My Thoughts by Rick Stephens

Getting a Grip on Your Business

Posted in Business Control,Developing Processes by Rick on the May 11th, 2007

Get a GripI am adamant about the use of processes. I believe that everyone who is organized and interested in minimizing grief in their business as well as their personal life uses processes. For me, processes are an integral part of my life. I use them everywhere and often. Some people would say that I am too process oriented at times, and maybe I am. I, however, find that my life is simplified by processes and they allow me to spend my time thinking about the important things in my life instead of the routine.

I first realized the value of creating and following processes way back in my youth and have allowed them to be a part of my life ever since. When I was in the military, I found that while in basic training many of the recruits, as well as myself, were struggling to respond to verbal commands from the drill instructor. He would fire these orders out rapidly and with a vengeance. “Left Face. Column right.” When a recruit would turn left instead of right or right instead of left the drill sergeant would get right in his face and make him look and feel like a fool for not knowing right from left.

The problem is, that when you are under stress and responding to rapid fire orders it is very easy to make that type of mistake, turning the wrong way. So I realized that to keep from making that mistake, I had to create a process that would allow me to turn immediately in the correct direction without having to think about it. It had to be subtle and consistent. Here is what I did. While standing at attention I would slightly grip the seam of my right trousers. While marching I would grip my right index finger and thumb together as if I were gripping the seam of my trousers. (Because your arms move while marching, I could not keep a grip on my trousers, so I gripped my fingers to get the same feel.) I then told my brain that when ever I heard an order to turn right I would turn in the direction of my gripped fingers. It worked, and I never had to endure the drill sergeant yelling at me for turning the wrong direction again.

I don’t know why this worked, but it did. Your brain is an amazing thing and when given a process to follow, it will take over for you. This is why it is so important to have processes in your business as well. Your company must be able to run on autopilot for all of the routine situations. This will allow you to concentrate on the important things in your business, such as customer service, product development, marketing strategies, etc.

If you will establish processes for all of the routines in you business, amazing things will happen. So taking a lesson from my military basic training let me just say, “Get a Grip!”

To Your Success –
Rick's Signature

Do You Know the Rules?

Posted in General Business,Leadership by Rick on the May 2nd, 2007

I’ve been watching my local basketball team, the Dallas Mavericks, struggling in their first round of the playoffs, hoping this is the year they take it all. I still have confidence that they can win, but an interesting thing occurred to me during last night’s game. I was talking out loud to the TV as I often do during ball games (I think it’s a guy thing) and many times I would shout something like “That looked like goal tending to me!”, or “That wasn’t Charging!”.

My wife patiently read her book as all of this was going on but finally she looked up from her book and said “How do you know all these rules?” It made me take a moment and think as to why some people know the rules better than others, not only in basketball, but in all sports. I examined my own knowledge level of sporting rules and quickly determined that even though I may watch all kinds of sports, baseball, football, golf, Hockey, etc., there are some sports in which I understand the rules better than in others.

I tried to think about why that was so, and eventually I came to the conclusion that the sports that I actually participated in as a youngster were the ones in which I had the most knowledge of the rules. I believe this is probably true with most people. If you have ever played baseball you probably understand what an infield fly rule is all about and why it exists. If you have never played golf you probably don’t completely understand when and where you can take a non penalized drop or how it is done.

I believe this is true in the business world as well. Those of us who have gone through the trials and tribulations of running a business have made enough mistakes that we are quite familiar with what will work and what will not work, the rules so to speak. Just because we might have an advanced business degree doesn’t mean that we know all of the rules. A degree by itself is probably similar to watching the sport but never playing it.

This brings me to the point of this article; never underestimate the value an experienced advisor can bring to the table. Many business people will fail simply because they did not know the rules they were playing under. Keep your business advisor close and consult with him/her frequently. Their EXPERIENCE will make a significant and positive impact on your success. You’ll soon be playing the game of business with a high level of knowledge. It is a lot more fun when you understand the rules.

The last thing you want is to hear the referee blowing his whistle, pointing at you, and slapping a penalty on you because you did not understand the “3 seconds in the paint” rule!

To Your Success –
Rick's Signature