Infact, the real question is - How to stay inspired to continue building your Business with passion and joyous energy inspite of the ups and downs in Life? There is no escaping from the trials and tribulations that Life invariably throws up to test one’s commitment to realise one’s impossible, unimaginable dreams.
How does one then continue walking the path with unbridled and unstoppable energy? All of us have the seed of genius in us. Only those of us are able to nurture it to fully blossom, who keep walking on the path towards our highest self; irrespective of chaos inside or outside.
Chaos is the Universe’ way of supporting our growth. Therefore, expect chaos, confusion, self-doubt to be your constant companions as you build your business. If that be the case, then it would be more effective to befriend chaos, confusion, self-doubt and their various other avatars than to resist or struggle against them. Imagine pushing a wall with all your might. Can you feel the wall pushing you back? Can you see you are still standing where you were before? You see, half your mind is struggling against the wall, resisting the wall and you are only left with half your mind’s capacity to creatively figure out a solution to go to the other side of the wall.
What if instead of pushing the wall, struggling against it. resisting it; you simply stood still and accepted it the way it is and the way it is not. You may get a brilliant idea to take support from the wall by resting your back against it. In that moment of mental and physical restfulness with your mind’s energy fully available to you since half of it is not struggling against what is, how likely would it be for stroke of creativity to unfold a solution for you to gracefully and effortlessly walk to the other side of the wall.
Therefore, in the moments of chaos, confusion, self-doubt, criticism, illness, lack of support from those who really matter, loss of energy, scarcity, financial ruin or any other limiting experience; drop your armour and embrace what is. Fully own it and accept it. Receive it with gratitude as a gift from the Universe to support you to be bigger than who you are at this moment so that you can create much bigger outcomes than you have ever created. I call this leadership ability - Childlike Trust and Faith. Childlike trust and faith in the Universe, childlike trust and faith in the process of Life, childlike trust and faith in Life as it unfolds.
It requires leadership depth to live in the experience of this childlike trust and faith. Without this ability, nothing of life may make sense; sucking away energy from the onward march on the path that we feel most connected to. Once we stop struggling in the ocean of Life, we realize we already know how to float and that more we struggle to not drown, greater our chances of drowning. Its when we trust the Universe (which includes all of Life, all Beings and ourselves) and become still, we will find ourselves floating.
Why is it a leadership ability? What has childlike trust and faith got to do with Leadership or Business? Everything because the mind is then fully available to finding creative solutions. There is unleashing of undiscovered creativity, locked-in productivity and high level of performance. All of this put together creates effortless customer creation, operational excellence and extraordinary service delighting customers; resulting in greater profitability in a Business ecosystem.
The next question is how to build this childlike trust and faith in ourselves and our team members. Leadership development is inner work, requires growth on the inside instead of something that can be hammered in from the outside. Therefore, you cannot train people to become leaders. You can only coach them to be on the inner journey of personal transformation to grow in leadership depth. And, that journey begins 2 stages before:
Stage 1 of Leadership - Gear 1 - Coaching your people to discover what their fears are, what they resist the most and supporting them to step outside their comfort zone to fully experience themselves as whole, complete and perfect.
Stage 2 of Leadership - Gear 2 - Coaching your people to relate to others as whole, complete and perfect. Coaching them to viscerally experience what it means to be grateful and stay immersed in that experience.
Stage 3 of Leadership - Gear 3 - Coaching your people to step up from Gratitude to Childlike Trust and Faith in the Universe, in Grace, in Life or any other word you want to use.
All these shifts require shifts across all the 4 bodies of the Being - physical, mental, emotional and spiritual; dropping of limiting habits and taking on Growth Habits at each of the 4 bodies.
Before you can coach others, you have to model it yourself. That is why coaching is effective because it is not about Telling, it is about Being.
The above journey is a strategic long-term growth path to be the kind of person who remains motivated through the ups and downs of building a business, through the inevitable vicissitudes of Life.
More tactically, here’s what you can do to deepen yourself in the Leadership ability of Childlike Trust and Faith:
1. Be a part of a mastermind group of positive people on their journey to their inner genius. We become who we most spend our time with.
2. Build a structure for yourself to be continually growing, to be continuously on the Leadership path to your highest self - from Gear 1 to 2 to 3 and onwards. Having your own coach is a critical component of this structure.
3. This should have been the first, actually because the above 2 make sense only if you have this - a purpose, a dream, a personal inner commitment to be so much bigger than who you are right now to create so much more than you are creating right now.
4. The ritual of daily prayer, which I am finding slowly eroding, is a powerful way to immerse yourself in childlike trust and faith. The process of a heartfelt prayer allows us to unmask to commune authentically with our own self through the Universe. A prayer is not when you beg the creator for something, it is when you seek nothing and open yourself to the Grace of God. The true meaning of prayer became alive for me when I read about a doctor whose wife was delivering a baby with both the mother and baby at high risk. He didn’t pray for the well-being of his loved ones. Instead, he prayed to God to give him strength to accept with Grace whatever He decided as the outcome.
5. Praying before eating is another ritual that is powerful in shifting the Being. The act of praying before eating helps us to become more mindful, connects us to our inner self which not only increases the nutritional value of what we are eating but also helps to still our mind and empty us of limiting emotions and thoughts, if the prayer is heartfully offered; resulting in better decision making ability, greater creativity in problem solving and better communication. This way, every meal is an opportunity to get in touch with our Source of productivity, performance, creativity and innovation.
Here’s a variation that I did on St Francis of Assisi’s prayer that powerfully reminds me every meal of what my personal inner commitment is, what my values are, what my promise is to be, the place I want to come back to every time I fall off my path. I end the prayer with Gayatri mantra, which is a prayer in Sanskrit for strength to transform the mind from darkness to light. Create your own version of the mealtime prayer and include your whole family in the process to support your children to start their leadership journey to their highest self as early as possible.
Grace, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me be love.
Where there is injury, let me be forgiveness.
Where there is doubt, let me be childlike trust and faith.
Where there is despair, let me be optimism.
Where there is darkness, let me be light.
Where there is sadness, let me be joy.
Where there is negativity, let me be soothing joyful positivity.
Where there is chaos, let me be peaceful order.
Where there is confusion, let me be clarity.
Where there is struggle, let me be joyful effortless creation.
Where there is lack, scarcity, yearning; let me be abundance and prosperity.
Where there is lethargy, boredom, inaction; let me be enthusiasm, passion and powerful, effective action.
Where there is judgement, let me be deep understanding and reverence for all points of view.
Where there is anger and hurt, let me be loving tenderness.
Where there is arrogance, let be me grateful humility.
Where there is treachery and betrayal; let me be childlike trust & faith, integrity, unconditional love & acceptance.
Where there is bitterness and resentment; let me be forgiveness, gratitude and joy.
Where there is indifference, let me be love.
Where there is fear, let me be loving embrace of all of my fears and joyous effective action.
Where there is humiliation and rejection; let me be love and grace.
Oh, Divine Grace, grant that I seek to console than to be consoled.
I seek to understand that to be understood.
I seek to love than to be loved.
For, it is in giving that we receive.
It is in forgiving that we are forgiven.
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
is a sanskrit prayer to transform one’s default small limiting mind sourced in fear and darkness to our Big Mind sourced in Love and Light.
ओम भूर्भुवः॒ स्वः ।
भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि ।
धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त् ॥
om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt
Wishing that you break free from your inner and outer shackles to come home to yourself to create success, fulfilment and joy on the inside and the outside.
Here’s how you build Great Teams with the Right Talent:
1. Have a cause so powerful that it brings tears to your eyes because your passion for what you stand for and how you live that through your business is the glue that holds a Great Team together. It’s been proven time and again, it is not the money that draws people to an organization and makes them stay.
2. Know what your team member’s dreams are and make them your own that supporting them to realize their greatest dreams becomes more important to you than your own dreams. Be your team member’s coach, not their boss.
3. Have a relationship of equals with each of your team member that you are comfortable with them holding the mirror to you, creating the space for you to be their Leader not by authority or external power but by your inner power to inspire them to choose you as their Leader with their mind, heart and soul.
4. Choose to hire those as your team members who love learning and are passionate about their domain over those who are from top-notch colleges.
5. Check during the interview if they do household chores. If they do, you have found a valuable team member who understands what responsibility is, owns it fully and is not afraid to roll-up their sleeves to do what has to be done.
6. Assess before deciding to hire what their values are. Hire only if there’s a match between your values and theirs. Teams usually are ineffective and unproductive more often because of values mismatch than for any other reason. Therefore, ask yourself what are your values before stepping out to build a team
7. Know what your cause is, making what dent in the Universe would touch, move and inspire you. Hire those who are touched, moved and inspired by your cause. That is the super glue that holds the team together.
8. Bring those people in as your team members who want to join you not because they can earn a salary but because what you and your business are upto creating in the world inspires them and gives them an opportunity to make a difference.
9. Right Talent are people who are committed to be the best in their domain and yet have an endearing humility of a beginner.
10. Great Teams are formed around great leaders. Ask yourself the question - "How can I become an even better leader than I am today to inspire the formation of Great Teams with the Right Talent?"
Wishing you a joyous and a deeply fulfilling ride as you build a great team with the right talent to lead your business from good to great.
Want to build a massive business empire, create great amount of wealth, be wildly successful? Live the laws explained in this book - The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. It is truly a little story about a powerful business idea, just as the tagline says.
Bob Burg is a former top sales professional, now a highly sought-after conference speaker world-wide and an author. He was named by the American Management Association as one of the Top 30 Most Influential Thought Leaders in Business for 2014.
John David Mann is a successful entrepreneur and award-winning co-author. His ‘Take the Lead’ (with Betsy Myers) was named by Tom Peters and the Washington Post as Best Leadership Book of 2011.
Wealth creation is the outcome of being a giving person, according to the authors, inspired from their own business experience. The book weaves a beautiful, unputdownable story to elucidate what they call “The 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success”. My own experience bears out the truth of these laws.
If you are looking to transform your organization's culture to create the foundation for exponential growth and success, gift this book to every employee.
Here are few excerpts from the book to inspire you to read the book end-to-end. It is a few hours read, not only because the book is 122 pages short but also because it is written in a very engaging style. Read it and it may as well become the turning point in your life.
1. … be a giving person, period: one who gives thought, gives attention, gives care, gives focus, gives time and energy - gives value to others. Not as a quid pro quo, not as a strategy to get ahead, but because it is, in and of itself, a satisfying and fulfilling way to be. - Arianna Huffington
2. … the more successful <people> are, the more willing they are to share their secrets with others.
… The interesting thing is, the bigger they are, the nicer they are.
… I believe that a person can reach a certain level of success without being particularly special. But to get really, really big, to reach the kind of stratospheric success we are talking about, people need to have something on the inside, something that’s genuine.
3. … the majority of people operate with a mindset that says to the fireplace, “First give me some heat, then I’ll throw in some logs.” Or that says to the bank, “Give me interest on my money, then I’ll make a deposit.” And, of course, it just doesn’t work that way.
4. Most of us have grown up seeing the world as a place of limitation rather than as a place of inexhaustible treasures. A world of competition rather than one of co-creation.
5. In life, you often don’t get what you want. But, here’s what you do get - You get what you expect.
6. Go looking for the best in people, and you’ll be amazed at how much talent, ingenuity, empathy and goodwill you’ll find.
7. Ultimately, the world treats you more or less the way you expect to be treated. … you’d be amazed how much you have to do with what happens to you.
8. A very useful thing to remember: appearances can be deceiving. … Truth is, they nearly always are.
9. … the Golden Rule of Business - All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.
10. … the point isn’t to have <your customers> pay you more, it’s to give them more. You give, give, give. Why? Because you love to. It’s not a strategy, it’s a way of life. And when you do, then very, very profitable things begin to happen.
… but I thought you said you are not thinking about the results.
That’s right, you are not. But that doesn’t mean they won’t happen.
11. All the great fortunes in the world have been created by men and women who had a greater passion for what they were giving - their product, service or idea - than for what they were getting.
And many of those great fortunes have been squandered by others who had a greater passion for what they were getting than what they were giving.
12. It means that you get to determine your level of compensation - it’s under your control. If you want more success, find a way to serve more people. It’s that simple.
… It also means there are no limitations on what you can earn because you can always find more people to serve.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, once said, ‘Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.’
Another way to say that might be, ‘Everybody can be successful because anybody can give.’
13. “There are people who get rich, and there are people who do good. My belief system said you are one or the other, you can’t be both.”
… “And I saw that my old belief system was only getting in the way. It wasn’t serving. So I decided to change it.”
“Have you ever made up a story? … Life works the same way. You just make it up. Being broke and being rich are both decisions. You make them up, right up here.” She tapped her finger to her temple. “Everything else is just how it plays out.”
What you focus on is what you get.
14. There are three universal reasons for working. Survive - to meet your basic living needs. Save - to go beyond your basic needs and expand your life. And serve - to make a contribution to the world around you. … Unfortunately, most people spend their entire lives focussing on the first. A smaller number focus on the second. But those rare few who are truly successful - not just financially, but genuinely successful in all aspects of their lives - keep their focus squarely on the third.
15. Changing my focus from seeing what I could get to what I could give was when my career started to take off.
16. … by a network I don’t necessarily mean your customers or clients. I mean a network of people who know you, like you and trust you. They might never buy a thing from you, but they’ve always got you in the backs of their minds. … They are people who are personally invested in seeing you succeed, you see? And, of course, that’s because you are the same way about them. They are your army of personal walking ambassadors.
… You want to know what makes that kind of network happen? Stop keeping score. … most of the time, what people call ‘win-win’ is really just a disguised way of keeping track. Making sure we all come out even, that nobody gets the advantage. … When you base your relationships - in business or anywhere else in your life - on who owes who what, that’s not being a friend. That’s being a creditor.
… Make your win about the other person … Forget win-win - focus on the other person’s win.
… if you place the other person’s interests first, your interests will always be taken care of. Always. Some people call it enlightened self-interest. Watch out for what other people need, with the faith that when you do, you’ll get what you need.
17. Money. Position. … a history of outstanding accomplishments. …. These things don’t create influence. - influence creates them. … Putting other people’s interests first <creates influence>.
18. Have you ever wondered what makes people attractive? I mean, genuinely attractive? Magnetic? … They love to give. That’s why they are attractive. Givers attract.
19. I believe there is one reason, and only one reason. that we have stayed together so long and are as happy together today as we were forty-eight years ago - more so, in fact. That reason is this: I care more about my wife’s happiness than I do about my own. All I’ve ever wanted to do since the day I met her is to make her happy. And here’s the truly remarkable thing - she seems to want the same thing for me.
20. “Besides, ladies.” She tapped her index finger a few times in her temple. “It’s what’s inside that makes you beautiful, not the wrapping.”
… My husband gave me the most surprising gift of all. He gave me the wake-up call of a lifetime - when he walked out of the door and never came back. … It took me one full year to unwrap, open, understand and use that gift.
… When I said that my life as a mom, wife and household manager left me with nothing the marketplace wanted, I was wrong. There was something else I’d learned over those years, and that was how to be a friend. How to care. How to make people feel good about themselves. And that, my friends, is something the marketplace wants very much - always has, always will.
... What I am here to sell you on is you.
People, remember this: no matter what your training, no matter what your skills, no matter what area you are in, you are your most important commodity. The most valuable gift you have to offer is you.
Reaching any goal you set takes 10% specific knowledge or technical skills - 10%, max. The other 90 plus percent is people skills.
And what’s the foundation of all people skills? Liking people? Caring about people? Being a good listener? Those are all helpful, but they are not the core of it. The core of it is who you are. It starts with you.
As long as you are trying to be someone else, or putting on some act or behaviour someone else taught you, you have no possibility of truly reaching people. The most valuable thing you have to give people is yourself. No matter what you think you are selling, what you are really offering is you.
… You want people skills? Then be a person. … It’s worth ten thousand times more than all the closing techniques that ever have been or ever will be invented. It’s called authenticity.
21. He thought about Gus’ long, rambling conversations, his easy manner with potential clients, his erratic, extended vacations. He smiled. “You just love what you do. You love talking with people, asking them questions, learning all about then, finding ways you can help them, serve them, fill a need, share a resource …
22. It’s not better to give than to receive. It’s insane to try to give and not receive.
Trying not to receive is not only foolish, it’s arrogant. When someone gives you a gift, what gives you the right to refuse it - to deny their right to give?
… In fact, every giving can happen only because it is also a receiving.
23. … if the secret of staying young, vibrant and vital throughout life is to hang on to those precious characteristics we all have as children but which get drummed out of us - like having big dreams, being curious and believing in yourself - then one of those characteristics is being open to receiving, being hungry to receive, being ravenous to receive.
… having big dreams and being curious and believing in ourselves - those are all aspects of being receptive, they are all the same thing as being receptive.
… Inside every truth and every appearance, there’s a bit of opposite tucked inside. … So, the secret to success, to gaining it, to having it, is to give, give, give. The secret to getting is giving. And the secret to giving is making yourself open to receiving.
24. The point is not what you do. Not what you accomplish. It’s who you are.
25. I just told you we are giving this contract to your competition. Your response was to thank me and give them a compliment. You’ve got heart.
26. And, the 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success are:
i. The Law of Value - Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
ii. The Law of Compensation - Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them. Your compensation is directly proportional to how many lives you touch.
iii. The Law of Compensation - Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
iv. The Law of Authenticity - The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself. In other words, your authenticity is the most valuable gift that you can offer.
v. The Law of Receptivity - The key to effective giving is having the humility to stay open to receiving. Having big dreams and being curious and believing in ourselves are all aspects of being receptive.
These are not new ideas. Just that most of us understand them only intellectually without living them at a much deeper level - emotionally and spiritually. One of the reasons my clients have created wealth and fulfilling business success is because they get coached to live these principles viscerally instead of these being mere intellectual ideas in the head. That's the magic the authors have weaved with their book. They have made available to us, through the enchanting story, the age-old wisdom in a way that it awakens us from deep within and connects us to our inner knowing. As a result, who YOU are shifts and then everything outside shifts.
Wishing you the joy of deeply fulfilling, joyous stratospheric success. It is not given to a few special ones. It is available to all of us. We are at the source of it. It is an act of creation. Each one of us has an equal opportunity to make the choice to create it in our life.
Then, let me end with wishing you the courage to make that choice.
Contrary to popular belief that CEOs just need to be great leaders and that domain expertise is not critical for their success, my experience tells me that truth lies elsewhere. Look at the top 6 largest companies in the world by market cap:
2. Alphabet (Google’s parent company)
6. Berkshire Hathaway
Each of the CEOs - Steve Jobs, Larry Page / Sergey Brin, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Warren Buffet - in the above companies were / are the best domain expert of their business. The creativity, innovativeness and customer impact displayed by these businesses which led to their market dominance is the direct outcome of the craft mastery / domain expertise of the founders, their commitment to make a difference to their customers implemented through the process of business excellence and the courage sourced in leadership depth to go where no one had gone before.
You could be a Founder CEO or a Professional CEO hired to manage and grow the business. Founder CEOs usually start their journey with a focus on craft mastery / domain expertise but as their business scales up, the founder CEOs get busy with growing the business and lose focus on learning and growing their domain expertise. If growing your business ongoingly is your commitment, then continue to lead from the front by continuously learning to remain the best expert in your business, not only in your own country but in the world.
Professional CEOs, if external hires, may even be hired from another industry and therefore may not have the sound grounding in the business of their company. If you find yourself in such a situation, the best is to don a student’s hat and learn with velocity and vigour about your new domain.
From examples below from a referenced article in INC, it is evident that it is more than a co-incidence that super successful companies are usually headed by domain experts who also have strong business leadership skills instead of only business skills.
“Instagram's CEO Kevin Systrom was a self-taught programmer. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg began writing software before entering high school, and still keeps a hand in coding today.
Dropbox CEO Drew Houston wrote the first lines of code for his company from a Boston train station. WordPress co-founder (and founder / CEO of WordPress's parent company Automattic) Matt Mullenweg used his technical skill to help build the democratic publishing platform from the ground up.
Microsoft's Bill Gates, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, Google's Larry Page...the list goes on. Each of these leaders possessed a deep understanding of the technology that their business was built upon.”
Quoting from articles in Harvard Business Review:
“Studies suggest that the best leaders know a lot about the domain in which they are leading, and part of what makes them successful in a management role is technical competence.
Another study found that employees are far happier when they are led by people with deep expertise in the core activity of the business. Happier employees means greater productivity. One study found that quite small boosts in happiness went on to produce a reliable 12% extra in employee productivity. It has recently been demonstrated that firms with happy employees go on to have better stock-price growth in the future.”
All the above research does point in the direction of the importance of craft mastery / domain expertise along with leadership depth and business excellence skills for the CEO to successfully navigate and lead their organization successfully and profitably from good to great.
Even without these studies and huge amount of research to understand the importance of the CEO being a domain expert for business success, there is a very logical reason why it is so. You see, your business will scale up only if your people are best in whatever domain they are in. And, we know that the only way to inspire a certain behaviour is by modelling that behaviour. It also has a phrase for itself. It’s called ‘leading from the front’. Is there any other way to lead than to do 10X yourself of what you want your people to do?
Therefore, if you choose to be a domain expert apart from being a leader and a business manager, your people will choose to be experts in their domain besides displaying business excellence and leadership depth at their work.
I often meet business owners bored of the business they are running and looking to do something else. On digging deeper, I always come up with someone who stopped learning on the journey somewhere. When I meet a CEO full of life and still in love with their business, it is usually someone who is continuously deepening their understanding of their craft / domain by learning on a daily basis.
You may love your craft, your domain but to have your whole Being lit up by your passion and joyous pleasure of working, you want to have the commitment to learn something new daily to grow and evolve to be the best in your field.
Take inspiration from the CEOs of the top 6. They spend large amount of their time learning. Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway spends 80% of his time reading. Steve Jobs was a self-confessed avid reader. Bill Gates reads one book a week.
“Still, reading books is my favourite way to learn about a new topic. I’ve been reading about a book a week on average since I was a kid. Even when my schedule is out of control, I carve out a lot of time for reading.”
Jeff Bezos has a habit of reading books too. He is very passionate about books and reading. Mark Zuckerberg is also a strong believer in reading to learn and grow.
These CEOs read not only to expand their horizons within their specific domain but also to go beyond the blinkered view of one’s work. It is the potboiler of ideas sourced from different variety of reading that expands their creativity, innovativeness and ability to see an opportunity that most miss.
So, here’s the recipe of success for an aspiring CEO and for current chief executives, a roadmap to increase their impact in the world:
a. Stay ahead of your industry by learning and growing to be the best in your domain. Learn all you can to master your craft to become the key person of influence of your industry.
b. Learn and implement Business Excellence by giving your employees a purpose, a cause to work for; starting with yourself. Deeply understand your customer community to make a dent in their Universe so that you spot Blue Oceans that most CEOs chasing sales targets would miss. And, if you can build your organization to function even better after you, you have truly implemented Business Excellence.
c. Increase your Leadership Depth to nurture a culture of trust, vulnerability, compassion, collaboration and contribution because all these are the critical inputs for enabling performance, productivity, creativity and innovation at all levels in the organization; which ultimately results in exponential profitability.
Michelangelo, the Master Artist, who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art is supposed to have said at 87 years of age - I am still learning.
Wishing you and your team the joy of the journey with purpose, mastery and impact.
How to Stay Lean and Sell Big?
There are essentially three models of running a business:
a. High Volume, Low Impact
b. Low Volume, High Impact
The third model - High Volume, High Impact is essentially a second stage available only to businesses who start off as Low Volume, High Impact and choose to step-up to the next stage.
High Volume, Low Impact takes you on the path on which High Volume, High Impact is not part of the journey.
Therefore, if you are looking to build your business to the Platinum Standard of High Value, High Impact; start your business with the intention to make a big impact to your customer communities through your business. Let’s understand that in a bit more detail; and how all this is linked to staying lean and selling big.
It seems easier to build a business with low hanging fruit of low impact, high volume. It doesn’t require you to be a master of your craft. It doesn’t need you to learn and grow yourself to be a person of influence in your industry. It doesn’t require you to have the leadership depth to challenge your industry’s status quo or have the deep understanding of how to implement business excellence.
With very little entry barrier because of limited requirement of domain expertise or insightful customer understanding or in-depth knowledge of business building, High Volume Low Impact is in the red ocean with numerous other businesses competing with each other primarily on cost. The focus is how to make as much money as possible as soon as possible.
The challenge with this strategy is not only that there’s constant struggle to stay afloat in the red ocean with negligible customer loyalty who are likely to switch based on marginal price differences, there is also no experience of contribution, mastery and purpose that we all crave for.
Leaving aside the higher perspective, a High Volume Low Impact is also a low margin business with profitability constantly under pressure. It is a business at best mediocre, at worst on the verge of death.
Yet, 80% of businesses operate here; fighting it out for 20% pie of the market in terms of revenue, working hard, struggling to make ends meet, with people engaged in the running of the business invariably under a lot of stress. There is no experience of fun, fulfilment, freedom.
In sharp contrast, building a High Volume, High Impact business ground-up from Low Volume, High Impact stage is a lot more fun and fulfilling with greater autonomy as you re-define the market landscape with the courage sourced in greater leadership depth, commitment to serve and make a difference to your customer communities and the joy of mastering your craft. This journey of Business Mastery is in reality a journey of mastering your own self.
Then, why do a majority not follow this path. Here’s why:
1. It requires one to be constantly pushing oneself and one’s business out of the comfort zone; battling against inner demons of fear and resistances.
2. It requires a lot of purposeful, persistent, deliberate learning and practise to build oneself as a master of the domain / craft that one has chosen to build one’s business in.
3. Most people start businesses to make money rather than use it as an opportunity to make a dent in the Universe and live their purpose and passion through their business.
4. This path gives outcomes in the long-term but those results are massive and sustainable. You need to have tremendous patience to build legendary businesses. Therefore, this is not the path that those looking for a quick buck choose.
5. It requires one to be purpose-driven with deep belief in one’s impossible, unimaginable dreams. Most people never grow themselves to reach this level of depth.
With the above background, here’s how to stay lean and sell big:
1. Chase impact, purpose and passion; instead of money or external success.
2. Spend time in learning to be the best in the world in your field. Like Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants in your industry to see further than anyone else has seen before. Stand on their shoulders by learning from them either directly or indirectly by reading whatever they have learnt from the books published by them or on them.
3. Choose to work at the top-end of the customer pyramid - premium customers who are seeking high value.
4. To work at the top-end of the pyramid requires high-end expertise. So, invest in a few high-end experts rather than many low-end resources.
5. Focus on few customers at the top of the pyramid and build deep trusting relationships with them by giving them what they need to be successful in what they are upto in the world, instead of selling what you have.
6. If you assess your current customer profile, you will realize 20% of your customers contribute to 80% of your profitability but you are spending 80% of your energy on those 80% who are only contributing to 20% of your profitability.
If you shift 80% of this inefficient use of your energy to serve your top 20% clients, you will not only build deeper relationship with them but also a more profitable equation for both you and your clients.
This shift in focus to your top 20% releases a lot of your resources (customer creation, operational and delivery) which are no longer required allowing you to become leaner in resource investment and yet bigger in profitability.
Wishing you the joy of purpose, impact and mastery.
As your Business grows, your role changes rapidly. Most businesses fail to scale up because the founder never learnt how to adapt his / her role to the changing needs of the growing business and ends up becoming a bottleneck in the growth of the very business that (s)he is committed to grow.
A business has 5 distinct stages and the founder CEO has to re-invent herself / himself at each stage. The re-invention required is so dramatic that if not consciously planned for, gets invariably missed out. Unfortunately, the Founder CEO looks at the wrong questions to solve for as (s)he is looking to grow her / his business.
Examples of wrong questions are:
a. How do I increase profitability?
b. How do I get more customers?
c. How do I hire fast enough to manage the growth?
Such questions indicate that the torchlight is turned outwards. Powerful solutions do not get created with an outward focus.
To leave the corridors of mediocrity to occupy the throne of market dominance, the right questions would look like as below for each question in the list above, respectively:
a. How can we make a massive difference to our existing clients? What are their needs that are not being served by anyone in our industry so far? How can we build even more trust in our relationship with our clients?
b. How can we give such enormous value to our target customer community that they queue outside our office to become our customers; instead of us queuing outside the customer’s office to get them to become our customer? How do I and my team get more committed to my clients’ business growth than to selling our products and services to them? How do we make such huge difference to our customers that they take over the role of sales and marketing for us?
c. How do I grow my people to manage our business growth?
Answers to these questions move you in the right direction to help you and your team discover powerful, effective, creative, innovative solutions to create your blue ocean.
Questions that are One-Level Deeper
After asking the Right Questions, as above, by turning the torchlight inwards; the next right step is to increase the intensity of the torchlight by asking deeper level questions as below, respectively:
a. What do I need to do to build a culture of Being of Service to our customer community?
A super successful serial entrepreneur I spoke to last year told me that they never set profitability goals. That they grew by 30% is more an observation than some goal they set out at the beginning of the year. In the same breath, he also observed that the structure of the company is such that it serves the employees first. The jobs are structured such that their lives are compatible with their roles, rather than forcing it the other way around.
b. How do we engage deeply with our customers so that we really understand them?
Another highly successful professional CEO of a large international Bank told me that he gets his team to regularly call up the customers for informal conversations.
c. Where do I need to grow the most to create the space for my people to grow?
An observation I have about authentically successful leaders is that they have no desire to dominate or any need for external power, whatsoever. They are constantly looking at the mirror, taking responsibility for any mess-up and giving away credit for any progress made or success achieved. They have a space that has people feel whole, complete and perfect; and inspires them to unleash their inner genius. It is never so much as who do I hire, as much as who do I be that people give not only their mind, but also their heart and soul to the jobs that they do.
Answering the questions which are one-level deeper grow your business with even greater velocity as you find clarity, direction and inner power to lead your business from good to great.
With the above context, it is now easier to answer the question that we started this conversation with - How to Let Go and Delegate as your Business Scales?
Going one level deeper, the real questions then become:
1. Why am I not able to let go?
2. What are my fears that are stopping me to delegate?
3. How do I grow so that I create the space for my team to become better than me?
4. What is the experience that I leave my team with? Do they feel respect for themselves, for me and for each other in my space?
5. What is the impact I want to create through my business and what kind of culture do I need to nurture for me to be able to create that?
And, of course, if you know me well enough, that’s where I leave you - with even more questions than you started out with me because I contribute to you not by giving you answers to your questions but by leading you to even more powerful questions.
Though, before we end today’s conversation, here are the 5 distinct stages in the life-cycle of a business and what re-invention is demanded of you at each stage, incase you got curious about it. I call the stages Mountains because that is symbolic of the experience a business owner / CEO goes through from stage to stage - as if flying from one mountain top to another. And, if the flight is not powerful enough, finding themselves crashing right to the bottom in the valley between the two mountains.
Mountain 1 - Mountain of Purpose - On this mountain, you are fired up with purpose, passion and the intense burning desire to make a dent in the Universe. Your business idea fires you up, is the cause that touches, moves and inspires you.
Mountain 2 - Mountain of Value - On this mountain, you marry your passion and purpose to what’s missing in the world for the customer community that inspires you to make a difference to. You iterate to find your Blue Ocean. Making a difference, making an impact, being of service to your customer community is what now fuels you.
Mountain 3 - Mountain of Growth - On this mountain, you continue iterating till you find your repeatable, scalable, profitable business model. On this mountain, your cause becomes bigger than you and you inspire others to get lit-up with the cause that you and your business stand for.
Mountain 4 - Mountain of Scale - On this mountain, you grow so much in leadership depth that your people experience themselves as whole, complete and perfect in your space; and engage with their work with not only their mind but also with their heart and soul. Only when employees are engaged this deeply in their work that a business can truly scale in a sustainable manner.
Mountain 5 - Mountain of Mastery - On this mountain, you have mastered yourself. You lead your business to become a steady-state corporate and have put in place a leadership team to succeed you and create business outcomes even more powerfully than you did. To have created a team better than yourself gives you a sense of accomplishment. You have successfully made yourself redundant and it gives you great fulfilment at having transformed your business to become a self-sustaining engine of growth, making an impact in the world and creating passive income for you.
Wishing you the joy of the journey to come home to yourself because as you fly from Mountain 1 to Mountain 5, you grow deeper and deeper to come home to yourself. That's what makes this journey worthwhile.
How Being at the Highest Level of Fitness Gives You the Power to Lead your Business to Market Leadership?
To be at the highest level of fitness demands that you do so many things which are uncomfortable, difficult and out of your comfort zone. It needs you to push your body against the rebellion of your mind which is used to being comfortable and living an easy life. It is not so much your body that resists as much as it is your mind that comes in the way of your highest level of fitness.
When you day in day out follow a vigorous and rigorous fitness routine, wake up and force your body to work out when the mind would rather have you snuggle in for an extra snooze in the mornings, you snub the rebellious mind and break free from its tyrannical hold over you.
This daily ignoring of the cries of the mind and doing exactly what it rather not do teaches the mind to be agile and fit; besides letting it know that you are the boss. For the mind to be fit, you have to identify and embrace every resistance it holds within its nooks and crannies by doing exactly what it resists. Then, look for all that the mind fears and embrace all your fears by doing exactly what the mind fears. That’s how you unleash the enormous power of the mind to increase your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness.
Only then leading your business beyond the dreary corridors of mediocrity to the freedom of masterful business excellence in the vast expanse of the open skies of your unlimited potential is available to you.
When you can conquer your mind by adhering to a fitness routine of a world-class athlete, then you release enormous energy and find yourself in the joyous experience of amazing levels of strength, stamina and health that you haven’t experienced before. People make the mistake of thinking they need to manage their time better. Actually, you need to manage your energy better. You may not be able to increase the number of hours available in a day but you can for sure increase the amount of energy that you have. Greater your energy, greater your effectiveness, efficiency, productivity and the blissful joy of living your purpose through your work.
And, it has nothing to do with age. At 45, I have more energy than I have ever had in all of my life. It is because I not only have a rigorous fitness training schedule comprising of yoga, martial arts and cross fitness training; I am also very mindful of what I put inside my body. What you eat and drink has as much impact on your energy levels as your exercise regimen.
My coach is 83 years old and is sharper than people much younger to him, so much so that he has me on my intellectual toes sweating my mental muscles during our sessions. My karate coach’s super coach is 73 years old and is still teaching students to reach the highest level of expertise in Karate, doing 100 continuous push-ups along with his students much younger to him during their sessions. My father at 72 has decided to learn golf and is sweating it out on the range.
The fat on your body or any lifestyle disease that you have picked up along the way is a sign of hidden potential waiting to be unleashed. It is a barrier to you living your greatest and most fulfilling life. It comes in the way of your productivity, performance, creativity and innovativeness at your work and in other important areas of your life; and stops you from leading your business from good to great. Sickness and poor health are the biggest time stealers. Rescue yourself from these time wasters by taking responsibility of your health and well-being; and doing whatever it takes to be at the highest level of fitness. You can only work on your emotional, intellectual and spiritual fitness if you have laid the foundation of physical fitness. Being fit at all the 4 bodies of your Being - physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual - is your access to your genius.
Don’t give in to your mind’s excuses for not jumping out of your bed to train yourself to be as fit as an Olympics level athlete. Your body has so much more capacity, ability and wisdom than what your mind credits it for.
Wishing you the euphoric joy of perfect health, fitness and well-being so that you make a massive contribution to the world through your work and as a result to yourself.
Book of the Week: Mindful Leadership Coaching (Journeys into the Interior) by Manfred Kets De Vries
What connects me the most with the author, Professor Manfred F R Kets De Vries, is the fact that he finds and recommends the group coaching format for CEOs as most effective.
I have always loved getting the CEOs / Business Owners together in a group coaching format instead of working with each one only individually. The learning is accelerated in this format because the participants get to observe others getting coached instead of being on the hot seat 100% of the time. The combination of being on the hot seat (getting coached) and being a fly on the wall watching others getting coached gives the participants breakthrough insights and deeper understanding of their own blind spots, opening them to a new way of looking at everything. New actions can only arise from a new way of looking at oneself, others and Life itself. New actions, not taken before, create unimaginable impossible outcomes.
The group coaching format of CEOs / Business Owners also gets them to be part of a Mastermind Group. It is pretty lonely at the top, so to have a peer group constantly challenging you to be better than your best and yet covering your back all the time is undeniably a gift. You do become an average of 5 people you spend your time with. Always being surrounded by your subordinates is definitely not a way to grow. A cross-industry peer group with similar challenges and providing to each other a safe space to drop your masks is an incredible growth structure.
That is why I connect deeply with Professor Manfred F R Kets De Vries from INSEAD. Not only because he has a similar experience of the effectiveness of group coaching formats for CEOs but also because he employs psycho-analytical tools to delve deep inside the inner workings of his clients’ mind, heart and spirit to unleash productivity, performance, creativity, innovativeness not available before. There are very few in our industry who go beyond the mind to coach their clients to realize their greatest dreams in deepest communion with their highest self. That makes him one of my favourite leadership experts / super coaches in the world.
I loved reading his book and couldn’t resist smiling as I read the book to see so many of my unconventional ideas validated. If you are a CEO, Business Owner, High Performer on your way to the top job or a Coach, this book is a must-read for many reasons:
1. There is very little understanding of what coaching truly is and its incredible power to enable leadership development to support organizations to cut-over from good to great.
2. A certification is no guarantee that the coach will deliver.
3. At the rapid pace with which technology is evolving and its impact on social structures, current style of leading is no longer viable. Leaders have to evolve to become coaches instead of managers.
4. Coaching begins at the top, not at the bottom. If the CEO doesn’t have a coach, coaching will deliver so much less value to the organization than what it can.
5. Before hiring a coach or implementing a coaching structure in your organization, you should know what coaching is really about.
Here are introductory key ideas from his book - Mindful Leadership Coaching (Journeys into the Interior) - in the form of excerpts. Hope this article inspires you to read the book cover-to-cover for breakthrough insights and deeply fulfilling outcomes in all areas of your life.
1. Leadership Coaches offer expertise that is not necessarily found inside the company. Another, which probably accounts more for its attractiveness, is that most find it easier to confide in an objective outsider. External coaches are more likely to offer a confidential relationship within which executives can discuss delicate issues freely, let their defences down, and explore blind spots, biases and shortcomings.
2. The higher executives climb on the organisational ladder, the less they can depend on technical skills and the greater their need for effective interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence. This is where leadership coaches can make a major contribution.
3. At its most basic level, the role of a leadership coach is to help the executive acknowledge and deal with realities that might otherwise be avoided, denied, or accepted with resignation. … Effective leadership coaches contract with their clients to not only improve their clients’ performance, but also to guide them on a journey toward personal transformation and reinvention.
… The coach also has a role in helping executives to build shared understanding, that is, learn how to think and interact better in a work setting, through courageous conversations, assisting them in giving constructive feedback. Coaches may <also> help executives to create better functioning teams and design organisational cultures that will get the best out of their people.
4. Mindful Leadership Coaching … means drawing the clients attention to the experience of the present moment in an open and non-judgmental manner. This can be viewed as a distinct state of consciousness, distinguished from the normal consciousness of everyday living.
Mindfulness leads to wiser judgment about what is and isn’t important. Taking a reflective pose, rather than resorting to a flight into action, gives clients room to roam from perspective to perspective, from one incomplete thought to the other, until those thoughts begin to crystallise and become the basis for insight and growth.
… While most of what we achieve is by “doing”, mindfulness achieves its ends by “not doing”, simply by taking the time to observe - before doing.
… The aim of mindful interventions … is to help us become more aware of our thoughts and bodily sensations, and in so doing be able to cope better with day-to-day emotions and problems.
… Although the burden is on coaches to be mindful in their work, they should help their clients to acquire mindfulness skills at the same time.
5. Mindful consciousness is quite different from the ordinary consciousness that is appropriate for our day-to-day activities, where attention is actively directed outward, in regular space and time, normally in the service of some agenda or task, and ruled by habitual response patterns.
Mindfulness helps us to become more aware of the unhelpfulness of some thoughts. It helps us direct awareness inward and focus on the present moment. Mindfulness makes us aware of what is, as opposed to what needs to be done - to experience non-doing, or non-effort.
In a state of mindfulness, we self-consciously enable ourselves to suspend agendas, judgements and common understanding. In being mindful, we are being several things all at once: passive, alert, open, curious and exploratory.
In addition to the passive capacity to witness experience as it unfolds, the purpose of mindfulness is to allow us to have a different, less conflict-ridden relationship with our thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations. The expected outcome is an increase in well-being - to have more control over our own mind as we spend less time dealing with difficulties and focus more on constructive activities. Thanks to mindfulness, what were once seen as difficulties may disappear altogether.
… When mindfulness is used appropriately, it can be a very powerful and effective method to bring about personal insight and change. Being mindful will help coaches unravel negative thoughts and painful emotions. It will help us and others free ourselves from unnecessary fears and unhelpful, habitual patterns.
6. Mindfulness, and the capacity to coach in depth, are closely intertwined. … Effective leadership coaches are like gardeners. The presenting problems are weeds, we’ve got to get to the roots to prevent them from popping up again.
7. Much of what happens to us is beyond our conscious awareness. … All of us have blind spots. There are many things we don’t want to know about ourselves and to preempt this kind of knowledge, we resort to defensive processes and resistances to avoid experiences that we find disagreeable.
Unfortunately, many people derail due to the blind spots in their personality. … It is important to realize that these resistances come to the fore due to conflicts within ourselves; we need to accept that inner dissonance is part of the human condition. … To have a better understanding of unconscious patterns, our defensive reactions, and our blind spots, we need to explore our inner theatre and pay attention to repetitive themes and patterns in our lives.
… Exploring the relationship between our past and present will be very illuminating, as it will enable us to become liberated from habitual, ingrained behaviour.
8. Nothing is more central to who we are than the way we express and regulate emotions. Emotions determine many of our actions and emotional intelligence plays a vital role in who we are and what we do. Intellectual insight is not the same as emotional insight, which touches us at a much deeper level. To understand others, and ourselves we need to explore the full range of experienced emotions. These emotions will also play an essential role in why we do what we do, why we take on certain roles, and why we are passionate about certain things.
9. Napoleon Bonaparte said - “Leaders are merchants of hope.”
Leaders need to speak to the collective imagination of their people to create a group identity to help people become better than they think they are. … help people to have dreams about the future. … see people acting on those dreams.
10. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself. - Nelson Mandela
11. Unfortunately, there are far too many leaders who fit Albert Einstein’s alleged definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.”
12. …in much of my research and writing, I have made a plea for leadership group coaching as an experiential training ground for creating more effective leaders.
13. … work with the coachee’s past, present and future in order to provide insight about the reasons for specific, behaviour patterns. …<such> interventions contribute to a deeper understanding of the significance and meaning of personal patterns and the inner structure of a person’s personality, complex human relationships (including deeply buried and repressed emotions), and the role of teams, group dynamics and organisational processes.
14. … essential for both the coach and coaches to understand the degree to which their actions are affected by what is going on below the surface. This necessitates an exploration of the clients’ own personality, their implicit underlying values, the experiences that have shaped their character, and the kind of effects they have on others. Furthermore, … these dynamics influence the undercurrents operating in teams or organizations.
Such deeper understanding will help the people who are being coached to function in a more effective manner in whatever situation they will find themselves.
15. Organizations that recognise the benefits of leadership coaching can profit in many different ways: improved interpersonal skills; out-of-the-box thinking; better conflict management; more effective team behaviour; an improved ability to manage and advance personal career goals and the career goals of others; and the ability to create a coaching culture, and authentizotic organizations - places of work in which people feel at their best. In this kind of organization, people find meaning in their work, celebrate the people they work with, have pride in what they are doing; and trust the people they work for and with.
16. Good leadership coaches take leaders where they want to go. Great coaches, however, will take them to undiscovered shores.
… coaches <should> take a reflective stand. Leadership coaches are not sport coaches. Taking a reflective stand - practising mindfulness - cautions against knee-jerk reactions in leadership coaching.
Exceptional coaches have the ability to acquire knowledge and analyse it both logically and emotionally, the true test being the ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency. We should all aim to be exceptional coaches.
Wishing you a deeply fulfilling, authentic uncovering to joyously come home to yourself so that others in your life, at work and at home, experience the courage to do the same.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.