Building Bench Skills vs. Traditional Succession Planning

Traditional succession planning is often a waste of time. Let’s face it, “plans” themselves, although filled with good intention, often fail to create change in an organization. The idea of “planning” focuses on a process rather than a specific goal or outcome. Most company leaders that I know are so busy with the day-to-day issues of running their business that the idea of spending time thinking through a “process” often takes a backseat to critical items like customer complaints, new product development, making financial decisions, addressing employee requirements and more. Perhaps we need to think about succession planning more as a way to develop bench skills in executives with great promise. In other words, as a first step, we need to ask ourselves the question; “how do we help key leaders in the organization build the skills needed to step into critical future roles?” If we think about succession in this way there is a greater chance that these plans will be executed.

The next step is to find a way to measure the execution of these “people development” outcomes in the same way we measure sales, profit, employee retention, cash flow and ROI. These are very practical outcomes that are far more tangible. This requires that we clearly define the “skill gap” for every leader. This needs to be a function of each leaders self-evaluation as well as the evaluation of their immediate report. For example, the VP of Sales and Marketing may want to work with the Director of Sales to assist her in clearly defining her “personal development outcomes.” I am not talking about the outcomes such as revenue creation or unit sales production or percentage growth of a particular client segment but rather her personal soft-skill capabilities. That is her competency level in performing more effectively as a leader in dealing with the people issues required in the role of VP of Sales and Marketing. This might be her ability to recruit more effectively, create harmony in her department or to make better decisions or even to speak in a more professional or inspiring way. These very quantifiable capabilities are bench skills which will allow this Director of Sales to become a more viable candidate for a future VP position. Frankly we tend to overlook these kind of outcomes and certainly few organizations have metrics in place to evaluate them. We simply hope that emerging leaders will develop these people skills by mere osmosis! Without this kind of deliberate focus on these “developmental skills” how could this director ever move to the VP position?

In addition, in order to move from the Director of Sales position to the VP of Sales and Marketing, this director will need to work on developing some of the hard-skills required. For example when she moves from leading the sales group to that of also leading the marketing group, she will need to have an understanding and sensitivity of the marketing elements of the business. Where will she get this from? How will she be able to effectively lead this department if she has had only a minimal or cursory interface with this group? This creates the practical cross training need for this director to embrace some marketing projects while still in her role as Director of Sales. This might be the assignment of a simple marketing project or the integration in her current role with some elements of the marketing department. This is a deliberate attempt to build some hard skills in this area. This will not only help her to understand some of the functions of the marketing group this will also assist her in winning support from the people in this department when she does make the move up the hierarchy. It will also assist in building some of the relationships that are needed for the role change to take place. Again few organizations actually go to the extent of deliberately orchestrating this. In some cases this happens by accident but it is a messy affair often accompanied by confusion, resentment and frustration for everyone involved. Again more often than not this type of predetermined strategy is rarely put in place in a deliberate way.

In short taking a thoughtful approach to creating these kind of bench skills and outcomes is a far more effective way to create succession. So put aside the traditional succession planning map and look at your team now and their roles for the future. Where are the soft-skill gaps? Where are the hard-skill gaps? What kind of personal development should they be engaged in today to prepare them for the next step in career growth? How can you create some very tangible and measurable outcomes for these leaders? Where do they and the rest of your leadership team see these people fitting into the organization in the next 3, 5 or 10 years?

If you can answer these questions you are well on your way to creating a succession strategy that will reap rewards well into the future.

Take Your Foot Off the Brake!

Have you ever driven your car on an icy road?
What happens when you jam-on the brakes?
That’s right, you slide off the road and maybe end-up in a ditch or worse.

That is exactly what is happening to many people today. They are spending entirely too much time watching, reading, listening and talking about how BAD things are in this economy. They are focusing on blaming Bush or Obama or the Fortune 100 CEOS or whoever. As a result, they can’t help but react with fear by jamming-on the brakes.

My winters in Chicago taught me that when I was driving on icy roads and I would hit the brake it would not “prevent” an accident but rather “cause” one to occur. When we blithely slash expenses, lay-off our best and often highest paid people, discontinue investment in technology, marketing, training or improvement programs we are actually RE-ENFORCING our worse fears and jamming on the brakes. I can assure you that this will cause us to end-up in the ditch. Getting out of the ditch will not be easy and in many cases will end-up costing us more than we save.

Instead, I want to encourage entrepreneurs to certainly drive carefully and more diligently. To continue the analogy, we may need to slip into low gear but maintain that steady forward motion. This challenging economic environment is presenting new opportunities (devalued technologies and businesses), the opening of new markets (Green and sustainable areas) and allowing us to access resources which have not been as readily available when times were good (there’s more great talent on the street). This is a fabulous time for small businesses to grow and prosper. My most successful clients are now investing more into growth and expansion opportunities than ever before! We are taking our own advice and investing in the release of my new book, The Rules of Attraction, the release of our new Small Business Radio weekly show and in hiring several new consultants!

Just like navigating a treacherous stretch of icy road, it requires careful planning, quick reaction time, precise execution and a healthy risk tolerance. I plan on safely arriving at my destination on time and ensuring our clients do as well. Our positive mindset, practical skills, and sharp wits will permit us to do so. Won’t you join me?

Your action plan for this week:
Turn-off the news!
Cancel the daily paper!
Stop talking about how bad things are!
Don’t buy-in to the FEAR mentality!

I predict just 18 months from today, you will look back and be happy that you did.
Have a great week!
Mark Deo

Global Business

I want to make everyone aware of an upcoming radio show that we are doing this Friday at 4pm – PST with one of the most interesting business authors I have spoken with in a while.
His name is James Hemerling and his book is called GLOBALITY: Competing with Everyone from Everywhere for Everything. Hemerling states that the old global business model (centralized, top-down, process-driven, with influence running from West to East) will recede, perhaps vanish. It is inadequate for a world in which every global company is forced to compete: in every market, with everyone, from everywhere, all the time, for resources and market share.
Unlike developed-market leaders, emerging-market challengers have evolved new management and governance structures that are ideally suited to this new competitive landscape. In addition, it has enabled them to undercut, outthink, outwork, out-innovate, and generally outfox some of the biggest, most powerful names in global industry. What are these upstart challengers doing? How are they winning?
Imagine companies that:

  • Innovate at the rate of one new product development every 12 hours.

  • Give up the notion of “headquarters” in a drive toward global expansion.

  • Do away with titles and committees in an effort to improve staff development.

  • Expand into 50 countries by satisfying global demand that no one else could see – at the lowest, cheapest end of the market.

  • Hire thousands of people to staff assembly lines, instead of automating, to be more efficient, flexible, and profitable.

  • Achieve such high efficiency that they can give away 60% of their services and still make a profit.

  • Retrain workers by the tens of thousands to build a world-class capability, in less than a decade.

Again, listen to my interview with James Hemerling this Friday at 4pm – PDT. Just go to and turn-up the sound. It’s that easy!
-Mark Deo

Types of Innovation

Last week our article focused on the four types of innovation: standard, specialized, extraordinary and breakthrough innovation. This week we are going to examine some of the areas in which we can apply innovation.

 Tired of reading already? Click here- LISTEN TO THIS ARTICLE. Process Innovation
Innovation isn’t always about changing the product or service itself. Innovation can and should occur in several different areas of business development. We can create innovation in processes as well as in product design. In fact today, this is softer but a far more powerful way to innovate. 

Internal Innovation
Many organizations have gained market advantage by innovating internal variables such as their production process, delivery, technical support or customer service elements. Look at how retailers like Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Ikea and Amazon have innovated the shopping process. All the very latest and coolest stuff, major brands priced with razor thin margins, all in one place and you can have it in seconds. 

External Innovation
External innovation includes building improvement into the selling process, the branding strategy or the marketing approach. In order to create a world class product, service or company we must build innovation into many areas of our business, that is the internal elements as well as the external ones. Because of the competitive nature of nearly every product or service category today, innovation is often a very effective force when applied to the areas of marketing and branding. Think of how Harley Davidson has innovated the image of a “biker.” Now bikers wearing denim and leather are more likely to be Federal Circuit Court Judges and brain surgeons than the wild hoodlums of just a decade ago.

Innovation Defined
Please don’t confuse innovation with invention. They sound similar but they are very different forces. It is a term of economics rather than technology. Webster’s defines innovation as, “a new device or process created by study and experimentation.” It’s interesting that the word “experimentation” appears in the definition. Sometimes we need to experiment in order to discover the correct innovation. Peter Drucker, in his book, The Essential Drucker, says, “The most productive innovation is a different product or service creating the new potential of satisfaction, rather than an improvement.” He goes on to conclude, “In the organization of the business enterprise, innovation can no more be considered a separate function from marketing. It is not confined to engineering or research but extends across all parts of the business, all functions, all activities. Innovation is ultimately the task of endowing human and material resources with new and greater wealth.” Drucker obviously understood the concept of heart share back in 2001 when his book was published.

The Transformation of the Lowly Paper Clip
You may be saying, “Hey wait!  I’m in a price sensitive, commodity oriented industry. That kind of innovation won’t work for me.” Believe me I’ve heard that before – only about 1,000 times. While there may be very few commodity oriented businesses where innovation is impossible or unnecessary, every business can innovate to some degree. Think of the lowly paperclip. How innovative can you get with paper clips? That being said, even paper clip manufacturers are innovating these days. I have seen some pretty creative paper clips lately. I’ve seen colored paper clips, stripped paper clips, day-glow paper clips, uniquely shaped paper clips, magnetic paper clips and so on. Therefore I believe innovation applies to all industries and business categories. We should always be looking for ways to innovate. 

Innovative Bureaucrats
But what about monopolies? Who needs innovation when you own the entire market? You might not expect innovation from government agencies like the IRS or the post office. But have you called the IRS lately? They actually answer the phone and are knowledgeable, courteous and rather helpful. I found out the reason for this is the massive innovation program they are in the midst of. How about the postal service? I encourage you to visit their web site? You will be shocked at the level of attention that has gone into branding, communication and customer automation. Folks like Fedex and UPS have forced them to innovate for the sake of survival and now they are pushing the envelope and again becoming market leaders. If Bureaucrats can innovate so must you and I.

In what areas of your business are you creating innovation? What can you do to expand this effort? If you are achieving internal innovation, what can you do to apply innovation to the external functions? Creating innovation is no longer a luxury, it is a pre-requisite to continued existence in today’s lighting fast economy.

The Three Disciplines of Growth

I’ve worked with many entrepreneurs in my career and I notice that very few are able to grow their business in a significant way. Why is that? I think there are three major obstacles that stand in the way of entrepreneurs growing their business. They are the disciplines of innovation, delegation, and scalability. 

Some would say that small business operators can’t afford to innovate. They don’t have the resources of the Fortune 500 companies. They should leave that to the big boys. I think especially small businesses really can’t afford NOT to innovate. In fact today it’s easier than ever to create innovation. The Internet has leveled the playing field. Now small businesses have access to the same technology, processes and networks as the big boys. And they can innovate with greater speed. Innovation increases market share by overstepping the competition. It wins more mind share by making products or services more memorable. And it increases what I call heart share by achieving greater efficiency and a smoother customer experience. 

Unfortunately entrepreneurs are “get it done kind of people.” Therefore they do too much themselves. They are often content with only making “good use” of their time rather than the “best use” use of their time. Super-achievers are of the opposite mindset. They are quick to recruit OUTSIDE resources. They realize it is the best way to expand THEIR limited resources. They ensure that they are ALWAYS making the best use of their resources including their time. Imagine that you owned a small piece of property in New York City but you’ve never made more that $20,000 a year from it. A convenience store chain comes along and offers you $50,000 per year for 50 years. A good deal right? You sign on the dotted line. The next day Donald Trump knocks on your door and offers you $1 million for the next 50 years. Unfortunately you already leased it. Your good use of that property robbed you of it’s “best use.” The same is true of our time. Like that property you only get to use it one way, one time. Time is our most valuable and limited resource. 

Scalability is defined as how effective a solution will be when the size of the problem increases. Or, “how well your processes perform” when your enterprise expands. In the business growth strategies that I implement for my clients I use five strategies for creating scalable solutions. I don’t have time to discuss all 5 of these right now but the first is called “utilizing synergy.” What if I told you, that a paltry 10% change in your selling effort could result in more than a 33% increase in profit? You’d want to know how, right? Consider this: If we were to recruit 10% more clients, increase orders by 10%, and increase price by 10%, the net affect would be a 33% increase in profit. This works in any industry for any kind of business, 100% of the time.

Think about how you can use innovation, delegation and scalability to grow your business. For more great free resources download my Grow Your Business Program. It doesn’t cost a dime. Tell me what you think.

The Rich Get Richer?

Is it possible that just “thinking rich” can make you rich?

Now I’m not sure that I’m the best person to ask that question to. While I am fortunate enough to have no real money worries, I wouldn’t exactly call myself rich.However I do have some associates that have been able to literally go from rags to riches in just a few years. How did they do it? Inside tips on the stock market? Working 90 hour weeks? Discovering a legal recreational drug? Not quite.For example take my friend, Christopher Howard. Chris was a member of my Dale Carnegie Sales Course about five years ago. He was an average guy. Had a fairly modest career in sales. His income was maybe $60,000 or $70,000 per year. But something was missing for Chris. He just wasn’t happy being “average.” So he changed all that. Now he has his own growing group of businesses with a million dollar plus income.I had Chris on my radio show just this past Saturday and asked him how he did it. His answer is what most wealthy people say: “It was easy.” Now like you I’m thinking, “yea right, easy for you, but what about me and the millions of others who drive next to us on the freeway every day grumbling on their way to at a job they loathe?” We need to change the way we THINK, Chris went on to tell me. He said, many people go through their lives under the illusion that they cannot change those elements of their personalities or aspects of their experience that they are not satisfied with.He made it his life’s work to study those that did make that change. He spoke about Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Michael Dell and a host of others. Chris decided to read their biographies, study their lives and understand the values they embraced and decisions they made which thrust them to success. Then he began modeling those behaviors. He took responsibility for his success. He stopped waiting for his big break and made it happen! And like magic, now he’s one of them!Let me ask you, what’s stopping us from doing the very same thing? Nothing – only our own thoughts. By the way the transformation in Chris was so profound that he spends his days and nights telling other people about it and helping them to achieve the very same thing. You can check out Chris Howard’s company at listen to my interview with him at Is it true that by simply changing your thoughts you can completely change what you have in life? How could it be that simple? It is, but first you have to believe. Most people want to see something happen, then believe in it. To be successful you have to do the opposite. Believe in it first, then you will see it.Recently I interviewed Zig Ziglar on my show and I asked him the secret to success. He told me, you may have whatever you want in life… if you help enough people get what THEY want! Zig went on to tell me that if you see yourself as a successful person, in time you will become the person you see. However visualization and affirmations are not enough, you must have clearly defined goals. “With a plan we are geniuses, without a plan idiots,” Napoleon Hill said in Think and Grow Rich nearly 70 years ago. It’s all about changing our mindset. Whatever a man thinks himself to be; that is what he shall be.Along these same lines I thought I’d share this great list that I found on the internet of why being Broke (or thinking poor) is a waste of life. Check it out at The Broke think everything is too good to be true, while the rich think that getting a job sounds too bad to be true.2. Broke people give up when things don’t go their way; a few disappointments and they are onto something else, saying things like “it wasn’t for me.” The rich work harder and become more determined when things go bad, and understand that you have to take the bad with the good to make it.3. Broke people always have an excuse. Rich people say “my fault” and refuse to make excuses.4. Broke people think that not getting what they want is OK. Rich people are disgusted at the thought of not getting what they want and will do whatever it takes.5. Broke people always have to talk it over with their broke friends to make sure no one will make fun of them if they make a decision. Rich people think for themselves and could care less what their broke friends think.6. Broke people are never coachable and teachable. Rich people are always learning, even when the money starts coming in, they never stop learning from those who were there first.7. Broke people are scared of others. Rich people entrust in others and know that other people are crucial for their success.8. Broke people are always procrastinating; they would rather talk about it, read about it, think about it, but never seem to do anything. Rich people hate doing anything but getting it done.9. Broke people are glad when the day is over. Rich people love when the day begins.10. Broke people think rich people are lucky. Rich people put themselves into a position to be “lucky,” and then work hard to make the “luck” show up.11. Broke people work by the hour. Rich people work by the month. Broke people want to know that after 1 hour of work they have something to show for it. Rich people find broke people who think like that and make them their employees.12. Broke people get excited they just got hired. Rich people think it is funny that someone could be fooled that easily; they are just making the rich person more rich.13. Broke people complain a lot. Rich people are thankful that no one shot at them today, they didn’t have to fight in a war, and that they don’t have a job.14. Broke people are too concerned about what other people are doing. Rich people are only concerned about what they can be doing to get more done. Broke people think that if no one is doing something, it must suck. Rich people think that if no one is doing something, it means more money for them. Broke people think that if everyone (all 200 people at the meeting in a city of 1 million) is doing something, it must be saturated. Rich people think that broke people aren’t too bright.15. Broke people think it is OK for other people to live where they want to live, drive what they want to drive, and do what they want to do. Broke people are OK with the fact that they can’t do these things. Rich people get sick just thinking about being average. Broke people think that other people’s opinions are worth more than their dreams. Rich people know that their dreams are worth more than other people’s opinions.”To be rich, you must learn from the broke and do not do what they do nor think how they think.”By the way if you want to find out how long it will take you to become a millionaire, check out this very cool little calculator at hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email Deo

Priorities, Priorities

How many of you reading or listening to this regularly attend trade shows in an attempt to get new business? 

Right. That’s what I thought. Just about everyone. It makes sense. That’s where plenty of good prospective customers are gathering – at an industry trade show.
I know several companies that use industry trade show as their primary means of attracting new business. They prepare for the show all year and NOTHING gets in the way of attending that event.
In fact I heard a story recently that you might find entertaining (hopefully not too familiar though).

A company that specializes in logistics for importing perishable products was planning to attend the big industry trade show in Boston. This outfit packed up all their most talented sales pros, not to mention all their key executives and decision makers for what they hoped was their most profitable trade show ever. Hopefully they’d return to headquarters with a stack of new leads to follow-up on.
Back at the ranch (their corporate headquarters) they received a telephone call from one of the largest packers of perishable products in the world (you’d know their name if I told you – but my liability insurance carrier wouldn’t appreciate it). This prospect was referred by one of their current clients and needed some assistance and fast. Apparently their current logistics provider was unable to deliver the service they needed at this most critical time. Now what do you suppose they were told? Were they welcomed with open arms? Did headquarters think to track down the CEO or VP of Sales to take care of this most-in-demand prospect? After all they were on their way to a trade show with the EXPRESS purpose of finding a customer JUST LIKE THE ONE CALLING FOR HELP.

No, not at all. As unbelievable as it might sound they were told, “sorry but all of our executives and sales staff are on their way to Boston and there’s no one here to help you.”

And that’s not the best part. When the prospect asked who could help them, headquarters in their omnipotent genius recommended that they call their best competitor. 

Why is it businesses spend 80% of their marketing dollars going after new customers and clients rather than nurturing, retaining, and maintaining the customer relationships they already have? Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers. 

Few companies spend ANY time on creating referrals let alone have a strategy and plan for developing a steady stream of referrals. 

Sales among repeat customers are 107% greater than non-customers. It costs six times more to sell something to a prospect than to sell that same thing to an existing customer.
While a growing business needs to constantly capture new customers, the focus and priority should be on pleasing your existing customer base. Companies that fail to nurture and develop referrals from their customer base ultimately fail. They also end up spending twice as much to get new clients as they do in maintaining existing customers. 

The bottom line is that one of the key components in marketing and business growth is to spend the majority of your time and effort nurturing customer relationships and generating referrals so that you get business from existing clients and customers.
In our Attract More Business Program we teach a method of gaining referrals as part of your marketing strategy. If you are interested in finding out more about this strategy please feel free to contact me at or visit

Have a great week!
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo

Paralyzed by Fear

Are You Waiting…

for someone to lead and inspire you?
for the boss to recognize you?
for clients to thank you?
for coworkers to help you?
for prospects to find you?
for the world to hail you?Well here’s a news flash…. They are all just sitting there waiting for you.Someone recently asked me, what I felt was the biggest challenge for marketers today? My answer was complacency. Websters dictionary defines complacency as contentment and self satisfaction. You might say, “Hey hold on there Deo! Isn’t that what we are striving for as entrepreneurs and small business owners? Shouldn’t it be our ultimate goal to be content and satisfied with our business, finances, family and life?”I say, NO.When we become content and satisfied, we no longer have any motivation to get better.We drop our guard. We become OK with achieving the minimum. Unfortunately in today’s competitive environment achieving the “minimum” in the short term may just not be good enough to “survive” in the long term. This can be very dangerous in the fast paced, high risk, volatile economy of the 21st century. You may be thinking, “that sounds a little scary, Mark.”It is.Many people today are saying that fear is bad. I agree that too much fear can be debilitating, just as a complete lack of satisfaction can create disappointment and disillusionment. There are no absolutes. But if we completely eliminate fear from our lives, we lose some of our most base instincts. Think about when you first started your business or your first day on the job. Weren’t you a bit apprehensive? Didn’t you have some fear? You probably found yourself asking questions like, what if this doesn’t work? What will I do if I fail? What if my coworkers or clients don’t like me? Can I really compete? Do I really have the skills necessary to succeed at this?I think you would agree that this is the GOOD kind of fear. The fear that drives us to greater levels of performance. Fear that motivates us. It’s the kind of fear that makes us have more apprehension for things staying the way they are rather than bringing about change.What does this have to do with marketing, you might ask. Successful marketing must allow us to significantly differentiate ourselves from our competition. We need to look different, sound different and be different. We need to go beyond the expectations of our clients and prospects. We must be willing to always be a bit uncomfortable with the way things ARE if we want to change. We can not be content with waiting for change. We can not be satisfied with the most comfortable option.Here are some very specific things that you can do to make fear the friend that you consistently court, rather than the foe that you chronically avoid:1. When things look bleak don’t deny reality, accept it and begin to develop some options. Write them down and take action to change things rather than waiting for them to get better.2. Don’t allow yourself to be forced into change. Make the decision to bring about change BEFORE you are swept-up in the maelstrom.3. Find someone that you can mentor. Taking this leadership role with even just one person will allow you to see the power of fear and change in another person. In the end, this will make it much easier for you to cope with fear and embrace change.4. Look for situations where others are positively dealing with fear and change. Give them the recognition they deserve for coping with their changing environment. This will reinforce your own values.5. Change the way you celebrate achievements.Typically, we set goals, we work hard at achieving them, we reach them and we celebrate. We are content and satisfied with a job well done. Hopefully when the party’s over we set new goals and the cycle starts all over again. But shouldn’t we be setting new goals BEFORE we pop the cork on the Champaign?6. Be an evangelist for your company, product or service. Ask yourself, how YOU change peoples lives for the better. Focus on this. NOT features and benefits.7. Be a catalyst for change with everyone that you meet. Look for ways that you can help them to cope with the fear and change in their lives.8. Don’t try to eliminate all stress in your life. Like my old boss, Sue Schneider used to say, “Stress is good, DISTRESS is bad.” If we try to completely eliminate stress and fear in our lives we will be sadly disappointed. On the other hand if we find ways of coping with stress and fear, we will amass for ourselves resources of great value.9. Be the first. Decide from this day forward that YOU will be the first to initiate change in your organization and even at home. You will lead and inspire. You will give compliments and provide recognition. You will thank your clients and vendors. You will lend a hand to help fellow workers. You will seek prospects whose businesses and lives can be improved by your company, product or service.I hope this helps you to begin see fear as a friend and change as the precursor to growth.

More Than Just Luck

Or how to transform a few bucks into mega-millions!I am more concerned about the return OF my money than the return ON my money.-Will Rogers

Remember the movie Rain Man?

Tom Cruise was fed up with his autistic brother Dustin Hoffman. Then out of the blue he discovered his brother’s savant -numbers! He could perform complex calculations in his head at the speed of light. He could count cards like crazy (no pun intended). They ended up in Vegas winning thousands of dollars because Hoffman’s character had an innate skill.
Make Your Own Luck
Many people dream of becoming instantly rich by winning in Vegas or hitting it big in the lottery. In that setting, most “winners” hit it big through total luck. The sad reality is that most people will never be lucky enough to win big at any game of chance, because winning such games almost always requires a series of highly random events to fall into a proper, unlikely order. Winning over the long term in these games requires something more than just luck. It requires specialized knowledge and a well practiced skill, which restricts the number of professional gamblers to a rare few. Even for those who do win by chance, studies show the vast majority–even those who have $100,000 or more dumped in their laps–have absolutely nothing to show for it twenty-four months later! It has vanished–spent or lost in speculative ventures.

Get Rich Slow
So how do we get rich? Well we can work for it. Good luck there! Use some passive investment vehicles like the stock market and various business ventures. Those can be risky as we’ve seen. Or we can invest in the real estate market.

Chances are if you are reading this article, you are likely one of the millions of property owners that are “equity rich.” That means your primary residence or income properties have appreciated significantly. That’s a good thing, right?


Not according to Douglas Andrew, author of the book, Missed Fortune. While most Americans are working like busy beavers trying to pay off their properties so they can own them free and clear, Andrew says doing so is more dangerous than we think.

Debt Can Be Your Friend
Today there’s a lot of talk about eliminating debt. What is the biggest debt most of us have? Our mortgage of course. Most homeowners believe the most successful strategy to financial security is to eliminate the debt of their mortgage as quickly as possible. Many do this by sending extra payments to their lender to lower interest fees and reduce the principal. This makes sense if you operate under the assumption that debt is your enemy to be eliminated as quickly as possible. But what if we viewed debt as our friend?

Some debt, when managed wisely can be very desirable. Let’s look at debt. If you think about it you can only do four things with your money. You can spend it (I’m good at that one), give it away, lend it or own with it. When we put our money in a savings account we are putting it in a “lended position.” The bank pays us an interest rate for loaning it that money. A bond or another kind of debt instrument works in the same way.
When banks borrow your money by allowing you to open an account with them they are placing themselves in your “debt.” This is not to say they are being unwise. On the contrary, they understand the difference between good debt and bad debt. They rely on the proper management of debt in order to make a profit for themselves and their stockholders.

Equity Fails the Three Tests of Wise Financial Investing
On the other hand, if we put our money in an equity or ownership position we incur greater investment risks but we also position ourselves to capture greater appreciation on that equity. This happens when we purchase stock or real estate. The downside to having too much of our assets tied-up in real estate equity is that our money is not liquid, yields no rate of return, and it is not safe. We can, however, accomplish both goals by using debt and equity to balance our assets so that we meet the three tests of wise financial investing: 

1 – Lacking Liquidity
Money tied-up in real estate equity does not pass the liquidity test because even though it’s YOUR money and you paid it to the mortgage company, THEY get to decide IF they will loan some back to you, how much you deserve and what interest you should pay them for the privilege of using your own money! Having too much equity invested in our properties make us house-rich and cash poor.

2 – Yields No Rate of Return
One of the greatest misconceptions that homeowners operate under today is that the equity in their home is generating a rate of return. Nothing could be further form the truth. While real estate DOES appreciate and this has the potential of creating a return on investment, it appreciates at the same rate regardless of whether it is mortgaged to the hilt or owned free and clear. A higher equity position does not make the property more attractive. In fact, a lower equity position can make some properties EASIER to sell.

3 – Unsafe
Finally it is unsafe to have too much equity tied-up in a home be it a primary residence or an income property. The reason for this is that at anytime the mortgage company can decide to call the loan. This does not happen because we continue to pay our monthly or bi-weekly mortgage payments on time. What if something happened like a physical disability or catastrophic event that precluded you from paying your mortgage? Well the mortgage company would foreclose on your home and you would lose every penny of equity with it. Does this like a safe investment? I think not.
These are the strategies which are outlined in the 560 pages of Missed Fortune. Intimidating as that might sound, the book is jammed full of easy to understand and practical money strategies. Andrew himself says, “This book will teach concepts and give insights that are contrary to popular belief. Now is the time to discover the best way to safely accumulate more money.”
I recommend the book to homeowners, investors, realtors and everyone interested in acquiring more wealth. 

By using equity and debt wisely we can increase our ability to leverage our assets so that they are producing a significant return on investment. In this way we can make the best use of knowledge and practice street-smart financial strategies that help us to “make our own luck.”

Have a great week!
I hope that this “Business Update” has been helpful in assisting you to improve the performance of your organization. For more information on how the Small Business Advisory Network assists companies in improving their performance, please feel free to contact us at 310-320-8190 or email 

Mark Deo

Goal Setting

Just the word goal has been overused and abused. It’s gotten to the point where people just cringe when they hear it.

How many of us made new years resolutions this year that now, almost in May, we’re trying to forget? How many of us set goals for ourselves that we have yet to achieve? Or how many of us keep setting the same goals over and over and over again? Or maybe you’ve given up on a goal? Hey, it can be disappointing, disheartening and down right depressing.You might say “Oh come on Mark, I’m busy just trying to run the day-to-day business here, when do I have time for setting goals?” I know. That’s why my fellow consultants and I here at decided to make this the lead article in our newsletter this month. We’re going to discuss how you can achieve your goals faster, easier, more effectively and have a whole lot more fun. It doesn’t have to be that hard! There ARE some sure-fire ways of achieving your goals. Let’s take a look at what Jim Ball, the founder of the Goals Institute in Reston, Virginia has to say about achieving your goals. He recommends a five step approach: 1. Make a solid commitment to your goal – achieving a goal requires “kinetic exploratory discourse.” That means you can’t learn to ride a bicycle by reading a book you have got to fall off once or twice to get the feel of it and to really understand HOW to ride a bicycle. Make sure you’re goals are laser-clear in your mind.
2. Outline a plan – the key to maintaining momentum is always knowing what to do next. Those steps will lineup like domino’s as you achieve them, each leads to the next. Take one step toward your goal everyday, even if it’s just making one call.
3. Act on your plan – every evening right down the four or five major things that you’re going to accomplish the next day. Look at the list and find the item that relates to your big goal or vision and highlight it. If you can’t highlight something every day, then you’re not making progress. You are just fooling yourself. Use chunks of time. Say you’re trying to finish a proposal. Set aside from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. to work on it. Don’t let the day take you. Take control of the day.
4. Learn from your progress – make sure you’re following your plan then regularly measure what you are doing. Did you reach your goal? Keep checking and adjust your plan as needed.
 5. Create systems – the difference between success and failure is habit. In business, habits are called systems. For example with sales, your habit might be calling five new prospects everyday.Out of 10,000 people, maybe 20 percent have laser clear goals. Of those, maybe 20 percent have a plan in writing. Of those, maybe 20 percent implement the plan. Of those, maybe 20 percent learn from their progress. That’s 16 people. Out of 10,000 people only 16 people will achieve their goals. That’s less than 2/10 of one percent. You can be the minority.Tips for Staying Focused on Your VisionHow can you learn to create a vision, stay focused on it, and make it work for you in more positive and powerful ways? Here are 10 tips to turn vision planning into concrete results:1. Put it in writing. As simple as this may seem, it is often the difference between a vision that works and one that is never attained.
2. To challenge yourself. Your vision must be chosen honestly, and always be true to your yourself. But you also have to push beyond your previous limits to reach new heights.
3. Distinguish between your long-term vision and short-term goals. Remember, your vision is you ultimate destination. Goals are merely the steps along the way. There is a big difference between long-term and short-term goals, but they need to be interrelated in order to get you to where you want to go. Short-term goals are the building blocks for your long-term vision. Creating your long-term vision enables you to consciously focus your creativity in a specific direction.
4. Focus on the goal not how to get there. Keep your eye on the target at all times. Life doesn’t just happened to you; you can make sure your daily choices are steps on the path to creating a successful vision.
5. Be flexible about the how. Right from the start you can rest assured that things are not going to turn out exactly as you plan. Does that mean you’re vision is wrong, or your goals are meaningless or that you shouldn’t bother to plan? Of course not. If you insist on knowing how it’s going to happen, success can smack you write in the face and you won’t even know it.
6. Visualize yourself in the future. Most people think in pictures. As you begin to right down your vision place yourself in the future and make it seem real. Record the date by which the vision will be accomplished. Then stop, close eyes and imagine that you are there. Visualize yourself as clearly as you can, what you are wearing, where you are, what you are doing. How does it feel to have already accomplished that vision?
7. Record your vision of your ideal life. This is your grandest vision of your life in your world, as you would live it at your highest purpose of potential. Let your imagination run wild and create the biggest picture possible for yourself.
8. Stop beating yourself up. We’ve all had goals that we failed to reach. As a result, people create enormous mental barriers when they think about goal setting. A failure is only a failure when you learn nothing from. Businesses fail; people don’t. It’s important to make the distinction.
9. Let your goals be changing. Life is changing, as such; your goals should constantly evolve. Make sure you review and refine your goals regularly. Today your goal might be to grow your business, but five years from now it could be something entirely different.
10. Have fun. If setting and achieving your goals isn’t fun then why bother? Let your imagination carry you away to your greatest wildest dreams and don’t limit your possibilities. Vision Planning Goal Setting Program 
Like our other programs, we work with you to customize a plan to meet your specific needs. Includes course material, step-by-step instructions, and 6 one-on-one email consulting sessions held over a 6 week period. We guide you through each step of the process using an interactive format. First Two Weeks:
Process planning – show you how to identify and achieve balance in each of the key areas of your life.
Vision development – we teach you how to visualize YOUR future and show you how to make it reality
Prioritizing – we help you to define precisely what is important to you 
Goal Formulation – we work with you to establish and document specific goals Second Two Weeks:
Measurement – we show you how to test your goals and make course corrections
Action step planning – outline and execute a step-by-step logical plan for implementation and show you how to get feedback on your progress
Reporting – We MAKE you “put-it-in-writing” and we teach a system of remembering and reviewing Next Two Weeks:
Delegation – how to get others to help you achieve your goals
Compliance – we help you to establish coaches in your life and to LEARN from your mistakes
Reduce stress and tension – we show you how to structure your plan so that you live a more “goal oriented” life daily with less worry I hope this helps you to improve your ability to both set and achieve realistic goals.