Look Backwards to Learn How to Move Forward -Learn From or Repeat Your History

Leaders must understand their organizations capabilities both good and bad. This assessment is crucial to the success of any change initiative. The best way to do this is to examine the past history of their organization’s ability to plan and execute.

“Leaders who use the let’s try it again approach expecting to achieve a different more positive result are true optimists but poor leaders.”

I like to say anything is possible and made more likely through proper planning and solid execution. Realism begins with a true understanding of the gap between the present state and the desired future state, specifically, what is the required time, talent and tools / processes to bridge the gap.

Change requires critical thinking and involves hard choices. Leaders must understand that resources are limited and the organizations ability to change will be limited by the choices of what needs to start, be continued or stopped. Truth is you can not keep doing the same things and expect change to successfully occur.

“Ambition will not become accomplishment unless you address the organizations shortfalls and mitigate them.”

Will I firmly believe success belongs to those doing the work and short comings belong to the leader the successful leader must determine the way froward. It is the responsibility of the leadership to determine and address the performance gaps.

“Leadership involves hard choices and the responsibility to successfully sell them to the organization”

The organization that points fingers to avoid accountability will fail. Specifically when managements blames the workers and the employees blame management accountability is ambiguous and non-existent. Leadership must have the hard conversations and forge mutual ownership of problem solving with the employees to understand and address the performance gap.

For employee engagement to occur two questions have to be asked and answered. First, what is in it for the employee to accept the change and secondly, what is the employee expected to do. It is with this clarity that leadership can sell the needed changes.


True Leadership Trumps

So true. True leaders find the path forward by inspiring their organizations to take the appropriate actions to push forward. In truth adversity inspires the creativity, innovation and determination that differentiates the winning organizations from those whom live on life support. It begins with having solid strategy https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-makes-your-strategy-real-stephen-t-howell/

2018 Strategic Planning

As you prepare for 2018 planning its essential you understand these 3 realities.  1. Time is your most valuable asset. 2. This coming year is not new its a continuation of this year’s efforts 3. Dynamic transformation is possible ( only If you have a real plan).

What Makes Your Strategy Real

Strategy Plan Success – Event or Process

One of the most common factors that leads to disappointing results in the organizations Strategic Planning initiative is when they are executed as an “annual event” and not an ongoing business critical process that get updated and refined year over year. Following is a short list of concerns and recommendation for your consideration:

1.     The Strategic planning process is executed as more of a sprint than a marathon. Lots of up front energy and inspiring thought-provoking ideas of what could be followed by vaguely worded action items and off the organization goes running fast and hard. Soon the demands of the daily business take precedence and strategic plan initiatives fizzle out. As soon as the plan goes off track momentum is lost and initiatives die.


My approach is to define success and then backwards engineer the plan to build a road map.

Ambition becomes Accomplishment when adequate time and resources are invested along with disciplined planning and follow-up. Strategy without a defined execution plan is a no go. Spend the time to fully define who, what, how, where and when. Using Smart Goals is good way to ensure there is enough manageable detail to reasonablyexpect success. A common flaw is committing to do too much, too fast. By spreading the initiatives over a realist timeline you will only commit to what can be realistically accomplished.

2.      The Strategic Planning process focus is mostly on crafting the strategy, which is the inspiring and the creative side of the process. The Execution Plan, which is the way to turn the vision into reality, is where the advancement begins to become real. Organizations typically gather under prepared senior employees to an offsite location for a multi day meeting to do “Strategic Planning”. At every break they get on their cell phones back to the business and remain immersed in the details back at the office. The message here is the initiative is a disruption to their ongoing “real priority”.


Senior leadership has to inspire and provide real purpose to harness the energy and creativity of their organization leaders to commitment to the plan. This requires that the plan becomes a major part of their jobs and not an additional commitment on top over their existing demands. No one has an extra 20+ hours to assume more responsibility as they are already maxed out. These new commitments must be prioritized and replace something they are already doing. Hard choices must be made.

3.      The strategy must be real and urgent. Well meaning strategies that are more fluff and lack substance have low buy-in and little chance of success. They may be real goals / needs but lack the detail and defined roadmap to success needed.


I have seen great visions evaporate because they lacked both clarity and definition. Taking the time to ensure the vision becomes a realizable initiative is essential to gain buy-in and commitment.

How to write the perfect e-mail

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today, make sure you’re using it right


By: Matt Beauchamp, Owner of MRB Ink

E-mail is one of the most used forms of communication today. Most of us use it all day everyday. We receive countless e-mails all day, often opening one to find a long rambling message that quickly has us deleting it.

We’ve all seen these e-mails. The ones where we wonder if the writer had any idea what they were doing when they crafted their message.

The funny thing is, we’re likely guilty of writing these e-mails as well.

When we’re contacting someone for the first time, why is it so hard to write that perfect e-mail?

Not to worry, we’ve got some tips to help you write a great e-mail that gets your message across and gets your e-mail read. We’ll even give you an example of the perfect e-mail.

Why are you writing?

First you need to establish WHY you are writing the e-mail. Are you looking to get a reply from the recipient? Are you paying them a compliment with no reply necessary? Are you inquiring about something? Or is the point of the e-mail just to open communication lines for sometime in the future?

Once you have established the point of your e-mail, it’s much easier to craft something more specific, which in turn will make it more likely to reach your goal.

Get to the point

People want to know why you’re writing and they want to know fast. Skip long-winded introductions, compliments and stories about how you know a friend-of-a-friend. Tell the reader why you’re writing and what you want from them.

If you need a reply make sure they know it. If no reply is necessary then let them know they don’t need to get back to you. They’ll love to hear it!


Keep it simple, stupid! It’s almost shocking that this needs to be said, but it’s true. There’s nothing worse than receiving an e-mail that is cluttered with pictures, and hyperlinks and different kinds of font.

Keep your message straight forward and to the point. If your message can be said in only a couple of sentences, then do that. Trim excess sentences and words to ensure that you only have the real meat of what you’re trying to say.

What’s in it for them?

Too often e-mails are about what’s in it for you, why the receiver should help you, etc. Don’t be afraid to tell them what’s in it for them.

Make sure if you’re stating benefits that they are reasonable. For example e-mailing Mashable and asking for a shout-out on their front page isn’t reasonable. Make sure you do your homework and that the receiver actually does what you are asking.


As your writing your perfect e-mail, think of it the same as introducing yourself to someone face-to-face.

When meeting someone for the first time it’s not likely you would excessively shower them with compliments, or give them your whole life story. More realistically you’d do a quick introduction of yourself, then listen to them as they did the same.

In writing an e-mail this equates to hitting the send button after an introduction.

20 questions

Try to minimize the amount of questions you ask in an e-mail. The more questions (especially open-ended one) you ask, the less likely you are to get a response.

Keep your questions to one or two max per e-mail. Make sure you ask direct questions like, “Can we meet for coffee next week to discuss the proposal?” Don’t expect all of life’s questions to be answered in one e-mail. Avoid questions like “How can I get rich quick.”

Remember you can always ask more question in additional e-mails. They key here is to keep the lines of communication open.


Here’s an example of a terrible e-mail.

Dear Matt,

I hope you are doing well! I was curious if you had any concerns about your online marketing and how it works or figuring out what is going to work you’re your project. I know firsthand how frustrating and challenging it can be to keep focused on your marketing with all of the different channels out there and all of the information.

When I first started my own company, I didn’t even know where to start with my marketing projects. Should I go with social media? A website? Who should I call? Luckily over the years I figured it all out!

We’ve had tremendous success with companies like ABC Corporation, where we took a marketing budget and expanded their company base by 50%. Would you like more customers? Do you want to see increased profits?

Would it make sense for us to chat? Either by phone or in person? If you don’t feel like we can be of service then please let me know, otherwise I would love to talk to you about what areas you are trying to address and how we could help. Could you please get back to me?


Jim Smith

Thankfully this is not an e-mail I have actually received, however I have received some VERY similar to this. Long, with too many questions, and only a vague understanding of what they could do for me.

Using the tips we’ve discussed above, here’s how this e-mail should be.

Hi Matt,

I’m writing on behalf of <Insert Web URL>.  We create online marketing programs that make it easy for businesses to grow.

Here are some companies we have created successful programs for <Insert list of related and well known sites>. Creating a program with us takes very little time and most companies see results they love within the first two weeks.

I have openings on Wednesday and Friday of next week to share these strategies with you, which day would work for you?


ABC Marketing Company


Take Home Points

·      Get to the point

·      Keep it simple

·      Clearly state next action

·      Present benefits

·      Edit for conciseness

·      Limit questions