A Lesson Zuck Taught Me

I recently read The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick. I thought it was a fascinating book. Although I’m not in Silicon Valley and I’m not running a tech company, I think there was a lot to learn from this book.  I’m not talking about the start in your dorm room or follow your love type of stuff. I’m talking about something much more valuable. I’m talking about focus and confidence.

Mark Zuckerberg had multiple opportunities to make himself a very rich man very early on in the life of Facebook. Opportunities that would have saved him from headaches and a lot of work down the road. Opportunities that would have let him work on new projects without worrying about money.

But Zuck had a vision of the future for Facebook. He had a vision for what it was meant to bring to the world. So regardless of the exit options he was offered with, regardless of the dollars flashed in front if him, he stayed on plan with a focus and confidence to take it where he knew it could go. His focus and determination continue to move the company forward.

The wording in the Amazon.com review say it well. “Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet.”

Facebook’s IPO.  How many expected, how many wanted to see the Facebook IPO flop?  This was all still a part of Zuck’s focused march toward his goal.  Today he sits at #11 on the Forbes 400 list as the biggest dollar gainer of the year after his Facebook stock has soared, adding $15 billion to his net worth in the past year.  I think he’s done something right.

Have there been failures along the way for Zuck.  Yes, of course there have been.  That’s part of the whole story.  But in the end he knew what he wanted, he knew what he needed to do to get there and he kept his focus.  I’m anxious to watch how the rest of the story unfolds for this man, this company and this industry.

So what can you and I learn from this?  Is it that when we have come up with another “best idea ever” we give it all of our focus and march forward no matter what?  Hoping that it all works out and ignoring any advice or guidance that might tell us we are on the wrong track? Of course not.  One of the most valuable things a business owner can do is surround herself with others that are smarter than she is.  Others that have experience, that can give advice and guidance.  Zuck hasn’t done everything on his own without help, input and guidance from mentors.  What he has done is known where his company could go and kept his focus on getting it there.

We have squirrels everywhere that distract us from focusing on the most important things that will make ourselves and our companies successful.  On our journey to success, we need to have our goals, to have the end in mind.  But most importantly, we need to be able to keep our eye on the target, to keep our focus and to know what needs to be done to get there.  Distractions and opportunities will try to pull you away.  For Zuck, some of those distractions were opportunities to put millions of dollars in his pocket.  But his goal meant more to him than those dollars and he knew that when he achieved his goals there would be extra zeros added to the dollars in his pocket.

Focus.  Work hard.  Work smart.  Commit yourself to your goal.  It won’t be the amount of time you spend at the office that matters, it will be the amount of time that you spend in focused concentration working towards your goal.  Good luck!

Father / Daughter / Basketball

My greatest love is my family.  Along with that, something else I love is basketball.  Fortunately, I have the opportunity that I can enjoy both of them together quite often.  My son, Daxon, just started organized basketball and I am able to spend some quality time with him in that setting.  My oldest daughter, Tia, caught the basketball bug a while ago.  She’s only in the eighth grade right now, but I have had the opportunity to be involved with coaching her for four years now, whether it has been in the club ball setting or the school setting.  

Over the past few days I’ve been able to see where Tia’s love and dedication to the game have brought her.  She made the final cut that qualified her to tryout for Team Alberta this weekend and I am very proud that she made the team.  The coaching staff and the team are great.  This is another opportunity for her to push herself and take her skills to another level.

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U15 & U17 Boys and Girls Team Alberta 2014

 

 

 

 

Having Fun

I’ve had some great opportunities to have some fun and stretch myself in the past year.  I’ve decided that I no longer want to have those things on my bucket list that might happen sometime in the future.  I’ve decided to start knocking those things off the list.  It’s been great.  I’ve had to stretch myself a bit and I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone.  But, wow, have we had some fun.

 

It started when my wife and I took some of our team members and went skydiving!

 

Then most recently, my daughter and I went swimming with the sharks in Hawaii!

 

 

I don’t know what is next, but I’ve promised my team that we’ll do something fun in 2014! This is what it’s all about.  Don’t coast through life, step out of your comfort zone, have fun and make your mark on the world!

 

#HeggieLife

Communicate With Your Customers

For Fathers Day my wife surprised me with a weekend getaway to Whitefish, Montana. We stayed at a beautiful hotel on the mountain. It was a wonderful way to relax. I loved the subtle smell throughout the halls of firewood burning in the huge stone fireplace in the lobby. Our room had a large TV above the fireplace where we could sit back, relax and watch movies. The weather was great, so we were able to enjoy sitting poolside sipping on our drinks. 

 

I had a great time with the  woman I love, in a great hotel with great weather.   Everything was perfect. That is, until breakfast.  We decided to stay at the hotel for breakfast and went down to the restaurant. After a little confusion we finally asked someone if we were supposed to seat ourselves or if someone would be seating us. We were suppose to wait to be seated, and they finally showed us to our table. Neither of us were real hungry. I ordered a couple eggs and toast while my wife ordered an omelet. Everything seemed fine at that point. We waited for our food, and we waited. And we waited. And we waited. I couldn’t understand why two eggs, toast and an omelet were taking so long.  We waited more. Nobody came by our table to give us an explanation. Nobody even came close enough that I could call them over to ask what was going on. I was getting upset. Finally someone, other than our waitress, brought our food out. There was no explanation or apology. So I commented that I thought it was rediculous how long it took to get our food. The only explanation I received was that they were busy and the kitchen could only do so much. As I looked around at the restaurant, which was about 1/4 full, I wondered to myself what their service was like when it got really busy. 

 

Needless to say, even though I would highly recommend the hotel, I would not recommend their restaurant. This experience made me think about my own business.  In my business we have factories in the US where we produce our product.  But the majority of our sales are in Canada.  So every day we are working out logistics on shipping our product, and there can often times be delays. For example, last week we had brokered a shipment with a company and their truck just never showed up to pick up the load.  This obviously changes our ETA’s on some of our customers orders because we have to arrange a new truck to pick up for us.  (and no, we will not ever do business with that broker again)

 

How do we deal with our end customers at this point?  Do we just ignore the situation and deliver to our customers when the truck does arrive?  If that’s how we deal with it, I think it’s the same as how we were treated at the restaurant.  There are three things that I think we need to pay attention to in a situation like this.

 

  1. Communication
    • Clear communication with a customer can make all the difference in their overall satisfaction.  When I was waiting for my breakfast, if the waitress had just come to our table and addressed the problem, let us know our food would take some extra time to arrive, I would have been a lot happier customer than I was.  
  2. What does the customer expect
    • What do you need to do to keep the customer happy?  In our situation, the communication of letting us know our meal would take a while to arrive would have been enough.  With other customers a little more may be required to keep them happy.  But until you communicate with them you don’t know what they want or expect.
  3. Keep the experience positive 
    • Chances of me staying at that hotel again are good.  Chances of me eating at that restaurant again are not very good.  Look for opportunities to make the best of a situation and ensure the customers experience is still a positive one.  Repeat customers or customer referrals are what makes a business truly successful.  When problems arise, find ways to keep the customer happy so they will come back again.

With all three keys, it comes down to good communication.  Communicating with your customer can be tough at times.  We all hate to give someone bad news.  But more often that not, the customers disappointment when you give them bad news will not be as bad as it will be if you just ignore the bad news and let them find out on their own.  Communicate, be honest and do your best.  There’s not much more you can do.

 

Tia & Zig (Letter to my team)

Team,

We have talked a lot about productivity and time management over the past year.  We have included it in our education meetings, I’ve sent our Dave Ramsey podcast and we’ve included it in our Monday morning meetings.

Last night I witnessed something that got me thinking about this again.  Tia had just finished practicing piano and was sitting at the table looking very stressed.  Tammy asked her what was stressing her out. From there the floodgates opened up and out came all the things she had to get done in the next few days with some tight deadlines: French test, write a paper about her experience in Africa, create a video to use at the piano recital, pepare to present in front of the Rotary Club,  basketball practice and… That was when Tammy stepped in.  She said she needed Tia to list out all of the things she needed to get done and the deadlines for each.  She also needed to figure out which ones she could have help on and who could help her.  Wow, this was starting to sound like real life Ramsey!
This got me thinking about our buddy Zig Ziglar and his “Day before vacation” teachings.
Zig asks the following questions:
  1. As a general rule, on the day before you go on vacation, do you get two or three times as much work done as you normally get done in a day?
  2. If you can learn why you are that much more productive on the day before vacation, and then repeat that process on a daily basis without working any longer or harder, does it make sense that you will be more valuable to yourself, your family, your company, and society in general?
  3. On the night before the day before vacation, do you take a sheet of paper and say to yourself, “Now tomorrow I’ve got to do…,” and then make a list of things you must do?… In its simplest form, that’s goal setting and it’s critical.  Next, did you organize your must-do list in the order of importance and accept responsibility for competing those tasks?
The day before we leave on vacation Tammy and I both have our to-do lists.  On that day both work related and non-work related things get completed efficiently.  This all happens because you have a deadline and you need to focus to get things done.  This is what Tia is going to experience over the next few days.  Her French test, the Rotary presentation, piano recital and all the other things coming up are going to happen if she’s ready or not.  So she needs to focus and prioritize to make sure she does well at all of them.
Going back to Zig and his day before vacation example, he says: “On the way to work the next day your self-talk was upbeat and centered on what you were going to get done.  You arrived at work on time so you were punctual. You immediately started to work, making you a self-starter.  You were highly motivated and optimistic that you were going to finish every tak you had set for yourself.  You were enthusiastic about your work and decisively moved from one task to the next, making good choices as you did so, even if the next job on the list was disagreeable.”
I love his example related to unpleasant tasks. “An ol’ boy down home said it best, “Friend, if you’ve got to swallow a frog, you just don’t want to look at the sucker too long.  He ain’t gonna get no purtier!  As a matter of act, the longer you look, the uglier he gets.” That’s the way unpleasant tasks are.”
“As you move from task to task, if someone tried to interrupt and talk about last night’s television program or last night’s game, you disciplined yourself to stay on task and not be distracted from your job… Since there was no “tomorrow” for you on each job, you persisted until you completed each one…. and momentum built with the completion of each task…. Perhaps the most exciting part of this vacation scenario is the fact that your co-workers instinctively picked up the pace [as well].”
If this approach works so well on the day before vacation, or the days before a test, a presentation or paper is due, won’t it work just as well every day?
A big part of this is in the planning.  When you plan things, the odds of their happening go up substantially.  If we plan our months, weeks and days we will be more productive and balanced.
Tia spent the evening writing about her experiences in Africa.  She’s made her list and has prioritized it.  She’s an achiever, not only will she get everything done, she will do it all very well.  But if Tammy hadn’t told her to pause, make a list and prioritize that list her stress would have stayed high and her productivity would have been low.  Plan your days and act so you don’t spend them reacting.
For more great stuff from Zig Ziglar visit www.ziglar.com or find one of his books on amazon.com.  Or to really get organized maybe give Tammy a call.

Win the Market Share

While I was driving the other day, I was listening to this months Success Magazine CD. I was enjoying the interview with Barbara Corcoran (Shark Tank star) when something she said just hit me. She was talking about when she started to get recognized as an expert in her industry (New York real estate) because she was writing reports. Even though she had competitors that were much bigger than her, she was being recognized as the go-to expert. The comment she made that I loved so much was, “if you steal the limelight you steal the market share!” After she said it, Darren Hardy paused for a moment, repeated the quote and said, “I like that!”

Too many entrepreneurs that are just starting out are timid or intimidated by their bigger competitors. In her article in the magazine she says, “Use what you got all the way!” You might not be the big fish in the pond, you might not think you are the expert in your industry. But you are the expert of what you’ve got. “Use what you got all the way!” Be the expert with what you’ve got and get noticed. The more you can get yourself in the limelight, the more market share you can win. Barbara published reports on the New York real estate market based on information she had from sales she had made. Her information got recognized and used, quoting her as the industry expert. Things took off from there.

But where do you start, you’re not Barbara Corcoran? Start anywhere, start now. When she started she wasn’t the Barbara Corcoran she is today either. Start with your local paper, start with a blog, start with Linkedin. It doesn’t matter, just start. Who are you? That is what everyone in your industry needs to know.

“But I don’t want to be in the limelight. I want people to recognize my company, not me.” If that is how you feel, that is fine. Many companies grow and do extremely well without anyone knowing the entrepreneur or the leader in the company. But alternatively, think of some of the charismatic figures that are so well known and have names synonymous with their companies: Richard Branson and Virgin, Tony Hsieh and Zappos, Donald Trump and the Trump Organization.

I was recently asked to be featured in a commercial for the college I attended. The commercial was filmed at one of my stores and my brand coverage in the commercial was excellent. Since it started airing I’ve been amazed first by how many people mention to me that they have seen it. Secondly, by how many people think that it is a commercial for my company, Kodiak Mountain Stone (Yes, if you are reading this, I want you to tie me to Kodiak Mountain Stone). It’s these opportunities you need to take advantage of. You want people to know you, to know your brand. “When you steal the limelight, you win the market share!”