Truths I Have Come to Appreciate

In no particular order let me just put this out there:

1) There is a difference between "training" and education.  Training means you changed behavior. Education means you held an event and shared knowledge.  Don't confuse the two because you be disappointed and wonder what you spent your training budget on. If you are going to do training, plan on a bigger budget, more time, and a huge commitment to follow up. Otherwise, you shared some knowledge.

2) It will do you little good to have training class unless you have established a culture that will embrace it, change in general and the outcomes.  Training doesn't "fix" anything unless there is support throughout the entire organization.

3) Fish rot from the head down.  Most organizations I know don’t “act” per se. They react. And usually it is management and leadership they are reacting to. If you have bad culture in your organization, it’s time to look more closely to what people are reacting to.

4) Bad employees are cancerous to organizations.  They spread their energy everywhere and it causes the good employees to leave. Invite them to be happy elsewhere and your entire organization will love you for it- trust me, we all want to live cancer free.

5) Spend money on your people and organization. Invest in them and they will return the favor. Buy cheaper paper to save money, but hire the best you can and keep them.

6) If your just starting out- like we all do- you are going to hire what you can afford until you can hire what you need.  That's Ok.  Welcome to reality.

7) Hard is easy and easy is hard.  The "hard" part of business; accounting, marketing, sales- easy.  The "easy, soft, gooey" people part of business is the hard part.  Anyone can make a product, not everyone can rally an entire organization around it's purpose. Spend equal time on doing the hard stuff.

8) Look around and steal the good stuff.  An idea born out of your industry doesn't mean it's not going to run you over like a train eventually.  Watch other industries and adopt what they do- or at least be aware of its impact.  Sooner or later someone is going to adapt that in your world and it's going to change your business- dramatically.

9) If you really like status quo, plan you're exit.  A great quote by an old general: "If you don't like change, you'll like irrelevance less."  

10) Just because you've been in business for 20 years doesn't mean you no longer have to invest in telling your story.  It means you better get going and start reminding people WHY you do what you do, not what.  I don't care what you do unless I know why you are doing it.

11) STOP with all the talk about price, quality and service.  If you're lights are on you have price, quality, and service.  If you're lights are off you didn't.  

12) Tell me how your product is going to change my company, my job, my profit or solve some terrible problem I have.  Then, hand me the sell sheet from your marketing team and I'll ask you some questions. 

13) If your talking 80% of the time in a sales call you are 80% closer to losing the sale. If you are listening 80% of the time, you are that much closer to closing the deal.  Stop the routine of "showing up and throwing up."  Chances are they already got all that information off your webpage already.

14) The least acceptable level of behavior you tolerate in your company is your company standard.  If you want to raise the bar you don't make your top performers reach higher, you bring the bottom up to reach them.  If they can't make the trip, see #4.

15) If you want to change an organization's culture take out your calendar and mark off 18 months.  Yes, 18 months.  If you think you're going to do it in 6 months, think again. Trust me, change is tough on people and “tough” takes time. Those doing the change? Even tougher to be diligent for 18 months straight.

16) Management gets you the title. Leadership gets you the people. You can be a wonderful CEO manager and not have a single follower. If that’s you, surround yourself with leaders who can get the people engaged and keep them believing in the mission.

17) The biggest drain on company resources is employee engagement. It can be tough to measure and its costing you thousands of dollars monthly.

Ok, done.  I feel better. 


Mike Karlsrud