The Japanese and Chinese word for improvement is “Kaizen”. In the business world, Toyota is likely the most famous company to adopt a Kaizen approach in the 1990’s when they faced a labor crisis in their business model. In their metamorphosis to a more efficient and productive business, they created systems that empowered people at any level to ask questions and come up with solutions. The idea is to be open to new ways of doing things to get better results.
How often have your looked at your systems in your own business? Are there areas that can be improved? Do you know what results you are looking for? Perhaps it is time to have a Kaizen look at your business and systems to get better results. I know that this is what I am always doing.
One of my favourite quotes from George Bernard Shaw is “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
While on holidays this month, I finished reading my book on the founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos. I couldn’t help but reflect on Shaw’s quote in the context of how incredibly resilient Bezos had to be to build up his vision of an “Everything” store in Amazon. In the book, there is a short comparison of Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos. Both individuals lived without “filters” and if not fully understood would be considered by many as insanely rude. The flip side that I see is a leadership quality of such clarity, conviction and drive to make a difference in the world. In Bezos case, he is ruthless in communicating his passion for customer service and performance of the company.
The book was voted business book of the year and I recommend it to anyone that is running their own business or looking to create something in their own vision.
Setting goals and being creative is valuable and I am a firm believer in this being the starting point for any endeavor. But so is going the next step…aka getting some “dirt under your fingernails” too. In other words, vision boards and affirmations only take you so far…eventually you have to actually “DO” something if you want something to happen. Yes, you have to do your own push ups and swim your own laps!!!
A great tool that we use in our company for tracking action items is Asana. Here’s a link to the Mission statement for this online tool that I feel aligns very well with what we are focused on achieving. It’s a very intuitive tool and allows collaboration for many people that may not share the same office space or geographic location. This was key for us as we are in 6 different locations across BC working in all of Western Canada. If you have a complex project and a diverse team, this may be a useful tool for you too. Enjoy and “get ‘er done!”
Sun Tzu and the Dalai Lama…
For the last 4 or so months I’ve been playing with (researching) a new idea for a business that involves understanding a completely different culture – China. It has been a thrill to say the least and I found myself re-reading one of my favourite books by Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”. Surveying the battlegrounds is fundamental to winning. To understand the playing field is critical in any business.
To offer a counter-balance to this, I also watched “10 Questions for the Dalai Lama” on Netflix. Both perspectives have opened me up to my experience so far while negotiating with Chinese counterparts. The gamesmanship is fierce and I find myself waking up with a snap everyday ready to see what next unfolds.
The nugget I wish to share with all of you is this…”infinite patience”. The North American culture and way of doing business is NOT the same as the Eastern culture. It is considered rude to give direct “no” and fast answers. If you don’t agree, find a way of framing it so that you clearly request what you want, yet still get your point across. I’ve been using Skype to have live conversations and always back it up with email correspondence to ensure everyone is clear on the next steps and what was agreed to. Love it and am having fun!!!
Hey if anyone reading this has experience with conducting business in China, I’d love to exchange ideas/ learnings. Drop me a line!
What I have learned through my business, career, and CoachVille Training is to identify key recurring actions and to take a critical look at the results, both positive and negative, it’s time to zero in on the next key aspect of success in your business…practicing your skills.
In the game of soccer (European Football from my friends in the UK), one skill is shooting the ball so that it goes IN the net. SIDE NOTE…I’ve coached youth soccer for many years and played men’s league soccer for many more…hitting the net is an absolute game changer and the sooner we learn this skill the better! In the game of business a key skill is connecting with potential customers. If you don’t connect with the customer…you’ve missed the net and need to building your skills.
The key is to practice your skills to connect at the level you are at, or that just above, so that you get better at doing this. What I find very interesting is that many people have no problem practicing to kick a ball around to get better at hitting the net…BUT when it comes to having an engaging and meaningful conversations with a customer, very few people practice. WHY? It is through constant practice that we all get better and improve and expand our capability to do what we need to do. Role play with a peer at work, join a public speaking group like toastmasters, rehearse in front of the mirror – do something!
As this is a recurring activity, the goal here is to get better and consistently produce better results. Developing this skill will take practice… a LOT of practice! So go on, get out there and do it. Get curious and get results! There are so many ways to “sharpen your saw”. Practice what you want to get better at and be sure to have a bit of FUN along the way!
Until next month, ask yourself …
…What do I need to do in my business to “hit the net”?
Are you an entrepreneur doing business internationally?
Are you looking for better ways to make money transfers or payments for this service?
I’ve come across a few resources that have helped me along the way and I’d like to share a few with you too.
First off, the fee’s at big banks are a complete rip-off and the fact that they don’t seem to really give two-hoots about you with transactions times of over 7 days, doesn’t make paying them any more palatable. As a consumer, it motivated me enough to look for a better alternative. For over 5 years now I have been dependably using PayPal as an online bank. It’s convenient and all fee’s are reasonable, upfront and transparent. Also, I am finding myself doing more and more international money transfers and I really do appreciate their low cost fee’s (roughly 10%) of traditional financial institutions.
Another resource to consider is Transfer Wise. I have not used them but if you have business opportunities in the United Kingdom, then this is one worthy of a second look. It was built by the creators of Skype and backed by Sir Richard Branson and it essentially links up parties that are looking to transfer currency between two countries and handles the transaction without the money actually leaving the respective countries. It’s brilliantly simple and I suppose this is why it has my attention. Once again, the fee’s are a fraction of what big banks offer and the added bonus of being timely too.
The last one I’d like to share is good ‘ol Western Union. From our experience in China recently, it is one of the most widely accepted services with charges placed directly to your linked credit card. Now you have the convenience of your own credit card and terms and conditions that you are familiar with. Might as well have one that collects point too
I hope this helps. Remember there are many choices out there and you certainly don’t have to settle for what the big banks are offering.