Leverage Your Time for Bottom Line Results with an Engagement Manager

Investing time in building and maintaining relationships – both external to the organization and internal to the organization –  is critical to the success of every CEO.

I recently learned of a structured approach for enhancing relationships by Patrick Ewers, founder and CEO of Mindmaven, a coaching firm that works with leaders AND their assistants.

Using the Mindmaven model — leverage, intent, and fellowship— I began implementing some of these principles within my own business and invited Patrick to share it with members of the Executive Forums Silicon Valley peer groups.

How leaders can “achieve True Greatness by freeing up 8+ hours a week so they can use that time to invest in what truly matters most: relationships.” 

Patrick shared with us several hands-on, step-by-step ways in which a CEO can gain leverage to build better relationships by training an executive assistant to become a CEO’s “engagement manager (EM).” 

The term Engagement Manager (EM) is not the same as a social media engagement manager, but this role has some of the same results.

An EM is trained by the CEO to address tasks that not only free up a CEO’s time, but can increase relationship building opportunities, thus freeing the CEO to focus on high value activity which impacts bottom line results.

LEVERAGE tactics Patrick suggested: 

Voice Communications via Dictation Software

Patrick demonstrated in real time how to leverage an hour or more a day using a phone application to dictate tasks, emails, and meeting notes. Leaders are much better at verbal communication and dictation can be done asynchronously (when time permits as opposed to when the assistant is available). Dictation files are delivered directly to an EM via email, text, or a project management system such as Asana. The EM receives the dictated instructions and moves the requested task forward.

Inbox Shadowing

A second technique discussed was inbox shadowing. By giving an EM access to a CEO’s email for “Inbox Shadowing,” a CEO can trust that emails are sorted by priority so they can move quickly through their inbox. Sorting labels or folders might look like this: 

  • Drafts (responses drafted for CEO review)
  • Please Handle (emails on which the EM needs CEO input first)
  • Completed (emails completely handled within authority of the EM)
  • FYI emails (to read later)

Using dictation and inbox shadowing, an EM can be responsible for drafting follow up emails, meeting debriefs, and pre-meeting planning documents.

Meeting Debriefs and LoopLeverage

With structured and habitualized Meeting Debriefs, a CEO can quickly capture important details from a meeting in a voice dictation sent to their EM who then implements the Mindmaven LoopLeverage technique.

LoopLeverage uses followup tasks, reminders, and tracking in a CRM, calendar, or project management software. These reminders, set for the EM, allow the EM to proactively follow up about promises made to and by the CEO. The personal connection information and business key facts that a CEO learns and shares in their Meeting Debrief dictation also gets tracked by the EM to bring up for robust future meeting conversations.

Together these leverage techniques—Meeting Debriefs and LoopLeverage—help a CEO build trust and stronger relationships while also lifting their mental load, ultimately resulting in increased intent and fellowship, goals of the Mindmaven model.

Culmination of Time, Training, and Small Steps Yield Results

Patrick emphasized that it takes three to six months for a CEO to make these steps natural and train an EM. However, small ideas and steps over time lead to cumulative results that can result in free time for a CEO to generate big ideas. And results.

If you are a leader who could use 8 to 10 hours a week to of free time build business relationships (internal and external) and reduce stress associated with low impact high urgency tasks, I recommend reaching out to Patrick Ewers and the Mindmaven team (www.mindmaven.com/contact) to have a discussion. 

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Stages of Growth, Value Builder System or becoming a member at Executive Forum Silicon Valley, please contact Glenn Perkins: gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/.

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A Roadmap for Pivoting a Business Towards Future Growth

In times of turmoil, we hear the inevitable cry to pivot your business into a new set of products or services. Exactly how is that done? What are the steps? 

 Do we need a crisis to pivot our business?

Shouldn’t we always be looking to pivot our business?

And, if pivoting is so easy, why doesn’t everyone do it? 

These questions were explored at the Executive Forums Silicon Valley Top Executive Forum this month through a presentation and discussion led by Beatrice Stonebanks (Stonebanks Sales Management Teams). 

The discussion explored both the impact of the current COVID 19 environment as well as general long-term industry and buyer trends. After all, no one wanted to be like BlockBuster Video who missed the trend and technology of HOW consumers wanted to procure and engage, even though they knew all along about consumer demand for video content. Same goes with many taxi companies who did not innovate and pivot towards new ways of meeting customers’ needs for transportation and missed the trend and technology of HOW consumers wanted to procure and engage.

Ms. Stonebanks walked the members through some specifics on how to use industry reports to answer the following types of questions, as a roadmap to focus on:

  • What are the trends in your market? 
  • Exactly why are your best customers buying from you? 
  • What technology will be used to buy your products and services?
  • Where are the growth sectors that value similar characteristics?
  • What happens in your target markets if a Black Swan event happens?
  • How must you embrace technology to stay relevant to your customers?

This is a concise and straightforward method using just a few key questions to determine why your best customers value your product, service or company and what additional value you can provide.

The members were led through the “Stonebanks Sales Management 10 Step Process” that acts as a roadmap to help companies work through this process. A summary of the ten steps of this process are:

  1. Access 2020 Tech Trends Report 
  2. Research Your Sector (or the sector you might pivot into)
  3. Keyword Search a Term or a Specific Niche
  4. Conduct an Ideal Client Summary
  5. Create a Decision Matrix for Your Company
  6. Choose your Preferred Target Niche(s) 
  7. Review the Top Ten Fastest Growing Sectors – Match with Your Niche
  8. Analyze Optimistic and Pessimistic Trends in Selected Sectors
  9. Adjust Your Products or Services Accordingly
  10. Create Your Business Development Game Plan

Each specific member company was presented with a quick summary of the results of this process. For example, for one member who runs a full-service printing company, the following trends were identified. Although these types of trends are just the tip of the iceberg, consider how valuable this type of data-derived information can be in developing business growth plans. These trends were  identified for the printing company:

  • print on packaging is a growth area – flexography, gravure
  • professional services to other printers 
  • geographic collaboration (FTD model) are applicable
  • sector growing by 12% through 2024

This short article cannot do justice to the richness of the discussion around this process, and how it is relevant at all times, beyond COVID 19.

So pivoting is not that easy, however, there is a process that can be used. If you are looking to skate your company to where the puck will be (or how to use the puck in a completely new game), I recommend that you contact Beatrice Stonebanks (510 338-0896 www.stonebanks.net). 

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) or The Seven Stages of Growth, contact gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/.

5 Ways To Get Your Business To Run Without You

Have you ever considered making it your primary goal to set up your business so that it can thrive and grow without you?

A business not dependent on its owner is the ultimate asset to own. It allows you to have complete control over your time so that you can choose the projects you get involved in and the vacations you take. When it comes to exit, a business independent of its owner is worth a lot more than an owner-dependent company. 

Here are five ways to set up your business so that it can succeed without you.

1. Give Them A Stake In The Outcome

Jack Stack, the author of The Great Game of Business and A Stake In The Outcome wrote the book on creating an ownership culture inside your company: you are transparent about your financial results and you allow employees to participate in your financial success. This results in employees who act like owners when you’re not around.

2. Get Them To Walk In Your Shoes

If you’re not quite comfortable opening up the books to your employees, consider a simple management technique where you respond to every question your staff brings you with the same answer, “If you owned the company, what would you do?” By forcing your employees to walk in your shoes, you get them thinking about their question as you would and it builds the habit of starting to think like an owner. Pretty soon, employees are able to solve their own problems. 

3. Vet Your Offerings

Identify the products and services which require your personal involvement in either making, delivering or selling them. Make a list of everything you sell and score each on a scale of 0 to 10 on how easy they are to teach an employee to handle. Assign a 10 to offerings that are easy to teach employees and give a lower score to anything that requires your personal attention. Commit to stopping to sell the lowest scoring product or service on your list. Repeat this exercise every quarter. 

4. Create Automatic Customers

Are you the company’s best salesperson? If so, you’ll need to fire yourself as your company’s rainmaker in order to get it to run without you. One way to do this is to create a recurring revenue business model where customers buy from you automatically. Consider creating a service contract with your customers that offers to fulfill one of their ongoing needs on a regular basis. 

5. Write An Instruction Manual For Your Business

Finally, make sure your company comes with instructions included. Write an employee manual or what MBA-types called Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These are a set of rules employees can follow for repetitive tasks in your company. This will ensure employees have a rulebook they can follow when you’re not around, and, when an employee leaves, you can quickly swap them out with a replacement to take on duties of the job. 

You-proofing your business has enormous benefits. It will allow you to create a company and have a life. Your business will be free to scale up because it is no longer dependent on you, its bottleneck. Best of all, it will be worth a lot more to a buyer whenever you are ready to sell. 

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At Executive Forums Silicon Valley, selected business owners and leaders work together to gain clarity, insight and accountability to ignite their leadership engines, grow their businesses and improve their lives. If you are interested in learning more about Business Owner Advisory Boards, Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), Stages of Growth, Value Builder System or becoming a member at Executive Forum Silicon Valley, please contact gperkins@executiveforums.com or call 408-901-0321. For more information visit http://www.execforumssv.com/ .