Business Excellence – staying focused on the Important.

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Zig Ziglar planningIt’s a new week with lots to get done, but sometimes you can feel overwhelmed even before you start.  In life, we often be distracted by “Tyranny of the Urgent” type issues that pop up and leave behind the IMPORTANT ones. This increases the size of your “To Do” list and keeps you from accomplishing the things that will truly help you reach your goals on time. As Zig Ziglar once said, “It’s not about a lack of time but a lack of direction.”

Clear goals are essential for success. If you don’t know where you are going, you don’t know what steps to take to get there. “Often we see companies doing SOMETHING for the sake of doing something and not really knowing where they are going or where they want to be. They feel that if they do enough of SOMETHING then they are sure to get somewhere.” I prefer a more focused effort.

If you don’t have a system to keep you on track, let me suggest you start a “TOP 5″ sheet.  It has worked for me and my teams over the last two years and I know it will work for you. It is not hard to do once you learn the system and it will help you balance your life in ways you never imagined.

Using a TOP 5 Sheet Can Help

Here is an example of the work section of my Top 5 sheet as an example.  The real value is not just filling out the sheet, but how it fills out your calendar each week.  I have goals that I want to achieve for both personal and business.  These goals are written down so I keep on target and have deadlines where applicable.  I also review them with my partner so we hold each other accountable.

I use the TOP 5 sheet to make sure I work on the things that will get me to my goals on time.  I take the hours estimated to accomplish these task and block them out on my calendar so I am sure to have time in my week for them.  Let your goals determine your calendar and not the other way around, so you’ll never have to say “I just didn’t have time to get it done this week.”

(I learned how to use a TOP 5 sheet during my time as VP of Marketing and Business Development for US Leadership Inc. of Irving, TX.)

If you prefer to see things on video, I created a video showing how I use the TOP 5 sheet and you can watch on YouTube by clicking on the photo here. I must admit it is not the most exciting video I ever made but it will show you how the Top 5 system works, and you get to hear my soothing voice. Maybe watch it before bed time over a nice glass of wine.

by Robert Hunt

To Keep up with my current focus on leading CEO Peer Groups, follow me at www.REFdallas.com

 

Other Great Links and Information

Marketing – Where do you Want to GO?

Create Partnerships to help you Reach your Goals

When it comes to Reaching your Goals in 2013 – Burn the Ships

What Every CEO should Expect from their CMO

Would Jesus be Offended by “Happy Holidays”

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whatever-wont-offend-youThere’s a lot of discussion this time of year, about companies who do not say Merry Christmas, and instead use some other saying like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.” As a Marketing professional who is a Born-Again Christian, I think Jesus Christ would shop at Radio Shack, have a Christmas Tree, and would invite his coworkers to church to help them find the real meaning of Christmas.

I understand the passion behind the conversations. Both have valid and compelling reasons for their actions, but the extreme of these things does nothing but make them look ridiculous. Some people are moved to boycotting and being down-right angry about the choice of nomenclature that describes the month of December. On the flip side, the government and some retailers have gone to great lengths not to offend the loud minority with any observance of the Christian and American traditions that are a part of this nations history.

From a Marketing Guys’s Perspective

As a Marketing professional, I always looked for ways to connect our company with our markets. We worked hard to find the right message and images that would easily connect with the people who needed to hear it, and would be delivered in a away that the prospects are most likely to understand and act upon.

Our message needed to be brief and concise or we’d lose the attention of the receiver. So I can understand the desire to say “Happy Holidays” in a marketing message, in order to communicate good will to those who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, with a tip of the hat to those who do not recognize any religion, but still love the fun of Christmas traditions in America.

MikeLester

Since companies market to all of these groups at the same time, and because we have a few major holiday events so close to each other, the attempt to find one message to cover all groups, is not necessarily an attack on our faith, but a desire to be efficient.

Sure, they could just wish me a Merry Christmas, and my jewish friends Happy Hanukkah, and us all a Happy New Year. Or, they can just say “Happy Holidays” and cover it all. No offense intended. I have done this myself in past years as I communicate with our customers, and had no ill intent or any fear of being bold about my faith as I was doing this.

However, it is ridiculous how some companies have gone out of their way not to offend some at the expense of kissing up to others. A green tree that you cut down and put in your living room during the month of December, and put lights and ornaments all over it, is not a Holiday Tree. It’s a Christmas tree. Just like the multi-stick candle holder is also called Menorah.

From a Christian’s Perspective

Christmas is the occasion where we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is a remembrance of the greatest gift ever given; where GOD himself came to this world to be born as a child, and die for the sins of all mankind, so that we might once again walk with GOD in peace. This is worthy of our respect and observance every day, not just on Christmas.

Let’s remember that Christians do not own the month of December. It is shared with Hanukkah by the Jews, God’s chosen people, and even just good ol’ American Traditions of Santa and gifts for the rest. And although we have different beliefs, each group still deserves to be respected. If you are one who does not chose to celebrate any of these, that is your right too, but December 25th is still Christmas in America, whether you like it or not.

urbanWhat gets bizarre is when the government or retailers decide to knuckle under to the complaints of a few, and toss aside years of traditions, to please the tiny number of whiners with lawyers. It’s bizarre that some are outraged at a Nativity scene on the city hall lawn, but allow strip clubs and pot-shops to flourish. Or retailers who tell them employees not to say Merry Christmas so customers aren’t offended, then present content that would offend Hell-Boy. (Sorry, almost start to rant there. I’ll pull back and start again.)

We Christians could lighten up a bit too. We do not know that December 25th is the actual day of Jesus birthday. Scholars say that he was most likely born in the spring (as shepherds would be more likely to lay out in the fields at night).

The remembrance of his birth is not even called “Jesus Birthday.” Our nation could have given the same respect to Jesus’ birthday as we do for Lincoln and Martin Luther King’s birthday. However, since our nation has not felt it necessary to call Christmas “Jesus’ Birthday” and celebrate it on the right day for the last 1,000 years, why get angry if others chose not to recognize it at all? Remember, you can’t protest people  into following the Messiah.

Peace on Earth

One of Jesus Christ’s last prayers was that his followers would live in peace with each other. (John 17: 20 – 23) Therefore, in the spirit of Christmas, and in honor of the man whom we seek to remember on this day, let’s try and do things in a way HE would. Honor GOD this Christmas in your hearts and lives FIRST. Let this pour out so obviously that you don’t need a label or group to be identified as a follower of Jesus.

Merry Christmas

“Let your light so shine that others will see your good works, and glorify your Father in Heaven.” Then, people will find the savior, just as the shepherds did, when they follow the light that leads them to him – us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

P.S.  I have not published on this blog in a while as I am spending most of my time building peer groups for top executives with Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas. Please follow me at www.REFDallas.com.
 

MORE IMPORTANT LINKS

Was Jesus Really Born on December 25th?

It is Christmas – Not Holiday

Boycotting Radio Shack

Governor won’t call it a Christmas tree

Google Ranking – what makes a site #1

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Click to read about Google ranking

Google is King when it comes to internet search so they can do whatever they want – and they do. They create rules of engagement that determine whose site is listed in what order on Google pages – aka “Ranking” and they change this often so no one can master the process and avoid paying for AdWords (pay-per-click) to show up as number one.

Last year Google launched a new algorithm named Penguin, which replaced Panda as the criteria for how information will be listed on their search engine pages. Penguin is a VERY complex series of guidelines that Google uses to evaluate your information and determine where it will appear on their pages – your ranking. Google considers how accurate your information represents what you actually offer, number of sites that “legitimately” link to you (no more link farms allowed), your ranking from customer review sites like Yelp, and your social media connections. This is why companies hire professionals to do their SEO, Social Media and PPC because just keeping up with the rules requires you be a full-time student of these technology platforms.

Content is Golden. What you create for the world to see online will help you get the attention of your prospects and Google and increase your ranking. I created this blog so I could connect to my clients and prospects with my own original content. My posts have been re-blogged on other people’s blogs as well as posted on linked-in and twitter, making it easier for me to be found and improve my ranking. Another great way to add your own content is to create videos, and since You Tube is second to Google as the most popular search engine, video can be a great way to help with your ranking.

Chris Yates from Huddle Productions runs a company that creates great video content and has a feel I really like.  It’s purposely not a “studio” feel so it gives a more on-the-street reporter type attitude that I think is better suited for social media applications.  Chris has been recognized for his excellent and creative work by clients such as Anheuser-Buch, Verizon and Michael’s Stores, and he often donates his time to the DFW AMA to shoot video of our local events.  We had breakfast this week and we decided to grab his iPhone and go out to the parking lot to make a quick video.  Chris says that sound and light are the most important things in a video so ignore the fact his shaky hand is holding the iPhone and filming while he talks (we had two cups of coffee before filming this).

This video took us just a couple of minutes to film and now it’s on his You Tube Channel and helping both our rankings. By the way, video adds 20 pounds and 10 years on you – apparently.

Facebook posting – time delayed

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Time delayed posting is a great idea

Did you know that the average social media post only reaches a small percentage of the followers, and it only stays in view for a short period of time before other posts push it down the forbidden land beneath the “fold” (bottom of the screen).

If you want your message to be seen by your fans, make sure it has sharp graphics, easy to understand information, and post it at a time most will see it.  You can even delay the posting by setting a time and date for later.  Hootsuite can do this for you or here is the link to learn how to do this on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=389849807718635&in_context

Keep in mind that once the information has been posted, you may want to come back and chose to Highlight it, as this can not be arranged when setting up a Delayed post. “Highlighting” a post makes it spread across the entire page. This has the ability to emphasis the post, and it also breaks up the look of the page. For example, go see the post I highlighted of Claude VanDam in the Volvo ad on my Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/HuntConsultingDfw

Delayed posting allows you to set up posting for a couple weeks ahead of time, and schedule them to roll out while you focus on other things. You Social Media strategy should include a calendar where you post things relative to certain aspects of your products, company and marketing activities that are part of your marketing plan. If you are launching a new video, or attending a trade show, schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to bring people’s attention to these other efforts, and connect them together. When we attend a local event in Dallas, I will post date information about the event so it appears the day of the event, when others are likely to be talking about it on Social Media channels. Again, once they post, go visit them and see if people are talking with you about this and make sure you reply in a timely manner.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

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MORE IMPORTANT LINKS

Defending Your Brand Online

Listening to Your Marketing Online

The Real Value of Networking

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I actually DON’T like Networking events, but I am a good networker because I’ve been paid to do it for most of my life. However, I’d much rather sit at an event with someone and just listen to them. I am a firm believer in regularly using the “Analog Version of Social Media” – a face-to-face meeting. I like to see the face of the person who is sharing something in order to know if there is more to the story than what they are telling me.  I love to be able to tell if the conversation needs to change by reading their body language, and then ending our discussions with a hand shake or hug ( a manly “Bro-hug” is very common in my world).

There is a great value in “Networking” to increase your contacts and find people who can help your business, your career and your life overall. Unfortunately, most people wait to start networking until they need to find leads or a new job. When I get a confirmation of a request to connect on LinkedIn that I sent someone two years ago, I realize that this person just left their job, so they blew the dust off of their LinkedIn page and finally replied to my request because NOW, they need me.

Whether it’s one-on-one, in the digital space, or in a group you should always be “Networking” and here are some ways you can enjoy doing it.

One-on-One is Best

Nothing beats a face-to-face meeting.  It’s easy to get comfortable in sending LinkedIn requests and the occasion “Like” but you need to make effort to meet with people to create the human connection.  To some, meeting people is as exciting as watching the Third Presidential Debate, but it’s part of the process of building your personal brand image and should not be ignored. Remember, it’s not just about what you get out of the meeting, it’s about pouring into the lives of others you meet and seeing how you can help them FIRST. And unless your Bill Gates, you still need to intentionally work to meet new people all the time.

I recently met with another business owner in DFW because he read this blog and “liked” it. Rather than just saying thank you, I suggested we meet for coffee.  When we met, I quickly found out that we share a passion for excellence and helping small businesses reach their goals. We talked about our families, our faith in GOD, and our efforts to grow our business. Through this meeting, I felt a level of trust and confidence in him that I would not have otherwise received. Face to Face is always best.

Social Media Connections

Seriously Tyler!? Is this the best photo you have?

It’s great to have a LinkedIn account, but are you using it the right way? If not, it’s like buying the iPhone 5S and using it as a paper weight. Have you “optimized” your page – or at least added a photo! Seriously, how ugly are these people who will not put a photo on their LI page? Come on, Sears Portrait Studio will do one for you for $7.99, and you get a free key chain.

Take time to update your profile, add apps, get referrals, add slide shares with valuable information, and then engage the business world you live in. Make it easy to connect with you; alphabetized your skills, put key words in your work history, list your phone number at the top of your page, and make your contact information easy to find so people can connect with you.

Here is my LinkedIn page, and although I’m sure it can always be better, mine has Tyler’s Becks’ beat hands-down!  http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertjhunt2010

Networking

I do actually participate in Networking events, but when I do, I have a goal and target audience in mind. Just showing up to drink a beer with random people will drain you and make you hate the adventure. Find out where your prospects and colleagues go, or a place where you can sharpen your skills and get good leads. Who knows, maybe they’ll have a door prize of a new iPad Mini that you could win. Or better yet, you could meet a new prospective client, find a potential job opportunity, connect with a potential business partner, and what the heck – even make a new friend.

The are lots of great local groups like the 1st TuesdayAAF of Dallas, Dallas Meetups, and the just to name a few. For me, there is no better place than the DFW American Marketing Association.  The DFW AMA has a great mix of clients (prospects), service providers, and other marketing people like me who can share their experiences and help me refine my business model. You can learn more about the DFW AMA on my blog at http://wp.me/p2ugKa-6i and follow them @DFWAMA.

The real value in Networking is that it keeps you connected to the world.  You need to give back to others, keep learning about new ideas, and find new resources to help your small business or career move ahead. Done on a regular basis with a specific plan and focus, Networking adds to the bottom line of your company and your life, so make plans to step up your networking efforts today. If you need practice, lets set a time to meet in person or come see me at the next DFW AMA Event and I’ll introduce you around.

By the way, when you DO meet with someone, don’t forget to have a plan and a goal, and don’t shy away from asking for help or a referral if that is what you need.  Here is a good article on how to Get More Referrals. Now go connect with someone.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

* Note that I have moved my focus off of Marketing Consulting and over to leading CEO Peer Groups at Renaissance Executive Forums of Dallas. Follow me there at www.REFDallas.com 

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Great Marketing Starts with YOU

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Ben Smithee of Spych Marketing Analytics

(Today’s Guest Blogger is Ben Smithee of Spych Market Analytics in Dallas.)

“How can others trust you to market them, if you can’t even market yourself?”

I often get requests from others to help them find new clients or a new job, and one of the first things I do is go see how they are presenting THEMSELVES in the market – what is their Personal Brand.

I believe the way you present yourself, reflects how you will present a company or brand. This affects my thoughts about hiring, or even referring you to someone who may hire you. Before you represent a brand, a company, or even me, you need to show me you can do a great job of representing yourself.

Are you effectively marketing your personal brand the way you want to be perceived? If you won’t give your best effort to market yourself, how much passion and excellence will you give others?

As Marketing Leaders, our skills should not be restricted to the strategic war room. We need to be using them each day by the way we dress, the way we speak to strangers, and yes, even the way we post online. Does YOUR personal brand attract the kinds of people and companies you want to connect to, or work with? When others meet you, what is their perception of you? Can they envision you working for their company, or partnering with you on a project? Are you someone other leaders want to be around in close quarters with each day during a six-month project? What about each day for the rest of their career?

Live it out Loud

At SPYCH, our team works hard to build a culture of continuity; where our people and our work continually reflect the SPYCH Brand. This brand provides the vision for our people to follow, and our people live out the dream and motivations that were the impetus for the creation of SPYCH. See where this is going? As much as we often try to separate ourselves from our work and in an effort to establish the elusive work/life balance, this is really impossible. Who you are in person and online, is who you are at work. All of us like to work with people we enjoy being around, and your personal brand should present a vision of what it would be like to share life around you – both on and offline.

I strongly encourage companies to keep this in mind when they hire or partner with other people. Ask yourself if this person or company will represent the image you want to portray? Do they “get it” when it comes to their own work and their own brand? If not, do you really think they can “fake it” good enough when they work for you?

Hunt Consulting Facebook pageI think Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW has done a great job of consistently presenting his personal brand to the DFW business community. What you see, is what you get, and Robert is the “real deal.” I have spent the last three years working, volunteering (@DFWAMA), and playing along side Robert, and I can attest that he IS the kind of marketing professional I would want to work with and trust for my marketing program. He has defined his brand and lives it out every time I see him in person and online.

Get outside of yourself

If you want to create innovative work and have an innovative lifestyle, get out and see what the other side of life is doing. I learn so much from observing actual behaviors, similar to how we conduct “Ethnographies” as part of the research we do at Spych. If you want to reach the younger markets and understand them better, stop complaining about their infatuations with technology and sit down and play a video game with them. Ask them to show you how they engage with their friends online and download the latest apps and games. Open your mind to what others are doing and see how that can affect the way you live and represent yourself.

Be Positive – Stop Whining

I acknowledge that the economy is not the best, and now that the “scary” Sequester kicked in over the weekend, things are not going to improve any quicker. I also know that life is what you make of it, and I’m sure that somewhere down the line someone has been dealt a worse hand than you have, so don’t lock up in fear, get out and do something about it.

Ben Smithee

Stop whining – both in person and online! It’s not the image you need to portray. How would you feel if a company’s marketing strategy was to go on Facebook and complain about how bad the economy is, and that nobody is buying their products? You would tell them to grow up, put on their big boy pants, and create a better product, give better service and care about their customers. Am I right?

As marketers, when times are tough, we need to put on our big boy pants, make OURSELVES a better product that is attractive to clients, be nicer to the ones we have, provide better service than we already do, and share the positive side of life. I’m not telling you to fake it or phone it in. I am just saying that sometimes life needs a bit of “marketing,” so BE the person we turn to for a brighter side, not the person we contemplate un-subscribing from.

Take a cue from Hunt Consulting DFW and my team at Spych, and make sure you start your marketing efforts with YOU. Read more examples of this on our websites, blogs and other social media pages listed below. Join Robert and I, and let’s make sure we are putting our best foot forward, every step of the journey.

By Ben Smithee, CEO of Spych Market Analytics

 

MORE INFORMATION

The Real Value of Networking

You ARE a Great Leader

More information on the Sequester

About the Author:

Ben Smithee is the CEO of SPYCH. His strong passion for innovation and creativity, and awareness of the evolving world of marketing research and communications, led to his vision for the foundation of SPYCH. Upon co-founding SPYCH in 2009, Ben has led the SPYCH team in consulting the upper echelon of brands in preparing for “Future-Market Readiness” by understanding the future consumers (Gen Y/Millennials), the future of tech., and the future consumer environments on and off line.

Contact Ben Smithee and Spych Market Analytics at

ben@spychresearch.com or (214) 501-2341

Website: http://www.spychresearch.com

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/spych-market-analytics

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/spych

Blog: http://spych.wordpress.com

Marketing Deserves a Seat at the Table

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I attended the DFW AMA Executive Luncheon today in Dallas, and the guest speaker was Lance Miceli, EVP, Chief Marketing Officer of G6 Hospitality, the parent company of Motel 6. Motel 6 grew from a single hotel in Santa Barbara California to stand as one of today’s iconic American Brands. You will of course remember the radio spots by Don Bodett stating that they will “keep the light on” and presenting the idea that Motel 6 offers a clean comfortable room at the lowest price of any national chain. I love their commercial celebrating 50 years of being place to find a comfortable night’s rest at a great price. (click the photo above to watch)

What was most impressive about Lance’s presentation was the fact that Marketing is intricately involved in the key business decisions and plans. As a matter of fact, Motel 6 has put Marketing in charge of these five key teams: Distribution, B2B Sales, Revenue Management, Quality, oh yeah, and Advertising/PR to round off the team. Lance said this has been a big challenge to pull these teams together, but he said this gives the marketing team amazing feedback, and has allowed Motel 6 to connect with their market and increase revenue while others are struggling.

I’ve never heard of such an organizational arrangement and I’m eager to meet with Lance soon to learn more about how they are pulling this off. If more companies would look at marketing as the glue that holds other parts of the company together, they too can build a strong Brand and solid profits. Too many companies relegate marketing to doing projects or tasks in support of the sales team, or the owners personal preferences, and as a result, they struggle to get the results they desire.

Companies that have seen amazing success are ones who understand how to use marketing from the beginning as they decide what products to sell, through what channels, to who, at what price, and how they communicate with everyone involved. Companies like Apple have worked hard to create a strong brand that is lived out and understood by all their employees and customers, and this is because they keep marketing in the center of what drives the company’s activities.

So how can you invite marketing to the leadership table at your company?

Include marketing in your plans from the beginning. As you cast your vision for your company, ask marketing to research the market and see what factors will affect your plans. Understand the needs of the customers, what the competition is doing, what other products have succeeded or failed before, and how should you position you company, product or service to best meet the needs of the market.

Lance MiceliDirect the marketing team to communicate (internally first, then externally) the message and details of your vision in a clear and compelling manner so every team member can live it out, and every customer knows what you stand for. Lance Miceli suggested that every company needed to write down the definition of success so everyone on the team can know where they are going. Your job as the leader of your company is to create the vision then establish goals and plans to get there. Marketing should be a part of this process every step of the way.

Include Marketing in discussions about cash flow, quality control, distribution, new product research, employee engagement, and more. The marketing team is probably the more creative part of your team, so let them find ways to bring your team together and keep them on the same page as you grow.

The goals of the company need to be owned by ALL the team members, but these teams should not function in silos. With today’s focus on optimizing “Big Data” and online interaction with your market, the marketing team needs to work closely with teams like IT, Sales, Customer Service, Quality, and Manufacturing to provide the experience your customers are expecting. Create a team environment that opens communications between departments and reduce the finger-pointing that can occur between teams.

If you are the Owner, President or CEO of your company and you do not fully understand all that marketing can or should be doing to help you reach your goals, call me and I will come over and tell you – FOR FREE! I love this stuff and have seen the results of companies who fully integrate marketing into their plans, and succeeded.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

P.S.  I have not published on this blog in a while as I am spending most of my time building peer groups for top executives with Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas. Please follow me weekly at www.REFDallas.com.
 
 

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MORE IMPORTANT LINKS

5 Surprise Marketing Trends for 2013

2013 Marketing Trends

Never Lose Touch with Your Market

Now is a good time to become a Millionaire

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Did you know that more people became millionaires during the depression than any time before?  The same opportunities are here today for those who have the vision and passion to make it happen. Although most companies are working with fewer people and smaller budgets, the companies that wisely invest the time and resources today, will be miles ahead when the others finally come out of hiding.

It’s tempting to hunker-down and wait out the uncertainty of todays economy, but if you stand still while others press ahead, you end up VERY far behind. You certainly need to control your staffing levels and expenses but more importantly, you need to review your plans and see if you are heading in the direction the market is going or what changes are required to get back on course. If you don’t feel it is time to add to your team, you can always hire an outside consultant to help you reach your goals on a project basis. Don’t let the uncertainty of this years Presidential Elections hold you back from tightening up your team and moving ahead of your competition.

Forbes recently published a list of the 25 Fastest Growing Tech Companies in America.  In a time when money is so tight, people are still eager to buy solutions that meet their needs, and if you make what people want – they buy it (apparently in large amounts).  Make sure that your business is only doing the things that are core to reason you are in business in the first place.  Cut out the projects, programs and play time that drain your resources and follow one path all together.  Make sure your team is aware, committed to, and living out your vision for the company and your passion to serve your market. Cross-train your team and make sure you are using all your existing resources to their fullest.

Get Some Help

If your Small Business has an idea that needs help getting started, you should get outside help.  There are lots of great consultants and services that can step in an quickly help you reach your goals. One such service is on a website called Kickstarter. People present their idea and request the funding they need to make it happen.  The amount required for the ideas vary by project as does the amounts committed to by the individual backers.  It’s a great way for you to get involved with helping the next millionaire get started.

My friend Ben Smithee was in a video for one such project in the Frisco, TX area and you can see it on the video if you click on the photo here.  Ben has a great research company named Spych that focuses on understanding the Millennials or Y-Generation, and they are a very creative team that provides great market research.  John Snowden created this video and you can find more information about his work on his Blip page.

Some of your current service providers may offer service and support as part of  the package for being your partner. Printers like Tom Dennis of Blanks Printing in Dallas will provide web-print services to save you time and money, and I know Mark Modesti of UPS offers his clients support to help them improve their business systems and efficiencies (@MModesti).

There are lots of resources including Hunt Consulting DFW that are ready to help you succeed. Make a plan, get some help, and make you goals a reality.  If you need our help, call us anytime at 214-551-3768.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

Defending Your Brand and Online Reputation

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Every company needs to be involved in actively managing their Brand (image) and Online Reputation. Before the days of the internet (some of you may be too young to have heard of such a time), people would often rely on the opinions of the others they trusted before making any major purchases or decisions. We would read Consumer Report or ask friends for suggestions.

Today, all the information is available on the “World Wide Web” and if I ask someone for their opinion, I usually do a Google search to see how that compares to rest of the world’s opinions.

Your prospects and customers are the same way. They can find all they want to know about your company and products without ever talking to you or even visiting your website. Maintaining a positive and consistent image online is essential if you want to  increase sales and build loyal customers. Even the smallest company can and should be engaged in building and defending their brand and reputation online.

Brand and Reputation Management is the process of engaging and understanding your market, to influence how they feel about your product or services. It’s not just a case of getting a thumbs-up or down from visitors on your website. You have to dig deeper. It only takes one unhappy (and loud) customer to do real damage, and out-weigh the dozens of other positive comments. And these comments go everywhere and stay around FOREVER!

SEO can help prospects find your site, but SEO alone is not enough. The internet is a very competitive space and the rules for Search Engine Optimization change – a lot! It is much more likely that prospects will read about you on sites that you did not create and can not control. Also, your ranking in the minds of your market will affect your Ranking on Google, and your ability to be found on page one. Therefore, having a Social Media strategy is also needed to fight to protect your reputation and brand.

Listen to the Market

My Mom always said “GOD gave us two ears and one mouth, so we can listen twice as much.” Twitter and MarketMeSuite are great tools to use in listening to what others are talking about. If you see the same complaints from a number of different people, take the time to evaluate what you are doing and see how to improve your product or service. Make time for a quick search each week on your name, brand, and products to see how you’re doing, and pay careful attention to the comments you read. Companies that are focused on the market can stay ahead of their competitors and keep their profits higher.

Respond Quickly

nestle-on-facebookConsumers get frustrated when they only way to communicate with a company is a tiny comment box. They post a comment and wait patiently for your reply. Sometimes they’ll even wait an whole 60 minutes before becoming irritated that your entire marketing team is not sitting by a computer waiting for their comment.

There is also a certain breed of people who like to leave negative comments just for the sheer fun of it, and sorting out valid complaints is part of the challenge. However, research shows that consumers are STRONGLY affected by ratings they read online, even ones from total strangers, so you can not ignore any of them.

Being a disgruntled customer is bad enough, but being ignored is even worse. You should respond to all comments, whether positive or negative. Thank them for bringing the point to your attention and tell them you’re working resolve the issue. Never go head to head with a customer online about a complaint, take it off-line as fast as you can. Reply with a respectful answer and ask them to email you or call you so you can resolve this right away. Don’t air your dirty laundry in front of your customers. This leads to my next point.

Respond Professionally

If you’re the kind of person who gets angry and may respond in a way that makes matters worse ask someone else to respond for you. Whatever happens you should always remain polite and professional. (see examples of what NOT to do.)

If you’re running a social media campaign it’s important to train your entire team to properly deal with negative comments in a timely and effective manner. Unfortunately, many companies delegate the social media work to the youngest, least paid, least experienced member of their team, on the assumption this person will somehow know more since they were born about the time the internet went live.

o-CHILD-USING-INTERNET-facebookJust because they are young and have a Facebook page, it does NOT make them the best choice for defending your brand. Chose an experience communicator or hire a professional. Jim David of Leap Frawg is one local professional I can say will do a great job in this area. You can find more about him at http://www.leapfrawg.com

Be Proactive

So far I’ve talked about responding to what others are saying. However, building and protecting your brand and reputation requires that you create original content to educate the market on your products and services, and to tell your side of the story. Running advertisements can be expensive and are shown to have less credibility than what people read in social media – even social media YOU create (Read the report). Here are a few ideas that you can use to spread the good news to your market.

Blogging is a great way to regularly create content that can educate and draw in prospects. You can present certain aspects of your products and services, explain how it works or why customers will love using it. You can offer great insights to things your market cares about like I do in these blogs on Marketing. It also a great way to reply to the comments and complaints you are hearing on social media. If necessary explain your opinions on the issue and tell your readers exactly what steps are being taken to resolve the problem.

Press Release. A press release that can be syndicated via third-party websites and blogs will help give you great exposure and more credibility.

It’s easier to get press than you think. Media sources are always looking for content to make their job easier and provide valuable content to their readers.  You can read more about doing your own PR on this blog “PR For Small Businesses.”

Email Campaigns

Email still works so don’t forget about using your database. BIG DATA is all the buzz lately but the idea of taking the information you gather about your market, and effectively communicating with them, has always been a great idea. You can use an email provider like Constant Contact to send information to your contacts and prospects on a regular basis. As long as you make your communication informative and engaging, this will be a great tool to tell your story and keep the lines of communication open. Here is an example of one I did this month to tell my contacts about my new business with Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas.

This may seem like a lot but if you set up a plan, share the work with you team, and keep up on it, you can handle this. Remember, it’s a lot cheaper to DEFEND your Brand than to REBUILD it, so take steps now to talk about your Online Reputation, or other people will do it for you.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

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MORE IMPORTANT LINKS

The Proper Use of Social Media

Google Ranking – What Makes a Site #1

Website of Facebook – Which is Better for Your Marketing Strategy?

Creating a Strong Brand

Leap Frawg Managed Social Media

Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas

Never Lose Touch with Your Market – the Human Touch

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Do you remember this 1989 commercial from United Airlines? The quality of this copy is not very good, but take 30 seconds to listen to this video before reading this blog.

How does this video make you FEEL? Can you relate? I love how the actor refers to his customers as “Friends” and explains the reason they lost this account was because their customers “just didn’t know us anymore.” He laments on how business had been reduced to a phone call or fax, followed by another fax. Sound familiar? Except now we would say we sent an email, followed by a text, then a comment on LinkedIn. The times have changed but the problem has not; business relationships still need the human touch.

Throughout my career, I got clients (and kept them) based on the relationship and trust we established through times of talking, planning, and being with them when they needed me. Yet, over time, and as our businesses get larger, it is a tendency to rely on things other than human interaction to cover the minimum required touch points that make us feel like we’re doing the right things.

jc penney lost touchWe see examples of companies that seem to have lost touch with the pulse of their market. This week Nintendo was chastised as being “Tone Deaf” and we saw what happened as JC Penney took a path that their customers did not want to to follow. We know where that got them.

So how do you keep connected to your valued customers in this digital age?

Go Where Your Customers Are

I’m not saying that we abandon the use of digital marketing, but I am saying that we need to know our customers we’ll enough to connect to them where they want to be connected, and with a message they will receive. If you’re on using Social Media like Facebook or LinkedIn, don’t constantly push your message or products. Engage your market by offering information they are interested in and invite them to get involved in the conversation. Find things THEY care about and become a help to them. Step into their world and they will be more likely to step into yours.

Listen to the Market

Social Media is a great way to learn about your market, but far too many companies use this as a place to do all the talking, and they forget the real value is in listening. You can get great insights into customer sentiment, trends, competition, and creative new ways to connect with prospects. Use search tools like Transgility Review Engine Service or even a simple cruise through Twitter feeds to see whats going on. This will help you keep up with the needs of the market and be ready to offer what they will want.

Don’t forget about Face-to-Face

Face to Face events like Trade shows are the best

Find creative ways to get in front of your customers. Exhibit at Trade Shows and conferences for your industry. Set up events of your own and invite your customers and prospects to come learn about something THEY would find valuable (don’t make it a sneaky sales pitch, offer real value). At US Leadership, we had quarterly breakfast events that highlighted a dynamic guest speaker. This would bring our customers together to keep them engaged, and we would invite prospects to come see how things can be once they join the program. Stu Schlackman, The Sales Synthesizer, once came and taught our attendees how to better understand the customer in order to sell more. Everyone thought it was a great event and we got to spend quality time with our loyal customers, and even some prospects. It was a low-cost, simple time of meeting together but it had great results.

The Analog Version of Social Media is Best

I am obviously a big fan of Digital Communications, but at the core of every really great business, there is the need for Human Connection. (Read this blog on the Real Value of Networking.) We often remember the people in the process more that the stuff. That’s why having a team of people who believe in your vision and culture, and are the “face” of the company, is so important to your success. Train your team to live out the level of care and excellence that is your vision, and empower them to do what it takes to deliver on the promises of your company. Then every truck driver, customer service agent, account receivable clerk, and sales person, can be the Human touch to your market that builds the loyal customers and brand advocates that you always wanted.

To steal a line from this great United Airlines commercial, if you’re the kind of company that believes “Personal Service” deserves more that “Lip Service”, take steps today to evaluate how you are doing in this area so you never lose the Human Touch in your business efforts. If you want an objective opinion, call me and I’ll come visit you to give you help.

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

* Note that I have moved my focus off of Marketing Consulting and over to leading CEO Peer Groups at Renaissance Executive Forums of Dallas. Follow me there at www.REFDallas.com 

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MORE IMPORTNAT LINKS

The Proper Use of Social Media

The Real Value of Networking

Critical Thinking – Apparently It’s NOT for Everyone

Someone is Saying Something Bad About You

DFW Marketing Professionals Unite!

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Marketer of the Year pre-event activitiesI am a big fan of the DFW American Marketing Association. I served as the EVP of Membership for two years and it was a lot of fun to serve the local Marketing Community of Dallas and Fort Worth. I wrote a blog about the value of being a part of the DFW AMA and you can read about it at http://wp.me/p2ugKa-6i. Each year we hold the Marketer of the Year Awards Gala to recognize the great work of the marketing community in DFW. The night is magic with stars of the DFW Marketing Community out in style to accept awards for their successful marketing programs.

 

Tom Dennis and Andrea LamarsaudeTom Dennis, Director of Marketing at Blanks, has been the emcee for the last three years and always does a marvelous job. Blanks was nominated for Marketer of the Year in the Brand Category in 2013 and was in good company with winners like Alcatel-Lucent, Raising Cane’s, Agency Entourage, Dr Pepper Snapple, and many others (click here for the full list of the 2013 winners). Allison Cerra, Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Alcatel-Lucent Global Sales and Marketing, was our Keynote speaker for the 2013 event and really challenged the marketing professionals of DFW to make things happen in the year ahead. Tom Dennis reminded us that Forbes even named 2013 as the Year of the Marketer. I was also proud to have powered the Margarita Bike earlier that night. (See photo above.)

Join the DFW AMA

Now is the time to become involved in the DFW American Marketing Association.  If you are a member, make plans to attend events and get more involved.

This is a photo from the flyer for the DFW AMA CMO panel eventWe have weekly events across the Metroplex and online that will help you build your marketing skills, contacts, and career. Some of these events are Members Only, like our annual CMO Panel Event. This year’s event was held on May 9th at the Fossil Headquarters in Richardson, TX. and our panel included marketing leaders from Fossil, La Quinta Inns, Freeman, and Texas Instruments. If you are not a member, now is a great time to join us.

Here is a link to join the AMAThe Spring Membership Campaign is in progress and if you have ever wanted to be a part of the DFW AMA, now is a great time to join. If you want to learn more about the DFW AMA, you can sing up to attend the monthly Meet & Greet at  www.DFWAMA.com If you are a Marketing professional in the DFW area, come get connected, and stay involved.

 

by Robert Hunt of Hunt Consulting DFW

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Networking

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Robert Hunt:

The DFW AMA Meet & Greet is tomorrow so I’ll post this as a reminder about the value of networking BEFORE you need it. @DFWAMA, #networking, #Meet&Greet @REFDallas,

Originally posted on Hunt Consulting DFW:

I actually DON’T like Networking events, but I am a good networker because I’ve been paid to do it for most of my life. However, I’d much rather sit at an event with someone and just listen to them. I am a firm believer in regularly using the “Analog Version of Social Media” – a face-to-face meeting. I like to see the face of the person who is sharing something in order to know if there is more to the story than what they are telling me.  I love to be able to tell if the conversation needs to change by reading their body language, and then ending our discussions with a hand shake or hug ( a manly “Bro-hug” is very common in my world).

There is a great value in “Networking” to increase your contacts and find people who can help your business, your career and your life…

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DFW American Marketing Association

Robert Hunt:

Next week we are having a Chapter Orientation and Meet & Greet at White Space in Dallas. The IABC of Dallas will be joining us for this epic event and I expect near 150 people to attend. Sign up today at http://www.DFWAMA.com and join us on April 4th at 5 PM. Here is a blog I wrote about the DFW AMA that will give you more information about this great professional organization. @DFWAMA #Marketing @IABCDallas

Originally posted on Hunt Consulting DFW:

The Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the American Marketing Association (@DFWAMA) has been around since 1956, and yet I’m amazed at how many people have never heard of this great organization.  Must be poor marketing on our part. :)

I volunteer as the Executive VP of Membership and I have benefited greatly from my involvement in the chapter. I think the DFW AMA is a great resource for Small Business and Marketing people in any role, so let me share some facts about our chapter that you may not be aware of.

Here in the Metroplex, we have over 600 active members and over 4,000 people who engage online and at local events. According to a recent Members Survey, 68% of respondents have been in a Marketing role for longer than 11 years, most have been members in the DFW AMA longer than three years, and 83% said they would probably or definitely…

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What is YOUR definition of Success?

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Robert Hunt:

I really liked this weeks blog from Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas (I should, I wrote it). We often look at the “things” people do for a living, or the stuff they have, as the measurement of success. And yet, the people I truly respect the most and want to be like, do not have lofty titles or large mansions. They are men and women of character, who consistently (although not perfectly) model excellence and integrity in their professional and personal lives.

No one EVER laid on their death-bed and said, “I wish I worked more hours” or “I wish my company was bigger.” However, I know of many people who died with regrets on how they lived their lives, and the things they passed over to get “success.”

So what is YOUR definition of success?

In my case, I have chosen to focus my career in developing peer groups for top executives here in the DFW area, because it is my passion to pour into the lives of others and see them achieve true success. I will be successful if I stay true to who GOD has made me, and return “10 Fold” on whatever He allows me to be responsible for; my family, my career, my friendships, my opportunities.

Read this blog today and please let me know what you think. If you are here in the DFW area, join me next week at our Open Meetings to learn all about REF Dallas.

Robert Hunt

Originally posted on Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas:

How do you define SUCCESS?

Would those around you say you are successful?

We often compare ourselves to others, and to a standard the world defines as success – but is that how YOU really see success?

Zig Ziglar said you need to know where you are, to know what you should do next. Most people don’t take the time to evaluate where they are, but they keep pushing forward with all they have without really knowing where they are going. This often leads people to lose a balance between their work and their personal lives.

Take a couple of minutes to watch as he goes through this list of key areas to evaluate success and see how you feel about it then.

 

No one EVER laid on their death-bed and said, “I wish I worked more hours” or “I wish my company was bigger.” However, I know of…

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CEO’s and the Lost Art of Critical Thinking

Robert Hunt:

Ron Johnson, CEO of JC Penny, has been in the news a lot lately, as rumors of his resignation circulate over JCP having the worst quarter since 1987. Their stock is the lowest it’s been in years and even Martha Stewart clothing can’t figure out what to do here. (Read More about Ron Johnson as a CEO)

What went wrong? If you read this article from the Dallas Business Journal of September 2012, Ron spoke of “Transforming” the company image from being the Old Lady Store, to being more like an “Art Project.” However, what they did was to alienate the remaining loyal customers they had, and just confuse the market with their offering.

CEO’s, Owners, Presidents, and their Marketing Teams need to listen to their market, and not try to TELL the market what to think. Read more in this blog about the use of Critical Thinking in the process of making decisions. It’s not enough to go with your gut or even your years of experience. Your team needs to spend more time listening to your customers, and not delude yourself into following plans YOU like.

Originally posted on Hunt Consulting DFW:

Mark Smith leads an organization here in the Dallas area called Action Management. Today he posted an article entitled “Critical Thinking Training Opposed”

The article tells how the Republican Party of Texas recently stated that they oppose teaching of Critical Thinking skills to students. You should read the article but here is a part I want to highlight:

“The challenge we all have with thinking critically is that our preconceived ideas (biases) about a topic become embedded in our thinking and we are rarely consciously aware of our own flawed reasoning… Therefore we make assumptions using flawed reasoning about other people or departments and subconsciously assign reasons for why something isn’t working as planned.  And, because we are certain that we are correct, we will subconsciously select data that supports our presumption.” 

Companies often do things that affect their employees, business partners and customers in ways they never imagined…

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I’m Crazy About REF Dallas

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Robert Hunt:

In November of 2012, I decided to become a Forum Leader with Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas, as a logical extension of Hunt Consulting DFW. REF Dallas is a very exciting new part of my business plan and lets me use the skills and passions I’ve developed during my career. This blog today gives great insights into the types of leaders I am looking to serve her in Dallas. Please go read it and let me know what you think about this addition to the Hunt Consulting DFW offering.

Originally posted on Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas:

Crazy like a born leaderI recently watched a video of a surfer who took on a 100 foot wave – on purpose! Here is what the guy who pulled the surfer out to ride the wave, had to say about this crazy event that he watched from the safety of his jet ski:

“Everything was perfect, the weather, the waves. Cotty and I surfed two big waves of about 60ft and then, when Garrett was ready, came a canyon wave of over 90ft. The jet ski was the best place to see him riding the biggest wave I’ve ever seen. It was amazing! Most people would be scared but Garrett was controlling everything in the critical part of the wave. It was an inspiring ride by an inspiring surfer.”

It’s been a lot of years since I surfed, but it my day, a 12′ wave was about all I could handle. I found myself asking questions…

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It’s OK to use PPC – for a while.

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Robert Hunt:

Hubspot wrote a great article about the use of Pay-Per-Click (PPC) to feed the pipeline as you build your social media plan. I totally agree with this and wrote about it last year so I thought I’d share it again in case the new readers missed it. Read the Hubspot article at this link:

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/34152/8-Times-When-You-Shouldn-t-Feel-Guilty-About-Using-PPC.aspx #Hubspot, @Hubspot, @splashmedialp,

Originally posted on Hunt Consulting DFW:

There a lot of ways to market your company but when it comes to using the internet, people often chose between these three main methods:

Social Media Marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

I believe that you need to use all three at the same time to give your small business the 1,2,3 punch of a great inbound marketing campaign.

Social Media sites can connect with your prospects in a non-threatening way that people have come to expect in todays marketing communications.  You build a community and allow for people who believe in who you are to promote your business for you.  This method relies upon the consumer to connect to your message and pass your info along to their contacts in order to succeed.  Your message must be sincere and compelling and you need regularly scheduled communications to make this work.  Sites like Facebook, Blogs (like this…

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Social Media should join the conversation – not try to control it.

Robert Hunt:

OreoI was reading how Oreo Cookie used the blackout during last weeks Super Bowl game, to send out a special photo and Tweet that Oreos can be dunked – even in the dark. (click the photo to read more.)
The Tweet got amazing response and is still being retweeted and shared by thousands. This emphasizes the concept that Social Media Marketing should be about joining the conversation – not trying to control it. Read our blog about the proper use of Social Media Marketing and see if this makes more sense you, then share how you are joining the conversation in your marketing efforts.
by Robert Hunt

Originally posted on Hunt Consulting DFW:

Today will be a busy day for the internet. Cyber Monday deals 2012 will keep people in front of the computer like a lab rat pressing the button for another pellet. We’ve seen Black Friday morph into “Gray Thursday Night” as retailers attempt to capture a share of whatever sales are out there. The competition for your time, attention, and money is fierce. And with so much information coming at consumers in all directions, it’s hard to connect with your prospects in a way they will receive it. This is where Social Media has the upper hand over traditional outbound marketing techniques.

Social Media has grown up a lot over the last couple years and most companies are involved through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube or one of hundreds of other sites. Theres a reason why 79% of respondents say they are currently using or plan to use…

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What Every CEO Should Expect From Their CMO

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Marketing Alignment

I could not have said this better myself. Jonathan Becher, CMO of SAP lays out the need for CEO’s to use marketing to its fullest.

“Positioning is no longer a marketing problem, it’s a company problem. It’s no longer possible to have a gap between what you say and do. Everything, from the distribution network to the call center to R&D, must support a company’s positioning.”

If you are a CEO, Business Owner, or President of a company here in the DFW area, please read this article carefully to see how marketing should be used to help companies truly reach their goals. If you have any questions or want to talk in specifics about this, call me and lets see how this view can help your company to succeed.

CEOWhat Every CEO Should Expect From Their CMO

Robert Hunt:

Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas is looking for great leaders who are passionate about leading with Excellence. The hard times reveal what kind of leader you are, and a wise leader plans for the unknown, and is ready to lead when the team needs you the most. YOU are a great leader.

Originally posted on Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas:

0809_miller_family001

I was saddened to hear that my friend Mike Miller and his family were killed in a horrible car crash last week. Those of us in the DFW Business Community were shocked over the tragedy and dealing with the loss of a good man and his loving family. Tragedy is a part of life but we are often not prepared to handle it, and sadly, it seems to be more prevalent today than ever. How are you and your team prepared to handle tragedy when it hits?

Your company should already have a standard “Disaster Recovery Plan” that anticipates what you do if a fire breaks out, a key vendor closes their business unexpectedly, or your information system has a complete meltdown. You also need to be prepared to deal with disasters outside your company that can have serious effects on the morale and performance of your team if not properly…

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Great Leaders in Dallas – REF Dallas

Robert Hunt:

Hunt Consulting DFW has joined the Renaissance Executive Forum Dallas team and I will be Forum Leader for their Top Executive Groups. It is exciting to be a part of this great team and I will be working to pull together a group of Owners, CEOs, and Presidents who are committed to living out their dreams and goals, both professionally and personally.

This is the first blog from REF Dallas and it gives you an insight into the way we think and act to encourage others to be the best Leaders they can be. I’ll be sharing more information about this new business opportunity but you can find all about us on the social media sites listed at the bottom of the blog. Enjoy!

by Robert Hunt Forum Leader

Originally posted on Renaissance Executive Forums Dallas:

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great leader. He found ways to take incredible challenges and press on toward his dream. You are a great leader also. What you need to do is take your dream, and let it drive you past the Roadblocks, Obstacles and Challenges you face every day.

The fact is, we are all leaders to somebody (read about the value of followers.) Some of us have a more visible leadership role that is under the microscope all the time. The pressure of being the final decision maker often leads to isolation and burn out. But we believe you are the leader for a reason, in the role you are today, because you have a purpose that only YOU can fulfill.

There is NO cookie cutter solution to leading a company. Each company, each leader, each situation is different. But there are indeed many similar…

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