Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Winds of Change Are Blowing!

When I first began my computer repair business in the early 1980s, we were one of only four computer repair companies listed in the entire Houston area Yellow Pages. A few years later I noticed that there was an entire page of computer repair companies listed in the same Yellow Page book. The result of this increased competition caused me to look for additional ways to bring added value to my clients while at the same time maintaining a fair profit margin.

As the years continued the number of computer repair businesses in the Houston area Yellow Pages increased from one page to approximately 8 to 10 full pages of advertisements. I did not like this change but I knew that I could not ignore it. The American writer James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

As I look back over the years I realize that this change caused me to continuously reinvent my company. What began as a company that serviced only IBM and Compaq personal computers evolved into an organization that provided systems integration services for NASA (Johnson space Center) and many other Fortune 100 companies. We became stronger and better as a result of how we dealt with this change.

My point is we must recognize that the winds of change are constantly blowing in our businesses, our countries and our lives. We can deal with change in a number of ways. One way we can deal with change is by simply ignoring it. In this way we can be compared to an ostrich that sticks his head in the ground and becomes completely unaware of what is going on around him.

Another way in which we can deal with change is by fearing it. This fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) will cause us to build walls around our businesses, our countries and our lives while looking for ways to destroy this change.

Another way we can deal with change is by embracing it. Embracing change requires that we look it dead in the eye while evaluating its components and possible effects on our businesses, our countries and our lives. Once we understand the components of change then we can develop a plan to help us deal with it effectively.

As leaders, we just have to look at what’s taking place in our businesses, our country, our lives and even our world in order to recognize that “The Winds of Change Are Blowing”. How are you dealing with it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Would of, Could of, Should of"

Have you ever had a good idea that’s been on your mind for quite some time? You believe that this idea could improve a process at work or improve an area of your life or the lives of others. You have researched this idea and have given it considerable thought yet something is holding you back. Maybe you are concerned with what others might think or maybe you are afraid that you may get stuck in the midst of the process and fail.

Let me share with you a quotation from Dr. Maxwell Maltz, the author of a book titled “Psycho Cybernetics”. Dr. Maltz says: "Often the difference between a successful man and a failure is not one's better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on his ideas, to take a calculated risk and to act.

In my opinion, some of the worst thoughts a person can have while performing a periodic review of their life are the thoughts of: “Would of, Could of, and Should of”. Let me explain. What if we only thought about our earlier idea but never implemented it? At some point in our life we might look back and say: “1. I wonder what would of happened if I had implemented that idea, 2. That idea really could of saved me lots of problems. 3. It was a good idea, I should of continued on and done it anyway.”

You see, if we had the courage to bet on our idea and it was successful then we need not say anything else. On the other hand, if we gave the idea our best effort and failed, then we will regret nothing. Additionally, it is often in the midst of failure when leaders learn the most and apply what they learned not to do to their next effort or idea. I do not know of any leader that has not suffered setback on the way to their success.

Remember that it is never too late! If you have a good idea that has been researched and on your mind for quite some time I suggest that you be strong and courageous. Be strong in your idea and your faith in yourself and your God-given abilities. Be courageous enough to listen to the beat of your drummer and not that of your neighbor.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are We Putting the Cart Before the Horse?

I may not be the first to say this but I am concerned with our country’s obsession with instant gratification. It seems that we are constantly bombarded in the media by the newest, the prettiest and the biggest of anything out there and the need to have it now. Understand that I do not blame the media because it serves a purpose in bringing us information. What concerns me is it seems that we are becoming focused more on profits and less on service. I think this is putting the cart before the horse. Let me give you an example.

When I first opened up my personal computer service business in the early 1980s, I was focused on how to troubleshoot and repair this new phenomenon called the IBM personal computer. I found out that it was extremely difficult for the owner of an IBM personal computer to have it repaired after a malfunction. IBM stipulated that its customers had to remove any non-IBM components prior to returning the unit to a regional service center for repair.

There were a number of problems with this approach. The first problem was caused by removing the non-IBM component. Many times these components (such as memory cards and communications ports) were the source of the problem. An additional problem was also caused by the fact that the service center was often times located a number of miles away from the customer’s location. This fact in and of itself caused the customer to be without their computer for weeks.

I thought to myself what if someone started a business that would go to the clients home or place of business in order to troubleshoot and repair the customer’s computer regardless of any third-party equipment? This passion overwhelmed me and within six months I had resigned my position with IBM and began the lonely life of an entrepreneur. However, I was an entrepreneur with a passion. My passion was to provide exemplary customer service. I found that my profits rose as I focused on ways to improve service.

I successfully followed that formula for over 20 years. During one of those years my company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held corporations in America. The point I am making is that as leaders we have to be able to identify and articulate those values that we hold sacred. I do not advocate that we go back to the old way of doing things. That would be like saying we should throw away the Internet and never use the media.

My point is that we should recognize they are tools that we can use to implement our values throughout our organization while we focus on creating those programs that provide lasting value to our clients as well as profit to our organizations. Let’s put the horse back in front of the cart.