Entries by Barry Pruitt

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Not to Be Ignored: Artificial Intelligence

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Mon, Mar 22, 2021 @ 11:03 AM

We’ve just ended a particularly challenging year with no relief in sight. Business battles have multiple new fronts – including national and local government restrictions for business, openings, travel and more. In turn, this has resulted in new stress on people, service, technology, service and the bottom line.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

COVID 19 SWOT Analysis: SWOT Analysis in a Pandemic

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Feb 28, 2021 @ 11:03 AM

Many planning tools are used on an annual basis—yet, they are often overlooked in the middle of a pandemic like COVID-19. There is an opportunity, now more than ever, in your team's need for direction, a way to focus their action and a bumper rail to keep them moving forward. This will allow you to harness the energy of your team rather than sinking in the quicksand of panic.

Many executives have heard of SWOT but aren’t familiar with how to leverage it for their business plan, much less how to utilize it in a time of crisis. Every business I work with has seen affects from the pandemic—either positive or negative. Let’s look at how to utilize the SWOT approach for either effect by making it a cSWOT (Crisis SWOT). A SWOT analysis about covid 19 is key to establishing a healthy decision-making capability and communication rhythm in your company during trying times.

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards, Effective Meetings

How CEOs Sustain Team Alignment in a Constantly Changing Environment

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Mon, Feb 1, 2021 @ 11:03 AM

In 1998 I was traveling on I-95, just south of Cocoa Beach, Florida, where brush fires burned along the highway. When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale that night, I watched a news story recounting a chief in the middle of the crisis who was attempting to help his team. The chief identified a need for his team and called in for supplies. A few hours later a box truck arrived at command central. As the driver emerged and then opened the back, the chief happened to be walking by. As the driver began unloading cases of bananas, the chief asked, “What’s that?” The driver replied, “Bananas. Can you believe that in the middle of this mess some idiot ordered cases of bananas?” The chief shot back, “Can you believe in the middle of this mess that some idiot misheard bananas instead of bandanas?” Clearly there was misalignment in the midst of a crisis.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

How to be a Good Facilitator: Top 10 Qualities of the Best Facilitators [Updated for 2021]

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sat, Nov 28, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

Are your meetings the butt of work-related jokes? Why is it that we roll our eyes with disdain when our calendar is loaded with meetings, and more specifically, why do we dread the planning meetings that are so important to our strategic success? Let me ask, have you used senior team members as facilitators? If so, you’ve likely chosen the wrong person. Save yourself an unwise decision before your next planning session. Don’t choose your CEO or an executive team member for strategic planning. If you do, you’ll pay for it all year (or quarter) based on the plan developed and the pain to get there.  Most executives are great at their jobs, but they don't have all of the qualities of a good team facilitator and may not be the best at facilitating a productive discussion.  When you are in charge, it is hard to be an active listener, which is extremely important to bring out all the great ideas from the team and cover every relevant point of view.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Effective Meetings

Moat Building: 3 Ways to Build Your Moat Around Your Business

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Mon, Oct 26, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

As you approach planning for another quarter, take a moment to check in on your 3-5 Year Strategy or what he calls Winning Moves. These are specific strategies that have the potential to double your revenue over the next 3-5 years. Many companies lose focus and momentum on these by only discussing them once a year during Annual Planning. Don't be one of them.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

Create a Virtual Plan for Grief during COVID-19

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Aug 14, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

This Saturday, my aunt will be buried. She's the last of my dad's generation for my family. She passed due to complications of cancer, and my grief is further complicated by COVID-19. I had to make the gut-wrenching decision to not attend the funeral in Stephenville, TX. I have great memories of that little town, but I wonder if I’ll ever return. We all need a virtual plan for our varying experiences with grief during this time.

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Topics: Effective Meetings, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Scaling Up Your Business with Rockefeller Habits 2.0 With These 16 Questions

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 @ 11:00 AM

It’s summer. Bright blue skies, puffy cotton candy-like clouds, and colorful flowers abound in gardens everywhere. This description is also a metaphor for the mindset and optimism of entrepreneurs. And in that mindset, like an approaching hurricane for your garden, lies danger not yet encountered. In fact, even serial entrepreneurs make minor mistakes that wreak hurricane-like havoc on their carefully planted business. You need a contingency plan for health and safety prior to a hurricane, and you need a contingency plan for when things go wrong, or you’ll never be able to be successful scaling up your business.

The approach of detailed business contingency planning is one for growing an established business. I won’t address that in this blog as the pattern I’ve seen is that so few entrepreneurs and their business make it to the established, growing stage. I’ve seen many get stuck at $15-50mm in revenue while struggling to break past their growth barriers. My advice here is targeted to those companies. If your business is larger, let this be a reminder of the contingency basics. And, if you have a larger business that doesn’t have contingency planning in place, let this be a warning.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

Adaptive Leadership Theory: Adaptive Leadership Framework

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Mon, Jul 27, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

As leadership guru Jim Collins tells us, organizations go from good to great when personalities step aside and let purpose become the focus. Essentially, great organizations are purpose-driven versus leader-driven.

So how can you be an adaptive leader in your organization, and still stay purpose driven? First you must understand these adaptive points:

  • Adaptive leaders create change incrementally.
  • Learning can be painful, so you should anticipate and counteract reluctance.
  • You must continuously connect change to the core values of the organization.

So what can you do to embrace adaptive leadership?

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Virtual Planning Lessons: Keep Your Company Out of COVID-19 Trouble

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Jul 24, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

According to FEMA, only 60% of small businesses reopen after a disaster. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) continues this timeline with the finding that in the two years following a disaster, over 90% of businesses fail. Only 10% of small businesses have the right flexibility, focus, and accountability to make it two years past a disaster. A lesson from virtual planning can help you be among that 10%.

When I talk with leaders regarding disasters, it’s easy for them to think of earthquakes (we don’t live in that part of the country), floods (we aren't in a flood zone), and fires (there’s no history here). Occasionally they think of things that they deem unlikely—like terrorism, war and pandemics like COVID-19. Rarely does a leader think about other incidents—like burst pipes, roof leaks, discovery of black mold, ransomware, computer hacks, etc.—as something catastrophic to their business. Yet any of these disasters may cause business failure.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning

Priority ZERO: Make COVID-19 Part of Your Survive, Recover and Thrive Mentality

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Jun 26, 2020 @ 12:58 PM

We all know we need to be prepared for the worst—while striving for the best—when it comes to the effects of COVID-19, and the market has proven that leaders who remain calm and focused are better able to steer their team through turbulence and uncertainty. However, my experience is that many leaders and leadership teams do not know how to do this.

I'm being asked by CEOs worldwide, "What few things must I focus on now?" Even when leadership appears calm like a duck on the surface, many leaders today are paddling like mad underwater with only a finite few that have clear direction.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning, KPIs & Dashboards, Strategy Execution

How the Balanced Scorecard Keeps You Balanced

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Jun 16, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

The Balanced Scorecard, originally developed by Dr. Robert Kaplan of Harvard University and Dr. David Norton, can keep your company balanced. They used this scorecard as a framework for measuring organizational performance through a balanced set of performance measures (as opposed to Wall Street’s need for short-term financial performance). Kaplan and Norton’s approach added non-financial measures to the standard financial measure of the time to more accurately focus on a company’s long-term success.

Here’s how they described the innovation of the Balanced Scorecard in chapter one of their book, page 7:

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

Drive Your Remote Team's Morale, Maintain Productivity and Win

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, May 21, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

History is the ultimate reality TV show; it's getting a first-hand view of people's bad decisions, conflicts, trials, and successes. We can learn a lot from these stories. They teach us that ‘this time’ is never really different—at least not any more than Hallmark movies are different. Sure, you can insert new actors and actresses, change the location, etc. The story is typically the same, though.

In the same way, ‘this time’ for us is a slightly more evolved version of all the leaders and businesses who came before us. We’re susceptible to the same mistakes, so while your people are adapting to the temporary pandemic, there is danger of rapid declines in productivity, customer service, morale and more. The longer this goes on, the greater chance for decline. It’s your responsibility as a leader to drive team morale, maintain productivity and win while your team works from home.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Cash is King – Do You Know Where Your Cash Is?

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, May 14, 2020 @ 11:03 AM

It was the 2007-2009 recession, and markets were uncertain. Things were generally OK with my business, yet with years of experience through many types of crises and emergencies, I knew I had to take asset and crisis management inventory. As I mentally ran through my checklist, I felt pretty good. I had a cashflow runway of four months, some additional ways to raise money. I thought some customers would make early payments in exchange for discounts and that there were some unused assets that might be sold. In a worst case scenario, there was the consideration of pay reductions or layoffs.

On a personal level, I considered my HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) as part of my fallback plan. I was mentally relieved that I had put it in place in 2004. It was $60k, had never been used, and based on the current lower home values, I was still in good loan-to-value position. I had a fallback plan and could sleep well at night.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning

Turn 880 Pages of Complexity into How You Care for Coronavirus Relief

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, May 7, 2020 @ 11:44 AM

The 880-page CARES Act requires ongoing, focused effort to reduce the complexity to useful information. Just like filing taxes, some are doing it themselves, some have hired the least expensive option, some have found professionals or teams that get the best results, and some are stuck in the process. CEOs and execs shouldn’t take this responsibility lightly, without careful thought, or overlook it just because you’re in great financial shape today. Consider how you will investigate and implement your options, through a team of professionals (internal or external), an internal champion, or a hired outsider.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning, Strategy Execution

Practice the Rockefeller Habits to Drive Accountability and Response-Ability

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sat, Feb 1, 2020 @ 06:41 AM

Are you fostering an accountability-based team, department, or organization? Accountability takes a step beyond responsibility. Responsibility is a felt obligation to act within an organization's values, whereas accountability adds that you can be called to answer for your own actions.

In an accountability-based organization, the onus is not only on direct reports (and their reports) to be accountable, but also on managers and executives to produce a culture that fosters accountability in its employees. This can be scary at first, but will pay off in the long run.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Targets and KPIs: How Use Them Appropriately

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Jan 24, 2020 @ 11:22 AM

I really enjoy learning during client interactions. When I’m working onsite in planning sessions, coaching executives 1-to-1, or working with teams virtually through Zoom web  conferencing, I am often learning as much as helping. Working hand-in hand with smart people and fielding their questions give me the opportunity to guide participants while expanding my knowledge, understanding, and ability to communicate.

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Topics: KPIs & Dashboards

Emotional Intelligence in Action: List of Emotional Intelligence in Action Steps

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Jan 10, 2020 @ 12:00 PM

I must admit, I’m an enthusiast for developing emotional intelligence. It’s one of the reasons I became a certified facilitator for EQ-i. But, the real shame is why I got certified. The short answer, I often let emotions overrun my intelligence, and I needed to further develop my own skills in this area. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Nuts and Bolts Leadership: Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Jan 2, 2020 @ 09:00 AM

As a leader, I’ve sometimes felt like a nut – nutty ideas, feedback that indicates I’m crazy, looks from others that could … well, you get the point. And just like a nut without a bolt, a leader who isn’t growing his/her skills is a leader falling short of his or her potential. It’s a good time to take stock of your professional role, priorities and influence. What has worked well for you so far this year? What changes have you made in your leadership style that made you more effective? What have you tried for the first time? 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Disproportional Influence: Problem Identification and Lag Time

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, Dec 4, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

Imagine the circular conversation in your workplace. The movie you’ve seen before, where you know the outcome, and can predict that there will be no change. It’s likely the conversation happens in the hallway, the restroom, or after hours while having pizza. It’s the one where you conclude in the end that your company (or team) is just that way, no one would listen and it’s always been that way. Productive team members work around them, they’re known as just lazy, etc. It’s the déjà vu conversation that nothing ever changes – things just stay the same. I’ve had them and so have you.

You can imagine I was pleased as emcee for Rhythm Systems Breakthrough Conference to have Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations, confirmed as a speaker. I was giddy to have the chance to hear confirmation of what I learned from our earlier 2-day training on Crucial Conversations. I was expecting sort of a refresher on material I’d previously learned. Even so, deep inside, I was a bit sad for our attendees. They would only get what seemed to me like a small spoon at the ice cream shop, you know, the one that’s used for tasting only. They wouldn’t be filled, but I knew they’d like the flavor.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Tom Sawyer Management Approach - 5 Steps to Increase Your Leadership

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Nov 10, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

It was 6:30 pm on a summer evening. Since I had agreed that my youngest son could go out with friends only after the grass had been cut, I felt confused. I heard the upstairs shower running while at the same time I still heard the roar of the lawnmower going back and forth on the side of our home. I looked out the window and there, cutting our grass, was one of my son’s friends.

As my son emerged from his bathroom, I inquired how he had gotten a friend to mow the grass? He replied, “I told him if he wanted me to go out tonight, he needed to cut the grass while I took a shower and cleaned up for the evening.”  I knew then that my son could have taught Tom Sawyer a thing or two about a whitewashed fence – and I realized that Tom Sawyer, the fictional character, was actually a great leader. 

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Two Truths and a Lie: The Sears Saga and Your 3-5 Year Strategic Plan

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Sep 6, 2019 @ 02:34 PM

I’ve observed a common theme in client companies. I should say, a specific type of client companies. The type that successfully grow year after year. Not companies that had a great year because of the economy, or a tariff, or a one-time software win, or companies that had some government protection that made their success easy. I’m talking about companies in competitive markets and industries who won over strong competition year after year.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning

You’re Fired: 5 Steps and a Glass of Wine

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 @ 02:24 PM

Like many great business learnings, it began with glass of wine. I had a business manager named Jim who was experiencing employee problems, sloppy results and missed deadlines.

As we sipped our wine, I realized that there was a pattern. This pattern has proven true in my consulting with great companies in 20 countries and across 4 continents.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Stop Putting Lipstick on a Pig: Start Driving Predictable Results

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sat, Aug 10, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

You may have heard the old saying; “Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it more attractive!” You may chuckle at the meaning, yet I see it often with CEOs and leadership teams while hearing their argument that they move too fast to slow down and work on the things other successful companies do.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

Stand Up, Speak Up, Shut Up, and Sit Down

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

I debated calling this blog Stage Secrets of Great Communicators only to then argue with myself that the stage for you could be the floor of your shop, the hallway of the corporate office, or your boardroom with just a handful of people.

It’s not an easy thing to get others' attention, to persuade them to your way of thinking, to have them walk away prepared to think, plan, say, or do something different. While we could debate that some people naturally have that skill, let’s instead focus on you. What’s your ability to make your point? No matter how well you’ve developed the skill, I’ve found that it can be improved – remarkably, by following a simple process I learned in the fourth grade. The process I learned can transform your ability to communicate.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Focus Like a Magnifying Glass to Expand Your Power

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, May 1, 2019 @ 12:00 PM

My Dad was a chemist working on, among other things, the Proctor and Gamble team that brought Cascade to the market. It was a fun childhood for me because my dad was always tinkering or experimenting with something. I remember one experiment in particular that was assigned to me on a hot summer morning. It was one of those bright, already hot at 9:30 am days. My dad sent me out of the house with directions, a magnifying glass, some old newspapers and a stopwatch.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

Focus to Win: Nobody Buys Your Drinks When You’re Last Place

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, May 1, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Change is accelerating, competition is stiff, and employee engagement is measurably low. How can you possibly make headway in a growing company in this environment? How can you cope with the multitude of internal and external information and distractions that are competing for your mind space and energy? As I slowed down to think about the answer, I realized that an expert in removing life clutter could help with the foundation of my question.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Using the One Page Plan and Rockefeller Habits to Create a Corporate Strategy That Works!

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Mon, Apr 22, 2019 @ 02:54 PM

One of the critical issues business leaders face is not failing to create a strategy, but actually executing it throughout the ranks of the organization. I challenge you to facilitate aligned execution - whether yours - or a member of your organization.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

How Myers Briggs Can Help You Run a Profitable Business

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Over twenty years ago I worked with one of the top pizza chains in the world. They had several processes in place to manage growth, consistency, and training for managers. Even so, one district leader had atrocious store manager turnover. The company process seemed to be failing. As I investigated the cause, I discovered that this manager took shortcuts in training store managers by failing to take advantage of all corporate training offered. Corporate leadership immediately wanted to insist that he take advantage of all training. He did … for a while. But, soon he was back to his natural tendency to train you quick and then put you in your store with the expectation to succeed – sink or swim, on your own.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Blindsided: Your Sales Pipeline, Business Performance, and Dual-Role Players

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Mar 5, 2019 @ 12:03 PM

If you’ve ever worked at an entrepreneurial company, been a business owner, or worn the hat of sales person, then you understand a revenue drought. This past year I worked with a company that had been growing annually at just over the 20%. Then, due to industry changes, a lost salesperson, and higher expenses – there was a sudden announcement, if sales didn’t increase that there would have to be layoffs.

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Topics: Increasing Sales

4 Steps to Get Your Team Past Issues and Problems

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Mar 3, 2019 @ 09:00 AM

Everyone hits a ceiling of complexity. Teens hit a level of complexity in sports, class, and social situations. Entrepreneurs hit levels of complexity in sales, collections, culture, communication, focus, size, number of members, and more. The teams and companies that succeed are the ones that figure out how to solve problems better, faster. And that’s a ceiling of complexity that I observe in many fast growth companies. A one-person entrepreneur shop can move fast, make decisions quickly, and re-chart direction as often as needed. Small companies with few employees can circle a conference table and hammer out solutions. Yet, as your company and teams grow, it gets progressively harder to solve problems in a timely manner.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

5 (More) Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Jan 17, 2019 @ 09:04 AM

I recently blogged about why some companies increased sales and were happily forging ahead while others never moved out of the starting gate, or worse, closed their doors in 5 Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business. I was challenged in a recent onsite planning session to share more. As I wrestled with the question, I shared 5 MORE secrets. Whatever your description of happy money, find 5 more secrets below to add to your success bookshelf. Let's start with #6:

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Topics: Increasing Sales, Strategies for Growth

5 Secrets to Make Happy Money in Your Business

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Jan 8, 2019 @ 10:46 AM

As I think over last year, I wonder why some companies increased sales and were happily forging ahead while others never moved out of the starting gate, or worse, closed their doors. I’m going to begin with the premise that you’re attempting to build your business in an industry that has potential. For example, I assume you aren't fighting the odds against industry and market trends. There are examples of niche companies that have been successful at this, companies like LC King Manufacturing Company in Bristol, VA, a quintessential American success story. Remaining family owned for four generations, LC King maintains the standards and quality of the founders’ vision while still working with designers and manufacturers around the world. For sake of focus, let’s put specific niche business aside.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Annual & Quarterly Planning

Lessons Business Leaders Could Learn from Eight-Year-Olds

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Dec 27, 2018 @ 11:04 AM

My youngest son was eight years old and played for the church basketball team. You may know the routine, practice once a week and play once a week. At the time there wasn’t a real playoff - which was irrelevant since the team was 0-4. Total points scored to date? Two. Contrast that to the 34 combined points that competitors scored against them. After that fourth game, while waiting on my son, the coach (who had never played basketball) approached me.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

5 Steps to Build a World-Class Organization or Sales Team

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Nov 23, 2018 @ 11:10 AM

Leaders often self-impose what used to be good habits at a bad time. What I mean is that they continue doing the things they did with 5 employees when their team becomes 50 employees, or what they did at 200 employees when they become 600 employees. It won’t work.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Accountability: Trust, But Verify (I'm Gonna Miss Krispy Kreme)

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Sep 27, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

If you’re from southeastern USA, you know full well how delicious a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut can be. The anticipation of that sweet savory melting-in-your-mouth moment is something to look forward to.

Recently, while enjoying a long weekend in Boone, NC, my wife realized she had received a coupon from RetailMeNot, an online coupon company from Austin, TX. The coupon was for a free lemon-glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut. I was intrigued. I had never considered a lemon-glazed doughnut, but it sounded like it might be good. Besides, I might get lucky and find the “Hot Doughnuts” sign lit. So off we went. As we approached, “Eureka!” I thought to myself, the “hot doughnuts” sign was lit! This guarantees a great experience just like I remembered.

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Topics: Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

The Ten Rules to Becoming a Sales Professional [Video]

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Aug 21, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Is your team struggling with sales? If so, you’ve probably talked about sales systems and training, read books and may have engaged an outside source to “fire up” your team and get the cash flowing. Although this approach can be productive, I find that there are two things often overlooked in developing sales strategy and sales teams. They are, in order, 1) company hiring, and 2) salesperson responsibility.

Company hiring includes at minimum a responsibility to hire great players that meet your company core values and are willing to take personal responsibility for their outcomes. Let’s set aside hiring and core values (think Topgrading) and focus on the foundation of becoming a sales professional. I inquired of sales guru and best-selling author Jack Daly what he had found most important for a salesperson to move from the ranks of mediocrity to stardom. He shared ten points:

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Topics: Increasing Sales

How SMACCC Will Save Your Company

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, Jul 11, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

“A good plan executed right now is far better than a perfect plan next week.” - George S. Patton

Patton had it right. An executive pattern that I’ve often seen is paralysis while waiting for perfect. As a mid-market company, you don’t have the time, profit, or revenue that allows you to wait for perfection before execution. It may not be a sexy story, but it's time to SMACCC to save your company.

Several years ago, I was coaching a CEO for a $17mm company. He had a financial officer who would not get the books quickly closed at end of the month, who often had to restate earnings, and who only reported instead of interpreting the numbers for financial decisions, realistic projections, and future initiatives. This CEO worked hard but was unwilling to be hard on the financial results. I sent a copy of Simple Numbers by Greg Crabtree to no avail. My final advice to the CEO? Replace his financial officer. The CEO didn’t, and one year later the company let go of nearly 30% of the workforce. Waiting for the perfect that never happened put them at risk of what occurred. They haven’t recovered.

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Topics: Annual & Quarterly Planning, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Customers Don't Suck - The Boss Does!

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, May 22, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Fast growth companies deal with more and more customers – it’s implied in growth. Having more and more customers increases the risk that some will be unhappy. More unhappy customers will increase the chance of unreasonable customers, and unreasonable customers are top of my mind. Why? Because I just ran across some 18-year-old notes from my work at a major casino. At the time, the internet was not well used for feedback, reviews, and ratings by customers. It was a time when you called, and a person actually answered the phone.

I acknowledge that times are different yet would emphasize that we still deal with people – face to face, phone to phone, email to email. It’s communication - period. Just last week I received a call from a fast-growth, high-customer-touch client. They were challenged with company representatives handling irate callers. So, let’s agree that if you ever interact with people, there is a chance for disagreement. My focus today is the same as it was for the caller – the boss. All the training and development you can buy won’t change your customer relationship unless you have the right boss in place. Call them customer service supervisor, shift manager, call center director, vice president, entrepreneur or other and this is the key position for a pivot to customer service. When your team has interactions with people that are seemingly unreasonable, even irate, then this is the person to empower your team to act.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

Your Leadership ETHIC Drives Predictable Results

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

I was pleasantly surprised and wonderfully rewarded by the success of launching our new book, Predictable Results. I find it curious that I’ve been asked several times about Steve Tamasi of Boston Centerless (Chapter 7) and what I think has made him successful as a CEO. I’ve been considering this question quite a bit, and finally, think I have my answer.

First, this question caused me to think, sort my thoughts, and try to distill an answer. The thinking process led me to a broader question. Why does any leader or CEO succeed when others fail? I’ve known CEOs that run in the same circles, belong to the same mentor groups, attend the same conferences and hear the same speakers – even read the same books, yet one has succeeded and the other failed.

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

3 Action Steps to Leverage Stress for Success

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

No matter who they are or what they're doing, every person and organization experiences problems, difficulties, unexpected reversals and crises that knock them off balance. We call it being blindsided, and I’ve yet to find anyone that has avoided it.

Organizations are threatened by loss of sales, new competitors and changing economic conditions. Our lives are affected by personal, financial or health crises. What differentiates us from each other is how we handle those stressful situations. How can you make sure you are on the right side of each situation - that is, reaching for predictable results?

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Topics: Accountable Leaders & Teams

3 Action Steps From Jack Daly to Increase Sales

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Mar 27, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

Spring is here and I’ve been making new landscaping plans. Well, actually, plans to continue on a landscaping path chosen two years ago – sort of a 3-5 year plan for the yard. I’ve been preparing flower beds, adding (more) perennials, cleaning up some winter trash. It takes time for plants to mature and completing a large project in the right order yields the most beautiful outcome with the least effort. So, I’ve been building a spring playbook to get this year's portion done. I’m surprised at how many people begin similar projects without a playbook. They buy a few annual plants on sale, put them in the ground, and wonder why they don’t return the next year (hint: perennials are the ones that return each year).  

I was recently in a conversation with a home building executive for a company that’s completing and selling one home per day in the North Carolina region. He shared how they hired “A” players - people with building experience who also know how to treat customers. It was a secret sauce for the future. They want perennial relationships, not annual. So, although the market is “hot” with more buyers than sellers at this time, he realizes that markets change. When the housing market stalls, this builder will have the best people on his team and the best relationship (and reputation) with any buyers. It’s part of a long-term plan.

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Topics: Increasing Sales

8 Habits for CEOs to Grow Your Business Without Breaking a Sweat

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Thu, Feb 22, 2018 @ 11:00 AM

At each business stage, leaders face new challenges and complexity. The Herculean effort to launch and grow a business to $1m revenue is different for CEOs, entrepreneurs, founders, key staff members, and investors than when operating at $5m. It follows that the level of challenge and complexity at $250m is different than at $500m. At each stage, you’ll experience a breakdown in the systems and processes that allowed you to more easily make it to this point – to put it simply, what worked to get you here won’t work to get you there.

Along the way, you accumulated multiple systems, developed workarounds, and put a few band-aids on any process that became strained with growth. At each stage of your business, you’ll experience stress on previous systems and processes. Whatever you did last year won’t get you to your next year plan, your 3-5 year targets, or your longer-term BHAG without a whole lot of sweat – and likely, not at all. To grow to the next level, you have to (once again) streamline your systems, processes, and reassess your talent. You cannot rely on memory, paper, or the systems that you used earlier in your career or business.

I’ve observed eight specific habits exhibited by successful leaders and CEOs as measured by consistent revenue and profit growth (fueling greater community impact), and each can be learned by anyone. Develop the following habits and you’ll be on your way to continued growth.  

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Business Lessons from the Story of David and Goliath

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Fri, Dec 22, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

“Goliath had as much chance against David as any Bronze Age warrior with a sword would have had against an opponent armed with a .45 automatic pistol.” - historian Robert Dohrenwend

Over three thousand years ago, a shepherd boy, smallest and last in his family, ran onto a field of battle to face a giant of a warrior. He carried with him five smooth pebbles and a sling. This boy and his story have much to teach us as men and women business leaders.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Your Blueprint to Get Your Message Moving

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

We’ve been busy preparing for our Breakthrough Conference in Charlotte, working on keynotes, topics, and materials that would help leaders to break through to a great 2018. So it was no surprise that my mind drifted to reliving lessons learned the hard way - and successes - in delivering a message. Having experience with sales, webinars, classroom facilitation, workshops, and keynotes, I first want to share that each is different in unique ways. However, there are consistent approaches and best practices for each that will help you to be heard above a noisy world of communication. I shared best approaches in previous blogs like 6 Keys to Save Communication Time, Stand Up, Speak Up, and Shut Up, and my 3-Step Process to a Great Standup.

My focus in this blog has to do with being stuck in your message. Whether you're a salesperson, a marketer, a consultant, or a training professional who needs to effectively engage an audience, you can improve by asking yourself what do you want your audience to think, say, or do differently? What action do you want them to take?

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Topics: Strategy Execution, Accountable Leaders & Teams

True Grit, Premium Value, and Success - How Bad Do You Want It?

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Whenever I am onboarding a new client, I expect questions. I often hear, "what’s the most important thing that we need to succeed?" So I was curious to find that as an author, speaker, and consultant, Jack Daly often hears similar questions. If anything, it seems to substantiate my belief that entrepreneurs and leaders want confirmation to avoid missteps. Quite simply, leaders and entrepreneurs feel the weight of each and every decision they make and live with the impact long-term. Jack asks a unique question in response - how bad do you want it?

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

From Your Heart To Feet To Changing the World

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Sep 3, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Michael was a beautiful boy. I guessed that he was about 9 years old and although his shirt was worn out, his jeans torn, and his shoes and hands were dirty, he had a charming smile that was warm enough to melt a crusty heart.

As I pulled off his mismatched shoes, I could hardly believe his rough little feet. Unlike the soft feet of most children I have known, his were calloused and rough, neglected even – a direct reflection of a life lived hard. Michael was there in 2011 at First Baptist Church in Clover, SC, with about 600 other children who shared a common story, one of poverty. It's rampant in York County with over 50% of public school children on some type of food assistance program.

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Topics: Strategy Execution

9 Steps to Make Coaching Your Sales Team Predictable

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Tue, Aug 29, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

I recently blogged that being a great coach requires that you know which hat you’re wearing the very moment you engage with a team member. Everyone wears more than one hat and although your intent is positive, your impact can be negative when failing to first determine which hat you are wearing.

Multiple hat examples outside of business include mother, father, friend, grandparent, troop leader, sports coach, and more. The point is that as a sports coach, wearing 100% of your “parent hat” will make you less effective than wearing a 100% sports coach hat. It’s not that you can’t be good, it’s that you lessen your chance to be great. The same principle applies in the workplace and with workplace teams. Make sure you know which hat you're wearing.

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Accountable Leaders & Teams

Coach Your Sales Team to Get Predictable Results

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Wed, Aug 16, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

Being a great coach is founded on knowing which hat you’re wearing. Everyone wears multiple hats. It could be a team member, project leader, department head, or entrepreneur hat. The moment you engage with a team member, you should consciously determine which hat you’re wearing. Although your intent is positive, your impact can be negative if you forget to first determine which hat you are wearing. Jack Daly is a super motivator, author, and coach who shared this with me regarding the coaching hat:       

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

3 Sales Contest Examples to Predictably Increase Revenue & Profit

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Jul 23, 2017 @ 09:00 AM

I recently shared an interesting trend regarding sales and predictable results. The premise was that leaders just like you are desperate for processes that will predictably generate business growth and that’s a conversation that led me to Jack Daly. Jack is a super salesman so I approached Jack with the question, “How can CEOs and leaders gain the predictable result of increased revenue and profit?” Jack's answer was sales contests (read part one of Jack's answer and details of his Mercedes Club example here).

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Topics: Strategies for Growth, Strategy Execution

Sales Contests Offer the Predictable Result of Increased Revenue & Profit

Posted by Barry Pruitt on Sun, Jul 16, 2017 @ 12:00 PM

Onsite consulting reveals interesting trends, and this year I’m hearing more and more about predictable results. Leaders just like you are desperate for processes that will predictably generate business growth. Growth conversations naturally lead to a discussion on sales, sales people, and sales predictability. This immediately leads me to one of the greatest sales growth resources I know, Jack Daly. I approached Jack with the question, “How can CEOs and leaders gain the predictable result of increased revenue and profit?” Jack's answer was sales contests. I knew you’d want details, so below is more of Jack’s answer:

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Topics: Strategies for Growth

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