Sunday, 30 December 2012


Change is a constant human requirement. An unending desire to topple routine is a fundamental fact of life. Nature provides us with really great examples of change. Caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies, rocks change in constitution, even the wind and tide changes! What we do not change, changes itself, what we change, changes us.

But in business, change costs a lot of money in most cases, affects processes, people and work ethics (sometimes negatively). Thus the businessman must undertake change where there are sensible reasons for believing that the benefits from such intended alterations to routine and the organisation's already established rhythm far exceeds the costs.

For starters the change sought MUST make the organisation more competitive, make business processes more effective ans it's incidence on staff be 'padded' so to speak, so that it is easily adopted by the workforce. Since people are an organisation's greatest assets, the change process must be tailored specifically with the workforce in mind and should answer three basic questions

1. Are the staffs convinced this changes is necessary?
Usually the staff do not think the change necessary. This is a basic human reaction to something new, people feel more comfortable with routine and habits are very difficult to break. Selling the idea to your staff long before the change takes effect is a way to help them convince themselves about the necessity of the change. Honest open discussions with the workforce, also serves to allay their fears and concerns.

2. Will staffs support this change?
Recent studies have shown that the success rate of transformational change is only about 40%. That is 6 out of 10 times, such change would fail to accomplish the desired result, leaving a bitter after-taste in the mouths of senior executives who find it hard to get consolation for the time and monetary expenditure that went into the change process. Resistance to change is often a boulder in the way of progress. The staff needs to be convinced that it is in HIS best interest to support this change. For example he needs assurance that you are not outsourcing his job (if you really are thinking of outsourcing his job, you must be careful about communicating clearly and in a timely fashion.

3. Do we REALLY need change?
This is the most important question of all. BEFORE ever asking the previous two questions, this question must be satisfactorily answered with quantitative as well as qualitative reasons proffered for the desired change.
The first two questions have focused on the employee, this last questions focuses on management. Is the desire to change based on cold facts and figures or on emotions?
To answer the question: is the change really necessary, consider a very unique creature the octopus. This really amazing sea creature can flatten its body to hide in rock crevices under water, it is also adept at mimicry, even mimicking a swaying plant under water. It can jest off in the water at really top speed while shooting an ink jet to cover its escape. In short the octopus knows when change is REALLY needed.

What then is the lesson for a business manager?

It is this: Change must be actively undertaken when existing realities of the business environment, makes your current state dangerous your business survival.

Every businessman is like the octopus -he want to live alone and is fiercely territorial- in their not wanting to share the market with any competitors. How does this fact affect our discourse on change?

This is how: Change must be actively undertaken when your current business process is not helping you retain your customer or when a competitor is gradually elbowing you out of the market.

Remember, change isn't a fun exercise so expect resistance, for as people are wont to say, if it ain't broke, why fix it?


Need sound business advice? Send email to

Sunday, 8 July 2012


                                  Be the best…it is the only market that is not crowded. – George Whalin

RAPTURE  (noun) :
the state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion

The word rapture is borrowed from the Latin word raptus and carries the thought of seizing, being carried away. It of necessity conveys the idea of being transported by emotion, being wholly absorbed or engrossed as when a person is moved to tears by a soulfully sung aria.

Why have I gone to great lengths to define rapture?

Take a mental trip with me. We are going to the supermarket. Yeah, that one you always buy from. The merchandise looks good all racked up nicely. The sales girls are charming, smiling at you as you walk in. You keep walking down the shopping aisle and then you suddenly stop. You stand before a mountain of cereal boxes, several brand names all professing the ability to turn you to Superman if only you’d eat them faithfully every morning. But then you do not see all those brands, you are looking for that one brand. You keep scanning the counter until you see it and then you break into a smile. The box is tucked in its space in your cart and the purchase is made!

The truth is we are all biased towards certain product brands. We would never willingly buy another brand. There is an emotional attachment to a brand which we would not readily admit, but which is as clear as daylight.

My younger sister for example loves a brand of ice cream. She’d close her eyes and smack her lips when it’s in her mouth, I swear she says a small prayer for the manufacturers every time she consumes a cup! I love Enya’s songs; I attain a blessed calmness when I listen to her. That is rapture!

When your clients buy your products (or service) based on what I call rationalotion- rational emotion: that is they are emotional about your products (or service) because they get benefits from it that makes your product (or service) the most rational option among several, then they have attained rapture!

Some products appeal to reason, others to emotion. The rule for success is to create one that is emotionally reasonable.

Once your customers attain rapture, they are hooked- meth style.

They will not only continue to be loyal to your product (when you keep the quality consistently high), they will give you free publicity by positive word-of-mouth.


Thursday, 7 June 2012


Have you ever asked yourself that question before?
Many persons have asked themselves this question when they reflect on a bad decision, ponder a misdeed or think about a recent mistake.
The truth is, we all make mistakes and take stupid decisions – I’ve made a few of my own – in our daily life as well as in our business life.
 Which of us has not regretted unwholesome association? Who has not regretted buying that stupid gizmo on the spur of the moment only to realize it has no value whatsoever? Or who has not ‘invested’ in an unprofitable business, product or project?
What’s my point?
In fact a person who does not make mistakes has never tried anything new.  So mistakes as unpalatable as they may be are actually an essential part of your development and growth.
This does not mean though that you should have a carefree attitude and think it is normal to make the same mistakes over and over again. IT ISN’T!
So what should you do if you’ve taken a wrong decision?
1.   Mistakes happen. Feel guilty, feel regret – this is natural- but never be overwhelmed by regret and guilt. That is UNNATURAL. Think about it: you goofed, so does beating yourself up and remaining inconsolable undo the misdeed?
2.   Apologize. Did you harm others by your ill-advised decisions? Are others going to suffer some material gain or bear some loss because of your actions? If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, by all means APOLOGIZE and then strive to right the wrong! A word of caution though. Do not lose your dignity while apologizing. Do not apologize over and over or repeatedly say sorry for the same mistakes as this irritates others and often comes across as an insincere effort to get back in favour.
3.   Man up! This is my way of saying: Do not try to rationalize or give pretty excuses for the mistakes you’ve made. “Oh I wouldn’t have run your bike into the wall if that pretty girl over there hadn’t been crossing the road”.
Like my dad always says: “Excuses only sound good in the ears of those making them.”
Again when I say “man up”, I mean don’t go shifting blame. We all know you made the mistake, so what’s the use telling us who else contributed to your indiscretion?
4.   Learn from your mistakes. Remember: if you do not learn from your mistakes then you have lost a golden opportunity to improve your personality or business process or investment decision making process.
So always ask yourself three important questions:
a.       WHY did I make this mistake?
b.      With the benefit of hindsight, WHAT might I have done differently?
c.       HOW do I avoid making the same mistake again?

5.   Do not hold back!
DO NOT let your mistakes stop you from taking on responsibilities or taking properly considered risks. Remember the popular cliché: ‘no pain no gain.’ When you fall you must stand up and get back in the game. No one awards trophies to losers. Do not become afraid to try again because you are afraid of failing.

Ok there you go.

Maybe you weren’t so stupid after all.

You probably just discovered one more road to avoid on your way to success!


Saturday, 12 May 2012



Your staffs expect you to treat them individually with dignity and respect. They want you to be approachable and considerate.

Employees give their best in workplaces where they are valued and treated with respect and dignity and where nobody attempts to or actually molests them. An environment devoid of any form of unethical behaviour is the most productive one.

Treat them with honesty, integrity, probity, diligence, fairness, trust, respect and consistency. Your staffs expect you to provide an environment where conflict is not allowed to fester and grow and where no one makes improper use of an individual's position or of someone else's work without proper acknowledgement.


© 2011 Tom Distler

Recognition isn’t synonymous with attention. While attention is a part of recognition, it isn’t recognition.

Recognition isn’t:
a.      Praise
b.      Gift items
c.       Money

What does it mean to recognize your staff?
“When employees ask for recognition, they are expressing the need for something much more complex than a cheap gilded plaque or a service pin that thanks them for several years on the job. To employees, the real meaning of the word recognition refers to the presence of systems and practices that reaffirm their value to the organization” 1

Recognition = Partnering

Don’t just occasionally tell them "good job". This is never enough!
Take time to have meaningful discussions with them about their work in a manner that conveys respect for them and for their part in the growth of the organization. During such discussions, the employee gets the feeling that he is really a part of something and that his efforts are appreciated. THAT IS RECOGNITION

Recognition =Involvement

Do not lock the door of involvement against your staff. Involve them in problem-solving and decision-making. This serves as a major ego boosting “drug” and adds to their sense of value and worth. Always ask them: “What do you think?” “How can we solve this problem?” THAT IS RECOGNITION
“Asking employees their opinions, asking them to help solve problems or implement improvement and providing them with opportunities to discuss important decisions goes a long way towards minimizing the social distinction of the management hierarchy.” 2
Recognition =Respect

Please respect your staff. That’s all that need to be said. THAT IS RECOGNITION

Recognition = Personalised Attention

Every staff is unique and requires what I call here personalised attention. For you to honestly recognise an employee your organisation must be flexible, supportive, and responsive to individual special circumstances.

“One cannot feel recognized as an individual when management shows indifference to legitimate issues and needs by automatically quoting "company policy." 3

     3.  What we WANT   what you THINK we want may be different.

What do your staffs really want from you? Can you rank their expectations in order of importance?
“Good managers must have high emotional intelligence competencies to sense what employees and need and to be able to meet them—by relating to them and including them at the feelings level.”

In 1946 employers in the US were surveyed to find out what they feel their employees require of them, ranking in order of importance ten different items. This survey - from the Labour Relations Institute of New York was published in 1946 in Foreman Facts, and was produced again by Lawrence Lindahl in Personnel magazine, in 1949 – showed clearly that employers may not actually know what their employees want.

Take a look at the list of what employers think employees want, and then consider what the employees themselves say they actually want.

Notice that most managers ranked good wages as the first thing their employees want from them. How untrue!
The first three things your employees want from you aren’t even tied to money. They are tied to how you treat them! They are tied to soft skills that you as the manager must possess. Managers who are empathetic are observed to have an able, content workforce.

These studies have been replicated with similar results by Ken Kovach (1980); Valerie Wilson, Achievers International (1988); Bob Nelson, Blanchard Training & Development (1991); Sheryl & Don Grimme, GHR Training Solutions (1997-2001).

4.  Create the RIGHT environment for growth

Your staffs expect you to provide an environment where conflict is not allowed to fester and grow and where no one makes improper use of an individual's position or of someone else's work without proper acknowledgement.

A simple illustration will here suffice.
© 2009-2012

A business is like a plant. For it to grow and thrive, it must get right amount of sunlight (say support from top management), the right soil type (a conducive atmosphere at work, where all staff are valued and treated respectfully), water (a reasonable benefits and pay package, training and development opportunities) and chlorophyll (of course the staffs’ inherent abilities and talents).

For chlorophyll to even work in plants there is the need for the right conditions. If the soil is not suitable (or any of the other aforementioned factors are not present), the plant will naturally wither and die. As an employer, you must provide your staff with an opportunity to excel. There thriving at what they do ultimately lead to more business for you.

“There is a direct statistical significant relation between the job performance effectiveness and the organizational climate axis.”4

The workplace should be warm and respectful, filled with polite people who say “thank you” and are friendly.

Also as an employer, encourage proficiency through training and development.

Training improves a person’s knowledge and skills so that they can carry out a task.

Your staffs benefit from training as:

• they feel more a part of the business
• they become better at their job and so can meet customers’ needs better
• they become more effective with new skills.

Governments understand the need to have a highly army. A well trained army is better equipped to ward off enemy attacks and defend territories. That is why nations spend trillions on defense. The U.S for example estimates it would spend $1.42 trillion on defense in the 2012 fiscal year alone! 5

Of the $405 billion revenue WalMart had in 2009 6, it spent according to its 2010 Global Sustainability Report  a total of $6.5 million on training and staff development.

Why do large corporations spend so much on training and development?

It is because investing in people IS preparing your business for further expansion!

Ok so there you go. Those are four additional things your staffs wish you knew!

Apply this knowledge and watch your business grow.




Thursday, 26 April 2012


1.     The Crow and Mercury

A CROW caught in a snare prayed to Apollo to release him, making a vow to offer some frankincense at his shrine.  But when rescued from his danger, he forgot his promise.  Shortly afterwards, again caught in a snare, he passed by Apollo and made the same promise to offer frankincense to Mercury.  Mercury soon appeared and said to him, "O thou most base fellow? How can I believe thee, who hast disowned and wronged thy former patron?'



Your customers expect you to deliver on promises made to them. If you’ve offered to do the job for half the price of the competition then do it and do it well! Do not shy away from fulfilling obligations to customers simply because you have become ‘better off’ and you think you wouldn’t need them again. No matter how difficult it is to deliver on promises made to clients, it is best if you just do what you say. This leads to trust, trust leads to preference of your product or brand, sustained preference leads inevitably to dependence and dependence (boy that is what you want!) ensures REPEAT PATRONAGE!

The crow in this story forgot that bad word of mouth would lead to future problems. Even if your customers do not complain, others who saw how you treated them deceitfully would not give you their business.

In short:

“Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No.” – Jesus (33CE)

2.      The Dancing Monkeys

A PRINCE had some Monkeys trained to dance.  Being naturally great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils, and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers.  The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts and threw them upon the stage.  The Monkeys at the sight of the nuts forgot their dancing and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys instead of actors.  Pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they fought with one another for the nuts.  The dancing spectacle thus came to an end amidst the laughter and ridicule of the audience.


Your dress and grooming - a subset of your personal presence- has a huge effect on how people perceive you. You must dress and groom according to the standards of the industry you are consulting for.

Aside from dress and grooming, your speech and actions affects your business growth, so talk like a professional, be confident and assured and the business may just keep coming your way.

Even the monkeys in Aesop’s fable got all the attention in the world and they were respected because they dressed well!

In short:

“Dress British, think Yiddish” – Unknown


You want to undertake a business endeavor – or thinking of hiring a new staff to fill a delicate position- the prospects look stunning and the stats are just perfect! But the whole thing just doesn’t feel right.  Like masked, royally adorned expert dancers? Too good to be true?

Then do not hesitate to investigate!

Beneath that entire fancy garb might be a fraud masquerading as the real thing. Ask questions, satisfy your curiosity. Ensure you make sound decisions based on facts, not on emotions

In short:

“Not everything you see is what it appears to be”

3.   The Crow and the Pitcher

A thirsty crow comes upon a pitcher with water at the bottom, beyond the reach of its beak. The thirsty crow tries hard to push the pitcher over but the heavy pitcher won’t even budge. Then the crow happens upon a fine idea. It drops in pebbles one by one into the pitcher until the water rises to the top of the pitcher, allowing the crow to drink.



The Crow and the Pitcher is one of Aesop’s most studied fables and is numbered 390 in the Perry Index. This story stresses the virtue of ingenuity.

You will always be a market leader if you look for smarter and smarter ways to satisfy your customers. If your solutions are trendy, modern, more efficient, then you just might be in business for a long long time.

Steven Jobs was a master at being ingenious; his tablets produced for Apple became popular simply because it afforded customers the ability to do the same things (computing) in a new and more interesting way.

The future belongs to those who look for new ways to solve old problems!

In short:

"Thoughtfulness is superior to brute strength." - Avianus

      b.     DON’T GIVE UP: KEEP TRYING!

A basic lesson from this fable that should not escape the mind of a shrewd business man is this: the crow was persistent

The crow did not abandon the pitcher in frustration when it could not turn it over. Think about the number of times it would have to go get pebbles in its beak to drop into the pitcher. Now that is persistence!
As a businessman, you should persistently try to find solutions to problems, not run away from problems. Solutions earned through hard work, does three (3) things for the businessman.

            i.         the lessons learned are ingrained and permanent
            ii.       there is now an increase in self believe and confidence to solve other problems
            iii.       the joy of being "so smart" is a great feeling

In short:

'Where there's a will, there's a way'. - Unknown