Trump Wiretapping Claim Reminds Us to Keep Tabs on the Competition

newspaper-1959739_1280By now, you’ve definitely heard President Trump accuse President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the campaign against Hillary Clinton. It makes for great headlines and does pique interest. But at this juncture, there’s not much information about the veracity of the allegation. However, it does serve as a reminder of what goes on behind-the-scenes for those seeking to beat out the competition. And, it can be found in just about any aspect of life, social or professional. One thing is sure — you need to know what your competition is doing so you make informed decisions.

How to Spy on Your Competitors

You might recall a spying scandal erupting in the NFL a few years ago, when the league ordered the New York Jets locker room searched for bugs before a game against the New England Patriots. That’s now a forgotten incident. But it does demonstrate how far some organizations will go. Spying is part of business because you need to be in-the-know. Otherwise, you’ll fall prey to the fake it until you make it fallacy.

Competitors. Whether you want to admit it or not, they’re out there and they’re hungry for your customers. While it might seem unfair given everything else you need to keep on top of in building up your business, you might want to consider devoting the time and energy into keeping tabs on your competition. Keeping tabs on your competition is a great strategy for growing your business. —Inc.com

Okay, so it isn’t necessary to go the corporate espionage route. There are plenty of ways to learn what your competitors are up to and how they are doing it. This is particularly helpful in circumstances where you’re trying to survive a sales slump or want to gain a foothold on a new revenue stream. Regardless of the reason, you do need to have a solid idea of what your competition is doing to be competitive yourself. So, here are some helpful suggestions about how to spy on your competitors:

  • Ask vendors about your competition. You’re probably using at least one or two of the same third-party vendors. And, it’s likely you chit-chat with them regularly. Put that time to good use to nonchalantly ask about your competitors. If it’s appropriate and you feel comfortable, ask more detailed questions.
  • Do a little cyber snooping on your own. A quick Google search will turn up a lot of information. You’ll also find public records online. In addition, you should definitely be perusing their websites and social media profiles. Their websites and social media accounts will likely be a treasure trove of useful information.
  • Become a secret shopper or hire someone. Another way to spy on your competition is to become a customer. You’ll find real value in being a secret shopper. But if you’re known to your competition, you can always hire someone to do a little secret shopping.
  • Look at your competitors’ job openings. Keep tabs on your competitors’ job postings because these will reveal key details. You’ll be surprised at what you are able to glean from a job description.
  • Talk to former employees and partners. Yet another source of information about your competitors are their former employees and business partners. You’ll be able to gain a significant amount of insight through these sources. And, if you gain customers because they left your competition, be sure to ask why.

What methods do you use to keep tabs on your competition? Have you found good ways to stay in-the-know? What other suggestions do you have to gain a leg up? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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Want to Build Trust? Avoid these Phrases

customer-1253483_1280Trust is the bedrock of business. It’s necessary to conduct even the simplest transaction. When you order a burger, you trust it’s edible. The same holds true for coffee — you trust it isn’t cold or too hot. In fact, you might say trust is the very reason the infamous McDonald’s hot coffee lap spill turned lawsuit even occurred. The legal principle is unclear to many because it seems to defy common sense. But, the product was not fit for the purpose intended. It’s supposed to be consumable from the moment the customer received her order. That too, undermined trust. She trusted the coffee was ready to consume, not scald.

Want to Build Trust? Avoid these Phrases

In the world of business, trust is a very important asset. It’s a factor which dictates whether you’ll do something or decline to do it. We’re always looking out for our own best interests. And, it’s why we need to know how to tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. Earning trust isn’t complicated but as the nearby quote points out, earning it back is quite challenging. It is very difficult to restore because it cuts to the core of an individual’s personality and motivation.

Getting customers, clients and employees to trust you can be complicated, but it is imperative for success — perhaps more important than sales. If you get others to trust you, it’s easier to grow and nurture your business and give everyone excellent service. But trust is fragile. If you lose it, it’s very difficult — if not impossible — to restore it. —Entrepreneur.com

Not surprisingly, distrust and dishonesty are part of the five D’s of partnerships. And, it doesn’t have to be a formal agreement to operate together, it’s also true with vendors and even with customers. Psychologist Robert Plutchik identifies eight primary emotions: fear, anger, sadness, joy, disgust, trust, anticipation and surprise. Notice trust is among these primary emotions. This is because it’s a fundamental factor in every single relationship, whether personal or professional. So, if you want to build and keep trust, you should always avoid the following phrases:

“Believe me.” It’s known in sociological and psychological circles people who are lying tend to use certain words. Among these particular words are “honest,” honestly,” and “believe.” People who are not being honest usually give their untruth away through these telltale signs. When you tell someone they must believe you, it immediately causes them concern.

  • “I would never…” When you say this, you’re referring to a possible future event, not the past. In other words, if you asked someone if he or she robbed a convenience store and you got an answer starting with, “I would never,” it means it doesn’t apply to the past. So, don’t use this phrase because it undermines trust.
  • “As far as I know.” While this might be a completely honest answer, it’s a risky one to utter. This is because if it turns out not to be true, you’re on the hook. Instead, state what you do know emphatically and do not hold back any probable contingencies.
  • “Do you doubt me?” This is another version of “believe me” or “trust me.” You’re actually asking for someone else’s trust because you don’t believe you are coming off as genuine. This phrase can raise more doubt than alleviate it.
  • “To the best of my recollection.” This phrase is tricky because it could be an honest answer. But, that’s not the way others can take it to mean. When you say this, you’re not instilling confidence and as a result, it can easily be taken as a lie. Instead, state what you actually remember. If you aren’t sure, then just say you aren’t.

What phrases you try to avoid? How do you build trust through communication? What methods do you find most effective to earn trust? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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Top Snapchat Ad Executive Leaving Before IPO Should You Follow?

snapchat-1360003_1280Sriram Krishnan, one of Snap’s top ad executives, recently left the social company, before its IPO. It’s a really big move, considering the popularity of the app. Krishnan is a prime example of something we’ve seen time and again. His exit might come as a surprise to many. But, he obviously knew his plans. So what makes this such a teachable moment? It clearly demonstrates a spirit of independence. Perhaps he’ll start a company of his own. Maybe he’ll take a hiatus from business. Whatever Krishnan does next, it’s his decision. And, that’s what being an entrepreneur is all about.

How to Know when it’s Time to Leave a Company

If you’ve been feeling the entrepreneurial itch, chances are excellent you’re no longer content with work. It could be you just aren’t feeling appreciated. Maybe you’re no longer moving up or having to manage your supposed boss. Or, you’re ready to strike out on your own. Whatever the reason, it is possible to start over or start something new. And, that too could be a reason you want to leave — you’ve already started a side business.

When you started your current job, you were in love with it. You were thrilled about the opportunity, loved the work, and got along well with your boss and teammates. But at some point, something changed. There may not be anything seriously wrong in your day-to-day work life, or any big incident that made you angry. And yet, you still have a nagging feeling that something is off. The question now becomes: Do you take the risk and try to find something new, or stick it out at a “comfortable” (but unexciting) job because it’s what you’re used to? —Business News Daily

In your heart, you just know it’s time to follow the Brexit vote and take your side business full-time. What’s really holding you back is more than uncertainty. It’s probably a mental block. You feel the yearn but just can’t get past the fact you’re receiving steady pay. The security is what’s telling you it’s not okay to make the leap. But, it’s a false illusion. At the end of the day, everyone is an entrepreneur. You might worry about getting more customers on your own but just a few is more than you’re serving at your current job. You only have one customer — the company you work for and that’s it. Since you’ve taken the initiative and started a side business, here are some signs it’s time to leave and grow your business:

  • You’ve begun running numbers. Since you’ve already earned money from your side gig, you’ve run the numbers about what it’ll take to meet or surpass your full-time job income. That’s a sure sign you’re ready to make a change. So, create a business plan to see a path forward. When it’s in black and white, you’ll feel a lot more confident.
  • You’re earning good money. Your side business sprang from a love for something. Now, your passion is delivering. You’re earning a good income but need more dedicated time to really grow it bigger. That’s another huge indication it’s time to leave your job. After all, you’re already seeing results.
  • You’re asked or need to do more. Your side business started with an idea and a little creative scheduling. You added some more necessary ingredients and turned it into a viable enterprise. Now, you have customers asking you to do more or you need to deliver more to meet your goals. That’s an unmistakable sign you’re ready to move forward.
  • You’re receiving praise. Praise and support are coming from different people. You’re asked why you don’t do this full-time more than once. The fact others see real value is a gigantic indicator you’ve earned a whole lot of trust. It’s also another reason it’s time to make the commitment to your business.

What signs do you look for to tell you it’s time to leave a company? How have you coped with the change? What did you pursue after you left? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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How to Fall in Love with Your Business Again

heart-462873_1280Drive. Passion. Desire. Vision. All of these and more flood your heart and mind each and every day when you start a business. It’s what supplies the fuel to do more, go further and face risk. Without these, obstacles become daunting and insurmountable. Losing such grit and determination can easily lead to feeling apathetic (even dispassionate). When this happens, you’ve got to take action and learn how to fall in love with your business again.

How to Fall in Love with Your Business Again

Sometimes, business goes effortlessly. It creates a comfortable ebb and flow. The familiarity provides a sense of peace. But, it can easily foster false security. That’s when you become a bit too comfortable and no longer venture into uncharted waters. You stick with what you know. It’s not exactly like aiming at nothing and hitting the target every time but it is a dangerous mindset. Over a short period of time, this can lead to falling out of love with your company.

The key to getting out of it is discovering what’s got you stuck, and then devising an ingenious way to get free of it. In order to get your mojo working, you must fall in love. You know those butterflies–that juice–that falling in love produces in you? That’s the magic you need to recapture. Falling in love with who, you ask? With yourself, of course. With your business. You must become interested in your business again. —Inc.com

And, when you no longer truly believe in what you do, it becomes unfulfilling, less worthy of effort. Sooner or later, others will pick up on your demeanor, even if you attempt to hide it. When your work becomes cumbersome and unrewarding, it’s time to get a sense of perspective and reignite the fire. Remember, it’s always possible to start over, you just have to start. Once lit, you’ll have a whole new level of energy. So, here are some helpful suggestions for how to fall in love with your business again:

  • Take a vacation. Long or short, far away or nearby, it doesn’t matter. The point is a change and a chance to get away. And, while you’re away, actually embrace the moments to reset and unwind. Going to a destination you love to visit or trying completely new adventures will be a tremendous help. It gives you a chance to unclutter your brain and take stock of accomplishments.
  • Try something different. Switch your primary role to another. Do something else to be challenged and take on a new perspective. You could learn a new skill, revisit an old hobby or explore different scenery. Whatever it is, it needs to take your mind off work. For best results, leave work at work and bring nothing work-related along with you.
  • Be grateful for what you have. Try this exercise: think back to when you first had the idea to go out on your own. Then, recount the steps you took and seasons you experienced along the way. There will be ups and downs, which makes this so powerful. Chances are excellent, you’ll rediscover a lot of pride in your successes.
  • Think of ways to branch out. Another way to recapture your enthusiasm is to unlock it through a different channel. Take some time to consider ways to go in different directions, branching out into other areas. That will cause your creativity kick in and the rest will naturally follow.

Have you experienced trouble feeling excited about your business? What tips and tricks keep you motivated? How do you retain your enthusiasm? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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Tom Brady Matt Ryan Super Bowl 51 and You

american-football-309795_1280The first heart pumping play involved a fumble, with a run back to the end zone. But, the call on the field ruled the carrier down. Over the next three quarters, the Atlanta Falcons produced scoring drives, starting with a touchdown. Now, down 7 – 0, the Patriots seemed stilted. Then, 14 – 0, 21 – 0, 21 – 3, 28 – 3, 28 – 9, 28 – 12, 28 – 20, and finally, 28 – 28, tie game. The end of regulation play; New England wins the coin toss to enter overtime receiving.

The Biggest Lesson of Super Bowl 51

Pre-game predictions favored the New England Patriots over the Atlanta Falcons. Even President Trump predicted an 8 point Patriots win. But, when the Falcons started putting points on the board, it seemed the predictions were wrong. It appeared New England couldn’t get it together. Nothing worked long enough. It was a proverbial aim at nothing for a 100 percent accuracy record. That is, until the last minutes of the third quarter.

Lao Tzu said it best, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” Adversity is inevitable, but difficulties or misfortunes don’t have to keep you from achieving your intended goals and finding the happiness you seek in business and in life. It’s how you overcome these adversities can make all the difference. Every challenge we successfully conquer serves to strengthen not only our will, but our confidence, and therefore our ability to confront future obstacles. —Inc.com

And, in the fourth quarter, Atlanta could not stop New England. The Patriots successfully bypassed the pitfalls of partnerships, worked as a well-oiled machine, and came back from a historic deficit. This is the lesson from Super Bowl 51 — overcoming adversity. This phenomenon proved to be the biggest Super Bowl comeback of all time. Brady’s reward is a record five Super Bowl wins. Even though the Falcons lead by 25 points, the Patriots didn’t show any sign of giving up. The well known winning machine broke down on the outside but showed fortitude to stay competitive.

How to Handle Adversity

This Super Bowl exhibited adversity at its most contentious. And make no mistake about it, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, you’ll face adversity. It’s an experience which no one wants to go through but most cherish after. The trick to dealing with hardship is about looking forward and having the determination. Here’s how to handle adversity when it strikes:

  • Take stock of your accomplishments. One aspect of a difficult situation is it consumes you. It’s all you can think about and how to best proceed to suffer minimal setback. But, that perspective isn’t complete. You must take stock of your accomplishments, remembering what you’ve already achieved. That’s a better perspective because it allows you to feel good about yourself and be confident going forward.
  • Ask yourself what will you learn? There’s always a silver lining to every cloud. This is no different. You can find a lot of serenity by asking what lesson you’ll take away from the experience. It’s a great way to look to the future and take control of the situation. Seeing it as a learning opportunity will give you a real mental and emotional boost.
  • Reevaluate future plans and goals. Now is a great time to reevaluate your plans and redefine your goals. This gives you choices and choices are a powerful weapon against fear, as well as uncertainty. Consider your choices and game plan possible scenarios with various outcomes. It’s a terrific way to turn the table.
  • Don’t let anger cloud your judgment. Anger, fear, anxiety, and other negative emotions can be transformed into positive ones. But, these must be channeled with enthusiasm. Take control of your anger and use it in your own favor.

In what ways do you handle adversity? What coping mechanisms are most effective? What’s your experience in dealing with adversity? Please share your experiences and thoughts!

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Judge Neil Gorsuch Volkswagen–Who’s Lying Here’s How to Tell

liarVolkswagen was caught in a big lie. Its emissions-cheating scandal might cost the company as much as $25 billion, according to a news report by Market Watch. And soon, we’ll see Judge Neil Gorsuch questioned during his SCOTUS confirmation hearings. Car manufacturer and politics aside, these two scenarios do bring up an important point about a very common human behavior — lying.

Surprising Lying Facts

Merriam-Webster defines lying as “marked by or containing untrue statements.” Psychology Today reports many reputable studies reveal the average person “lies several times a day.” The behavioral science publication goes on to explain some of those every day lies are whoppers, while others are infamous white lies. The trouble with this is, we are simply horrible at knowing when someone is and isn’t lying to us. In fact, it’s one of the seven Dave Ramsey “D’s” of partnerships — dishonesty or deception.

Either way, can you handle the truthiness? Research says probably not: we’re terrible at detecting lies. Even technology doesn’t improve our chances—a 2009 study in the Journal of Forensic Sciences examined a technique called voice stress analysis and found that it worked about as well as … you guessed it: guessing. —Scientific American

One study, published in 2014 by Leanne ten Brinke, Dayna Stimson, Dana R. Carney, reveals your gut reaction beats any attempt of conscious lie detection. Similar studies find participants could only accurately identify lies about 43 percent of the time. The same research reveals truth-tellers were only identified approximately 48 percent of the time. That’s not exactly a confident reassurance we can readily detect untruths.

How to Tell if Someone is Lying to You

So, if it is our gut instinct that’s the best lie detector, what else could we possibly do to know when someone isn’t being honest? Well, we’ve all heard and/or seen some truth detection techniques that can produce results. At the very least, these tips and tricks give you a better idea as to the truthfulness of a person’s statements. If successful, it’s one of a few different signs an employee won’t work out or needs to make a personal change to stay with your company. Here are some ways to tell if someone is lying to you:

  • A noticeable, delayed response. Okay, so this is an obvious sign someone is lying but you should exercise caution. However, it’s still an indication a person isn’t telling the truth. Try this exercise: ask if someone what he or she was doing five years ago on the same day. You’ll receive a delayed answer. But, ask the same question with a specific, like if he or she robbed a bank, and he or she won’t delay.
  • Verbal and body language disconnect. This is the commonly known mismatch of saying “Yes,” while nodding “No,” simultaneously. And, it’s strong indication the absolute truth is absent from the person to whom you are speaking. Verbal and body language disconnects are more easy to detect because these are unnatural behaviors.
  • Concealing the mouth and/or eyes. A primordial human instinct is to conceal a lie because it goes against our own nature. So, someone who is fibbing might cover his or her mouth and/or eyes because it helps shield him or her from shame.
  • Swallowing and/or throat clearing. Another classic telltale sign is a gulping swallow and/or grunting throat clearing. However, if you see this behavior, it’s not particularly troublesome, if it comes after he or she answers a question or makes a statement. But, if it’s done beforehand, that’s a sign he or she isn’t being truthful.
  • Hand-to-face behavior. When hand-to-face activity occurs, it’s probably due to anxiety, triggered by the autonomic nervous system. For example, if you ask a question and the person immediately licks his or her lips, bites at the lips, or pulls on the ears, this behavior is caused by anxiety because telling the truth would self-incriminate.

How do you know when someone is lying? What body language and/or catchphrases do you look for? How do you deal with people in your organization who don’t tell the truth? Please share your experiences and thoughts with us!

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Presidential Executive Orders Teach Us This

170129105148-donald-trump-extreme-vetting-executive-order-01-27-2017-large-169Presidential executive orders are making headlines and have been a big issue for the past several weeks. Bill Clinton signed 308 executive actions in his two-term presidency, George W. Bush signed 291 in eight years, and Barack Obama signed 279 from 2009 to 2017. President Donald Trump is beginning to sign such decrees adding to the 13,765 presidential executive order total thus far. But, just what are presidential executive orders and how do these relate to the world of business?

How to Make Important Business Decisions

Only the United States Congress has the power to legislate and make law. But, the executive branch isn’t completely shut out of the process. “Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress,” This Nation.com explains. The same principle applies to business. You might be in a partnership or employ managers and directors, but ultimately, it’s you who is responsible for all decisions.

Decision-making is a vital part of the business world. Even a low-level supervisor makes several decisions in a work day, and with some companies, decision-making is encouraged among workers on the line. Unlike CEOs and managers of large companies, the small business owner is largely responsible for the ultimate outcome of all decisions with regard to her company. —San Francisco Gate

That’s really what executive orders are about — decisions made by the chief executive for one or more agencies to follow. While you might not have thought about the similarities of executive actions in the world of business, they do exist. We can learn from these, just as entrepreneurs can learn from the funny business. Of course, this begs the question about how to best go about making critical business decisions. Here are some helpful suggestions for how to make important business decisions you can use:

  • Understand where your company stands. Before you make any big decision, you need to be in-the-know about where your business truly stands. It’s not enough to guess or to go with your gut, learn precisely where your company is and its projection for the next couple to few months. Having this information could well change your entire perspective and might even cause you to dismiss taking action (at least for the foreseeable future).
  • Consider possible outcome scenarios. Okay, it isn’t possible to foresee every contingency and situation but it’s certainly worthwhile to game plan as widely as possible. Think about the most likely scenarios to unfold and work through each thoughtfully. But, don’t over analyze these possibilities or you’ll probably succumb to the trap of paralysis by analysis.
  • Get other viewpoints from your team. Even though it’s your decision ultimately, that doesn’t mean you can enjoy team input. There’s a reason the old adage “two heads are better than one” survives to this day. By getting team viewpoints, you’re more likely to make a better decision that’s in everyone’s best interest.
  • Don’t rush into a decision. Speaking of making a decision, you shouldn’t procrastinate, even if a tough and unpleasant one. That only causes more chaos and confusion, with more unnecessary suffering. But, this certainly isn’t to say you should make important decisions quickly because this too, will likely have negative impact.
  • Give it time to unfold. Once you have made your all-important executive decision, give it some time to take hold. Let it work into the dynamics to assess how it evolves. Be patient and don’t panic if small problems pop up. Overreacting won’t serve you well but if it does prove harmful, pull the plug.

How do you go about making important business decisions? What advice would you give other entrepreneurs? Are there ways you’ve achieved good results by following certain protocols? Please share your experiences and thoughts!

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