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Beware of “Alternative Facts”

There has been a lot of talk recently about ‘ Alternative Facts’, as a result of a comment made by one of Donald Trump’s advisors, discussing a statement made by the White House’s press secretary  describing the inauguration as “attracting the largest audience Orwellever”, which quite clearly was not the case. Indeed the discussion has had the effect of massively boosting sales of Orwell’s classic “1984”, from which the term ‘Alternative Facts’ is derived.

In Orwell’s book, he paints a vision of a future time in which the British Government is overthrown by an authoritarian state that employs propaganda and rewrites history as suited them – the so called Alternative Facts.

Now how often do we actually hear alternative facts in our everyday lives?

As a coach I actually hear them quite a lot!

People want to give a particular viewpoint, so they will give me the information that suits that position.

I once had a client who claimed he was very good at converting a prospect into a customer – He told me his conversion rate was about 85%.

I asked him to prove it!

His actual conversion rate was just 18% – He’d given me an alternative fact!

(Now the great news here is that he had a lot of opportunity to improve his conversion rate and get it up to the 85% without increasing his monthly marketing spend – he had lots of prospects who just weren’t buying from him right now, and with a few minor tweaks we quickly improved his rate, more than doubling it to 42%!)

Earlier this week, I was enjoying listening to Paul Mckenna on BBC Radio 2, discussing “What makes us human”. (you can listen again here) During the programme, Paul quoted Roger Callaghan who said that that anyone who says they have a 100% success rate doesn’t have enough clients. Paul admitted that during his career, he had made mistakes, and he had not been able to help everyone he’d worked with.

Isn’t it refreshing to hear someone talk so honestly like that? To have some openly admit they’ve made mistakes and aren’t perfect.

When you are dealing in your business, think carefully about 2 things:

  1. Is the information you are sharing with your prospects or clients at risk of being seen to be Alternative facts? As a client what would you rather know – the truth? Or the alternative?
  2. What information are your competitors sharing with the market place? Could it simply be smoke and mirrors?

Just remember, there are always alternative facts!

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Later today, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of America. 30 years earlier, the day was marked as the first Federal holiday celebrating the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. which is now always the third Monday of January, being around King’s birthday, the 15th January.MLK

Martin Luther King Jr is best remembered for his role in the advancement of civil rights, and, in particular, for one of the world’s most famous speeches, which he gave on the 28th August 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC.

King used four incredibly powerful words eight times during that speech. Those words were “I have a dream”

I have a dream.

King was a very smart man, and exceptionally passionate about his “dream”, and he took action to help bring that dream to reality.

Martin started with a dream.

Most of us when we were younger had dreams about what our lives would look like as we got older. Sadly for many people we simply forget all about the dreams we once had.

Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the US apparently said “Too many people die at 25, but aren’t buried until they are 75”.

At 25, they stop having a dream.

The second you stop having a dream, you start working towards someone else’s dream. You give up on yourself, and settle for something less. You start to work on someone else’s plan, when you could be working on your own.

And guessHall_as_Bloody_Mary what they have planned for you?

Not much!

In the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, South Pacific, the character ‘Bloody Mary’ sings the upbeat “Happy Talk” as an encouragement to live a carefree life. The song contains the line “You’ve got to have a dream, If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”

Today, 30 years on from the first Martin Luther King day, remember to have YOUR own dream, follow it passionately and take action.

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Here’s a short video about the 4 cornerstones of Personal Achievement.

Running time is 3 mins 26 seconds

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Unlike a photograph, it is impossible for us as human beings to overdevelop

Every year, as part of my Chartered Accountant membership, I have to complete an online declaration to state that I have been keeping up with my Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

CameraThis is typical in the professional arena, particularly for accountants and solicitors etc. Keeping up with CPD demonstrates that you are capable of doing your job effectively and that you are adapting to any market changes appropriately; that you are continuously developing yourself, recognising that things are constantly changing.

Now as a coach, there is no requirement to keep up with CPD, although to be a worthy coach, this is actually vital. Every coach should be able to demonstrate the professional development plan they have pursued over the last year, as well as their current plan, to indicate that they are at the top of their game.

And if a coach doesn’t have such a plan….  well beware!  It’s a bit like engaging a coach who doesn’t have a coach themselves.  They clearly have so much belief in coaching that they don’t follow their own advice!

However, having a professional development plan should also apply to every individual, shouldn’t it?

We should recognise that the world is a constantly changing place, and in order to keep up with that constantly changing place, there has to be an element of CPD in all that we do.

We never stop learning, although all too frequently , people choose to stop learning when they leave full time education.  But isn’t that only the start point of our development?  Up to that point, we have received an education to prepare us for going out into the world.

As far as we are aware, there is no limit to the learning capabilities of human beings, and the more that we can learn, the more that we can earn. So keeping up with continuous professional development, having your own CPD benchmark, and having a plan to improve your development every year is a really sensible thing to do.

And that’s why I encourage all business owners to make sure they have an annual plan, not just for growth in their business, but also for their own personal development – after all, that is what will help them set themselves apart from their competition.

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I’m guessing that no one ever wants to breakdown. However we accept that from time to time breaking down in our car is more or less inevitable. Sooner or later something will happen that will probably cause you to breakdown. So what we do is mitigate our chances of breaking down by ensuring our car is in the best possible condition when we are driving it. Logically we all know that getting a regular service on the car and having the annual MOT is a really good thing even though it costs money and we don’t immediately see the benefits.

We logically know that by getting these things done, the chances of us breaking down are actually minimised which can only be a good thing.car-219727_960_720

I took my car in this morning for its annual service and MOT – OK it isn’t brilliant timing, and I’m slightly worried about a couple of things, but I know that by having the service and MOT done it will give me more trouble free motoring in the months ahead and that can only be a sensible thing to do.

Of course, yes, there is a cost to having the service – I’m stuck in the office this morning without the use of my car, and there’ll be an invoice to pay at the end of the day. The price I pay is for the experience of the mechanics who will make sure my car is in the best condition possible and who will look over my car at things I simply don’t know anything about, and advise me about what work needs doing urgently, or what I should be carefully watching in the months ahead as I continue to drive around.

They will also give me the confidence that when I get in my car, its going to work for me, and I’m less likely to breakdown and waste even more time.

Of course the MOT is a legal requirement of cars over 3 years old – every car over 3 years must have a regular MOT in order to enable you to tax your vehicle and to validate your insurance. What’s more, the police are now able to immediately check any car against the MOT database to tell if it has had an MOT test. 

And you have to admit that having an annual check-up is a very sensible thing to do.

Going to see your doctor once a year for an annual health check-up, particularly as you get older, is a good thing. Checking to see that everything is working as it should. Hopefully any more serious issues are caught early enough that they can be dealt with quickly and effectively.

But what about on our business?

You see getting an annual service on your business can only be a good thing in the same way that an annual health check-up on your body or MOT on your car helps you to keep those things is peak condition. Logically it makes sense. Having someone with experience come and look over our business for things we might not see for ourselves, and help us find those early warning signs that, if dealt with quickly, ensure that our business is in peak condition and will continue to give us trouble free operation in the months ahead.

Oh and the best thing is – if you use the right expert, the check-up won’t even cost you anything. After all, the diagnosis with a Doctor is free….

If you would like to ensure your business is in the best possible shape for the coming year, then book yourself a Business check-up.  All my clients get an annual check-up, and I will do the same for you. There is no cost or obligation – just your time involved.

Call me now on 07788 593683 to book your business in, or email me at rogerlamb@actioncoach.com.

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I don’t know about you but I think it’s been a fascinating start to 2016. The beginning of the year is always an exciting time, but this year feels a little different. It started for me thinking about the International Space Station and Major Tim Peake launching on his 6 month mission back on the 15th December.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 13.45.07I was fortunate enough to watch the ISS travel across the sky on December 24th – OK I lied to my children and told them it was Santa on his way, but I was just excited because I’d never seen the Space Station go across. And of course Tim is still up there now, 250 miles above us, orbiting the earth every 90 minutes at around 17,500 mph.

This coming Friday, Tim will be the first Britain ever to undertake a spacewalk – He’ll get into his spacesuit and go outside the station for 6 ½ hours to go and repair a power module on the far side of the station. And of course things like this take immense planning. Both the ISS crew, and the team back on Earth are already planning how the space walk will go – When he gets outside Tim will have around 3 minutes to acclimatise himself with being in space, with all those stars. It will be a phenomenal experience for him, and we’ll get to share in that with the coverage beamed back to earth.

But this isn’t something they rush into – it takes a lot of planning. I remember being told the stories about Kennedy, stating that by 1969 the US would put someone on the moon. His actual speech was:

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win …

A team of scientists and engineers then had to figure out how to achieve it. But once they’d worked it out, they were only half done – they then had to figure out how to get them back again. That took real planning!

In business we really need to make sure that we are fully planned for 2016 – really committed towards our goals that we set ourselves for the year. What I know is that 97% of people don’t set good enough goals, and I suspect it’s because they have never been taught how to set fantastic goals.

I came across a video recently of something called Brave Man’s Bridge in China. Brave Man’s Bridge is almost 1000 feet long, some 590 feet up. It’s basically a rickety bridge between two peaks. Suspended over a gaping chasm in central China’s Shiniuzhai National Geological Park, you need to walk from one side to the other – but this isn’t any ordinary rickety bridge – the floor is made of glass.

You can view a video here: https://youtu.be/y98zlKbqZ1Q

You literally walk on nothing but glass for 984 feet, 590 feet in the air.

Now there are basically 3 ways you can cross the bridge:

  1. Shut your eyes and let someone else guide you
  2. Crawl on your hands and knees like a baby
  3. Focus clearly on the other side, hold onto the handrail if you need some extra support, and walk calmly and confidently across

Now in my experience, running a business is very similar – The best business people focus on where they are going, use support when they need to, and then move calmly and confidently towards their goals.

However what happens to most business owners is they follow one of the other two options. They shut their eyes and allow themselves to be guided by other people (who may or may not also have their eyes closed) or they crawl along slowly, like a baby.

This year, make a decision to make some clearly defined goals. Get a laser sharp focus on where you want to go, and then begin to walk calmly and confidently towards them – and by all means use as much support as you need to on the way.

The first thing you need to do is set a brilliant plan for 2016. I use a one page strategic plan with my clients, which gives them really good focus on all aspects of their business on just one sheet of paper.

This year, I’ve got an exciting new Programme that I’ve been working on for some time, called the Ministry of Business Growth. The aim of this programme is to help as many small business owners as possible get the education, the resources, the support, the focus and accountability to achieve everything that they want to from their business.

The government have removed the Growth Accelerator scheme that was helping small businesses grow and they’ve reduced the Regional Growth Fund. These two things are going to hamper the growth of small businesses in this country. Now I think that’s a great shame, particularly as, of the 5.2m businesses in the UK, 5.1m of them have less than 10 employees. We know that 80% of all new businesses that start don’t make it to their 5th birthday, and of those, only 20% will reach their 10th birthday. So of all businesses started by people in the UK, 96% fail.

I want to change those figures by giving small business owners the education they need to ensure they are on the road to success.

If you’d like some great education this year, you are more than welcome to come along to one of my free business workshops – I run them monthly, around the first Wednesday in the month. Full details can be found on Eventbrite, or by emailing me at rogerlamb@actioncoach.com.

Think about where you want to be at the end 2016, and go out calmly and confidently and achieve it.

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Knowledge is PowerIn fact – it’s not just the secret to success in Sales, but also in finance, marketing…  in Business.

But you may not be ready to discover this secret.

Since most people who start businesses are Doers, they are usually very knowledgeable about their product or service – and this is vital to success.

However running a successful business requires more than a good knowledge of your product or service.

Too many business owners fall into the trap of ‘HOPE’.

For example – they know they need to find some new customers, and to do that requires some marketing….  But since they have little experience of marketing, they design their own advert and place it into the local magazine and HOPE that it people call…

But, of course, they don’t…

So the business owner tries a social media campaign…. And still nothing

So they send out a few letters… nothing

OK – so maybe one response off the back of all this effort, but the owner had HOPED for much better – after all, they had put a lot of effort in to create the marketing material, and yet only one person responded.

HOPE is a really poor business strategy – and rarely, if ever, generates results.

So back to the secret to success…

In his book “The Ultimate Sales Machine”, Chet Holmes  says “The secret to building an excellent sales team (or team of any kind) is…”

(are you ready?)

“…repeating core training on basic sales skills again and again and again”

In his Party Conference speech in October 1996 Tony Blair set out his 3 priorities for government  as “Education, Education, Education”.

Whether you are a fan of Tony Blair or not, it is hard to fault these as priorities. Better education ALWAYS leads to better results.  Yet on leaving full time education, many people think their days of education are over.

But they have only just begun!

As humans we have no limit on the amount we can learn. And the more we learn, the more knowledgeable we become, and the more success we can enjoy.

By learning how to set up and test and measure a marketing campaign, the business owner would have experienced far greater success – and the element of HOPE turns into CONFIDENCE.

But it does take continued learning, and practicing the basic skills over and over again.

My son is currently learning how to tie his shoelaces…

And we all know the process…  Watch someone else and get their experience. Try to copy them (and ask for their help if it goes wrong) and then practice, practice, practice until such time as the process becomes automatic – learnt by the subconscious to run whenever we need it to.

Success in business is no more complicated than learning how someone else became successful, doing your best to copy them, asking for their help and then practice, practice, practice!

If you’d like to learn more about how to increase the success you are getting from your business, then get yourself booked onto one of my free seminars. You can find out when the next one is by emailing me – rogerlamb@actioncoach.com, or calling my office – 01962 670200.

Why should you contact me…?

Simple – you will be better off with me as your Coach than you are without me.

I will expect and encourage you to achieve more than you think possible, you will love me some days and hate me the next. I will take away your excuses and replace them with achievement; and on the way we’ll have more fun than should be allowed in Business…

So, if you think you’re ready – drop me an Email…

If you think you’re not – then it makes no difference what you do…

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Like many people, I’ve been away on holiday with my family.  I love getting away, and spending some time with them is really important to me. I return to work (for a break!) feeling refreshed and re-energised.

Red Arrows jpegThis year, we were lucky enough to see the Red Arrows perform one of their fabulous air displays. I remember being mesmerised watching the Red Arrows as a child and I was keen for my boys to see this British spectacle.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed in what I saw.

9 aircraft flying with incredible precision, doing unbelievable aerobatics and making the crowds applaud their seemingly daring manoeuvres, whilst the 10th member of the team gave a running commentary back on the ground of exactly what they were doing.

At times, the aircraft are no more than 6 feet apart – and their level of trust is outstanding, relying on the other pilots to be exactly where they need to be whilst ensuring that they themselves are where they need to be.

And this got me thinking about the skills needed to fly a jet, and how those skills are relevant in running a business.

Firstly, jet planes don’t tend to have rear view mirrors. The pilots need to be very focused on where they are going, particularly as they can travel at up to 550 knots (600 mph). Whilst you might need to know where your fellow pilots are, there is very little need for rear view mirrors, except maybe on the ground to check there is nothing behind you before you start you engine ready for take-off.

In business, owners can often be too focused on what has happened in the past, when really they need to focus on flying forwards at 600mph. Often the reason for this is the lack of clarity around the goals of the business. The clearer the goals, the less the need to check the business rear view mirror.

But what about getting the jet into the air? Typically jets need to be able to get airborne quickly – You don’t have much runway if you are taking off from on board an aircraft carrier! Sometimes the aircraft are assisted using a catapult like system, or they may use a ramp to get them into the air. Whatever the system, the jets have to get up to speed quickly. There is little margin for error. Once in the air, it is easier to relax and fly the plane, but those crucial seconds used at take-off require the highest level of focus.

And landing on an aircraft carrier is no easier – it is one of the most difficult things a navy pilot will ever do! Most aircraft need an arrested recovery system, whereby the jet is stopped using a tail-hook that catches onto a cable system stretched across the runway. You can see this in action in this Youtube clip. Again, intense focus and precision are needed to hook one of the cables, and then, counterintuitively, the pilot needs to put the power on full in case the snag was unsuccessful and they need to take off again immediately.

In business, you cannot saunter your way down the runway, hoping to get your business quickly into the air! You have to be at full thrust, with clarity around your destination and purposeful actions taken to get you up there safely. Once you are ‘in flight’, then you can relax slightly and concentrate on flying your business , until such time as you need to land again for refuelling – then you need to get the focus back and make sure you are taking the appropriate actions to prevent you from messing things up and landing in the sea.

If you’d like to put some jet power behind your business, then maybe you’d like to get in touch.

Why should you contact me…?

Simple – you will be better off with me as your Coach than you are without me.

I will expect and encourage you to achieve more than you think possible, you will love me some days and hate me the next. I will take away your excuses and replace them with achievement; and on the way we’ll have more fun than should be allowed in Business…

So, if you think you’re ready to jet to success- drop me an Email…

If you think you’re not – then it makes no difference what you do…

 

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In a recent blog I discussed the idea of using your time wisely by asking the question “What should I do right now?” and then creating an action list of no more than 6 tasks to get completed.

Focus

But how do you know which tasks to choose in your ‘should do’ list.

To determine this, we first need to step back and review what you are trying to achieve.

So what are your current goals?

You have them written down somewhere, right?

To know that the tasks on your list are the ‘right’ ones that you should focus on, they have to take you closer to the achievement of one or more of your goals.

There has been so much written on the subject of goal setting – so why is it that people still aren’t setting clearly defined goals, and achieving them on a consistent and regular basis?

Firstly, I believe that most people haven’t been taught how to set effective personal goals. Goals, yes, but effective goals, no.

Secondly, goal setting is a bit like eating an apple… Remember the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”? We all know that an apple would constitute part of our 5-a-day intake of fresh fruit and vegetables….  And it’s easy to eat an apple, right?

Apple

So why don’t people eat one every day (particularly since there is overwhelming evidence to suggest the health benefits are far greater than just ‘keeping the doctor away’)?

The answer is curiously simple….   Yes it is easy to eat an apple, but it is easier, NOT to eat one!

And this hold true for setting goals – It is easier for people to NOT set them.

For many, goal setting is part of corporate life – but this also has its issues.  In my experience, when people set goals at work, the goals are not personally motivating, so whilst they may be achieved, employees can see them as ‘chores’ rather than something exciting to aim for.

How to set personally motivating goals

Here is my own goal setting process

Sit down with a blank piece of paper – close your eyes and imagine how you want your life to turn out 5 years from today. Imagine things in as much detail as you can – sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures. Spend at least 20 minutes doing this.

Make a detailed note of what you imagined on the paper – use colour and pictures if appropriate. If you use words, write AS IF in the future, and it has already happened: ‘I am’ is more powerful than ‘I will be’.

Based on where you want to be in 5 years; write down where you need to be in 3 years so that you are on track to achieving your 5 year goals. – Again, write in detail, in the present tense.

Repeat this for where you need to be in 1 year, to be on track to reach your 3 year goals

Now break down your 1 year goals into 3-monthly chunks.

Looking at the first chunk, write down all the things you need to do to reach your target. Then put these into a sensible order – Pin this list up where you will see it regularly

At the end of each day, write down the top 6 things you should do tomorrow to keep you on track towards your 3 month target. It is important to do this the day before.

As you drift off to sleep, go back and imagine the detailed version of your 5 year goal. As your sleep, your subconscious will be working for you to help make things easier in your achievement.

It is important in this process that you focus on YOU and what YOU want to achieve. Then reward yourself for your progress – even if you didn’t quite hit your targets.

WARNING!

It isn’t sufficient to do this process once and then forget about it!  You need to regularly review and recommit your goals to paper.

Ideally you should take at least 15 minutes every day to review your goals and write them out, making sure they are always helping you progress your 5 year plan.

If you follow this process, you will keep yourself focused and motivated on the journey.

Oh, and if you want to DOUBLE the chance of your success in achieving your goals, you need to keep a track of your progress….   More about that next time!

If you could benefit from talking through goal setting processes, then give me a call!

Why should you contact me…?

Simple – you will be better off with me as your Coach than you are without me.

I will expect and encourage you to set goals so you achieve more than you think possible. You will love me some days and hate me the next. I will take away your excuses and replace them with achievement; and on the way we’ll have more fun than should be allowed in Business…

So, if you think you’re ready – drop me an Email…rogerlamb@actioncoach.com or phone me: 01962 670200.

If you think you’re not – then it makes no difference what you do…

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According to one of the TV programmes aired last week, there was a survey done to find out what makes the British public angry. And the number one answer….

Call Centres, Queue jumping, Lateness, Automated telephone systems, Fuel prices, Katie Hopkins – all these featured somewhere in the list of things that make us angry, but at the top of the list was….

Jobsworth employees

I’m almost certain that, at some point, you have encountered the Jobsworth employee, characterised by the ‘couldn’t care less who you are or what you want’ attitude, seemingly operating only according to the rules, and totally inflexible to any situation…. And of no help, or use to you at all!

Now obviously YOU aren’t one of these people.

But why do they exist? And what can be done to minimise the chances of either becoming one, or having one in your company?

Typically jobsworth’s exist because of poor attitude and poor systems. Whilst it is very difficult to teach people how to have a good attitude, it is possible to create an environment in which people feel positive about themselves, their work and their effect on others. However if the working atmosphere is somewhat toxic, then the attitudes of the people working in it will suffer likewise.

So what makes a positive atmosphere?

Be positiveMusic, colour, plants, and healthy competition can all have an impact on the working environment, but overwhelmingly it comes down to the personal choices made by the individual – and although they will blame circumstances and make excuses, they choose to have a bad attitude. Such people aren’t good to have around, and may need help finding alternative employment.

What about the systems?

When people have simple systems to follow, it makes their work easy… but beware, there needs to be an element of flexibility, or else there is a risk that people will refuse to flex the system when circumstances dictate.

A good phrase to help people work out when to flex the systems, and when not is:

“Systemise the Routine, Humanise the exception”

If circumstances are fairly normal, then follow the system – it has probably been used successfully in similar situations, so it should work now.

However if circumstances are NOT normal, best discretion would apply as the system may need to be modified to suit those conditions.

Of course having good systems is only part of the solution. People MUST be trained effectively to make use of the systems – and trained about when to systemise the routine, and when to humanise the exception. Nothing can substitute for regular training to help people become more effective, and productive

With good systems, and well trained staff, you can easily avoid adding to the nation’s grumbles.

If you’d like to know more about how to improve the effectiveness of your team, then get in touch.

Why should you contact me…?

Simple – you will be better off with me as your Coach than you are without me.

I will expect and encourage you and your team to achieve more than you think possible, you’ll love me some days and hate me the next. I will take away the excuses and replace them with achievement; and on the way we’ll have more fun than should be allowed in Business…

So, if you think you’re ready – drop me an Email… rogerlamb@actioncoach.com

If you think you’re not – then it makes no difference what you do…!

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