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If you are a senior executive or entrepreneur, this is a MUST read! In my opinion, this is one of the best books on strategy, leadership and organization. This book offers a framework for strategy and understanding your battle (or industry, competitors, etc.).
The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, is one of those books that could be classified in the genre of pop-culture. Its use has in the past century moved from warfare also to other areas of human activity. The strategies described in the book can be used in many more areas than just the conduct in the times of war. In fact, the success in wars, as well as in business, of course, depends on leadership. People are those who fight in battles and are also those who win them; and the most important person in every battle is the general. In addition, this wisdom is now being examined and used by senior executives from all around the world, because it can be utilized in many business and political situations.
The original Art of War book has been very influential and has been updated and adapted to describe everything from politics to business. Within the field of business studies, The Art of War has been applied to the areas such as strategic management), project management, security management , innovation management, patent management, quality management, change management, human resource management (, organizational behavior, marketing, e-commerce, management education, leadership, negotiation, international business and the newly emerging discipline of systems engineering.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”
“A leader leads by example, not by force.”
“You have to believe in yourself.”
“Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”
“Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”
“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity”
In the age of technology and smartphones, all of us tend to have higher demands for work. The days of going home at 5pm (and not having to worry about your work until the next day) are far and few between. Many people I meet have a hard time prioritizing between their “work” (career and ambition) and their “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual). I often find this to be the case with people who do not have a passion and enthusiasm for their job / career. When you love what you do this is typically not an issue. If you do not love what you do, you need to take a SERIOUS look at your life and see what changes you need to make.
Throughout my career I have always worked 60-80+ hours a week because I have always loved what I do. I often work on weekends and during vacations. However…I love what I do so work is my passion. In addition to that, I ALWAYS make time for my family, attend my kids sporting events, and put my kids to bed. I even go out for drinks with friends at least 2-3 times per month.
The fact of the matter is that there are 24 hours in each day. If you prioritize you time appropriately and cut out wasteful activities, you will be shocked at how much you can get done in a day. Focus your time, attention and energy on things you can control. When focusing on time management, make sure to consider the following:
- Get proper rest (for some people this is 4-5 hours a night, others its 8+ hours a night).
- I typically get 6-8 hours of sleep per night
- Schedule out your day
- Utilize technology, smartphones, calendars, task managers, etc.
- Live a healthy lifestyle
- If you don’t, it can affect your time management capabilities greatly.
- Write down goals for each day, week and month.
- EVERY successful person does this. TIP – copy habits of successful people.
- Build downtime into your schedule (or you will burn yourself out)
- If you like movies, TV, reading books, etc. schedule 1 hour a day for these activities.
Sometimes it is hard for us to take a step back and take a serious look at our life and how to implement changes. The power of good habits is important – but can be challenging to implement. If you need any recommendations for books, mentors or coaches, feel free to reach out to me for free advice.
As a CXO in the small and mid-cap space an executive often has to wear many hats. In addition to being the CEO of numerous organizations, I have also had to take on Chief Marketing Officer responsibilities. Early in my career I realized that I was a gifted sales person, however did not know much about marketing – specifically lead generation. Over the past 15 years I have immersed myself in traditional and digital marketing strategies to fine tune my skills to create effective branding and marketing for any company I am involved with.
As of 2016, the marketing world has evolved in a manner that you must stay on top of trends in both the traditional and digital marketing world. If you don’t, your business could be in trouble. What worked last year, may not work this year. What works now may be obsolete in 3-6 months.
I think we ALL can agree that we live in a digital world. However……what does that mean and who makes the rules? Well…..if you are searching for goods or services on your computer, Google has the majority market share for search traffic. However……what about when you search from a tablet or mobile phone? The rules are a little different. Local citations (i.e. online yellow page like ads which are often free) and pay per click ads often show up first. Often times different strategies work well for people searching on desktop computers that might now work well on mobile devices. So…..how do you figure out what strategies are best for your business?
Here are some key tips and suggestions I offer to other C-Level executives:
1) For all marketing efforts, clearly map out your benchmarks and consistently monitor your ROI. Make sure you have realistic expectations and focus on the following:
- Create a Marketing Strategy (don’t just take a shotgun approach)
- Understand your Target Market
- Analyze the best platforms or combinations of platforms for advertising (I typically suggest a mix of traditional and digital marketing strategies) such as:
- Radio, TV, Billboards
- Digital Marketing utilizing search engine optimization and pay per click marketing
- Digital Banner marketing
- Email marketing
- Print Advertising
- Direct mail campaigns
- Press Releases
- Social Media
- Networking and Referrals
Monitor, adjust, execute then REPEAT!
2) If marketing was easy, everyone would do it and see great results. But that is often not the case. To break down marketing in its simplest form:
- Someone sees an ad (can be any of the methods listed above)
- How many times does that person need to see the ad before they take action?
- This varies based on service, industry, needs, etc.
- If someone makes contact with you (which means you did a good job executing your marketing) make sure you have good follow up.
- Depending on your industry, it could takes days, months or even years before that person becomes a client.
- Persistence and SMART follow up are key
To talk further about any of these tips or get advice, feel free to contact me anytime.