As I write this on a 14-degree sunny Saturday morning, I'm just in from snowblowing deep in the woods of Winhall (or Bondville) Vermont (pop.647). Known by the State of Vermont, the town of Winhall is-according to the Feds-also the village of Winhall in the town Bondville. Or maybe it's the other way around. Hard to figure.
Super Bowl Sunday & Sales
For months, everything in the NFL has been on the line, and it all comes down to this Sunday when the two best teams in the country define the 2020 Champion!
Not all that different than viewing our own Sales scoreboards at the end of the sales year on January 1, and of course. starting today for January and then in any of the following months and quarters. Metrics count everywhere in business and in our own personal lives, and achieving metrics always result from executing activities from planning strategies and tactics.
Right now I'm about four hours away from my first Marketing course of this new semester at Tufts, and I never know who's more nervous or excited about the upcoming 13 weeks- me or the students?
Experience says that it's always me!.
The Scores are on the Board!
2019 in review
The scores have been on the scoreboard now for a few days since the official year ended on the 30th, and the final game tapes have been reviewed. There'll be a couple of minor adjustments made during this week, but the big numbers are already posted on the board!
One does not need to be an entrepreneur to be entrepreneurial, so it's with that thought that I share a few ideas to take you through the holidays and hopefully a couple of days off for a much-needed break.
In the spirit of sharing, the first three of these came to me last week from one of the all-time great entrepreneurs, CB Vaughn, the founder of CB Sports, who revolutionized the world of skiing and championship ski racing by designing and manufacturing outwear that became the market leader in design, while being extremely functional on the hill. Still today, when people notice that I worked with CB, they will stop and tell me about the first CB parka that they bought, its color, and how they had saved up for a year to make the purchase at top ski shops like Pedigree Sports.
Always Inspire !Above everything else, inspire your team and your customers to want to do work with you! At CB Sports, we weren't the biggest, but we were certainly the leading brand in terms of design, quality and functionality! There was never a question as to the absolute focus on our customers and the value that we provided. Long before the clinical marketing term of "persona" was conceived, we knew exactly who are customers were...and were not. With CB's very strong leadership, all of us from associates to suppliers to retailers were totally driven to focus exactly on the team on the hill.
Be Prepared for Your Own SuperBowl !During the time that I worked with CB, he had the drive and, most importantly, the discipline of preparation to be able to interpret and translate the smallest detail into the impact and the value that it delivered to our customers. His SuperBowl has always been the customer experience, which, when you think about it should always define our own success in everything we do.
4th & 1: You Don't Need a Playbook !In any company, whether it's one of my many emerging startups that we innovate out of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, or it's an established rapid-growth company like CB Sports, there are those critical times when you need to take control of the ball and just drive decisively down the field and win!
Entrepreneurship is About Making Change Happen in your own world!Growing up as a corporate guy at Becton Dickinson, even though my great-grandfather, my grandfather and my father were all very different entrepreneurs, I couldn't spell "entrepreneurship" before I started sitting in the audience at the MIT Enterprise Forum, where years later I became an avid volunteer and a committed board member and chairman.
Back-in-the-day, even after working with CB and then starting a company when I returned to Boston, and then another company and another and more, I always thought of entrepreneurship as doing just that. I thought that entrepreneurship was all about starting companies and moving up and to the right from Concept to Team to Structure to Scale to Success. And, while that's somewhat true, that path works only in a tiny 1% of 1% of companies that actually succeed, and even then, it's never a straight line.
Of much more importance is our own entrepreneurial ability that's present in all of us to initiate and make change happen in whatever piece of the world where we choose to make it happen!
In among the holiday presents, the marvelous food and the travel, I would ask you to take a tiny slice of time and think about mapping out your own entrepreneurial journey for 2020. I've just completed mine and looking forward to hearing about yours!
Have a wonderful holiday!
Enjoy ! Hug! Be Safe!
Make Change Happen!
Please stay connected! firstname.lastname@example.org
Today, hopefully you're heads down and totally focused on completing the year ahead of plan. Whether you're in the profession of sales or you're an artist working on delivering the last of the Christmas ornaments, next week is the week when all of the marbles get measured. Yea, I know...the month doesn't end on the 20th, but for all practical purposes, it really does. Even if you're planning to work on the 24th and the 30th and 31st, you're going to be very lonely sitting at home talking to no one, so this is the last week to "Git-R-Done!"
As you're lining up calls, connections and closings today while keeping an anxious eye on the disappearing minutes on the clock, keep very focused on just three things:
Don't Overthink.Your work today and next week is all about your focus to close deals in five days from today!
You are not in the business of providing creative strategy or product development solutions for your prospective customer that will impact their business two or three years from now. You're the solution and business value provider whose company will provide the absolute best products and services that will improve your prospects' 2020 business results by increasing their revenue, their gross profit and their net income.
Be HumanWith a short countdown till launch of only five days, be human and project your own humanity of working 10 and 12 hours a day at this time of year to the person on the other side of the table-phone-text-email-videophone. They're just as stressed as you are and have equally stretched schedules of work, kids, teacher conferences, holiday parties and wicked travel. Yesterday, it took me two and a half hours just to drive from Logan to the Back Bay...and there were no accidents. Forget 128/95/495 travel at 7:00 AM or 5:00 PM, but also remember that that's the reality of what happens to your prospect every day. Be extremely sensitive to that type of reality and assess what it is that you could do personally that would reduce the stress, improve the time efficiency and impact the value that you and your products provide to your buying decision maker?
I'm running a two-day business planning session during the first week of January for 16 people. The real work is the technical stuff related to the prep, the interviews, and the facilitation of the meeting. I happily volunteered (and was immediately asked to do so) to take care of all of the logistics, hotel and travel reservations, food and everything else freeing up the senior team to focus on closing their year.
Buckle UpThis is crunch time; it's as simple as that!. This weekend and the next five days require 100 hours of work, waking up before the kids tomorrow and Sunday and getting in at 7:00 AM and not 8:30 all next week.
Do everything you already know how to do and make sure that you're physically and mentally on the top of your game because when it's over, it's over!
Now, get back to work, and have a great day today being remarkable!
I've probably listened to, coached or presented in 10-20,000 presentations.
- Early volunteering and chairing the MIT Enterprise Forum, was my first love!
- Being involved in the leadership of 4 or 5 other entrepreneurship associations
- 20 years of teaching at MIT in early stage business planning
- 14 years of teaching at Tufts in entrepreneurial marketing and sales
- Director of the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center & Cummings Professor of entrepreneurship
- 9 of my own startups-a few very good, some just ok, and some "what was I thinking?"
- A venture guy in three early stage venture firms and chairing Common Angels.
A couple of years ago, when we took over what has now been rebranded as the Tufts Entrepreneurship Center, we knew we could most importantly take entrepreneurship to the next level at this extraordinary University with 10 of the highest ranking research schools in the country. We're really urgent, so we quickly moved ahead breaking more than a few rules along the way always focused on creating the absolute best student experience!
Many of us are currently crunching through data, spreadsheets, analytics and forecasts trying to figure out what our operating plans will be for 2020. Whether it's the almighty CFO continuously prodding us for this information as she assembles the company's financial plan or our sales manager taking even more time out of our already super-packed prospecting week to juggle scenarios, the pressure's on to figure out plans for 2020. Hard enough as a salesperson, wicked hard as a manager and darn near impossible as the boss, but, who cares? It is what it is, and what it is is about business planning and forecasting at this time of year in the seasonal cycle of business.
The weak salespeople and managers will whine, complain and not dive in and do the real hard work of assessing the last 10 months of data and will simply guess. The pros will sift through the analytics, consult with their peers, sit with marketing and then work directly with the quants in Finance to make sure that what their forecasting works for the department and the company. Nothing exists in a vacuum!