Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Time-Management: Bandwidth | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice 

Over ten years ago, I spent a month south of America; Mexico. With no smart phone, tablet, or laptop. So I frequented an internet café. Paid a fee. And then listened to the familiar sound of dial-up. It was fun, a throw back, minus the frustratingly slow page loads. In hindsight, whatever I attempted to do in that café would be limited by bandwidth. So is true in life. 

Too often, we lose interest in daily routines, processes, and patterns, which are extremely helpful. The trick is to maintain perspective. We want new, difficult, and larger responsibilities. We often think like the early settlers of the 1900’s in the great land grab, instead of land, we are grab up responsibility. Too often in pursuit of our American dream we dig wider and not deeper; this can lead to a bandwidth issue. If we were computers, it would be like having dial-up and 40 applications open at once.

Ways to know if you are exceeding your personal bandwidth?

If you are accomplishing everything and people wonder what you do, you are safe. But if you look stressed out, are forgetful, moody, and have no time for friends, family, and other, there is a good chance you need to adjust your obligations. You are exceeding your bandwidth. Remember the people you work with are not your loved ones, and an over investment can lead to stress. Spending time with loved ones (Friends & Family) is an example of a healthy counter balance and can produce eustress, good stress. Too much of anything follows the Law of Diminishing Returns, even healthy counter balances. Work hard, work smart, and work long hours, but do not become a workaholic. The days are long, but the years are short; A workaholic loses sight of family, friend, future, and the big picture. There is nothing wrong with working 60-100 hours a week if relationships with family, friend, and other are also healthy. Each of us has 24 hours a day, eight to sleep if you want, and 8-14 to work. That can be 6-7 days a week. Just as long as you have counter balances.

If you are exceeding your bandwidth because of P.R.?

Remember you must network; networking builds trust. Trust leads to contacts, contracts, investors, partnerships, supply chains, everything. Just remember to keep a healthy perspective. If investing time in these relationships is negatively effecting your family, friends, and other, think “calendar synchronization.” Ever left a job and thought I will keep in touch with those friends, but never do? This is an example of “calendar synchronization,” relationships that exist because of schedule, goals, or professional network alignment. Investing time in these relationships is a must, but like many things, guided by a cost-benefit analysis (CBA). When these mutually beneficial relationships AKA “calendar synchronizations” are taking too much time from friends, family, and other adjust your time investments. Friendships and family must be invested in, especially if you are working 60-100 hours a week, 49+ weeks a year. They are your Rock of Gibraltar. When you keep important things at the top of your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly to-do’s/goals, you will always be working on the right problems. Scaling up/back work is the right kind of problem to have; saving your family/marriage is not.

Life is full of chaos and disorder as is, do not bring additional chaos into your life by exceeding your bandwidth. If there is too much wind, build windmills, if there is too much rain, build a rain catcher, and if there is too much information and not enough bandwidth, close some applications. How do you scale back once you are deeply rooted in things that rely heavily upon your human energy, knowledge, position, and authority? Pivot.

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Marketing: Share Of Mind, Share Of Market | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Marketing: Share Of Mind, Share Of Market | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Forget boom, recession, recovery. Checks pay for payroll, product, and marketing; rinse and repeat. Right? I mean throw in the bills and other costs of doing business but this seems to be the business cycle. If you had to choose, what was paid it would be payroll, product, and of course marketing. So how do you know which marketing pieces are the best investment when you are as flat as possible? Business is seasonal, streaky, and under increased pressure, requiring financial acumen and marketing genius. Not many things are worst then wasting money on a marketing piece that needed to have a Return on Investment (ROI) but did not procure one client. The first key, understand the difference between Share of Market and Share of Mind.

Share of Market

Typical share of market pieces include shared mail (RSVP, Money Mailer, Valpak, Groupon, Living Social, Amazon), direct mailers, Magazines, newspaper ads, email campaigns, and sales teams. Marketing is rarely either/or but a continuum, most often functioning as both share of market and share of mind. One certain way to decipher where on this continuum the piece sits is to include a marketing code. Always use a marketing code on your marketing pieces. For instance,I purchase a marketing piece in April of 2015 with RSVP I put on the bottom corner of the coupon 0415RSVP. Then in a program or spreadsheet I enter the price and then track how many dollars the marketing piece generates, typically ballooning over the next three months. I then run a return on investment. Say I spent $1 dollar and made four, then my ROI is 4 to 1. This is a great return for marketing pieces, but some can get as high as 20-30-40 and others can still be profitable as low as 1.2. If you do not track the cost of the marketing piece and the dollars generated from that piece, all though in reality it may be share of market, we can only consider it share of mind. Which is much harder to track and less measurable.

Share of Mind

Typical share of mind marketing pieces are billboards, radio, television, P.R., and social media. These pieces might not get the phone to instantly ring. The reason is they are not targeted marketing. In reality, the whole population is not your potential client base, but those that are might watch or hear and be compelled to purchase. These pieces put you in front of clients and non-clients, capturing mind share versus a share of the market. Catching customers closer to when they are purchasing can increase the return on share of mind marketing. Both are very important. The key is to use them wisely.

If you do not play darts, you never hit the bulls’ eye. Marketing is testing, iterating, testing, and iterating. A Go-To-Market Strategy is clear in rear-view or when following an innovator. It takes years to develop a market strategy, a marketing tailwind, analytics, trends and pattern recognition. Marketing is the tree that needs to be pruned, just make sure you know the difference between the trees.

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Outsourcing: The British Are Coming! | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System…If this had been an actual emergency…Attention…This…Is…Not…A…Test!

Outsourcing: The British Are Coming! | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

I mean the Indians (India). I mean the Chinese. I mean anyone willing to learn English, meet quality standards, and save corporate America/Europe money. So the entire competitive-developing world IS coming. They are not coming by horse, by boat, or by plane; they are coming by fiber optics. They are not coming. They are here.

Put down your television, iPad, iPhone, video game consoles, and get out your books. Not for you, it is too late for you. Get them out for your kids. Your kids are competing in a flat world. Competing for traditional American-middle jobs, that are no longer American. Teach your kids science, math, language, manners, customer service, leadership, business, anything. Teach them anything. Traditional middle jobs are shifting up and down. What this means is the traditional middle jobs that many middle class Americans use to be able to obtain with little to moderate skill are disappearing overseas. What is left is the even less technical jobs below and the slightly more technical jobs just above. So this new middle is shifting. Your kids have to be smarter, faster, more educated, and slightly more ambitious than you were to capture the higher middle. This will not happen without your help.

All cultures are built by the behaviors that are awarded and punished. The American culture does not award hard work, intelligence, and delayed gratification nearly as much as it does their opposites. It is so much more appealing in our culture to work hard at keeping up with “the shows,” your video game castle, and have intelligence in all the wrong areas. The great thing about Americans is they have incredible powers of concentration. Unfortunately, Americans so often concentrate on the wrong things. The elephant in the room is that the ratio of American achievers to the rest of the world’s achievers is changing. The playing field is leveling, because the world is flat. These other achievers are competing for traditional American jobs and the competition is heating up while Americans are sitting in the “pot of past success” like a slow cooking frog. A perfect storm is brewing and it does not bode well for Americans. Extraordinary companies are built on a critical mass of extraordinary people. The same goes for families, communities, cities, and countries. This education and ambition gap that is emerging is a quiet crisis, like I said it is a perfect storm. If America does not make fundamental value changes in regard to education it very well could be the next Rome.

America’s collective eye has lost the plot. It is time for a sense of urgency and commitment to educational excellence that will see America into a third generation of success. America will burn like Rome, metaphorically speaking, if its human capital does not improve. I know this sounds harsh, but it will be even harsher if it comes true. Home, school, neighbor, community, reduce your electronic connectivity consumption and get back to your grass root hardworking, always improving selves. If America does not improve its human stock over the next 20 years, there is no contingency plan, the gap between rich and poor will become a gulf; social, and political rest will inflame. To avoid this we need to change our global footprint fast. For starters, we need “new middle” in the pipeline, STAT.

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Entrepreneur: Move Without The Ball | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Entrepreneur: Move Without The Ball | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Eager to start your own business, read on. Remember Pete Rose? Most hits in MLB history. Guess who has the most at-bats? Pete Rose. Much of business is trying, failing, re-calculating and trying again. Iterating. People say all the time, if I had a million dollars I could make my idea work. Very bad idea starting with a million dollars, before you have moved without the ball. This country is ripe with reasons and excuses of why we cannot develop our ideas. Yes the spotlight is on the ball, but every entrepreneur moves without the ball.

Before money benefits, movement is essential i.e. a business plan, seeking applicable knowledge, networking with potential team members, founders, and investors, identifying potential pain points and customers, deciding if you are building a business, a feature, or a product. These actions are steps that set about a chain reaction, very similar to how enzymes cascade into reactions in the human body. Many of these steps are precursory and do not interface directly with the outcome, yet without them there would be no outcome. Too often Americans over emphasize the true downside of blowing it. Think of Pete Rose, or all the game winning shots by NBA basketball players that did not win the game. Think of every entrepreneur that has tried something and failed. I guarantee an internal note was made, a calibration took place, a lesson was learned inside each person that tried and failed. An iteration. Each action (good or bad) is movement toward your dream, company, or product. These movements, motions, patterns, strategies, routines are rarely noticed, well, until the company is viewable through a rear-view mirror and well before money enters the picture. It is impossible to guarantee whether a product will thrive or die (product market fit), the only thing you can guarantee is that you do your part with what you said you were creating. Swing the bat, strike out even, just get up and swing the bat as you said you would. Do not sit on the sideline and talk about how and what you would do if you had the team, resources, opportunities, or trust fund. Talk is cheap, just start moving without the ball. On a side note, some ideas do require millions in seed funds to activate them. If that is your idea, then move to Silicon Valley or another community that supports those size ventures. Many technological or biological ideas require significant start up capital. Most other verticals allow entrepreneurs to activate with significantly less.

Movement instills trust in your networks and gives you an opportunity to take a shot. We have all failed; failure is not to be feared, standing still when no one is passing you the ball is. Each failure is like a key on my key ring. And inside my mind is how each key turned the lock. Movement without the ball is the color of survival, it is the color of entrepreneurship, and it is the color of success. Every competitive advantage that leads to success at the individual level is fungible, except, moving without the ball. Flip a coin three times and you do not know if you have a fair coin, flip a coin 1000 times and you do. What is an ingredient in the secret sauce? Move without the ball.

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Leadership: Truth Out Of Order | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Leadership: Truth Out Of Order

William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

It is hard listening to others not directly connected to your industry, profession, or project, but a lesson in humility and judgment, nonetheless. Note, not all voices should be heard equally. If you listen through the lenses of hubris instead of confidence, you will often listen with impaired hearing, and misinterpret facts, findings, judgments, trends and hunches. Hubris is one of the worst blinders. Listening to others with less expertise takes a measure of humility; however, the proof is in the pudding. Additionally, a Level 5 Leader is classified by exhibiting humility. We have all received a piece of information from an associate, employee, or customer that became the intellectual bridge to the answer. Truth out of order. Often this outside perspective can provide providential wisdom that accelerates our thinking toward a calibrated stance. You cannot predict truth out of order you can maintain a posture that recognizes its existence.

Truth out of order is not a confirmation bias; it is valuable information from an unlikely source and often out of order. Family, friends, and associates are additional authors of truth out of order. Do not forget, what is correct today is wrong tomorrow. Markets, cultures, and assumptions change. Data is misinterpreted and patterns hide. What about the future set? Often in the form of bits and bytes, rarely in fully developed form, truth, hides in the mouths of the unlikely.

When everyone is blind, the one-eyed man is king. Keep your eyes open for truth out of order. Where is the Mason Dixon Line concerning whom to listen? Avoid the know-it-all. Use discernment. Process information through your background, education, and the books you have read. At the end of the day, you can make any piece of information work if you believe in it enough. Without trust, there is no risk-taking, and without risk-taking, there is no innovation.

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Customer Service: The Last Outpost | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Customer Service: The Last Outpost | William Nozak, MBA | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

First impressions may be last impressions.

Someone once said your only competition is anyone that improves customer service. So let’s assume this is in the Business-Bible. Let’s create some additional assumptions for the sake of an argument. First, price does not matter up to a certain asymptote. Obviously value, supply chaining, competition, among other things define price in the real world. Secondly, all businesses in a specific vertical are equally matched on everything (no comparative advantage exists i.e. All businesses are innovative or not, location doesn’t matter, etc). This leaves customer service as the last outpost

Other advantages aside, customer service, price, and innovativion are outposts. How you manage and value these outposts differentiates your business. “The times, they are a changin.'” In ten years, outsourcing, supply chaining, and technology have created global competitors that can beat your price and innovation outposts. Plus, price and innovation are effected more so by external forces than customer service. Minimum wage, insurances, property costs, etc., effect price, and we can only create what we know how i.e. other industries create innovations that positively or negatively affect our innovations.

In any case, we must err on the side of customer service. Customer-service-savvy professionals will dominate industries that once had zero need for the competency. The day of the highly skilled, but deficient in customer service professional is fading; more valuable are the moderately skilled with appreciable customer service skills. Employees must view customer service through three lenses: the  customer, the business, and the market, in order to be worthy of competitive wages. Anyone that improves customer service in your vertical is a threat, so, Without these lenses how will your team see them coming? The last outpost is customer service.

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Core Competencies: The Key To The First Door And More | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Core Competencies: The Key To The First Door And More

If you missed it, the world is flat, thanks to the fall of the Berlin wall, the rise of internet, the Y2K debacle which we outsourced the fix to India, among other things. Read The World Is Flat. Businesses core competencies distinguish it from its competitors. That little business you have going on called You, Inc., must embrace its own core competencies. You are selling, but who is buying? If you never have a problem finding a job, there is a good chance you are an “untouchable.” Which is a good goal. Maybe you got there by being special, specialized, localized, or anchored, but certainly, you have transferable core competencies.

So who is buying You, Inc.? The answer to this question defines the core competencies you will aim to acquire. These core competencies will get you into interviews, an entry-level position, and keep you hired, for a couple years. America’s middle-class jobs are changing. If you do not plan to use an entry-level position as a springboard into greater responsibility, you might as well sell Polaroid film, because that job will likely be on the cusp of automation, digitization, or outsourcing. Here today and gone tomorrow are many traditional middle-class jobs. According to Friedman, the US job market follows a bell shaped curve, with middle-class jobs occupying the mean and everything within one standard deviation with high- and low-end jobs occupying two and three standard deviations from mean. The “bell” of the bell shaped curve in the US encompasses the middle-class job markets. As globalization continues to move, dismantle, and create jobs, so too the “bell” will shift and shimmy. As the dust settles, a new mean will be defined; extremely high- and low-end jobs will remain two and three standard deviations from the mean and middle-class jobs will once again be the “bell.” If this does not happen, yes, America is screwed. (A dumbbell shaped job market with a higher frequency of high- and low-end jobs is not healthy.)

Once inside the first door, become “special or specialized” continuously learn more about your job and the jobs vertical to yours. Business is hard pressed to outsource, digitize, or automate the responsibilities of its “A” players. Be “localized or anchored.” Being rooted in a community can buffer you against foreign competitors. How will the global economy outsource, digitize, or automate a masseuse? Planet Earth is not the Sixth Element, yet. However, nothing is safe; I hope you realize this. Nothing. Before the fiber optic highway connected the US to unconnected parts of the world, kids in developing countries had little hope of using their skills to compete in the US marketplace. Now traditional jobs are easily outsourced to anywhere on the planet, product or service, assuming connectivity. Competition 3.0 is here. Ten years ago, some of the brightest kids in my college classes were foreigners. Many of the dumbest and laziest? Americans!

If you find your way into an entry-level position. Learn from those around you, horizontally and vertically. Be a sponge, a life-long learner and grow into positions that require more expertise. Do not settle into jobs that are on the cusp of outsourcing, digitization, or automation. Yes work your way up and appreciate the climb, but do not settle. Stay hungry; do not get complacent. At You, Inc., always be improving and adding to your core competencies.

Continuous development of your core competencies does not ensure that your inevitable downsizing is less like sand slipping through fingers, but it will give you confidence and additional competence, which are transferable among verticals. I once had a job where every few months my boss would enter my office and say, “remind me, why we need you?” This boss loved me and battled for my position more than I can know. Why was I so naive to think that being great at what I did would create loyalty among the owners? Loyalty is a relic in a global marketplace. The only loyalty an owner will ever show you in a global economy is to give you a chance to take on the responsibility of two or more people at the price of one. If loyalty is what you seek, continually manage more for less and you will always have it. This is the new race. Be mentally nimble and vigilant and run faster, harder, smarter than the competition.

The new name of the game. Increase your competencies and travel beyond the first door, out of reach of outsourcing, digitization, and automation. You might even aim to be “untouchable,” extremely employable no matter the vertical. When you venture beyond the competencies required at the first door, newly acquired competencies are transferable and linkable. When the mission is lofty, 20% of the road is behind and 80% is in front. Set high standards for yourself and never be satisfied with the status quo. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me.

Leadership: What Is The Role Of A CEO? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Leadership: What Is The Role Of A CEO? | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

To bring the outside to the inside and then to maximize the insides’ performance to cope with the outside.

To attract buyers and visibility a CEO orchestrates teams that define, innovate, position, re-position, create value propositions, competitive advantages, and comparative advantages. Through processing, supply-chaining, outsourcing, insourcing, in-forming, etc., evolution of an inside occurs. Something with walls, ceilings, and floors. A distinct inside and outside air. This service/product is introduced to the world through press releases, marketing, branding, advertising, public relations, networking, & sales. The CEO must first have an inside and then find a way to bring the outside to the inside.

We have built it and they are coming. A CEO manages processes, vision, mission, & values in order to steer the ship toward its specified target. Planning, re-planning, burning plans, flattening, correcting, directing, coaching, hiring, re-hiring, winning, losing, analyzing and learning in order to maximize performance. Two simple tasks of a CEO bring the outside in and maximize performance in correlation to external demands.

Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

Customer Retention: Pain Points | William Nozak | Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice

How easy is it to find a niche? Easy. Especially if you can diagnose pain points. You know, get downstream from a product or service and find the gaps between what is thought to be delivered and what is delivered; between reality and expectation. The easy targets are bad customer experiences, high fees, and little to no innovation.

I love when I walk into an establishment and the employees are trained to make my experience memorable, to deal with me no matter how difficult I become, and have the ability to sidestep processes in order to get me to solutions. More memorable are untrained employees, with little to no people skills or ability to solve my problem. The outcome: bad customer experience. Identify the logjam where customers are having a high incidence of bad customer experiences and you have a pain point. A competitive advantage. Ceteris Paribus this is a prime reason to start a business.

You have gas stations, grocery stores, retailers, restaurants, and health clubs that you frequent. What happens when the service provided is disproportionate to the cost? Maybe droves of potential buyers find the fees too high. Price is a pain point and depending upon the product, lower fees can be a competitive advantage. Beware; as the incumbent realizes there is a competitively priced product in the market, he may start a price war leading to “the race to the bottom,” a price war leading to lower and lower prices. To avoid a price war, be strategic, methodical, and wise with your pricing. Use analytics when possible. Do not put yourself out of business.

Products with little to no innovation (assuming they are not a dead invention like a Walkman) can be modified to produce a competitive advantage. Augment the product or presentation. Once again, being downstream as a consumer has its advantages. Identify where the current product or service is lacking and create innovative solutions that match customer profiles and needs.

A quick brainstorming session with friends, over cheese & wine can produce the pain points for your next business venture. Start by identifying the gaps between expectation and reality. If the current solution is marred by bad customer service, high fees, and little to no innovation you may have found your next business concept. For more business articles by this author visit www.harpershutshavedice.me or Harper’s Hut Blog.