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Archive | November, 2010

FRiction FRiday: More head banging needed!

Welcome to our continuing Fiction series. We have a little time off I see … no wonder this post is getting longer  … but we’re still spilling our guts here every week to help you find great reads in the mystery-suspense-thriller genre. I previewed this new series earlier, so I don’t need to repeat it … other than to remind you that I intend to stimulate your discovery of the good, the bad and the only genre where a ranch breakfast is a steel metal jacket dipped in cordite.

Mostly, we’re just taking a break to have a little fun. [All names in Bold Italic … BLACK for authors, titles in GREEN, characters in ORANGEexcept URL references in RED.]

Nelson DeMille rocks!

A couple of things worth noting this week. If you haven’t read Nelson DeMille, perhaps most famous for The Charm School, you’re missing a rock solid writer with a great sense of humor. If you haven’t already, you need to meet John Corey, his wise-cracking protagonist and one of the few laugh aloud characters in the genre. If you subscribe to DeMille’s newsletter, you’ll see where the rousing good humor comes from.

Amazon’s 2010 Top Ten Mystery & Thriller books … really?

Amazon also just published their 2010 Top Ten in the mystery-thriller-suspense genre. Not sure what it says about my reading choices … or theirs …. but I’ve only read 1 of these books … Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher thriller is on the “Still Savoring” list so that will become #2… and I have read books by only 2 more of these authors … and have only heard the names of some of the rest. (more…)

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Happy Thanksgiving


It seems like everyone is ready for a little R&R these days … and there’s no better time than the Thanksgiving holiday for a respite with family and friends.

Thanksgiving kicks off the long holiday season … yet it’s devoid of the frantic gift-buying, holiday card creation and party circuit pageantry that surrounds Christmas. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of fun in all of that … but don’t we often get to the end of the Christmas season … exhausted, drained and looking for another holiday to REALLY get a break?

So, savor these moments. Enjoy each others’ company, catch a little Detroit Lion football, watch Santa arrive in the Macy’s day parade … but don’t let the moment pass by without loving the ones you love and who love you … and enjoying and embracing the blessings that fulfill our lives.

Have a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!


Action Planning Podcast Series | What’s Going On in the World?

Strategy-A Plan of ActionWhat are we going to be covering in this 5th podcast in our Action Planning Course?

We’ve all been here, haven’t we? We’ve got a great idea to expand our business, we dive in head first so certain that it will work … only to find that we’ve squandered valuable resources that we wish we had to apply to an even better idea we didn’t think of the first time.

This happens to virtually every growing business because there are always more opportunities available than resources to support them.

That’s why even a little planning can go a long way … why we need to kill all the strategy myths … and simply focus on prioritizing the opportunities that make the most sense to build our business.

How do we do this? By applying consistent criteria to each of the opportunities before us.

What about external factors … industry trends, markets, technological change …?

In our previous podcasts, we discussed the first two criteria that you need to evaluate: your company’s core competencies and the competitive landscape.

The 3rd factor needs to be the broader external forces that affect our businesses …  industry trends, markets, demographics, technology changes and other external factors.

What do those cards look like?

How do we select the right opportunities and build our strategy to deploy our limited resources in the best possible way?

Are you spending quality time to understand industry trends? Do you know what’s happening in your markets?

If not, why not?


Vol. 77: Grab the sword and become a Cash Flow Knight

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.” — George Carlin

Too busy to clean the barn because all the horses are running loose? Our recent series featuring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse was a grim reminder that regardless of how many people are lined up outside our door, how many calls we have to return, whether we’re in the top ten for inbox clutter – we’re not absolved of our duty to master our most precious resource: cash flow. That’s why Warren Buffett calls it the “lifeblood of business.” Whether you’re unable to make payroll, can’t finance growth, can’t raise money or find that your business value is a black hole, mastering this process is the centerpiece of excellence.

So, what do we do about it? Although I didn’t start out to create a long series about business finance, so many of you have asked about how to make these improvements that I’ve decided to create a path to help you get there.

You CAN learn the principles of business finance

The first step on every knight’s journey is to slay any dragons in his path … so we’re going to kill off a few misconceptions about business finance. The most important is that you can learn these basic principles. As I’ve said before, you don’t have to be an MBA, CFO or accounting major to understand these essential concepts. If you focus on the core principles, you can direct your team and be sure that everyone’s paying attention to the right things.

Avoid EBITDA (except for bank covenants)

Another dragon in our path is EBITDA. (more…)


FRiction FRiday: Imagine having a 007 license!

Welcome to our first Fiction Friday. I’m excited to start spilling my guts about the great reads in the mystery-suspense-thriller genre. I previewed this new series earlier this week, so I don’t need to repeat it … other than to remind you that I intend to roust your senses, pillage your serenity and stimulate your discovery of the good, the bad and the only genre where a ranch breakfast is a steel metal jacket dipped in cordite. We’ll end up with a rogue’s gallery of unaccountable tough guys, a few cerebral types and some shameless sidekicks. Mostly, we’ll just take a break and have some fun.

For now, we’ll set aside any analysis of what is mystery … vs. suspense … vs. thriller. There are many who have tried to tease these apart … but for us … for now … it’s a distinction without a difference. Let’s just find some great stuff to read.

First, take a look at the bookshelf widget in the right banner, compliments of Shelfari. I’ll update it each week with books I’ve read, am reading or am savoring … I’ll tell you which each time … and you can mouse over each one to get a little more information about it. Cool, huh? This week it includes books I’ve recently read and you can’t go wrong with any of them. I’ve covered a few here but can only begin to make a dent in the list. (No affiliate links included.)

Blue Heaven, C.J. Box: 2009 Edgar Award for Best Novel

I finally got around to reading C.J. Box, Blue Heaven, the 2009 Edgar Award winner for Best Novel of the Year, awarded annually by the Mystery Writers of America. It’s a prestigious award in this genre, with a Hall of Fame cast. (more…)


We’re going rogue…. every FRiction FRiday!

Get ready for this Friday … because we’re going rogue! I intend to roust your senses, pillage your serenity and stimulate your discovery of the good, the bad and the only fiction genre where a ranch breakfast is a steel metal jacket dipped in cordite. We’re going to mix it up … every FRiction FRiday … and talk about the books which fill the suspense – thriller – mystery genre. They sire rabid fans and beget a rogue’s gallery of unaccountable tough guys, a few cerebral types and shameless sidekicks. That’s going to be part of FRiction FRiday … every Friday … starting in just a few days!

Don’t you love the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre?

Several years ago, I started a blog called Bookmarks about books I’ve read in the Mystery-Thriller-Suspense genre. I stopped after about 6 months … not because I don’t love those books and stopped reading them … not by a long shot … but because I got too distracted from my primary business pursuits. Lame, maybe, but there it is. I still get a regular urge to write a FanView piece (that’s a “fan review” in my parlance”) … not a literary review but what a fan of this genre would care about a particular character, story or author. Yes, the literary quality is important, but hey, this isn’t English class.

They’re too interesting or fun to be literary?

Good thing, too, because many English teachers, and most members of the noble literati, hold their nose when discussing our favorite genre. “They aren’t literary enough,” whatever that means … or “they’re too interesting or fun to be taken seriously”. Love that one.


Vol. 76: Don’t let the Pale Horse trample your rose garden!

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp posts … for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang

Imagine that after the first Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse have stomped through your rose garden, you remember that there’s still one more untamed stallion just behind, the trailing companion of Pestilence, War and Famine that have already intercepted your plans for world domination.

The First Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse wreak havoc

As we’ve seen, the first Three Horsemen signify the destructive forces that can wreak havoc in our businesses from our failure to pay attention to the principles of business finance. Pestilence represents the sudden and unexpected lack of cash that often appears just before payroll is due. It is War when we struggle to grow because of a lack of financial resources. Famine lays waste to our plans when there is a lack of access to outside financing.

Most business owners pay little attention to whether they’re actually creating or destroying value each year.

Yes, this is a dramatic re-enactment of the apocalyptic metaphor, but it will serve its purpose if it incites you to implement sound principles of business finance, the only effective weapon to defeat these forces. In future columns, we will consider very specific steps to achieve command and control over your financial performance so that these forces don’t get a foothold in your business.

The Pale Horse may be the most destructive

The Pale Horse is the final member of the Four Horsemen and brings what may be the most destructive force of them all … the recognition that you haven’t created much value in your business after all. The Pale Horse appears when (more…)

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Action Planning Podcast Series | Got Competition?

Strategy-A Plan of ActionWhat are we going to be covering in this 4th podcast in our Action Planning Course?

A critical part of planning requires you to carefully examine all of the opportunities available to help you build your business … and to apply consistent criteria so that you can compare each of them equally.

In our previous podcast, we discussed the first criterion: your core competencies.

We now turn our attention to the competitive landscape and what you need to do to get beneath the surface and obtain the competitive intelligence necessary to inform your decisions about the strategic opportunities you should pursue.

Remember in building your business … think big, take action and make sure you’re integrating these concepts of Strategy, Finance & Leadership into your everyday decision making.