[Guest Post] Blasingame’s New Law of Customer Relevance

Age Of The Customer By Jim Blasingame

When you take a photograph, the resulting product is two-dimensional: tall, wide, and flat. But in most cases, you want the photo to actually show depth, where images in the foreground and background are all in focus. In photographic terms, the range of focus front to back is called depth of field. The way to expand depth of field so more of the subjects in the photo are in focus is to add light. Light creates depth of field. If you were given a photo of people who were the most critical to your success, you’d easily recognize your customers in the foreground in perfect focus. But as you look deeper into the photo you’d notice the images behind that first row increasingly drop out of focus with each receding row. The reason is because for most of the history of the marketplace, businesses have gotten away with having a very narrow customer depth of field. When the coin of the realm was to be competitive, that meant you spent all your time thinking about how to serve the person in the foreground, the first row of your business world: your customers. But as I’ve revealed in the past, being competitive has been trumped by being relevant. And in The Age of the Customer®, perhaps the most important component of being relevant to business customers is helping them serve the most important person in their photo: their customers. Let me say that again with Blasingame’s New Law of Customer Relevance: If you want to have customers for life, help your customers help their customers. The way to accomplish this is to increase the depth of field of your customer photo. Light up the view beyond the first row of customers so that the second row is completely in focus. This three-step process works every time:

  1. Identify the customer of your customer.
  2. Find out what your customer needs to do to become relevant to their customer.
  3. Whatever the answer to #2 is, help your customer do that.

Executing this approach is how you acquire customers you almost can’t run off. Because when you help your customers help their customers, they know you’re doing more than just delivering stuff; you’ve become part of their team – integrated and committed, like a true stakeholder. And if you want to pull off the customer relevance hat trick, light up the third row of your businesses photo: Help your customers help their customers help their customers. I’ve done it – it’s a beautiful thing.

Write this on a rock … Achieve maximum relevance with customers by helping them serve their customers. For a short video from Jim on this topic, click here.

Jim Blasingame is one of the world’s foremost experts on small business and entrepreneurship. He is the award-winning host of The Small Business Advocate® Show, the world’s only weekday radio talk show dedicated to small business, nationally syndicated since 1997. He is also a syndicated columnist and author of two books, Small Business is Like a Bunch of Bananas, and Three Minutes to Success. His new book, The Age of the Customer®, will be released January 2014.


Reinforcing Biblical Manhood: Why Spiritual Strength is Tougher than Physical Power

Mansfield's Book of Manly MenThis last year of ministry has been a season of deep personal reflection, spiritual insight, and a time of growing in mutual accountability with my brothers in the Lord. Over the last several months, I have been in a process of intentionally discipling a number of younger fellas in the ways and responsibilities of true biblical manhood. In addition to this personal effort to reinforce the masculine values of virtues found in the Holy Scriptures, the church where I am on staff at has also begun a massive revamping of our men’s ministry. While I focus primarily on discipling college guys, the men’s ministry as a whole has been working to bridge mentoring relationships with sons, fathers, husbands, and our bachelors in the church.

The new book by bestselling author Stephen Mansfield,Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men: An Utterly Invigorating Guide to Being Your Most Masculine Self” has given both ministries I am connected with, an invaluable tool for facilitating spiritual growth among the gentlemen in our faith community. Like Mansfield’s other books on Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Booker T. Washington, and Author Guinness, the author once again relies heavily on the classic insights available throughout character studies in history. In addition to some of those notable men already listed, the men of great standing studied in this new work, include King David, General George Patton, President Harry Truman, and the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

In short the four Mansfield’s Manly Maxims are:

1.)    Manly Men Do Manly Things.

2.)    Manly Men Tend Their Fields.

3.)    Manly Men Build Manly Men.

4.)    Manly Men Live to the Glory of God.

Each point is clearly articulated and unpacked in its own chapter throughout Part 1 of the book. Part II covers the qualities of “Manly Men”. These characteristics are based more on spiritual strength than physical and address topics such as friendship, restoration, self-education, integrity, suffering, humility, and sacrifice among others. Finally, Part III is essentially a treasure trove of resources including fifty quotes for Manly Men from leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., theologian and writer C.S. Lewis, and revolutionary forefather, Patrick Henry. In addition, Mansfield offers “The Ten Essential Books for Manly Men” which included a couple of my personal favorites, “Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance” by Bob Buford and “Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time” by Steve Arterburn. As for cinema pictures, the movies “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Chariots of Fire”, are suggested as must watch films.

All in all, “Mansfield’s Book of Manly Men” is just that- a book for men that illustrates the necessary traits required by God of men. Ideals like compassion, conviction, and consistence are promoted with the perfect life of Christ set as the back drop of the book’s focus. Manly Men do not abuse or disrespect women but instead protect and defend their counterparts. They do what is right without compromise and in full acceptance of the consequences. And most critical of all, Manly Men honor God with their lives and understand that the point of existence is not for selfish gain, but instead to be emptied out for the benefit of others.

Well done Mansfield!

[Guest Post] The Buck Stops Where?

Love Em or Lose EmThis sign was on President Truman’s White House office desk and he popularized the now-familiar phrase. Every culture has its way of saying do not pass the buck! In Chinese it goes like this, 责无旁贷 , and it translates to, “No shirking of responsibility.”

When we ask supervisors and managers how to keep good people, many immediately respond, “With money.” Research suggests that a majority of managers truly believe it’s largely about the money. These managers place the responsibility for keeping key people squarely in the hands of senior management. They blame organizational policies or pay scales for the loss of talent. Or they point the finger at the competition or the location. It’s always someone else’s fault.

Well, the truth is, you matter most. If you are a manager at any level, a frontline supervisor, or a project leader, you actually have more power than anyone else to keep your best employees. Why? Because the factors that drive employee satisfaction, engagement, and commitment are largely within your control. And the factors that satisfy and engage employees are the ones that keep them on your team. Those factors haven’t changed much over the past 25 years. Many researchers who have studied retention agree on what engages or satisfies people and therefore influences them to stay: meaningful and challenging work, a chance to learn and grow, fair and competitive compensation, great coworkers, recognition, respect, and a good boss. Don’t you want those things?

It’s Up to You

A good boss who cares about keeping good employees will help them find what they want from their workplace. We’re not saying you carry this responsibility alone. Senior management and your organization’s policies, systems, and culture have an impact on your ability to keep talented people. You may have human resource professionals who can help support your efforts. Even your employees have a role. (See our book Love It, Don’t Leave It: 26 Ways to Get What You Want at Work.)

Yet, because of what research tells us about why people leave their jobs and organizations, you still have the greatest power (and responsibility) for keeping your talented employees.  Try this:

  • Start with a conversation – a “stay interview.”  Learn about your talented employees’ goals and what they love (or don’t love) about their work.  Don’t stop with one chat.  Talk (and listen!) daily, weekly, monthly.  Develop a true relationship with every single person you hope to keep on your team.
  • Hold “Alas Clinics” – opportunities to talk with others about talented people who have left your team lately.  Why did they go?  What role (if any) did you play in their leaving?  How can you prevent more unwanted turnover?
  • Think about who might be “loose in the saddle” (about ready to leave you); talk with them SOON and collaborate with them to get more of what they want and need from you, from the team, from their jobs.
  • Go big picture.  Ask yourself, “What kind of work environment do I want to create?”  Then figure out what you need to do in order to make that vision come alive.  Then – go do it.

The retention buck really does stop with you. You have great power to influence your talented employees’ decisions about staying. Conduct “stay interviews” with every employee you hope to engage and keep on your team.  Find out what they want and help them get it!  Show that you care about them and their needs. Remember them. Notice them. Listen to them. Thank them. Love them or lose them.

Beverly Kaye is the Founder of Career Systems International. Sharon Jordan-Evans is the President of the Jordan Evans Group. This blog is based on concepts from Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. This bestselling book provides twenty-six strategies to keep talented employees happy and productive. In addition to updating and revising all information for the fifth edition, the authors have included more international stories and statistics. Available January 2014 on Amazon and in bookstores everywhere!

A Field Manual for Navigating the Rocky Terrain of Leadership in the Twenty-First Century

Hacking Leadership_Learning ZoneIn his new book, “Hacking Leadership”, America’s top CEO Coach and Forbes leadership columnist, Mike Myatt presents what he calls as a series of “gaps” for which he sets out to clear straight a path, in hopes that from the rubble of debris, a leadership movement may emerge. Having removed the brush, weeds, and confusion that surround topics such as management constructs, talent and hiring decisions, innovation, and corporate diversity, Myatt presents a field manual for navigating the rocky terrain of leadership in the Twenty-first century.

Of the “11 Gaps” hacked throughout the book, Myatt addresses issues like strategic thinking, competition and flexibility, discipline, organizational alignment, personal loyalty, and even overcoming the status quo. In particular, my two favorite sections were chapter 2 “Hacking the Purpose Gap” which includes a discussion on the priority of purpose over profit, and chapter 7 “Hacking the Knowledge Gap”. In this latter portion of the book, Myatt confronts the necessity for leaders to be learners, the importance of clear communication, and how to raise the competency of the team. One of the most passionate areas of suggested improvement by the author is found in his address of “Hacking the Reading Gap”. Myatt asserts that “Great leaders are like a sponge when it comes to the acquisition of knowledge, and the development of new skill sets. To the person, the best leaders I know are prolific readers” (p. 124).

Many of the paragraphs in the “Hacking Leadership” could be digested as leadership sound bites, or proverbs if you will, meant to make the reader contemplate the thought without the unnecessary level of academic complexity. Some other noteworthy quotes from the book include:

“A developed mind is the result of a challenged mind” (p. 13).

“A lesson lost on many is profit doesn’t drive purpose, but purpose certainly drives profit” (p. 31).

“Creating a culture of leadership is not for the faint of heart—it takes great courage” (p. 64).

“Success is created—not copied” (p. 77).

“Stop worrying on what you’re going to say and focus on what’s being said” (p. 137).

“True leadership doesn’t reveal itself by meeting expectations; it shows itself by exceeding them” (p. 180).

Hacking Leadership” is an amazing read that cuts straight to the chase. Myatt often drives the points home in a succinct outline format, like a consultant providing action items. His chapter conclusions and closing thoughts typically begin with the old adage “The bottom line is”, and they are always followed by trusted consul. Ultimately, Myatt has succeeded in outlining a step by step process for identifying problematic blind spots while also providing solutions for them. Though written primarily to a business audience, “Hacking Leadership” is relevant for anyone serving, influencing, or creating positive change not only in the private sector, but also the public and social areas of society as well.

Hacking Leadership

NIV Leadership Bible: Leading by the Book

NIV Leadership BibleLike love defined, true leadership is the sacrificing of oneself for the betterment of others. In no other context do we find such an excellent example of this kind of selfless, compassionate, and inspiring leadership than the pages of the Bible. The Gospel work of Jesus Christ, his development of the disciples, and the longevity and impact Christianity has had across the globe transcending generations, and cultures, is by far the most remarkable story of leadership the world has ever known.

Now, in the newly revised and updated edition of the NIV Leadership Bible, the publisher promotes great lessons for leading straight from the stories of the Good Book. God’s Word is timeless and is perfect for edifying, correcting, coaching and teaching believers and leaders alike in the nature and qualities of the kind of leadership that honors the Lord. With character profiles of faithful men like Abraham, David, Moses, and Paul, a topical index of character traits, book introductions, and a bibliographical reference, this study Bible proves to be an essential tool for the shelf of every church leader, business person, or public servant.

Included in the principles discussed in the NIV Leadership Bible are fifty-two “Home Pages” which frame the Bible’s many features. Topics covered range from accountability, to conflict management, and decision making. Each Old Testament book and New Testament letter includes insights for personal and organizational leadership, gleaned from the Holy Scriptures directly. In addition to the spiritual lessons provided, the NIV Leadership Bible also contains snippets of several bestselling classic business books such as Robert Greenleaf’s “Servant Leadership”, Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive”, and Max DePree’s “Leadership is an Art”. Other contributions more directly applicable to the ministry include excerpts from spiritual sages like Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, and C.S. Lewis.

In my favorite passage on leadership from the New Testament, Paul exhorts the Philippian church to imitate Christ’s humility. In chapter two of the apostle’s letter, Paul tells the believers to “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests of the others” (Phil. 2:3-5). Out of this passage of Scripture, the editors make two points about the servant leader: 1.) That the servant leader must define what their leadership is going to produce and 2.) The servant leader is accountable to those the lead and ultimately to the Lord. Insights from these “Daily Studies” and “Home Pages” abound throughout the pages of the NIV Leadership Bible and are sure to refine the leadership of anyone looking to better their influence for serving God’s people.