Posts Tagged: Rockefeller Habits

Happiness Project: Be A Part of Something

March 13th, 2013

Guest blog spot by Kelly Hocutt, Marketing Team Lead

The Outside-In Happines ProjectBack in January we kicked off our company-wide annual theme, The Outside-In® Happiness Project, inspired by the best-selling book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. As followers of the business practices outlined in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, we choose to establish a theme to motivate our company to accomplish its quarterly and yearly goals. Our company’s goal this year? To promote internal happiness and in doing so, optimize our company culture, Outside-In®.

Another business practice outlined in Mastering the Rockefeller Habits is working in a rhythm. At CBI Group, we have built in some of those best practices into our team’s routine: Annual themes, quarterly kick offs, monthly leadership meetings, weekly team meetings, daily huddles and so on. All of these things are about communication and being a part of something. All of these things keep us as individuals aligned with our co-workers, leaders, teams, business lines and our company.

Today, I realized that all of these things, each of which may seem like just another meeting are much, much more than that. They make me feel a part of something. And that feeling contributes to my happiness. When I did my job search and found CBI Group, I was looking for that feeling. I wanted to wake up in the morning and be excited about the energy, atmosphere and vibe of what a company stood for. I can manage projects, be part of task forces and committees, design collateral and write at any company. But not every company offers that feeling that you are a part of something.

So today, I recognized one of my “commandments” or “secrets of adulthood”as Gretchen would call it: Be a part of something.

Being a part of something, in any aspect of my life makes me feel happier. I have a close family but sometimes I take them for granted. When I focus on daily texts, weekly dinners or outings and don’t let holidays come and go without focusing on traditions, I truly feel a part of my family – and that makes me happy. I’ve signed up for team sports, shown up for happy hours with friends and RSVP’d to party invites that come my way – but when I truly focus on the rhythm of my time with friends, I recognize the value of my friends and feel a part of something – and that makes me happy.

In the office, maintaining rhythm and recognizing its value makes a huge difference. It can transform a job from being “work” to being a part of something. And the cultural aspect? The culture reinforces that feeling of something greater. With The Outside-In® Happiness Project, we hope that our team’s personal happiness will reflect within our culture, and in doing so, improve our customer’s experience; and in being a customer-centric culture, that is what Outside-In® is all about.

What are you a part of? Does it make you happy?

CBI Group Unveils 2013 Company Theme

January 15th, 2013

outsideinlogo1If you’ve ever read Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, the best-selling business practices book by Verne Harnish, then you’re familiar with the concept of establishing a theme to motivate your company to accomplish its quarterly and yearly goals. CBI Group is a proud observer of these habits and consciously works to frame our daily business practices after them.

Last Friday, team members gathered together for our quarterly celebration, the Quarter Kickoff, to announce the company’s 2013 theme as well as our goals for Q1! This year’s theme is The Outside-In® Happiness Project, and was inspired by the best-selling book, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. A popular self-help book, The Happiness Project chronicles Rubin’s personal journey to finding her own happiness and fulfillment in life.

To bring the theme to life, team members transformed our Grand Teton conference room into a relaxing oasis where attendees could unwind and be – what else? – happy! Daddy O’s catered the event and provided a refreshing menu of healthy, “good mood foods” which included seared polenta with roasted vegetable terrine and charred cherry tomato, coconut chicken with dark chocolate mole, grilled asparagus, and roasted mussels in a white wine sauce. These foods were selected based on their mood-lifting abilities – yes, you will actually feel happier after eating them!

Happy Bingo after lunch kept spirits light as team members competed to fill their squares, and along the way, learned what made their team mates happy as the bingo charts were full of the team’s submissions of their personal happiness. Some of the entries? Hiking, shopping, going to the beach, and working at CBI Group!

When the time came to announce the company’s goals, the leaders were excited to share that the rocks were mapped to reflect the 5 Happy Habits – five simple tips to maintain daily well-being – researched and defined by the London-based think-tank, the New Economics Foundation. So, what are these five simple tips for daily happiness?  They are:

  • Connect With People Around You
  • Be Active
  • Take Notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Give

We are very excited to embark on our own journey this year towards being more Outside-In® and finding our own personal happiness. Our president, Chris Burkhard believes that if our team is inspired to pursue our own passions and find happiness, then we will be more Outside-In®, bringing our customers greater peace of mind.

My Learns as an Outplacement Entrepreneur

September 6th, 2012

Guest blog by Chris Barton MBA SPHR, President at Barton Career Advisors

Over the last three years I have learned a lot about being an entrepreneur.  I would say that 50% of what I have learned has come from actually “doing” my job as a leader of a business that is innovating in the outplacement industry.  The other half of my learning has come from a combination of sources: reading (I’ll share my list shortly), networking with other leaders of high-growth organizations, business development wins/failures, insight and collaboration of partners, and a confidential entrepreneurial mentoring relationship.  If I was put on the spot, it would not be easy for me to assign a percentage to each of these channels of information.  I’ll say this though, with 100% certainty, you are going to need all of it.

Being an entrepreneur can be lonely – particularly if you have experienced rejection from others who do not share your passion for changing the world.  So, finding and defining trusted channels of information is critical.  There is a statistic that is widely quoted from a study done by and the National Business Incubation Association.  Simply stated, 80% of new entrepreneurial businesses fail within the first five years of operations.  That’s a mind-blowing number for most people and more than enough to convince many not to take the chance.

If you are considering launching a new venture or interested in joining one as a leader, you should take some time to reflect on your resolve.  It goes without saying that your “risk tolerance” should be high.  But that is not enough. If you are going to make your “roll” on the big craps table of entrepreneurship, I’d like to share just a few diamonds of information distilled from my learning over the past three years since launching our outplacement business.

Define Your Values Early On

When you get started with any new venture, it always seems as if the mere momentum and passion for your new idea are going to be enough.  Trust me, it will not be.  Becoming an entrepreneur is a whole lot like getting married.  If you want the relationship between you and your company to last the test of time, then you better get clear on values right from the beginning.  I am not talking about personal values.  I am referring to the values you want your organization to live, breath, and display every day.

Defining and knowing business values early on can give you some solace when the monthly revenue numbers are not going your way.  We have a set of ten values that we live in the outplacement business.  One of the most prominent is “Investing in People. Investing in the Future.”  I ask myself each and every day, ”Are we true to our values? Did we make a difference for this client?” I know if we get the values right that the P&L will take care of itself (for the most part).  Further, one can go back to their values regularly (particularly when you are feeling stale) to regain energy and passion for the long fight ahead.

Measure Your Performance

Many start-up ventures, including mine, do not hit their initial, overly optimistic financial projections.  This does not however excuse the fact that a line in the sand has to be established somewhere.  You have got to figure out the key performance indicators for your business and attend to them like a hawk!  If the numbers don’t say what you like against the plan, resist the temptation to lower your goals.  It might make you feel good today, but you will pay for it down the road when it is time to ask for funding and other outside assistance.

There is yet another reason to measure performance.  Celebrations!  There is nothing more important than planning a reasonable reward for yourself and your team when the business exceeds its projections.  Celebrations and rewards are an affirmation of your hard work, diligence, and intelligence when it comes to “making it happen” on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis.  You are going to need this because there will be many times when you have to say, “No celebration this quarter. We missed our numbers by 9%.”

Know Yourself

I am still amazed at how some professionals will strike out on an endeavor without having some knowledge of their individual attributes as a person.  Specifically, if you want to be an entrepreneur, you better know yourself.  Let me say it again.  You better know yourself.  Why is this so important?  Well, there are some things that you are just not going to be good at in business and you will need to find others to help.  Further, it is important you understand your skills, personality attributes, desired work, risk tolerance, and working methods.

An example from my own personal background might be worth the effort here.  My Myers Briggs personality type is ENTP.  In the assessment we use in our outplacement business, I am described at a high level as a “Classic Entrepreneur and Inventor”. Sounds great doesn’t it? My personality seems almost perfect for someone in my line of work!  My “dark side” comes out when I recognize the opportunities for growth in my personality.  Specifically, I like to design things and then move on to the next thing.  This is not always a good thing.  I have learned to surround myself with great project managers and structured people who can bring necessary order and rhythm to the business.  Where would I get this insight from had I not invested the time to get to know myself?

Pick Great Partners

I am fortunate to have had picked some great partners as I began my quest to change the outplacement world.  Specifically, I get to work every day surrounded by a great bunch of entrepreneurial minds at CBI Group and Placers.  These are people that understand what it is like to structure a business, build a business plan, develop a culture, and be the driving force behind a dream. More importantly we share a set of common values that allows the combined group of entities to share resources and key market insights.  Even more powerful is our ability to scale and capture business opportunities only available due to our combined competitive advantage.

As do most start-ups, Barton Career Advisors needed to establish both formal and informal partnerships to grow the business. While CBI Group and Placers represent our formal partnerships we also have developed informal linkages to complimentary referral sources, executive search firms, business leaders, consultants, clients, and friends who share our vision for the future.  These informal partners have become an invaluable part of our support network and a community of believers that perpetuate the story of a new paradigm in outplacement and career transition.  Great partners, both formal and informal make the odds of success in entrepreneurship just a little less daunting.  If you want to win as an entrepreneur you need to create a fellowship of believers and supporters. Pick your partners wisely!

My Entrepreneurial Reading List- As Promised!

Here are a few titles that are on my reading list.  All great reads for those of us with entrepreneurial ravings!

2012 Q3 CBI Kick Off

July 24th, 2012

Today the CBI Group team got together for a quarterly meeting to discuss the companies top priorities for the 3rd quarter. We aim to make every quarter’s kick off different from past ones. With an Annual Theme of “Suspension of Disbelief,” illustrated through our interpretations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, our Q3 Kick Off featured the CBI Haunted Forest, the Wicked Witch and her Broomstick, Hooting Owls & Flying Monkeys! The team enjoyed an omelet bar, thanks to Klondike Kate’s to start the day right – and so that we had the energy to discuss our team’s personality profiles AND compete in a team carving competition. Here are some photos!

Check out more on Facebook!

The Ritual

February 29th, 2012

I have come to understand that the hardest part of change for anyone is a new routine. Think about starting a new diet or getting to the gym for the first time after a long break. Ben Franklin said it takes 21 days to build a new habit. He is so right. We tend to start anything new with enthusiasm but fade quickly into old, engrained habits. We are creatures of sameness. As human beings, we prefer the comfort zone of the familiar. Change is hard. But only at first.

I have come to think that altering one’s routine is not good enough because routines are to easy to keep. I think change comes when one starts a new ritual. By definition, ritual means an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite. I will take the term rite and insert leadership actions or even general employee work habits. We all have set ways of operating. And these set ways are often the real barriers to changing one’s lot in life.

If you walk into the wall the same way and continue to hit the same spot, you’ll get a bigger bruise. For leaders this is profound. We can talk about helping someone change, we can try to adopt new rituals, but talking and trying doesn’t make it any easier.

Think about what rituals you may have — we all have them. Who thinks it’s funny that I brush my teeth in the shower? I do, but it is my ritual. This pattern is repeated every day, and every day it gets harder to change. And I’m just talking about a stupid tooth brush. Imagine asking someone on your team, or worse yet, trying to change your own ritual at work? It’s a difficult thing to do, but so necessary too.

Ritual means procedure, compliance, established protocol. Words and whimsical attempts never stick when it comes to rituals. One must think differently to establish new ways of brushing ones teeth. Or to affect any real and meaningful change in their personal or professional habits. If you’re a leader? Well, good luck. Start with some understanding — study the habit and explain the why. And most importantly, help by designing a new way of thinking. Without it? We fade back into the known and the familiar. We are creatures of habit.

What ritual will you establish?

Strength in Numbers

February 15th, 2012

I have been thinking a lot about how any business creates a sustainable competitive advantage. Some folks call this a choke point. Verne Harnish fans might recall how Rockefeller “choked” his competitors in the oil industry by owning the distribution of his oil, because he bought the barrel company that oil used to be shipped in, which controlled his costs. But sometimes advantage comes from within.

Inside advantage comes from leadership and the way leaders have organized your business. Steve Jobs and Apple were able to clobber Sony with iTunes. Most people don’t realize that Sony had a two year head start. Sony had all of the artists and a history and track record of making cool, hip electronic products. After all, they did create the Walkman!

But Sony was built like most companies. The music business had one set of leadership who had their own P&L, their own agenda and their own ego. And of course the electronics division had all these things “going for them” as well. This “silo-ing” of interests meant they could not compromise and find common ground for the greater good of the entity.

But not Apple. Apple has one P&L and a leader that made collaboration happen across sales, marketing, design and engineering. There were and continue to be less silos than other businesses. And not only did they get iTunes and the iPod to market when others could not, but the departments had common interests, high quality interaction and discussions, speed in making decisions and shared learnings. There was no BS. They limited the building and protecting of fiefdoms. Instead, they all contribute to the success of any organization. Those grey areas waste so much time, energy, resources and money.

Sounds easy to be more like Apple than Sony, right? Yes. Until you go back to your organization and see all of the silos, fiefdoms, and leadership egos that are in the way.

Who would have thought that teaming and collaboration was actually so contrarian and rebellious?

An Entrepreneur’s Resolution

December 28th, 2011

As we reflect on the year, it seems that many entrepreneurs focus on what we did NOT accomplish. We have visions of perfect days and weeks where we cross everything off the list of to-do’s and it seems that unless we reach perfection, it’s all about what went undone. It isn’t natural for us to stop and celebrate, to recognize our achievement. This is wrong. Without celebration and joy it is so hard to build momentum, to gain confidence in your team. And worse, when a leader does this, you become the “what’s next” boss. I find it harder to produce fun and happiness without celebration. I have heard employees complain about too much celebration, however, they usually have fun anyway. Everyone wants to be a part of something when progress is made and acknowledged.
So, for an entrepreneur’s resolution: stop your team and ask them to review their successes (and if you must, their disappointments too) but stop to enjoy the reward of what you did achieve. I promise it makes a difference.
You can do this for yourself as well. Every January first, I sneak down to my home office while everyone but the dog sleeps in — and I do a full review of my year. I think in terms of business, family and my many roles as father, husband, brother, sister, etc. I think about my physical pursuits and well being. I dream of hobbies pursued and those I wish to pursue. I think about places I want to go and things I really want to do. I even think about my mental health and spirituality and how I am doing. I think about all of these things from a place of progress to celebrate my wins.
This my favorite day of the year and the most luxurious thing I think I can give myself. It’s time to think about me and those that are in my sphere of influence. Great and magical things have come from this. In one year, I lost 40 pounds. Two years ago, I hiked 747 miles and finished a 36 mile competitive hike, finishing 10th. Another year, I spent time with a special loved one that I had lost touch with. I am still impatient. Years of reflection and goal setting haven’t helped that but I have hopes for that goal this year.
Not to be too preachy, but there are so many self help gurus and experts in this area. My approach is not new. It is a little bit of Covey, a pinch of the Dream Manager book and the Rockefeller Habits too. And wow, this is my 20th year of doing it? Wondering how I kept track of that? In 1991 I decided that I would start my own business and it took me 10 years to launch CBI Group in 2001!
Happy New Year and Happy Thinking!

Mastering Outside-In® Selling Habits

August 17th, 2011

This is a play on the incredible book, Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. As Verne is to running a company, I hope to be to understanding sales in a customer centered selling organization.
Growing a company is an incredibly complicated undertaking. Growth takes a good idea where a market exists. It takes money, a leader, planning and a business strategy. Eventually it takes employees and culture. However all of these things are not enough. I have worked with many, many organizations that have all these things — yet they do not know how to sell anything. They try, they hire sales people, attempt to market and they sell some things. But they are frustrated and challenged and they struggle to figure out how to improve their selling habits.
I have some observations and ideas but a word of warning: words are easy, but implementation? Not so much. In the early days of any business, the business sells to everyone. Then you make more sales based on good service. If you have some customers and you treat them well, they will buy more. You can grow for a month, a quarter, or even a year by taking an existing cadre of customers and asking how else you can help. This supports the known premise that it is easier, cheaper, better, to keep a customer (and in this case grow with them) than it is to procure another.
But companies (your clients) decline, are bought out or outgrow you all the time. Your sales strategy, through excellent service keeps producing but not at the level you planned. You’re off forecast. Now what? This is where companies begin to add professional sales to their business model and strategy. And professional sales has a lot of complexities and selling habits to get it right:

  1. Leadership sells. They are the best in the company and compete for everything.
  2. Leadership is not ready to manage a sales force. Time, routine, planning are not in place and it takes time.
  3. Expectations are high. A sales force will come and go. But high activity targets for calls and meetings often create real frustration.
  4. Sales forecasts are unrealistic. The company expects the sales person to hit a revenue target very quickly. And they have too. There is no other way to justify the return on the payroll.
  5. Marketing role — do you have the tools and resources necessary to support sales?
  6. Poor targeting and lead generation — imagine starting off with the wrong potential targets for your service and all of your sales efforts over weeks, months, even years are directed to the wrong people? Happens everywhere…
  7. Lack of respect for defining a sales operating philosophy. How will you differentiate? Just go make more sales calls is the mantra!
  8. The natural tension between sales and service. We are different types. Yes, we are one team, it just takes time and effort for a team to find its way.
  9. Speaking of team and balance, it is difficult to shift from a service company, to one with a sales voice.
  10. Hire and ignore. Entrepreneurs do this everyday in areas of their business they don’t understand with no no source for training and little regard for knowledge building.
  11. Sales pipeline is often confused with sales wins.
  12. CRM: selling without a CRM means there is no process for managing prospect interactions. Selling with one means there are a lot of rules and administration to establish and keep up with.

We understand each complexity on its own, but the true complexity is that they all must run as one. To grow, formalizing sales and marketing is a reality. And it is habit of Outside-In® companies.

Imagine a business world without rules and legislators.

August 27th, 2010

Mastering the Rockefeller HabitsThe summer is reading season for many of us, that rare time when “the tower of guilt” on my nightstand gets reduced to a manageable inch or two. I have always been a huge fan of Verne Harnish, Mastering The Rockefeller Habits. This is an incredible book for small business owners, chock full of tools and ideas that unleash your inner entrepreneur without limiting you. The “tower of guilt” euphemism is in fact borrowed from Verne!

This summer I decided that if my favorite business book today is about Rockefeller and his habits that I would go right to the source and read about John D. himself through the book, Titan. (Yes, it is seven hundred pages.) Rockefeller was, well, quite a force as a businessman, father, philanthropist, investor, etc. He gave more money away than any man alive. His family started colleges, medical research and national parks. He also made more money in his day than any other Robber Baron or business figure in modern times!

I thought it might be fun to share what I think our John D’s top few “habits” and how they might apply to your world today.

  1. First and foremost know the numbers. John D. started his career as a bookkeeper. He always knew his figures for his companies and for any business deal. He always did his homework and had the information to make informed business decisions because of it.
  2. Demand excellence. John D. was ruthless in many ways and his reputation legendary in how he did anything to gain market share and hurt a competitor. The greatest impact his story had for me was to expect excellence from your people. John D. expected his staff to work within his culture and to win. If you were into many of life’s vices, he had no time for you. If you did not do your job, you were asked to leave. This is easy to read and understand. By today’s business standards I see many business owners and managers struggle with something so basic. Establish expectations. Inspect what you expect and be direct in your feedback about it.
  3. Always having a contingency plan. With staff, in an acquisition, in a negotiation – John D. always worked many chess moves ahead. He had backup plans. He had strategies. Most importantly he was in control of the details with his business.
  4. Be adaptable. John D. was the world’s original change agent. Well before “who moved my cheese” sentiments he was able to adapt to the changes around him and use them to his advantage. For 60 years John was a fiercely private man and ran the world’s largest business that way. He protected all trade secrets fiercely; only a handful of top executives really knew about his broad reaching plans. Yet later in life he became more comfortable and learned to use media to his advantage. His company started the first Public Relations Department ever in business.
  5. Never be “owned” by your funding source. John needed bankers early on to fund his business and thousands of acquisitions in the oil business. He built great relationships yet always detested the process of needing them. Over time Standard Oil became their own bank keeping high cash reserves on hand to do their own lending to the business! John D. was in advocate for running a business in a conservative fashion; he would be “fashionable” today.

There is so much more to say about John D.! Send me your notes and emails on what books have captivated you this summer!

Outside-In® Book List

© Year CBI Group. All Rights Reserved. Site Credits.