5 Steps to Execution

My experience has been that we are rarely lacking strategy and planning, they are abundant. What we do lack is execution around those plans, which is the major problem we face running a business.

We follow a 5 step process to gain execution on our strategies, and it’s had a major impact on our business.

To set the stage, think of your goals this way: After creating your BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), you will usually set shorter term goals that create the path to reaching your BHAG.

Here at Efficience, we have our BHAG, 3 to 5 year Goals, 1 year Goals and then Quarterly Goals. Each goal is a stepping stone to the next goal. When we set our company Quarterly Goals, each person on the team is assigned individual Quarterly Goals that help work toward the company’s Quarterly Goals. Every week we have a weekly team meeting where we review each person’s progress, defined as Next Steps, towards reaching their quarterly goals.

Here are our 5 steps to Execution:

1Stop for a minute and plan what the next step is you can take towards reaching your short-term goal.  For us, this has to be something achievable within the coming week.

2Write it down and make it visible for your peers to see. This can be posting it on a bulletin board, posting it online, sending an email…just so long as it’s visible to more than just you.

3Put it in your calendar: this means setting a specific date and time to work on your Next Step.

4Tell your peers what you are going to do. This works best if you have a rhythmic meeting schedule, such as weekly, where you can share it with everyone, and then flow right into number….

5Meet with your peers once more and tell them if you completed your task. As stated, this works best with a rhythmic meeting schedule, where every meeting you tell your peers what you did/didn’t do the previous week, and what your next step is for the upcoming week.

As humans we come standard with egos, and none of us like to look bad in front of others. Knowing that we’re being held accountable by our peers drives us to do what we say we’re going to do.

Designing Your Life at EO Barcelona

I’ve attended EO Universities for several years now, but this year was unlike any I’ve ever attended. I went for the first time to Barcelona, Spain. The theme of the University was “Design Your Life”. The idea was to focus on what you really want out of life, and what you’re doing to get there. It’s like choosing a personal BHAG – your very own Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

As entrepreneurs, we set goals all the time, but experience has taught me that we tend to view are business goals and life goals as one in the same; that by reaching our business goals we receive all we want out of life. Shouldn’t our businesses really be the means to our personal goals and the life legacies we want to create? This isn’t the case, in that, more often than not we let our businesses consume our lives and distract us from our families, spousal relationships, and our own personal paths.

While there I attended programs on knowing your limits, and designing your personnel life plan. Verne Harnish introduced the personal one page plan, or the ME page. We discussed things like, “How important is money?” and “How much is enough?” Social entrepreneurs were a common topic, as well as finding strength in all the challenges of life and business.

A fellow entrepreneur, Nando Parrado, gave a testimonial on the Miracle in the Andes, his story of surviving 72 days when they knew no one was coming. Nando and one of his Rugby mates inspired us with strength and courage with their fight against the cold and mountains. They hiked over 40 miles of nasty terrain to find help and see the team they left behind get rescued. On a scale of 1 to 10, this story was a 15…and is to be continued in a later blog.

I began working on my own BHAG on this trip, and I made a commitment to create 3 very deep relationships that will help me grown and be a strong resource for me in good and bad times. Keith Farrazzi talks about this in his new book, who’s got your back. Working on personal goals has been eye opening for me and has allowed me to combine my thoughts about my life with the success of my business in a way that brings more meaning and satisfaction to all that I do!

Whether you are just starting out, or you’ve already achieved success in your business, have you thought about the major accomplishments you want above all else in your life? Look at it like this: If you were a big ship leaving behind a wake that rippled through all those you pass by, one day when you looked back at that wake, how do you want to have affected those you’ve passed? How do you want them to remember that wake?

The people (it is always mostly about the people) and the speakers in this beautiful city of Barcelona, caused me to stop and have some serious contemplation about my future.

3 Keys to Business Greatness!


If you asked me the business authors out there who I think provide the most value, I would have to say Jim Collins and Peter Drucker. Both of these guys have provided huge insight to the business community on how to run a successful company. Like most businesses, we at Efficience are starting the year formulating strategies and goals to make forward progress toward our destination, and reading Collins’ and Drucker’s material has always been good preparation.

Peter Drucker is legendary and has since passed on. I credit him for giving me the insight in the early ‘90s to see how the information revolution would provide the future with value and to develop a mutual fund called IPS Millennium Fund in ‘95 to participate in this information revolution.

Jim Collins opened my mind to creating a company that had a big vision with a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a heart with a core purpose, and personality with core values. So, when Collins came out with his new book, I was anxious to see the new awareness that would come from his decade long research.

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In Great by Choice, Collins and Hansen set up an awareness of how three key areas acted as the common themes in the companies that have dealt with uncertainty, chaos, and luck as well as why some companies thrive despite all this. What they found was very interesting and contradicts common thinking about great companies. They discovered what they call 10Xers (companies that have been beating the marketing and comparison firms by at least 10 times in stock market performance) were not more visionary, more bold, more risk taking, more innovative, or more creative than the comparison companies.

They were more of 3 things:

1) More Disciplined

2) More Empirical

3) More Paranoid

This book is very eye opening! When we think of a company that has had great success, we usually assume it has done so with a new break through idea, a new patent, or by taking a big risk that is paying off. However, this was not the case. Of course, to a point, these companies were innovative and creative, but they became really great by finding what works through empirical evidence, testing that out, and then being super disciplined to get it done. They also worried excessively about what was out there that could change the game for them.

I will discuss each in more detail in next week’s blog. Happy New Year, and I wish you much success this year being worried about what is coming, gathering evidence that your ideas work, and implementing them with vigorous discipline.


Energizing for the New Year!


As this year ends like all the ones before it, we strive to go into the New Year with a fresh outlook and usually one or more resolutions to improve our lives. I often ask others around me about their resolutions and usually find that at least one always has to do with improving health. For an entrepreneur whose world is filled with constant changes, ups, and downs, health and energy are key to pushing forward.

We often hear about how much time we need and how there are never enough hours in a day and so on. We cannot add time. We all have the same number of hours in a day. The level of effort and energy we put into that time can be changed. Much is being written about our need to manage our energy and approach our day and schedule with an energy focus instead of a time focus.

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The book “The Power of Full Engagement” discusses this in great detail. It says, “Managing energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.” It also emphasizes the importance of having positive energy rituals that are highly specific routines for managing energy. A ritual is a carefully defined, highly structured behavior that is in contrast to will and discipline, thus it requires pushing yourself. A ritual pulls at you.

When we have an energetic lifestyle, it translates into better brain output and greater productivity. This happens the most for me when I focus my energy on the things that are most important to my work or business. Our brains are made up of about 78% water and have greater output when we are hydrated. When we wake up, we are usually dehydrated, and our bodies need water to kick us back into full performance. Some say to drink a liter of water when you first wake up. I drink that liter of water along with a protein drink and feel so much better once I get the water and protein into my system rather than loads of carbs that will make me crash.

My son Tony and I work out together and have been doing the P90X DVDs for a couple of years to give us an overall strength, cardio, and flexibility workout. The power yoga and stretching workouts are vital for overall energy and flexibility. I just gave Tony the new P90X2 DVDs for Christmas, and we will start doing this series of workouts together to step up our conditioning and energy levels. This is one of my New Year Resolutions to up my game, so I can bring the highest level of energy possible to my work and company.

Good luck to you on whatever resolutions you create for yourself. As I wrote in last year’s blog, I experience the best results to my resolutions and goals when I create a habit or ritual around them.

By the way, if any of you are doing your yearly planning around this time and would like a free tool to help, go to www.meetinghabits.com and check out our SWOT tool that we use to pull out all the ideas from the team and make our meetings more productive.

What are your dreams?


What an interesting week!  Last week, I traveled to New York City to participate in the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Injected Campus event, which brings the regional EO Forums together.  We met in lower Manhattan to be close to the New York Stock Exchange.

This year during our event, the NYSE opening bell was rung by InvenSense, a company that makes the motion possible in the Wii and in smartphones.  InvenSense was launching their IPO and was going public.  I had always wanted to be there in person to see the opening bell, but it also made me think of my own dream of being up there to ring the bell with the IPO launch of my own company.  That evening, it felt a little closer as my friends on the Global EO Board got to be on stage and ring the closing bell!  WOW!  Click here to see the video I took of the opening bell.

Along with going to the Stock Exchange, we enjoyed a wonderful evening dining and socializing at the Harvard Club in Times Square.  We also heard from three great speakers and spent time with EO members that have really invested time and resources into the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, thus getting a lot in return.  This entire event was extra special! 

Matthew Kelly spoke to us at the NYSE for one of the events.  He does business consulting and wrote the book The Dream Manager.”  His talk resonated deeply with me, so I wanted to share it with you.  Matthew told a story about one time when he was playing golf.  One of the guys he was playing with seemed really down, and when Matthew asked him about it, he mentioned he was having business problems.  After digging, Matthew finally got him to reveal that he has a janitorial company with more than 400% turnover.  This man was spending all his time hiring people and had no time to work on business strategy.

Matthew inquired, “Have you asked the employees what is the problem?”  The man had not and wondered if they would even know, so Matthew said, “Let’s find out.”  They conducted a survey and realized that transportation was the main problem.  They decided to get buses to help the employees, and the business changed significantly.  The turnover rate dropped to just over 200%, so they did the survey again.  This time, they discovered the employees had dreams and desires.  They decided if the employees were helped to realize these dreams, then their respect and loyalty to the company would grow.

They hired a full time dream manager to discuss dreams with the employees.  The dream manager assisted them in creating plans and processes to put them on the path to realizing their small near-term dreams, such as purchasing a laptop or planning a vacation.  Additionally, He helped them work towards their long term dreams of buying a house or getting the proper education toward a new career. 

This approach resonated with me because I am of the type that is always strategizing about working towards the things that make the future better.  I have often asked my team what it is that they are working for and want to have in their lives as they increase their incomes.  It is astounding how the culture of a company can change and how your employees’ perception and loyalty toward their employer improves!

I am working toward my dream of building a company that can go IPO.  What are you doing to invest in the lives and dreams of those around you?

Are You Still Doing It?

Not so many years ago my company, Efficience, went off into our annual meeting and planned our coming year.  We set goals for the company, discussed and planned the great things we would do the coming year, and naturally returned all fired up.  3 months later, in our quarterly meeting, we were in the same place we’d been at the start of the annual meeting.  The nuances of day to day business had laid a thick blanket over the plans we made, and without the help of all of us to lift it, it wasn’t going anywhere. 

This is so similar to the never-ending New Year resolutions we all succumb to making, and rarely find ourselves victorious in keeping.  Good intentions dissipate in the trials of life, love, work, and school.  How funny is it that year to year nothing changes? 

With January coming to an end, how many of you find your commitments are already fading?  It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the big picture.  We fail to see that these goals we set don’t happen overnight, they happen gradually, one step at a time. 

Your next step is crucial to reaching your goal.  Without it, you’ll never take the one that follows.

Our team recognized that we needed more than good intentions to execute our goals.  We brainstormed and filtered out the most important ingredients needed for a process that might make the difference, an experiment some might say. 

At the start of a quarter we take our Company Quarterly Goals and break them down into Individual Quarterly Goals that support them.  From there, each person begins with naming their first step towards reaching that goal, even if it’s a small one.  Where the process comes in is in the Visibility and Rhythm.  We don’t just talk about what we’re going to do, then come back the next week hoping no one remembered and say it again.  We write it down for everyone to see.   The next week, we check it off, and put down the next step.  This step can be as small as making a phone call, as long as it’s a step in the right direction.  It’s a process of reaching our goals one step at a time, and at the end of another quarter, we find ourselves having met our goals and ready to make new ones.  We now use online software, FlockGPS, to help us manage the process (our software, of course!)

The act of telling your peers what you plan to do, and knowing in a week you will have to report back to them, holds each person accountable to the next.  No one wants to be the person that didn’t do what they said they would.  Even more so, we are all contributing to the company goals.  We’ve built camaraderie in our office where we all work to execute our goals. 

The first of January we spent another weekend in the Smoky Mountains on our annual meeting retreat.  But these days we have a process that we didn’t have in the beginning, and that process has helped us reach goals that seemed unattainable in the past. 

In an economy where many businesses are happy just to keep the doors open, we’re growing!  I hope that you can find this helpful in finding execution for yourself, both personally and professionally. 

Do You Have Rhythm?

I don’t mean this in the sense of how well you move on the dance floor.  I’m talking about in your business.  Do you have a rhythm within your organization that keeps everyone in sync?  Do you know the importance of rhythm?

Let me start from the beginning.  Rhythm is not limited to the sound of music.  Rhythm is the cadence and flow applied to any kind of movement or activity.  It’s natural and instinctive. If you go back to childhood and think of nursery rhymes, they don’t just rhyme, they are rhythmic. You don’t have to think about what comes next because you already know.

This is key in the business world. Having regular, rhythmic meetings that keep your team clicking to the same pulse will allow a connect and sync to occur, thus keeping people on the same page and helping to prevent important issues from falling through the cracks.

Here at Efficience we have set a rhythmic process that consists of: a 10 minute daily meeting (what we call a huddle), a 1 hour weekly meeting, a 3 hour monthly meeting, an all day quarterly meeting and a 2 day annual meeting.

Our daily huddle provides an update on each person’s key tasks for the day, a quick review of our metrics, and a chance to present any blockages that are preventing us from moving forward.

Our weekly meeting is set aside for reviewing each person’s weekly steps towards reaching the company goals that we set in our quarterly meeting, reviewing weekly metrics, and open discussion on the blockages presented in the daily huddles.

Our monthly meeting replaces the weekly meeting for that week, and in addition to everything covered in the weekly meeting, we add time for learning and a strategic review.

At our Quarterly meeting, we primarily focus on planning the coming quarter by reviewing our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).  We outline the top 3 things that we are going to achieve in the coming quarter and how each person will contribute to meeting those goals.  Over time we learned that this process was key to executing our goals, and in turn built a software platform around these ideas to help keep us organized and focused (FlockGPS).

Our annual meeting works much like the quarterly meeting, except we are planning for the year instead of the quarter.  We spend significantly more time on strategy and engage in in-depth discussions around our 3 to 5 year opportunities and threats.

A few books that are great for learning and implementing better meeting processes are Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni and Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish.

In music, there is rhythm from beginning to end.  It may change throughout, but it’s always there.  In business, rhythm can create a smooth foundation to which everything else sits on top of, keeping everyone in time and allowing them to focus on the task at hand.