Keep Moving Forward!

The past two years were definitely not without challenges and mistakes at Acceler8Success Group. But in learning from the same and working towards making necessary corrections, successes were also realized. Although some gaps still need to be closed, the near future looks bright and I’m certainly excited about the year ahead.

Such is the life of an entrepreneur – successes, challenges, mistakes, realizations, learning experiences, course corrections and, of course new ideas. It’s a whirlwind – stressful at times… exhilarating, as well. I’m not sure I’d have it any other way!

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There’s so much to see on the road ahead and as such, it’s a good reason the windshield is much larger than the rear view mirror. With clear vision, it allows for accelerating whenever possible. It also enables anticipation of curves and detours, slowing down as may be necessary. And as the journey starts to get blurred and the signs are no longer being noticed, it’s time to stop and recharge. Let me emphasize… stop and recharge does not mean just slow down!

For me, the key to succeeding in the New Year will be to keep moving forward. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. from his address at Spelman College on April 10, 1960, Keep Moving from This Mountain

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.

So, here’s to moving forward in 2023.

Have a great trip. Make it happen. Make it count!

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Be mindful and aware of others that may need some help…

As we quickly approach year’s end, I know for many it’s a time of reflection and planning. For others, it may be a time of loneliness and depression and possibly, despair. Increasing costs and economic uncertainty put a damper on the holiday season that certainly did not help those already having less than a positive mindset.

And despite several days away from work, if unhappy with work or if challenges have been mounting as they’ve been for many entrepreneurs and business owners, it has become difficult, if not impossible to clear one’s mind. In fact, idle time may keep the difficulties more front and center without the distractions of work and operating a business.

Unfortunately, for some, it’s has all become too much to handle and sadly, could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. As such, I’m compelled to share the following article I had written a while back about a personal experience.

When the volume increases, there are positive solutions!

Recently, I was told about someone who had committed suicide. I had only met him once, but it got me thinking about what may have been going through that person’s mind.

Personally, I can only imagine the ‘noise’ being experienced without being able to control the volume either to drown it out or to hear it better. It’s like what we’ve all done at one time or another… turning up the volume on the car radio when hearing a noise that wouldn’t go away or that couldn’t be identified or when turning up the volume was just to hear something more clearly, and at times, just because a certain song was playing — sometimes stirring up memories. There could be other reasons.

There are also times the volume is cranked up to ‘disappear’ into deep, personal thought, essentially, to just get lost in the moment. However, turning up the volume could possibly be a form of denial akin to putting one’s head in the sand. Isn’t it interesting that similar actions are done for various reasons and possibly, for different results? Yet, the action taken is often done impulsively without nary a thought as to the action being taken and certainly with no thought as to the consequences thereafter.

Here is a quote about suicide from an episode of Yellowstone as John Dutton tries to reason with his son, Jamie who is sitting alone in a field with a gun in his hand…

You know the thing about suicide, you don’t just kill yourself. You kill every memory of you. This’ll be all everyone remembers, Jamie. Every second you spent on this earth will be reduced to how you chose to leave it.

Ultimately, how do we help others to help them think through what it is that’s on their minds before it’s too late? How do we help others toward better mental health, a necessity for better decision-making and in understanding and managing emotions? Of course, I really don’t know. It’s just hard to grasp the why in these situations. It’s all difficult to comprehend.

During this holiday season, and any time for that matter, please talk to someone and share your thoughts, feelings. Do not feel anything less than the wonderful person that you are. To put it bluntly, shit happens but there is always a positive solution to reverse course.

If you feel you have no one to talk to, contact me. I’m happy to help. You can reach out to me on any social media, on LinkedIn, by email to paul@acceler8success.com, or feel free to call or text me at (832) 797-9851. I will respond as quickly as humanly possible!

If you feel you’re at wit’s end, please immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.

In any event, no one will think less of you if you reach out for help. You’re loved no matter what you may think. Please do not hesitate to reach out to someone!

Kindness Can Make a Difference in Someone’s Life. Kindness Matters!

Always be kind and remember, actions often speak louder than words. And, be sensitive to the fact they may be going through some difficulties and keeping it all inside. Positive communications may provide them just enough confidence to open up and share their thoughts.

What is the meaning of kindness matters?

It means putting others first, and setting yourself aside. It means caring enough to listen – truly listen. It means acting with genuine compassion. It means understanding sympathy and practicing empathy because you’ve “been there.”

Why kindness matters?

Acts of kindness can make the world a happier place for everyone. They can boost feelings of confidence, being in control, happiness and optimism. They may also encourage others to repeat the good deeds they’ve experienced themselves – contributing to a more positive community.

Why kindness is a strength?

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of kindness found people who give to others, in small and in large ways, tend to be happier as a result. Kind people are often likable to others, which can provide opportunities to develop meaningful relationships and love.

Why is kindness a core value?

Kindness is Good. Each act of kindness is changing the way we see ourselves and others, as well as how others see us. As our kindness positively affects others, we feel more compassionate, confident, useful, and in control. We also find ourselves feeling more appreciative and optimistic.

The following popped up in my Facebook Memories today. It’s a great reminder to be kind! Please copy and paste it across your social media and see who will do the same.

There were times I’d put just $10 worth of gas in my tank, while other times $50. I’ve had just $5 to feed myself and I’ve also had $200 to go out to eat. I’ve had a house full of food and times I didn’t have any. I’ve been in stores cashing out with no worries and I’ve also had to add it up and put things back on the shelf. I’ve paid my bills in full and I’ve had to pay it late too. I’ve given enough money to make someone cry and I’ve cried because of what others have given me.

We all have highs and lows in life, some certainly more than others, but we’re all just trying to make it.

No one is better than anyone else, and I pity those who think that they are. No matter how big your house is, how new your car is, or how much money sits in your bank account – we all bleed red and will all die someday. Death has no discrimination neither should your life.

Be kind to others.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Many families and friends joined together this holiday season. Some hadn’t seen each other since before the pandemic. It certainly has me reflecting upon the importance of focusing on the people and things that creates happiness in our lives. After all, life is too short not to do so.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share a story most of us have probably heard or read at one time or another. There are no religious references or connotations. Instead, I believe it’s a story that delivers an excellent message about the important things in life – the ones most critical to your happiness, and the happiness of those close to you – your family and friends.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions — and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.

Merry Christmas!

Whether you’re doing some last-minute shopping, traveling somewhere to celebrate Christmas or going through final preparations as you open your home to friends & family please try to take it slow, minimizing stress as much as you can. Enjoy the Christmas Holiday that has been on your radar for the past few weeks with anticipation of this special time of year.

Focus your thoughts on laughter and joy as family and friends comes together. An act of kindness or two will bring peace to you and to the recipient of your gesture. Smile and do so often. Make today, tonight and tomorrow a memory to be looked back upon as another special event and one you’ll look forward to replicating for years to come. Be safe and enjoy!

Let’s also remember, it’s been a tough, stressful couple of years for many. As such, as I continue to share feel-good images and posts to help fill our minds with good thoughts, peace and calm, please pass them on. Especially as we never really know if a particular image or post lands in front of those to whom it may make a positive impact, spur a change or even save a life.

This holiday season please also remember all those serving our country that cannot be home with their friends and families. Without their service and the sacrifice of others before them, we might not be able to enjoy this special time of year with our own friends and families and in the manner we so choose. God bless them all and please keep them safe!

As we enjoy family, food and gifts, we must remember to look beyond the festive nature of Christmas and keep the reason for the season in mind. A Savior is Born. Christ is King. Merry Christmas!

And if you celebrate for different reasons, it’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters, it’ s who’s is around it with you.

Best wishes for a joyous Christmas for all and may it be filled with love, happiness and prosperity!

How will your mental health hold up during challenging times?

After a week or so revisiting the Preparing for War: You vs. Recession series, I’d like to wrap things up by focusing on YOU. That means, YOU the entrepreneur, the founder, the business owner, the leader, the CEO or whomever is charged with business performance and ultimately, the business succeeding according to defined goals. Especially in challenging times, how do we ensure that you perform at the highest level possible without stressing out and /or burning out?

At Acceler8Success Cafe, we spend a great deal of time discussing mental health awareness and especially as it relates to entrepreneurship, business ownership, and leadership. Articles I’ve previously shared here about Mental Health are appropriate to share as we wrap up this series.

In late-May as Mental Health Awareness Month was coming to an end; I shared the following:

Certainly, the past couple of year has had us facing many uncertainties which, quite frankly took us on an emotional roller coaster. Mostly, the driving force has been fear. I’ve realized my own fear once I was able to admit being scared. Hey, at my age and the fact I’m not in good shape, I must be realistic. So, I’ve worked through my fear and in doing so, maybe I can overcome it. As fear is such a strong emotion that easily grips the soul, it will take time and patience to overcome such a grip.

Little by little I look forward to continuing to pry it away as fear is replaced by courage gained from confidence that fear is just a challenge to be conquered. The great thing is that some of the challenges don’t have to be tackled alone. Instead, collaborative efforts aligned with common goals truly exemplify the phrase, ‘strength in numbers’ and it’s that strength that ultimately conquers fear. Easier said than done? Possibly, but the alternative is being overwhelmed by fear and that, I’ve recognized is not living.

Loneliness, Depression, Fear: All Contribute to Mental Health Issues

Some, but not nearly enough has been written about entrepreneurs & celebrities and their battles with mental health. Loneliness and depression continue to occur within the ranks of both groups at an increasing rate and although failure (or fear of failure or a drop from superstar ranks) may be a driving force, it’s often not the sole deciding factor.

Is it the quest for perfection? Is it a blinding passion that nothing else is visible? Or a control issue where no one can do it better, so it’s dealt with alone?

Michael Dermer has written a great book, The Lonely Entrepreneur and has developed a membership site of the same name that is a great resource for entrepreneurs. Strategic Coach has developed a great program for entrepreneurs. There are others, as well.

But are current efforts enough to slow down the alarming rate of suicide among entrepreneurs — and often more in the spotlight than entrepreneurs, celebrities? As successful as they were, what were the deciding factors leading to the suicides of chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain and fashion designer Kate Spade?

The deaths of Bourdain and Spade by suicide have thrown the spotlight on celebrities and depression. Instead of bringing them happiness and freedom, for many, being sought-after, rich and at the top of their game leads to an identity crisis and ruminations on their self-worth.

And Naomi Judd, one-half of the iconic country music duo The Judds, reportedly died by suicide after years of struggling with mental illness.

Article update… And just this past week, Stephen “tWitch’ Boss, the popular DJ on the Ellen DeGeneres Show took his life. Again, another celebrity, and one that for all practical purposes was on a hockey stick curve to greater success.

This is a topic that must be brought front and center as we continue to grow as an entrepreneurial society with approximately 60% of the labor force in some type of self-sustaining endeavor whether it’d be as freelancers, sole practitioners, professional service providers, contractors, solopreneurs, and increasingly, musicians, artists, and authors.

Why is suicide more common among entrepreneurs, celebrities and creatives?

Noted Bollywood actor and television star Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide a couple of years ago. His demise came as a shock to many as it was the fourth death of a famous personality from the Hindi film industry to pass away within months of each other.

Suicide is not a new issue, especially not in celebrity circles. These tragic deaths are also not limited by lines of work, ranging from boxers, designers, politicians and writers to actors, musicians and yes, entrepreneurs. What about influencers that have achieved celebrity status along with becoming rising stars in this relatively new class of entrepreneurs?

There was a string of influencer suicides in 2021. All unfortunate and tragic occurrences that took young lives, they left entire fan communities in mourning for their favorite stars who had secured places as standing icons of inspiration across fields, from beauty to travel to farming to sports. But what often goes ignored when reviewing these moments of tragedy is the kind of impact the internet is having on our mental health, every single day.

It isn’t just online celebrities or creators partaking in influencer cultures who are burdened with the impossible expectations and virtual validation that the internet has become the one-stop destination for. Sadly, it can happen, and is happening, to many of us plugged into social media.

There is no conclusive line on whether all these influencer suicides came about as a result of social media impinging on mental health. But there is no doubt about the fact that a direct or indirect correlation between our use (or abuse) of the internet and offline consequences.

So, why do wealthy people kill themselves? Don’t they have it all?

The reality we often forget, however, is that celebrities are human beings, just like us. “We only see one version — one of glamour, fame and fortune,” explains Nance Roy, Ed.D, Chief Clinical Officer at The Jed Foundation. They may struggle with relationships, finances and illness. Adds Dr. Roy: “Celebrities may feel more pressure to perform, to be perfect and to keep up their image for fans, often making it more difficult for them to reach out for help.” Another critical point: a person rarely takes his or her own life because of just one reason. “Suicide is complex, and we often don’t know all the factors involved.”

Bullying, even of celebrities and other notable individuals is certainly a contributing factor as it is for our younger generations. In fact, the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and 2nd among people aged 10 to 34 (a person dies every 11 minutes), suicide was identified by the National Institute of Mental Health as a major public health concern. Suicide rates increased 35% from 1999 to 2018, briefly declining in 2019. However, reports of depression and anxiety — risk factors for suicide — had increased during the pandemic.

Talking About Mental Health

We need to reduce the stigma faced by people experiencing a mental illness. How? As Martin mentioned, we need to talk about it. Stigma remains a major barrier to treatment and care. Dr. Fink agrees: “How do we grieve and process except by speaking and sharing with others?” When people die of cancer, their illness is almost always part the public conversation. From his Haitian roots, Dr. Arty provides a global perspective: “As a world community, we need to be bold and unashamed in discussing this sensitive and painful topic. The discussion itself may save a life.”

Dispelling myths is also key. A common myth? “Asking someone if they are suicidal will not increase the risk that they will die by suicide,” clarifies Dr. Roy. Inquiring about potential self-harm in a compassionate way may instead provide an opportunity for the person to express their feelings and reach out for help.

Proclamation from The White House on National Mental Health Awareness Month

Each May we raise awareness about the importance of mental health and its impact on the well-being of all Americans, including children, adults, families, and communities across our Nation. We also give thanks to the dedicated mental health providers whose service and support improve the lives of so many Americans. We stand in solidarity with those who are experiencing mental health conditions, renewing our commitment to providing them with the support they need and deserve.

Even before the pandemic, millions of Americans were experiencing stress, trauma, anxiety, and heightened levels of depression. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated those conditions, creating an unprecedented mental health crisis across our country. Communities of color, frontline workers, health care workers, and individuals with eating disorders have been disproportionately impacted, and the rate of depression across the country has more than tripled compared to rates in 2019.

Read the full proclamation on the White House website.

‘Why’ is a question that is always asked by those left behind or hurt by these suicides — the answer or answers would never make sense to someone who loves life. As such, I look forward to thoughts on this with hope the discussion continues. Thank you!

If you feel you have no one to talk to, contact me. I’m happy to help. You can reach out to me on LinkedIn, by email to paul@acceler8success.com, or feel free to call or text me at (832) 797–9851. I will respond as quickly as humanly possible!

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273- TALK (8255). It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When entrepreneurs are facing failure, what happens next?

Sometimes no matter how well we plan and how much effort we dedicate to something, we fall short of our goal and the end-result causes a variety of challenges and problems. Ultimately, it can adversely affect financial position, reputation, relationships, team spirit and much more. It can also start to spiral into personal life and affect family, health and overall well-being.

Unfortunately, such situations are often perpetuated by denial by placing one own’s head in the sand.

Well, when our head is in the sand, our most vulnerable ass-et is sticking out in plain view. Some will laugh. Others will point and snicker, definitely telling others. And a few will take advantage of the situation and current position of vulnerability. Sadly, we put ourselves in that position. Not because we swung and missed. Not because we didn’t see the forest for the trees. And not because we just flat-out saw something that wasn’t there. Instead, it’s because we didn’t keep our head high, accept the situation, learn from it and move on, and with laser-focus. That is exactly what entrepreneurs do when faced with failure.

Assistance for Your Organization

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797–9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and also at Entrepreneurship411.com.

Bring the Series to Your Organization

If you’re interested in having this series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.

Have a great day. make it happen. Make it count!

Preparing for War: You vs. Recession… Are You Ready?

Over the past week we have again worked through the Preparing for War: You vs. Recession series and have identified various things that entrepreneurs and small business owners can and should do to combat economic uncertainty and ultimately, the war against recession. There is no doubt, recession is on its way, if not already here lurking around every corner and already affecting us all.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise of defeat.” – Sun Tzu

But before we go on, allow me to reiterate, I’m not diminishing the importance of financial professionals by leaving them out of this series. It’s understood that managing and monitoring financials are extremely important functions, but there are many exceptional CPAs and the like out there to handle this function. It’s a given. Many have done a phenomenal job of doing so since the first lockdown. Again, kudos to these fantastic professionals. Survival to this point would not have been possible without you!

To recap the series, we addressed personal branding as a way to stand out in the community, understanding that people are attracted by a business or brand, but they want to do business with people. Being known (or perceived) as the subject-matter expert, the go-to person in the community certainly provides a leg up on competition while also building and reinforcing confidence in the minds of customers and employees alike. With personal branding established as a cornerstone of our strategy, we turned our focus to customer experience, employee experience and culture.

That said, the lion’s share of this series focused on the front line. It’s where the magic happens in a business. We also know it’s where catastrophes happen, as well. There’s a provider and a receiver in every transaction. Truly, it becomes a relationship beyond just handing over money or delivering food to a table. A positive experience is created by all the expected things in a transaction (quality food, product & service, professional environment, cleanliness, etc.) AND a sort of bond between provider and receiver, a relationship in the moment.

As well, the provider, the employee delivering a positive experience cannot be expected to do so if they aren’t experiencing their own positive experience within the business. We’ve identified the customer experience AND the employee experience as two additional cornerstones in our strategy. We took things a step further and introduced various tools and resources that would help monitor and evaluate both experiences including the Net Promoter System.

If you take only one thing away from this series, I highly recommend implementing the Net Promoter System in your business as soon as possible. Of course, I do recommend incorporating all parts of the strategy for optimum results. The Net Promoter System truly is a remarkable tool and one that highlights success and failure. It is spot-on!

The last cornerstone, culture was addressed and of course, is intertwined with the experience factor, both for customers and employees. In addition, culture extends to all stakeholders within the organization and that do business with the company or brand. I wholeheartedly agree with the quote from management guru, Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It does, for sure, but that certainly does not eliminate the need for strategy!

There you have it, the cornerstones of our strategy – personal branding, customer experience, employee experience, and culture. They make up a very strong foundation if all are developed and put into place diligently and correctly with no shortcuts. Like a foundation that has a weak cornerstone, the foundation becomes compromised and all above it will begin to show signs of damage. The extent of damage depends upon the weakness of the cornerstone, or as two or more cornerstones fail simultaneously.

So, what’s left? What’s missing?

Well, there is a very most important thing missing, a person, and that person is YOU! Yes, you, the business owner, the entrepreneur, the CEO, the brand leaders, or whomever is charged with and responsible for the success of the organization, company or brand. Although success is the result of many working together toward common goal, there must be a formidable leader at the helm. No war has been won without one leading the charge.

And we know that a leader must be at the top of his or her game in order to be successful, and even more so during challenging times. That means that tomorrow, we will turn our attention to mental health, the focus of such that is often lacking in the busyness of the day. Often, mental health as it relates to business and its leaders is only mentioned after the fact. Although we now know it must be front and center. Unfortunately, mental health is still on the backburner for many. That must change!

Help is just a message, phone call, email or text away!

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to us for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797–9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and also at Entrepreneurship411.com.

Bring the series to your organization

If you’re interested in having Preparation for War: You vs. Recession series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

Develop an unbeatable strategy of loving customers AND employees!

Over the past few days we’ve been revisiting the series, Preparation for War: You vs. Recession and specifically, we’ve focused on the customer experience, the employee experience and culture. We know that all three, when in sync creates a solid foundation from which to grow upon. It’s this foundation that will enable a business to not only survive but thrive during periods of economic uncertainty. Key will be monitoring and evaluating data as if it were line items on a profit and loss statement.

To me, the best and most effective way to monitor and evaluate customer experience is to utilize the Net Promoter System. I’m a firm believer in this system. As you work through the system, you’ll quickly realize how it can also be used to monitor and evaluate the employee experience, and ultimately the culture of an organization or brand.

If you’re not aware of this remarkable system, I highly recommend checking it out at NetPromoterSystem.com. From score to system, one simple question can enhance customer loyalty and employee performance. It’s more than a metric — it’s a way of doing business. It’s about creating a culture focused on the customer.

“Few management ideas have spread so far and wide as the Net Promoter System. Since its conception almost two decades ago, by customer loyalty guru Fred Reichheld, thousands of companies around the world have adopted it — from industrial titans such as Mercedes-Benz and Cummins to tech giants like Apple and Amazon to digital innovators such as Warby Parker and Peloton.”

– From the cover jacket of the recently published book, Winning on Purpose: The Unbeatable Strategy of Loving Customers by Fred Reichheld.

The Net Promoter System separates detractors from promoters. A score is determined by subtracting the percentage of customers who are detractors from the percentage who are promoters. What is generated is a score between -100 and 100. This is referred to as the Net Promoter Score (also referred to as NPS).

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure used to gauge customer loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm with a company that’s calculated by asking customers one question: “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend this product/company to a friend or colleague?” Aggregate NPS scores help businesses improve upon service, customer support, delivery, etc. for increased customer loyalty.

To measure employee experience, or let’s say the franchisee experience in a franchise system, and in any organization for that matter, the same question could be asked. These 20 words are so powerful when posed as a question and speak volumes as to the personal experience with a particular company, brand or organization. It can help businesses become better employers and improve employee retention. For the record, the Employee Net Promoter Score is referred to as eNPS.

The Net Promoter System takes things a step further because the question by itself is not enough to make the entire picture clear. So, the first question is followed up by asking the following question: What could have been done differently to make the experience better? Essentially, this question provides an opportunity for the responder to elaborate about the experience, to share their opinion and also to offer suggestions.

NPS is quite simple.

Detractors fall into the group from 0–6 and considered not likely to recommend the business. The lower the score, the more this group will badmouth the business at every opportunity to do so. A score of 0–4 is alarming while a score from 5–6 could present opportunities to create a more positive opinion and a possible increase in score. I’ve actually had someone say to me, the fact that you’ve called to ask this question moves my experience from a 6 to an 8. As this occurs, at least you know this customer won’t be posting bad reviews. I have actually found customers that move their score up are somewhat likely to return.

A Passive group is next from 7–8 and considered to be ambivalent, meaning they have mixed feelings but not clearly defined one way or the other. Typically, what they really mean is the experience was okay and met their expectations. Most likely this group would not refer the business to others and will not post negative reviews or bash the business. Again, as exemplified above, customers may increase the score just by the fact they received a call. It’s certainly worth the effort, right?

Promoters are the top group. They score the experience at 9 or 10. These customers will be proactive in singing the company’s praises. They are loyal and are great ambassadors. As well, they will also come to the company’s rescue when they see another customer bashing the business. When that happens, it’s a beautiful sight to see, especially on review sites where there’s a piling on effect. Such is the world of what I refer to as, social rubbernecking which is akin to slowing down to look at the carnage from a catastrophic wreck on the other side of the highway.

Calculating the Net Promoter Score is easy as it’s calculated by: Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. (The percentage of passives is not used in the formula.) For example, if 10% of respondents are detractors, 20% are passives and 70% are promoters, your NPS score would be 70–10 = 60.

Bain & Company research has established a strong link between organic growth and a company’s Net Promoter Score.

To establish the correlation between relative Net Promoter Scores and growth, Bain teams identified the relevant competitors in a business and measured the Net Promoter Score (NPS) of each competitor using the methodology and sampling approach in NPS Prism. These relative Net Promoter Scores were then correlated with organic growth measures, such as revenue where public data was available.

In most industries, Net Promoter Scores explained roughly 20% to 60% of the variation in organic growth rates among competitors. On average, an industry’s Net Promoter leader outgrew its competitors by a factor greater than two times.

In other words, a company’s NPS is a good indicator of its future growth. But the relationship is stronger in some industries than in others.

According to Survey Sparrow, company culture defines the personality of your brand. A typical company culture includes the work environment, values, goals, and ethics. A strong workforce culture will also support their employees, listen to them, and engage with them. If you want to build a strong culture within your company, you have to ensure your employees work to their maximum potential.

You may be surprised, but 33% of employees don’t believe their personal values align with company values. While 43% of employees are ready to leave their company because of poor culture. That’s why it’s crucial to use an eNPS score to understand what your employees think about your company. With employee net promoter score surveys, you can get a clear idea about your organizational culture.

As per a study, companies that invested in employees, work culture, and customers grew revenue by 682%. Yes, that’s the power of good company culture and an engaged workforce. It’s important to measure your employees’ expectations, gather their feedback to drive culture.

One final thought. Imagine your Net Promoter Score listed on your profit & loss statement right below the bottom line. Would that get stakeholders’ attention? You bet it would!

Can your company win by embracing a higher purpose? Yes, and this book tells you exactly how. And I highly recommend it!

In Winning on Purpose, Reichheld argues that the primary purpose of a business should be to enrich the lives of its customers. NPS does this by putting the Golden Rule — loving customers — at the heart of enduring business success. But winning on purpose isn’t easy. Reichheld explains why most NPS practitioners achieve just a small fraction of the system’s full potential and presents the newest thinking and best practices for doing NPS right. He unveils the Earned Growth Rate (EGR): the first reliable measure of what he calls “good profits.”

Delivering an engaging mix of in-depth business examples and moving personal stories, Reichheld distills and advances the essentials of NPS. Winning on Purpose is the must-listen story of the management phenomenon of our time — and your indispensable guide to making NPS the key to your own company’s success.

Help is just a message, phone call, email or text away!

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to us for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797–9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and also at Entrepreneurship411.com.

Bring the series to your organization

If you’re interested in having Preparation for War: You vs. Recession series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!

How important is the customer experience to a small business today?

An experience inevitably involves expectations. Customer experience, or CX as it is known, is the result of comparing a customer’s actual experience with what they expected.

So the scenario is subjective, emotional and complex. Purchase decisions are too because they are not necessarily linked to a specific moment but a cluster of moments.

“CX is the outcome of the customer’s impressions after interacting logically, physically, emotionally and/or psychologically at different times with different aspects of the company or brand.”

The best experiences are those that have benefits on two fronts: satisfaction for customers and profits for the company.

Should the ‘Experience Factor’ be treated like a line item?

There is an ‘Experience Factor’ in every relationship, in every transaction, and in every interaction. Understanding what goes into the factor is essential to gauge the effect the factor had on the relationship, transaction or goal. Only as the effect is realized is improvement possible.

The foundation of the ‘Experience Factor’ is the ‘Experience Journey’. Here’s a snapshot of the ‘Experience Journey’ that I had introduced in the Preparation for War: You vs. Recession series.

The relationship, transaction or interaction begins in the 12 o’clock position. Expectations have been established based upon what had been done to bring the parties together or had been done to attract them to each other. Let’s use a customer experience at an automotive shop to better understand the journey.

A person gets into his car to drive to work and hears a noise he or she has never heard before. It seems to get worse the longer the car is driven. The car needs to be looked at and the problem diagnosed. Anxious because of the busy day ahead and knowing the car is needed, not only for work but for other things that evening, and for a trip in a few days, the car is dropped off at dealership because it is conveniently located close to the customer’s office.

The dealership is clean. The service writers all look very professional. The service department is quite busy, which the customer feels is a good sign as it can be assumed that all these people here most likely have some level of trust in this establishment. A service writer promptly greets the customer, and they immediately discuss the problem at-hand. The customer emphasizes the car is needed back as quickly as possible.

The service writer assures the customer the problem will be diagnosed, and the necessary service along with cost of repairs will be provided before any additional work will be started. Arrangements are made to drive the customer to his office with the understanding the service writer will follow up within the next two hours.

The customer journey is in the 12 o’clock position and as long as everything meets or exceeds the customer’s expectations, the customer journey remains in this positive position. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? Shit happens, right?

I don’t want to bore you with this step-by-step scenario, but please humor me and read on as we take a look at what could happen next and how things could easily and quickly spin out of control.

Two hours go by and there’s no call from the service writer. An additional hour creeps by and still no call. Surprised, the customer calls the dealership and is put on hold while the service writer is on a call with another customer. After 15 minutes waiting on hold, the customer hangs up and calls back only to be told the service writer just left for lunch.

Disappointed, the customer leaves a message for the service writer to call him back ASAP, reiterating the need for the car later that day or to at least be able to make arrangements for alternate transportation. An hour and a half later, the customer calls back the dealership and is again put on hold. Now doubting the decision to have this dealership take care of his car, the customer anxiously waits for the service writer to get on the line.

You’ll note in the image above, the experience is in the blue third of the circle. It’s blue for a reason as emotions are still somewhat cool. Interestingly, surprise, disappointment and doubt can be squashed by bringing the experience back to the 12 o’clock position. Something positive must be done, and quickly.

“Mr. Jones, I’m sorry I missed your call and as we’re super busy, when I had a short break, I decided to grab lunch. However, I did make sure to have your car checked and as I know you need it back ASAP, and as it appeared the problem was minor, I had my mechanic make the necessary repairs and the car will definitely be ready by 5 o’clock. The cost of repairs is $237. Can I arrange to have our customer courtesy driver pick you up at 5 o’clock?”

Even though the customer wasn’t given the opportunity to authorize the repairs, the service writer appears to have the customer’s best interests at heart. BAM we’re back to the 12 o’clock position. That is, until the car is not ready at 5 o’clock. Although, the customer has been picked up and is back at the dealership.

Again surprised, and sliding quickly to feeling disappointed again, the customer accepts the situation as it is and asks for a loaner car. “Sorry, we don’t have any left.” The customer then asks about a car rental. “Sorry, it’s now 6 o’clock and they’re closed.” The customer requests a drive home. “Sorry, my driver is dropping off our last customer and heading home from there.” With emotions starting to spin out of control, the customer requests he take his car with the promise to return tomorrow. “Sorry, various things had been taken apart and my mechanic just left for the night.”

Sure, this may be an extreme scenario, but similar situations do occur every day at businesses everywhere. Whether at an automotive shop or a restaurant or even with in-home repairs, surprise, disappointment and doubt happen when expectations are not met, when communications break down, and when a customer is left with no options and a feeling of having lost control in the matter. So, what happens next?

The journey continues into the pink zone. Emotions start to run high. Frustration and anger set in. Before you know it, the situation slides into the red zone. Tempers flare and buyer’s remorse sets in.

Let’s update. The car is fixed. The repairs ended up costing $687 and the customer was able to pick up the car in time for the scheduled trip.

Does it matter at this point? Is the customer satisfied? Will the customer return for service in the future? Will the customer refer others to this establishment? The resounding answer is, NO!

Is it possible, if not likely the customer will badmouth this business to others and maybe post a negative review online? The resounding answer is, YES!

OK, shit happens but let’s assume there was nothing intentional here on the part of the service writer and/or mechanic. It happened but how can improvements be made to avoid a similar experience in the future? Why is it important to know? After all, the situation is behind us. It’s over! BUT it was a bad customer experience AND it was a terrible employee experience. AND if others heard the commotion, it was a bad experience for them, too?

AND if nothing is done to evaluate and to make improvements to ensure situations like this don’t happen again, how does that affect the culture within that business. You see, there are multiple experience factors that stem from each situation. Each one can be used to evaluate and improve processes and procedures.

In today’s era of economic uncertainty, it’s critical that processes and procedures be in a constant state of evaluation and improvement. The experience factor should be treated like a line item much like anything else that costs and can cost the business money AND can cost the business its customers and employees. Only by treating it like a line item will it be front and center and treated accordingly no different than costs that may be spinning out of control.

Help is just a message, phone call, email or text away!

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797-9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and also at Entrepreneurship411.com.

Bring the series to your organization

If you’re interested in having the Preparation for War: You vs. Recession series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.

Have a great day. Make it happen. make it count!

Culture is a Work in Progress That Must be Managed

I’m so glad I have your attention. I say that as I’m again seeing significant increases in daily views of recent articles and subscribers at Acceler8Success Cafe. The reason, of course is sharing once again articles from the series, Preparing for War: You vs. Recession.

Well, we’re in this war together as it would be very hard to believe that any entrepreneur, restaurateur, solopreneur and any small business owner isn’t already being impacted by economic uncertainty. Preparing to win this war right now is paramount to our survival.

The past few articles I have shared from the series centered around positive experiences for customers and employees alike. The two go hand-in-hand like peas & carrots but actually more like peanut butter & jelly. Have you ever tried pulling apart a peanut butter & jelly sandwich? If you have the visual in your mind, you’ll picture the two substances essentially being stuck together.

And if you’re an aficionado of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches as I am, you’ll agree that the two ingredients to this wonderful sandwich are dependent upon each other. If you don’t agree, may I refer you to a section of bread that only has peanut butter with the jelly not having been spread to that corner. It’s just not as good as the rest of the sandwich.

The customer experience is dependent upon the employee experience. The employee experience is dependent upon the customer experience. It’s a simple, yet complex scenario. An employee has control of the customer experience in how he or she interacts with a customer and along with other components of the experience (environment and product), an employee, the one interacting with the customer enhances the experience. This employee is key to bringing it all together.

Conversely, an employee is dependent upon the customer to interact back with him or her, sharing in the experience, creating a bond. However, only if the employee is of the right mindset, one that is driven by his or her personal experience with the business will he or she be able to effectively interact with the customer. Therein lies the complexity to positive experiences. Only with a strong foundation on each side of the bread can the bread be brought together to create the desired result.

In order for positive experiences to be achieved, the right culture within an organization is paramount.

Culture lives and breathes in all organizations. It must be nurtured – fed and taken care of. If sick, the virus causing the sickness must be addressed. In the case of cancer, it must be identified, isolated and removed – making sure to properly treat closely affected areas to be sure of total elimination. If healthy, it must continue to be fortified – an immune system built, and new well-being programs developed.

At the end of the day, culture is a work in progress! It must be fluid. It must fill in the cracks and gaps and reach its own level. It must be understood by all. It must be allowed to grow. But it must be managed. The key is whether you do so reactively or proactively!

As I had shared in the series, I had read an interesting article about strategy and its effect on culture, Why Strategy Matters and How it Influences Culture. The author brought up several key points:

Does strategy matter?

If you do not think that it matters, then you are in good company. There are many who question the value of strategy. And I see many companies where there is no formal strategy; the informal strategy is to keep doing what has worked in the past or to chase what is fashionable today.

Strategy v Execution

When it comes to questioning strategy there are two schools that are particularly prominent. First, there is the school of execution. The execution school which says that strategy is waste of time. Why? Because strategies are generic-obvious and what matters is execution. The ability to turn strategy into the daily lives of the organization. Clearly, there is some truth in this school. Strategy which cannot be operationalized is waste of time-resource.

Strategy v Culture

Then there is the school that says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yes, culture is powerful. Culture determines what gets done and how it gets done. A strategy that does not take into account the fit with culture will meet lots of resistance. Getting people to enact such a strategy will be like fighting a guerilla war with an enemy who is patient and cunning. What is forgotten is that culture can be and is influenced-shaped-shifted through strategy.

To see strategy and culture as being separate and distinct is a gross misunderstanding. This misunderstanding arises due to our reductionist-analytical thinking. Strategy and culture are interlinked. Put differently, if you change strategy, you will take actions that will influence the culture. And if you change culture, it will eventually influence the strategy.

Corporate Culture as defined by Investopedia (aka Business Culture, Company Culture, Organizational Culture)

Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions. Often, corporate culture is implied, not expressly defined, and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the people the company hires.

A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.

A commonly used definition by Inc. Magazine

Corporate culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.

Positively Memorable Experiences… They’re Not Only for Customers!

Several months ago, I shared my article, Positively Memorable Experiences… They’re Not Only for Customers. The focus of that article was on the franchisor / franchisee relationship, but the tenets of a strong relationship are paramount in developing a strong culture regardless of the organization, franchise or otherwise. The following 5 points are from that article and now shared here with some editing, making them applicable to relationships within any organization:

  1. Understanding the true meaning and spirit of relationships. This must be shared and exemplified at every point of contact with all within the organization.
  2. Developing the right culture at all levels. Be careful — culture is also defined as bacteria. This takes time and commitment, and is a reflection of how people, whether employees, suppliers or others, are treated at all times.
  3. Creating an environment of truth, trust and transparency based upon open, two-way communication — the cornerstone of creating the right culture. Think of a three-legged stool that could hold a great deal of weight when fully intact yet would immediately fall under its own weight if one leg was compromised.
  4. Establishing your organization as family. Treat them as such but understand that this is not the typical type of family of yesteryear with subservience to the head of the household. Mutual respect is paramount.
  5. Building an environment whereby all are focused on mutual goals and objectives. All must sing from the same hymnal, and not just for dress rehearsal; be sure everyone has the hymn book; ideally, one that is based upon collaborative efforts.

Some may refer to the above as being great in theory, and not really practical. But just think what could happen if every touch point were seen as another opportunity to create or enhance positively memorable experiences. How would that change the culture of your organization? How would that lend credibility toward growing your organization? Think of the ripple effect. Live it and breathe it every day for optimum results!

The Experience Factor

The ‘Experience Journey’, which I also refer to as an ‘Emotion Circle’ is a simple way to gauge and improve any type of relationship. Keep in mind, all relationships have an experience factor. All interactions have an experience factor. Every touchpoint also has an experience factor. Even digital touchpoints have an experience factor. And especially, culture within an organization has an experience factor. Take some time to let that all set in.

As I continue to share this week the articles from the series, we will take a deep dive into the ‘Experience Journey’. I believe you’ll see how it all ties together – customer experience, employee experience, culture – and how this simple graphic will be a priceless point of reference for organizations of any size.

Help is just a message, call, email or text away!

The future may be a bit bumpy for some, more so for others. Knowing who to turn to and when to turn to for guidance and help is important. Having resources at your disposal is also important. So, if you hit a wall, for whatever reason, please feel free to reach out to me for assistance or even if you just need someone to talk to. Please do not hesitate. You can reach me right here on LinkedIn, by email to Paul@Acceler8Success.com, and by phone or text at (832) 797-9851. Learn more about Acceler8Success Group at Acceler8Success.com and also at Entrepreneurship411.com.

Bring the Preparing for War: You vs. Recession series to your organization

If you’re interested in having the series presented to your organization, either as a webinar, workshop or conference break-out session, please click HERE for more information. The program can be tailored to your business model, product, service offering and industry segment. It has been resonating quite well with franchise and restaurant brands.

Have a great day. Make it happen. Make it count!