In my previous blog posts I have talked about our Education Plan at Kodiak Mountain Stone. We have been fortunate enough to have gained some recognition from our program. Alberta Venture magazine has honored us as one of the finalist in The Small Business Superstars contest.
We have had great support so far, but we are trailing in votes by a small margin after the first month of voting. Anyone and everyone is encouraged to vote until the closing of the contest at the end of November, 2012.
To vote you are asked to open an account, which consists of an email address and a password. At that point, Alberta Venture offers some great opportunities to receive content from them. But if you wish, you can also opt out of receiving any content. By voting, you can also have the opportunity to win tickets to the Business Person of the Year luncheon in January as well as the chance to win subscriptions to Alberta Venture magazine.
We would very much appreciate you support by voting for us. Thank you!
One of our team members from our Calgary store hosted our most resent Education Plan Meeting. This team member hasn’t been with us for too long and this was his first opportunity to host one of our meetings. He did a great job!
This meeting was a little different than previous meetings that we have had. Most of our meetings are based on a book that the person has read. The meeting is used to discuss the thoughts and ideas in the book and how we can implement them in our company and in our lives. This time the topic of the meeting was from a video rather than a book.
The video was a Ted Talk from Simon Sinek and I strongly recommend watching it here:
I want to share some of our hosts notes from the meeting:
“In this Ted Talks video, Simon Sinek gives his views on why some organizations and leaders are able to inspire and become successful, while others are not, and why it’s important to get people to believe what you believe.
He makes you ask yourself questions like:
Why do we do what we do?
– and the obvious answer isn’t to turn a profit, that’s a result, and shouldn’t be a reason at all.
What he actually means is, What’s your purpose, what’s your cause, what’s your belief? Why does your company exist… why do you get out of bed every morning… why should anybody care
Simon explains in his lecture that the way we think, act, and communicate is from the outside in. We go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest. Every organization knows What they do… and some even know How they do it. But very few know Why they do what they do.
All the great and inspiring leaders and organizations of the world, whether it’s Apple, or Martin Luther King, or the Wright bros, all think, act, and communicate the exact same way. which is interesting because it’s the complete opposite to everyone else
How these people communicate their products, services or ideas to the world can be summed up into one simple idea to which Simon calls “The Golden Circle”.
On the outer circle is the What (what your product or service is), the next inside circle is the How (how your product/service or idea can benefit people), and the innermost circle is the Why.
Simon explains that most businesses communicate from the outer circle in. For example; Here’s our new car. It gets great gas mileage, has leather seats, great stereo. Buy our car. Or let’s use an example of Kodiak Mountain Stone. We manufacture indoor and outdoor stone. It’s lightweight, simple to install, inexpensive, and looks great. Buy our stone. That might be a good sales pitch, but it’s not very inspiring
All great organizations and leaders are able to inspire because they communicate the ‘Why’ first as their main focus. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. You can have all the facts and figures, but if you’re selling the ‘what’ instead of the ‘why’ then people may be hesitant of purchasing your product or service because it just doesn’t feel right, because they don’t know your why. Inspiring customers is a great way to build trust relationships and trust.
So let’s change around our Kodiak Mountain Stone sales pitch to go from the inside out using the why first.
Your home is the single greatest investment you will ever own, and we want to be a part of making it the best it can look. Everyday we strive to make products that will beautify your home for years to come. Our stone is lightweight, easy to install, inexpensive, and it looks great. We are Kodiak Mountain Stone.
Changing your focus to the Why first can get people believing in what you do.
The goal is to not just sell people what you have, but for them to believe what you believe… because that will not only create customers and sales, but loyalty and repeat business.
This theory also can be applied to hiring employees. The goal is not just to hire people who need a job, but to hire people who believe what you believe. Simon also says If you hire people based on whether they can do a job, they’ll work for your money, but if you hire people because they believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood sweat and tears. There is actually a great example of this that Simon talks about in the video using the Wright brothers story….
So now I pose this question…
As a company, why do we do what we do?”
This was a great presentation with a great message. As I said earlier, I strongly recommend Simon’s video at the link provided above.
“Whether the want one or not, every company has a purpose – it rests in the priorities of the company, and effectively shapes the rules by which managers and employees decide what is most important in each unique situation…
…if an organization has a clear and compelling purpose, its impact and legacy can be extraordinary. The purpose of the company will serve as a beacon, focusing employees’ attention on what really matters. And that purpose will allow the company to outlive any one manager or employee.”
I was reading Clayton M. Christensen’s great book, How Will You Measure Your Life?the other day. I love the book and he has some great stuff in it. But there was one quote that really stood out to me and I love it:
“…the path to happiness in a relationship is not just about finding someone who you think is going to make you happy. Rather, the reverse is equally true: the path to happiness is about finding someone who you want to make happy, someone whose happiness is worth devoting yourself to.”
As I’ve previously mentioned, when I have a book that I really think is beneficial to my staff we often use it for more than one of our Education Plan meetings. One of those excellent books is Ken Blanchard’s, Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service. This is a book that I think is excellent for everyone. Whether you are working with the customers that are buying your product, or the customer you are serving is your boss, this book is full of great stuff. In one of our previous company education meetings one of our team members, Red, taught us about Raving Fans. One of the points he made that stuck out in my mind was:
“Once you have your vision of what you want and listen to your customers and find out what they want you need to DELIVER TO YOUR CUSTOMERS PLUS 1%” One percent may not sound like a lot, but if you are delivering to expectations, plus 1%, it is a lot. But DON’T PROMISE TOO MUCH TO GAIN CUSTOMERS AND THEN NOT MEET THEIR EXPECTATIONS!
It takes way too much time, money and effort setting up new clients to let it fall apart after the fact with poor follow up service. A great product cannot sustain a relationship. If you’ve built a relationship and don’t foster it once you have the customer, it will be a short term relationship. Once you have built the relationship, deliver what you’ve promised PLUS 1%.
One of the things that I (D. Jeff Heggie) like about being an entrepreneur and running my own company is that when you have an idea, you can implement it however you want.
I remember sitting in my office one morning reading the most recent business book that had been suggested to me. A while later my first employee of the day showed up to work and poked her head into my office to great me good morning. As I heard her footsteps coming down the hall I put my book away and began working on the project that was sitting on my desk. I’m the leader in my company, I need to set an example for everyone. They need to see me working every time they look in my office.
That was then. I had a meeting with my CFO (Dave) a short while later that changed my perspective on this situation. Yes, it’s still very important for me to be an example in my company. It’s still very important for my staff to see that I have a good work ethic, etc, etc. But the thing that made me question my actions was, “why am I hiding from my staff that I’m reading or studying material that will make me a better leader or improve our company is some other way?”
Dave is someone that I enjoy having meetings with. We work well together and we often look at things from different perspectives. So from our meetings we often come up with plans or solutions that are much better than either of the plans or solutions we each entered the meeting with individually. Dave is like me in the fact that he loves to continue learning. We love reading and/or listening to new materials and ideas. In this particular meeting I told Dave about the habit I had gotten into. The habit of coming to work early to spend time reading, but hiding my materials and rush to get my work in front of me as soon as I heard any staff coming down the hall each morning. I was constantly doing it, but it really wasn’t something I should have been ashamed of or trying to hide. That’s when Dave brought up Google’s 20% Rule. Google’s philosophy of giving their engineers one day per week (20% of their time) to work on projects that are not necessarily in their job descriptions. Why not use 20% of our time to learn and study?
“One of our core values is that employees continually learn and improve. Employees at all levels should be encouraged to continually learn and improve themselves…
…team members have the opportunity to participate in an educational development program with two components:
1. Required readings within a certain time after joining the company.
2. 30-60 minutes per day of free time to study material that covers information related to our industry &/or the role of the team member.We decided that not only should it be OK to be reading and studying things that will improve us individually and benefit our company, but we wanted to encourage the rest of our team to do the same thing.
Our hope is that we are adding value to the lives of our employees through our Education Plan. Dave and I are both advocates of personal development and continued education. Our hope is that with this plan our team members will benefit in their professional lives at Kodiak Mountain Stone, but also that they will take things from what they learn to improve and benefit their personal lives away from work as well.
The part of the Plan that I really enjoy is our monthly Education Plan Meeting. Each month one of our team members will host a meeting that is focused around the current book or materials they have been studying. They will teach the rest of the team about the things they have learned that they feel will benefit the team professionally as well as the things they have learned that will help all of us in our personal lives.
Our meetings are great because we can learn so much from each other. We have had a number of meetings with Ken Blanchard’s book Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service as the topic. Each meeting has been great and each meeting has been given from a different perspective that has helped each one of us in customer service. I think that if you really want to learn something you need to teach someone else about it. When our team members know they will be teaching the rest of the team about the current book they are reading, they get a lot more out of it than they would if they were just reading it in their leisure time.
In this blog I will write about many things. I love being an entrepreneur and I love continued learning. So I’m sure many of my blog topics will be focused around those things. I think that our Education Plan is something that could benefit any company. If you have any questions about our education plan, please feel free to contact me for more information at jeff@KodiakMountain.com