In this section, you could easily get the impression I am an ungrateful ogre of a boss. I am not. I have had some brilliant employees without whose help I would not be where I am today.
I have helped many of my former employees (several of whom are now millionaires) in countless ways: from loans to buying them cars to paying emergency vet bills. I have paid many people very well, trained many in new skills, and been flexible with time off and bonuses—but that’s for the good ones, the keepers. These will, unfortunately, be among the minority of people you hire. But you can minimize your pain. You want to be careful when hiring as, make no mistake about it, the vast majority of your headaches will come from your employees’ performance or lack of it, NOT YOURS.
There is a real tendency, even for smart and motivated people, to major in minor things. This in itself would not be much of a problem if the minor things added up to something bigger, something they could build upon, something that eventually would lead to success. However, most people who major in minor things don’t have a vision of success, don’t have a strategic plan, and don’t have written goals with action plans and deadlines. As a result, they continually solve the same minor problems that, in terms of advancement, lead nowhere.
Legendary entrepreneurs cannot afford to be caught in this trap. They must be selective in the problems they choose to solve. In order to move forward in your business and life by solving problems, it’s imperative that you have a vision of where you want to be. That means having a strategic plan and specific goals. Without a strategic plan to guide you in your business decisions, you could end up solving hundreds of small problems, all of which add up to a great big nothing and lead you in the wrong direction completely.
Go to any large company and try to find a phone number you can call and actually speak to a human being. Most hide behind FAQ pages that seldom seem to answer YOUR UNUSUAL QUESTION. They hide behind “contact us” with a drop-down menu of choices, none of which actually matches your issue. If you do find an 800 number to call, it’s usually a voice mail sending you back to the website or an endless loop of choices you can’t actually execute because you don’t have the 15-digit code they want (in fact that’s why you’re calling).
When clients want to get hold of you, they want to do it now. Few things are more irritating than calling a service provider and being shuffled to voicemail automatically, with little or no indication whether the person you are looking for is in the office or traveling through Kenya on safari. I made a huge leap in business and customer service at my karate schools when I bought a cellular phone and answered my phone sixteen hours a day instead of eight.
Customers can be jerks who don’t deserve your service at all. I recently found myself in the Denver airport waiting for a flight back to Orlando. At the last minute, they announced a gate change followed by the dreaded announcement that the flight had been canceled. We were instructed to go across the terminal to American Airlines Gate 26 where we were told some of us would get a seat.
Being pretty quick on my feet, I was the first one from our flight to make it over there, only to find that 50 American passengers were already in front of me. I took my place in line and prepared to wait. A few minutes later the rest of the passengers from my original flight showed up and groaned at the sizable line. One man had no intention of being put out. He was a large man wearing a white suit with matching hat and carrying a large leather bag. He marched right to the front of the line waving his ticket in his hand.
Once the problem is actually defined and constraints have been examined, the next key is to gather your team and generate as many different solutions as possible. The more solutions you can generate, the greater your chance of finding the right one, the one that not only solves the problem, but perhaps even goes beyond it to create new opportunities. Before embarking your team on a no-holds-barred brainstorming session, a few simple rules should be followed to make such meetings of the minds effective.
Brainstorming is done a number of ways. However, too many sessions degenerate into simple discussions or “bull sessions.” Hold the session in an esthetically appealing place to stimulate creativity. Avoid distractions and interruptions.