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Measuring Sales Metrics

October 19, 2010

Filed under: Management,observations,Uncategorized — admin @ 2:42 pm

There are all sorts of ways to measure the health of a business. I think the less scientific and common sense methods may be best.

Take this example.

One of my favorite walking routes takes me by a new small shopping area. The landscapers decided that a nice low hedge between the shops and the road would be attractive. The store closest to the road where lots of people walk for exercise was a Starbucks. Unfortunately there was no way to get to the coffee shop without an extra 50-yard walk to the driveway in either direction.

Six months after the shopping center opened there was a clear path worn through the vegetation and the hedge where pedestrians, too lazy to walk the extra distance to get their daily latte, had created a shorter route.

About 18 months ago, the Starbucks closed, as part of the corporation’s restructuring and slowly the hedge recovered and the path disappeared.

Three months ago a new locally-owned coffee shop took over the Starbucks’ location. I asked the owner recently how business was and she said, “Fine, it’s only been a few months but we’re doing well.”

I’ll believe her when I see the path through the hedge re-appear.

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Business Ethics 101-Case Studies

October 18, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 1:11 pm

Ethical business decisions come in all forms. Here are two that I came across. Your comments are welcome.

A client wanted to explain why she was l00king for a new job so she related this story from her most recent position. She was not my client at the time.

She’s an HR specialist with over 25 years of experience. She had decided to explore other options, as they say, and had applied for a number of positions in her field. She got an interview for a senior position at a firm about 300 miles away. Close enough to drive for an interview but certainly requiring relocation if she got an offer.

She went to the interview and a few weeks later got a call from her would-be manager with a job offer. They negotiated the usual, pay, moving expenses (none) etc. and she decided to uproot and take the job although there was a 6-month probationary period.

Five  months later she was laid off when the woman who was apparently out on maternity leave decided to return to her old job. Still on probation she was an at-will employee and had little recourse, but throughout the interview process no one ever mentioned the employee on maternity leave, and while she was working, she was never led to believe she was not doing a good job.

In hindsight she notes that she should have realized that getting an offer just two weeks after the interview was too good to be true – especially in HR. But apparently the firm was so desperate o fill the job they didn’t feel any ethical need to say that the job might be temporary. Probably because no one would have taken the gig.

I find the company’s action reprehensible, even if there had been no relocation involved.

OK, second example. Met a man who is responsible for finding new locations for a major retailer. As part of the job he negotiates ‘tax incentives’ that states offer to lure businesses. His firm is a multi-billion dollar firm which is often a destination site and also offers on-line purchasing.

As a requirement to get a new location he asks states to forgo the sales tax on internet purchases. For those of you unfamiliar with the law, in most cases you don’t have to collect tax if their is no retail site in the state. But once a brick-and-mortar store is built, you are supposed to pay the local  sales tax if there is any.

He admits that he is asking the states to ‘look the other way,’ and allow his firm to have their cake and eat it. As he noted, “There will never be one of these stores in California, because they won’t agree. It’s their loss there are plenty of other states who think the agreement is fine.”

My response, “Go back to any of those states who signed agreements  to forgive the tax requirement a few years ago and see if they wish they wish had said no.” I think they may be regretting their decision.

Again, is it unethical to make the request, or is the ethics question just an issue for the state?

I know, the state is lured by the promise of jobs and a retail center that may attract others, but with internet sales increasing faster than in-store purchases says you have wonder if it’s a deal with the devil.

Your comments are welcome.

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Today’s Rose – plus

October 16, 2010

Filed under: Gardening,Photos — Tags: — admin @ 12:54 pm

Weather has been warm in Northern CA and my roses have been enjoying a late flourish. As the weather cools and New Englanders can look at fall foliage we get to enjoy color in our own way.

Today’s rose:  and  two bonus orchids

Sexy Rexy

An orchid pas de deux

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Corporate Rudeness

October 14, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 9:33 pm

A recent business forum I follow was focusing on rudeness in the workplace and how to create a better corporate culture. One participant suggested that HR professionals needed to introduce courses to teach employees how to behave.

The issues this brings up are numerous, but I will leave some of them for future posts. For now, I would suggest that if you did not learn how to treat others – friends or co-workers – when you were growing up, taking a course now is not going to help. It’s like teaching business ethics to MBA students: it’s already too late.

Rudeness and it’s related activities are part of any business’s corporate culture. That culture is created at the top. If the chief executive allows  it in the executive suite, it will be tolerated in every corner of the business.

If the CEO creates an environment based on civility his or her managers will run their departments the same way.

Examples are numerous but even this week the impact is clear. When the Chicago Tribune suspends an executive for sending an improper email just days after the New York times featured a lengthy report on the ‘bankrupt’ corporate culture at the newspaper the connection is obvious.

Unfortunately, chief executives often fail to see the connection and will ask a coach, or management consultant to come in and ‘fix’ the problem. I’m more than happy to take the corporate money, but unless the ‘fix’ starts at the top, anything I do will only be temporary.

Next: Corporate culture and productivity

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Moon over San Francisco

October 9, 2010

Filed under: observations,Photos — Tags: , — admin @ 6:26 pm

Ok, last night you looked at Yosemite. Tonight it’s San Francisco Bay at sunset, from my back porch. Those are the towers from the Golden Gate Bridge you’re looking at.

Moon over SF bay

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The Yosemite Few See

October 8, 2010

Filed under: observations — admin @ 9:16 pm

In case you’ve never been to Yosemite National Park, and even if you’ve just been to the valley, these picture are pretty impressive.


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Today’s Rose-Summer Passion

October 7, 2010

Filed under: Gardening — admin @ 10:53 am

That’s all,  just today’s favorite. It’s fall and there are fewer blooms but they still bring beauty to my world. Enjoy… it’s called Summer Passion.

Summer Passion

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What Does a Coach Do?

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 7:46 am

I met  a potential new client today. He wasn’t looking for a career coach and I wasn’t exactly looking for him but our paths crossed and he asked what I did for a living. I told him I was a coach.

I should point out that ‘Nelson’ is a recent college graduate with a degree in criminal justice and was working at the kind of first job everyone gets. No relation to the field he wanted and no prospects for advancement. Naturally, he hated it.

I asked what he wanted to do and he rattled off a few possibilities but admitted he didn’t really know. At one time his goal was law school but he did poorly on the LSAT  (twice) and didn’t have any money to take it again, so he figured that wasn’t meant to be.

“So,” he said, “you don’t like, coach football? That’s the only kind of coach I know, but you don’t look like that kind of coach.” I had to laugh – if you’ve seen me you’re already laughing too – but I explained that I help people make decisions.

I tried to use an example he could identify with. “If you go home tonight and tell your dad you want quit, he’s gonna have 12 reasons why you shouldn’t and why your ideas about what you could do won’t work – probably because they didn’t work for him,” I told him.

But if you tell me,  a coach, I don’t offer an opinion, I just help you go through what it would take to get you to the goal you want. It’s up to you to decide what’s right, and any decision you make is the right one as long as you understand what it means.

He smiled, like he had already had the  conc0versation I described. and offered a few more ideas about what he might want to do, including a small business idea, getting an MBA and three or four other possibilities.

After 45 minutes we had taken cursory look at most of them and he said he had to leave but added, “That’s the first time I ever had a conversation like that with anyone, that was great.”

“So.” I said, “Now you know what a coach does.”

“Yeah,” he said taking a bunch of my business cards, “But when I call, I know I’m gonna have to pay you right?”

Maybe he doesn’t need that business degree.

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The Perfect Resume

October 6, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,Management — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 7:21 am

I have yet to see the perfect resume. I’ve helped a lot of folks write resumes and they are all ‘right’ when we’re finished but I’m not sure I would call any of them perfect.

The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. The purpose of the interview is to get a job offer and then you can start negotiating for the actual position. This progression is easy to write and most people understand the words but few understand what they mean.

People seem to think that the resume has to a multi-page treatise on their life. Rather than a document that explains the unique experiences and skills that make you the right candidate for the job opening.

Organizing your resume chronologically by position makes the reader search for items that suggest whether you can perform the functions of the job that’s open. It’s your job to connect the experiences to specific skills and relate them to the job you want.

Even if you have relatively few work experiences – as a recent college graduate, or an older worker re-entering the job market – you have skills that you have learned. They may be from part-time summer jobs, or from volunteer positions at a local community group but they are skills.

When I put together my first resume – typing and retyping – on my trusty Underwood (or later a Smith-Corona), creating a separate resume for each job was a difficult proposition – especially for a two-finger typist. But now with ‘copy and paste’ on my Mac, crafting a resume with specific skills and listing relevant jobs is easy.

Believe me, if you don’t take the time to customize you’re already behind the competition and might wind up  in the circular file. Remember, anyone looking at resumes in this environment, is just looking for ways to edit the pile, so anything can be an excuse to put you out of the running.

Graphically it should be easy to read and the layout should emphasize the message. It’s not an exercise to show the HR folks how many typefaces you can use. If the experience you have that’s relevant to the position does not include a specific job, you can either leave it out or relegate it to a single line.

You can always add details during the interview.

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On Aging Well

October 2, 2010

Filed under: Coaching,observations,Wellness — admin @ 10:00 am

A recent convergence of events got me thinking about my age.

Over the last month I have paid my respects at the grave sites of  my four grandparents , visited my mother’s grave, and helped my 90 year-old father spread the ashes of his younger brother.

Modern technology allows me to keep in touch with a long-time friend who turned 60 and marked the event with a wonderful essay.

At the same time I celebrated the wedding of the beautiful daughter of a woman who I grew up with, but  died way too young seven years ago.

I have the feeling the universe is trying to tell me something, only I’m not smart enough to get the message.

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