A few years ago, investors and analysts had put brick-and-mortar companies like RadioShack and Best Buy on a death watch. There seemed to be no way they could compete against the giant Amazon—with its famously low prices, virtually limitless selection, and two-day delivery options—and come out alive.
Living up to expectations, RadioShack filed bankruptcy in 2015—and again in 2017, after a futile attempt at reviving itself.
Meanwhile, Best Buy managed to pull off one of the strongest corporate comebacks in recent history.
The question on everyone’s mind is, Why?
Here’s a scary thought: Try and picture a world without email.
Indeed, it’s hard to fathom our world functioning as we know it without the wonder that is email. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s convenient, it’s just… easy. Few words can be as harrowing and bone-chilling for a business as “email is down.”
But for all its immeasurable benefits, there is a dark side to email. One that can eat away at the very core of any business – even the most successful.
Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford University, accurately summed up the responsibility of a leader:
“Your most important task as a leader is to teach people how to think and ask the right questions, so that the world doesn’t fall apart if you take a day off.”
Perhaps no concept in business is more essential, and at the same time so colossally misunderstood, than delegation. Any rational person knows that they have strengths and limitations. It follows, that tasks should be divvied based on each employees abilities.
Yet for some reason, many business struggle to properly delegate—and the consequences are severe. Sloppy projects. Missed deadlines. Angry clients.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
You turn on your phone, and are greeted by a most familiar message.
An alert flashes across the screen giving you the option to update to the new and improved version of some app or software. Just a tap of the screen and presto! It’s better than ever.
This routine has become so commonplace in our mobile-centric lives. Today’s hyper-paced world has reached dizzying levels of speeds, and software developers are constantly rolling out new updates, security fixes, and improvements to their products in order to keep pace.
While there’s not much to do on our end, in reality there is a lot of work that goes into creating these updates. There is updated code to write, bugs to fix, development, testing, split testing, tweaking, consumer feedback, and more testing. It’s an ongoing, meticulous process.
Much like the phones that (unfortunately) control our lives, we, too, require periodic updates.
As humans, we’re all creatures of habit. We have our morning routine. Our work routine. Our pre-meeting routine. We all just like to get into a rhythm and keep it that way.
After all, sticking to a routine is the key to being productive. Successful people are well-known as sticklers for routine. Routine provides structure. It establishes a sense of security.
Which makes having to change routine so hard.
It means tearing down the habits we worked so hard to create. It means demolishing the cocoon of security around us. Forgetting what we always knew.
Yesterday, I learned this lesson firsthand.
Reid Hoffman (no relation), co-founder of LinkedIn, has a famous quote which resonates with entrepreneurs:
“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
It’s a simple but revealing maxim. And, truth be told, it’s one not reserved for entrepreneurs orbusiness owners, but applicable to every single one of us.
Many people tinker and re-tinker with their assignment, their product or their business – all in the name of “making it perfect”. In reality, though, that perfectionism is just procrastination in disguise.
The reason people procrastinate?
I’m always amazed how the greatest business insights can sometimes come from the most unexpected places.
On a recent flight back from Israel, I struck up a conversation with one of the stewards. We made a little small talk, and soon our chat turned to his job. During the course of our discussion, he lamented to me that, although he always tried to be friendly to every passenger, he had no real business incentive to be cordial.
He described the startling lack of employee appreciation. There was no recognition from his superiors for better customer service. No compliment for going the extra mile. Positive feedback was from passengers, not superiors. The only way to get noticed? Publish something foolish on social media. Boy, would that work!
Instead, he explained, the employee growth module of this airline was, essentially, “survival of the fittest.” Been here for 4 years? Congratulations on lasting this long, here’s a raise.
This is a very troubling and flawed model.
Let’s face it. Today’s business world is more difficult than ever.
Now, I’m sure many of you are probably thinking, “what are you talking about? Modern technology has made staying connected easier than ever!”
Allow me to explain.
The daily bombardment of phone calls, texts, emails, status updates, and other messages flying across our screens has really made us more detached and out of focus. We’re constantly being pulled in a thousand different directions. Spreading ourselves too thin.
As a result, our stress levels have risen and our productivity has suffered.
However, there are those who, despite the available distractions, seem to be productive no matter what.
What’s their secret?
2016 is just a couple of days away.
Many businesspeople know that the change in the calendar year is a great time to set goals for the next year.
But not too many know that there is a step prior to setting goals – the mindset.
Smart businesspeople know that there is no straight path to success. There are many confusing twists and turns, and it’s easy to get lost. To simply keep moving to try to find your way out is counterproductive.
Just ask Richard Bauer.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of building company culture.
Showing your appreciation to each employee is critical. Countless studies show that positive employee engagement will impact a business’s success. Successful leaders can build a workplace culture that gives their company a competitive advantage.
So this past Chanukah, I decided to demonstrate my appreciation to the hardworking team at Ptex Group – but in a slightly different way than in previous years.
I quietly created a special Chanukah Goody Booklet for each employee that was mailed directly to their home. Inside the booklet were various gift options for our employees and their families to choose from.
To make all this happen, I had to take a little trip down to a place that most people dread: the post office.
We all know what a nightmare the post office can be. Long lines. Confusing signs. Gloomy decor. Apathetic workers. Even longer lines.
My experience this time was no different.