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August 3, 2010 / Tony Arena

Rethinking How to Get Employees to Change

Persuading employees to make lasting changes in their behavior isn’t easy. Keith McFarland highlights lessons from a new book that might make you more effective at it

By Keith McFarland

Dan and Chip Heath have done it again.

Their 2008 Made to Stick was one of the most fun books on marketing in years—and became an instant classic. In their new book, Switch, the brothers Heath take on the subject of organizational change, and they make the often dry, sentimental, and buzz-word-laden subject suddenly relevant for anyone trying to get a bunch of people to change directions.

The book opens with a story from the Food & Brand Lab at Cornell University. Researchers set up at a movie theater and gave movie goers a free soft drink and bucket of popcorn—in exchange for them answering some questions about the concession stand at the end of the movie. Some of the moviegoers got a medium-size bucket of popcorn, and others got a huge tub. But here’s the kicker—both groups were given five-day-old popcorn that was so stale it squeaked. The questions at the concession stand were just a ruse—food researchers were studying how portion size influences eating.

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August 3, 2010 / Tony Arena

The Right People vs. Getting the People Right

Now’s the time to put your weakest players through a development program or make them available to the industry, says Keith McFarland

By Keith McFarland

In the past several months, leaders of companies large and small have been complaining to me that their teams are just not up to the task of dealing with the problems exacerbated by the downturn. But instead of complaining, what management really needs to do right now is put less emphasis on getting the “right people” and more on getting the “people right.”

True, there’s nothing like tough economic times to reveal weak players in an organization. But when weak players are identified, they should be put through an aggressive development program or moved out of the company. The problem is, many leaders like to complain about the poor quality of their teams, but they don’t actually do anything substantive about it.

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August 2, 2010 / Tony Arena

More than 80 Strategies to Motivate Your Employees

Employees can make or break your business. So, how do you keep them motivated to do their very best? I reached out to my network of valued experts and entrepreneurs and I am excited to present more than 80 ways to motivate your employees (in no particular order), ranging from money to empowerment to cupcakes!

You may notice some similar themes, but I kept the insights separate as something in the way it is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Cash is King!

Nothing motivates more than the all mighty dollar.
Thanks to: Jason Frank.

2. Score Your Goals with Theirs

You need to always be matching their goals with the company goals. Once they diverge, the employee will either leave or not work as hard toward the company goals. Always ensure through excellent communication that you are meeting the employee goals WITH the company goals!
Thanks to: Barry Moltz of Shafran Moltz Group.

3. Make ‘Em Work Smarter

Employees are motivated more when they are achieving goals. What better way to meet more goals than by increasing your productivity by working smarter? That’s how you get people going. Show them they are making a real difference.
Thanks to: Danny Wong of Custom Men’s Dress Shirts | BL.
August 2, 2010 / Tony Arena

A Guide To Establishing A Brand For Your Small Business

Brand is an important thing. In business, if you don’t have a solid brand reputation, you’re always standing at a disadvantage against branded products and services, the heavyweights. Brand sells, simple as that.

If you invent the world’s best mobile phone today, you’d have trouble getting someone to believe it is indeed “the best” out there and buy it. But if Apple creates an average phone and calls it the iPhone 8, millions of people around the world would go crazy this minute and… what was that analogy about pancakes?

You’re thinking, “You make it sound so easy. Big corporations can afford to build their brands by marketing on billboards, TV commercials, etc. Small business owners like me don’t have that kind of money.

Sure, you don’t have that kind of money. But thing is you don’t need that kind of money, either. There are cost-effective, more efficient ways to build your brand—that is, by word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing is particularly effective for small business owners and service professionals, who rely on local business to survive. Most importantly word-of-mouth marketing is free.

Here are a few things you must remember when building your brand.

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July 29, 2010 / Tony Arena

How Social Media Can Make Us More Productive

.A. McCann serves as founder and CEO of Gist. His past experience includes Vulcan Capital, Polaris Venture Partners, where he was an entrepreneur-in-residence. Prior to Polaris, he held senior positions at Microsoft.

To quote Eric Clapton: “It’s in the way that you use it!”

In the constant back-and-forth arguments about Millennials joining the workforce, we’ve heard countless times that managers think social media is a distraction and ultimately a productivity killer in the workplace.

In response, the social media community has fought back by saying that these tools actually help them get things done faster, or bring other value to the business. But there have been few substantive conversations about precisely how social media might help you get things done.

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July 29, 2010 / Tony Arena

Is Your Ego Becoming a Liability?

Chances are you have a decent-sized ego, or you wouldn’t be an entrepreneur. It takes self-confidence to blaze yourown path and assume all the risk and responsibility that come with going it alone. A healthy ego is often an advantage in business.

But once you reach a certain level of success, too much ego can become a liability. If you always have to be Numero Uno, your company and employees are left playing second fiddle. And that can limit everyone’s growth.

No wonder some of the most powerful business leaders are so restrained in the way they wield their power and don’t throw their weight around. They’re happy to work behind the scenes. Instead of reveling in their role as The Big Cheese, they willingly share their power with others.

Take Andrew Carnegie, one of the most successful tycoons of the 19th century. A Scottish immigrant from a poor family, this brilliant man worked his way up from a telegraph messenger earning $2.50 a week to co-founder of the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, U.S. Steel.

Yet Carnegie was never dazzled by his own accomplishments. Rather, he is famous for attributing his success to the talents of others. Consider the modest inscription on his tombstone: “Here lies a man who knew how to enlist the service of better men than himself.”

Now that’s an interesting approach to leadership.

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July 28, 2010 / Tony Arena

How To Ruin Your Reputation With One Phone Call

How do you come across? Are you perceived as a product pusher or a trusted resource? Someone that gives first or someone only looking to take? Do you act the same way online as you do off? On Twitter and in person? On the phone and on Facebook?

Fun fact for all of us entrepreneurs: Reputation matters. A lot. Online and offline.

Harsh reality: Every interaction, big or small, is either a chance to enhance your reputation or destroy it.

Here is a fun story that happened to me yesterday with takeaways for all of us. I wish I was making it up like the time I saw a unicorn, but I’m not. See here is the thing (and this goes way back).

So, anyone that knows me knows that I’m not a huge fan of the phone. Yesterday, someone called me who met me at a recent event I spoke at and asked me to call him back.

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How To Ruin Your Reputation With One Phone Call