The art of firing is much like the art of throwing a hand grenade -- it's rarely done right, and even when it is, the results include some chaos. When it's done wrong, a lot of good people can pay the price. (All this said, sometimes, only a grenade will do.) There have been countless articles written on the steps to take when firing (I'll save everyone the time of rehashing them here). I think that there are a few issues that need to be addressed in firing, though, that most
Every new year, we re-evaluate our plans for the next 12 months. I took a look at my past lists and pulled the best five that I thought would be good for everyone. 1) Be funnier. This applies to my family, my work life, and this blog... Life is more enjoyable when you can make others laugh. So I promise to try to make my wife, my children, my employees, my vendors, my clients and you laugh more. 2) Treat your staff well. You can't play with your food, but no one says you can'
Current events give us daily examples of the toxicity of dishonesty in politics, sports, entertainment--and the business world bears high-profile examples of the same. So what is everyone missing? Clearly, broad discussions of ethics and morality haven't done the trick, so I propose that we skip the mushy-squishy stuff and go straight to the bottom line. Here are five ways to use honesty to drive profits: 1. Honesty increases customer retention and sales. Customers who feel l
We work with many vendors in the book industry, and we've seen all sorts of personalities, styles, business practices and policies. Sure we've seen our share of bad eggs, but in most cases, we have had great relationships with our vendors. This has given us many advantages over other publishers -- not the least of which are low prices, superior information, and great customer service. Our strong vendor alliances are no coincidence -- we've learned over the years how to cultiv
Gregor Mendel's work in cross-pollination was groundbreaking for the scientific community -- botany has never been the same. Applied as an interchange of knowledge, the principle has also done wonders for the business community and can be a key to your success. Whether you're solving a problem, conceiving a new business or just trying to get some operational tips, studying outside of your industry (and even outside of the business world) can help you unlock creative ideas. So
We're all busy. I've got a few plates spinning at any given time family and friends take up what little time is left when I leave the office. People often ask how I stay on top of everything. (Usually not family and friends, who think I work too much). I guess my answer is that I'm hardwired to multitask and generally require less sleep than most people. Good old-fashioned hard work aside, there are three important lessons I've learned to help keep me one step ahead of it all
It seemed natural to, at some point, blog about great books. I am, after all, a publisher. In order to make this list credible, though, I have not included any of the books we have published, or even books by authors whom I know or I have met. So, then, if I have published your book, or if I know you, please do not be offended that your book is not on this list. What follows is a list, in no particular order, of 10 great books that every entrepreneur or employee of an entrepr
With the new year just a few days away, it's time to think about our plans for the next 12 months. I took a look at my list and pulled six that I thought would be good for everyone. 1) Be funnier. This applies to my family, my work life, and this blog... Life is more enjoyable when you can make others laugh. So I promise to try to make my wife, my daughter, my employees, my vendors, my clients and you laugh more in 2008. 2) Treat your staff well. You can't do it with your foo
In Hamlet, Shakespeare said "Brevity is the soul of wit." Winston Churchill said, "Say what you have to say, and the first time you come to a sentence with a grammatical ending -- sit down." There are about 20 other good quotes that speak to this point, but I'm trying to make a point here, so I'll stop at two. Keeping to your message, and making a short, quick point, is incredibly powerful. Just about anyone who graduated from high school can make a long, boring argument abou
This was my second year in Omaha for the most famous annual corporate meeting in the world. Berkshire Hathaway has been an American icon for years, and the recent drama surrounding David Sokol made this year's meeting, held on April 30, extra special. I found the event fantastic and walked away with some great pearls of wisdom. Warren Buffett, the "Oracle of Omaha" and Berkshire's legendary chairman and CEO, and Charlie Munger, Buffett's deputy, were on their A-games and did
Every four years our country elects a new president. Then, after a few months of relative silence, the process begins again. It feels like there is always some angle to cover whether it’s an election year or not. And the rhetoric gets worse and worse every cycle. If you're still enjoying the soap opera between the politicians, give it a few days, and no matter who you want to win, you'll be going crazy. Other than complain about the non-stop campaigning, what can you do?
The sky is falling. The economy is in the tank. Your 401(k) will soon be worthless. No one is spending. Job cuts are swift and deep. We're all going to die painful deaths. Right? Nope. We all go through tough economic times, but they are the best times to make real money. People who pay close attention to the market, the economy, and the world can make lifetime of wealth in these periods of time. It just comes down to the right perspective. Think about it this way: A forest f
My dad is a bright guy -- he's been feeding me good business ideas for a long time. One of my favorites is something I adopted years ago and has worked incredibly well for me ever since. That idea? Give Thanksgiving gifts to your clients and vendors. (Don't forget your vendors -- check out my blog articles on working with vendors if you need a refresher.) In the past, I’ve given mugs, specialty coasters, and staplers. One year, I sent everyone jalapeño plants with my company
I'm kind of a time-management nut. I like to make the best use of every minute in the day. I should first admit that for me, part of the appeal of saving time is the game of it. When I'm on hold, I put the phone on speaker so I can do things around my office. I have two computers on my desk, so I'm never waiting for programs to load or download files. I work hard to be efficient -- and I want to pass my favorite tips on to you. The Marines taught me to love the simplicity of
There’s a great lesson in self-discipline that every company can learn -- one that can result in improved morale, increased customer service, and better client relationships. I can boil it down to one word: respect. We all remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s simple enough in theory, but I know I’m not alone in having to remind myself of its importance from time to time. If you’re like most companies, you may find yourself with a s
In tough economic times companies notoriously try to cut costs by resorting to their fallback plan: employee layoffs. Millions of them. This is evident from the high national unemployment rate. This is a problem shared both small, independent companies and larger rival companies. In theory, if you’ve done your hiring right and everyone is essential, even one layoff is unacceptable. If you haven’t done your hiring right and you have “expendable” staff, that’s a separate issu
GM once threatened to shut down Saab as the deal to sell the brand to a Dutch car-maker languished. I'll leave it to others to debate whether this is a smart negotiating technique. In the meantime, I'd like to address a more personal issue: I used to own a SAAB and was very happy with it over many years. One day, I received a letter from my local dealer. As I opened it, I guessed that it would tell me to keep the faith in the Saab dealer's service department in spite of the p
When public officials or famous people make a big mistake, it is often followed by a public apology. They do a big news conference to supposedly bare their souls and apologize to everyone. All too often, it's a scripted, unemotional speech with poorly coached theatrics, and it rings hollow and disingenuous. Most important, it's too little, too late. Two poorly executed apologies that come to mind were those offered by South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Tiger Woods. Afte
It's hard to ask for help. Pride isn't necessarily admirable, but our smarts and hard work helped us get here... and admitting that we need help might make us look weak, right? Wrong -- in fact, just the opposite is true. I have a good friend named Mike Robbins. Mike played baseball for the Kansas City Royals organization before becoming an author and professional speaker. Mike is known as an expert on appreciation, and his take on asking for help is simple but brilliant. Hi
There is no single aspect of any business more important than cash. In fact, it's the only really unifying element of all businesses -- cash is the lifeblood. It's the reason you're in business, it's what you're trying to get, and it's how you can measure your success. I've heard countless CEOs say that they don't have time to worry about cash. "That's why I have a CFO/Controller/accounting department," they argue. I can't think of a more ignorant comment for someone to make.