Woah! Slow Down a Little Bit There.

January 29th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

This morning I made a very treacherous journey to a large trade show about fifty minutes from my home. As we got underway, a light rain turned to snow; no big deal. My Audi Quattro is well equipped for this. However, I soon realized that what looked to be wet roads, was actually black ice. It was just cold enough to cause the moisture to instantly freeze as it hit the ground, turning everything into a slick sheet of ice.

I observed no fewer than 60 to 70 cars off the road in this normal one-hour journey. However, this time the drive ended up taking two and a half hours. I saw crashed highway patrol cars and 4-wheel drives off the road left and right. Despite this there were idiots cruising by me in 2-wheel drives, one hand on a cell phone the other hand on the steering wheel. And I couldn’t help thinking, “You’ve got to be more careful; if not, you deserve to crash.”

This is not an untypical example of what happens in business. Individuals are so eager to zip ahead that they miss the obvious dangers, ignoring key indicators and risk colliding their brand-new, wonderful business right into side rails, hopefully not killing themselves in the process.

There are a number of signs for when it’s really slippery. For example, you could observe the trends, moves and reactions of other businesses in your industry or sector. Look for the tightening of financial instruments. Also observe any fluctuations in order frequency or flow.

When you observe these signs, let me suggest a number of solutions:?
1. Ease off the gas pedal = Cut back on unnecessary expenses.
2. Don’t assume the speed of other drivers is safe = Don’t be as liberal with the financial terms that you give your clients just because others offer extended, more liberal terms.
3. Place both hands on the wheel = Be extra vigilant on your cash and your cash flow
4. Maintain a safe distance with the car ahead = Make sure that you put a financial buffer in place. Give yourself more latitude to break in your business. When you know conditions are slippery, slow your business down just like I slowed my Audi down today.

Now the implication of this is that the growth of your business will slow down a little bit. But it’s better to be safe and stable (particularly in economies that we’ve just come through) than it is to be stomping on the gas pedal and careening off a barrier wall.

There is also a fine balance between being cautious and putting out negative, doomsday vibes. So you really have to be in tune with what is taking place in your market because sometimes you can accelerate ahead when the road is wet as long as you have the right equipment, much like I knew my Audi could handle normal wet roads. However, when it is truly slippery and you see other businesses in your sector closing their doors, then it is time to slow down and be extra vigilant and extra careful.

As sad as this sounds, it may be an appropriate time to cut back on your staff, scale back, do more jobs personally, and most certainly it is not a time to take a month’s sabbatical. Everyone knows that I love my month sabbaticals, but in the middle of a rain-turn-to-ice storm in your business you’ve got to get both hands on the steering wheel, become actively involved, and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions even if it makes others uneasy. Be sure all of your employees are watching the key indicators especially during those critical times.

The result is you will arrive safely, intact with your vehicle ready to zip to the next milestone.

Woah! Slow Down a Little Bit There.

January 29th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

This morning I made a very treacherous journey to a large trade show about fifty minutes from my home. As we got underway, a light rain turned to snow; no big deal. My Audi Quattro is well equipped for this. However, I soon realized that what looked to be wet roads, was actually black ice. It was just cold enough to cause the moisture to instantly freeze as it hit the ground, turning everything into a slick sheet of ice.

I observed no fewer than 60 to 70 cars off the road in this normal one-hour journey. However, this time the drive ended up taking two and a half hours. I saw crashed highway patrol cars and 4-wheel drives off the road left and right. Despite this there were idiots cruising by me in 2-wheel drives, one hand on a cell phone the other hand on the steering wheel. And I couldn’t help thinking, “You’ve got to be more careful; if not, you deserve to crash.”

This is not an untypical example of what happens in business. Individuals are so eager to zip ahead that they miss the obvious dangers, ignoring key indicators and risk colliding their brand-new, wonderful business right into side rails, hopefully not killing themselves in the process.

There are a number of signs for when it’s really slippery. For example, you could observe the trends, moves and reactions of other businesses in your industry or sector. Look for the tightening of financial instruments. Also observe any fluctuations in order frequency or flow.

When you observe these signs, let me suggest a number of solutions:?
1. Ease off the gas pedal = Cut back on unnecessary expenses.
2. Don’t assume the speed of other drivers is safe = Don’t be as liberal with the financial terms that you give your clients just because others offer extended, more liberal terms.
3. Place both hands on the wheel = Be extra vigilant on your cash and your cash flow
4. Maintain a safe distance with the car ahead = Make sure that you put a financial buffer in place. Give yourself more latitude to break in your business. When you know conditions are slippery, slow your business down just like I slowed my Audi down today.

Now the implication of this is that the growth of your business will slow down a little bit. But it’s better to be safe and stable (particularly in economies that we’ve just come through) than it is to be stomping on the gas pedal and careening off a barrier wall.

There is also a fine balance between being cautious and putting out negative, doomsday vibes. So you really have to be in tune with what is taking place in your market because sometimes you can accelerate ahead when the road is wet as long as you have the right equipment, much like I knew my Audi could handle normal wet roads. However, when it is truly slippery and you see other businesses in your sector closing their doors, then it is time to slow down and be extra vigilant and extra careful.

As sad as this sounds, it may be an appropriate time to cut back on your staff, scale back, do more jobs personally, and most certainly it is not a time to take a month’s sabbatical. Everyone knows that I love my month sabbaticals, but in the middle of a rain-turn-to-ice storm in your business you’ve got to get both hands on the steering wheel, become actively involved, and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions even if it makes others uneasy. Be sure all of your employees are watching the key indicators especially during those critical times.

The result is you will arrive safely, intact with your vehicle ready to zip to the next milestone.

Surprising Broca: My Most Powerful Marketing Weapon

January 18th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

Today I’m going to share with you one of my biggest inside secrets. I hope that you really pay attention to this one because what I’m sharing with you today is gold. To properly attribute this I must reference Roy H. Williams who first articulated this concept to me some five or six years ago. Roy is the fourth smartest person that I have met in my life and is known as the Wizard of Ads and is a true genius in all aspects.

Broca is the frontal cortex of your brain. It’s the processing part that all the receptors are connected to. In order for anything to get through or to actually process in your brain it has to clear Broca. Broca’s only job is to ask “Is it relevant or is it not relevant?” For instance when you drive down the freeway you’re surrounded by billboards, by other cars, and lots of noise. So many stimulants hit you all at once. Broca is what screens everything and keeps your brain from becoming overwhelmed by saying, “Not relevant, not relevant, not relevant.”

However, if a purple elephant were to fall out of the sky and splat down in the middle of the freeway Broca would say, “Wow! That’s unique, that’s different! That’s something you don’t see everyday!” and lets it through and allows your brain to process the stimuli.

In life we get hit with so much stimulus, particularly now. Every second of every day we’re getting text messages, Tweets, noise, visuals, and commercials and most of that never clears Broca. In order to get and give full attention to the things in your life you need to get something unique, surprising, and delightful that surprises Broca.

I use this in all aspects of my life. I use it to get my kids excited and engaged about upcoming activites, even a work activity. I taught this concept to one of my sons when he was 15 years old and preparing to date. He uses it with great delight now and quotes Broca all the time. I use it on my young men and yes I use it with my employees to get them motivated and inspired. But most importantly we use it in our business with our customers to break through all the other noise and the craziness. All sorts of opportunities are available to you. I had a collegue one time that couldn’t get the attention of a Senior Vice President so he sent him an entire box stuffed full of quarters with a note that said, “You’re losing quarters all over the place!” Not surprisingly the the guy instantly called him back. That’s nothing more than surprising Broca.

The key is to do something that is not obnoxious but rather something that fits and is relevant, and is different, bright, and exciting. This week I have been to three trade shows, two of them in Las Vegas. I took my wife down with me to Las Vegas and took her to see the show Le Reve: The Dream.

Le Reve was an absolutely amazing experience and the entire show and the reason that it so delighted me and my wife and everyone else I’ve ever talked to is it was an hour and a half of non-stop surprises for Broca. You had colors and sounds and mists and people falling off high-dives and girls’ dresses being changed from red to white to black and back again with the snap of a finger. There were so many continual things surprising Broca that is almost put your brain into overload of “Purple elephant! Purple elephant! Purple elephant!” The result was a very delighted, content brain processing the stimulus very quickly as well as being open and completely receptive to everything that was happening on stage.

Particularly with the media the way it is now, if you’re not introducing new messages and new thoughts continually you are not going to get through to people. I don’t care how important or relevant your message is, the fact of the matter remains that if you do not surprise Broca and get through that initial barrier and do it frequently you’ll never get through to your audience. ??Roy most recently quoted that you have to, in a commercial or video, introduce a new surprise for Broca every three to four seconds in order to retain the attention of individuals. If you get up and start talking and blathering about something for ten or fifteen minutes on a video, you are gone and done. You’ll never get through. The same thing is true when giving a talk or presentation. You have to surprise a person’s Brocas in order to get their attention. Use this concept. It is so powerful. If you desire to learn more I suggest you look up Wizard of Ads and it will dramatically change the way that you look at things and the success factor that you’re having with your market messages.

Good luck and enjoy Broca.

Surprising Broca: My Most Powerful Marketing Weapon

January 18th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

Today I’m going to share with you one of my biggest inside secrets. I hope that you really pay attention to this one because what I’m sharing with you today is gold. To properly attribute this I must reference Roy H. Williams who first articulated this concept to me some five or six years ago. Roy is the fourth smartest person that I have met in my life and is known as the Wizard of Ads and is a true genius in all aspects.

Broca is the frontal cortex of your brain. It’s the processing part that all the receptors are connected to. In order for anything to get through or to actually process in your brain it has to clear Broca. Broca’s only job is to ask “Is it relevant or is it not relevant?” For instance when you drive down the freeway you’re surrounded by billboards, by other cars, and lots of noise. So many stimulants hit you all at once. Broca is what screens everything and keeps your brain from becoming overwhelmed by saying, “Not relevant, not relevant, not relevant.”

However, if a purple elephant were to fall out of the sky and splat down in the middle of the freeway Broca would say, “Wow! That’s unique, that’s different! That’s something you don’t see everyday!” and lets it through and allows your brain to process the stimuli.

In life we get hit with so much stimulus, particularly now. Every second of every day we’re getting text messages, Tweets, noise, visuals, and commercials and most of that never clears Broca. In order to get and give full attention to the things in your life you need to get something unique, surprising, and delightful that surprises Broca.

I use this in all aspects of my life. I use it to get my kids excited and engaged about upcoming activites, even a work activity. I taught this concept to one of my sons when he was 15 years old and preparing to date. He uses it with great delight now and quotes Broca all the time. I use it on my young men and yes I use it with my employees to get them motivated and inspired. But most importantly we use it in our business with our customers to break through all the other noise and the craziness. All sorts of opportunities are available to you. I had a collegue one time that couldn’t get the attention of a Senior Vice President so he sent him an entire box stuffed full of quarters with a note that said, “You’re losing quarters all over the place!” Not surprisingly the the guy instantly called him back. That’s nothing more than surprising Broca.

The key is to do something that is not obnoxious but rather something that fits and is relevant, and is different, bright, and exciting. This week I have been to three trade shows, two of them in Las Vegas. I took my wife down with me to Las Vegas and took her to see the show Le Reve: The Dream.

Le Reve was an absolutely amazing experience and the entire show and the reason that it so delighted me and my wife and everyone else I’ve ever talked to is it was an hour and a half of non-stop surprises for Broca. You had colors and sounds and mists and people falling off high-dives and girls’ dresses being changed from red to white to black and back again with the snap of a finger. There were so many continual things surprising Broca that is almost put your brain into overload of “Purple elephant! Purple elephant! Purple elephant!” The result was a very delighted, content brain processing the stimulus very quickly as well as being open and completely receptive to everything that was happening on stage.

Particularly with the media the way it is now, if you’re not introducing new messages and new thoughts continually you are not going to get through to people. I don’t care how important or relevant your message is, the fact of the matter remains that if you do not surprise Broca and get through that initial barrier and do it frequently you’ll never get through to your audience. ??Roy most recently quoted that you have to, in a commercial or video, introduce a new surprise for Broca every three to four seconds in order to retain the attention of individuals. If you get up and start talking and blathering about something for ten or fifteen minutes on a video, you are gone and done. You’ll never get through. The same thing is true when giving a talk or presentation. You have to surprise a person’s Brocas in order to get their attention. Use this concept. It is so powerful. If you desire to learn more I suggest you look up Wizard of Ads and it will dramatically change the way that you look at things and the success factor that you’re having with your market messages.

Good luck and enjoy Broca.

End of the world, End of my goals.

January 11th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

I was twenty years old and partway into college while doing a service mission on the East Coast. A study at Yale had just concluded that the single determining factor in success in life was writing down goals and so I drank the Kool-Aid. I wrote yearly goals. I wrote two-year goals, I wrote five-year goals, I wrote ten-year goals, I wrote fifteen-year goals, I wrote twenty-year goals, and then I wrote end-of-life goals. ??When I met my sweetheart and got married we resumed the practice and actually added a bunch of goals to the list. And indeed we put the end of our life at 2012. Well, I’ve now arrived at 2012. I’m forty-seven years old and it doesn’t feel like the end of my life, nor do I WANT it to be the end of my life. I still believe very strongly in goal setting, however my format going forward is going to take a much different perspective. Although I really love the intensity and push of setting specific goals I was recently introduced to what is called “The Life Menu”. This next phase of my life is where I will be ordering off my Life Menu.

In the past, goals were really enjoyable, but sometimes they turned into tasks and at this stage of my life I don’t want them to be tasks anymore. The things I put on my Life Menu are simply something I’d love to taste or try, but I don’t necessarily have to and so it tends to take the pressure off a little bit. Here’s the sequence of how I did it. I did it with my wife this summer in Europe as we took a cruise around Italy, Greece and Turkey and we literally spent two or three days talking and dreaming and putting our life menu out there. ??What I’d like to do is give you a five-step process of how you can create your life menu.

Step #1: Get into a relaxed, happy flow. Don’t try and brainstorm while you’e stressed out or even when you’re too tense.

Step #2: List all the things you love. It doesn’t have to be big things. It can be the simplest little things. For me it’s things like watching ducks fly. That came from my youth. My wife’s is the taste of chocolate. I love getting massages. I love the ocean. I love the smell of pine. So anything that you just naturally think, “I love the feeling of it.”, no matter how small, just go through and list all the things that you really love in life.

Step# 3: Compose a statement of who you are, what defines you, what makes you happy, and what you want to do in your life. Again, the simpler the better. Just go free-style. For instance I want to swim in ten oceans. I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I want to see Machu Picchu. I want to make a really good squash soup. (I’ve tried 5 times and just haven’t been successful yet.) I even put to hit a hole-in-one golf on there even though I didn’t know if I ever would be able to do it. I put all the things that I wanted to. Some were incredible business and intense and other things were just fun, frivolous, personal life things.

Step #4: Review your list. Make sure you’re consistent and that these are things you really want to do and are not just a whim or passing fad.

Step #5: Document your goals and put them in a place that you can keep track of them. I use my Google share docs and every year our family reviews them. My wife and I will sit down and review our personal life menus now come the first of the year.

It’s amazing and powerful how we naturally gravitate to things we write down. I think the case in point is my hole-in-one in golf. For many, many years I’ve wanted to do that so intently and it wasn’t until I let it go a little bit that it happened.

I’m so looking forward to this next phase of life and the joy that’s going to come from my Life Menu this first of the year. I wish you success in your goals and your Life Menu and the future that you have before you. Make positive that you write your goals down. Dream Big. Nothing significant ever occurs without first dreaming it and then writing it down. That’s when the magic begins.

End of the world, End of my goals.

January 11th, 2013 by Rich Christiansen

I was twenty years old and partway into college while doing a service mission on the East Coast. A study at Yale had just concluded that the single determining factor in success in life was writing down goals and so I drank the Kool-Aid. I wrote yearly goals. I wrote two-year goals, I wrote five-year goals, I wrote ten-year goals, I wrote fifteen-year goals, I wrote twenty-year goals, and then I wrote end-of-life goals. ??When I met my sweetheart and got married we resumed the practice and actually added a bunch of goals to the list. And indeed we put the end of our life at 2012. Well, I’ve now arrived at 2012. I’m forty-seven years old and it doesn’t feel like the end of my life, nor do I WANT it to be the end of my life. I still believe very strongly in goal setting, however my format going forward is going to take a much different perspective. Although I really love the intensity and push of setting specific goals I was recently introduced to what is called “The Life Menu”. This next phase of my life is where I will be ordering off my Life Menu.

In the past, goals were really enjoyable, but sometimes they turned into tasks and at this stage of my life I don’t want them to be tasks anymore. The things I put on my Life Menu are simply something I’d love to taste or try, but I don’t necessarily have to and so it tends to take the pressure off a little bit. Here’s the sequence of how I did it. I did it with my wife this summer in Europe as we took a cruise around Italy, Greece and Turkey and we literally spent two or three days talking and dreaming and putting our life menu out there. ??What I’d like to do is give you a five-step process of how you can create your life menu.

Step #1: Get into a relaxed, happy flow. Don’t try and brainstorm while you’e stressed out or even when you’re too tense.

Step #2: List all the things you love. It doesn’t have to be big things. It can be the simplest little things. For me it’s things like watching ducks fly. That came from my youth. My wife’s is the taste of chocolate. I love getting massages. I love the ocean. I love the smell of pine. So anything that you just naturally think, “I love the feeling of it.”, no matter how small, just go through and list all the things that you really love in life.

Step# 3: Compose a statement of who you are, what defines you, what makes you happy, and what you want to do in your life. Again, the simpler the better. Just go free-style. For instance I want to swim in ten oceans. I want to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I want to see Machu Picchu. I want to make a really good squash soup. (I’ve tried 5 times and just haven’t been successful yet.) I even put to hit a hole-in-one golf on there even though I didn’t know if I ever would be able to do it. I put all the things that I wanted to. Some were incredible business and intense and other things were just fun, frivolous, personal life things.

Step #4: Review your list. Make sure you’re consistent and that these are things you really want to do and are not just a whim or passing fad.

Step #5: Document your goals and put them in a place that you can keep track of them. I use my Google share docs and every year our family reviews them. My wife and I will sit down and review our personal life menus now come the first of the year.

It’s amazing and powerful how we naturally gravitate to things we write down. I think the case in point is my hole-in-one in golf. For many, many years I’ve wanted to do that so intently and it wasn’t until I let it go a little bit that it happened.

I’m so looking forward to this next phase of life and the joy that’s going to come from my Life Menu this first of the year. I wish you success in your goals and your Life Menu and the future that you have before you. Make positive that you write your goals down. Dream Big. Nothing significant ever occurs without first dreaming it and then writing it down. That’s when the magic begins.