Thursday, January 26, 2012

7 Lessons Learned From 'The Celebrity Apprentice'

The new season of "The Celebrity Apprentice" premiered a couple weeks ago with 18 celebrities competing to win money for their chosen charities. It's easy to dislike many aspects of this show - Donald Trump and his hair, the infighting and backbiting among the contestants and the nonstop gratuitous name-dropping.
I've never been a fan of Mr. Trump's personal style. He's always struck me as arrogant and ostentatious. And the Apprentice franchise's connection to the realities that most of us face in the workplace is tenuous at best.
But I do appreciate the obvious passion most of the celebrities involved have for the causes they're supporting. And I think there are a few lessons we can all learn about work and business from the first couple episodes of Season 12 of "The Celebrity Apprentice:"
1. Everything You Say And Do Matters
No matter what, at the end of the day you must account for your actions. And you will be judged in the workplace for how you conduct yourself. That judgment probably won't be as overt as having your performance debated in the open and you being told, "You're fired," in front of millions. The unfortunate reality is, most people's judgments of you will be made silently and unknown to you. That's why it's important to keep your promises and live by the Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated.
2. You Have To Learn To Work With People You Disagree With
Like your family, you don't usually get to pick who you work with. A lot of emphasis is placed on the personality clashes on the show, and the producers play those clashes up to create tension. But the big lesson is that you have to accept everyone you work with as they are and get the job done. You don't have to be friends with everybody, but you do have to work together to accomplish your team's goals
3. Big Deals Make A Big Difference
In any business, the 80/20 Rule is in effect and it only takes one big deal, one big customer, one big sale to put you into a different category. This is an ongoing theme of "The Celebrity Apprentice," and it played out in dramatic fashion in the season premiere two weeks ago. The men's team was behind during most of the challenge, but they kept talking about how all they needed was one "whale" to put them over the top. They finally found their whale when one of Paul Teutul Sr.'s friends made a $300,000 donation. That not only won the challenge for the team, but it set a new Celebrity Apprentice record.
4. It's Not Enough To Be Liked In The Workplace
Cheryl Tiegs, the first celebrity to get fired, was universally liked. But she did not demonstrate a sense of urgency in her work. People respect and appreciate a sense of urgency in your work. And you have to be competent at the tasks assigned to you. Ultimately, Cheryl was fired because she worked too slowly and didn't demonstrate a strong competency in her work.
5. Cultivating A Strong Network Is Invaluable
As unfair as it may seem, sometimes in life the guy with the richest friends wins. The mega-donation that Paul Sr. secured to give his team the victory in the first challenge was just one example of the power of a strong network. The women's team, even though they lost that first challenge, did an amazing job of persuading their network to donate to their cause. They didn't find a "whale," but they collected consistent donations from their friends and ended up with over $100,000 - a Celebrity Apprentice record until the men's total was revealed.
6. Setting An Audacious Goal Can Set You Up For Success
In that first challenge, Paul Sr. put a lot of pressure on himself and his team when he told Trump's daughter, Ivanka, that his team was going to raise "at least five" - meaning $500,000. They didn't get there, but they did raise more money - over $300,000 - than any team in the history of the show. In my own work, I've found that having a big goal (and a deadline) creates a sense of urgency and spurs me to find creative ways to get the job done. And even if you don't get all the way to your audacious goal, what you do accomplish is often a quantum leap for the organization.
7. Pitch In And Pull Your Weight
Cheryl Tiegs got the ax in the first week, but Victoria Gotti, the mafia don's daughter, came close. Some members of her team felt that she wasn't pulling her weight because she spent a lot of time taking personal phone calls and she left in the middle of the challenge to do an interview. Her behavior didn't change in the second week, and Victoria ended up being the second firing of Season 12. No matter what kind of work you do, the other people on your team want to feel like they can count on you to do your share. Even if the task at hand isn't something that's really part of your job, jump in and help. People appreciate the effort.
While I'm not saying you should devote your Sunday evenings to watching "The Celebrity Apprentice," it might be worth catching a couple of episodes to see who learns these seven lessons and succeeds and who ignores these tenets and fails. What about you? Have you seen any of these principles at work in real life?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Business Building Tips for Financial Advisers - 7 Steps to Success With High-Net-Worth Clients

Are you hoping to make a strong six-figure or even a seven-figure income this year? Start by thinking about what it takes to succeed as a financial adviser with high-net-worth clients. Get on board with these 7 Steps and make this a banner year.
Step 1: Specialize in an area where you can differentiate from competitors and develop market dominance. Affluent prospects look for the best in a field when they need advice for solving complex problems. Build your business and your marketing effort around your greatest passions, strengths and expertise in order to create a unique specialization.
Step 2: Understand your market niche. Target the ideal market segment for your business. Without a target market you have no clue about how to make the best use of your resources. If you don't determine who is ideal for your service you'll end up spending a lot more money and time for a disappointing result. What's worse you could end up spending too much time on the clients you don't want and end up wearing yourself out.
Step 3: Create relationship value. Thank you, Strategic Coach, Dan Sullivan for your value creation model. Sullivan's model includes three critical elements in the value creation process-providing leadership with direction, offering relationship that assures confidence of achieving desired results and demonstrating capability by delivering creative solutions. In order to be successful with high-net-worth clients, trusted advisers must be adept at delivering value as an expert problem solver.
Step 4: Captivate then capture your target market. Captivate your market with a compelling and consistent marketing message. Capture the attention of your market niche by keeping your message focused on what affluent prospects want most.
Step 5: Educate prospects and clients. Savvy consumers want information but they crave wisdom and learning from their trusted advisers today more than ever. This brings huge opportunities to the forefront for street smart advisers. Not only are educated clients more enjoyable, they are more decisive and more profitable.
Step 6: Simplify everything. Affluent clients value simplicity and control. The more advisers can simplify and bottom-line their wealthy client's personal finances, the more likely they will value the advisory relationship. Trusted advisers must be able to provide clients with enough information to make an informed decision while endeavoring to reduce everything to the simplest terms.
Step 7: Systematize your business. The most important operations in an advisory business to systematize are marketing, sales, customer service delivery and maintaining client loyalty. Systems will save you time, energy and money. Automate everything possible so you can spend more quality face time with your affluent clients.
That's it. Now you know the seven simple steps that spell "success". I guarantee that implementing them in your practice will lead to more money and less stress.
Author, teacher and business coach Rebecca Stone is turning attorneys and financial advisers right-side-up with her Attorney Alliance Marketing System. This one of a kind system helps professionals get a steady stream of ideal clients at a price they can afford.

Friday, January 13, 2012

10 Critical Factors For Successful Projects and Project Managers

The criteria for successful projects are simple: do what is asked well, on time and within budget. As simple as it sounds, keeping all of those criteria in balance takes more than just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. Some of the most successful projects are more than what they produce. These are the 10 critical factors for project success:
  1. They have executive buy-in - No project has a chance of success with buy-in from senior level executives. This is where having a great reputation and relationship comes into play. A well respected project manager will have a better chance of having the project considered than someone who has no reputation or even a bad reputation. If the Vice President sees the value, need, return on the project, then it's a "go"

  2. The end-user is a part of the team - Now, it's common sense to have the users input on a project from which they will benefit but too often they are not consulted. Having a successful project means that the users need to know about it and be represented on the team. If they are kept out of the loop, presented with a solution to a problem they didn't know they had, then proceed to reject it, one of many things will happen, none of them good, up to and including termination.

  3. Experienced project managers are at the helm - Having a project management certification is one piece of the puzzle. Those who have the experience managing projects in addition to managing project within certain industries have a better chance of project success because they understand how to apply book learning into practical actions.

  4. Projects have clear business objectives - Having an idea for a project is great but unless it can benefit the business in a tangible way, it runs the risk of not seeing the light of day. Successful projects have measurable business benefits such as improving productivity, saving money, or increasing profits, just to name a few. Having a clearly beneficial business objective that's quantifiable goes a long way to not only securing the necessary buy-in but to increasing a project manager's reputation.

  5. The scope is kept to a minimum - Two words that can thwart any projects success: scope creep. Having a clear well understood scope but when stakeholders start to push their wish list to the forefront, a good project manager who wants a successful project has the mechanisms in place to make sure the scope, time and cost are kept to a minimum.

  6. Uniform software infrastructure for communication- It is not unusual for project teams to be in different locations. That's why it's so important to have a standard software infrastructure in place if you want to have a successful project. It helps if all team members are able to view, upload, edit, create files on the same platform so that time is spent more on project work than on figuring out and converting documents.

  7. Reliable estimates - Apart from understanding the scope, to make a project successful project managers need to understand what is needed. Human, equipment and material resources, all play a part in the project budget so the estimates need to be as precise as possible to eliminate nasty surprises.

  8. They have competent Subject Matter Experts(SMEs) - It is said that if the project manager is the smartest person on the team, that's a definite sign of failure. No project manager is an expert on everything so s/he needs to find the right people who know and can do if the project is to be a success. Milestones

  9. Project managers take ownership - it's easy for managers in a position of authority to pass the blame for the slightest failure on their staff members. When it comes to the most successful projects and project managers, they go by the motto "The buck stops here."

  10. Communication is one of the top priorities - One of the biggest reasons for project failure is lack of communication. Stakeholders need to be kept on top of the project even if there are minor changes. Successful project managers know this and make the effort to keep all stakeholders in the loop especially senior management.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 7 Habits of Highly Effective Bosses

Having a good boss makes a great difference in any work environment. But what traits make a highly effective boss who not only earns the respect of team members but also of peers and superiors? Experience being a given, here are 7 habits of effective bosses that not only earn them the respect but also enable them to handle any challenge that comes their way:
  1. They are decisive - Effective bosses are known to make decisions quickly and are slow to change those decisions. That's often seen as stubborn or even resistant to change but it boils down to this: A boss that changes his or her decisions frequently is seen as indecisive, confusing, and loses the respect as a team leader. Often those who change decisions often rely too heavily on impressing others with their title and position instead of understanding what's in front of them. Well informed quick decision making is a signature of highly effective bosses

  2. They make definite plans and know how to execute them - Leading by guesswork without definite plans can be seen as disorganized. For the most part, effective bosses take the time to think things through, weigh all options and come up with viable ways to address positive and negative risks that may arise. Essentially, they plan their work and work their plan.

  3. They have good personalities - I remember during the first week of my new job, I was told how tough and mean my boss was. With that in mind, no one was more surprised than I when he invited me to a party at his house during the first week of my new job. I went and it was the best party I ever went to. He saw me, made time to ask me how I was doing. The following week at work, it was business as usual but that party was a topic of discussion. He was still one of my toughest bosses that pushed to be a better analyst but he knew how to laugh and have a good time with everyone.

  4. They sympathize with others - It's easy for some bosses to dismiss the personal issues of team members citing that if it's not work related then it's not that important. That was the party line for many years but effective bosses realize that paying attention to team members as well as their work is essential to having a productive team. Not only does it make the employee feel like they matter, it is also good business. A boss that sympathizes and provides resources to his/her team is a part of the holistic business approach that is good for team morale as well as business at large.

  5. They are masters of details - A former boss of mine looked at one of my data sheets and told me what happened during the fourth week in January 1996 and why the strategy we were using in February 2007 needed to align with that. It was both scary and amazing. His in-depth knowledge of such details not only showed me that he respected the seriousness of his position but it also inspired me respect my position that much more.

  6. They take full responsibility for themselves and their team - When a mistake is made, it is easy for a boss to (subtly or overtly) point the finger. But the best bosses I've seen have embodied the motto The buck stops here. For any and all errors, they take responsibility and choose not to blame anyone else for their mistakes. That habit earns the respect of not only their team but also of their superiors.

  7. They know how to enlist the cooperation of others - For any project to work, there needs to be 'buy-in' from all parties. There are many ways to enlist cooperation but an effective boss knows that one of the best ways is to use referential authority to induce team members' and project sponsor cooperation.