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7 Leadership habits of highly successful people

February 17th, 2016

Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible leaders. These people have achieved at the very highest levels, in their industries and professions.

Today, I’d like to share 7 habits, which are common to all of them. Here they are in no particular order:

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In Order to Scale you must be Obsessed with Delegation

December 14th, 2015

The difference between someone that thinks they are a business owner and someone that thinks they are an entrepreneur is one of mindset mostly.

A business owner looks at the work to be done and asks – how can I get all of this done? An entrepreneur looks at the same work and ponders – how can I get someone else to do all of this?

I know that may seem simplistic, and it certainly is, but if you create a business, and you do all of the work – especially if you do all the work because you currently have the time – you are bound to fall into the trap of business.

And that’s a trap that some find impossible to escape.

From the very beginning, you must understand that there are very few things in your business that it makes sense for you actually to do. Of course, that can be very hard to wrap your head around when you’re still trying to gain enough traction to call what you do a business, but it’s crucial.

In my experience people who start businesses that do something they don’t know how to get this the most because they must.

Think about it. Let’s say you are a consultant, and you see a huge opportunity to help people do something like tax planning, but you know nothing about accounting or the tax code.

You would be forced to go out and find people who could do the work, right?

Now let’s say you are a marketing consultant, and you start a marketing consulting practice. Well, by gosh you know how to write a good ad and you know just enough about SEO to have an impact and after watching a few videos you can customize a WordPress theme and guess what – you’ve created a job!

Jobs are very hard to scale and even harder to sell.

If you want to grow your business, you must become obsessed with delegating all but a few things. (Oh and delegation and abdication are not the same things – there’s a right way and a wrong way to delegate – more on that to come.)

If this idea has you intrigued, let’s take a look at how you get started.


The first thing you must do is take a look at all of the tasks you currently do in your business. If you’re a solopreneur, there’s a good chance this is a very long list.

The point of this exercise is to start understanding what you can and should delegate. Take a look at this list and start categorizing the work by importance.

Mandi Ellefson has a handy little Scalable Toolkit that offer some forms you can use for this exercise. She emphasizes thinking about work in the context of things like work you hate, you must do, and you can’t do.

From this list start assigning value. There’s value to the business and cost to have someone else do it. Don’t underestimate the output of someone far better at something than you either. I have a bookkeeping VA that charges $65/hr. That may seem high to some, but I hate this kind of work so much that it takes me far longer to do it than someone who strangely love this work. The output vs. cost is significant.

Chris Ducker has a great list that might help you get started – 101 Tasks You Can Outsource to Virtual Staff


Now that you’ve made your list and hopefully a commitment to outsource and delegate it’s time to figure what you can’t delegate.

Even if you put together a killer internal team, there are a few things that CEOs/Business Owner simply can’t delegate. (How you approach them might change, but you’ll always own them so why not start doing just that right now!)

  • Vision – you must have an idea of where you are going and why you are going there and what difference you going there is going to make in the lives of your customers, staff, and community. You can’t ever delegate this, but many never go here in the first place.
  • Culture – the core beliefs, operating standards, and core story are something you have to continue to nurture, uphold and teach no matter how large your staff grows. Eventually, this is lead by example, but it must be intentional.
  • Client Relationships – You may have project managers (I hope you do), but how your clients feel about your business, understand the results they gain by working with you and grow to appreciate what your business means in their life is something of great value to your business and must be guarded and practiced.
  • Rainmaking – So this one is a little tricky. At first you will be the rainmaker, the person who brings in the big contracts, constructs the sales playbook and monitors feedback throughout the sales process. But, at some point, if your business depends on you for this, you’re stuck – you have to build a sales system that others can easily operate before you can become totally free.
  • Money Management – I already mentioned that I don’t like bookkeeping, so I delegate every element of it. I have an accountant for tax preparation as well. I even work with a coach who is focused on the growth metrics inside my business, but I insist on staying on top of key performance indicators and managing the money inside the business.


Once you understand the things you must own, it’s time to start creating priorities and managing your days, weeks, months and quarters based on doing more of these high payoff activities.

At first this may well include spending a great deal of time documenting how the work is done and recruiting, hiring and training internal and external team members to take over more and more of the work.

Perhaps then you can free up more time to go sell more work and start to create processes that allow you to train others to sell more work.

Then, maybe, just maybe you’ll find a day or two here and there where you can lock yourself away and come up with a new product or service innovation that allows you to step into and conquer an entirely new market.

And soon enough you’ll find yourself in your lab designing marketing experiments aimed and tackling new channels and entirely new ways to generate clients.

That my friends is how scale happens.

Sure, there are two hundred and seventy-three million steps in between, but it starts with this mindset – how can you get someone else to do everything that needs to be done.

Disruptive Technology is Disrupting Behavior

November 18th, 2015

I study disruptive technology, specifically innovative technology that gains so much momentum that it disrupts markets and ultimately businesses. In the past several years, disruptive technology has become so pervasive that I’ve had to further focus my work on studying only disruptive technologies that are impacting customer and employee behavior, expectations and values and affecting customer and employee experiences. I can hardly keep up with today let alone consider the potential disruption that looms ahead in every sector imaginable including new areas that will emerge and displace laggard perspectives, models and processes.

The image above represents the focal point of my work in 2009 – 2012. I called it the “Wheel of Disruption” (WoD) and it was meant to document and convey that the “Golden Triangle” of real-time, mobile and social, surrounded by the cloud, was inspiring incredible innovation and thus producing new and disruptive new apps, tools and services.

It was quickly dated to say the least.

Jump ahead to 2013, and you can see just how quickly disruptive technologies were rising and shifting while affecting or creating new markets, i.e. the so-called sharing economy, which I refer to as the selfish economy, and also the maker movement, connected homes, alternative currencies, ephemeral communication, unbanking and crowd-funding, etc.

This version too was quickly dated.



Let’s take a trip back to the future and visit 2015. What you see below is a working, and crude, model of the the Wheel of Disruption and as you can see, it’s radically enhanced and far more complicated. This is because the rate of which disruptive technology is, well disrupting, is exponential. So the ability to keep up with the next big thing is shaping and reshaping my view of the horizon regardless of how many years you want to look out. But if you notice the differences between this rough model and its predecessors, you’ll notice I’m now focusing on technology’s affect on behavior and the resulting affect on society and how that influences markets.


Disruptive technology’s impact on the short-term is fast and exceptional. Look then at how innovation shapes disruption and the causal effect of disruption on how people go through life, whether personal or for business (even though it’s blurring), you slow evolution to the point where you can track its trajectory.

And, this brings me to the present. As a so-called futurist, I’m now reprogramming my crystal ball to still explore disruptive technology but more so humanity. The Wheel of Disruption was cool and initially effective in tracking technologies that helped prioritize investments toward strategic iteration and innovation. But it was by observing people and the who, what, where, why, when plus to what extent and how shifts in behaviors, expectations, values et al., are bringing to life the old adage of “the future isn’t what it used to be.”

What does that mean? Take a look at the outer layer of the work in progress WoD and you’ll notice that the outer layer is comprised of effects not trends. That’s the layer emulates the ripples of disruption. With each new disruptive technology that acts as a pebble in the water, the ripples that cast forward change the nature of the water’s surface and direction. Here’s the thing; disruptive technology is never going to let up and thus, these pebbles will continue to hit not in just one place, but all over, causing short and long-term transformation on the surface and below.

This metaphor only means this…the future is the result of technology’s impact on society and everything else is upset, rejuvenated or roused as result. Oh the humanities of it all. The future 5 or 10 years out is a selfish one, governed by accidental narcissists who were conditioned to know that the world literally revolved around them and they, whether they wanted it or not, now had the power to…

Put themselves out of work or relevance because of technology.

Gain new expertise that makes them matter to the next economy.

Inspire a new generation of people to change and work toward a common purpose.

Etc. etc.

It’s almost infinite. No, it is.

In a world of “disruptive” apps, devices and machines, humanity becomes the killer app.

Lack of Digital Skills Hampers Company Progress

October 16th, 2015

The survey shows that digital skills are essential for growth and success in business today.  These skills range for coding and graphic design to being able to use productivity tools like Dropbox and video conferencing.  VMware CTO Joe Bagley said one of the main problems is that a lot of people thinking digital skills means coding, whereas what it actually means is how people operate in a modern world. “It’s affecting the business and how they interact with customers,” he added.
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August 31st, 2015

I work with all different types of brands in social media marketing, and I’ve noticed one thing is fairly common among prospects in particular: many brands aren’t willing to give clear budget guidance for social media marketing efforts. Read More…

Want Success? Make It About the Team – Always

June 22nd, 2015

To build an empire takes more than one person. It doesn’t matter if you’re a solo entrepreneur, a solo blogger, a solo musician or artist.

To truly build an empire takes more than the soloist you may be – it takes a team. Read More…

How to Effectively Lead Your Employees to Improve Your Business

May 11th, 2015

In a recent interview with my friend Guy Kawasaki, author of Art of the Start 2.0, he mentioned that perhaps the hardest part of building a business was learning how to lead and motivate people. Read More…

4 unwritten commandments of the corporate communicator

April 13th, 2015

Today’s corporate communicator has a legion of responsibilities. Everything from executive communications to media relations to employee communications falls under its umbrella.

Corporate communicators must be good writers. They must be able to hold and lead a meeting. They must have good interpersonal skills. And, they must be able to work well alone–and in a team environment. Read More…