Insights about growth and all things impacting it within your organization

The Brand Promise Tool

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The Brand Promise Tool

Align Your Sales/Marketing Efforts Around Why Customers Are Really Buying

The Problem Most Firms Have Building Sales:  As owners and leaders of our companies, we naturally want to talk about why our product or service is great.  We are good at what we do, we have created a product or service that is better than the competition.  We want to tell people why, right?  However, it’s not why your customer is buying.  They are buying because of problems you product/service is solving, and usually it’s something deeper than the obvious need your product/service addresses.

The Brand Promise Tool:  When you work through this in tandem with the Deeper Dive Tool will help you define a “Brand Promise” that addresses the real reasons they want to buy, so that it catches their attention when they hear it and will want to learn more. It gets you out of  “Features and Benefits” or “Show Up and Throw Up” and will drive sales.

Here’s how to use it:

  • Review what you learned about your Core Customers when you used the Deeper Dive Tool. (if you haven’t completed a “Deeper Dive” go back to the Deeper Dive Lesson  and get it done.    
  • Write down the Following on a Flip Chart: My Company Promises You __________________.
    • Fill in the blank with a complete sentence, while resisting the urge to wrie a slogan.
    • Don’t use any statement that says how “good, better, best” you are, or any statement that talks about your company.
    • Fill in the blank with a statement that addresses their deeper needs and how they will do better. The Brand Promise should talk about them.
    • This is your Lead Promise. Write this in the Lead Promise Box
  • “The Lead Promise stands on the shoulders of the Secondary Promises.” These are promises you make that come with the Lead Promise, that prove you can deliver on it, or gives confidence that you can while providing additional value.
    • Feel free to have more than two secondary promises. Put them in the boxes on the tool, draw in additional boxes if needed
  • Give the completed tool to your marketing/sales team. Make your marketing and sales processes reflect these promises.
  • Wordsmith the Brand Promise: Get expert help if you don’t have it, to turn it into effective marketing materials.

The School of Rock & Sand offers a class called The Buy and Stay Cycle

It will give you deeper insights into why your customers buy, and what you should do about it.

Take a Look around the School of Rock & Sand

Or give me a call–Synk  

The Love and Loath Tool

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The Love and Loath Tool

Identify What Your People Love To Do.  Make Sure They Get To Do It.

 The Problem Everyone Has At Work: Employees don’t spend enough time doing what they love to do.  They end up spending time on things that they are either ambivalent about or absolutely hate doing.  Studies repeatedly show that employees, who spend at least 20% of their time doing something they love, are more engaged at work and produce more. If they get to spend 20% of their time on what they love to do, they can get through all the rest more easily.  It behooves you figure what each person loves to do then make sure they get to do it 20% of their time doing it.

The Love and Loath Tool:  This tool can help you figure out what people love to do and on spending at least 20% of their time doing it.  It also helps you figure what they hate to do, that someone else just might love doing.  From there, you have an opportunity to realign the work loads and the work flows so that everyone is more engaged, productive, and content at work.   

 Here’s how to use it: 

  • Request each member of your team to fill out the tool. Give them some time to work on it.
  • Have them review or present their completed tool
    • These can be individual meetings but I recommend doing this as a team
    • Each member presenting their tool to the group
    • Listen intently to what is presented.
  • Facilitate a discussion that identifies and charts out what each person loves and loathes doing.
    • As a team, think through how to shift work around so that everyone ends up working on things they love to do at least 20% of the time.
      • Check in regularly to insure everyone is getting 20%
    • Pay close attention to things that people loath doing. Chances are, someone else on the team loves to do some of these things. Reallocate appropriately if possible
    • If there are things that everyone loathes doing,,,,
      • Make sure everyone gets their fair share of it.
      • Find ways to automate it or make it less painful.
      • Add someone to the team who loves this stuff.
    • Rinse and Repeat every ninety days.

The School of Rock & Sand offers a class called “Talent Development = Growth” with many more tools that help you get the most out of your team.

Take a Look

Or give me a call–Synk

Leadership Effectiveness PunchList

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“Personal Best” Leadership Punch List

Do the “Five Things” the Best Leaders Do and Succeed

The Leadership Problem/Opportunity:  Although the research is clear about what the Best Leaders do to succeed, leadership success is usually, falsely attributed to personality, education, upbringing, charisma, and intelligence.  The same research, duplicated repeatedly, has identified the Five Things the Best Leaders Do, while also finding absolutely no correlation between the attributes just listed and success. Maybe you should find a way to chart out how you will do the Five Things before you start your next project or initiative, and then make sure you do them along the way, turning them into habits when you do.

“Personal Best” Leadership Punch List: This tool turns the Five Things into a Punch List, just like builders do to plan out their work and to hold themselves accountable for to getting them done.  You’ll use this tool to do the same to plan out how you will lead yourself through the challenge of leading your team to a successful conclusion.  Checklists and Punch Lists Work.  Use this one to increase your chances for success and to help people follow your lead.

Here’s how to use it:  

  • Familiarize yourself with the “Five Things” in the first column: If necessary, pick up a copy of The Leadership Challenge, by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner to gain a deeper understanding of each “Thing”
      1. Challenge the Process,
      2. Inspire a Shared Vision,
      3. Enable Others To Act,
      4. Model the Way, and
      5. Encourage the Heart.
  • Review all of the prompts in the Second Column:
    • Use the prompts to think through some actions specific to each Thing
    • Decide which ones would best accomplish each Thing
  • Turn the actions into a Punch List by listing them in the Third Column
    • Use the Punch List to make sure you each of the Things effectively, checking off actions as they are completed and/repeated
    • If better actions develop along the way, add them to the Punch List
  • Debrief after completion of the project or initiative to evaluate how well you and your team did
  • Until this becomes a habit, integrate the Punch List into the process of planning and completing every project and initiative your team takes on

The School of Rock & Sand offers classes that will help you unleash the growth in your organization. One of the classes, “Leadership 1, 2, 3,” will help you succeed as a leader.  Take a Look

 Or give me a call — Synk

The Context Creates Curiosity Tool

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Don’t Just Share the Data, Share The Context, Generate Curiosity

The Context Problem/Opportunity:  We all know we should share the numbers the team, the numbers that tell us how we are doing, both collectively and individually.  We post them, look at them briefly, then move on back to the Sand they were pushing.  Most often, it’s because we are posting the numbers without any context, such as over time or in relation to other numbers that aren’t financial.  The team looks at them, but derives no meaning from them, no curiosity, no insight occurs and people go back to what they were doing.

The Context Creates Curiosity Tool:  This tools suggests a way to “do the numbers” with context, that will spark curiosity, then analysis, creating meaning and empowerment to everyone on the team.  Get the Tool Here

Here’s how to use it:

  • First identify some Outcome numbers, often financial ones, but could also be production numbers
    • They should be numbers that tell the team how well they did that day or week or month, depending on the rhythm of your business, and easily pulled and posted.
    • Post them next to each other as the tool indicates, each day, each week, or each month, again depending on the rhythm of your business.
    • My recommendation is do weekly or daily, not monthly. Business moves faster than months at a time.
  • Next identify Activity numbers, which or counts of the actions taken that deliver the outcomes.  
    • These are actions that when done or initiated add up to the outcomes, when not done the desired outcomes don’t come
    • They might be counts of items in the queue or a process that delivers the outcome. They might include measurements of quality, quantities of speed.
    • You might not be tracking these things, so get to work and figure it out.
    • Post them same way you posted the outcomes numbers, according to the rhythm of your business
  • Do the same with Market Numbers, with data that helps them understand the world
  • At your meeting post all the numbers at the same time in a format demonstrated in the tool
    • Better yet have the team member responsible for each specific number post the number
    • When posted and shared, teammates will start wondering why they turned out this way
    • Ask the questions, “What’s are the trends or spikes?” “How are we doing?”
  • Curiosity kicks in, meaning conveyed, empowerment starts.

Download the Tool Here

Visit the School of Rock & Sand 

See you in a week with the next Lesson from the School of Rock & Sand

One Page Plans and Why They Work–Baseline Growth Roadmap

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This week’s lesson from the School of Rock & Sand

If you’ve been following things on LinkedIn, all these organizations out there are pushing a “Scale Up”  message and when they do they are usually also suggesting you use some sort of One Page Plan.

The One Page Strategic Plan or OSPS (Scaling Up), The Vision Traction Organizer or V/TO (EOS)  Beto vision, traction, organizer, and The 7 Attributes of Agile Growth Roadmap (Gravitas Impact) Are one page plans, that work from the same solid DNA.

In some ways, it’s a matter of preference. All of them work fairly well, with nuances in each of them. If you are using one, you are on the right track.

They work because they are on one piece of paper or maybe even two, (that’s a bit of an inside joke about the one page plans,  that they  take two pieces of paper to print it out.

They all  capture the foundation of the future of where you want to go in an easily digestible manner for everyone on your team, and then brings back that from the future to today to align them on what to do right now to achieve the goals set out in the plan.

So let’s take a look at my version of it.  I call my one page plan the Baseline Growth Roadmap.

It’s a little simpler to use than others. And the space for handwriting is larger.  YEt it accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

Foundation of your three years goals is core purpose, core values, core customers, brand promise and core strengths.  The Roadmap is a place to document and share so that people know what they are.

From there you move to you want to be 10 years from now and what’s the profit per X (read Jim Collins to learn about that concept.

Using all of that, and especially your core customer and brand promising, you can calculate out a three year target, a three year, highly achievably goal.  (thanks Shannon Susko for the 3HAG).

Once that is set, then you work on key thrusts for the next three years.  Things are going to have to be different three years from now than now to hit the 3HAG.  What are they and what are the actions needed to build those things.

Then you bring this back to one year and the main things you are going  work on that year.

Then you take on the next 90 days. That’s what you’re going to work on right now to move things forward.  What are the main projects or priorities (Rocks) and what is the business you need to transact (Sand).

Then, finally, what does is each individual going to do as a part of the plan.  What are their personal Rocks and Sand.

It’s not easy to just pump this out off the top of your head. To complete it, your team should be involved.  If your team works with you on this, they’re going to be more committed to it.

In fact, creating baseline growth roadmap together is a fabulous team building process.

Here’s a link to the Baseline Growth Roadmap.  Download it and use it.  Your team will find it easy to follow and that’s what you want.  Good luck,

See you for next week for another lesson.

Dig Deeper Into Your Core Customers–Find The Pattern


This week’s lesson from the School of Rock & Sand is about core customers and understanding them better by digging deeper.  And I’ve got a tool to share with you called the Dig Deeper Tool.

First you identify Five Core Customers. These are the People that love you. You love doing business with, they’re not quibbling with you on price. They tell other people about you gladly. Fill out this form for each one of the five in a collaborative way with your team and figure out what the pattern is.

Do the easy stuff first: name, company, rank of the person, their position. Then in the next box write down all the responsibilities they have that are beyond buying for you. Their entire job is not buying from you. They have loads of things to do that are more important than buying your product.  Figure out what those those things are. That’s going to lead into a natural set of questions about what their work life is like.

Then start describing their work life. Who do they report to? Is it fast paced? Is it slow paced? Is it technologically dependent?  All the things are they working on all each week.  Then try to draw some conclusions about what their life is it like at work right now and what they are suffering from.  Write these things down on the tool.  Things like the pressures they are feeling, where it’s coming from, who is kicking their butt, etc.

Then move to describing their life outside of work. The other things in their life,  besides work.  And maybe it’s not good. Maybe it’s really great, either way it’s going to clue you in on what pressures they have.

If they’re working 80 hours a week, they may not have a life outside of work. And that drives some of their decision-making.  What are the other pressures they have in life like that.  How’s the family? How are the kids, how the grandparents, sicknesses, things like that.

After you have filled one out for each of the five core customers, put them up on a wall, next to each other.

Guess what?  A pattern emerges that you probably weren’t aware of before.  It probably identifies the real reason core customers are buying from you.  All your core customers probably have a similar set of pressures. From there you can create a really great brand promise.

If you haven’t done so already, download the tool.

The first page gives instructions on how to use the tool. The second page is the actual tool, a form that you fill out as described earlier.  Feel free to do it on a flip chart if the form is too small.

That’s our lesson from the School of Rock & Sand this week have fun with it.

Download the tool, see you next week.

End Meetings That Go Nowhere — “The Who What When” Tool


Are you having meetings that go nowhere? Join the club, A lot of people are having those kind of meetings today. We’d been through a year of meetings that are online, rushed, pushed, too many. Now we’re getting back to face-to-face meetings and I think might be a good time to brush up on a key part of having good meetings.

A meeting from that’s going nowhere, to me, is one of these meetings that have productive dialogue, good decisions, everyone’s aligned, and you adjourn. You come back next week. Nothing’s happened on any of the decisions. They have gone nowhere.

I’m going to share with you a tool, that I learned about years ago, I’m not exactly sure who shared it with me, but it’s an old school way of taking care of this problem.

My suggestion is this.  Don’t have a meeting where decisions are made without this tool. It’s called the “Who, What, When” Tool.  Very simply at the end of the meeting, or as you’re going through the meeting, the master note taker, in the “What” column, captures the various decisions or actions that have been agreed to.  Then you go through each one of the actions, and decide “Who” is the person that owns that action and is going to make sure it gets done.

Next, ask each “Who” to set a deadline for “When” they’re going to have that action completed or report progress.

After this is all filled out, you make copies of it for everyone in the meeting and distribute them right away. In the old days you would run to the copier and do this.  Today you scan it with your cell phone, , and then send a copy to everyone.  Again, you want to get this into everyone’s hands as soon as you can.  The next time you meet, everyone pulls out their copy and reports in on the “What” as the first agenda item.

So that’s the tool.  Here’s a link for downloading it.

As you can see, Simple is better, low tech that is even better.

Download the tool. Good luck.

Next week, we’ll have another one.

The Remote Workplace Paradox: Efficient Meetings ≠ Effectiveness

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking efficient meetings lead to effective team performance.  It’s never really worked that way.  And in the remote workforce environment we find ourselves facing, it it doesn’t work even more.

When I say this, don’t think that I don’t like efficient meetings.  I love them.  Many meetings should be and can be more efficient.  Those meetings whose purpose is sharing information and aligning the day’s main activities, ála “the daily huddle,”  are meant to be efficient.  Let’s review the purpose of the daily huddle.  Share the main thing to accomplish that day, share any updated info, share if/that you need help.  Decide things in other meetings with  the people necessary only.

Same goes for portions of other meetings, the information sharing portion of the meeting.  It should and can be very efficient, especially when a format and the info to be shared is clear and relevant.  The rest of the meeting? I don’t think so.

The decision making and learning portions of meetings are, by necessity and nature, the messy. The intent of these portions is to gain understanding of what the best thing to do is, and then decide on how to move forward.  Dialogue, confusion, disagreement are part and parcel of decisions and learning.  It’s not always easy to work through these things, very often it’s messy, and quite likely it will take more time than you anticipate.

But it’s effective.  It creates alignment, buy in, understanding, comradery, all of which lead to increased effectiveness.  The meetings I facilitate, that are the messiest, are also the most effective and productive ones.

That bring us to today’s remote work environment and what I’m calling the “Remote Work Place Paradox.”  Let me walk you through the steps of it.

  • People see Zoom (or Meets, or Teams….) as an efficiency tool.
  • They use it to hold efficient remote meetings.
  • Effectiveness of the remote workforce, after a small upswing, declines.
  • Leaders hold more remote meetings, efficiently, to increase effectiveness.
  • Effectiveness continues to decline or remain stagnant.

How do you break the Remote Work Place Paradox?  Get messy with your remote meetings.  Stop focusing on efficiency.  The companies that are doing great with their remote workforces, embrace and focus on connecting, engaging, and empathizing, all of which are messy things.  They plan for their messiness.

The realize that Zoom is not an efficiency tool, it’s an intimacy tool and the intimacy is what creates effectiveness.

Why?  Because in the remote work environment, the things, that endear teammates to each other, no longer naturally exist.

  • Sharing at the water cooler or over a cup of coffee. Gone.
  • The side conversations that connect each other. Gone.
  • The check-ins when things aren’t going so well. Gone.
  • The clarifying conversations that clear up a misunderstandings.  Gone.
  • The reminders that you have each other’s’ back.  Gone.
  • Need I go on?

These things have be intentionally worked into the your meetings, maybe even going so far as having meetings just to shoot the breeze or commiserate with each other.

To increase your effectiveness with your remote workforce and beat the Remote Work Place Paradox, empathize, connect, engage in messy ways.  Effectiveness follows.

Can I be of assistance?  We’ll have an intimate zoom meeting.

Schedule some time with me

Complexity, Confusion, Uncertainty? Get Used To It.

Were you expecting these three things to settle down after the election?  Think again.  The complexity, confusion and uncertainty that has been weighing you down since March is here to stay. It’s not going anywhere. at least not for awhile.

If you want details on why, here’s a link to a McKinsey Study that will explain it all for you.  Me, I’m just a business coach who sorts out complexity and uncertainty for mid-market CEOs and Owners like you and knows we are seeing and experiencing those things like never before.  It’s driven by the pandemic, societal discord, and political unrest. And the election changes none of that.

Up until February, most of us have been operating comfortably at working towards achieving our full potentials, relatively unencumbered by the more basic needs of life. Now we are operating at all levels of need (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs).  It’s different, it’s complex, it’s uncertain, it’s confusing.  It all adds up to higher levels of stress for everyone.  Certainly you, but also your customers, your staff, your partners and your families.

Do you want to make it easier for yourself?  “Empathy first, in all things, then solutions.”  That’s my paraphrase of Joey Coleman’s (Never Lose a Customer Again) advice I heard at the Gravitas Leadership Summit, hosted by Gravitas Impact, my coaching organization.

Certainly it starts there, but there’s a lot more to it.  Not enough to cover in this blog.  But it’s the first step in sorting out things for your people, customers and family.  And in sorting that out, you’ll be able to sort things out for yourself and your organization.

That’s a lot of sorting.

Sorting out complexity and uncertainty.  It’s what I’m good at.  It’s what I get excited about.  It’s what I do.  Should we have a conversation?


* Written prior to all the votes being counted from Tuesday’s election.  It’s still uncertain.

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