Fix it for the last time
By Larry Galler
Every day, in both our business life and personal life, there are problems to solve, solutions to devise, difficulties to overcome, challenges to meet and overcome. A good portion of the time we deal with these issues in the blink of an eye. Sometimes that’s good enough. But often a “blink-of-an-eye” fix is just temporary. The problem keeps returning again and again and if that occurs, the quick-fix solution isn’t good enough because it wastes the valuable resources of time and energy while causing frayed nerves, increased stress, and dissatisfied customers. Why not fix it for the last time?
When I ask that question, the answer I usually receive it that fixing the problem so it never happens again will be a lot of work and will take too much time to create the process. I reply that you always seem to be able to take the time to fix the problem every time it occurs; wouldn’t your business be better if that problem goes away forever?
I think the issue is really that few people really know how to institute change or are afraid of upsetting the “business as usual” system. But instituting change isn’t very hard. It’s a four-step process of Analysis, Brainstorming, Documentation, and Implementation. •
- Analysis is discovering the cause(s) of the problem back to the source.
- • Brainstorming is soliciting and creating possible solutions. It is important to not censor these as, while some ideas will clearly not be effective or prudent, the synergy of a group might develop brilliant modifications that will be transformational.
- • Documentation is writing down what is to be done, when to do it, and who will do the various tasks so other people can learn how to do it in the future.
- • Implementation is putting the changed process into practice. Like most new systems, there will probably be some modifications necessary to make it work easily and smoothly.
That’s it. See the problem. Fix it so it never happens again. Go on to find other problems that need to be fixed. It’s a process that makes for a great business.
Three Spiritual Secrets to Building a Business
By Rabbi Daniel Lapin
As I wrote earlier, the sooner you realize that you are in business and that your job is to build You, Inc., the better off you will be. Building your business is a supremely spiritual enterprise. The first Spiritual Secret I shared last week was to make a covenantal commitment to build your business. This involves making this a priority in your life. Today I will continue with two more principles.
Know What You Do For People and Proudly Proclaim It.
Have you heard of customer service? How about a worship service? It is interesting that the English language employs the same word for attending to both customers and to God. What could the connection possibly be?
As the proud teenaged owner of my first car, I was dismayed when it developed what sounded like a very expensive malady. Having used all my resources on purchasing the car, I asked my father what he thought I should do. He mentioned a friend of his who owned a repair shop and suggested I stop by and talk to him.
My dad’s friend took a look at the car. He listened to the engine and gave that soft mechanic’s whistle which signified expensive. “Let me take it out back to the shop,” he said. I quickly informed him of my impecunious state, but he reassured me that everything would be fine.
An hour later he brought the car back fully repaired. With quaking heart, I asked for the bill. “There won’t be a bill,” he said. “Your dad is a very special man and I am happy to do this for him.” In my desire to be straightforward about this, I clarified that the car belonged to me, not to my father. “I couldn’t make your dad any happier than by helping out his son,” said the mechanic.
Indeed we do serve God by serving his children. There is something very special, almost holy, about serving our customers, taking care of our clients, and attending to our associates.
Now all you have to do is make certain that everyone you meet knows what you could do for them. I do not mean you should escalate your self-promotion to new levels of obnoxiousness. Just that everybody should be aware of what you do for your fellow human beings.
For this reason, many years ago, folks took last names that indicated their professions. Goldsmith, Silverman, Wasserman (the village water supplier), Drukker (the printer), Federman (the feather merchant), and many others. In this way, they were assured that any possible customers would immediately know how they could benefit from this person.
Your work is one of the most interesting things about you. That is why folks on airplane trips nearly always make the first question they ask their seatmates, “And so what do you do?” The question is really, “How do you help humanity?” The answer could be, “I fix their teeth, or their cars, or their plumbing or their legal problems.” It might be, “I supply them with shoes, paint, or skis.” Or perhaps, “I help them start their own businesses; I help my fellow humans achieve financial independence.”
You’d be surprised how often people will approach you once you have successfully clarified how you can help them. This is the secret of the noble art of advertising. Just how you will go about best advertising to everyone how you can serve them is up to you. But give it plenty of serious and creative thought.
Develop the Ability of Your Most Important Business-Building Organ.
Say you were to ask a coach to advise you about running a long marathon race. He will immediately talk about strengthening your legs and teaching you the most efficient ways of moving them quickly. It is easy to identify your legs as the key organs in running races.
However, identifying the key organ for building your business is a little harder. Still, if you consider that building a business is the real-world result of practicing the 3 Cs—communication, collaboration, creation—you will quickly see that the key organ is your mouth.
Remember, most of us prefer to do business with folks we know, like, and trust. Imagine trying to get to know someone while refusing to talk. It would be ridiculous. It is equally ridiculous to suppose that you’d ever come to really like someone with whom you’ve never had a good conversation. And as far as trust goes, everyone knows it is built by keeping your word. But if you have not said a word, then keeping it becomes irrelevant.
If you’ve ever heard people say enviously about someone, “Oh, he really has the gift of the gab,” you know what an impression it makes when you can effectively articulate your point.
Whenever two people do business together, wealth is created. Think about it, if nobody coerced them to make a deal, it must have benefited both of them. Each must have valued what he gained more than what he gave up. That is right. The act of doing business is the act of creation.
However, before two people can create, they must first collaborate. And before two people can collaborate, they must first communicate. This is why learning to perfect the use of your mouth is so very important. You have to learn to speak fluently, eloquently, and confidently. But how?
Fortunately, the answer is unexpectedly easy. The only problem is that this truly amazing method to develop your speaking ability can make you feel a little self-conscious. This is why so few people undertake what I am about to suggest and which, I guarantee, will dramatically improve your communicative ability.
Here is what you have to do: Practice three times a week, for half an hour each time, reading aloud from a quality book. Unless you have a particularly understanding spouse, or children who just love to have you read aloud to them, take yourself into isolation for this exercise.
The most useless activity for developing verbal fluency is watching television. So if you could redeploy at least half the time each week that you devote to television instead to this exercise, success is just around the corner.
By giving your tongue a regular workout three times a week, you are allowing it to become more practiced at forming itself around words. Like any other muscle in the body, practice makes it stronger. Furthermore, your own ears are hearing your mouth, tongue, and lips, shaping the words that will start to build your regular daily vocabulary. You will truly be astonished at how quickly you will feel improvement.
What books should you read from? This isn’t the best venue for me to offer you a reading list, but you could check in with a wise librarian. Or you could do what Abraham Lincoln did to transform himself from a timid and ineffective speaker into the man who delivered the Gettysburg address: you could practice with the Bible.
These three principles are, I believe, the first and most important three steps in building a business. The first step is internal; making that commitment to success and doing it in a way that cannot fail, namely engaging your partners both human and divine. That is what I call the covenantal commitment.
Second, telling others of your eagerness to serve them and how you are able to do so. Finally, perfecting the tool for success that God gave each of us but which so few of us use adequately, our mouths. By doing these three things we can all be assured of bringing the blessings of business success not only to ourselves, but also to all those involved in our enterprise.
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