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Leadership

Chris LoCurto

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February 21, 2011

Can I Talk To Your Boss?

February 21, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

One day I was talking with one of our in-house geniuses, Tim Walsh, about customer service. He shared a story with me about two sales competitors who were trying to sell him on their products. I asked him to send me the story so I could share it with you.

The new year brought big changes to the email marketing team. One of the largest was an updated email marketing service platform. We had outgrown our provider at the time and knew we would need to go with a top-tier vendor if we wanted to reach the next level of sophistication.

We started the vetting process in August 2009, but due to some contractual obligations, we could not proceed any further until early 2010. One company we were considering took full advantage of this “down” time. John, our  salesman, regularly kept in touch, sent press releases, and really worked to establish a relationship—even though we were not yet ready to buy or even look. The other vendor we were looking at did not.

When we started the process backup in late January, John had already established rapport with us while the other company had to play catch-up. I ran point on this project, which meant everything came through me. While I was not the decision-maker, I was the key influencer. It’s kind of like that line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, “Your father may be the head of the house, but I am the neck, and the neck can turn the head wherever it wants.” While I did not have that much power, (muahahaha) my recommendation weighed heavily in the final decision.

At first, both companies seemed equal. They both had great products—the best in their industry. And we seemed to connect with both sales teams when they came for on-site visits. But it didn’t take long for those similarities to end. As the sales process continued, John’s company became the front-runner. I think the other company could sense they were losing ground because their sales manager called me in a panic to say, “It feels like we are losing.” Can you believe that?

I tried to reassure him and told him it was a marathon, not a sprint. But then he sprinted right around me. Granted, this is a large investment, and he knew I was not the final decision-maker. But the process took an ugly turn for his company when he went over my head and attempted to have conversations with those he perceived to be the decision-makers. (Remember, I am the point man here!)

John stayed true to that arrangement and ultimately won the sale. They established a good relationship with us—the client—respected the boundaries, and emerged victorious.

This is a fantastic example of how not to be a salesperson! Did you catch the two key issues?

First, the other company didn’t maintain communication with the client while they were in limbo. Big mistake! Nearly 70% of sales are lost because a customer feels the salesperson is indifferent to their business.

Second, the other company tried going around the point person when they felt they were losing the sale. Any great salesperson realizes the importance of the point person or gate-keeper. Disrespecting their authority by not following processes means that you will not follow processes with the product you’re selling either. And it’s just plain rude. You’re telling the decision-maker that you don’t believe they knew what they were doing when they put that person on point. Again, big mistake!

So what do you do? Always remember that communication is key! The less of it, the less likely you are to get the sale. Also, teach your people to recognize who they are talking to. If they don’t understand the importance of a point person, they probably won’t be getting the sale anyway.

Comment on times where you have run in to this type of situation.

Chris LoCurto

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February 18, 2011

Is That What You’re Wearing? Part 2

February 18, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Continued from Is That What You’re Wearing? Part 1

When I got to the bottom, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew it wasn’t my fastest race. In fact, I was really worried that I wouldn’t be in medal contention. Chuck skied down to me; I can still remember the look on his face to this day. It wasn’t of disgust, just disappointment with a tinge of, “You’ll regret not listening to me.”

The only thing I could do is wait as each of the other racers came down. I waited for what seemed like hours. The truth is, it was probably thirty minutes. Back in those days Kirkwood didn’t have an announcement system that called out the times as each finished.  So basically I just waited for the awards ceremony with my stomach turned inside out. The ceremonies were always back at the main lodge. Both teams would gather around an area that had a small table with the trophies on them. Then they would go through each age group starting with the youngest group.

Again, what seemed like hours, but was probably 15 minutes, they finally got to my age group. I remember thinking of how embarrassing it was going to be when my team mates saw that I didn’t even place. Well…I did place. in fact I got the silver medal. I missed the gold by a couple of thousandths of a second. Yep, a margin so small that had I listened, I would have won it for sure. I knew the jacket would slow me down. I even expected it to be a few tenths. I just knew that I would win by a greater margin than a few tenths…or so I thought. The coaches and I never talked about that race or my decision after the ceremony.

It was a bitter-sweet moment when they called my name. Obviously I was glad to have even placed, but I was ashamed for the decision I had made. Back then, the lesson I learned was that I needed to listen to those with more experience than me; those who knew what they were talking about. Later in life, I learned that it was just as much about getting a swift kick to my ego. You see, there doesn’t always have to be someone better than you to beat you. It’s very easy sometimes for your ego to be the one that beats you. I kept a lot of my trophies in boxes, but I hung that one on the wall as a reminder to tell me that you’re only as good as you let yourself be.

While I’m happy for the lessons I have learned from once race on a Sunday morning many years ago, I’m also glad to know that as a leader, you have many options. While I loved my coaches, I know that Chuck could have pushed me harder to give up that jacket. There’s no doubt that he took the path of a teachable moment by letting me teach myself. But I also know that there was a teachable moment that could have taken place in that starting gate. With the right persuasion, I would have made the right decision. You see, as leaders, it’s our obligation to persuade our team members out of their bad decisions. When you can do that, you are truly leading.

Please leave a comment on how you’ve either done the same, or tried to convince somebody else.

Chris LoCurto

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February 17, 2011

Is That What You’re Wearing?

February 17, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

As you may know from my earlier posts, growing up in Tahoe we didn’t just ski, we raced. As a matter of fact, we never just skied. If we were on the hill, we were either crashing gates in hopes to make the Olympic team, or tucking downhill against each other when the races were over. We raced so much that as an adult, I either need to be racing or teaching someone how to ski. I don’t do good with just recreational skiing.

But there was one race in particular that stands out as me just being…….stupid! You see, our team was having a stellar season, and so was I! In fact, I was racking up golds on every hill we raced on. Every team knew that when we showed up it was going to be a long day and a disappointing awards ceremony. And on this one day, we happened to be racing against Kirkwood’s team on their hill. I remember pulling into their parking lot looking for the other team so we could see who we were going to stomp that day. As we got out of the cars, I noticed that it was decently cold so I kept my big down jacket on.

We hit the hill with enthusiasm and well deserved confidence….okay…ego! As we skied down to the course, we entered the gates and did what is called “slipping the course”. You ski through each gate sideways, sliding down the hill. This way you get a slow feel for the course, and you smooth out any bumps or ruts that are currently an obstacle.

We had two hotshot coaches that we loved dearly! Mike Spaulding and Chuck Frye. As I was slipping the course, Chuck was on the side of the course and he yelled out to me,

“Be sure to lose that jacket before you race. You don’t need it slowing you down!”

To which I agreed…but again, it was really cold. I got back to the start house (Where you enter the gates to start your race.) and I still had the jacket on. Once again Chuck yelled to me,

“Dude, lose the jacket!”

I responded with an, “It’ll be okay.”

“Chris, give me the jacket and I’ll ski down and give it to you at the bottom of the course.”

I had raced these guys before. I had no doubt that I could beat them. A jacket wasn’t going to be the thing that held me back.

“It’s cool Chuck. I got it.” I said.

They gave me my countdown and I kicked out of the start gate. I raced hard because I knew I had to prove that a jacket wouldn’t cause me to lose.

“Wait…what happened?!?!” Well, you’ll just have to read the rest tomorrow. :-)

Chris LoCurto

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February 15, 2011

Stand Right In Front Of This Bus

February 15, 2011 | By | 4 Comments">4 Comments

As a leader, one of my pet peeves is watching other leaders not take responsibility. In fact, I think it’s ridiculous for a person to be in leadership, if their only goal is to make themselves look good; and yet I see it all the time.I watch leaders who are very proud of the title, but aren’t willing to do what is necessary to live up to it. They try to take on as many responsibilities as they can, and when they fail, the first thing they do is blame one or more of their team members for the failure.

Worse than that, they throw those team members under the bus to their leadership in an attempt to get out of the line of fire.When you lead like this, you paralyze your team because they don’t know what you’re going to do to them next. They operate out of fear instead of respect and loyalty. And the funny thing is, that this type of leader thinks that nobody notices that they are throwing people under the bus.

That’s not leadership! Nor is it for the leader above them who doesn’t take the time to find out what’s really going on, because they can’t handle drama. Guess what, in leadership, there’s going to be drama! It comes with the job. In fact, there should be a manual that you’re handed when you become a leader that’s titled, “Scotch and Psychiatrists: A leader’s guide to drama!” (I’m kidding…you don’t need a psychiatrist! Okay, you don’t need the Scotch either. :-))

Leadership is the privilege and the authority to serve. Key word there being serve! It’s not my job as a leader to pass on blame. It’s my job to do everything in my power to make sure that my team is set up for success. And sometimes that means taking a bullet or twelve for them. In the end, if they don’t succeed, it’s my fault anyway. Somewhere along the line I either didn’t train them well enough, or I didn’t make sure they had everything they needed to be successful.

Get in there and be the type of leader who stands side by side with their team. Show them that you are willing to take the bullets with them. “But Chris, I have some real idiots on my team. I don’t want to take their bullets!” Then roll up your sleeves and do everything you possibly can to make sure that it’s not really you who are the problem. If you can say that you’ve done everything you can, and their still an idiot, then it’s time to let them be an idiot somewhere else. But, until you can rule you out, you’re the problem!

Comment on whether or not you’ve experienced this kind of leader.

Chris LoCurto

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February 14, 2011

Is That All You Got?

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I was honored to be able to present our Momentum program at the Christian Stewardship Network conference in Dallas. This is a group of leaders who have dedicated to disciplining people in the Word on the need for total stewardship. Each day they start out the event with praise and worship. On the first day, the worship leader spoke for a bit. His topic was basically,  “What are you doing with the resources God has given you?”

Jesus at the house of the Pharisean, by Jacopo...

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The part that really spoke to me was when he mentioned the woman of sin in Luke who came to the house where the Pharisees had set up a dinner for Jesus. As she came before Jesus, she wept what I would think to be uncontrollably. Why would I say that? Because she then knelt down before Jesus, cried her tears upon His feet, and took her hair down to His feet and wiped away her brokenness. In my mind, it must have been enough tears to “wash” His feet.

On top of that, she didn’t use her hands, or her clothes, or a simple cloth to wipe the tears away. Instead, she took her hair, which Paul said is a woman’s glory, and used it to continue to humble herself. She then used, what I can only imagine was the greatest gift she had available, perfume to pour out onto His feet. In essence, she used her greatest resources to minister to God Himself. How pleased was God that day!

So the question becomes, what are you doing with the resources that God has given you? And how are you using those resources to minister to God? “Well, how do I minister to God? It’s not like He’s right here in front of me!” Well first, He is. And second, worship is a way of ministering to God; and I don’t just mean singing at church.

The Jewish people believe that your work is worship. They believe that it is a calling for us to take care of God’s children through the catalyst of our jobs. As we do that, it’s worshiping God. As a leader, you have the opportunity…no…the obligation everyday to, as Rabbi Daniel Lapin says, “become obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others.” When you take care of His children, you are telling Him that you love Him!

Or, you can be like the Pharisees who were happy with having thrown Jesus a dinner. They felt like it was a great use of their resources.

Chris LoCurto

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February 11, 2011

Is That Couch Taken?

February 11, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

I love the Live Events team!! In nineteen years of leading people, they are the best team I have ever led! They know that I care about them deeply. One way that they know about this is my open door policy. It’s pretty simple; if my door is open, you can bug me with whatever it is you need to see me about.

Just last week, the Simulcast leader, Lance Osborne, came to me because of something that happened in his home town that was really bugging him. He said that it was keeping him from being able to focus. And while I don’t need to share the situation, believe me when I say, it would have kept me from focusing as well.

Lance worked for me for just almost five years. And one of the things I have always loved about Lance, on top of his INCREDIBLE ENERGY, and amazing personality, his love for life, his super cool wife Sarah, his massively photogenic daughter (I’m serious, she’s absolutely adorable! And when she talks she just gets adorabler…adorablest…more adorable!), is our conversations! For years they have always been deep.

The truth is, I get as much out of the conversations as he does. And I believe they happen for a few simple reasons:

  • He knows I will listen.
  • He knows I care immensely.
  • He trusts me.

But I also believe it’s because I show him something things that a lot of people aren’t getting:

  • Acceptance
  • Approval
  • Appreciation
  • Attention
  • Affection

These are all things that I long for! Things that I am starved for! And I am no different than every human being walking on this Earth. The problem is, we get so caught up in ourselves, that we don’t understand that others need what I need too. As leaders, we get this crazy notion that we can’t get close to our team members because it will create problems. It will create problems if you’re a dork! Not if you are genuine in how you treat them.

Therefore, get in there and find out what’s really going on with them. Find out what their dreams are. What their fears are. What their kids names are. Get past the masks that we each wear every day and see what’s truly inside. You will be amazed at what it does for the person, and what results follow with them as a team member. Again, you can’t do it as a job, you have to actually care!

What Lance doesn’t realize, is he does the same for me! It’s actually a two-way street. That’s what results from a good mentoring relationship. One where dignity and respect live.

Chris LoCurto

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February 10, 2011

I’ll Buy Your Drugs.

February 10, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

As you SURELY know by now, last week was the Nashville EntreLeadership; and it was fantastic! The group that came was an absolute blast to teach. Every break, a lunch, or a dinner someone was telling me how much they were learning, and how they couldn’t wait to get home and get started. Since then I have received many comments from guests who have already had great meetings about implementing.

But let me tell you about something that happened while they were here. The first night while we were out at dinner, one of the guests was not able to talk due to an issue she was having with her breathing. She assured us she was okay at the time. However, later that night she ended up in the ER. At 2:00 AM they gave her a steroid shot and a handful of prescriptions to get filled in the morning. After very little sleep, she was downstairs in her hotel ready to go and find a pharmacy when Tammy Kornberg heard what had happened. At this point, I know what you’re saying, “This is the second time he’s mentioned Tammy in his posts. What up?” Well…she’s a rock star, so leave me alone!

Tammy told the guest that she would be happy to go and get her prescriptions filled, so she wouldn’t have to miss any of the conference. The guest gave her the prescriptions, her medical card, some money, and away she went. The only problem is, she didn’t give Tammy enough money for all of the prescriptions. She didn’t know how much they would cost. So Tammy pulled her own personal cash to take care of the rest.

She then delivered the prescriptions to the guest at the event and never mentioned the money. Soon after, the guest realized what had happened. She came to me with a written letter telling me everything that had happened. She also handed me a card for Tammy. In it was the remainder of the money, as well as an extra fifty-dollars. She asked me to mention the story to the whole group.

HOW COOL IS THAT!!! That a team member would not only go out of her way to run an errand for a guest, but that she would take her own money to pay for part of it. What would cause a person to do that? Well…simply put…passion! A passion for what she does. Tammy works in a place with a culture that fosters champions. A place where she can wake up every morning and be excited about going to work to change lives and be a part of something that’s bigger than her. When you have a culture like this, you get what Rabbi Daniel Lapin says in Thou Shall Prosper; people who are obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others. When you take care of others, everything else falls in line.

What is your culture like? Have you created a place where champions flourish? If not, what are you doing to get there? It’s never too late to start.

Chris LoCurto

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February 9, 2011

This Job Sucks!

February 9, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Scientology - "Free personality testing&q...

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This past week I had the pleasure of doing a video shoot for our curriculum department. I was asked by the lovely and talented Cheryl Brehm to speak to college freshmen about the importance of using a personality profile to pick a major. I also talked to graduating seniors about how important it is to let their personality style guide them as they choose a specific position within the field that they are about to enter.

You see, there is a high—very high in fact—percentage of people who graduate and enter a chosen field, only to find out that they hate it. Instead of choosing the one thing they are most passionate about, most kids choose a major because it pays well. Only later, they find out that it just doesn’t….fit! And in the mortal words of Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit….you must uhhhh quit!”

To me, passion is the most important requirement for a career choice. Find something you are passionate about, then dig really deep to find out about all of the possible positions in that field. You see, liking a certain field isn’t good enough. I may really enjoy the medical field, but that doesn’t mean that I like working with patients….and their blood and stuff. Perhaps I’m really detailed and I would enjoy working in the billing department…which is known to be considerably far away from the blood….and stuff.

So if you’re already in a field that you don’t like and you want to get out, start listing all the things you are passionate about. Then list the fields that would put those passions to work. Now, pick your top two or three and do some serious research to find out details about each available position in those fields.

At this point, a personality test will show you which positions match up with the strengths of your personality type. We use the DISC personality test here, and we love it. If you’re a high D, then you probably want something that’s different every day—a constant challenge. A high I will excel in a position that involves people and excitement. For a high S, consistent responsibilities that provide a service for internal or external customers is ideal. A high C thrives on details and processes.

Now, I teach an hour-long lesson on DISC in EntreLeadership, so it’s considerably more in-depth than I’ve described here. But this is a great start if you’re wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s possibly that you and your position just don’t fit.

Chris LoCurto

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February 8, 2011

Penalty of Leadership

February 8, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Sent to me by the incredible Aaron West

The Penalty of Leadership is the title of a Cadillac advertisement that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, on January 2, 1915. (It has been in the beginning of their owners manuals for years.) It is a very powerful writing that was written for Cadillac by Theodore F. MacManus. The advertisement follows:

Penalty of Leadership. “In every field of endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction.

When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieve a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a common-place painting. Whatsoever you write, paint, play, sing or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.

Long, long after a great work or a good work as been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while a little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced, argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by.

The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains -­ the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – lives”.

Chris LoCurto

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February 7, 2011

Run Forest!

February 7, 2011 | By | 6 Comments">6 Comments

So I was reading a post that Michael Hyatt put out about the importance of signing up for a half marathon and getting out there and exercising. And I have to say that I absolutely agree. Every year a bunch of people at Dave Ramsey‘s office sign up for the Country Music Marathon & 1/2, and I’m proud to say that this year I’m signed up as well! (Crud, what did I get myself into?) I’m starting late on the training, so I don’t expect to run the whole thing, but I will be finishing. God help me!

Michael had eight great reasons to get out there and do this; I want to focus on a couple myself for leaders and their teams. While exercise is just plain smart, there’s a couple of reasons that it’s vital for survival. You see, I believe we live  ever increasingly stressed out lives. Everything seems to be moving at a much greater pace, and the search for personal down time is coming up shorter and shorter every day. So I want to add three areas to Michael’s thoughts:

  • Put the coffee cup down and pick up the water-glass! It is almost a right of passage when you become a part of the workforce that you have to drink coffee to get your day going and keep it going. As any good nutritionist will tell you, the problem is that caffeine is a stimulant that actually shuts off your adrenal glands while it’s working in your system. The more caffeine, the lest your adrenals work. Why is that important? Not only do the adrenals give you adrenaline, but they are also responsible for healing your body. Therefore, when they shut down, so do you!

  • Kick off the loafers and put on the Nike’s. While running is good for so many reasons, one of the best is that it releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers, but they are also considered to have a stronger effect on the body than most drugs. That’s where the term “runner’s high” comes from. You feel considerably more energized, and in turn, endorphins also reduce the effect of stress on your body, allowing you to stay more energized longer.
  • Put down the Princess Leia cinnamon buns and the comfort food. Have you ever actually looked at the nutritional panel on that package? I’ve seen them have as much as twenty-six grams of fat; in one bun! Start your week off right by showing up with a bunch of healthy snacks that you can munch on during the week. One of my favorites is Larabars. (They have a new one, blueberry muffin. SAWEET!) As for the comfort food, I’m a huge offender of this, but you’ve got to make better choices. There’s one undeniable thing, while I may feel great eating comfort foot, I always feel bad an hour later when I have no energy. As well as when I step on the scale the next day.

Give yourself one month of making these changes. If you don’t feel better…blame it on Michael. :-)

If you’re doing the Country Music Marathon & 1/2, leave a comment!

Chris LoCurto

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February 2, 2011

Where’s My Superman?

February 2, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Day three of ECL and these attendees are full of information that will revolutionize their businesses; and we still have today to go! Today I am going to cover:

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Personal Selling
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Making the Call

This is a great day that focuses mainly on getting the word out. Both the micro and macro of marketing. You have to have a plan for both the hand to hand combat, as well as the marketing to the masses; hence the macro marketing. As my former marketing director says, “Nobody notices Superman way up in the sky…until somebody points at him.” What are you doing to get people to point at you? HAHAHA…uhhhh, your business. I really don’t need to know what you’re doing to get people to point at you. Anyway, the important thing is to make sure that somebody notices you.

A specific example of this is when someone is a really great cook at home, and those around them convince that person to open a restaurant. They then spend a lot of time and money to open Hannah’s Slice of Heaven, but when they open their doors, ten people show up. “Surely we will be flooded with people when the word gets out!” Well, if those ten people start campaigning 24/7, then you have a chance. But that’s not going to happen. A few months later, they close their doors. The problem is not the food, or the service, or the location. Well, actually it could be all of those. But what I see more than anything, is the absolute lack of marketing.

I was constantly telling the Live Events team that if people don’t know we’re coming to do an event in their city, they can’t buy our tickets! Seems basic, right? But WAY too many entrepreneurs and business leaders don’t focus enough attention on getting the word out. I spend over two hours teaching on marketing and advertising alone in ECL, so obviously I can t cover all of that in this post. I will say that some key steps are:

  • Discover who your core audience is. If you sell high-end fountain pens, don’t waste your money advertising in Gamer magazine. Probably not your clientele.
  • Find out the best medium for reaching this group. What do they read? What do they watch on TV? What web pages do they live on?
  • Try to use marketing vehicles that will allow you to only market to this demographic. It doesn’t have to be expensive; Guerrilla Marketing.
  • Use the power of the people! In Tribes, Seth Godin talks about building a tribe of people who are in love with your product, then focus them on getting the word out.
  • Discover your funnel. What are the free to cheap things that you can do to get people into your business? (YouTube  videos, interviews on your website from an expert in your field, etc.) All the way down to your most expensive item.

Those are just a few examples to get you going. Hope it helps.

Chris LoCurto

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February 1, 2011

Show Me The Money!

February 1, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Day two of ECL and by now the brains of the attendees are sizzling! Yesterday was a big day with a lot of information. Yesterday I taught on:

  • EntreLeadership Defined
  • Dreams, Visions, and Goal Setting
  • Time Management
  • Personality Styles
  • Communication
  • Building Unity and Loyalty
  • Compensation

Today I teach on:

  • Team Math – Adding and Subtracting
  • Delegation
  • Recognition
  • Financial Peace for the EntreLeader
  • Accounting
  • Art of Outsourcing

Of all of today’s lessons, the one question we get the most is, “You can’t really run a business debt free, right?” In “Oh, I Wasn’t Supposed To Do That?” I talked about how you can run your business debt free. It is THE most vital part of running your business as far as I am concerned. (Well, right after having a product that people actually want, hello Colgate Kitchen Entrees!) And the reason for that is, it gives you options when you don’t have debt. So check that out.

On top of that, I want to talk about the importance of accounting. Today I will ask a room full of entrepreneurs, “Who likes to do the accounting?” Inevitably, no hands will go up. Business owners don’t like to mess around in the accounting. It’s a pain, it’s not exciting, and it’s too many details. It’s like a root canal that happens every month. The problem is, when you don’t do the accounting early and often, you don’t have an actual clue where you really are. It’s like not balancing your checkbook at home and wondering why you bounced checks!

When you get on the accounting and get it done, you can budget and forecast better, as well as predict the future by looking at the past. You can see where your high and low months are; that way you can save money out of the high months to cover the low months. I know, there’s that crazy idea of saving money to spend thing! Then you don’t have to go into debt in the down months, which most companies don’t pay back in the high months anyways. So when it comes to accounting, your new mantra is “Early and Often!” Get it done so you know where you’re going.

Chris LoCurto

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January 31, 2011

Champions!

January 31, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

Today kicks off what we at Dave Ramsey‘s office call ECL; EntreLeadership Chris LoCurto. This is our full EntreLeadership event that we host at a destination for a week, only done in three days at our conference center taught by me…and without the beach…or the language barrier.

But it’s all the same outrageously revolutionary information. We don’t even market this event to the public because it sells out in days. Over the next three days I will be teaching business changing principles for eighteen hours. Yes, these poor folks will listen to my voice for eighteen hours!!! Today is a day that is mainly dedicated to team building.

Among all of the vital lessons that I will teach today, one of those is about gossip. I truly believe that gossip is a cancer for your organization. It spreads easily among the…weaker cells. In fact, I’ve always heard from doctors or nutritionist that the more acidic your body, the more prone your body is to cancer. Cancer loves and thrives on acid.

It’s funny to think that it’s the same way with gossip. If a person is a gossip, they don’t usually go and gossip to the person who doesn’t. Why not? There’s no satisfaction in that. They want someone who they can attach to and spew their cancerous filth into. If they can find that person, their cancer will spread.

This is something that you have to jump on right away!!! You have to get in there and do some serious surgery to cut that junk out of your business. We have a policy here; we’ll fire you for gossip. We may warn you once, but after that you’re Audi 5000 baby! The reason is obvious…but there’s more than just one reason.

You see, you can’t keep champions in your business if it’s infected! That’s just not the situation that a champion wants to be in. And word will get out to the champions that were looking at your place, that it’s a place that they will not enjoy. Champions want to show up, put a hard days work in, maybe get a pat on the back, and go home feeling like they accomplished something that was bigger than them. That is the kind of person you want on your team, because that is the kind of person that will help to propel your efforts forward.

The more champions, the stronger your business, and the more momentum you will have. And believe me, the more momentum the better. So if you’re having problems with gossip in your business, and you know deep down inside if you do, go to town on it with the biggest scalpel you can find. The sooner you do, the sooner you can attract the kind of team member you want!

Chris LoCurto

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January 28, 2011

Crystal Blue Persuasion

January 28, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Ok, the title has nothing to do with this post except the word persuasion…and I happen to love the song.

Although many believe the name came from the picture above that was taken by Apollo 7, the truth is when Tommy James was asked what persuaded the name, he said that it was from the Book of Revelations chapter 19; “Yes, it is. It’s out of the Bible. The imagery was right out of Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, about the lake of crystal, and just what John sees. The imagery was just right there. ‘Crystal blue persuasion,’ although those words aren’t used together, it was what the image meant to me.”

I do want to talk about persuasion though. There’s an old saying, “You can’t push a rope, you can only pull it.” In EntreLeadership we talk about the difference between positional power and persuasive power. Positional power is that boss who tells you exactly what you’re going to do. It’s also the same way with parenting. If you resort to, “You’ll do it because I said so!” then you’ve already lost in your leadership of being a parent.

By Webster’s definition, to persuade means: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action. The way we like to say it, it’s a way of convincing somebody to do something that they might not do on their own. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your children are raised in a way that they can be a productive part of society. That they treat people with respect and love. That they make smart decisions like not getting in a car drunk, or with someone who is.

That they spend their life working hard because “the diligent prosper”, not living with a victim mentality. That they find joy in real love, instead of being destroyed by someone who only cares about their self. Therefore, it is your responsibility to persuade them to do those things that are right. It’s your responsibility to guide and direct them through life knowing the pitfalls to avoid, the battles to fight, and what it means to be selfless. You let rope out day after day, year after year, and eventually someday…you let go of the rope.

Funny thing is, it’s the same with leadership. Any good leader eventually realizes that part of leadership is being a parent. Once you hire a person, you have now taken on the responsibility of making sure they are successful with what they do. It’s your job to make sure that they have everything they could possible need to do what it is that you’ve asked them to do.

You have to be there to answer questions, and ask questions of things that they aren’t thinking yet. You need to persuade them through tough decisions and hard times. And day after day, year after year, you let the rope out till eventually all you have is the end. The only difference between parenting and business is that in business, you never let go of the rope.

Question: How well do you do with this principle?

Chris LoCurto

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January 25, 2011

Please Help Me!

January 25, 2011 | By | 7 Comments">7 Comments

I have to say that I used to have the best personal assistant on the planet: Marybeth. “Used” being the operative word since she left me! Yep, you’re on your own, c-ya, ga’bye! I’m sorry, give me a second….*tears*…..ohhhh gaaaaaaaa!!!! WHY?!!!!!…..*snif*….ok I’m back. Sorry about that, where was I, oh yeah, she had to get married to this really cool, funny, charming, (Dare I say handsome…no, that’s crossing a line) great guy Joel and moved to DC. But I’m not bitter. At least I got to dance with her at her beautiful wedding…which again is why she left me. Did I already mention that?

The greatest gift that I got from Marybeth was her friendship. And the fact that she laughs at my jokes; even when I don’t pay her anymore. She knows I would take a bullet for her, and I know she would for me. Marybeth made my life easier! She took care of me like nobody’s business…or…like it was her business. Whatever, it’s a saying. But I can say that it wasn’t always that way. Not with MB, but before she got there. Before MB I had GREAT assistants who did fabulous jobs taking care of my department. But there’s a difference between an assistant, and a personal assistant.

I realized this when life was getting so busy that I couldn’t even get to the emissions place to have my car….emissioned. I don’t know. As I looked around my life, things were getting missed. A lot of personal time was being taken up with work. Everyday became slammed with meetings, every lunch was a meeting, most nights were meetings, or dinner interviews, or connecting time with team members, and then I traveled a ton on the weekends (still do) as well.

I would be in my office realizing that I needed water or a snack, since I had been nailed down to my desk for hours straight, and I couldn’t take the time to get up to get it. Many times I would work straight through lunch and would miss it because there just wasn’t time to go get something. There were times I would miss a birthday, or forget to send flowers to someone in the hospital, or I would leave work too late to pick up my dry cleaning…or…or… And it was these things that would then take up the personal I time needed in my life. Instead of living life outside of the office, I was spending time doing all the “chores” instead of enjoying the down time that was so needed.

I discovered that my personal time was too important to lose doing menial things. That’s when I hired a “personal”  assistant. Someone who took care of my department, but also did all of the personal stuff needed so I could have a balanced work and personal life. That’s when a bunch of stress left my body.

Does everybody need a personal assistant? Oh gosh no. Most leaders I know don’t have to travel, don’t have to work through lunch, don’t have evening meetings. And I’m SURELY not suggesting that you start working like that so you can have one. What I am saying is you need to look at what balance is. If you have a position that requires more of you that can’t be passed off to someone else, and it has an effect on your personal life, then you might need reevaluate your needs.

Chris LoCurto

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January 21, 2011

Will You Hire Me?

January 21, 2011 | By | 7 Comments">7 Comments

Tammy Kornberg is one of my favorite people on the planet! Her and her crazy funny husband Mitch are a blast to hang with. They both just love life. I hired Tammy to sell almost four years ago, and she has done nothing but knock it out of the park.

But how she got hired is interesting. She was working at a restaurant as manager at a high-end place when Dave and his son Daniel came in to eat. She really took care of him and treated him like a normal person. In the process, the discussion came up that she was looking for a daytime job.

Dave liked Tammy so much that he told her to bypass our system and bring her resume straight to his personal assistant. (Now, you should know that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen. If you’re thinking you’ll attack Dave with a resume, let me say that it won’t work.)

Tammy brought her resume by that April….in August she got a call. And even then it was for a temp position. But, it was for the best team in the building…mine! Needless to say, not only did she get hired, but she got hired full-time and has been killing it ever since.

But it was after some serious scrutiny from HR, my personal assistant, my sales team leader in that area, my EVP, me, and an interview with my spouse; as was with any hire for my team. It was eight months from the dinner, to me hiring her full-time. And at our place, that’s not bad.

Not only does it take a long time to get hired at Dave Ramsey‘s organization, but your chances are low. In fact, last year we had three thousand applications, one thousand interviews, and we hired thirty people. Yep, we have a one percent acceptance rate. Just a little comparison for you, Harvard has a seven percent acceptance rate.

Why so low you might ask. Plain and simple, we take our time.  We don’t rush the process of hiring. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to meet with leaders who hate the people who they’ve hired. When I ask the interview process, it’s usually one or two steps long. Ours is at least four, and usually greater than five. What are just some of the things we do:

  • We pray!
  • We post the job with enough detail that it can rule out the person before they even apply.
  • We have them take a personality test when it’s down to two or three candidates.
  • We look for the character traits we want for that position.
  • We get a personal budget so we know they can afford to work here.
  • We make sure they are here for more than just a j.o.b.

There’s a lot more, but this should give you an idea. When hiring, take….your….time. Use the ratio of two to one; you have two ears and one mouth, so use the ears twice as much. Let the candidate do the talking. Who knows, they might just rule themselves out right in front of you.

Chris LoCurto

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January 19, 2011

Dang, Did I Do That?

January 19, 2011 | By | 8 Comments">8 Comments

As unmanly as it is to say, I actually like the Lion King. I know, I know, I can hear all of you saying, “But Chris, you’re so studly! How could you possibly?” So go ahead…tell me how studly I am………………(crickets) I like it because it’s a great story, and it has some really great parts to it. Like when the hyenas are gathered in a circle and they keep saying the great lion Mufasa’s name:

1st hyena: “Mufasa!”

2nd hyena: “ewwww, I hear that name and I shudder…do it again.”

1st hyena: “MUFASAAAAAAAA…”

That’s just good quality stuff right there. But my favorite part is when the lion cub Simba has run away from everyone because he thinks he is responsible for Mufasa’s death. Rafiki finds him in hiding and tells him that he needs to come home:

Adult Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back will mean facing my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.

[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]

Adult Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?

Rafiki: It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.

[laughs]

Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.

Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.

[swings his stick at Simba again who ducks out of the way]

Rafiki: Ha. You See? So what are you going to do?

Adult Simba: First, I’m gonna take your stick.

The truth is, the past does hurt. We’ve all made some serious mistakes that we’re not proud of. (If you haven’t, it’s coming. Sorry.) And because of that, we have a tendency to run from the future. That’s right, we will keep ourselves from doing something that God has ordained because we’ve made a mess of something before. We become afraid of how bad we might screw up again. But you need to know that the past is the past! That’s why they call it that! It’s over, gone, done and done! We need to move on and not allow our past failures to control our future. Every great leader has quotes on how much you must fail to succeed. If they know it, why don’t we?

And God doesn’t want to leave you there in the past and taunt you about it day after day. One of the greatest examples of someone who messed up, but God redeemed, is Paul. Paul was Saul, a guy who used to kill Christians. We believe that it was he who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. And yet God turned him into the greatest evangelist. Every time I read the story, I don’t ever read how everyday God was there every day going, “Hey, don’t forget you used to be a murderer. That’s really kinda bad in my book.” Instead, He used him to help me to know about my place in Heaven.

As an individual, the next time you allow the mistakes of the past to ruin your day, stop and think about Paul and how some of his days went. It’ll change the way you feel. As a leader, you need to be keenly aware of where your people struggle in the area of making mistakes. If it’s from the past, you won’t get them to take many risks for the future.

Chris LoCurto

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January 17, 2011

The Power Of Influence

January 17, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Garth Brooks singing the Don McLean song &quot...

Image via Wikipedia

For a very long time, there has been one concert that I’ve wanted to see: Garth! I never got the chance to see him in the early days when he was flyin’ from the ceilings of arenas, and my heart sunk when he stopped touring. But praise God that he and Steve Wynn came up with the incredible idea of Garth doing a bunch of really small concerts in Vegas. And that’s where I finally got the chance to see the genius at work. Let me say, it was outrageous! It was like being in his living room. I won’t go into too many details, I don’t want to spoil it, in case you get the chance to see the show.

One of the things I will share, is he spends a good amount of time talking about influences. Over and over he paints a picture of  how certain people have made a huge impact in life and his music. Starting with him riding in the truck with his father listening to old country music on the radio. It’s that very thing that draws you in and helps you to see each one of those experiences played out in your mind. But it couldn’t happen without there being someone playing the part of the influential one.

Every Wednesday we have a devotional at our office for our team. This past Wednesday our former pastor, L.H. Hardwick, delivered a fantastic talk. But before he did, Dave got up and talked about how Brother Hardwick played a very important role in Dave’s life. It was Christ Church where Dave got saved. He became a spiritual father to Dave in his journey of becoming a Christian, as well as walking the walk. He shared that story with our team and it put you there at Christ Church all those years ago with a young Brother Hardwick, and an even younger Dave Ramsey, walking the road to Romans.

Each time I hear stories like this it makes me want to recognize those who have influenced me in my life, and be selfless enough to be one of the influential people in another person’s life. If you think really hard, can you tell a story of those in your life that have made a difference? Could someone tell a story about how you have done exactly that for them? I believe stories have such an impact on us because we are just that…one big story.

Chris LoCurto

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January 13, 2011

Wow, Look What I Did!

January 13, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Goal Setting

Image by angietorres via Flickr

It’s that time of year when people set goals. Well, attempt to set goals. I actually don’t find many people who really know how to set actual goals. Usually what I find are people who sit down, write out all the things they want to accomplish during the next year, then put that piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. Long about November, they pull it out, blow the dust off, and comment on how well they did completing three of the fifteen things they wrote down. This is not goal setting people!

Whether you’re a leader or a team member, to truly learn how to do goal setting, you have to understand that it’s not about the “dream” of doing something, it’s about the breakdown of individual tasks that it takes to accomplish the “dream”. I always use the following example in “Dreams, Visions, and Goal Setting” in EntreLeadership: “If we said that we were going to have dinner tonight at 6:30 PM at a specific restaurant, what would need to happen? First, this guy on stage would have to stop talking, then you would get up from your chair, walk over to the door, open the door, walk out to the bus that should have already been set up to take us, get on the bus, sit down, the driver needs to drive to the restaurant, you get up, walk off the bus, walk to the restaurant, open the door, find your seat, sit down, order, the cook cooks it, and the server brings your food.” WHEW!!

Now, that seems overly simplistic, but the truth is, that’s how you need to break down your goals. When you write them down, and then break them down, you can actually see the steps you need to take to complete them. And doing it to this extreme, allows you to see where you’ve fallen behind, are ahead of schedule, missing pieces of the goal, etc.

In that same lesson we say that for goals to work they need to be five things:

  • Specific – not just a lofty idea, what exactly do you want to do?
  • Measurable – how do you know what success looks like?
  • Have a time limit – when should each individual part be accomplished?
  • Must be yours – If not, it’s just a delegated task.
  • Must be in writing – Otherwise it stays a dream that will be forgotten soon.

So, if you’ve already started your process, hopefully this will help you to revisit if you’re missing some of these elements. If you haven’t started yet, then first: find some time to dream, sit down, take out a piece of paper or use your computer, write down the main ideas of what you want to accomplish, then spend time breaking down exactly what needs to happen to accomplish those goals. Put time limits in place of when each thing should be done. Then AT LEAST once a month go back and see where you are. I prefer no more than every two weeks.

I promise, you will do more for your goals than dusting them off in November to see where you are.

Chris LoCurto

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January 11, 2011

Stop Talking!

January 11, 2011 | By | 5 Comments">5 Comments

I happened to stop at a sandwich shop the other day. It’s a great chain with really good sandwiches. As I walked in I quickly realized that I was the only one there, but it was after lunch, so I bet it was hoppin’ before I got there.

Shhh, Lost Is On

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

There were three young folks: two guys making sandwiches and one gal at the register. The guys seemed like they were having a good day, and the gal…..looked at me funny. I gave my order for three sandwiches, and the guys jumped right on it. (No, they weren’t all for me….just two of them. Okay, just one.) Once my order was paid for I noticed that a couple of firemen and a young gal had fallen in line behind me ready to order.

As they placed their orders, one of the guys had to run to the back to get…something, so the gal jumped on the line to take his place. It was then that she began to….complain! She complained about something that the company wasn’t doing, and it was loud enough for customers to hear.

You should know that this is one of my pet peeves! I can’t stand when team members complain with customers around. Push aside the fact that it’s a severe gossip issue, no customer wants to hear it. And every time it happens, all I can think about is what’s wrong with their leadership?  There are many reasons for gossip: like a lack of character, integrity, etc. Gossip is a cancer and needs to be cut out IMMEDIATELY! But there’s one main reason that I have found for gossip; the feeling that leadership won’t listen to what’s going on.

At EntreLeadership I get the opportunity to talk with both leaders and team members. And every time the discussion of gossip comes up, I dig really deep to find the root of it. Almost every time I find the reason for the gossip is that the team members feel like they are trying to correct problems that are going on and nobody will give them the time of day. When this happens, that team member feels the need to tell someone else and be validated. They need to know that someone else understands the problem and the need to fix it.

This can be resolved pretty easily in most cases…TALK TO YOUR TEAM! You have got to get in there and find out what’s going on. There is no leadership error that I hate more than a leader who won’t actually talk to their INDIVIDUAL team members and get a pulse. I capitalize “individual” because I know too many leaders who get a pulse from team members about OTHER team members. This is ridiculous and is another post some time.

“Well, I don’t want to talk to them because they’re just always cynical!” Seriously? That’s your answer? Great job leader! You know, I once heard Jim Collins say that a cynic is nothing more than a passionate person who is tired of being let down. Why don’t you try getting out of yourself and discover the inner champion of your team member. Who knows, you might be impressed. Worst case, you find out they do suck and you get rid of them. Most likely, I believe, that won’t be the issue. You’ll find that you’re the problem. OUCH!

The title Stop Talking! is for the team member who’s complaining, especially with the public in ear shot. If that’s you, force a time with your leader to get them to listen. If they suck, and they can’t give you the time, go someplace where you can be a champion! Don’t stay and become a cynic!