Tag Archives: execution

How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Marketing psychology studies consumer behavior to find out the reasons and influences behind people buying stuff. And just as with any body of knowledge, it can be used well, or to take advantage of others.

A hard-wired human trait that marketers take advantage of is loss aversion.
One of the hardest instincts to overcome, loss aversion can be explained like this: It’s scarier to think of losing something that you already have, than it is to consider a possibly risky action to get something you want but don’t have yet. What you have is yours. A threat to it, or a hint of losing it, will hit you harder than losing a chance to gain something else.

Fear is a very strong motivator to hold onto things. When you have something, you have it: you can touch it, look it up, console yourself that it’s in storage. You know it’s there, you know you have it, and that knowledge keeps your stable world view secure. It also gives you some peace of mind that you have control.

Witness hoarders from the minimalist to the extremists, and how the storage industry helps people hide more stuff than they can fit into their homes. Think of the data storage industry and how it uses assurance to assuage people’s worries about data protection. In your own home there’s the catch-all drawer, and, well, how many old, busted umbrellas do you have hanging around somewhere?

No one likes losing stuff. Marketers from every niche and industry know it, that’s why there’s insurance for damn near everything. People also buy stuff motivated by the need to protect the things they already have.

All of that being said, how can use you use the power of loss aversion for yourself?

Knowledge is power, and now that you’re aware of how the threat of loss can affect your decisions, even subconsciously, how can you use that power to work in your favor?
Continue reading How To Manage Change Using Loss Aversion

Your Presence Is Required

What’s the difference between doing something and practicing doing it?

When we practice something, the consensus is, the practice is a lead-up. Framed this way, practice gets a different treatment from the ‘real thing.’ For example, doing something like taking a few practice swings to warm up and get into the groove before playing ball. Since practice gives you more space to allow and accept mistakes, it’s not as serious, nor for keeps.

With practice, you have more time to ‘get it right’ and not so much pressure to get it right as to ‘get into the flow.’ That’s how the practice of practice can give off the impression of it not being as important as ‘the real thing.’ Without, say, screaming crowds or an apprehensive, appreciative audience, you can’t be faulted for thinking that. It’s the exciting stuff that gets attention.

So, makes what’s the difference? Take your pick.

Goals.
The end defines the means. The clearer the goal, the more chances you have of finding appropriate ways and means to get there. Different goals for different fields show this. And even acquiring skills are counted as goals.

Goals that require physical mastery, for example, like playing the violin or playing basketball. Each area has different requirements, but in essence on the professional level one must be able to play with the instrument of choice as if it was an extension of one’s body. It does what you want it to. For that to happen, you need to train your whole body to know what to do to produce a desired effect, whether it’s producing a trill or making the perfect overhead shot, without you having to consciously think about it.

Goals that require intellectual discernment are different. Rote memorization can be boosted by memory exercises and practice. Discernment can only be gained through exposure, trial-and-error experience, and critical thinking. It isn’t making something do what you want it to as figuring out the how and whys, before going on to such questions as, what can I do with this, how can I make it do this instead.

 

Resources.
Limits help define what you can and can’t do in a particular situation. Limits can force us to be more creative with how we move within them, just like stretching a budget (limited funds), being fanatically good at time-management (limited time), and focused productivity (limited focus and mental energy.)

Continue reading Your Presence Is Required

How To Make Boring, Unsexy Progress

When people speak of others being overnight successes, what it boils down to is the fact that all of a sudden, everyone is talking about that particular person. In today’s language, these people became viral in a good way.

Breaking the phrase down, ‘overnight’ and ‘success’ hits all the sweet spots in our hindbrain.  ‘Overnight’ appeals to the part of us that want things fast and easy. ‘Success’ gets us to imagining what it’s like to be admired, or wealthy, or famous. Or all three.  Witnessing an ‘overnight sensation’ also works in the same vein — ‘sensation’ taps into the feel-good mechanism in our brain, which lights up whenever we get a hit of something that pleases us or makes us feel good about ourselves. “If they can do it, I can too!”

It rarely matters to the public how hard or how long someone’s been working on whatever it is that helped them become a success; When somebody becomes a star, being in the spotlight can cast a deep shadow over the work done behind the scenes and throughout the years. All the audience can see is how flattering the lighting is, and how put-together and happy the star of the show looks, and how inspiring the story is.

And aside from sound-bytes and maybe a short montage,  you don’t usually get to see the frustrations, disappointments, wrong turns and stubborn grit it took to get them to the point where they finally caught the public’s attention. The editors and technicians see to that.

The thing is, the way ‘overnight’ comes across, and adding the temptation of ‘sensation’ into the picture, that all glosses over one small principle that gets overlooked and yet can help us become successful to ourselves and for ourselves.

‘Get-rich-quick’ and ‘get-famous-quick’, or ‘overnight success’ can sometimes end up as ‘one-hit wonders’ and ‘flash-in-the-pan’ phenomena. Consistent and steady progress makes for meaningful, solid work that lasts. Continue reading How To Make Boring, Unsexy Progress

Rethinking “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

Here are a few questions for you:

  • Did you make decisions about what exactly are your hard targets to accomplish this year in advance, or do you often resort to planning on the fly?
  • Do you go through how a plan — in its entirety, stage by stage– will align with your goals before you push through with it?
  • Do you track the results of your plans, whether they’re marketing campaigns or productivity schedules?
  • Do you track any changes you make to your plans when you encounter issues that make these changes necessary?
  • Over the course of the past year, did you feel that you were getting better at looking ahead (forecasting) and  mentally preparing (visualizing) for the things  coming your way?
  • How good would you say you are at visualizing and preparing for execution and assessment?


The popular advice when it comes to executing plans is, “Ready, fire, aim.”

The belief  behind this advice says that speed is essential, time is precious, and each miss gets you closer to the goal.  The caveat asks you to dig deeper at the supporting structure behind this set-up and see how it applies to you in the field, not in theory.

There are tons of advice out there for entrepreneurs. But you need to be sharp about which advice is reliably useful to you and the issues you encounter.  Personalization, in this case, also applies to you, and not just your customers: Take what you can use and leave the rest.

“Ready, fire, aim,” may not  fit the way you choose to work. It can conflict with your personality, or your chosen methods, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What works for you, works. As long as you focus on staying on-target, you’ll be good.

Other considerations.
What is your budget, say, for ‘misses’? Not just in financial terms, but in labor and time, too?  How close do you need to be to the goal to count the attempt as a hit or a miss?

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.
Bruce Lee

Continue reading Rethinking “Ready, Fire, Aim.”

Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

In 6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service we shared the following points on establishing, maintaining, and keeping good relationships with customers by using the following rules:

1) Take the long view for your business and build for it.
2)”No,”  isn’t an easy thing to say, and knowing when and how to say it is a valuable  skill.
3) Keep current of market research.
4) Ask for feed-back regularly.
5) Customers stay when they get their needs met and their wants satisfied.
6) Have a solid plan to handle complaints.

It can sound sort of hokey to say, “Be someone your customers can trust and depend on to give the honest, good service and provide products that work as they should.” That should already be a given, right?

Yes, but that message shouldn’t just be said at the beginning of the relationship, but iterated through action in every successive encounter with the customer. You can’t just say something like that and have the customer believe you.  And here’s yet another ‘cliche’, “Actions speak louder than words.” Customers may want to believe you, but you have to prove it each time they initiate interaction with you, whether it’s a purchase, an inquiry, or even a complaint.

You say you have the best product, the best one for their needs.  You have to prove it with your product performing well, solidly and consistently. You say you value their presence,and embrace their patronage, you have to act in a way aligned with what you say. Continue reading Be As Good As Your Word: How To Win In Business

Don’t Stick To The Problem, Work On The Answer

All businesses offer value for money — whether that value comes in the form of a product or a service, that’s how businesses survive. Running a business, on the other hand, is an involved process of  brainstorming, planning, execution, testing, course-correcting, and problem-solving. Nothing ever really goes quite the way it’s plotted out on paper, and dealing with problems is part of the whole thing of having a business of your own.

Many times, it’s not the problems that give you problems, but the getting stuck in the problem-solving that trips you up even worse than ‘the problem.’

Running a business is full of challenges. You deal with customers, deadlines, late payments, marketing, complaints, etc.  You’re responsible for managing the little things and big things while you take the wheel and drive your business to where you’re aiming to go next. And one of the biggest responsibilities is managing and resolving issues. This is where a major part of the stress that business owners face comes from.

Now, the issue hiding in plain sight is that problems have a way of taking over your thinking process— you get stuck in the problem-solving and can’t progress into the taking-action and problem-solved stages.

When it comes to entrepreneurial problem-solving, sometimes the things we learned in science and English classes can help us make the process easier. See, the science teaches us to be methodical: things are connected in ways we don’t usually learn in the course of daily living, but when  we learn these connections, we get to understand how things work. English teaches us that how we use languages can influence people and the way we think.  In the same vein, how we  state a problem  can point us in the direction of the solution, or keep us stuck. Continue reading Don’t Stick To The Problem, Work On The Answer

10 Tips to Address Work Overload

As an entrepreneur and a business owner, there is not enough time in the day for you to  accomplish everything  you capture and put on your list.   There’s business-related stuff, which covers making sure your business is healthy. This includes things like attending to your concerns in marketing, finances and taxes, production, customer relations, legal issues and  business permits, social media, blogging, etc.

Then there’s your personal stuff — like your health (physical, mental, and emotional), and the important things that make up your life — your relationships, your family and friends, your hobbies, etc.

In the rush and push to finish what is important and urgent– and the way things go, practically everything that falls into our laps feel that way– some things  eventually get pushed to the side along the way.
Peace of mind can become a faint memory.
Focus breaks down into stuttering dribs and drabs.
Energy levels drop. Attention fractures.
That’s what happens when the the To-Do list never ends for the day.

Being burdened with too many things to do is endemic in our world now. The  time-crunch and stress has  been the driving force behind the productivity movement and all the self-help material written and produced to help us carry the unwieldy and often out-of balance load.

Here we present  a few basic ways to deal with the issue, all of which can be used in various combinations or  simultaneously for a multi-pronged sustainable solution to the situation. Continue reading 10 Tips to Address Work Overload

How To Handle Roadblocks To Your Goals

When you run a business it means you’ve already closed several important goals. You made concrete decisions and acted on them to make your business a reality– whether your business started out as a bright idea hastily jotted out on a napkin at your favorite coffee shop,  or an  excited audio recording you made on your phone while you were out doing the groceries and stumbled into a full-fledged vision.

Now whether you’re just starting  out, or  already matured your business into stability, or  you’re at the stage where you can think of expansion, there are always things that you need to keep an eye on, just to make sure you don’t run yourself down while managing the eventual snags and roadblocks on the way to realizing your goals.

Here are 4 thoughts to keep in mind when you’re planning ahead and thinking of obstacles to your progress.

ONE: Make a “plan to fail.”
Plans survive  when you have reliable data to help you make alternative decisions. At this point you should have enough data available to see when and where your goals can come to a halt. Thinking ahead is a mentally tiring activity, yes, but in  terms of  creating back-ups, alternative plans, and disaster recovery blue-prints , the labor and discomfort NOW are  small beans compared to what you save by avoiding problems and minimizing the impact of the ones you can’t avoid — as well as creating enough buffers to cushion you in case you’re blindsided by this thing called life. Continue reading How To Handle Roadblocks To Your Goals

Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

One of the most effective practices to success in your business is encouraging a positive mindset in facing challenges. When you work on stretching and expanding your capabilities and skills, your  potential for success can surprise you.  These skills include the specific abilities you use in your work (for example: coding and design,  data analysis and interpretation, planning ), but also extend to the so-called ‘fuzzy areas’ which include interpersonal relations, personal improvement, and risk-taking. When you strengthen your skills, you grow more confidence in your ability to handle difficult situations and adversity, and make a working  relationship with discomfort.

See more here: Welcome To The Discomfort Zone, Part 1 and Part 2

Learning and growth is a life-long road, and taking it asks for active engagement and real labor, hitched to  the relentless desire to become a better person in the time that we have. We are all mortal, and within mortal limitations we have only so much influence , and only so much time to exert it — we we better be frank with ourselves about where, why, and how we spend both.

Time won’t let you be the same person you were ten, five or even a year ago.  Nor will  you be able to say you’ll be the same person in another year’s time. That’s why you need to take the wheel and work on developing yourself and mastering the good habits you want to serve you. That means being able to accept that you will be facing challenges all your life. Continue reading Self-Improvement for The Entrepreneur

2 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Own Business

An outward sign of an unhealthy business is the use of unhealthy business practices to keep it afloat.

  • Does it offer frequent discounts? Sure, those can get attention, but they also eat into  profit margins.
  • Over-the-top advertising tactics? For the initial shock factor,  they could work, but then consumers are a tough lot and will filter those out soon enough.

That is:  Block them out, or worse, complain. And in  these  times, bad publicity is bad publicity, which is not what an already struggling business needs to be remembered for.

Resorting to such tactics is essentially self-sabotage, and paints a pretty bad picture of the business that uses them. Think about it:  You have a product, but you only get to sell it at a discounted price, and you have to resort to extreme measures to get people to notice that you’re selling it.

If you have to shriek, wave, and practically  jump up and down to get attention from your market, if you need to keep offering sales and discounts to entice people to buy, then you’re ignoring the painful truth that you can be selling things that your market doesn’t really want or need, or you’re failing to show the market  the value that your product or service has.

And  quite possibly, you may be doing both. Continue reading 2 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Own Business