Holiday Homestretch

Holiday-HomestretchWith 37 days left in 2014, families and organizations are undoubtedly feeling the pressure of holiday crunch time. I’m pretty guilty of waiting last minute to buy all of my Christmas presents, but when it comes to prepping for the next year I try hard not to lose my focus and keep it going.

This time of year it really does feel like everything is working against you, though. The dreary weather sometimes makes it impossible for you to even get into the office, unexpected family visiting, hysteria at every store you visit regardless of what you want to buy…. It seems endless. During this chaos though is when you need to carve time to review how the year has been, since you’ll be busy the next couple of weeks preparing for 2015.

Revisit Your Earlier Goals – Hopefully you made a list of goals at the beginning of the year to guide your business. With so little time left in the year, you shouldn’t be looking at your list and attempt a mad dash to the finish. Rather, it’s a time to look at your list and see what has worked well for you. Hopefully you’ll find that you not only surpassed some goals, but that you also surpassed goals you added on a little later in the year. You’re bound to find something that was meant to be your focus that you may have let slip through the cracks…

Tie Up Lose Ends – If you do see a few loose ends that you were supposed to focus on for the year, you should do one of two things: (a) see why you weren’t able to meet this goal and attempt it next year or (b) decide if you should make it a priority for the coming year or if it’s actually a critical goal. Losing sight of a particular goal isn’t always a bad thing. Perhaps you subconsciously realized that this goal wasn’t essential to growing your business – especially if you’ve experienced tremendous growth in the year without it. On the flip side, if your business didn’t grow as quickly as you expected, then you should probably make it a priority in 2015.

Plan Your Time Off Accordingly – You’re not seriously planning on neglecting your family over the holidays, are you? No matter what holiday you observe, this time of year is important to spend with your family. I’ve talked about balance before, but I can’t stress how important it is to actually put your phone and computer down for a bit and spend time with loved ones. I can completely sympathize if a 100% disconnect is impossible, but don’t completely neglect your family either!

I’m very interested to know what your game plan is for the final weeks of the year. Please share your thoughts with me in the comments!

How To Learn From Your Successes

Celebrate-SuccessMost people tell you to learn from your failures. I’m saying that it’s important to reflect on your failures to understand where you went wrong, and I’ve even talked about it in great length in the past, but it’s equally important to focus on your successes too.

While failure can teach you what NOT to do next time, success teaches you about what works and what you need to continue to do. However, don’t be blinded by success and forget that things can and will change, and you’ll need to adapt. Next time you close a deal or make a decision that grows your bottom-line, keep these tips in mind to continue your winning-streak.

Self-Reflect and Give Credit – When it comes to failure, we often look elsewhere to determine how something went wrong. But when it comes to success, we often credit ourselves. Reflect on what you did well and when it is appropriate apply the same methods. Equally as important, give credit where credit is due. Key players in your success need to be acknowledged and appreciated. It’s not only best practice but it will also help motivate your employees to drive success in the future.

That’s Good But It Could Be Great – Yes, you’ve accomplished something great but there is always something you could have done better. Pick apart the process of your success and try to find areas of improvement to make your next move stronger. It may be the timing of your deal or not negotiating enough. Either way, dig deeper.

Discuss Success With Your Team – Gather feedback from your team to ensure you have a rounded perspective. What you think may have went well, may have been perceived differently from your team. Engage in active listening when receiving feedback and let your guard down. Allowing your team to participate in the construction of future success will help grow a stronger team with commitment to your future action plan.

Celebrate Your Success – Don’t forget to celebrate. The team has worked so hard for this and you all deserve some fun. If you’re consistently successful but you never get to enjoy it, your success won’t be sustainable. Employees don’t want to work in a team where their success is not rewarded while being pushed to grow future success. Make hard work worth it – reward yourself and your team.

Overall, don’t be blinded by success but remember to enjoy it. Every milestone in your company can be learned from so it’s important to take the time to recognize it.  Whether it is success or failure, get to the root cause of it with your team.

Say No Without The Guilt

NOAs entrepreneurs we generally want control of everything within our company, which means that when someone hands something off to us “yes” is the first thing that usually comes. That isn’t always a good thing because when you say yes without really thinking about it, things don’t always work out.

Whenever we need to say no but never end up saying it, it’s usually because of guilt. We feel guilty that if something goes wrong with a project it’s because we, personally, didn’t do something about it or simply because we don’t want to offend our peers.

You might not realize it, but saying no can actually save you from many headaches that you have to deal with. Here are some ways to say “no” without feeling guilty.

Think About It First – ‘Yes’ is often the answer we give people almost instantly without even thinking about how this may benefit you or potentially damage you. People would much rather have a well thought out no rather than an instant response without any consideration. A simple, “Can I think about it and get back to you later?” can work wonders for you, and it will generally lead you to an answer that you’re happy with after the fact.

Aces In Their Places – Sometimes we accept tasks because we simply want control over the situation. This is where delegation is critical. You should know the strengths and weaknesses of your team members, and who would be the best person for each task. If someone else can do the job as well as you can, it’s worth it to delegate. Entrepreneurs are busy people, so you need to prioritize and maintain balance.

Learn To Accept “No” From Others – If you can dish it, you have to be able to take it too. Learn to accept no from others. You need to understand that other people’s priorities aren’t always aligned with your own, and know that it’s almost never personal when someone says no.

You Can’t Do Everything – Is it really going to kill someone if you say no? No, it is not.  You can’t do everything. Do things that you genuinely want to do for others and not just because you feel like obligated.  It will make the things that you participate in much more rewarding and the 100% effort will be recognized because it’s genuine.

Make your commitments genuine by saying no to things you are not particularly interested in or do not have the time to do. You only have 24 hours in a day so use them wisely.

Work-Life Balance Beyond the Summer

work-life-balanceThe summer holidays are winding down, meaning that the hustle and bustle of regular office life will be coming back into most organizations come September. Our offices here at the Wish Group have been busy, but there’s no denying that there’s an absence of people thanks to vacation time and such.

Taking time off is tough for most entrepreneurs – myself included. I touched briefly on this in the past, but I wanted to revisit it since it seems more relevant now. As gung-ho as you may be towards your business, you can’t give always give a resounding “yes!” every time an opportunity comes up that will make you put in extra hours.

Learning to say no is the first step towards having a good work-life balance. As much as you think that working that extra five hours will do you and the company good, you may be missing the importance on some important events and putting your health at risk too.  Here are some advantages and advice for how to have a great work-life balance.

Don’t Miss Out on Things That Matter – Some things only come around once a lifetime, like important milestones for your children or events from your friends. Although events like these seem like daily routines today, unfortunately the grim truth is that they won’t last forever. Take time to enjoy the big events as well as the small ones. How does this affect your business? It helps you realize that it’s sometimes the little things that help grow your business or retain a client.

Time to Refuel – A car can only run for so long without having to fill up at the gas station. If machines need to stop from time to time, rest assured, you do too. A pit stop doesn’t mean you are further from your destination, but rather it means that that you can sustain your power the entire route. In business and in life, you need to take a break so that you can come back to work with a full tank.

Try to Keep Work and Life Separate – People mix this up all time. A work-life balance doesn’t mean that you work in between your relaxation time. Just like you schedule meetings to wholly focus on a client, you need to schedule time to wholly focus on yourself. Detach yourself from work and focus on spending time with your friends, family or even just yourself.

Your Health – Working long hours can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, which can eventually deteriorate your health.  In the short term, you lose your ability to think clearly when making important decisions. Long term, a foggy mind and slower reflexes can harm your professional reputation, due to ineffective or slow performance on a consistent basis.

At the end of the day, learn to take a breather once in a while, be it a long vacation or just a day off. I promise it won’t kill you. In fact, I guarantee it’ll make you stronger.

The Challenges of Executing and Delivering

Wish_Group_Summer_ReunionWhether you only have one employee or 50 employees, execution will always be difficult. By execution I mean of course the way that you are completing tasks that will grow your business, and deliver positive results either to your leadership in the company or to yourself.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, the Wish Group went away for our bi-annual team building trip a couple of weeks ago. During these trips we like to have an overall theme for the event that will put a focus on the learning we’ll accomplish, with this year’s theme being execution.

The main goal for these trips is of course team building, but taking the time to discuss challenges and triumphs with your team is also an excellent way of doing that. When it comes to executing, we focused on four different areas that were loosely based on the four disciplines of execution, with a spotlight on sales of course:

Make Important Goals – The only way to achieve great success is to make goals that you can focus on. It may sound simple, but without a goal to focus on you simply won’t have the same drive that other sales people or companies have. One of the tasks we asked everyone at our Summer Reunion to complete is to write down their Wildly Important Goals for the year. This first step is really what sets the tone for how you’ll achieve success, since it’s important to actually define what success means to you!

Define Your Lead Measures – Even if you have a goal, what’s the point if you don’t have a practical way of reaching it? I put an emphasis on practical because it’s common to rush towards a goal instead of tackling it strategically. The best way I can explain this is with a common weight loss analogy. Your important goal may be to lose 50 pounds, but you can’t just make this goal and hope for the best. You’ll be keeping track of how much exercise you’re doing daily and even how many calories you’re taking in. The same thing applies to your sales team. Sure, they want to close a certain amount of deals, but victory lies in preparation. They’ll need to keep track of who they’re contacting, what prospects make the most sense to reach out to and what hasn’t been working for them in the past, just as a few examples.

Track Your Progress – It’s hard to admit, but there are only winners and losers when it comes to sales and business. People don’t pay to see two sports teams kick a ball around and not keep track of who wins. We pay to see one team win, which means another team has to lose. Keeping a scorecard of all of your successes will keep you focused on your goals in two ways. On one hand, having a visual record of the times when you didn’t quite reach your goals will motivate you to keep trying harder to turn those failures into triumphs. On the other hand, with the notes you keep from your lead measures combined with your scorecard, it’ll be extremely rewarding to have a solid trail of your success and how hard you’ve worked to get there.

Accountability to Yourself and Your Team – Your plans, your efforts and triumphs don’t mean anything if you don’t hold yourself accountable by actually following through with your action plan. It’s important to understand that this means keeping track of your failures too, because you’ll never be able to improve if you don’t look at both sides of your endeavors.

As you can clearly see, executing is by no means an easy task, and overnight results shouldn’t be expected. Like with most things in life, if you want to achieve greatness, you’ll need to take it one step at a time. And like most things as well, the first step is always the most difficult – but after that I guarantee that you’ll be able to do it!

The Wish Group Summer Reunion


This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting our annual Summer Reunion for the Wish Group and all of companies that we own. We have been doing these events for many years, and every year they somehow get better and better. Next week I intend to write up some of the more business and sales related issues we discussed at the event, but this week I wanted to share a few of my reflections from the event and why I believe events like these are essential for companies.

When you’re working day in and day out on tasks, meetings and other things, it becomes easy (far too easy) to lose sight of the most important asset in your company – your people. Your people are the reason that your company is successful.  Your people are essentially the secret sauce of why your company is different than any other company. That’s why it’s important to see where your people are coming from, and what motivates them to do what they do – and holding team events is the perfect venue for that.

At the Wish Group, we organize these events bi-annually – once at the beginning of the year to set goals and review the previous year, and one in the summer time to regroup and discuss how things are currently progressing. Even though we meet on a quarterly basis and do practice an open book management policy, we hold these more extravagant events so all of the leadership team has the chance to connect with staff on a more personal level and build rapport. Once your team understands why you’re so passionate about what you do, and vice versa, it’s easier to accomplish all of the goals you set out to do.

Another great benefit of events like this is the fact that your team will get to know each other better. This is arguably the most valuable thing that you’ll get from this event. Your team members are probably used to working with core people that they’re comfortable with, but these events provide the chance for them to build new relationships with team members they’ve never had the chance to mingle with. What this ends up doing is building peer accountability across your team. Peer accountability is crucial for any business, as it means that your team will work hard to finish projects and not let each other down – allowing you to grow your business without worrying.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be an extravagant event that you host. No matter how many employees that you have, you need to get your team together outside the office so they get to know each other better, and so you see what kind of drive they have towards your business. Once you see how dedicated your team is to your common goal, I guarantee that you’ll be inspired.

Brazil Showed Us That You Can’t Always Be The King

Germany-2014-World-Cup-ChampionCongratulations to Germany – they clearly played better than the other teams this World Cup, and their dominance will be discussed for a long time to come. One of the things that will clearly be a talking point for quite a while is their dramatic win over Brazil.

I was in a meeting for the first 35 minutes of that game and was stunned when I finally had the chance to check up on the score. It was stunning because Brazil has been known as the undisputed king of soccer for years, and they ended up suffering the worst defeat possible – in their own home no less. What was once the best and highest scoring soccer team in the world has now been officially eclipsed by Germany.

This loss made me reflect a lot, because I see this exact same thing happen to companies all the time – they become the best, then underestimate the competition, eventually losing to them. As an entrepreneur, it’s important that you keep working hard, even if you’re the “king” of your industry. Here are a few lessons that I think entrepreneurs can learn from Brazil’s loss to Germany.

Overconfidence Can Ruin You – A lot of soccer fans were hoping that Brazil could take pride in winning the World Cup in its home continent. Despite the support of their fans, in all the games Brazil played in they either barely won, got lucky with their win – or both. As an athlete or entrepreneur, overconfidence will hurt you. Overconfidence leads you to under estimate the efforts you need to put in to achieve greatness, meaning that someone else who knows the value of hard work will eventually usurp you.

The Unexpected Can Strike Anytime – Change is the only constant. While Brazil’s defeat could be attributed to the loss of their two key players before the game, it was really their inability to adapt to change. Sometimes you won’t have the resources available to appropriately deal with change, but those are the instances where you experience the most growth and reach new limits. Accept the situation you have been presented with and use your creativity to find a new solution.

If You’re Going To Lose, Do So With Dignity – One thing I have to commend Brazil on is keeping classy while they were trailing far behind. Too often you’ll see a team go out of their way to injure players to make sure that they have a rough time in their next game. But hacking and slashing your opponents in order to jeopardize their chances is undignified. If you’re lagging behind your competition with no realistic chance of pulling through, take the fall from grace with class.

As much as we want to thoroughly enjoy our triumphs, it is important to stay humble. Doing so will allow us to accept the challenges when they are thrown at us and make us more willing to put in a fair effort to overcome them.

3 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

YoungerSelfI’ve made plenty of mistakes during my time as an entrepreneur. While I could have dwelled on them and got crushed by them, luckily I’ve always used them as lessons to push me forward. That being said, there’s a reason why mentors are usually those who are older than us.

Simply put, they’ve lived through the mistakes first hand and as such, know how to deal with any new problems that arise by thinking back on how they handled previous problems and applying these lessons to their current situation.

Now that I’m at an age where I frequently mentor young entrepreneurs, I honestly wish that I could tell my younger self some key lessons. Although there are many of them, here are my most important ones.

Learn to Say No – This one is one of the most difficult things to learn because we often see any new opportunity as an opportunity for growth. However, not all opportunities will be valuable in the long run. Take the time to evaluate your opportunities and cut the cord if it will act as a roadblock to your success.

Learn to Listen – Two ears and one mouth – they should be used in that order. Few people actually stop to take the time to listen, preventing them from truly understanding and learning. There are often times when you need to slow down because your deeper understanding of a subject that you got from listening will take you to the next level.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be You – We spend our childhood trying to fit in and our adult years trying to be different. Sometimes we never grow out of the desire to be like those around us. However, trying to be someone that you’re not will lead to an unfulfilled life. The best thing that you can offer those who you do business with is your genuine self. Your unique personality and insight is what your clients are truly after, since those traits and talents shine through your company.

These are the pieces of advice that I simply didn’t understand when I was younger. In fact, even I was to go back and tell my younger self this, I’m not sure if (a) I would understand or (b) if I would even listen. I believe that, for better or worse, people learn from harsh lessons rather than always heeding advice from others. It may not be simple, but try to keep your mentors advice in the back of your mind the next time you make a big decision.

Ups and Downs of Working on Holidays

working-on-holidaysFor many of the Canadian business owners I know, this past two day weekend turned into a four day Canada Day long weekend – for better or worse. While some entrepreneurs may be taking a well deserved break, the majority that I know will probably be working in some capacity during these days off.

Throughout my years of working holidays, I’ve come to discover that although there are many advantages of working those extra hours, there are also disadvantages that you don’t fully realize:

Disadvantage #1: Missing Out on Family Time: Long-weekends were made for family-gatherings. When working all weekend long, you miss out on time spent with your family that you will never get back. Take the time to put down the laptop and set aside the work, and just enjoy good company. Surrounding yourself with the love and kindness of your family will help you get back to your work with more purpose.

Disadvantage #2: Burning Yourself Out: Taking a break has actually been proven to increase your productivity. If you continuously work yourself to the bone, when the time comes for you to meet an unexpected deadline you simply won’t have the energy or stamina to do so. Pace yourself.

Disadvantage #3: Draining Your Creativity: Putting all your focus on one project may seem like a good idea, however, it’s not beneficial if you are trying to come up new creative solutions. Taking your mind away from a project will allow your mind to wander and come up with incredible new solutions to old problems.

Of course, working during a holiday definitely has its advantages:

Advantage #1: Capture Opportunity: When the rest of the competition is sleeping during the holidays, working allows you to capture opportunities that would have otherwise been taken by your rivals. Entrepreneurs want to maximize their business’ potential and continuous hard work allows us to do that.

Advantage #2: Momentum: Like I mentioned in a previous post, once you stop, it’s hard to start again. We’ve all heard that before in many different aspects of our lives, and work is no different. Keeping a steady working momentum allows entrepreneurs to keep pushing forward because they almost forget how to stop. As any entrepreneur will tell you, achieving success requires persistence.

Advantage #3: Cut Down Your To-Do List: As you run from meeting to meeting, your to-do list often gets larger and larger. Now that you have those extra couple of days, it’s time to cut down some of that list. In fact, this might be the perfect time for you to focus on lesser tasks you’ve been pushing aside, leaving the priority tasks for your return to the office.

As much as we want to continue pursing success by working hard, balance is required to get there. The best entrepreneurs don’t have a fully “off” mode. They’ll lounge by the pool or lay on the beach relaxing, but something will always spur their next great idea.

The Definition of Success Changes With You

entrepreneur-successIn my blog post last week I talked about how failure makes you a stronger person, but this week I want to focus on success. Success can mean a number of different things depending on the individual, and your definition of success also changes as you continue your career.

For example, it was announced last week that my company, The Wish Group, made it on the PROFIT 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing companies – number 364 respectively. Of course I’m extremely proud of my team for getting us this far, especially since this is the third year in a row that we’ve received this award.

This is considered a success, but this wasn’t the end game for me. My end game is becoming one of Canada’s premier providers of business solutions – a goal that’s radically changed since I first started my own business. Back then, I was simply focused on becoming a world-class leader of teleconferencing solutions. Thanks to multiple meetings with different entrepreneurs and spurring ideas back and forth with different people, my goals have now changed.

From chatting with these various entrepreneurs throughout my career and watching my own goals change, I’ve found that people define success in two different areas:

Money Made – This one is the most common definition, for better or worse. I’d say that the majority of people and not just entrepreneurs define their success by how much money they make. While money is important, becoming wealthy shouldn’t be your only goal. The most successful entrepreneurs I’ve met are the ones that see the wealth they’ve accumulated as a means to further their business, be it by funding new ideas or improving their current ones.

Difference in People’s Lives – This point is a big one for me. I personally want to help as many people as I can find their true calling in life, be it an entrepreneurial endeavour or otherwise. This means that I create as many jobs as I can, and mentor people to watch them grow and become successful on their own. While this may not always work with everyone who walks through my door, I at least hope that I touch their life far beyond just a paycheck.

How you define success isn’t important, what matters is how you reach that success. Let the accolades and positive feedback that you receive along the way motivate you towards your goal of success, and then push yourself one step further.