Tag: Epic Win

Learn to Win by Racing

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The Grand Canyon looks very different in person than it does on a map. Like the Grand

Canyon, there are some things that just have to be experienced firsthand vs reading a report or a survey to really accelerate learning. This year I started riding dirt bikes, and with my pro mountain biking background, I got hooked instantly. As soon as I found my ‘flow’ on the trails I wanted to start racing. But unlike mountain bike racing, there are many questions and much more complexity in the type of dirt bike racing that I wanted to do in the GNCC (Grand National Cross Country), Enduro, and Hare Scramble categories. These are 1.5 to 3 hour races in the woods. Not a big deal right? But how do you prepare for a race when you can’t pre-ride the course to really know what to expect in a very dangerous sport? Rather than train for months, I did the unthinkable and entered my first race last week after only having about 15 hours of ride time under my belt. Long story short, it was a great decision and a HUGE confidence booster.

I set some rules for myself before starting:

  1. Don’t get in over my head during the ride and sustain an injury
  2. Have fun
  3. Finish
  4. Get faster each lap (negative splits)
  5. Focus on form, not on speed
  6. It’s okay if the outcome of my first race is deciding that I don’t like dirt bike racing

In your business, what are some of the growth strategies that you are considering?

  • How can you accelerate learning to vet or test ideas?
  • What boundaries or rules can you artificially create for safety?
  • What planning cadence do you have in place for real time feedback?
  • What would a ‘win’ look like?

Back to the racing – I placed 5th, had negative splits, and my last lap time put me in the top three in my category. Nice! But what I learned was that my weak point was descending down steep hills and shifting gears while standing up. There is no way I could have predicted this as my top two things to focus on during my training rides. Looking at the topography map and the race start, I thought hill climbing was the focus. I had to experience the race firsthand in order to improve in the next one. The overall outcome was Read more

Create Your Epic Win

What is your crystal clear vision of the future? What are you and your team building toward? What is your Epic Win™? Get this one question right, and you will have created a source of clarity and purpose for your business. As a huge bonus, Strategy becomes easier as you’ll have a mechanism to help determine growth ideas that you should and should not incorporate.

Epic Win

I have found that in business we really only have control over two things. The Epic Win description, which defines where we are going, and the next 90 days, which is the action plan to move in the direction of the Epic Win. Everything in between is really just a highly educated guess. When running a company from this perspective, getting everyone on the same page with a shared vision becomes critically important. Here are the steps to take to craft a powerful Epic Win.

Shaping Your Epic Win™

To begin the process of creating your Epic Win, start with easy snapshots of your ideal vision of what your company will look like moving forward. The ultimate goal is to create a short phrase that you and your team are emotionally connected with.

Step 1 – Select your time horizon. Anywhere between a 10 and 30-year time frame works. The most meaningful, and hardest to do, is the 10-year mark.

Step 2 – Let’s assume you selected to define your Epic Win at the 10-year mark. How much revenue will your company have? What geographic area will you cover? What kind of markets will you be in? Make sure what you select is bigger than something you can reverse-engineer into immediately. Your team needs to believe it is possible, but should not be able to figure out exactly how they would get there. It needs to be an Epic Win… not just a win.

Step 3 – Make a list of the things that your company is ‘best in the world at doing.’ What are the Core Competencies that have gotten you to where you are today? What separates you from the pack?

Step 4 – Create a list of what your company is the most passionate about. What is your Core Purpose? What is your company’s reason for being? What is your value to the world?

Step 5 – Develop a list of the things that drive your economic engine. How do you make money?

Step 6 – Take your time horizon from Step One, your company snapshot from Step Two, and combine it with the language you created during Steps Three through Five. You’ll typically see a pattern of key words that emerge in Steps Three through Five that your team gets excited about. You can really sense it.

Step 7 – Make sure your Epic Win is measurable. You have to know when you achieve it and you have to know how you’ll keep score along the way. This score is an excellent annual KPI/Metric to track the success of the business.

Epic Win™ Examples:

  • Starbucks – To be the number one global brand.
  • Insight CXO – Increase the value of 1,000 companies by 3X or more.
  • Big Sky Associates – Deliver 5 Billion in value to clients by 2025.
  • Training Concepts – Create 100,000 positive impacts on students.
  • EFI – Be the #1 brand in decorative glass and architectural interiors by 2035.

 

Start energizing your team by developing an Epic Win story that everyone can get behind. This process can take anywhere from one hour to six months. You’ll know when you get it right based on the energy you get back from the team.

 

(Image: Trey Mortensen / flickr)

The Power of Setbacks

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At 40 years old, I was in the best shape of my life. I had just turned Pro as a mountain bike racer and I had a clear vision of racing Pro Nationals and lining up next to the Stars and Stripes jersey. On May of that year my vision, my Epic Win, was crushed when I hit an oak tree leading out a race and fractured 4 vertebrae in my low back. What happened next forever changed not only how I race, but also how I coach and run hyper-growth businesses.

I lost months during the recovery process and knew my strength and fitness would take a long time to rebuild. I could no longer win a race being the strongest racer. I had to use strategy to win. I had to find a way to leverage my setback in a way that would help all my future races. I had to Think to Win.

If you are running a company, you have competition. There are winners and losers every day. In our efforts to win, there is a seemingly endless flow of issues, setbacks, and constraints (and oak trees!) that are conspiring against us.

As leaders who want to win, what can we do?

  1. Create a culture and process where issues and setbacks are constantly brought to the surface without personal retribution. Make it safe to share a problem. Create a weekly agenda item inside an existing meeting to uncover these.
  2. Use a process to learn from the issues. Problems can be gifts if your team learns from them and can prevent them in the future or solve them faster next time.
  3. Ask these questions:
    • What was our original intention, or original plan?
    • What things really worked?
    • What things did not work?
    • Knowing what we know now, what would we do differently?
    • What are the lessons learned?
    • What step by step process could we create to eliminate or minimize this in the future?

Get into the habit of solving problems and getting your team into solution-mode by creating processes to make the business stronger.

In my oak tree example, my lesson learned was that sitting down during a race to conserve energy in a technical section of the track is a bad idea. My corrective action was to stand more during training and to make it a habit. In using strategy to win vs brute force, I learned how to slow down races by getting into the woods first and controlling the pace. I practiced my starts and tuned my training in order to win the sprints leading into the single track trail in the woods.

Don’t get frustrated with setbacks. Learn from them and create a culture within your teams to get stronger faster.

(Image: Phil Beckman / flickr)

Your Team Craves Accountability

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Accountability is a very interesting topic. When engaged by the CEO, one of the top wish list items for the company to accomplish is the issue of No Accountability. My response to this is, “I bet within one week, your team will be asking for Accountability and they will resort to their own measures.” I usually get a funny look as the CEO nods yes, but in reality they are saying inside their heads: “That is impossible”… “Not my team.” Why is there this disconnect regarding Accountability between the CEO and the rest of the company?

When launching a new client, one of the first things we do is what we call ‘Innerviews.’ We Innerview select employees from the senior team, key players in the company, and anyone in particular that the CEO would like included. These Innerviews allow for the company to be seen through the employees’ lens. We are not simply interviewing the employee, but rather engaging with them on a peer-to-peer level and asking a few simple, yet powerful, questions. These Innerview questions include:

  1. Why did you start working here? Why are you still here?
  2. What frustrates you the most? Drives you crazy? Repetitive things?
  3. How would you rate teamwork from 1 (bad) to 10 (awesome)?
  4. How would you rate the morale/spirit of the company 1 to 10?
  5. How would you rate communication from 1 to 10?
  6. How would you rate leadership from 1 to 10? This is really a self-rating.

NOTE: Whatever the rating is above, I always ask what it would take to get it closer to a 10. This is where the REAL content I’m looking for comes from. Rather than complaining about teamwork, what would actually improve it?

The BIG Innerview questions are:

  1. If you were CEO for 90 days, what three things would you do?
  2. What are the ‘undiscussables?’ What is below the waterline that everyone knows about, but is not safe to talk about?

Notice the one question I did not ask is about Accountability. Accountability is the ‘red thread’ that links everything together during the Innerview. What tends to frustrate team members the most is the lack of Accountability and follow through by other team members. They can’t do their job right because other people are not doing their job right or following through on commitments. Basically, your employees are as frustrated as you are.

How can the issue of Accountability be resolved? You can start by including your team during your strategic and execution planning. Let them help finalize company goals and priorities vs just assigning them out. Let them work through the steps and tasks to make them happen. Let them decide who is accountable for each step. Give your team a chance to volunteer to own the company Race Plan by determining goals, priorities, and tasks… They will.

(Image: Unsplash / Pixabay)

Why Growth Initiatives Fail – Energy, Time, and Money

light-bulb-503881_1280I have taken a few months off from blogging to work on a book that will be published early summer called The Breakaway Move, Entrepreneurs’ Playbook on Crushing the Competition. After 23 years of entrepreneurial experience, founding several companies, and most recently serving as a business growth coach with hundreds of strategy/execution planning sessions under my belt, I have finally figured out the three main reasons why growth initiatives fail – and what to do about it.

Reason Number One: Not having the right kind of energy within the team that’s responsible and accountable to generate the desired result. What do I mean by this? I’m talking about not having clearly defined Core Values, Core Purpose, and the overarching Epic Win (10-year goal), as well as making sure the growth initiative accelerates the achievement of these principals. Understanding why, other than money and profit, you’re in business goes a long way in getting the team behind a project. Having the team emotionally connect to the project will help them navigate the inevitable setbacks along the way. Choosing projects that excite the team is powerful. How do they benefit personally?

Reason Number Two: The team underestimates how much time it will take to generate results. This can be within the management team, in how long departments actually need to meet their goals, or how long it takes vendors and partners to follow through. And for most entrepreneurial companies, it can mean not getting outside help soon enough to accelerate the learning required to drive results. Plus, an unhealthy team that operates without real trust does not get stuff done as fast as a team that trusts each other. These are below-the-waterline, team-related issues (that nobody talks about), but slow down everything.

Reason Number Three: Anything that takes team energy and time must generate a profit or it’s not worth doing. Just driving revenue is not a good idea, given our current economic stage. The challenge is money/profit usually becomes the number one driver for a growth initiative, and energy and time are second thought. And this is why things fail. The CEO (plus maybe someone else) was behind an idea, but everyone else (secretly) was not connected to it and (secretly) hoped this would just be another failed attempt at change. Companies like GE that have a formalized process to take projects to the Board of Directors for clearance don’t really have to worry about energy so much. But entrepreneurial growth companies absolutely do.

Starting a growth initiative often means you have some tough decisions to make. Say you’re trying to decide between opening a new office in a new market vs. combining two current products into something innovative and new. Assuming both will generate about the same financial results with great execution, which one gets the team excited? Which one gets you closer to your company’s Epic Win? What would be a Crushing Move on your competitors? Which one would just be really cool if you could do it? Which one would your team learn and grow from the most on a personal level? Professional level? Get the point? You can feel the energy build around the right choice by the questions alone.

Set a weekly or monthly cadence with your team NOW and start working through what projects or ideas are worth pursuing and start separating yourself from the pack … create your Breakaway Move!

(Image: Comfreak / Pixabay)

Know Your Competition

Know Your Competition

As a professional mountain bike racer, I always know what my BreakAway Move™ is going to be before I start a race. This begins by knowing the course, things like: Where are the blind turns? How long and steep are the climbs? What are the technical sections like? Where are the good places to hydrate?
Next, I have to Know My Competition and think about what each racer’s strengths and weaknesses are. Who is in peak form? Who can really crush hill climbs? Who is wicked fast in the technical sections? Who is just really fast on this course?

Based on my data, I craft my BreakAway Move before the race and decide WHEN I’m going to drop the hammer and Crush the Competition! This is a HUGE mechanism for conserving energy andbike-race-446104_960_720 winning a race.

Your business works the exact same way. You need two to three BreakAway Moves you are always working on and it’s imperative that you Know Your Competition, whether you’re preparing for a race or a business deal. Here are 12.5 steps to start mapping out your competition to plan and execute your BreakAway Move.

How to map your competition

To get started, open a new spreadsheet on your computer and fill it out with the following 12.5 steps.

1. On the vertical axis (rows) write down all of your competitors and the companies that could be your competitors in the future.

Then fill in the horizontal axis (columns) for each competitor with the rest of these steps.

2. Write down as many attributes as you can think of that can describe your competition.

3. What core businesses are they in? Just your line of work, multiple lines of work? If multiple, what are they?

4. Who are their suppliers?

5. Who is their target market? Their Core Customer?

6. How are they funded?

7. What is their Brand Promise? Their differentiating activities in the market?

8. What space are they trying to own? Their geography?

9. Where are they stronger than you?

10. Where are they weaker than you?

11. Add links to their website(s) for quick reference.

12. What words or phrases are they trying to own?

12.5. What are THEIR BreakAway Moves??!!

Creating a great strategy to win begins by knowing your competition, and these 12.5 steps should get you started. You may think of other things to add to your spreadsheet — please let me know what you come up with.

Now create your plan and go after your Epic Win™!!!

(Image: jp26jp/ Pixabay)

Win With Awareness And Focus

I’m just beginning to mountain bike race again after recovering from a second neck surgery. Rather than restarting in a class better suited for my racing re-entry point, I have chosen to line up against the top Pro/Elite racers in the region. These dudes are FIT and FAST…. “dialed-in” as we like to say in the mountain bike racing world.

Last week was my third race back in the mix, and historically I’ve done pretty well on race No. 3 coming back from time off. Not this time. I’m starting to race

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I was in third place going into the woods on lap one and hung on for about 15 minutes… then I faded fast and lost the front group. I was in the dreaded “no-man’s land” for most of the race. I was out there by myself with no rabbit to chase (I could not see the front group), and the group behind me was out of sight as well. This is where the negative side of the brain really kicked in.

“This hurts way too bad, it’s too hot, they guy leading out is 20 years younger, pull over after this lap and quit!”

Fortunately I didn’t listen.

Lessons For Business

Just like in a mountain bike race, it takes AWARENESS and FOCUS to win in business when you feel like you are in “no-man’s land” and want to quit.

1. Awareness – Separate yourself from your situation and accept the fact that your negative brain has taken over the conversation. Replace the negative soundtrack with a positive one. Remind yourself why you’re racing, why it’s important to finish the project. Think of the lessons you’re learning that will help make you faster in the next race, the next project… or in the next quarter.

2. Focus – Refocus and re-energize by being aware of where you are and giving yourself control to have a good outcome, even if it means making an adjustment to your intended final result. In my race, I changed my focus from leading the race to not letting the group behind me catch me. And with this focus, I was able to raise my heart rate, get the adrenaline flowing again and push down the pain.

2.5. Never Quit – In racing we call quitting a DNF (did not finish). Always finish the race, no matter what. There are more lessons in not quitting than there are in winning. One thing I have learned is that when the race is over, it’s over. No going back. No second chance to change a decision. And the pain is gone in less than 10 seconds. Don’t let your negative brain win, though it’s very convincing. We are hard-wired that way, but a key to success is overcoming it.

In our professional lives, even with the best plans and preparation, things don’t always go the way we plan. Sometimes problems are just speed bumps that slow you down, and sometimes they seem like roadblocks that make you want to quit.

But ultimately it doesn’t matter how large the obstacle is. When things aren’t going as you’d envisioned, tap into your Awareness and Focus, shut down the negative brain, keep going and find a new way to win.

(Image: “MTB downhill 19 Stevage” by Steve Bennett. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons)

6 Questions To Crush The Competition

In today’s globally connected and competitive business climate, it’s no longer enough to look at strategy on an annual basis. Nowadays, every single month executive teams need to integrate strategy development within the business planning rhythm.

The key to unlocking strategy is answering a powerful question that gets the team thinking in unique ways. But a common “stuck” in strategy development is figuring out the right question to achieve your Breakaway Move to crush your competition. Answers are easy; getting the question right can be harder. Here are 6 questions to ask your team during strategy brainstorming sessions that can unlock hidden value inside your business.

1. Where is the next battle going to be in your business?racing-car-373757_960_720

A good example is Facebook’s massive focus on mobile after they went public. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s daily question, “how are we going to leverage mobile,” became his, and his company’s, daily question. Clearly, it’s working.

2. What has been tried before, either by your company or by your competitors, but did not work?
There are so many variables that can make an initiative really stick vs. flat-out fail. Failure does not always mean the idea was not good. For example, it could have been the wrong person leading the charge, market conditions might be different, technology could streamline the process, global platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook could accelerate growth.

3. What two or three existing things in your business, things you are already doing, can you combine?
This is one of my favorites. Take two existing things and create something original. What product and service can you combine and create a unique new product, service or program?

4. When your company wins, what other companies are impacted in a positive way?
Think about what relationships you can create – or what product offerings could you integrate with – to expand your market faster by leveraging other people’s trust relationships? I looked at office space this week to handle our expansion. I could not help but think about all the other things signing a lease would trigger, things like construction, IT, phones, furniture, etc. Building relationships with those companies can result in more referrals to your business.

5. What is fragmented in your market, and how could you coordinate it?
Think about what Uber did for taxi services and what Airbnb did for housing rentals. What is messy, hard to do, clunky, expensive or frustrating in your market, and how could you fix it? What product, service or platform could you create?

6. What can you be the only option for in your space?
Think about what parts of your business operations are hard for someone else to reproduce or copy. For example, there are several business coaches in the Charlotte metro area. But only Insight CXO has a team in place that can help execute the business plan in three areas. The Promise – what makes your firm unique and what is the sales engine to generate revenue? The People – is your team healthy and aligned and do you have systems in place to hire and keep A Players? The Process – do you have core processes documented and measured to make them better, faster and cheaper… with less drama?

Remember that your competition is not asleep behind the wheel, so your team has to be looking through the windshield and down the road as far as possible. Try asking these 6 questions in your next monthly executive planning meeting, and see if you can figure out the strategy – the one that will give your business the boost to crush the competition.

Image: Jingoba / Pixabay

Scale Up Faster With A ‘Play To Win’ Mindset

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One of the most challenging phases for CEOs or executive teams who start a company is to break out of the startup mindset.

In an organization’s early stages, it’s all hands on deck and everyone is a generalist, wearing many hats.

The CEO is involved in every decision and every transaction. The realities of cash constraints, funding payroll, etc. – and the whirlwind of emotions tied to them – are hard-wired into the entrepreneur’s brain.

Then, over time as the company grows, two things happen.

First, the company reaches a ceiling of complexity – things get harder and not easier. Hiring more people feels more like an anchor than a sail.

Second, the startup mindset and the emotional imprints it creates turn the founder(s) into a bottleneck, or the constraining factor to growth.

To grow, the CEO and senior team must become hyper-aware of how their past experiences can be limiters on future plans – and commit to change. Reading Scaling Up by Verne Harnish is one of the best ways to learn how to punch through the ceiling of complexity and continue to grow in a fun, healthy and drama-free way. BUT, the tools don’t work unless the CEO and senior team 100% commit to a Play to Win mindset.

What does Play to Win mean? It means NOT playing not to lose, which is an entrepreneurial trap. It’s why so few companies make it past the $10,000,000 revenue mark. To escape the trap, the next time you are having a growth- or strategy-related discussion, ask yourself and your team: “Based on the plans we are discussing, are we Playing to Win or just playing not to lose?” You’ll be surprised how the conversation – and your plans – can change with that simple question.

5 ways to create a Play to Win mindset

  1. Be very intentional about including your team in strategic-level thinking and problem solving. It’s hard to Play to Win by yourself … you’ll need a team.
  1. Realize that you and your team might not have all the answers. Look outside the organization for help. Hire an expert, coach, consultant, trainer, join a peer group, etc. An expense-centric mindset limits access to information and learning. Most high-growth companies are investing in resources to make big leaps.
  1. Imagine yourself winning. As a professional mountain bike racer, I can’t achieve a podium finish without first believing I can and imagining it happen. I let myself experience the start- and the finish-line sprint. Only then can I plan my Breakaway Moves.
  1. Use the term “Play to Win” with your team. They’ll get it. It’s energizing. Everyone loves to be on a winning team.
  1. Create an enemy. Create a race. Create a finish line. Create competition. High-growth companies create plans to crush their competition. Flat-lined and slow-growth companies stop competing, stop getting upset when someone else wins.

Create a Play to Win mindset for you and your team, and get your company on the podium every time!

 

Image: Skeeze / Pixabay