Shearin Group Training Services

Shearin Group Training Services Inc. is a company based in Avignon, France. As well-respected Leadership Development and Personality Assessment firm, we have earned the reputation of providing excellent training programs through the quality of our programs and the expertise, track-record and professionalism of our mentors and writers.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: How To Make Your Numbers, Every Time?


On Sales Leadership: How To Make Your Numbers, Every Time


Not all startups will employ a direct sales force, but many will.  When they do, the value of the company and its ultimate success or failure often hinges on how well that distribution channel is built-out.  In a prior blog, I described how companies can go astray by building out the sales team too early or in the wrong way.


This post addresses some core values or best-practices for sales leaders and individual sales reps.  They are also very useful for the entrepreneur CEO to understand and embrace.


The list actually comes from an informal mentor and long-time Silicon Valley executive, advisor and investor, Joe Schoendorf, a consummate salesman to be sure.


Joe’s Rules of Sales:

  2. Know Your Competition Personally
  3. Take a Consultative Approach
  4. The #’s Are Sacred – Make Your Numbers, Meet Your Goals
  5. Keep The Customer


Taking each in turn:




Listening is one of the most difficult skills for people in general, but it’s a critical skill for a salesperson, at least one that wants to actually address a customer’s needs and concerns.  Yet, it’s remarkable how many sales people actually score poorly on this attribute, as I’m sure many of you in both the customer and co-worker camps can attest.


A great salesperson is a lot like a detective or investigative journalist.  It’s all about getting the facts and understanding the situation or problem the customer is trying to address.  In that effort, the most powerful question a salesperson can ask is “why.” To illustrate the use of these most important three letters, consider this hypothetical dialogue below:


Customer: I need a CRM system.

Salesperson: Why?

Customer: I want to track my customers.

Salesperson: Why is that important?

Customer: So I can better understand what they have bought, and what they might want to buy next.

Salesperson: Why will that make a difference?

Customer: If I better understand what they want to buy, I can do a better job of ordering and making sure I have it in stock when they place the order.

Salesperson: Why does that matter?

Customer: I will have fewer abandoned sales, and I won’t be ordering inventory I can’t sell.

Salesperson: Why is that a priority?

Customer: My gross margins are 40%, and my competitors are north of 50% — I need to get my financial metrics in-line with or to be better than my competitors.


As a salesperson, how much better able is the one who asked “why” five times going to be in addressing the customer’s ultimate objective and win the business, than the one that said, “Oh, you need a CRM system?  Let me tell you why mine is so great.”


2. Know Your Competition Personally


Few sales people have the luxury of selling a truly unique or monopoly product.  All too often, there are competitors with decent to even better features, who have good reference customers, and who command a decent share of the market.  Knowing your competitor personally makes you far better able to anticipate their moves, know how they are going to attack you, and how you can best thwart them.


A favorite sport of great salespeople (and great marketers) is to lay landmines or traps for competitors.  In essence, you set a customer’s expectation and desire for a product feature, supplier quality, or other attribute that is unique to your product, and, most importantly, that the competitor lacks.  When the competitor walks in the door, the customer wants to see or hear about things that the competitor doesn’t have or is notably weak at.


3. Take a Consultative Approach


A more systematic approach to the “listen” attribute, being consultative means being authentically focused on understanding and solving a real customer need, not simply jamming your product in where it may or may not actually solve the real problem.  It also means being logical and quantitative to the greatest extent possible about the ROI of the product.


At my last company we implemented two different tactics to enhance the success of our sales team’s consultative sales approach.  First, we hired MBA’s in our existing product development operation in India, to build quantitative and qualitative profiles on every major prospect.  They would peruse prospect’s 10-Ks and 10-Qs (annual and quarterly SEC filings for public companies), analyst conference calls, press releases, articles written about the business, its financial performance and health, etc.  They would then look for specific product-related challenges and metrics, and build models tying those challenges back to the prospect’s financials, and finally deliver that analysis to the sales rep who owned that account.


Then, once actively engaged with the prospect, we would perform an in-depth benchmarking and ROI analysis of their product operations to understand the prospect’s key business objectives and financial metrics. This allowed us to demonstrate quantitatively how our products could move the needle on their key business metrics.


4. The #’s Are Sacred


Make your numbers, meet your goals.  Salespeople are hired for one reason – to drive revenue.  If they fail, the company fails (a fact product folks can sometimes lose sight of).  Salespeople must always be disciplined and goal-oriented, relentlessly moving current sales opportunities forward to the next step or stage, while also consistently prospecting for new business to keep the pipeline full.  Salespeople must also be thoughtful about both their opportunities and their pipeline, ensuring that they are asking all the hard questions (no happy ears!), looking under the rocks before the customer (or a competitor) does, and employing limited company resources wisely.


Great salespeople also need to be transparent.  An overly optimistic forecast (intentionally or not) means resources may get added that aren’t needed, decisions may be made that aren’t based on reality, and of course, revenue numbers are missed – a painful occurrence that the entire company feels.  On the flipside, an overly pessimistic forecast is also harmful.  The resources required to support the additional unforecasted business may not have been hired, unnecessarily stressing the professional services and support teams, perhaps even the product teams.


Be honest and accurate in the forecast, and then work like hell to deliver them.  It’s your sacred commitment to the company as a star salesperson.


5. Keep The Customer


It is far easier, cheaper and faster to sell to an existing customer, than a new one (here’s a good infographic on the costs).  It takes significant marketing and sales efforts, company resources, and time to win a new customer. Selling to an existing customer has a lower barrier to entry (you don’t need permission to call on an existing relationship).  You should also have far greater insight into an existing customer’s needs and future plans, giving you the opportunity to help them plan your offerings into their information technology roadmaps, which can provide a significant, long term advantage.  And most importantly, an existing happy customer is a brand advocate that will create leverage and network effects for future sales to new customers.  In short, you worked hard to gain the customer’s initial business and trust – don’t lose it – it’s far too valuable.


As an entrepreneur/CEO, you will never go wrong embracing these values, as well as instilling them in your sales leadership and sales teams!


The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips on How To Find A Great Mentor

How To Find A Great Mentor -- First, Don't Ever Ask A Stranger


Today I heard from a lovely new connection on LinkedIn LNKD +2.63%, who responded to a recent post I shared about Why Your Job  Search Has Stalled Out.  He asked a question I hear frequently from professionals who know that mentorship is important to their careers, but don’t know how to achieve it.


He asked:


“In my pursuit of THE job (not just any job), I have so far addressed all your recommendations but mentorship. This is the stage where I have stalled out. I have found many professionals that have shared my dreams and are now big successes in the industry, but find myself hesitant in approaching them and asking for help. These hesitations may be due to me not wanting to come across as needy, but I think they mostly stem from lacking the trigger words that would inspire acceptance of such a request. I really need help in this area and humbly ask for your help in the follow-through of this job hunting step.”


I’d love to tackle this question, because so many people I speak to are struggling in their approach to finding mentors, and are ending up disappointed, angry or confused.



Below are the top 4 tips I can share about finding fabulous mentors, and making the most of the help you receive:


1. There are no “trigger” words that will help you get mentoring from a stranger. Don’t bother.


First, it’s critical to know that, to find great mentors, you don’t want to reach out to strangers. That’s not how you’ll find them.


Sheryl Sandberg, in her book Lean In, likens asking strangers to be mentors to the behavior of the main character in the favorite children’s book Are You My Mother? The book is about a baby bird that emerges from its shell in an empty nest, and goes in search of its mother.  The little bird asks everything it sees (a kitten, hen, dog, cow, steam shovel), “Are you my mother?”  The answer is always the same. “No!”  This is just like a professional asking a stranger, “Will you be my mentor?”


Sandberg says:


“If someone has to ask the question, the answer is probably no. When someone finds the right mentor, it is obvious.  The question becomes a statement. Chasing or forcing that connection rarely works.”


Instead, find great mentors through the inspiring people you’re already interacting and working with now. They need to be people to whom you have already demonstrated your potential – who know how you think, act, communicate and contribute. And they have to like, trust and believe in you already (why else would they help you?).  They also need to believe with absolutely certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback.


Strangers (especially people in the media and the public eye who’ve become “huge” successes, as the individual above mentions) will virtually always have to say “no” to mentoring requests from strangers.  Why? Because their time is already spoken for, and they’re drowning in similar requests.  Secondly, they don’t have a relationship with you, and therefore can’t know how you operate or if it’s a great investment of their time to help you.


2. What can you do to get on the radar of strangers whom you admire?


Don’t ask for mentorship, but follow their work, and be helpful and supportive.  Give, and give more.  Tweet out their posts, comment in a positive way on their blogs, share their updates, start a discussion on LinkedIn drawing on their post, refer new clients or business to them, and the list goes on.  In short, offer your unique voice, perspectives, experiences and resources to further the action and conversation that these influencers have sparked.  Understand that you are able to be of service to them, and go out and do it.


3. Be someone who is enjoyable to mentor.


The third piece of attracting empowering mentoring is in how you operate in your career and your life.  Are you somebody you yourself would like to mentor? Are you open, flexible, resilient, respectful? Are you eager to learn, and committed to modifying how you’re interacting in the world so you can have even more success, reward and happiness?


 - Be great at what you do – while this sounds obvious, it is the most important thing you can do to get noticed.


- Ask for more responsibility – be sure to have specific ideas for how you can contribute in deeper, more expansive ways. Be creative/think outside the box.


- Don’t be a wallflower – participate in all meetings even “optional” ones. Volunteer to represent your team on important department or enterprise-level initiatives. Prepare ahead of time so that you can meaningfully advance the discussion.


- Promote the success of others – your generosity and openness are critical to your success, and will be remembered.


- Build your support network – reach out to groups within your company and outside your line of business. Learn what they do and how you can help them succeed.


4. Put yourself in a potential mentor’s shoes.


Finally, whenever you’re in a quandary about how to get help from someone, put yourself in their shoes.  If the tables were turned, what would you want to see from this individual asking for help?  If you were inundated with requests for help every day, what type of person would YOU choose to assist, and why? Go out and become that person that others would love to support and nurture.



The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: Five Tips to Sharpen your Leadership Focus

The role of company chief executive brings with it all sorts of challenges, from dealing with the nitty gritty of making decisions daily to formulating strategies to take your company forward.


That’s why it’s important to stay focused on the vital things which keep the wheels turning and the whole enterprise on track.


Here are five things a CEO should stay focused on:


1. Real relationships

Real relationships with staff, with partners, with customers and with consumers all start with your everyday interactions.


As both a leader and a manager it is important to establish real relationships and engage your staff, starting with everyday interactions. How well do you know your staff, their families, what really motivates and inspires them?


I try to connect with members of the team each and every day and maintain an openness and transparency which enables real relationships.


After all, you are really a caretaker in terms of your leadership of people, teams and businesses and you want to ensure you grow and develop the team while you are leading them and that your relationships with those team members transcends your current role.


Every CEO has at some stage in their career reported to a manager and in my experience those managers/CEOs that have inspired and motivated me the most are those I have had a real connection with. Not “tick the box” type stuff but the real type – relationships which last and are based on mutual honest and respect.


Interestingly, all of my business mentors today are previous managers and all exhibit great integrity, openness and honesty – these are all based on foundations of real relationships.


Fifty per cent of employees have admitted they would leave their current job if they had the opportunity to being better recognized elsewhere.


2. Daily deep data

I start every day with an extra hot coffee and a review of the previous day’s figures. This is so important to understand how the week, the month, the quarter and the year is really looking. Anecdotal evidence is simply not sufficient in business today, and without being able to grasp the data you have little else.


I also expect my team to start the day with data (coffee optional), and find that a shared sense of where we are leads to a far more productive team and business and a more fulfilling work experience.


The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) analysis of the July 2012-June 2013 financial year indicated poor strategic management as the highest cause of business failure, with 42.2% of failed businesses nominating this as the key reason for closing their doors.


3. Absolute accountability

You must focus on the most important things and ensure your team has total accountability. While this is a common mantra, it is one which is often easier said than done. Too often the focus is on less important pieces of the business and we get too involved in areas where your team are more than capable (and it is their role) to make a decision or take an action.


Accountability will enable the team to learn how to fail (fast) and develop their skills along the way. While there are times where you may need to lend your expertise, try where possible to enable explicit accountability as it will help achieve a more scalable and successful business, and your team will be far more motivated, passionate and productive.


Understanding what needs to be achieved to reach a goal is important but ensuring that adequate accountability is in place is paramount. Too often I have seen ambiguous team goals that don’t stack up to business success and have led to underperformance.


As Stephen Covey noted, “accountability breeds response-ability” and I believe that accountability really breeds ability. You must own it.


4. Eat your own dog food

Love your product. You must know your product and use it – always!


I can always tell when I have a coffee from a barista who doesn’t drink coffee it just doesn’t seem to taste as good. I am using our products we provide every day, and businesses where the team use and love the products each and every day have a deeper level of understanding and a more productive output.


My pet hate is the team member who does not know our product in detail – there is absolutely no excuse in my experience for this being the case. If you feel good about your product, your consumers and customers will as well – which is great for business. You’ll also be your harshest critic and ensure you continue to move in a direction from mediocrity to perfection.


I had a recent example where we were working through a mobile solution and it just wasn’t panning out – loads of bugs and issues. The team found out that they were using a different advice to the majority of our users which was quickly fixed!


5. Enjoy yourself

Life is not a dress rehearsal. You must enjoy yourself and get the most out of work and business as you spend the majority of your daylight hours at work. I have been fortunate in that I have enjoyed almost every job I have had. When I haven’t, I have made a conscious decision to proactively move on to find something that I enjoy.


Enjoyment in the role will also increase your team’s motivation and, ultimately, the success of the business. I am yet to meet a successful leader who doesn’t enjoy what they do.


At the same time, you need to maintain a work-life balance – this work-life balance obviously differs by person – but at the end of the day family and extra-curricular activities keep your life in balance. These are things to be encouraged and promoted in the workplace rather than things to be guilty about.


Statistics show that happy employees stay twice as long in their roles as those who are dissatisfied.





The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips to become an Influencial Thought Leader

Here are five steps to take to help you build a strong thought-leadership campaign:


1. Clarify your purpose.


The most successful thought leaders have a purpose and a clear definition of what they want to accomplish. They also understand the time and dedication it can take to become influential. Before embarking on a thought-leadership program, consider your goals and what you want to achieve.


2. Identify your voice.


Thought leaders have a strong, identifiable and distinct voice that sets them apart from others. Their voice is their brand and their audience knows exactly what they stand for and what to expect from them. Most important, they don’t stray from their brand identity and instead look for opportunities to make it even stronger.


3. Write.


One of the defining characters of thought leaders is their ability to effectively communicate their expertise and knowledge to their audience. A great way to get your thoughts and experience noticed is by writing contributed articles, op-eds and blog posts.


This allows you to be a part of the conversation, establish your voice, demonstrate your expertise and contribute to an ongoing dialogue. Writing gives you the opportunity to not only demonstrate your abilities but also earn credibility with your audience and other thought leaders in your industry.


4. Build an active online presence.


Great thought leaders have mastered the art of sharing and putting their message and brand out there. A good way to offer advice and tips is to actively share them on social-media platforms. A great thought leader understands how instrumental social media is in developing their voice. He or she looks for opportunities and groups to join and uses different platforms to talk about his or her expertise and becomes a part of relevant conversations.


Building an active online presence requires a social-media strategy that allows optimal brand exposure and opportunities to actively connect with different audiences. Therefore, provide relevant and interesting content, actively engage with users, ask questions and offer feedback and insight on Twitter and Facebook. Establish your credibility, offer your expertise and make yourself reachable by participating in discussions on Reddit, Quora and LinkedIn.


Be strategic about your social-media profiles and always look for opportunities to build your brand and spread your message.


5. Be a mentor.


Great thought leaders have strong ideas that live on through the people they have influenced and helped out. These informal teachers understand the importance of becoming a mentor and shaping the next generation of leaders in their field. They want to share their experiences, lessons and knowledge so that others will continue in their footsteps.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: Three tips for leaving your customers ‘breathless’

Satisfying your customers isn’t good enough in today’s competitive markets. Meeting their needs falls short of earning their loyalty. You need to dazzle them; leave them “breathless” whenever they touch your organization.

Here are three steps leaders can take:

1. Hire human-being lovers – people who have an innate desire to serve their fellow human beings. People who get absolute joy from serving and do whatever it takes to see someone’s eyes light up.

Customers can’t be delighted if an employee would rather be taking inventory.

You can’t train people to “love humans.” You can train them to “grin” with a smile in their voice, but that’s the extent of it.

To select the right candidate, the recruitment interview should always start with the question “Do you love humans?” If you get goosebumps from the answer, hire the person. If not, show them the door.

2. Trash dumb rules – policies and procedures that infuriate customers and drive them kicking and screaming to other organizations.

Rules have a legitimate management control purpose but if they drive business away because customers are unwilling to play by them, what’s the point?

Have fun with the idea. I struck a number of “dumb rules committees” to seek out and destroy senselessness; I made it matter by holding my leadership team accountable for implementing the changes.

Rules that serve the customer requires their engagement. Ask them for their input in rule design; they will be impressed that you are open to asking for their help.

Empower your front line to bend rules in special circumstances when they don’t make sense to a particular customer and their loyalty is in jeopardy. Not every policy will be acceptable to every customer, so allowing some flexibility is required.

Don’t worry, your employees won’t give away the farm. Provide them with the skills to balance the needs of both the company and the customer.

3. Turn “oops” into “wow.” Sure you do your best to avoid making mistakes, but they will happen. That’s life in any organization.

The good news is that if your service recovery is remarkable when you disappoint one of your customers they are more loyal than if the mistake never happened. So how to recover?

Fix the mistake fast and then blow the customer away by surprising them with something they don’t expect.

Surprise is magic. People expect the screw-up to be remedied but they don’t expect the extra personal attention you give them to atone for the mistake.

Speed is critical. A recovery succeeds only if it is delivered within 24 hours of the oops. After that, save your energy for the next one coming your way.

Leaving people breathless is not rocket science; it’s about delivering basic human needs. We want to feel special, treated as individuals and delighted by surprise.

Stand-out leaders understand this and create organizations to deliver.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: Successful Leadership Transitions

Successful leadership transitions: traps to avoid, tips for success


It’s never easy to step into a leadership role from outside an organization.


Michael Watkins, an authority on leadership transitions, has concluded through his research that 40 percent of executive leaders hired from the outside fail within 18 months. He estimates the cost to the company of a failed leader at 14 times the leader’s annual salary. Watkins’ findings are especially applicable to transitions in non-family leadership roles within a family business. 


Think of the statistics on keeping family businesses in the family for successive generations: Only 33 percent make it from generation one to generation two, and just 11 percent make it to the third generation. In an article on its website, (“Transitioning from Family Leadership to Non-Family CEO: Best Practices for Maintaining a Family Enterprise”), Family Business Consulting Group observes, “As a family business moves down the generations, the likelihood that it will need to turn to a non-family leader increases.” Most family businesses ultimately will have to hire outside leaders. 


Before looking at three tips for a successful leadership transition, it’s important to recognize two common pitfalls in the process. Few would disagree that the first six months are critical to the success of a new leader. So why do we put people in a position in which their chances for success are slim? 


1. We don’t recognize the need for diligence.


The trap is to view the success of the previous leader as an indicator that the job is easy because all it needs is maintenance for a while: “Dad has run this organization well for 25 years. The team is solid, and we’re a market leader. This job should be a snap.” 


The reality is quite different, as Family Business Consulting Group observes (“Preparing Owners for a Non-Family CEO,” “Ownership groups looking at a non-family CEO for the first time often find they must change the informal ways in which they function and become more structured. For instance, if Dad was the previous CEO, it cannot be expected that the new CEO, who no longer shares the family’s last name, will be given the same degree of trust and respect initially upon the transition.”


2. CEO equals business leader plus family therapist.


Whether it’s due to reputation or how much we’re paying them, it’s easy to expect new leaders to have it all figured out right out of the gate. Making the job too big is a trap. As Watkins’ research shows, it’s not easy to step into a leadership role, especially in family businesses with the added expectation of having to navigate — and often repair — complex family dynamics. While the ability to steer through such complexities is essential, making it the new leader’s job to rewrite the rules is a recipe for disaster. 


Families need to own the work of creating a situation where someone from the outside can come in and be successful, not ask a new leader to fix the family. How can a family-owned business maximize the odds of success for its newly hired leader?


Here are three tips for making a transition successful:


1. Make the culture rules clear. 


Business culture can be a difficult thing to define. In a closely held business, culture is often broad-brushed with generalizations like “family-focused” or “people matter.” Leader Onboarding Inc. ( has developed an assessment, New Leader Culture Snapshot, designed to help new leaders understand performance culture from multiple perspectives.


The survey asks two open-ended questions: What is the most important thing for this new leader to learn about the culture/performance climate in their operation? What are some potential early wins for this new leader?


In family businesses, communications and decisions are often informally executed. A Monday-morning breakfast to discuss the week’s priorities can help to formalize the process. Getting feedback from the team and the family around the important aspects of the culture and performance climate is a good start in making the rules clear to the new leader.


2. Help the new leader to find company wins and family wins. 


Trust is what successful leaders have and unsuccessful leaders lack. A new non-family leader in a family business faces additional obstacles in this regard. In any leadership transition, it’s critical that a new leader build trust from the beginning and avoid situations that can foster mistrust. One of the biggest mistakes I see is having a new leader fire someone in the first three to six months. 


Company wins can range from devoting more resources to professional development of staff to continuing traditional employee gatherings or recognition programs. Family wins can range from the new leader making a point to have informal lunches with key family leaders to learning about the history of and relationships with key suppliers before making decisions about whom to bring into a new project. Trust is built through wins that matter to key stakeholders. In a family business, those stakeholders include both employees and family members.


3. Support, support, support.


Every transition will include mistakes and complex situations that a new leader will need help to navigate to a positive outcome. A mentor is an ally during transition who provides a second perspective and an established reputation to help the new leader to remove barriers and avoid fatal mistakes. Remember that family businesses are beset with informal communication channels and family-centered traditions that can be difficult for an outsider to see. Assigning a mentor to provide a safe place to talk through some of these gray areas and help the new leader make good choices is critical.


Leadership transitions are inherently challenging, and the dynamics of a family business make them especially demanding. There are many steps that organizations can take to increase the likelihood of success. The first steps are to recognize the need to be proactive and deliberate with the transition, and to create realistic expectations for the new role. 


For more Leadership Tips from The Shearin Group, visit this site.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips for Communicating your Employees

Tips for communicating better with your employees


Are you satisfied with the level of communication from your agency leaders?


My organization, the Partnership for Public Service, and Deloitte, recently analyzed the government-wide responses to three employee survey questions to see how federal leaders were doing regarding their communication with workers. The results were not very encouraging.


Overall, the analysis found that only about half of federal workers government-wide are satisfied with the level of communication they receive from senior leaders, and the percentage of positive responses has been declining since 2009.


Only 45 percent of federal employees, for example, responded positively when asked in a 2013 survey question whether they are satisfied with the information they receive form management regarding what is going on in the organization. In addition, just 48 percent of federal employees reported being satisfied with the extent to which managers promote communication among work units. Managers were more successful when it came to communicating the goals and priorities of the organization, with 58 percent registering a positive view.


The bottom line is that federal leaders can and should do better, and in the process they’ll help improve employee satisfaction with their jobs and workplaces. To create a more engaged and motivated workforce, agency leaders need to establish an effective communications strategy that includes keeping employees apprised of important developments, providing clarity on goals and priorities, and establishing a means to receive and respond to feedback.


As a general rule, the Partnership’s analysis found that agencies receiving high marks from employees on leadership communication tend to be proactive, making a concerted effort to keep workers informed.


Here are some approaches that could help federal leaders communicate better with employees:


Make communication a consistent priority. Establishing effective leadership communication requires a long-term focus, not just short-lived initiatives. There are multiple venues where employees can receive information from senior leaders, ranging from quarterly call-ins to in-person and virtual town hall meetings. NASA, for example, hosts a virtual executive summit that allows Administrator Charlie Bolden to connect with employees in diverse geographic locations using online tools. NASA’s managers also actively seek employee feedback through focus groups and surveys, customizing questions based on their immediate relevance to the agency.


Communicate through multiple platforms. In order to effectively communicate with all staff, agency leaders should use multiple platforms. From more conventional means of leadership communication, such as one-on-one discussions and emails, to more innovative communication methods, such as video conferencing and social media, leaders should leverage a range of platforms to communicate with employees.


Maintain open lines between leaders and employees. Effective communication is only possible when those in top positions maintain open, direct lines with employees. Agencies can foster such communication by hosting office hours where employees meet directly with leaders, and by organizing webinars that allow leaders to overcome geographical hurdles and engage employees located outside agency headquarters.


Implement employee suggestions. Soliciting employees’ opinions is an initial step toward improving agency communication. Simply collecting these ideas, though, does little to improve satisfaction if employees believe agency leadership does not use their feedback. When leaders implement ideas generated by agency staff, employees receive a clear message that their voice is both heard and valued. The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched an online community, IdeaHub, where agency employees can submit and collaborate on ideas to drive innovation and change. Once these ideas are refined, they are communicated online to everyone at the agency and to the individual who originally submitted the idea. By doing so, DOT’s leadership demonstrates that communication with employees is taken seriously.


Read Also: Shearin Group Training Services News


The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: A Good Host Makes The Best Leader

People could be divided roughly into two groups: guests and hosts.


Many people strive for authority positions because they think it means they’ll in effect be the guest of honor at an endless series of banquets.


But if you’re a leader, you’re not the guest of honor at the party. You’re the host. And there’s a certain mindset that a good host has.


You’ve willingly taken on the role of providing everyone else with the best possible experience. As the host, you realize you won’t make everyone happy. You don’t have the budget or time for that, and you know that you can’t do much about the fact that many people were just born to complain. But you do what you set out to do, with both maturity and passion.


A good host has a certain energy, which every leader should aspire to summon as they begin their day. The good host exudes a warm, inviting spirit that signals, “This is a good and safe place to be. You’re in the right place. We’ve got it under control”


An accomplished host is outward-focused, more likely to compliment you on your outfit than to worry about what you think of his outfit. He takes spilled drinks and faux pas moments in stride. Ultimately, he takes ownership of the evening, but he does so in a way that doesn’t consume or drain him.


The good host exercises authority and power in the ideal way. Here’s why that’s so important for aspiring leaders to keep in mind.


“Nearly all men can stand adversity,” Abraham Lincoln said, “but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”


It’s no secret that we’re all drawn to power. Even if we’re too shy or timid to reach for it directly, we still like to get close to someone who does.


So it was inevitable that leadership training would become a multi-billion-dollar entity spanning industry, education and media. The worst experts offer quick formulas guaranteed to increase your power, while the good ones offer wise lessons about what power is to be used for.


A big problem with much of the leadership-training industry is that it plays off people’s vanity. It suggests a couple of things:


1. In any room, the leader is the most important person.

2 And if you embrace these five or seven or 12 patented tips for leading, you’ll be a hero, everyone will love you, and they’ll only neglect you long enough to build your statue or to swat pigeons from it.


There’s some reality to the first point. The alpha type enjoys enviable rights and prerogatives among many species, including our closest relatives, chimpanzees (who are genetically 98% identical to us).


It turns out the true alpha dog doesn’t just lounge around and enjoy the perks of the title. It has special, difficult obligations to protect the tribe. It faces constant threats of being overtaken by pretenders to the job. And once the alpha type loses such a battle, there’s no such thing as an easy retirement or pension. You’re ostracized.


It’s a lot like being the host of the party, but you’ll be kicked out of your house if the party stinks or if the guests woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Now that’s pressure.


But the true host loses herself or himself in the moment, in the zen of the event itself, with little sense of self. If they take the microphone, it’s to honor someone else, not just to bloviate with some new jokes they heard. The best hosts make them somewhat invisible, so that the party itself is what the guests remember, and their own wonderful interactions there.


I’ve been very influenced by Lao Tzu, the legendary (and perhaps mythical) father of Taoism. To paraphrase one idea, he said that the best leader is the one whom the people barely notice: When his or her work is done, the people say, “This was an amazing thing that we did by ourselves!”


A host facilitates that same sort of experience. The guests don’t leave feeling a sense of debt, they leave feeling richer for having contributed something of value to the evening.


That’s often the opposite of what most management and leadership gurus are trying to tell us, as they sell myths about power and prestige. But the party doesn’t get started unless and until we bring the right approach.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: 5 ways to build a business intelligence Centre of Excellence

I'm delighted to have been invited to speak at Information Age’s Data Leadership 2014 conference on 30 October. In my session, I'll be sharing tips for building a BI Centre of Excellence (COE) in an enterprise environment, based upon my experience of constructing and managing IT services at big enterprises for the last 12 years.

I'm currently in the process of helping to construct a data visualisation COE based on Tableau Software at a Tier 1 Investment bank in London.

To give a flavour of what I’ll be speaking about, I’ve identified five areas fundamental to creating a successful Centre of Excellence. But if you have any questions ahead of then, ping me on Twitter.

1. Choose the right tools

There are a ton of tools out there. And a lot of them aren't that great. Enterprise users are time-poor, under constant pressure to deliver and generally impatient. For the long-term success of any COE, it is fundamental your applications are easy to use, agile and feature rich.

I've been trying to achieve the holy grail of a great BI stack for years now, and finally it seems like tools are emerging that allow this vision to be a reality.

When evaluating applications, always look for agility and ease of use. Most of your users won't have much time to learn the tool; they probably won't read much of the documentation and also probably won't have time to attend any training courses.

They'll want to fire-up the application and dive right in. As a result that experience needs to be great from the off. Then once they're running with it, can they generate their content or achieve their desired results quickly?

They'll generally be happy to trade off some of the more advanced functionality for a tool that gives rapid results.

2. Choose the right partners

It's not just about the application. Is the vendor able to support your vision? Ensure your tool choice is backed up by a company that is dynamic, proactive and truly values its user community.

How does the company conduct itself? Do you as a subject matter expert feel that your opinions matter? If you've got an issue can you get it to the people that matter quickly? And will they take notice of you?

With truly great companies, you'll find yourself getting to know the top brass and support teams. You'll be participating in industry events and asked to share knowledge with other customers. You might even get an award or two from them.

With the best organisations, you'll see enhancement requests from user forums making it into new releases regularly. You'll see offers from them to come to your organisation and help with training, demos and Q&A sessions, and they'll be constantly interested in how you're using the tool and the value you're getting.

Bad companies will just sell you it and then go quiet.

3. Build your service for ease

Your service must deliver on two key fronts. Firstly, it must allow users to express themselves, without smothering them in red tape. Secondly, it must be as easy as possible to support. Making both central to your service construction will give the best possible chance for success.

Big enterprises generally feature a lot of bureaucracy. Users will already be dealing with enough of that on a daily basis and won't want your service adding to it. It's critical to be able to deliver a service that gets users onboarded quickly and with little fuss.

Then, once they're onboard, it's vital that your service allows them to use the functionality of the tool quickly, easily and with as much flexibility as possible. There's no point implementing a cool, agile BI tool and then miring your users in process.

That service also needs to be supportable. Chances are your support team will be light on bodies and pretty much flat out the whole time.

To be a true COE, you'll want your team to be focusing on the good stuff, helping users get the best out of the tool, training people in advanced functionality and focusing on the industry best practice of the subject area.

To do that, you'll need to have chosen the right infrastructure and technologies and implemented them well, supported with solid but agile IT processes.

4. Don't sit back and admire

So you've got a great service? Don't sit back and think how great you are.

Your power users will be wanting more and more. It's vital to have an overall BI vision. How are you going to expand your offerings and deliver even more value to your users?

I'm creating a Tableau COE. That takes care of data analysis. But what about data modelling and management? Data integration and mining? They all form part of the overall BI stack and your users will want that.

Maybe not immediately, but they'll eventually ask the questions, so to remain in control you’ll need your master plan.

5. Focus on community

Really successful applications and companies are backed by an almost fanatical level of community support. Making the most of this aspect, both internally and externally, can turn a good service into an amazing one.

Creating a great community takes a lot of dedication. Obviously having the right tool and implementing it well is fundamental. It's a lot easier to foster a culture of appreciation with a tool that users love to work with than with a turkey that makes their lives harder than it should be.

But get it right and you'll see the benefits. Users will be blogging and discussing the merits of your latest functionality releases, as well as suggesting their own enhancement requests.

Brilliant blogs will spring up, guiding newbies and experts alike on how to get the best out of the tool and much more. This can all be replicated internally as well as externally.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips for Maximizing your Client Service

Eric P. Bloom: 6 tips on maximizing your staff’s client service


As a manager, never forget the importance of teaching and emphasizing the importance of client service to your staff.


I was in Washington, D.C., for the second time in three weeks to provide training to a client. On my first trip to Washington, I was able to stay at a Marriot Fairfield Inn right next door to my client’s office. For the second trip, however, I was forced to stay at a hotel about three miles away because there was a convention in town and my hotel of choice was filled.


On the morning of the last day of my second trip, I returned to the Fairfield Inn with luggage in hand. The person behind the registration desk recognized me from my prior stay at the hotel and asked me if I wanted to check it. I told her that not being able to secure a reservation at her hotel because of a local conference, I had stayed a few miles away at a different hotel. I went on to say that I had come to the hotel that morning to ask if they would please check my suitcase for a few hours so I would not have to bring it to my client’s meeting. Being a frequent Marriot client, she happily agreed to provide me assistance and even offered me cup of coffee as I was leaving the hotel. This may seem like a trivial, easy and no cost way to help a customer. Well, it is, but for the customer, it was of great value.


The moral of this story, for managers of all types and professions, is to remember the importance of fostering a culture of customer/client service within your team. Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost. They also can pay great dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.


As a manager, there are a number of things you can do to help instill a can-do client service attitude within your staff:

  1. Hire people who by their nature are friendly, outgoing, and like to please others.
  2. Be sure that your team members correctly understand their level of authority regarding customer-related interactions. This allows your team to comfortably go the extra mile to help customers without the fear that they have overstepped their authority.
  3. Provide training to assure everyone in your team has the technical ability to perform needed tasks. This will allow them to properly complete the requested assignments.
  4. Provide training in cultural awareness. This protects your team from accidentally insulting customers of different cultures and/or embarrassing themselves in front of others.
  5. Provide training in active listening, conflict resolution and other interpersonal communication skills. These types of skills can dramatically enhance customer experience.
  6. Treat your team with respect, fairness, and professionalism. If your team feels they are treated well, human nature is such that they will naturally be better to the customers they serve.


In closing, I don’t know what type of hiring, training, or employee treatment is being done at the Marriot Fairfield Inn. What I do know is that, from a customer’s perspective, whatever they are doing, they are it doing right.


The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:

- It is important to foster a culture of customer/client service within your team.

- Small acts of kindness, common courtesy, and remembering to follow up on client requests are of little or no cost.

- Great customer service pays big dividends in the way of client/customer satisfaction, repeat sales, follow-on contracts, and/or top rated performance reviews for you and your team.


Until next time, work hard, work smart, manage well and continue to build your professional brand.


Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a management training company specializing in information technology leadership and is the governing organization of the ITMLP and ITMLE certifications. He is also a keynote speaker, nationally syndicated columnist, and author of the books “The CIO’s Guide to Staff Needs, Growth, and Productivity,” “Your IT Career: Get Noticed, Get Promoted, and Build Your Professional Brand” and “52 Great Management Tips.” Contact him at, follow him on Twitter at @EricPBloom and @MgrMechanics or visit


The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: 10 Things To Do After The Job Interview

Congrats. You had the job interview. Now, your work is done, right? Wrong.


In today’s hypercompetitive job market, effective follow-up after the interview is a must, and failing to do it well might cause you to lose out to another candidate.


The line between being persistent and being a pain, however, is blurry at best. So to help you sort things out, I sent a query to my colleagues in the careers world — recruiters, career coaches, hiring managers and CEO’s — asking for their best follow-up advice.


I received more than 60 responses on topics ranging from thank you notes to handling rejection. Here’s a summary of their 10 best tips:


The Thank-You Note

On this point, everyone agreed: A thank-you note is a must. Most of the pros recommended you send one via email within 24 hours of the interview. Several suggested a handwritten card as a supplement when a personal or creative touch might be especially valued.


But if you really want to stand out, you need to do more than just say “thanks for your time.” The experts suggested these techniques to make your thank-you note shine:


Reference an article of interest. Include in the note a relevant article, link or book recommendation relating to a topic that was discussed during the interview. It’s a value-add for the interviewer and will reinforce your industry expertise.


To really make an impact, Jene Kapela, a South Florida-based leadership coach, says you should write a blog post on a topic discussed during the interview and then share the link to the post in your thank-you note.


Include supporting documentation that illustrates your ability to do the job. You don’t want to overwhelm the interviewer, but adding one or two carefully-curated examples of your work (non-confidential work samples, press mentions, etc.) can be a smart way to show off your expertise.


“It helps show you are the real deal,” says Tyson J. Spring, head of New Business & Strategy for Elever
Professional, an Austin, Texas recruiting firm.


Provide a follow-up response to one of the key interview questions. Ever draw a blank or give a less than stellar response during a job interview? Use your note to modify, correct or amplify one of your responses.


Todd Cherches

, CEO 
of BigBlueGumball, a New York City-based management consulting and coaching firm, offers this example:


When you asked me about my single greatest accomplishment in my last job, I apologize that I drew a blank. However, immediately after leaving, it hit me that I should have mentioned I was voted the top salesperson in my department for 2013, and proudly received a special recognition award at my company’s year-end national convention. Continue reading…

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: How to run your home like a CEO

All successful CEOs have one thing in common: They’re able to maintain a big-picture perspective. It’s also something successful moms have in common, says Zenovia Andrews, a business strategist, speaker, author and mom who coaches entrepreneurs and CEOs on time and budget management.

“In business, CEOs implement a process that achieves efficient time and resource management in the most cost-effective way; sounds a lot like a mom, doesn’t it?” says Andrews, founder and CEO of The MaxOut Group, a company devoted to empowering and tea ching entrepreneurs development strategies to increase profits.

“If every mom were a CEO, America would rule the world!”

Andrews, author of the new book “All Systems Go – A Solid Blueprint to Build Business and Maximize Cash Flow,” (, suggests the following tips for moms to better manage money and time.

- CEOs utilize apps, and so should CEO Moms. When a CEO’s personal assistant isn’t around or, if it’s a small business and she doesn’t have one, then apps do nicely. There are several apps for moms, including Bank of Mom – an easy way to keep track of your kids’ allowances. Set up an account for each child and track any money they earn for chores or allowance. The app also allows you to track their computer and TV time as well as other activities.

- Measurement is the key to knowledge, control and improvement. CEOs have goals for their businesses and Moms have goals for their family members. In either case, the best way to achieve a big-picture goal is to identify action steps and objectives and a system for measuring progress. Want to improve your kids’ test scores, help your husband lose weight or – gasp – free some time for yourself? There are four phases to help track progress: planning, or establishing goals; collection, or conducting research on your current process; analysis – comparing information from existing processes with the new one; and adapting, or implementing the new process.

- Understand your home’s “workforce.” A good CEO helps her employees grow and develop, not only for the company’s benefit, but for the employee’s as well. Most people are happiest when they feel they’re learning and growing, working toward a goal, which may be promotion within the company or something beyond it. When they feel the CEO is helping with that, they’re happier, more productive, more loyal employees. Likewise, CEO Moms need to help their children gain the skills and knowledge they need not only to succeed in general but to achieve their individual dreams.

- A well-running household is a community effort; consider “automated” systems. In business, automated systems tend to be as clinical as they sound, typically involving technology. Yet, there’s also a human resource element. Automated systems are a must for CEO Moms, and they tend to take the form of scheduling at home. Whose night is it for the dishes, or trash? One child may be helpful in the kitchen, whereas another may be better at cleaning the pool.

About the Author: Zenovia Andrews,, is a business development strategist with extensive experience in corporate training, performance management, leadership development and sales consulting with international clients, including Pfizer, Inc. and Novartis Pharmaceuticals. A sought-after speaker and radio/TV personality, she is the author of “All Systems Go” and “MAXOut: I Want It All.”

Top tips for business leaders: creating a caring company

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips  - Showing your staff that you care about them simply makes good business sense. Find out why and discover some practical advice


Why should businesses care about being caring? Businesses first and foremost are all about making profits, right? In fact, achieving the first can be fundamental in helping you to achieve the other.


Showing your staff that you care about them simply makes good business sense. Staff who feel that their employer cares about them are likely to be more engaged and productive.


A survey carried out by the ILM in 2013* found that 31 per cent of respondents stated that the one thing that would motivate them to do more at work was better treatment by their employer.


So it goes without saying that a more motivated workforce ultimately makes for a more profitable and successful company.


Another important factor to consider is reputation. Companies with a reputation for looking after their staff are able to attract the very best candidates and, most importantly, retain them. It is well documented that the economy is improving and that means a greater availability of jobs.


Research by the Institute of Leadership and Management at the beginning of 2014 found that 19 per cent of managers were considering leaving their posts this year. Once you have your key talent in place and you’ve nurtured and trained them, the last thing you want is for them to defect to your competitors so they can reap the benefits of your investment.


And it’s not only caring for your staff that’s important. Companies that can demonstrate caring for their customers, their suppliers and the communities they operate in are much more likely to thrive in the marketplace, generating loyalty.


Setting yourself apart from your competitors with a strong ethical stance not only helps attract and engage highly committed staff but it can also be great for business.


Consider Innocent, which built its brand values around not only being a great employer but also producing its product sustainably and promoting healthy eating among customers. The company, which began in 1999 with three graduates running a stall at a festival, posted a turnover of £207m and profits of £26m in 2012.


So what does a caring employer look like? Below are some practical tips to help managers increase caring while boosting productivity and profitability:


Thank the people who put you there

First, consider who your business has to thank for its success (eg employees, suppliers and the communities you operate in) and how you can demonstrate your appreciation to these key stakeholders. This means taking the time to understand their needs and aspirations and meeting them. This could include:


• Structured praise and recognition/development opportunities/team-building days


• Charitable donations to the local community/allowing your staff to volunteer with community projects


• Ensuring suppliers are given reasonable deadlines and paid a fair and sustainable price



Nurturing relationships is not just a “nice to have”

ILM research shows that managers find working relationships (within teams and with customers and suppliers) increasingly important. Developing and maintaining good working relationships are the key means of, not distraction from, doing real work.


Organisations are using the strength of working relationships as a market differentiator.


Managers should take time to properly engage with colleagues and understand their aspirations and concerns. Twenty-nine per cent of managers have had training in relationship management.


You almost cannot communicate too much

In a world of digital working, with more people working flexible hours, you might not be in physical contact with staff as often. Therefore communication has become a top priority.


It’s not surprising that communication has been noted as the top skill managers would like to develop.


However, recent ILM research has noted that this is also the skill which managers state their peers tend to do most badly.


The key to communicating well is fostering good two-way communications. It’s essential that people feel consulted and listened to.



Train your managers for success

Communication, planning, and leadership and management are all cited as being increasingly important but they can be hard to achieve, especially in large organisations.


Training and qualifications will help, especially for people who are newly promoted into management: frequently they are promoted on the basis of technical/subject ability and left to sink or swim when it comes to management and leadership competence.


ILM has found that only 57 per cent of organisations have a leadership and management talent pipeline, even though 93 per cent recognise that a lack of management skills is affecting their business.



Find out what makes your people tick

We know from ILM research that the top-ranked (by both managers and employees) performance motivator is job enjoyment.


• Only 13 per cent of employees rated bonuses as a top motivator

• Fifty-nine per cent of employees rated job enjoyment as a top motivator

• Thirty-one per cent of employees identified better treatment from their employer, more praise and a greater sense of being valued would make them more motivated.


This could be non-financial recognition and reward, improved office environments, team and company away days or schemes to encourage innovation and creative thinking.


Think how jobs are structured and what opportunities there are to provide development – whether formal training and qualifications or informal opportunities such as secondments or varying the projects or roles of each staff member.


Make sure everyone understands how they contribute to success

Have clearly stated values and work out with everyone what those look like in practice (abstract words on posters or screen savers are not enough).


This will help everyone to pull in the same direction and will also help people applying to work for your company to gauge their suitability.


Having a clear vision which managers can pass on to staff will help everyone to work towards the same thing. ILM research also indicates that it will improve staff positivity and performance.


Specific training and development will help aspiring and current organisational leaders to turn dry objectives into something tangible that their people can reach.



The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips: A Great Manager must be a Great Coach - Here’s 5 Tips to get you Started


If your job involves leading others, the most important thing you can do each day is to help your team members make progress at work that feels meaningful to them.


To do so, you must understand what drives each person, help build connections between each person’s work and the organisation’s mission and strategic objectives, provide timely feedback, and help each person learn and grow on an ongoing basis. Regularly communicating about development – having coaching conversations – is essential. In fact, according to recent research, the single most important managerial competency that separates highly effective managers from average ones is coaching.


Strangely, at most companies, coaching isn’t part of what managers are formally expected to do. Even though research makes it clear that both employees and job candidates value learning and career development above most other aspects of a job, many managers don’t see it as an important part of their role. Managers think they don’t have the time to have these conversations, and many lack the skill. Yet 70 per cent of employee learning and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs. So if line managers aren’t supportive and actively involved, employee growth is stunted. So are engagement and retention.


Can you teach old-school, results-focused line managers to coach their employees? Absolutely. And the training boosts performance in both directions. It’s a powerful experience to create a resonant connection with another person and help her achieve something she cares about and become the kind of person she wants to be. If there’s anything an effective, resonant coaching conversation produces, it’s positive energy. Hundreds of executive students have reported to me that helping others learn and grow is among the most rewarding experiences they’ve had as managers.


You can be significantly more effective as a manager – and enjoy your job more – by engaging in regular coaching conversations with your team members. As you resolve to support their ongoing learning and development, here are five key tips to get you started.


LISTEN DEEPLY. Consider what it feels like when you’re trying to convey something important to a person who has many things on his mind. Contrast that familiar experience with the more luxurious and deeply validating one of communicating with someone who is completely focused on you and actively listening to what you have to say. You can open a coaching conversation with a question like “How would you like to grow this month?” The language you use is less important than your ability to clear your mind, listen attentively and create a connection that invites your team member to open up and to think creatively.


ASK, DON’T TELL. As a manager, you have a high level of expertise that you’re used to sharing, often in a directive manner. This is fine when you’re clarifying action steps for a project or when people ask you for advice. But in a coaching conversation, it’s essential to restrain your impulse to provide the answers. Open-ended questions, not answers, are the tools of coaching. You succeed as a coach by helping your team members articulate their goals and challenges and find their own answers. Doing so helps people clarify their priorities and devise effective strategies for achieving their goals.


CREATE AND SUSTAIN A DEVELOPMENTAL ALLIANCE. Although your role as a coach is not to provide answers, supporting your team members’ developmental goals and strategies is essential. Let’s say that your employee mentions she’d like to develop a deeper understanding of how your end users experience the services your firm provides. She suggests accompanying an implementation team on a site visit next week, interviewing end users and using the interviews to write an article on end user experience. You agree that this would be valuable for both the employee and the firm. Now, make sure that you give your employee the authorization, space and resources necessary to carry out her plan. You can also highlight her article as an example of employee-directed learning and development. Follow-up is critical to building trust and to coaching effectively. The more you follow through on supporting your employees, the more productive your coaching becomes, the more your employees’ trust in you grows and the more engaged you all become.


FOCUS ON MOVING FORWARD POSITIVELY. Often the person you’re coaching will get caught up in detailing her frustrations. “I’d love to spend more time building my network, but I have no bandwidth. I’m at full capacity just trying to stay on task with my deliverables. I’d really love to get out to some industry seminars, but I can’t let myself think about it until I can get ahead of these deadlines.” Venting can provide temporary relief, but it doesn’t generate solutions. Take a moment to acknowledge your employee’s frustrations, but then encourage her to think about how to move past them. You might ask, Which of the activities you mention offers the greatest potential for building your knowledge and adding value to the company? Could you schedule two hours of time for developmental activities each week? Are there skills or relationships that would increase your ability to meet your primary deliverables? How could we work more efficiently within the team to free up and protect time for development?


BUILD ACCOUNTABILITY. In addition to following through on any commitments you make to employees, you should also hold your employees accountable for formulating and implementing developmental plans. Accountability increases the positive impact of coaching conversations. If an employee plans to research training programs that will fit his developmental goals, ask him to identify appropriate programs along with their costs and the amount of time he’ll need away from work, and to deliver this information to you by a certain deadline.


Coaching your employees will build stronger bonds between you and your team members, support them in taking ownership over their own learning and help them develop the skills they need to perform at their peak. It also feels good. At a coaching workshop I led recently in Shanghai, an executive said the coaching exercise he’d just participated in “felt like a bungee jump”. I was delighted to see that this man, who had arrived looking reserved and a bit tired, couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the evening. He was far from the only participant who was visibly energized by the coaching experience.


So go ahead and take the interpersonal jump. You will love the thrill of coaching conversations that catalyse your employees’ growth.


By Monique Valcour

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips 5 Tips to Turn Your Business Into An Educational Powerhouse

Many businesses don’t do a great job when it comes to educating their prospects on the true benefits of their products and services. Sure, they have a website, but they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to differentiate themselves by maintaining an active blog with valuable information for their target audience.



Why Is Education So Important For Your Business?


In a competitive industry (and which one isn’t nowadays?), demonstrating your expertise in the areas of interest to your prospects goes a long way towards building trust. Consistently writing, optimizing, publishing, and sharing original content on your blog can consistently keep them engaged. It shows that you’re interested in being helpful and sharing your knowledge to solve their problems and meet their needs.


In short, your business becomes a trusted resource. Your website will be viewed as a hub for educational content, and your blog will be the driving force behind it. In fact, creating valuable information for your blog will be the single most effective way to build awareness for your business, demonstrate thought leadership, attract more prospects to your website, and generate more leads.


How to Start Creating Content For Your Business


If you haven’t already added a blog to your website, now’s the time. Remember that dedication, consistency, and quality are key to achieving success with your blog. If you don’t plan on frequently updating it with original content—at least once a week—you may want to reconsider blogging as part of your content marketing strategy. An ignored blog or a blog with poorly written articles will do your business more harm than good.


Here are five tips to help you start creating valuable educational articles:


1. Stay Informed

Keep track of industry trends to get ideas for article topics, and follow influential blogs to stay up-to-date on top of industry news. Leverage your expertise to add your own perspective and contribute to the conversation. Put a new spin on an old topic. Be controversial. Ruffle some feathers. It’s a good way to get people talking about and interacting with your business.


2. Perform Keyword Research

Use a keyword tool to discover the terms your target audience is searching to find information related to your business. Look at the amount of monthly searches for keywords, and remember to compare their competition so you choose keyword phrases that are frequently searched but aren’t so competitive that you can’t rank for them.


3. Write High-Quality Articles

Both your target audience and the search engines want to see that you’ve created a substantial piece of content. But most visitors do not—and will not—want to read a 3,000 word treatise on the benefits of your products and services. Instead, write more concise 500-600 word articles that educate your target audience on the specific topics they want to learn about. It’s been said a gazillion times, but it always rings true: quality over quantity.


4. Don’t Be Self-Promotional

Nothing turns-off prospects faster than an article that blatantly promotes your company’s products and services. Remember that the point of content marketing is to educate and share valuable information, not sell directly. You want your blog to be the go-to resource in your niche, not a place where you toot your own horn. That’s what press releases are for.


5. Use Social Media Wisely

Share your great content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and other social media sites where your prospects and customers hang out. Include relevant keywords in your posts, and encourage your network to share your content as well. The visibility of your articles can spread very quickly to increase the visibility of your business and boost website traffic.

Get Started


These are just a few of the many best practices for writing, optimizing, and publishing articles on your blog. Now you’re ready to start creating and sharing content to turn your business into a trusted resource, build awareness as a thought leader, and generate more qualified leads.

The Shearin Group Leadership Training Tips How to Succeed in Business: the First Steps

I'll begin where the majority of successful entrepreneurs begin--"follow your passion." It may be a shopworn phrase, but this advice is as valid today for how to succeed in business as it was a hundred years ago, and it has certainly proven true for me. I have been successfully following my passion for seven decades.


The word passion has a direct application to business. It means a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something. A new entrepreneur will need this emotional charge to sustain his or her motivation when facing the unexpected challenges that all startups encounter. The power of personal attachment will energize you and keep the momentum going. According to one estimate, 8 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 18 months, so passion's role will likely be crucial for survival.


At age 90, I'm bold enough to speak about the importance of this topic to younger generations since I can draw from experience, not theory. Recently, I produced a new streaming video for entrepreneurs called, "How To Succeed In Business," in which I discuss why passion is such a vital factor.


Self-motivation is the key to success and will achieve powerful results.


Lately, many self-proclaimed business gurus have maligned the idea of pursuing a passion as bad advice. They dismiss it as an oversimplification, and to an extent, they are right. It is not as simple as it sounds. Clarifications and additional considerations are essential. So, what is the best way to tap into your self-motivation and start a new business? First, you need to do some self-reflection. What are your core values? What experiences have shaped you? How do you define success? Next, think of your dream job as actually a constellation of overlapping desires. Yes, you want to pursue something you love, but you also want to make a reasonable income, have time for leisure activities, save for retirement, and live where and how you want to. Along the way you will undoubtedly have to make some compromises and adjustments. It is important to recognize that career satisfaction will emanate from many sources.


Also, you need to clearly define your passion. It cannot just be a broad area. You must translate your dream of success into a series of small and large goals and differentiate them from wishes. As I wrote in my latest book, The Evolution of an Entrepreneur, "A wish might be to play point guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. An achievable goal might be to work with an NBA team in their marketing department or to become a supplier to an NBA venue or retail outlet." What begins as a vague or hazy vision must then be articulated into very focused objectives that are within the scope of your abilities and finances. I've narrowed down the startup process to five sequential steps called The Nadel Method to get entrepreneurs on the right track.


In addition, here are seven goal-setting steps that I think all entrepreneurs will find useful.


• First, you must write your goals down. Otherwise, they are simply New Year's resolutions, which are soon forgotten.


• Next, be as specific as you can when writing goals. Instead of, "I want to raise my company profile in the community," write, "I will volunteer my company's resources once a month to a specific community organization."


• Express goals in positive words. Don't think about driving the competition out of business; think about how your product or service can fulfill an unmet need.


• Make sure the goals you choose are yours and not someone else's. (See motivation above.)


• Put time limits on your goals. How else can you hold yourself accountable?


• Give yourself a score at the end of your timeframe. If you didn't succeed, do you want to keep trying for this goal or do you need to make some alterations?


• And finally, set goals in all areas of your life. You need to stay balanced to be truly happy. Your emotional and physical health is as important as your financial health.


Keep an open mind about following your passion. Be flexible. Don't assume you will hit the center of the target on your first try. Once you embark on your business idea, you may discover business categories you never knew existed that can relate to following your passion. For example, the emerging technology of 3D printing has created a slew of new entrepreneurial opportunities that weren't even possible two years ago for a variety of industries. With a modest investment of under $5,000, a budding entrepreneur can start a 3D printing business that can provide multiple applications, whether it be crafting custom wearable designs or creating vintage auto parts. According to both to Forbes and Business News Daily, the concept of 3D printing-as-a-service franchise is about to go mainstream.


Overall, be willing to learn from your mistakes. I sometimes think we should declare a national holiday to honor the errors we make because this is how all of us learn. Mistakes are a key element of growth and success, especially for new entrepreneurs. Those who ignore the lessons mistakes teach us won't stay in business for long.


And don't overlook the many helpful resources for new and existing business owners. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration has Small Business Development Centers in all fifty states and supports thousands of S.C.O.R.E. volunteer mentors nationwide, not to mention the national focus they bring to light each May with various events for entrepreneurs through the SBA's coordinated efforts for Small Business Week in cities from coast to coast. In addition, there are useful tools offered by service providers who genuinely want to see you succeed. I just recently learned that Visa has an entire division focused on supporting and promoting small business ownership through Visa Small Business, after they decided to feature several of my Huffington Post articles on entrepreneurship through their social media.


And lastly, never forget that you live and do business in a community. Temper your sense of "rugged individualism" with an appreciation for the roles others play in helping you pursue your passion. Create a business that is uniquely yours, but also find a way for your business to contribute to the well-being of your community. As Thomas Watson of IBM once said, "To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart."


As I've indicated many times, I am strongly motivated to share insights about my entrepreneurial success, and I likewise encourage you to share your tips for success. You will never know the people you might be helping, but by sharing, you will be validating your own passion, and your enthusiasm for entrepreneurship will deepen.


Jack Nadel is the author of the award-winning book, "The Evolution of an Entrepreneur: Featuring 50 of My Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business" - winner of five Global Ebook Awards including three Gold Awards for BEST in Business, Leadership and Careers/Employment - part of the popular Ultimate Crash Course for Entrepreneurs set, available on-demand online ( He is the founder and chairman emeritus of Jack Nadel International, a global leader in the specialty advertising and marketing industry. Jack, founder of more than a dozen companies worldwide, is also the author of other books, including, "There's No Business Like Your Business, How to Succeed in Business Without Lying, Cheating or Stealing," "Cracking the Global Market," and "My Enemy, My Friend."



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