21 October 2009

New Business Paradigm – Engage Today Seminar

The early October four day seminar in Calgary called Engage Today was truly phenomenal. Along with a special address by His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama, the speakers included Sir Richard Branson, former President DeKlerk of South Africa, Stephen D. Covey, Bill Harris, Tony Hsieh, Vishen Lakhiani, Michael Drew, Rick Frishman and 19 other excellent experts in their fields. Several entrepreneurial presentations impressed me with the direction in which business is moving giving a positive spin on where we are headed.


The Pendulum presentation given by Michael Drew made me aware of a just occurred cycle change that took place in 2003. It affects all of North America. Based on a book called Generations Michael showed us that there are two cycles that interchange every forty years. The first 40 year Idealistic cycle is noted for the focus and development of self interest, and eventually at its 20 year peak it begins to morph into falsity, hidden information, posers, greed, abuse of power and not caring about anyone else. This cycle ends when total self interest is no longer acceptable and a new Civic cycle begins. The 40 year Civic cycle replaces self interest with openness, caring for others and community, truth, authenticity, honesty in business, and transparency. We are on the ascendency of this cycle for the next 14 years portending great things.


Three presenters already enjoying the positive benefits of the Civic cycle change are leading the new direction of business in North America and many parts of the world.


Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines has companies that grew based on caring. I consider Sir Richard to be the poster boy of the new era of business.


Richard’s key business development points are:

  1. Make a difference. Do something radically different and creative that workers can be proud of.
  2. Initially give your full concentration to survival
  3. After the business is over the hump spend your time helping.
  4. Your leader skills are critical.
  5. People skills are most important.
  6. A good leader is not behind a desk. He/she is out meeting people.
  7. Appoint managers with the same philosophy.
  8. Be a good listener
  9. Don’t pose what you think on others
  10. Never lose your temper
  11. Accept suggestions from staff.
  12. Learn from others
  13. Only praise. Lavish praise on employees.
  14. If an employee is not working out see if another job suits them better.
  15. Give staff family time through job sharing, 4 day work weeks, work from home etc.
  16. Have lots of company parties and fun
  17. Humor in marketing is important.

Tony Hsieh the CEO of Zappos.com has modeled his business on the idea of superlative customer service. Zappos is about delivering happiness in a box. They were named in Fortune 100’s list as best company to work for.


Tony’s key business points:

  1. Have a company vision. Whatever you are thinking think bigger.
  2. Chase the vision not the money. Money will follow.
  3. Company with higher purpose leads to happiness, profit, passion, purpose, pleasure. What is your higher purpose?
  4. Maximize customer service. Give more. Focus on after the sale.
  5. Marketing by word of mouth customer referral.
  6. Company culture is of first importance. Other things flow from it. Strong cultures make a company great.
  7. Employees write the culture book
  8. Performance review based on company culture
  9. Fire employee if bad for company culture
  10. Commit and stay aligned to your company’s core values
  11. 5 week training regardless of background. Even a lawyer or accountant works first in warehouse then moves into call center.
  12. End of first week of 5 weeks of training they offer $2,000 plus a bonus to anyone who wishes to leave. Those that stay become the best employees.
  13. Motivation versus inspiration. Inspire employees through core values. It comes from within the employee.
  14. As a manager how can I remove obstacles for my employees. Provide education or mentorships. Teach management and communication skills.
  15. Recognition for promotion for someone. Every department has a different way to be noticed, Congo line, cow bell, whistle etc.
  16. 10% to 20% of manager’s time is spent with your team outside the office.
  17. Commitment to transparency through internet, newsletters etc..
  18. Happy people are more efficient.

Culture Committable core values

  1. Deliver wow through service
  2. Embrace and drive change
  3. Create fun and a little weirdness
  4. Be adventurous, creative and open minded
  5. Pursue growth and leaning
  6. Build open and honest relationship with communication and transparency
  7. Build a positive team and family spirit
  8. Do more with less
  9. Be passionate and determined
  10. Be humble (hardest to do)

When hiring ask “How lucky are you in life?” On scale of 1 bad, to 10 great, don’t hire the 1s. After first 90 days of training you can get the picture. If not a good fit it becomes obvious if person is egotistical or there’s a values disconnect.


Employee Happiness framework

  1. Perceived Control Trust employees to be self responsible
  2. Perceived Progress Create perceived progress by creating progress levels
  3. Connectedness Employee engagement is employment productivity
  4. Vision / Meaning / Purpose Being part of something bigger than yourself

Tony’s Recommended books

Vishen Lakhiani of MindValley.com with headquarters in Malaysia. His company was named the world’s most democratic work place. They have 55 employees from 21 countries.


Vishen recognized four states of mind

a) Negative spiral

b) Current reality trap

c) Stress and anxiety

d) State of flow.


He moved from stress and anxiety where he couldn’t function and switched to a spiritual view. He recognized that thought + emotion = attraction. He changed his mind set and moved into flow by doing a lot of spiritual reading. He learned that being in the flow magnifies.


Vishen’s key points for business development:

  1. Happiness comes from the journey not the destination.
  2. If you do not enjoy what you do you cannot be successful.
  3. If you love what you do and have big dreams even a maple syrup taster can be successful.
  4. Growing a business is a mind set
  5. Happiness is the new productivity.
  6. Work became fun
  7. Team vacations
  8. Great company built from employees
  9. Going in a state of flow fully immersed in what they are doing – a state of supreme activity

“Notice when flow happens and make a conscious effort to stay in the flow” —Tony Hsieh

Ten Tactics to improve employee performance

1. Gratitude – daily

  • Write comments of appreciation at gratitudelog.com
  • What you appreciate appreciates. It increases happiness by 25% after 30 days

2. Awesomeness report – weekly

  • Celebrate what went right each week. Stories and new innovation ideas
  • Awesomeness bell – ring in moments of sheer awesomeness
  • Wonder woman statue – oath of awesomeness for new employees

3. Profit sharing – paid monthly

  • Started lower but now pays 10% every month to employees.

4. The sweet sugar machine

  • Praise makes people flourish. They have software they use to appreciate each other. Pettiness disappeared. Teams became close knot.

5. 45/5 rule

  • Work 45 hours a week but 5 hours must be invested in learning new stuff or attending seminars

6. Weekly sharing and training

  • “You learn from teaching” Steven Covey

7. Group meditation

  • Builds a vision of the future. He uses a guided meditation to visualize your life 6 months down the road in all aspects.

8. Company sponsored fun

  • Parties where employees may bring the two smartest people they know. He may hire them

9. Positive Stamina

  • Shit happens. When it does create a new vision. Focus on the vision not the problem and new solutions will come up.
  • “Manage your mind” Donald Trump

10. Experience and connections

  • The five closest people you associate with will average out who you become.
  • Create friendships in company and clients