The Secret to Building High Performing Teams at Your Business

If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself and your team motivated for success in this new year, then now may be the time to set the tone. It’s not too late. Today on the Atlanta Small Business Show, we’re joined by Alan Weiss, business coach, speaker, and New York Times best-selling author, to help us kickstart the year with his recommendations for success.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Hi, everyone. Jim Fitzpatrick. Thanks so much for joining us on today’s show. If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself and your team motivated for success in this new year, then now may be the best time to set the tone. It’s not too late. Today, we’re joined by Alan Weiss, business coach, speaker and New York Times bestselling author, to help us kickstart the year with his recommendations for success. Alan, thanks so much for joining us once again on the show.

Alan Weiss:
Jim, it’s great to be back. Thank you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. Talk to us about the importance of starting the year off strong. There’s a lot of managers and leaders and business leaders out there that are kind of scratching their heads saying, “What were those last two years all about?” In light of COVID-19 and trying to figure it all out but yet at the end of the day, they’ve got a team and they’ve got a company to run. What kind of a mindset do they need to have here in January of 2022?

Alan Weiss:
Well, it’s interesting. We use this calendar break as some kind of epiphanic event where everything’s supposed to change and be different. And the first New Year’s celebrations were started by the Babylonians 4,000 years ago, it was the vernal equinox or the autumnal equinox and they were celebrating the crops and so forth. I’m sure 4,000 years ago they were making resolutions they didn’t keep either, is what I’m telling you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great. Lose 10 pounds and work.

Alan Weiss:
That’s right. Save 10 shekels a day or whatever it was. Here’s what I think is important in terms of your question. We’ve been through a period here, as you say, of a couple of years of uncertainty and turmoil, disruption and so forth. I think we have to start looking at disruption and volatility, which sounds like it should be a law firm, as offensive weapons. I think we have to look at the fact that if we create disruption in a marketplace, a positive disruption, we could own that marketplace. Ted Branson did it across Atlantic, JetBlue is doing it in the United States and so forth. And the other thing is volatility is fine. There’s always going to be volatility. It’s nothing new. And some of the greatest companies in the country were actually founded, like Disney and Revlon and so forth during the Depression and during tough times. We have to have more of an offensive mindset.

Alan Weiss:
And the second thing I’d say is this because you can’t avoid COVID sitting there. COVID, an epidemic is a disease that takes over a country. A pandemic, it takes over multiple countries globally. But an endemic is when the disease becomes part of the country. The flu is endemic in the United States and now COVID is and we have to get used to living with it. We’re not going to eradicate it. You can’t close down and we can’t afford more business deaths trying to save every other death. I think our attitude has to be, I want to be assertive, I want to use disruption and volatility and I want to understand that COVID is not going to strike me down tomorrow. It’s endemic. There are vaccines. There are things to do about it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. And I completely agree. It is here to stay and we just need to move on and get out of that COVID fog that we hear so much about. And you’ve got so many employees of companies that are looking to the leaders of those companies for direction and to have the right attitude in business and that’s so vitally important.

Alan Weiss:
Well, it’s absolutely crucial. And during the American Civil War, the biggest fatality among officers was among brigadier generals. And that’s because a brigadier general led a brigade, he’d get up on a horse and he’d say to 4,000 people, “Follow me.” And these 4,000 people said, “Well, if he can get on a horse and go over there, a target for everyone, I’m going to follow him.” And so sure enough, they had a very high fatality rate but people marched across fields and fought for them. And today you have to get on your horse, metaphorically, and lead people. You can’t say, “Hey listen, I’ll meet you over there.” That doesn’t work. You have to say, “Follow me.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great.

Alan Weiss:
And so nobody’s shooting at leaders today. And so you have to say, “Look, follow me. I don’t have all the answers but I have some light and I know where we’re going.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. What do you tell, I know that you work with companies all over North America, in fact all over the world for that matter. You’ve written so many books on the topic but if you could share just a few things with today’s leaders, in addition to what you just mentioned, what would you want them to zero in on in 2022?

Alan Weiss:
I think there are three or four things. I’ve been asked this question frequently. I think one is that ironically, the customer’s not always right. That’s a myth. And it’s based on desperately trying grab money. And so listen to your best customers, triage your customers. The customers who give you referrals, who don’t complain, who don’t return things, who make high purchases, they’re your best customers. Listen to them, ask them but not the people who are returning things and always complaining. Because when you do that, you enable the wrong people.

Alan Weiss:
The second thing is, I’ve never seen a company with unhappy employees and happy customers. And so JetBlue has very happy employees and we all love JetBlue. It’s just great. American Airlines, not so much. There’s a lot of trouble with management there. The postal service, there are tens of, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits filed by postal employees against their own management so of course they’re going to be a little bit surly at times. That’s the second thing, you have to have happy employees to have happy customers.

Alan Weiss:
The third thing is that you don’t dominate a marketplace by being careful, by being cautious, by being an ostrich. You dominate a marketplace by making waves. You’re not here to stick your toe in the water, you’re here to make waves.

Alan Weiss:
And I think the fourth thing is that energy and enthusiasm are infectious. And if you really want to stimulate your employees, have them stimulate people, you have to be positive. You have to be happy. You have to be enthusiastic. You have to show a lot of energy. You can’t say, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Right, right. For sure. Great, great advice. No question. What’s your take on this, what we hear as the great resignation? So many people are leaving their jobs to either pursue their side hustles or open up a business or maybe in some cases just retire altogether. But it is affecting the hiring of employees into these companies because it’s just, it’s very, very tough for companies to hire good people. And it seems as though from the people that I speak with, they hire what they can get rather than the cream of the crop or the best of what’s coming in. What’s your take on where we stand today with that?

Alan Weiss:
Well, there are what I call the three great excuses. The three great excuses are COVID, supply chain problems and the great resignations. And these are excuses for organizations that aren’t run better. How is it that some restaurants are fully staffed and run very well, some hotels are fully staffed, run very well and some aren’t? How is that? It’s not a function of the weather that the airlines keep claiming. It’s not a function of employees coming in. It’s a function of how you lead these organizations. And so the people who are resigning, somebody isn’t leaving a restaurant as a food server or preparer to become an aeronautical engineer. They’re leaving because they were treated like crap. And they say, “I can get a different job.” And in fact, if you look at the Wall Street Journal, we’re at a 50 year high in new jobs being created. 50 year high.

Alan Weiss:
And so that’s why the economy, it’s why the market looks so good. That’s why people are so enthusiastic about the economy because we’re growing and we need people’s and they can go places where they’re not treated like crap. And so I don’t think there’s a great resignation. I think there’s a great disgust and people are saying, “I don’t want to be treated this way anymore.” And for all of your listeners, if you listen to nothing else I say, listen to this, people don’t leave companies, they leave their bosses.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Good point. Very good point. It’s so true. It’s so true. And in light of all of this, is it amazing to you that we’re dealing with this pandemic and yet, business is going so well, the economy is going so well. We’ve got record high stocks and people are hiring and people are out buying cars and boats and houses and you name it. The shelves are cleared. It’s just, it’s incredible what this country is going through. And yet business just keeps rolling along at record highs. Does that amaze you?

Alan Weiss:
No but let me tell you why. When I do workshops sometimes and especially in New York, I’ll be on the 45th floor. I’ll have a big suite and I’ll say to people, “Look out, what do you see?” And what they see is much more understandable and cogent than when you’re down on the street and you have taxis and pedestrians and lights and everything else. You have to get higher up. In business, you have to look at things strategically. And what we’re looking at here to give you the most strategic view is the United States is the greatest economic engine in the history of the world, period. And that’s not going to change.

Alan Weiss:
And so we go through to disease, we go through social upheaval, we go through injustice, we go through polarization, we go through an absolutely stalemated legislature, Congress, but yet here we are because the system basically works. We deal with our imperfections. We deal with our problems, some of them grave but the system basically works. And so it doesn’t surprise me or amaze me at all. People are resilient. They want to be happy. And some people, if you choose to be a victim, you’ll be a victim. Some people, if they choose to be successful and happy, they’ll be successful and happy. We control much more than we think.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. It’s a personal choice we make each and every day that we step foot out of bed.

Alan Weiss:
Here’s the example I give people in my programs. You get up in the morning in one of two ways, you either say, “What a great day. It’s tremendous opportunity. I wonder to whom I can provide value? What kind of customers I can please?” Or you get up saying, “Oh my God, another long, slow crawl through enemy territory.”

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s exactly right. And you can almost pinpoint those individuals that have an attitude like the latter of those two. Where just nothing works and anything that you say, they’re going to give you three reasons why the day shouldn’t go that well.

Alan Weiss:
It’s never their fault and there’s no accountability and it’s somebody else. I’ll tell you something, I watch my dogs out here in the yard. They go racing up the yard if the gates open, they don’t stop and do a risk analysis. They run through the gate. They run through an open gate. They don’t stop and say, “What could happen to us?” They run through the gate. People are too afraid to run through the open gate.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. Is now a good time to open up a business, to start a business?

Alan Weiss:
It’s a great time to open up a business if you know what the hell you’re doing. And even in boom times, even without COVID, most startups fail and they fail because the people don’t have business sense. What they’re doing is they’re trying to monetize a hobby. A place opened on Main Street here. This is an affluent community. It’s got high end restaurants. People open a shop, a donut shop. But they’re selling the donuts for $6 a pop. And my wife says, “That’s not going to work.” And my wife loves donuts. Says, “That’s not going to work.” And it didn’t.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. Imagine that.

Alan Weiss:
You have to understand marketing. You have to understand value. You have to understand how to get repeat customers and so forth. If you understand that, you’re going to be fines. But if you’re just trying to do something that you feel is a way to make money on what you happen to enjoy doing, you’re not going to be very successful.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. There’s so many companies out there right now, as you know, that are waiting on chips for their product or maybe they’re waiting on materials that are coming from China and they’re sitting off the coast of California somewhere in a boat. But at the end of the day, people are still coming in and buying products and then things seem to be a lot easier for salespeople out there that are selling those products. It’s kind of like shooting fish in a barrel as one salesperson said to me. He said, “Right now it’s a heyday. Every customer that walks in buys our product, which is amazing.” Although isn’t it true that, do you agree that bad habits can be formed during very good times like this? Because we know that this isn’t going to last.

Alan Weiss:
Well, it depends what you mean by it’s not going to last.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I mean in the sense that we’re going to have materials coming back in, shelves and cars will be back and boats will be back and it’s not going to be the same as every customer that walks in the door is a buyer.

Alan Weiss:
Well, let me say two or three things, the first is this. If you look at the people and companies that did the best doing the height of the pandemic, there were companies and people who had cash. If you had reserves, you could get what you needed and you got by just fine. And so that’s the secret here. And a lot of companies today don’t have these shortages. Like I said, it’s one of the three great excuses.

Alan Weiss:
One of the interesting things, the second thing is that during the crisis, a lot of companies made tremendous amounts of money by simply raising their prices. And they raised their prices for the exact same product, the exact same competition, because it creates more of an allure. It give the impression, when people want something they’ll pay for it. And that’s the second thing.

Alan Weiss:
But the third thing and maybe the most important is this. What I’ve noticed is the sales process is dramatically changing and it began to change before the pandemic. We are moving much more into an era of evangelism. We’re moving toward an era where people talk to each other and that’s how people make decisions about purchases. And so if you think about it, you ask a colleague, “Do you know a good pediatric surgeon? Do you know a good real estate agent? Do you know this? Do you know that?” And we trust each other and executives and there’s a guy named Jonah Berger I work with at Wharton University, who’s done 10 years of study on this stuff. And he finds that over 80% of executive decisions are made from peers talking to each other. They’re not made from the internet or advertising or anything like that. They’re made from peers who trust each other. That’s where we’re clearly headed.

Alan Weiss:
And if you look at the auto industry, the insurance industry, the real estate industry, these sales are almost purely on referral business. Now there’s a lot of advertising going on. I don’t deny that. But when you come right down to it, it’s people saying, “Go to this dealer, go to this person, go to this company because they gave me a good deal.” And so what we have to do as organizational leaders, we have to bring our best customers into proximity with our best prospects and they will sell. That’s the way it’s going to work.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yep. I agree. I agree. Hey, talk to us about your books. You are a best selling author. You’ve written so many phenomenal books. I’m sure you’re working on one now. Where does all that stand right now? Are you working on the next bestseller?

Alan Weiss:
Well, Million Dollar Consulting, which has been on the shelves for 30 years consecutively.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Alan Weiss:
Was just released by McGraw Hill a couple of weeks ago, it’s the sixth edition.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

Alan Weiss:
Value-based Fees in the third edition from Wiley. The Consulting Bible in the second edition from Wiley. They came out in the last two months. I just had a book out with a co-author Nancy MacKay called, The Modern Trusted Advisor, that came out in the last month. Another book I wrote with a woman named Lisa Larter, Masterful Marketing, will come out in the first quarter and another co-author Jean Moran and I have just had a book accepted, which will come out later in the year. That’s called Million Dollar Influence. Merrily, I go along. There’s about 60 of them now in 15 languages.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That is incredible. That’s incredible. And such good books. They’re all, you can’t put them down and for people that are listening right now, we’re going to be showing all of the books. I highly recommend that you get your hands on them and they’re certainly what you want if you’re going to be in business today. And so Alan Weiss, business coach, speaker, New York Times bestselling author, I want to thank you so much for joining us once again on the show. It’s always a pleasure catching up. I know that our viewers and subscribers get so much out of your visits here on the show so thank you.

Alan Weiss:
It’s always a pleasure, Jim. I hope to see you again.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Great. Thanks.


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