Resources Owners Can Use!

Such a Big Change: A Letter from a Destination BootCamp Business Owner

This week I received a letter from a business owner who had attended my Destination Business BootCamp in 2011.  Normally, I just keep these letters for myself, but this one, I’m going to share.  When you read it, you’ll see why. There are parts of it that hit the emotions that every business owner in the world has ever felt.

By the way, I asked the owner who wrote this letter if sharing it was OK with him. He gave me permission to do so.

Our Destination BootCamp is a two and one-half day workshop. It takes me that long to cover my 14-step strategy for making a business a Consumer Destination. It’s not like when I speak at a conference for an hour. In the days I have with the owners in attendance, I can show them a different way to position their businesses to be successful.

Here’s a photo of the class. The business owner who wrote the letter was Louie Colosimo, owner of  Red Glass Oak in Central Point, Oregon. To see Louie’s amazing business, go to his website here:  His creations are amazing!

Louie had come to our Destination BootCamp with five other business owners from Central Point and with Tom Humphrey, the Director of their city’s Community Development Program. Tom had organized the group and Louie was one of the participants he had asked to make the trip to Colorado, as part of our Community Reinvention Program.

That’s all I’m going to say. Here’s Louie’s letter to me, in its entirety. I haven’t done any editing.

Thanks, Louie, for letting me share your letter. I hope it helps other owners realize that they can make changes to their businesses and turn a poor situation around.

Here’s Louie’s letter:

Dear Jon,

Short version: I want to thank you for all you’ve taught me.

Longer version: Last year, when Tom Humphrey asked me if I wanted to attend your Businessman’s Boot Camp, I was about a week away from quitting my business and throwing in the towel. Deep in debt, out of energy, and my best sales person was seriously drifting away, the future looked bleak at best. I’d even begun to ask around if anyone knew of a good bankruptcy lawyer. It was either quit or try one more time. Finally, I decided to go see you and give it one more shot. The least that would happen would be that I’d get a free trip to Colorado and escape the shop for a few days. I’m so glad that I did. You absolutely turned my life around. Not just my business life but my regular life (?) too.

But not at first.

On the first day of Boot Camp, or rather in the first two hours of the first day, my ass hurt from sitting. I kept shifting from side to side… left bun, right bun and back again. And you were so indefatigably cherry and positive. I kept thinking, “Christ, I should’a quit. At least with bankruptcy it’d be over and I won’t have to think about it.” But then, you showed “problem/solutions” and order began to creep in. My butt began to hurt less, then I forgot about it.

By the end of the first day, I was mostly a convert. I did my homework that night and woke to face the second day. You got better and so did I. By the end of the last day, I wanted to stay and stay and listen. You never wore down. You kept believing that we all could do it. And finally, so did I.  Not only were you telling me how to market better, but what I finally realized was that you were demonstrating how to do it in real time. I was your customer. You took care to treat me special, give me all the information I needed to understand your product, and see how many others managed marketing. You were able to define your business (on an elevator ride between the 3rd and 4th floor); you had your monument-al achievements, and best of all, you were proud of your accomplishments.

I knew that to stay in business, I had to market my product. But knowing that it isn’t the same as knowing how to do it. To me, marketing was like trying to grab a hold of a sand storm. There was no handle. No place to start. What do I do first, second, etc? And what you told us wasn’t the answers I wanted to hear.

Instead, you asked questions. Being asked a good question was so much more valuable than being told a general something, a fortune cookie solution. Right off the bat, you asked the hardest thing of all, for me to define my business in one sentence. I always thought that I had done that, until I really thought about it. Now that I think about it more, what you did wasn’t asking for a definition, but more like you challenged me to look at myself and my business the way the world does, from the outside looking in. I always looked at myself and what I did from the inside out. I was a glass blower! Now, I want the world to see me as a glass artist that creates hand blow art glass pendant lighting and inspiring standing chandeliers. So that’s how I define myself and it fits how I see myself. It was and is such a small shift in perception. Such a big change! I understood what I needed to do to keep on going. I’m still slipping and sliding, but now it’s in the general direction of where I want to go.

One last thought about trying organize a sand storm: I’ll be shoveling with the Taj Mahal in mind and realize that all I’ve got is a mud hut and it’ll come to me again that I can’t do it all at once no matter how I try. But, I can do something every day. And I do. Plus, I could bring some hot dogs, beer, a kite and enjoy the beauty and flow of it all.

The other day, I was talking to Tom Humphrey about you and I said that I’d like to hear Jon talk about stress relief, when business gets scary. Without a blink, he immediately gave me a “Jon” answer. He said, “Market better.”  Dorothy had a yellow bricks to guide her, but we’ve got Jon, which is a different kind of brick. When in doubt of the direction to City of “ahhs”, all I have to do is ask myself (or the Central Point team) what would Jon do to get there? When I left Colorado, I felt like all three of the clunks from the wizard of Oz all rolled into one: I needed to get a brainy plan, the heart to keep on going and the courage to stick it out. And I can. After all, Jon believes I can.

With the utmost sincerity and thanks,

Louis Colosimo
Art glass pendant manufacturer
Red Oak
234 N. Front St.
Central Point, Or. 97502
541- 326- 8836

Don’t Be a Shoveler

At our Destination Business BootCamp, one of my favorite chapters to teach is how entrepreneurs and owners must attain a balance as the leader of the business to maximize the potential of their business.  Without a doubt, it’s the chapter where the owners in attendance do less talking and contributing than any point of the BootCamp, and I know why.  During this chapter, I hammer home the point that owners must quit operating as Mom and Pop business proprietors and instead, must start running their businesses like a CEO would run their company.

What that means for most owners is that they must start passing off some of the simple, day-to-day tasks that often dominate their working hours, so they can start thinking about more strategic and substantial ways to grow their company.

This chapter is especially sobering because I think we all see ourselves in the worst-practices examples in time management that I show.  You’ll notice that I say “we” because I can be as guilty anyone else in using my time unwisely.

One of the examples I reference during this chapter is the Steven Covey – Franklin Time Management system.  It’s a fantastic workshop that will help any time-scattered owner, and one immediately learns that there are only 4 types of activities that one engages in.  You are either being:

  • Reactive to outside stimulus and taking action when you must respond to an issue you didn’t create.
  • Proactive in handling your most important priorities of your company.
  • Adding and contributing value to your company by the nature of the tasks you choose to do, or
  • Contributing marginal value to your company by the tasks you do.

Then, I take examples of a typical business owner’s day to show one of each of these 4 activities.

When I come to the Reactive/Marginal-Value Tasks, the example I use is showing an owner who comes into his or her business, after it’s been snowing all night.  The sidewalks are covered with snow.  The owner grabs the shovel, heads outside, and starts clearing the snow off the sidewalk. Again, they are reacting to the snowfall on the sidewalk, so this is a Reactive task, but they, as the owner of the company, do the shoveling, rather than delegating this task to someone else.  This gives it Marginal value.  Marginal, reactive activities are the worst time wasters for business owners, and in this example, shoveling provides n value to the overall strengthening of their company.

Now, jump forward with me when I’m speaking on the phone to an owner who just attended the BootCamp.  She mentions that she found this time management exercise extremely beneficial and enlightening.  She starts recalling examples that I used during this chapter and mentions that this was a huge Eureka moment for her at the BootCamp.

“I’ve concluded,” she told me over the phone, “that being a CEO is hard.”

I agreed.  Thinking like a CEO is much harder than just engaging in every single task that pops up in one’s business, I told her.

She went on to say:

“It’s easier to be the shoveler.  I like shoveling.  I like doing something and seeing an immediate result, like the snow going away.  I like think-less jobs.  It’s hard to be the CEO of your company.  Being a CEO is NOT a think-less job.”

I like shoveling and doing think-less jobs!  No one had ever put it that way. But she was right.  Being a CEO is not easy.  It involves planning for the growth of your business.  This involves thinking and being creative, probably two of the most difficult aspects of running a business.  Being a CEO means you have to decide what must happen now, and what steps must happen next.  Strategic thinking about how you’re going to make your business a Destination is definitely an activity where thinking’s required.

But shoveling?  That’s relatively easy, isn’t it?  And when you are done, you can look at your completed work and say, “I did a fine job of shoveling.”  We all get an immediate reward as we check another item off our list.  No wonder so many of us engage in these reactive, marginal  value tasks.

So the next time you are sitting down, evaluating what needs to be accomplished in your day, think of this owner, who admits that she prefers shoveling to thinking about how to grow her business.  Are you the same way?  Are the tasks on your list tasks that you should be handling?  Or, are the tasks you’ve put on your list more of the “think-less” kind?

Focus on tasks that you absolutely MUST handle since no one else can!  Growing your business takes being a CEO, regardless of the size of your business.

Want to learn more about proactively becoming a Destination business.  Think about attending our next Destination BootCamp on March 15-17.  Click here to learn more.

How to Write Your Way Out of a Business Slump

One of the best parts of my job is when I get to interview an author or a business expert about their area of expertise.  I am always on the lookout for books, speakers, authors, and experts who have skills that complement my Destination Business process.

If I hear someone speak, or if I read someone’s book and their area of expertise can help business owners, I ask permission to interview them and record our conversation.  Some of those interviews end up in our Destination University Student Center.

For over five years, one author who I’ve wanted to interview has been Henriette Anne Klauser.  You might not know of Henriette, but she is the author of multiple books, including Writing on Both Sides of the Brain, Put Your Heart on Paper, and (my favorite)Write It Down, Make It HappenKnowing What You Want and Getting It.

I especially appreciate Henriette’s books because when I was stuck in a career that felt like a dead end, her books helped me through a process of writing down my goals, visualizing what kind of job I really wanted to create, and soon afterwards, her advice was the catalyst for me to leave Hallmark Cards and start my own consulting firm.

Think about this:  Without Henriette’s books to help focus my discontent and spur me into action, I might still be a disgruntled employee (like some of my friends still are), complaining about how I’m being treated unfairly and feeling unhappy each day I go to work.

Without the advice from her books, I doubt seriously if I’d be speaking and consulting with business owners today, which means there would be no Schallert Group corporation, no Destination BootCamp, and no Destination University training program.  It also means I wouldn’t have spoken in over 500 communities and to hundreds of associations, and all those tens of thousands of business owners wouldn’t have been there either, learning about becoming a Destination.  Take that one step further, and there’d be a lot of business owners who never would have gone back to their businesses and changed them, which means a whole lot of communities wouldn’t have been changed either as these business owners reinvented and transformed their businesses into Destinations.

If I sound a little excited, I am. Next week, I’m interviewing Henriette Klauser for the first time, and soon her words and advice will be shared with my clients.

In the meantime, while you wait for me to complete the interview, you can still obtain her books at your local bookstore and start learning on your own how writing can help you clarify your goals, imagine a bigger picture than your current business model, and help you find solutions to some of your biggest problems.

Her book Write It Down, Make It Happen is pictured here.  Get her books now and start using them to help you focus on achieving some higher goals for your business.