A Vegas Getaway – Zig Zag Principle #66

March 15th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

Eating Own Cooking:

Last year my wife and I went on a little getaway to Las Vegas.  We had booked our hotel online, and we got a great rate on your normal room at one of the nicest hotels in Vegas.  When we checked in, the woman at the front desk took a liking to us.  She saw that we were on a romantic getaway, and she mentioned that most of the regular rooms were booked for a business convention.  As she handed us our key cards, she mentioned she had upgraded our room, adding, “I am not going to tell you about the room now.  You can thank me later when you see it.”

When we opened the door to our room, we gasped.  She had upgraded our $69 room to one of the presidential suites.  It was on the twenty-seventh floor and had a 180-degree view of Las Vegas.  The suite was 2,200 square feet.  It came with an entryway, a formal dining area, a living area, a huge bedroom, and two bathrooms.  My favorite part was the master bath suite.  It had an all-glass shower and a huge hot tub that overlooked the city.  And we did, indeed, thank this very kind front-end manager.

When I came back after this spectacular vacation with my wife, I was describing to Curtis this hotel we stayed in.  At this point in our business, Curtis was still working full time in his other job, and we were not making the progress we wanted in this new partnership.  As we chatted, it hit me that I knew what would motivate Curtis.  He wanted to take his wife on a vacation and stay at the same hotel my wife and I had just enjoyed—and in the same room!

I told him I had a reward in mind, and we made a list of four or five things that needed to happen.  We posted this list in the hall of our office, along with a picture of this fantastic resort.  The goal was that when those five steps were achieved and our business was stabilized, Curtis could quit his job and come into the business full time.  But equally rewarding to him was that he could also take his wife on an all expense paid trip to stay in this same hotel.  I found a picture of this hotel and drew stick figures of Curtis and his wife staying on the twenty-seventh floor and enjoying the view.  I even added a picture of its world-renowned restaurant because I knew his wife likes to dine at exclusive restaurants.  On the bottom of my artwork, I added a deadline of thirty-five days to earn this reward.  Curtis was salivating, even though we were not sure how this was going to happen.  But we did reach each of our goals, and Curtis and his wife did get to have a fantastic vacation.  And my reward was that I now had him working with me in our business full time.  

 

 

Results of Using and Ignoring Guardrails – Zig Zag Principle #59

January 26th, 2012 by Rich Christiansen

 

Results of Using and Ignoring GuardrailsEating Our Own Cooking

In our current test business, Curtis and I received a request from a client that wanted to place a large order for high end, specialty products.  We went to the manufacturer of these products and were able to open an account.  However, when it came time to sign the contract with the vendor, it contained language prohibiting our operating a business model that was identical to our business model.  The order we were trying to fill was worth a large sum of money.  And the likelihood of the vendor ever figuring out we were in violation of the contract was minimal.  In our zeal to land this account, Curtis and I conveniently forgot to pay close attention to this clause in the contract.  However, Koral, who is one of my trusted gatekeepers, reminded us that signing the contract would run counter to our values.  As lucrative as this deal would have been to our company, we passed on the order.  It just seemed that if we were going to lose sleep, it would be better to lose it over the loss of revenue rather than the violation of our code of conduct.

In a previous business Curtis and I founded, we did not follow our own guardrails.  We had put a financial guardrail in place stating that we would always keep a $100,000, three-month buffer in place to protect us if the business took a downturn.  We also agreed that if things went south, we would reduce expenses, rather than dip into our reserve, in order to maintain a positive cash flow.

After several years of mind-blowing success, the business did suffer a downturn.  It wasn’t long before we saw ourselves dipping below the $100,000 threshold.  At the time we had a team we felt loyal to, and we did not want to have to cut back.  So we lowered our threshold to $50,000.  In making that decision, we broke our rule and crashed through our guardrail.  But we felt justified in doing so because of our previous success.  Before we knew it, we had crashed through the guardrail again and spent that last $50,000.  At this point, instead of cutting our losses, we decided to create another business plan.  Unfortunately, our team was not a good match for our new venture.  Ultimately, with no cash left, we had to lay off the entire team we had been trying to protect.  We also had to terminate what had been a very productive partnership and part ways.

We would have all been so much better off if we had reduced our expenses and stayed within that first guardrail.  Yes, we would have had to lay off one or two employees or cut back on expenses in some other way.  As painful as that sounds, it would have been so much better than having to kill the whole business.  We could have saved our most valuable employees and avoided a lot of pain and heartache. 

Our blunder led to Curtis and me parting ways for almost four years.  Now we are working together again and building a successful business.  And we’re hoping we will have the good sense not to forget our need to stay within the guardrails we’ve established. 

Summary

As you are traveling toward your beacon in the fog, you will need guardrails to keep you from heading over a cliff or wandering out into the weeds.  For each of your zigs, you should establish a financial number, an allocation of time, a duration of time, and a financial target to control the resources and energy you are going to put into that particular zig.  You then need to create a list of the other guardrails that will keep you out of the weeds.  Finally, remember the need to establish a network of trusted associates who will keep you from heading out of bounds network or drifting toward the edge of a cliff.  These guardrails will grow out of and be aligned with the values you defined in Chapter 3.  They will then have the power to keep you on target as you zigzag toward your beacon in the fog.

 

Some Zealous Zig Zaggers

August 10th, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

 
We here at The Zig Zag Principle are pleased to announce the formation of the official Zig Zag Triathlon Team. These brave souls have decided to run, bike, and swim all in the name of Zig Zag. Curtis Blair will coordinate and captain the team in the Kokopelli Tri, as the team Zigs and Zags through the beautiful red hills of St. George, Utah on September 17th, 2011.
 
Get your swim suit, bike, and running shoes ready, because you’re invited to join the Zig Zag Team. Our company bloggers and social media experts will profile each member of the team and document their training and progress leading up through the event. Not only will you have the camaraderie of being part of the team for the race, but you will also receive encouragement throughout the entire experience!
 
If you would rather not swim, bike or run you can still be a part of Team Zig Zag! By  pre-ordering any number of books, you will receive an author-signed copy of The Zig Zag Principle which then qualifies you as an official sponsor of Team Zig Zag.
 

To be a sponsor, simply  pre-order the book The Zig Zag Principle and with your donation you will receive the following:

 

Sponsorship Level

Individuals

Corporations

Gold

With a 10 Book Donation ($200):

·  An Official Zig Zag Race Jersey

·  10 author-signed books

·  4 Free Tickets to the Zig Zag Launch Party Oct 15th.

With a 50 Book Donation ($1,000):

·  Your company logo on the back of the Official Zig Zag Race Jersey

·  50 author-signed books

·  10 Free Tickets to the Zig Zag Launch Party Oct 15th.

Silver

With a 5 Book Donation ($100):

·  A Zig Zag T-Shirt

·  5 author-signed books

·  2 Free Tickets to the Zig Zag Launch Party Oct 15th.

With a 25 Book Donation ($500):

·  A Zig Zag T-Shirt

·  25 author-signed books

·  5 Free Tickets to the Zig Zag Launch Party Oct 15th.

Bronze

With a 1 Book Donation ($20):

·  An author-signed book

With a 5 Book Donation ($100):

·  5 author-signed books

 

Stay tuned to see the team’s grueling training updates as they prepare mentally and physically for the triathlon of the season! For more information contact Curtis Blair at 1-801-375-7900 or email @ curtis@zigzagprinciple.com We wish the best of luck to Team Zig Zag!

~Colette Marx
Lead Blogger, The Zig Zag Principle

What’s YOUR Big Audacious Goal? – Zig Zag Principle #22

July 17th, 2011 by Rich Christiansen

Eating Our Own Cooking

Froghair, the company I’m currently spending most of my time on, has spent a considerable amount of time wandering in the fog.  As I explained in chapter 1, when I started the company, it was a very low priority, we went through various permutations of ownership, it morphed into a little business I ran out of my garage with my boys, and I ultimately sold it.  Then, when my partner and I took Froghair back, we found we needed to create a much clearer focus.  Our beacon in the fog is now to become the leading agency in the outdoor sector that helps launch brands internationally.  Our catalyzing statements have to do with specific benchmarks we have set for each month as we have tried to undo the damage created by the previous owner.  And having those benchmarks (which will be discussed in more detail in subsequent chapters) has turned Froghair from a company that was under deep water financially into one that is beginning to make a profit and move my partner and I toward our broader goals.

On a far more personal level, my overarching beacon in the fog is to make a dent in the poverty that permeates developing countries.  But that is an overwhelming challenge, one that world leaders, philanthropic organizations, and development agencies have not been able to solve.  Recognizing my inability to fix such an overwhelming issue with my limited means, I turned to a catalyzing statement that motivates me each day and that has brought many like-minded individuals on board with me—to educate 1,000 young people from developing countries by the time I turn fifty.

Conclusion

The beacon in the fog is our destination.  Where do we want to go?  This is our big, audacious goal.  For some, it is a dream vacation to France.  For John F. Kennedy, it was his goal of having the best space program in the world. For me, it is educating young people in developing countries.

Our beacon in the fog is not a short-term goal; it is a long-term goal that our short-term goals are leading to.  We then supplement it with our catalyzing statements, which add specificity.  As we zig zag toward our individual beacons, it is essential that we pause long enough to climb high enough up a tree to see beyond the fog.  We are then able to check our bearings to see if we are heading in the direction our zig zagging is supposed to be taking us.