Monthly Archives: February 2014

Life’s Teachable Moments

Business consulting and business and personal coaching require that I interact frequently with a variety of people from all backgrounds and experiences. It’s an amazing way to live because I learn new things every day – and every once in a while – I get to teach.

Those who are moving forward in life have learned two important things. The first is that you can, and should, learn something from every encounter you have in life. The second is that you have a responsibility to pass on the things you learn to others when the opportunity presents itself.

Vodie Bachaum, a pastor and author, tells a story about how he and his family built their first home. After the home was built, Vodie decided to plant some trees in the back yard. He did his homework thoroughly as he picked out the types of trees he wanted and determined exactly where to place them in the yard based on where they would provide the best shade. He finally went out, bought the trees, dug the holes, planted them, staked them, and watered them. He was so pleased with his accomplishment, that he brought his wife, daughter, and son into the back yard to show them the new trees. After an underwhelming silence, Vodie’s son spoke first and said, “Dad, I thought you were planting trees!” Vodie realized that his son had expected to see fully-grown, ready to climb trees, so he explained, “Well, they’re small now, but they’ll be fully grown in about 10 or 15 years.” Vodie’s daughter then chimed in and said, “But, Dad, 15 years is – like – forever!”

At that point, Vodie saw a teachable moment. He explained to his children that sometimes we have to plant trees knowing that the people who come after us will be the ones who get to enjoy the shade.

In your work, your marriage, and your family – do you look for the teachable moments? Do you look for opportunities to enrich the lives of others by sharing what you have learned on your unique journey here on planet earth?

Perhaps more importantly, do you have a thirst for knowledge and learning that is so strong that you seek to learn something from every encounter? Do you not only realize – but firmly believe – that you can learn from everyone, from every situation – and that in so doing you will become a better, more well-rounded person?

Learn to look for the teachable moments in life, not just to teach others, but to be taught by them.

Critical Keys To Business Success: Look Around & Listen To Your Employees

I come from a background of 25+ years as a senior business leader within a wide range of companies – from small start-ups to some of the world’s most prestigious and profitable organizations. Having worked as a business consultant for the past 16 years, it never ceases to amaze me just how many untapped resources exist in organizations of all sizes. Allow me to give you just one example:

About five years ago, I was hired by a company to straighten out the medical products portion of their business. The problems I discovered were large and life threatening. Product returns were averaging 30% and, as a result, warranty claims were eating up all of the profits. In addition, on time delivery was dismally low. Customer service was quoting 4 to 6 week deliveries, but actual deliveries were running 10-12 weeks. In short, the business was a disaster.

A quick analysis of customer complaints and warranty work being done provided all that engineering needed to be off and running to find effective and permanent technical solutions to the product problems. But what was creating the problems with on time delivery?

A quick trip to the shop floor provided the answer. I talked to several employees, and as I observed what they were doing, I noticed piles of unfinished work orders at many of the workstations. When I asked why these work orders had not yet been completed, I was told that they were all waiting for parts – that one or more components required to complete the sub-assemblies were missing.

I noticed that one young woman had just received a new work order and that she was headed to the stock room to get parts, so I asked if I could accompany her. When we got to the stock room, she handed the work order to the stock room clerk, who then began looking up part numbers in the computer system, and then going to various bins and storage locations in the stock room to get parts. Two of the parts for this particular work order were not in the stockroom, even though the inventory system said that they should be available. Further investigation revealed that when parts were being requisitioned for work orders, much of the time no one was going back and updating the quantity in the inventory system. As a result, the system was not letting the purchasing department know that more parts needed to be ordered. A full physical inventory showed that there was an inventory shortfall of over $500,000. Once this was corrected, on time delivery improved and the company started meeting its customer commitments.

The big question here is, “Why didn’t management see these rather obvious things?” The answer is all too common in many business operations – because nobody was paying attention to the shop floor and nobody was talking to the employees about the work they were doing. Taking those two simple steps would have handily cured the problem.

What about you? Do you spending time walking through your operation looking for things that don’t look right – piles of unfinished work orders, stacks of papers that have not been processed. But more importantly, do you engage your employees in regular conversation about their work. Do you solicit information about what is going well and what challenges they are facing? Do you ask for their comments on why things are going wrong and what THEY recommend that you do about it.

In my experience, most quality employees know where the problems are and already have good ideas about what can be done to solve them. They are just waiting for you to ASK and LISTEN.

The Key To Winning Relationships

When you think about building winning relationships, what kinds of thoughts pop into your mind? Do you think about the quality of some of the relationships you enjoy within your sphere of influence? Do you ever wonder how those relationships have reached the level of quality and connection that they have?

Or perhaps you are really looking for a way to build quality relationships. Maybe you’re struggling and just haven’t been able to make that special connection with friends, associates, customers, and the people to whom you report.

A lot of my work as a business and personal coach revolves around relationships. First, in order to be an effective coach, I have to be good at building relationships and establishing a rapport with my clients. They must know that I’m there for them and that they can trust me. Also, when I work with them, many times I need to help them learn how to build the kinds of quality relationships that will enrich both their lives and their businesses.

If I asked you to get a blank piece of paper and write down one – just one – key ingredient to building a quality, winning relationship, what would it be? Take a moment and think about it.

My dear friend, Laurie-Ann Murabito, has created what she calls “The One Minute Rule for Building Relationships.” When Laurie-Ann created this rule, her creative genius was really flowing, because the rule is not only absolutely true – it is as simple and common sense as one can possibly make it.

Are you ready? Here it is:

The One Minute Rule: For the first sixty seconds of every encounter with another human being, make it all about them.

How does one practically do this? By expressing a genuine interest in the other person. Ask them leading questions about their work, business, family, and hobbies. People love to talk about themselves and sincerely appreciate it when others are interested in them.

Why should you employ the One Minute Rule? First, because it is the right thing to do. All of us need to think a lot more about others and a little less about ourselves. Second, the foundation of relationships is caring. You will never enjoy a depth of personal relationships if you cannot genuinely express a deep level of caring for others.

What are the benefits of employing the One Minute Rule? When you engage another person, they will remember that it was you. Months later, they will remember you as a great conversationalist and a caring person. You will be blessed with some of the most rewarding relationships you could ever dream of. And when your new friends are in need of the products or services you offer, to whom do you think they will turn?

Two Keys To Winning The Problem Solving Game

Problem Solvers

Successful business consultants and coaches are problem solvers. That’s what they are hired to do – identify and solve problems. But how do they do it? What enables great consultants, and business and personal coaches, to be so adept at what they do when it comes to getting to and eliminating the root causes of crucial business and personal issues?

I am sure that there are many things running through your mind as you consider potential answers to these questions. There are a number of factors, but after years of working as both a business consultant and a business and personal coach, I have settled on two that I think are more important than most others. Here they are:

Years ago, I remember watching an episode of Star Trek where one of the Vulcans was in a heated 3-D chess match with a crewmember of the Starship Enterprise. He lost the first game, and yet handily won the second game. When asked how he changed his strategy between the two games, he replied, “I was trying very hard to win the first game, but in the second game my strategy was not to lose.” I will leave you to ponder the meaning of this statement, but it communicates a truth that all successful consultants and coaches understand, and that is that they must take a fundamentally different approach to problem solving – one that others don’t employ. For me, that fundamental difference is this: I look for the questions that are not being asked. Business owners and individuals are often so far into the forest that they can no longer see the trees. As a result, they keep asking the same questions and then are surprised when they are not identifying the real root cause of the problems they are facing. Much of the time, seeing, and then asking, the questions that no one else has thought of, leads to a pathway that ends at the real root cause.

The second key is this: Once the root cause of the problem has been identified, a good consultant or coach creates a solution that effectively holds the problem under water until it drowns. A problem cannot be considered solved until one can clearly and objectively demonstrate that it is not coming back. Having objective evidence that conclusively proves that the problem is “dead”, and that no resurrection is possible, is a hallmark of performance of successful problem solvers.

Are you facing some business or personal challenges that are still unsolved? Would you like to be rid of them forever? Then call us at 203.599.1467 or email us at info@optechs.com. We have the experience and skills to address your most pressing and difficult problems.

Time or Money? Business Coaching Helps You Find Your Balance

Business Coaching Helps You Determine Your Balance Point

Personal and business coaching in Hartford, CT involves helping people achieve the appropriate balance for their specific life circumstances.  The balance point is different for every individual, but it still is a balance point.  If we live our lives in an unbalanced manner for prolonged periods of time, it almost certainly has a negative impact on the quality of our lives, our relationships, and the outcomes we create.  A classic example is the corporate executive who has created a compelling career and reached an outstanding level of financial success – but who has sacrificed his marriage to divorce and has become estranged from his children in the process.  He is paying the price for living an unbalanced life.

Look At Your Time – Money Trade-Off

One of the keys to achieving balance is to look at what I call the time – money trade-off.  One of my mentors, Jim Rohn, once said, “Time is more valuable than money.  You can get more money, but you can’t get more time.”

We all have the same number of minutes in each day.  How we choose to invest those minutes is what ultimately determines the balance of our lives.  A disproportionate investment of our time in any one area automatically creates a void, a deficit that goes unfilled in all of the other areas of our lives.  Balance in life is a dynamic process and is something that business coaching will help you with.  As we live out each day, the scales sway back and forth, seeking to find the middle ground that is our ultimate balance point.  When we are at work, we tip the scales in one direction; when at home with our families, the scale tips in the other direction.  The key question is – where does the scale rest at the end of each day, week, month, and year?

Business Coaching Tip: One Doesn’t Make Money Focusing On Money

Many people I work with as an executive coach in Hartford, CT, are in pursuit of financial success.  That is the major drive in their lives – they want to make more money.  They are stunned when I tell them that one doesn’t make money by focusing on making money.  One makes money by (a) living a balanced life and (b) providing a high level of service to others.  Money is not a product – it is a by-product of how we live our lives and the kind and quality of service we provide to others.

I quote I often use that sums this discussion very well is from my friend, Zig Ziglar.  Zig says, “You can have everything you want in life when you have helped enough other people get what they want.”  Truer words have never been spoken.

If you would like help finding your balance, give us a call to schedule your free consultation 1-860-593-4886 or Contact Us Online.