second secret to a good meeting is not attending it unless it is absolutely necessary. If the boss schedules it, you probably ought to accept it. But even if the invite is coming from the boss and you believe your time can be put to better use, inquire with the boss. Don’t assume your presence is not necessary. Inquire.

Too many people believe they have to be involved in or invited to every meeting. Again, sometimes this is to feel important and sometimes it’s because we want to be visible and in the know. But there are many better ways to be visible and in the know without wasting precious time sitting in meetings in which 1 or 2 people dominate and the rest politely listen.

The Third Secret to a Good Meeting

Once you know the meeting and your attendance are necessary, the third secret to a good meeting is to make sure there is a published agenda. It helps if the agenda is published ahead of time. I’ve worked with people who refuse to publish an agenda until everyone is seated in the meeting. That’s usually a hint that everyone is there to hear the meeting coordinator talk as opposed to a meeting in which everyone is actually participating.

A pre-published agenda helps invitees to get a better feel for whether their attendance is truly required or not. But the primary purpose of the agenda is to keep the meeting on point.

The Fourth Secret to a Good Meeting

The fourth secret of a good meeting is to have a time keeper. It’s too easy to get off topic or long winded on a topic unless someone is tracking the time. That someone should be other than the person running the meeting. Each topic on the agenda should have a maximum duration defined and identified on the agenda document itself.

Before the meeting begins, the timekeeper is identified and it should be made clear that he or she will interrupt if agenda topics go long.


There are many more “secrets” to a good meeting, but, again, most of these aren’t secrets at all. You already know this stuff. It may help to expand on this list and publish internal rules to meetings. To get you started, here are the 4 questions to ask:

  1. Is the meeting necessary?
  2. Do I have to attend?
  3. Is there an agenda?
  4. Who is the timekeeper?

Happy meeting!

How to Tell it’s Time to Quit Your Job and Start Your Own Company

February 18th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership, Vision 0 thoughts on “How to Tell it’s Time to Quit Your Job and Start Your Own Company”

back in the old country, anyone with a vision was considered a witchFormer NFL football coach Mike Shanahan said of professional football players, “If you’re thinking about retiring, you’re probably already retired.”

The same may be true for any career, particularly if you are thinking about starting your own business.  If you’re searching the Internet for ways to tell if it’s time to quit your job, you probably already know the answer to the question.

Many people switch jobs when they are unhappy, but comparatively few leave their jobs to pursue what they really want to do: start their own company.

It Has Been Done Before

Every business leader started at one low-level job or another. Michael Dell washed dishes at a Chinese restaurant before moving on to found Dell, Inc; David Oreck was a wholesale distributor for RCA before becoming one of the most recognizable faces in the vacuum cleaner industry. Former Vice President Al Gore invented the internet before he…never mind.

Are you destined to become a famous industry mogul? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become a successful business owner. It’s entirely possible to transform your business vision into a successful company.

And it all starts with you quitting your dead end job.

Read the Signs

They may not even be that obvious, but there are signs that you are working at a dead-end job. Even if you don’t dread going to work in the morning, that doesn’t mean it’s not time to quit.

It’s not all about screaming bosses, not having a life outside of the company and co-workers whose presence is nauseating. Sometimes the signs are a bit subtler and can include:


If your job isn’t challenging or is too repetitive, it can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Besides money, job fulfillment is one of the biggest things that people look for in a job. You should love your job, and you shouldn’t have to convince yourself to get up and go to work every morning.


Have you held the same position for years? When was the last time you learned a new skill? Jobs that teach you something new or provide a means towards a promotion are essential to feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. But sometimes we stay for too long with a company that simply passes us over for too long. When it gets to this point, it’s time to get out and make something happen for yourself.


Do your eyes glaze over when you see the company motto and values? Does seeing the executives’ excitement at the future of the company make you stick your tongue in your cheek? If you just don’t care about the mission of the company, how is it possible to enjoy what you do every day? When you start your own company, something that you are passionate about, you will always leave work feeling energized and excited.

You’re Not Too Old

The average and median age of business founders is 40, according to a survey of 549 founders of businesses conducted in 2009. About 70 percent of these respondents also stated that they were married when they started their business, and about 60 percent said that they had at least one child (43.5 percent had two or more).

Still think that you are too old, too busy or too involved with your family to start a business?

If you have a dream, and the means to chase it, then you should do everything in your power to pursue it.

Grab Some Help Along the Way

Starting a business can be a daunting endeavor, but with the right tools, a few dedicated partners and enough determination, it can be done. If you have no idea where to get started, check out the Business is ART book.  It can help you take the initial leap towards becoming the successful entrepreneur that you’ve always wanted to become.

Be Prepared

A word of caution – don’t quit your job or wait to be let go from your employer to start preparing for your business. When you have no income, that’s the worst time to start planning. You start cutting corners and might even get in to panic mode, leading you to make the wrong decisions. Take some time. Draft your vision and strategy.

Think it through. Just don’t take forever. Give yourself a due date for the prep work.

Then go for it.

4 Secrets to Creativity

February 13th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Inspiration, Leadership, Vision 0 thoughts on “4 Secrets to Creativity”

creativityCreativity and inspiration. Where do they come from? The answer may be as unique as the individual providing it. In this excerpt from Business is ART, 4 secrets to creativity are suggested – for those times when it just doesn’t come naturally.

Business is ART Excerpt

“But this stuff doesn’t just come to me. My brain doesn’t work that way,” you might say [when challenged to develop a creative solution].

Just remember, any plan is ART [Articulate, Revise, Track] and anyone can be an ARTist. We just all have different methods. So find or create one that works for you. Here are some suggestions to help you along:

  1. Take time out. Set aside time to remove yourself from the shackled environment to just kind of free your mind. That could be literally or figuratively. Maybe an afternoon on the water. Maybe a walk on the bike path. Maybe yoga. Maybe a treadmill. Maybe lying down on your couch with no TV or distractions. Whatever works for you. I personally have to work at finding ways to make my mind just shut down for a while. Not thinking is one of the hardest things to do because there is always something going on up there. But I find some of my best ideas come to me in the shower, riding in silence in the car, floating on a boat, or at that point between being asleep and waking up in the morning: those times when my mind is not racing on any number of subjects.
  2. Brainstorm. Now, some people think the term “brain- storming” is old, tired, irrelevant, and even politically incorrect. The cool kids are trying out all kinds of alternative words for it, like “mind showers.” But it’s a fruitless religious argument. Call it whatever you want; it’s how you do it that matters. The one thing you want to avoid is “groupthink.” This is when the most vocal or senior people in the room dominate the idea-generation session and, due to either their volume or their title, everyone else becomes robotic and automatically says, “That’s a great idea.” Find a way that works for you and your group in which all voices are heard and all ideas at least get on the table for consideration. For me, that method is the trusty old yellow sticky pad, for two reasons. One, it gives everyone a voice and two, as previously stated, there is tremendous power in writing something down. A method you might try is to hand out yellow sticky pads to everyone and ask them to write single ideas on single pieces of paper for whatever the topic or question is. Set a time limit. I like one to three minutes, depending on what I have asked them to respond to. Then tell them “pens down” and collect it all. Now you can stick all the ideas up on the wall and even begin to categorize them before moving on to the next topic. This works for me, but you have to find whatever works best for you. Maybe it’s this. Maybe not.
  3. Reverse Engineer. In Double Double, [Cameron] Herold suggests starting with the end state in mind, then working your way backward to determine the path forward. Instead of saying, “First, I need this,” think, “Last, I need this. Right before it, I need that.” Go from point Z to point A rather than points A to Z in your planning process to avoid the trap of doing the same old things the same old ways, hoping you will get different results. J.D. Salinger said, “I am a kind of paranoid in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.” While there is humor in this statement, it is also very profound and perfectly parallels what Herold is saying. Salinger’s destination in this case is people making him happy. Narcissistic? Maybe. Selfish? Perhaps. Clever statement? Definitely. He starts with the destination. So what is he likely to do? He is likely to start from that destination and consciously or unconsciously work his way backward, ultimately engaging and surrounding himself only with those people who make him happy.
  4. Don’t “exception handle.” It drives me crazy when we’re trying to figure something out and there is that one person in the room who constantly says, “Well, that only works if this is true.” Pretty soon, we are so deep down a rabbit hole that even the rabbit has to carry an oxygen tank. So if you can’t go from Z to A and just have to go from A to Z, then stay focused on getting to Z by assuming everything will work just fine. You can exception handle on the next few passes, but on the first go, just go.

5 Ways to Deal With Doubt

February 11th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Delegate, Entrepreneur, Goal, Leadership, Objective, Owner 0 thoughts on “5 Ways to Deal With Doubt”
dealing with doubt

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The Serial (Entrepreneur) Killer

You don’t have to own a business to act with an entrepreneur’s spirit. You can take ownership in whatever role you play, no matter how big or how small the company or organization.

In this week’s podcast – The Serial (Entrepreneur) Killer – my guest, Pat Thackery, and I discussed some things that are sure-fire ways to kill an entrepreneur’s dreams. Some of the primary killers we discussed included:

  • Not surrounding yourself with smart people (hopefully smarter than you)
  • Freaking out over the daily numbers
  • Micromanagement (the “I gotta do it myself” syndrome)
  • Assuming that being the owner makes you better than the employees
  • Not setting a clear vision for your business
  • Not having and being flexible enough to adjust your plan

Doubt – 1 of the Biggest Killers

But there are several other things that can kill the entrepreneur’s dream. One of the biggest is doubt. Unless you’re a narcissist, you probably have at least some doubts. That’s only natural. How you handle them is what is important.

There are many schools of thought out there but here are a few things you might try to keep your doubts in check.

  1. Identify your strengths. What makes you good at the things you do and how can you play to those strengths in your entrepreneurial endeavors?
  2. Identify your blind spots. Ask people who know you well, and don’t get defensive or angry with them when they are honest with you. Thank them for their input, then start thinking about how to “cover” the blind spot. Is it something you can turn in to a strength, or is it something that will save you a whole lot of time, energy, focus and heartache if you “outsource” it to someone else?
  3. Change your perspective. Don’t get caught up in a mode of saying “I can’t do this” in a whiney, defeatist kind of way.  Start practicing the “I can’t do this, and therefore I am going to get someone to do it for me – because my talents are better spent on other tasks” kind of way.
  4. Set small, achievable objectives that lead to bigger goals. If you set huge objectives right out of the gate, you will begin to lose faith when it appears to be taking too long to reach them. Set smaller milestones and objectives along the way. Celebrate when you hit them, double down and make adjustments when you don’t…but keep moving.
  5. Practice saying “I’ve got this. I can do this.” In my recent article at, I discuss the topic of luck. In it I ask and answer the question “Does luck exist?” Studies show that to a great extent we create luck and that a major key to it is simply believing.

You’ve got this.


February 4th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Self-Assessment”

ReflectionNote: Self-Assessment originally appeared at the former Business is ART blog site on November 11, 2014. Since then, the book Business is ART was published and it includes similar discussion. Additionally, a free ebook entitled “6 Steps to Evolving With Intent” has been made available. Finally, Segment #17 – State Your Business, from the Business is ART podcast at discusses the subject of self-assessment as well. Hence, I thought it was time to pull this out again and re-post it.

Food for Thought

Ken Wilbur, American writer, philosopher and public speaker says, “Perhaps the best place to begin with an integral approach to business is with oneself.”

A self-assessment should be included as an early and important part of creating the vision and painting the picture for your business or organization. The scales of the work/life balance are never going to be at equilibrium, but if your personal vision, mission and definition of success versus that of your business or organization do not align, the scales will be heavily and statically tipped to one side or the other.

As we were beginning to formulate a vision for the business I ran at the time, I engaged the services of a coach. Through his lead, we conducted a deep-dive, personal assessment of me, the individual.


This experience was invaluable for many reasons. Principally, it helped keep me focused, and it helped to confirm that this was indeed the right job for me, at the right time, and that the business vision that was beginning to emerge was in line with my own. Without that alignment we would not have ultimately been as successful as we were.

Before going too far in creating your vision, you are strongly encouraged, regardless of position in the company or organization, to go through a self-assessment process and, if at all possible, employ the services of a professional coach or a peer group: unbiased people that can relate to your situation, with no other agenda than to help you succeed; people willing to listen to you and respectfully shoot straight with you.

Partners, bartenders, and your old dog don’t count here because it is too easy for them to simply agree with you, there is too much opportunity for you to hold back, and there is too much opportunity to destroy relationships by not doing so.

Addendum February 4, 2016

If you haven’t read the Malcolm Gladwell book entitled Blink, do yourself a favor and go read it. In the blink of an eye, you generally know what to do and how to act (or react). But then outside “junk” like doubt and critics get in the way so that by the 2nd and 3rd blinks, you’re making a different choice. Sometimes all you need is someone to facilitate you there or to hear yourself say it out loud. The job of a coach is to get you back to that first blink.

Your Most Formidable Opponent

February 1st, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “Your Most Formidable Opponent”
You are your most formidable opponent

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“Your Most Formidable Opponent” originally appeared in the former Business is ART blog site on October 14, 2014. Leading in to Super Bowl weekend, it carries an appropriate message, whether you are a football/sports fan or not.

Lou Holtz

I once had opportunity to hear famed football coach and TV personality Lou Holtz speak at a business conference.  He was inspiring, entertaining, educational and funny.  Everything you’d want in a keynote speaker.

You would think a speech impediment might deter someone from being a big time coach, teacher, communicator and television commentator.  But not Coach Holtz. In fact, he ultimately turned it in to something of a trademark. It’s almost a brand. When he speaks, you know it’s him without looking or seeing his name in print.

In his speech, he talked about it and dismissed it jokingly.  Even though he only did so in somewhat passing fashion, and it wasn’t the focus of his speech, it sent a powerful message.

Limitations are Perceived

It said, “It doesn’t matter your perceived limitations. Take what you were given and mold it in to something better.  Something that works for you, without changing who you are.”

One of my favorite parts of his speech was a joke he told about a time he was in town to coach his team in the national championship bowl game.

He and his wife were out for dinner when the waiter said to him, “Hey, Coach.  Do you know the difference between cereal and Lou Holtz?  The cereal belongs in a bowl.”

This really made Holtz mad, and the longer dinner went on, the more angry he got.  He told his wife he was going to say something to this inconsiderate waiter, but she urged him to keep his cool.  He acquiesced to her request for calm and they enjoyed a nice dinner together.

But when dinner was over and the waiter brought the check, Coach Holtz said to him, “Hey, do you know the difference between a bookie and Lou Holtz? The bookie will give you a tip.”

It’s All On you

In closing, a great quote from Coach Holtz, as well as a great summary for the speech I had the honor of hearing him give is as follows, “How you respond to the challenge in the second half will determine what you become after the game, whether you are a winner or a loser.”

And the most formidable opponent you will ever face is you.

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