Posts tagged "Jon Umstead"

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”

Photo courtesy

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!

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.


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.


January 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “Rebranding”
rebranding infographic

Courtesy Wheelhouse Advisors

Rebranding and branding have been on my mind a lot lately. With a book, an online radio show, some new services and a lot more definition around what I do as a consultant, it’s a valid concern. I started independent consulting as SeaSeven LLC and used an online service to generate a logo, just to get something up and running without a lot of investment.

The Questions

A few months ago, I removed that logo from my website and any new marketing materials. Instead, the website now reads “Jon Umstead – doing business as SeaSeven LLC.” Is there any point continuing that practice of identifying myself? I’ll maintain the LLC for legal and contract purposes, potentially with a name change, but do I need to advertise it?

And what about the software I plan to release this year? It’s based off of the process and templates defined in Business is ART, but is it the Business is ART Software, BIA Software, or does it get a name all to itself unrelated to the title of the book that gave birth to it?

Seems Like All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

So many considerations when it comes to branding and rebranding, and I am certainly not alone. Almost all of the members of the CEO/Business Owner mastermind group I facilitate are at least giving it thought. Every day you read about another well known brand going through a rebranding effort, including complete name changes.

Just as the continual changes in everything that surrounds us drives us to require a constantly evolving strategic plan, it also drives us to continually ask “Do I have the right brand strategy?”

Do you?

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck

January 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Employment, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck”

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Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck originally appeared on an earlier version of the Business is ART web site, January 25, 2015. I was reminded of it last night sitting in as a guest on Dr. Jessica Cortez’ new show at – In Sickness and Health. Click here to listen on Soundcloud and scroll down to the show segment entitled “This isn’t Our First Rodeo.”

How many times have you asked why you should incentivize people to do their job when a paycheck should be incentive enough? Taking this attitude is a huge mistake, and here is why.

Most people desire to do a good job. Doing good, quality work produces an emotional response of feeling good, feeling valued, and feeling happy. It’s pride. People want to do good work. The employer, however, wants exceptional work, and often assumes everyone knows what that means.

The Incentive Chasm

From the start, this may create a huge chasm in expectations. What one might, legitimately, see as good work, may be seen by the employer as not good enough. So it is very important to formally set expectations in order to eliminate the chasm.

Define “good enough” in your organization and then stretch it a bit to say “but this is exceptional.” Then go on to say, “And this is what I expect of you.”

You are paying people a base wage or salary for the “good enough,” however that is defined.  The intent of the incentive is to get them go beyond “good enough” and achieve “exceptional.”

Define Expectations and Incentives

However you approach it, it is important that you formally define “good enough” and “exceptional”, and critical that you communicate what that means in terms of expectations and reward. Formally define the incentive and when it is earned, give it with pleasure.

Your risk of not doing so is losing employees who truly are exceptional or have the potential to be.

Start with a Plan this New Year

January 3rd, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Business Plan, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “Start with a Plan this New Year”
Vision, strategy, plan, business plan

Don’t Lose Sight

Bloated, tired and resolute. That’s how many of us feel as we ring in the new year – determined that this time the resolutions will stick. I WILL lose the weight. I WILL exercise regularly. I WILL get that job. I WILL start that business.

The year usually starts off with us going hard and fast after our resolutions, but within a few weeks for most, it turns back in to business as usual.

For me personally, it will be awfully tough to top 2015. I married the woman I love, which would have made it a great year if nothing else happened.

But a lot more did happen. I published a book and produced a musical that I’d written. I launched a new web site for the book, defined a new consulting service and started an online, on-demand radio program named after the book.

I also got a new hip, and although major surgery like that is no fun and I am still improving from it, I am looking very forward to walking again without pain.

Yes, 2015 was a good year. What will 2016 be like? Who knows? But a couple of good things in the plans include the marriage of 2 of our kids this coming Fall.

And there is the magic word – “plans.”

Whatever your resolutions or goals and objectives this year, without a plan for getting there, you’ll be making the same resolutions net year. No matter what you want to accomplish, it all begins with a plan.

Here’s to making this New Year the year you begin with a plan.

Three Pillars of Behavior

December 8th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Relationships, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Three Pillars of Behavior”
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

I refer to these as the three pillars of Behavior Management.  At work, if your Behavior Management strategy does not address all three of these pillars, there is an increased chance that you will not get the results you would like (or need) from your employees.

My opinion is that most people in the workforce want to do a good job that they can be proud of.  Most employers want exceptional performance from their employees.  If this is true, then already there is a chasm.  What is “good enough” in the employee’s mind may not be good enough in the employer’s mind.  So how do you bridge the gap?

Start by considering these three pillars.  What does the employee #desire? What gets the employee to feel a positive #emotion about the job and the company? And finally, what does the employee #know?  This goes beyond knowing the job and is a critical piece that should seem obvious, yet is often overlooked.

As an example, the employee desires to do good, quality work because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself, and that makes him/her feel happy (emotion).  But the employee “knows” there will be no recognition or reward from the employer beyond a paycheck.  What is the likelihood that employee will burnout and performance will suffer in the long run?

Two mistakes employers make in this regard are:

  1. A paycheck should be incentive enough to do a good job (see “chasm”).
  2. Incentive and reward beyond the regular paycheck means more money.

Neither are necessarily true, and there are all kinds of ways to address them, but that’s another topic for discussion. In the meantime, if you focus your Behavior Management strategy on these 3 pillars, you will be way ahead of the competition.

You Must be Crazy

December 7th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “You Must be Crazy”

Do you have to be crazy to be an entrepreneur or a CEO (or other type of leader)? I mean, think about it. You’re putting yourself in a highly scrutinized spotlight. You’re putting your livelihood and assets on the line, putting relationships at risk, and probably spending a lot of money you don’t have just to get started.

Sounds crazy, right?

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Well, it turns out that there are some personality traits typically viewed as negatives that might actually help people to become entrepreneurs and leaders. Indeed, bi-polar disorder is often referred to as the CEO Disease because some of the very characteristics of bi-polar behavior are present in many of the world’s most successful CEOs, like Ted Turner and Steve Jobs.

A pet peeve of mine is that when someone is a little different or struggling, especially when they are kids, we rush to label or medicate them. Well-meaning people think they are doing the right thing, but what they could be doing is stifling that person’s ability to become the next great leader (or masking a “problem” instead of treating it, thereby creating larger and potentially dangerous circumstances).

The trick is recognizing, encouraging and even teaching leadership and entrepreneurial potential early, although it is never too late.

The “crazy entrepreneur” is the subject of the December 7 edition of  my weekly newsletter, The Weekly See 7.

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