Monday Mornings with Madison

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Business Development

How to Find Talent Today, Part 2

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, wrote that “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” Regardless of what a company does, having top staff is essential to every organization. From mortgage lending to manufacturing and from waste disposal to web design, companies need good employees in order to execute. But, with the overall unemployment rate at a historic low of 4.1% and with the bachelor’s degree-holder unemployment rate holding at 2.1% in many gateway and key secondary markets, it places serious constraints on the ability of companies to grow or thrive.
According to Steven Lindner with The WorkPlace Group, “With fewer unemployed people in the market, recruiting qualified candidates becomes more difficult. Employers must now begin to consider including other tactics in their recruitment strategy.” To compound matters, a thriving economy prompts companies to expand, requiring even more staff just when there are fewer candidates available. It’s a perfect storm of decreased supply and growing demand. That’s when HR Departments and Hiring Managers must get creative with their recruiting efforts. Not only do they need new strategies for attracting and retaining talent, they also need innovative sources for talent. Fishing in the same waters as everyone else will surely produce a smaller catch at the end of the day. It’s time to try new fishing holes. Continue reading

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How to Use Artificial Intelligence to Boost Business

Word Count:  1,751 Estimated Read Time: 7  min. As news articles tout how big advances in technology will make certain jobs obsolete, fear of technology is growing.  Think robotics and blockchain.  This fear of displacement is real and, to some … Continue reading

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Grit is an Essential Ingredient for Success – Part 2

Most every leader, entrepreneur and manager wants to have and hone the qualities that contribute to and best predict success. For example, most leaders want to demonstrate the qualities of confidence, organization, selflessness, structure, humility, and conscientiousness. But, in excess, even the best leadership qualities can become flaws. Someone who is too confident can become arrogant. A person who is too organized can become obsessive. A person who is too selfless can become a people-pleaser. A person who is too structured can have trouble being creative. A person who is too humble may not be able to inspire others to follow. A person who is too conscientious can become neurotic. However, there is one trait that every leader should have in as much abundance as possible. That is grit, a perseverance and passion for long term goals. There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as too much grit. The more grit a person has, the more they press on in the face of adversity. There is no downside to it.
Grit is a key trait – or combination of traits – that is absolutely essential for success. And, according to Dr. Angela Duckworth who won the Genius grant for her study of grit, it is also an excellent predictor of success. People with grit usually demonstrate courage, resilience, conscientiousness, follow-through, and excellence in very specific ways. A person with grit usually has a goal he/she cares about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything he/she does. Best of all, grit is something that can not only be learned, but also something that tends to increase with age. Continue reading

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Look for Problems in 2018 – Pt 2

We look up to people who face challenges. We admire those who go through darkness and still come out smiling. We respect those who are face adversity but are still capable of compassion. We revere those who rise above their problems and even thrive. Those problems are what made them stronger and wiser. Problems are not only what inspire us, but also what makes us inspiring. To identify a problem and tackle it, with a head held high, speaks to grit and growth. A life without problems is empty. There would be no growth.
It is normal to wish for a problem-free existence. No one wants to deal with challenges, especially those that are depleting and destructive at work. We think life would be better without trials and problems. But that is just not true. While it is both easy and natural to hate problems and troubles, such challenges are just misunderstood. Problems and troubles force us to be creative, determined and courageous. Problems force us to be strong and influence who we become. Struggles are stepping stones to innovations and lead to the creation of better things and better people. In fact, that is what life is… a series of trials that must be faced and problems that must be solved. If we look at problems this way, they cease being burdens that we don’t want to deal with and become exciting opportunities. By embracing problems as gifts, business becomes a lot less taxing and a lot more exciting. And we if find the best way to tackle problems, then we become really effective and efficient. Isn’t that really the ultimate goal for 2018? Here are the steps to becoming a skilled problem-solver for the year ahead. Continue reading

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Look for Problems in 2018 – Pt 1

From the earliest age, we are taught to avoid trouble. Our parents teach us to sidestep difficulties and dodge danger. As we grow up, we learn in school to circumvent trials and elude strife. The savviest entrepreneurs are experts at evading challenges and finding the easiest and fastest ways to get things done. Let’s face it, we all try to avoid problems like the plague. And when faced with a problem, most people will wring their hands and lament in frustration. Problems are just hindrances that obstruct our path and keep us from getting where we’re going. Or are they?
Here’s the thing about problems. Because problems irritate, they eventually push us toward efforts to solve the problem. Thanks to our creative, sentient brains, humans are prone to search for solutions. The goal of solving an existing problem is the same for all types of challenges even if the solutions come in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity. When faced with a problem, people have used problem-solving strategies to create something new or innovate an existing idea in order to tackle these challenges. In this way, problems have led to inventions that have changed the world. Thus, problems are the pesky matches that spark creativity and spur innovation. In which case, shouldn’t every company be looking for problems within the business? And shouldn’t every aspiring entrepreneur be searching for problems that are just begging for a solution? That’s right, to change the world, we all need to be looking for problems. Continue reading

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The Battle between Speed and Quality

In the business world, there is a constant tug-of-war between doing something ‘right’ and doing it fast. The pressure of profitability is forever pushing companies to get things done fast, and then faster still. Managers submit requests and the due date is “yesterday.” The more quickly a job is performed or a task is completed, the more it is praised by management and investors. Employees are urged to pick up the pace. An entire engineering discipline – ergonomics – was developed to focus on improving efficiency by saving time through small adjustments in motion. Sayings abound about not wasting time. Time waits for no man. Wasted time is a wasted life. Don’t waste time or time will waste you.
On the other hand, the more quickly a job is performed, the higher the chance of an error or mistake. Software updates are released too soon, full of bugs and glitches. New phones are rushed to market, often with serious defects such as combustive batteries. Haste is often the enemy of quality. That is why there are also sayings about the problem of rushing. Haste makes waste. And haste does not produce breakthrough ideas. Tham Khai Mend, Worldwide Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy, one of the world’s leading advertising agencies, once said “Miners shift five tons of rocks to extract one ounce of gold. Just like you have to shift a ton of rubbish to get a good idea.” Detailed or creative work requires a great deal of thought, research, concentration, reflection and mulling over to produce the truly valuable nuggets. It is a process that cannot be rushed. And, work that requires precision and accuracy — such as surgery, architectural design, accounting, proofreading, and dispensing medicine – also cannot be rushed. In such work, quality is arguably more important than speed. So how does an employer balance the need for speed and efficiency against the often painstakingly slow nature of achieving quality? The answer is not to balance them. Improve quality and speed is sure to follow. Continue reading

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Making Content Contagious

In the medical world, a virus is an infective agent that cannot grow or reproduce apart from a living cell. A virus invades living cells and uses their chemical machinery to keep itself alive and replicate. Most viruses are harmful. In the digital world, a virus is a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect. But in the marketing world, when a piece of content such as a video, image or ad goes ‘viral’ – circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another – that is cause for celebration. It is the most desired, but also most elusive, outcome for any marketing effort.
While many have tried creating content that goes viral, it is like baking the perfect soufflé, writing a hit song or painting a masterpiece. Many try but most fall far short of the mark. Yes, there are many videos that have gone viral, but that number is actually quite low in comparison to the amount of content that is created and posted daily. There is a continually growing stream of digital activity flowing through cables and airwaves across the world. Every minute, giant amounts of content are being generated from phones, websites and applications across the Internet. And the unspoken competition for content to “go viral” is fierce. What causes some pieces of content to go viral while so much other content is barely noticed? While many speculate and guess, there is current marketing research that examines what makes online content go viral. Just remember that what is true today may not necessarily be true next month and will likely not be true next year. Continue reading

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Turning Storytelling into Sales

Great storytelling – from Rumpelstiltskin to War and Peace– is one of the basic tools invented by the human mind for the purpose of understanding. There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories. Storytelling has been important to every people in history. It is a cornerstone of human existence, enabling people to communicate and connect. It’s been a primary tool used in government, religion, education, and – of course — business. The world’s most persuasive, compelling, and successful communicators were all great storytellers. Socrates was a great storyteller. Ben Franklin was even better. Walt Disney was masterful.
Thanks to the Internet, mass media and social media, storytelling has become a quintessential part of sales and marketing strategies. So how does a company take good information and turn it into a great story? For stories to be impactful, they need to be easily recalled and they need to motivate people. They must have emotional resonance and relevancy — most of which comes out in the details. A good story holds the audience captive. It stretches the limits of the imagination and allows listeners to marvel or wonder at something. It touches them and leaves them vulnerable. That’s why stories are such an amazing communications tool. Here’s how to turn a product or service into a great story that enhances the bottom line.
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How Good is Your Company’s Storytelling?

Today’s sales and marketing efforts require good storytelling. But storytelling is nothing new. Even before people could write, they were telling each other engaging stories to share information. That’s because no one is – or has ever been — interested in absorbing dry information. Even with today’s technology, dry information is still unpalatable whether it is delivered in a print ad, a radio commercial or video. Information is simply more likely to be accepted if it comes gift-wrapped in a story. Storytelling has the power to transform drab business details into something interesting.

Why do people find stories more compelling than other information? It’s physiological. When we listen to a standard presentation presenting dry information or hear a boring lecture, the Broca’s area of the brain is stimulated. This is in the side of the brain that deals with language and logic. However, when we are told a story that is rich with meaning and visual cues, there is a dramatically different response in the brain. Both the right and left lobes of the brain are activated. In addition to engaging the left part of the brain that handles logic and language, a good story also engages and stimulates the right side of the brain– what is deemed as the creative part. Stories grip us and help us experience emotions.  It is those emotions that help us connect with a brand, service or product. Storytelling helps shape the narrative surrounding a product or service. The goal, then, should be for a business to wrap every effort within a compelling story. Here’s how to start.
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Growing a Business

Most companies are in growth-mode. Successful businesses are always looking for ways to increase sales, revenue and – ultimately — profits. And there are a multitude of ways for a company to grow. A company might be ready to expand its geographic reach and open another location or hire more sales staff. Or it might want to diversify its products or services. Or it might have won a major government contract that necessitates operational expansion. Or it might be looking to franchise its operations. Alternatively, it might want to license its products so it can be sold by other companies. Or it might want to form an alliance with a partnering organization or merge with another business entity. These are all valid approaches to grow a business.
While approaches for growth vary, the elements to grow a business are usually the same for most companies. In fact, the variables for growing a business are somewhat similar to growing a garden or harvesting a field. Just as with a garden, there is an ecosystem or market in which a company will grow. A garden must have the right space and soil to expand and a business needs the right facility, plant, office space or storefront to grow. And a garden must be properly fertilized and watered, while a business needs marketing and advertising to nurture the business. Also while a garden must have the right amount of energy or sunlight to grow, a business needs the right sales and business development support to generate orders. And just as there must be a strategy to keep all manner of bugs and pests from destroying or consuming what is produced in a garden, businesses need to keep competitors and regulations from eating away at profits. Gardeners must have some level of training and experience with agriculture or horticulture, a company’s employees need training and expertise in the business’ niche. And they must not only know what they are doing, but they must be efficient and effective in their work to maximizer the ROI. There must also be a way to harvest the yield in a timely manner. And the quality of what is produced must remain high, and be as good as or better than the competition’s produce or else no one will want it. Just as only the best gardeners are successful expanding a small garden into a thriving, productive farm, only savvy, shrewd business owners can grow a company.
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