It’s Not Complicated. Simple is Better.

“Business schools reward difficult complex behavior more than simple behavior, but simple behavior is more effective.” ~ Warren Buffett

Simple is more effective.

One of the most simple practices I’ve used to take control of my business and my life in this is gratitude.

I used to think that gratitude was something that was satisfying or brought me joy.

Then I discovered I had it wrong.

Gratitude doesn’t come last. It can come first.

A gratitude practice can cause satisfaction, wellness, and joy.

Yeah, the business guy is talking about joy. But why not?

Don’t we deserve joy once in a while?

It’s not a spiritual thing

My gratitude practice has never been a spiritual or metaphysical quest for a higher state of being.

I started it on the advice of my coach at one of the lowest points in my professional life.

I figured, “what the heck, I’ve got nothing to lose”.

It was difficult at first. And after a while, I started to feel the difference.

Differences I later learned are supported by scientific studies, like:

  • Lower stress
  • Better ability to deal with overwhelm
  • Sleeping better (because it had become pretty elusive)
  • More focus to work my way out of the situation I was in
  • Improved resilience to roll with the punches
  • Improved relationships – which helped to lower stress.
  • Giving myself space to have fun – and appreciate it.

A gratitude practice is a really simple idea.

But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to adopt or maintain so you get the benefits I found.

Luckily the critical thinking skills that make you a successful executive can help you find the things you can be grateful for – even in the most difficult and unfortunate of times.

There are so many ways you can practice gratitude. Here are 4 simple steps to get you going.

  • Commit. Simple things don’t work immediately. The real benefits come over time through consistent practice. Be prepared for some immediate wins, followed by backsliding, and then more progress. You are learning a new skill and you’re bound to fall down – just like my kids when they learned to ski. Don’t give up.
  • Start, Imperfectly. Just start doing it. Right now. Take a deep breath. Think back on the last 24 hours. Identify a single thing you are grateful for. It could be a big thing, like a relationship, or something very simple. Don’t judge. Just identify. Keep it simple.
  • Write it down. Getting your thoughts into writing makes them real and out of your head – which is a pretty busy place where stuff gets lost. When you write it down you will process it and remember more effectively. This practice has helped me through some of life’s most stressful times – and to remember some of the most joyous. Use paper. Yes, paper. Writing things by hand requires more engagement of your brain and physical systems which makes it more effective. And if you don’t like paper, use a stylus and a handwriting app on your tablet (I use Penultimate with Evernote). Or type it. Just do it.
  • Share Your Gratitude. Make the effort to say “Thank You” regularly. It might be for little courtesies at the store or the delivery person. You could reach out and say thank you to a client for trusting you, or a referral source. Or a friend for just being there. What would it be like to make an intentional effort to say “thank you” in a sincere and genuine way, just three more times a day?

Prompts can help you get started if you are stuck. Here are some that I like and use:

  • People. Start with family and think of one individual person and one thing you’re grateful for about them or your time together. You can do the same thing for friends, clients, referral sources. The list gets pretty long when you think about it.
  • Places. Your home, or your community. Places you’ve traveled, vacations you’ve taken.
  • Moments. Something you are looking forward to. A happy or satisfying memory. A time when you turned around a difficult situation. It could be a simple as the place where you enjoy your morning coffee.
  • Your career. What you’ve accomplished. The people you’ve helped. What your job has allowed you to accomplish.
  • Yourself. Your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Your relationship. Your ability to learn and solve problems. Your energy, passion, and presence.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives and in the businesses of my clients – and the people in my world. Maybe even my dear readers, like you.

The best part is that the people I work with all have the ability to achieve their goals.

And I get to be their guide, to help them do the work and find simple solutions so they can live the life they were meant to live.

“You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. Once you get there, you can move mountains”. – Steve Jobs

How will you simplify this week?

Doug BrownIt’s Not Complicated. Simple is Better.
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6 Leadership Styles That Will Make or Break Your Business

“Management is doing things right; Leadership is doing the right things” – Peter Drucker

 All business professionals are leaders.  We lead in our business, with our clients, in the community, and certainly for our families. Many believe that leadership is an innate trait, a soft skill that we either have or we don’t.

Yet science tells us that leadership can be taught, it can be learned and it can be improved.    

 As business professionals, our leadership style can have a profound impact on our ability to build our brands, generate revenue, and live the kind of lives we want.   

Therefore it is important that we dedicate some time to understanding different leadership styles and their impact on the climate around us.

 In my travels as a coach, consultant, and professor of leadership I found an excellent study on just this question that makes the academic concepts easy to understand and apply in everyday life.  

These are the main ideas reported by researcher Daniel Goleman’s  Harvard Business Review article identifying identified six distinct leadership styles and the correlation to organizational climate as an indicator of performance.

  • Coercive leadership is the “Do what I tell you – Now!”.  The focus is on immediate compliance.  It can be useful in a crisis, to start a turnaround, or with problem employees.   It can also create passive-aggressive behavior, spur rebellion, demotivate high performers, and kill creativity.
  • Authoritative leadership is the  “Come with me!” approach.  It can motivate people towards a solution, gives leeway on how to achieve a result, and allows freedom to innovate.   Yet in high-performing teams of equals, there may be a negative impact, and overuse of this style can become overbearing.
  • Affiliative leadership focuses on people first.  It can create harmony and emotional bonds with the leaders.  It is focused on communication, team building, and creating loyalty.  This style is helpful for repairing broken trust, increasing morale, and improving communication.  There is the risk with this approach because the team must figure out their own approach in the absence of clear direction and the focus on praise can allow poor performance.
  • Democratic leadership, as you may expect, is characterized by “What do you think?” It helps forge consensus through participation, improves morale, and fosters creativity.  Yet it can result in endless meetings and discussions without results, delay decision making and result in underperforming teams.
  • Pacesetting leadership can be captured with the phrase “Do as I do, Now”. This leader sets high-performance standards, drives people to achieve, and leads by example with a “keep up with me” ethos. This style can foster continuous improvement and get results.  Yet employees can feel overwhelmed by the pace or unclear standards.  Used to an extreme it can lower trust, undermine responsibility and reduce flexibility.
  • Coaching leadership style allows people to “try this”.  It is focused on the long-term development of people for the future, provides instruction and feedback and room for people to fail.   This style of leadership takes significant extra time, effort, and expertise.  It teaches teams to communicate, lead themselves and rise to the challenge.

As you’ve read these descriptions you’ve probably been thinking about which style you are, or perhaps the style used by others in your firm.  You may even have thought that you use a variety or combination of these styles in your day-to-day leadership.   And you would be right.  

Different situations require different styles of leadership – and the best leaders understand when and how to use each style. Yet even the best leaders have a “default” preference – it is the style they revert to when under pressure and the one they are most comfortable with.

Your leadership style drives the culture in your business. And the culture in your business has a direct impact on how you and your staff operate. It affects everything, from hiring and retention to productivity, profitability, client retention, and referrals.

Your Business is a Reflection of your Leadership Style

The style you use, and the style you choose mean everything to your Business. 

You can leave it to your default, or to chance.  Or you can take control.

Knowledge is power. Let’s go.

As you might expect, the coercive style has the most negative impact on climate.  

What I didn’t expect was that the pacesetting style is a close second to coercive for the most negative impact on climate.

The two most positive correlations were authoritative and affiliative, while democratic and coaching were at the mid-point.

The message here is that we, as leaders, must be conscious of the leadership styles we apply to any given situation.  

We must be mindful of our default style and over-using any one style with a given team or situation.   

We must recognize that our own perception of our style may not match the perception of those we lead.   

The first step is always to figure out where you are right now – from a place of curiosity and learning – not judgment.

Taking Action – Making Change

The most effective way to learn how to adapt your leadership style and tactics to the situation is to have a guide at your side. 

That’s the work I do with my clients: helping them see what is happening, what is possible and then making it happen.

If you are really serious about building the business you’ve always wanted – and living the life you deserve then you are ready for the right coach. So email me and let’s talk. 

Along the way, you’ll learn what coaching is right – and whether we’d be a fit.

Doug Brown6 Leadership Styles That Will Make or Break Your Business
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How to Get Staff To Do What you Need Them To Do

“I just wish they would do their job!”

Linda was pretty frustrated with her assistant, Nancy.

There was plenty of work to do and she felt like Nancy was not as productive as she could be.

Linda was so busy with her own work that she didn’t have time to manage them. And to be honest, she wasn’t all that interested in managing people. She didn’t feel like she was good at it. She just wanted to do her own work.

This is a really common problem for business professionals who find themselves responsible for managing people and running a business.

They feel like everyone should just know what to do and go about doing it without instruction, distraction, or drama. They seek to avoid the distraction of spending time and energy managing and leading other people. But that’s just not how it works.

Humans are messy, complicated creatures. That’s why the most successful leaders are also students of the science of understanding and influencing others.

It’s not enough to just wish your staff would do their jobs. You’re going to need to take action to make it better – or it will get worse.

You must be clear and specific in what you are asking them to do.

You may think you’ve already done that. But I’ve found that we are rarely as clear as we think we are in our heads.

If you want to make sure you’re being clear then write it down.

That’s how I discovered that I wasn’t being clear and specific. It was only when, out of frustration, I shut my door and decided to write it down that I saw how many gaps I was leaving for my team.

That’s how Linda showed up to our recent coaching call.

She is a solo practitioner with a young assistant, Nancy. Linda wanted Nancy to do more simple and repetitive tasks that he thought she should know how to do.

Linda wasn’t assigning these tasks to Nancy because she wasn’t confident she would be able to do it right. Linda thought it would take too long to train her and then review and correct her work. So she kept doing it herself.

My clients often want help solving this kind of people problem.  The solution takes time because we’re trying to change attitudes and habits in multiple people – including the client.

We start by making sure we’re clear about what we’re asking others to do.

You’ll know you’re being clear and specific if you can explain – and the staff member can explain back to you:

Why you are assigning the task.

This puts the task in the context of the overall objective and the business. People are more open to taking on work when they understand why it matters and why they are the right person for the task.

Linda wanted more help with routine communication with clients and potential clients.

This included:

  1. Closing files at the end of a matter – including the wrap-up communication, billing, and cleaning up loose ends.
  2. Opening files once she had decided to take a case – including getting the representation agreement signed, setting up billing and case management systems.
  3. Simple status updates for clients via email or letter.

Linda can explain to Nancy how each of these areas will give her space to work on billable tasks and grow the practice – and improve client service. She can also help Nancy see how taking on these responsibilities will help her grow into greater responsibilities and have more meaningful work.

What outcome do you seek to achieve?

The outcome is the final result of the assignment. What is the final work-product you want them to complete? How will you measure success?

In the early stages, you may also need to train the person how to do the work – but that’s a training conversation, not an outcome conversation.

Writing down the specific outcome will make you think it all the way through and avoid one of the big reasons why delegation fails.

When people are unclear about the outcome they will often elect to underperform rather than take a risk and make a mistake – especially in professions where mistakes are not ok.

I suggested that Linda give Nancy templates for the communications she’d like her to prepare in each of the situations so she sees a completed work product.

She also liked the idea of explaining each step to her and having her create a checklist of what needed to be done to achieve the objective.  Having Nancy involved in creating the SOP involves her in the process and ensures that she is creating checklists she can follow.

When the task is due – and how you will communicate about it.

Don’t be wishy-washy on due dates. Being really specific allows you each to manage your calendars and avoid worry. Also, be specific about your mid-project communication.

For example, can you complete this by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday? If you think you might miss that time will you let me know by noon on Thursday?

You’ll notice that these were questions – because unless you get a “yes” to both you haven’t had a successful handoff.

Your delegation SOP should be clear about how to communicate about delays and unexpected challenges so you don’t have to go over it in detail every time.

Into Action …

If you’re frustrated with the quality or quantity of work getting completed by your staff take these action steps:

  1. Take a deep breath. Give yourself space to think. It won’t help anyone to try to deal with the problem while you are frustrated.
  2. Make sure you’ve been clear and specific on the why, the outcome, and the communication. Write it down.
  3. Have a conversation with your team member about the situation. Use the After Action Review questions.  What did you expect to happen? What actually happened? Why was there a difference? What be done differently next time?

If you found this helpful then like, share, or comment below.  What was most helpful for you?


Doug BrownHow to Get Staff To Do What you Need Them To Do
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Why Aren’t You Delegating?

Your to-do list is packed full of more stuff than you’ll ever complete.

You’re stressed out because you feel like you need to be everything to everyone – everywhere all the same time.

You’re so busy with what’s right in front of you that work you know you must do keeps getting kicked to next week, and the week, after that – and then next month. Well, maybe next year.

There is a way to break the cycle and retake control of your business – and your life.

It’s called delegation.

Hold on … I know you know it is important to delegate things, and that delegating will save you time and make you more money.

But you’ve got good reasons why you’re not doing it – or not doing it well. Some of the common excuses for not delegating are:

  1. I have to do it myself
  2. It takes too long to delegate/I do it faster, better
  3. I don’t have the time to learn how to do it well
  4. I don’t have anyone to delegate to
  5. Other people can’t meet my standards (perfectionist)
  6. I can’t trust the work to the people I have on my team
  7. I’ll just have to redo the work I get back anyway
  8. I’ve tried it before, and it just doesn’t work for me.

These stories (aka excuses) will keep you from growing your practice. They will bring you to work early, and keep you late each night – and absorb your weekends. All while your people work regular hours and enjoy the life that you’d like to be enjoying.

I get it. Delegating is hard.

It’s doubly difficult because few people have received proper training on how to delegate well – and to address all of the messy people issues that come with it.

Effective delegation can be learned.

You’re going to need TRUST others, and yourself.

It requires SKILLS. It’s not just about the skills of the people on your team. You are going to need to build and practice your own skills in delegation and the development of your people.

You must have a PROCESS so that you consistently execute the steps to effective delegation, management and leadership.

I’ll talk about each of these areas in future posts.

For now, let’s unpack some of the top reasons why professionals avoid delegating.


Time objections include the time it takes to explain it to someone else or how long the person will take to complete the task. It feels faster to do it yourself.

The problem with this one is it might actually be true initially.

The truth is that for routine, repetitive tasks that don’t require your skill and expertise, the time you spend you spend creating a system to delegate the work and training people to do the work is an investment in your future that pays off many many times over.

It takes longer at first, but once you got it, you will significantly accelerate whatever the process is that you’d like to delegate.

It ultimately frees up your time to do the work you like to do – and that creates real value in your business.

No People

The second obstacle is that you don’t feel like you have somebody to delegate the work to.

This might be especially true if you’re in an office by yourself or with one other person. And so you conclude that you can’t delegate because there are no people to delegate it to.

In today’s virtual interconnected workplace it’s easier than ever to delegate work to people who are not physically present in your office. You can also outsource to specialists without hiring them as employees or having them travel to your office.

This applies to everything from bookkeeping, to marketing, to answering the phones to doing professional and administrative work.

You’re only limited by your imagination and your delegation and management skills.

The effort that you put into figuring out what exactly you need to have done and delegating it and supervising it pays off many times over.


The third obstacle to delegating effectively is trust.

You’re going to need strategies to build trust in the skills of others and in their ability to keep information secure and confidential.

The other part of the trust is trusting yourself and having the confidence that you can figure out exactly what needs to happen and how it needs to happen and that you can manage it properly.

One of the insidious little problems with this is that when you delegate work to someone else and you want to build trust, there are going to be times when things don’t work out the way you want. It’s part of the learning process.

You’ll have to have a process not only on how to delegate the initial work but to retain responsibility, authority, and control. And to have a potentially difficult conversation with the person to whom you delegated the work about how their work may or may not be meeting the standard and how to improve.

I’ve seen so many professionals who avoid delegating because they are not comfortable having these difficult conversations. Instead, they tolerate situations that make their life more complicated.

The Fix

The fix is to recognize that delegating is a skill that can be learned.

If you’re determined to be in control of your future – and have the life you’ve always wanted then make it your business to learn and develop your delegation skills.

Start by considering how delegation is working for you now – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Are there things you feel like you should be delegating but you aren’t doing it? Why not?
  2. Do you have a defined process for delegation and completion of work? How is it working?
  3. Do your people have the skills they need to do the work you need them to do?
  4. How confident are you in your delegation, supervision, and follow-up skills? Do you have a routine and a process or do you just wing it? How’s that working for you?
  5. When is the last time you received feedback from your team on how you’re doing as a delegator?

What’s your #1 challenge in delegating work? Leave a comment below and let’s talk.

P.S… Delegating well is a skill it takes a lifetime to master. And just when you think you’re done – your not. Mastery doesn’t come by reading a blog post, a book, or a checklist. Masters become masters because they have a guide to help them along the way. If you’re interested in mastery of delegation skills and your practice – and seeing whether I’d be a good guide for you then click here and let’s talk

Doug BrownWhy Aren’t You Delegating?
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Escape the “Always On” Trap …

Our most difficult leadership challenge is the 6″ space between our own ears. It’s a mind and mindset game that can feel rigged against us.

Especially when you’re the “continuous improvement” person who is relentless about always trying to be better, think better, be more positive, and optimize your life. Only to feel like you’re chasing smoke.

You know that always being on isn’t the answer, but you never feel quite right when you are off.

You might describe it as the need to be invincible or bulletproof.

Or you might feel like you must be everything to everyone always, continually falling short of impossible expectations.

In his book The Practice of Groundedness, Brad Stulberg describes this as “Heroic Individualism”.

And it’s not a good thing.

Heroic Individualism is an unwinnable, “ongoing game of one-upmanship, against both yourself and others, paired with the limiting belief that measurable achievement is the only arbiter of success.

Even if you do a good job hiding it on the outside, with heroic individualism you chronically feel like you never quite reach the finish line that is lasting fulfillment.”

I felt like Brad was talking to me – and many of my clients too.

He also offers a solution with his Principles of Groundedness:

  1. Accept where you are to get where you want to go.
  2. Be present so you can own your attention and energy.
  3. Be patient and you’ll get there faster.
  4. Embrace vulnerability to develop genuine strength and confidence.
  5. Unlock the Power of Deep Community.
  6. Move your body to ground your mind.

I love these principles because of their power and simplicity. That doesn’t mean they are easy to implement. But nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

I’ve found #4 – embracing vulnerability – to be the most difficult to implement. Especially in professional cultures where it is viewed as a weakness to be exploited. And that’s what makes it so powerful for breaking the always on cycle of the heroic individualist.

Working on yourself, and your mindset, is not selfish. Quite the opposite. It increases your capacity to live your best life, and be your best for the people who need you the most.

Which of the six principles has been most important to your leadership journey?

Doug BrownEscape the “Always On” Trap …
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Time Management is a Waste of Time … Manage This Instead


The key to more productivity and less stress is not time management. It is energy management.

The world’s best productivity strategies don’t work if you don’t have the energy to put them into

action – and stick with them.

The reality of time management – and why it doesn’t work

Time is relentless and continuous. We can’t speed it up, slow it down, or have a do-over. Yet here we are playing a game of beat-the-clock we can’t win.

What’s worse is that so many professions (like lawyers) are built on the notion of trading time for money – a losing proposition to be sure.

If you only make more money by working more then you don’t really have a sustainable business. You’re just setting yourself up for burnout and exhaustion.

So when we say “time management” we are really talking about making better choices about how we use our time.

And that’s good because you can be in control of your time choices.

Manage energy first 

When you focus on managing your energy you will make better choices about mostly everything – including how you invest your time. You will also feel more in control, and less stressed out.

Thinking about energy management in four buckets really helped me with my energy management:

– Physical energy is about your health and fitness. It provides the power for everything, and it is a finite resource. Elements include the things you may take for granted – or skimp on, like sleep, exercise, nutrition, and periods of rest and recovery.

– Mental energy is about your focus and attention. It is the element that helps you avoid distractions, solve problems and do the intellectual work of being a leader and a professional.

– Emotional energy describes the quality of your interactions with the world, and yourself. It is about emotions and attitudes around the work you do. Negative energy depletes your physical and mental energy faster and makes it harder to recharge. The opposite is also true.

– Spiritual energy provides a perspective based on your purpose and position in the world – and your need for contribution and meaning. When you are working in alignment with your purpose and mission this can feed into the other energy types. The opposite is also true.

Here are some top strategies that I teach (and use) to create, protect, and focus physical, mental, and emotional energy for lawyers and business professionals.

Jettison the Energy Busters

Energy busters are the people, situations, habits, and activities that consume energy without adding value.

Energy busters are everywhere and they can be hard to identify – like the apps in the background are forever draining your cell phone battery. If you look closely you’ll start to see them.

They are distractions from your phone, texting, social media, internet surfing, or the pile of stuff around your desk that you finally decide to organize, or the dog that needs walking.

You’ll also find the energy vampires, or for vintage SNL fans, Debbie Downers.

Once you identify the energy busters pick one that has the most negative impact on your physical, emotional, or mental energy. Then take steps to reduce or eliminate it. One at a time.

Now, you may find that your clients, co-workers, or the type of work you are practicing all occupy the top of your energy buster’s list. It happens.

And there is often a fix that is less extreme than firing your clients, quitting your practice, and jetting off to Bora Bora (as nice as that may sound). And yes, we can help with that.

Accumulate Energy Boosters 

Identify the things in your life and your work that give you energy and be intentional about fostering those activities and relationships.

Our energy follows our focus. I am not suggesting that you only focus on positive things – because that’s not realistic. However, I find that you can get an energy boost from a negative situation when you focus on what you can learn and do differently that is within your control.

The key is focusing on what you control – and while you can’t control the world around you, you can control how you respond (rather than react) to it.

Try this out for a week.

Be intentional every morning about managing your energy.

Something physical. Something mental. And something emotional.

Check in with yourself several times throughout the day and at the end of the day. You won’t be great all day, or even most of it.

But there will be moments to start, and then more to follow. I bet you’ll find a difference in many ways – including your relationship with time.

Let me know how it goes.


Doug BrownTime Management is a Waste of Time … Manage This Instead
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Why Good Employees Quit

Your team is running like a well-oiled machine. Finally.

You might think that this is the time for a sigh of relief and to focus on other things for a change.

That would be a mistake.

The best CEOs are always working on protecting and developing their team – even when things feel like they are going perfectly. Because they know it’s always easier to get out ahead of a problem than to react when things go badly.

Here are some reasons why companies lose good employees. Don’t let this happen to you.

  1. Lack of Trust & Respect. Make sure you have open lines of communication with your team. Be mindful of work-styles and providing the right level of direction, leadership, and management to match the needs of the situation. If you don’t trust in them, or the knowledge skills or abilities then it is your responsibility to remedy the situation – or to replace the person. Carrying someone on the team who you don’t trust – or who doesn’t trust you – will undermine trust and respect with the rest of the team.
  2. Low Pay. Make sure you are paying your employees fairly for the value they bring. Consider the cost of replacing the team member when considering increases. It’s almost always more expensive to replace a high performer.
  3. Poor Company Culture. Culture may be intangible – but it is really important to your employees (and your customers). The culture you create (or tolerate) will either attract or repel people. If you have a team of loyal productive staff then get curious about what you’re doing right so you can work it into your operating system. If your people are leaving or underperforming then you’ve got to take a hard look at how to improve your culture.
  4. Feeling Overworked and Underappreciated. This is especially dangerous for your high performers who take on more and more responsibility and will be some of the last to complain – until it is too late.
  5. Lack of Growth Opportunities. Make sure you are talking with your employees about how they want to grow, learn and develop. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a promotion – it could be an opportunity to expand their knowledge, skills, or abilities.
  6. No Work-Life Balance. Make sure you respect the lives your employees have outside of work. And while you’re at it – respect it for yourself. Set a good example for your team.

One of the most effective tools to retain good employees is to adopt quarterly development conversations to replace the once-a-year “review”. Quarterly discussions are much less stressful for you and the staff – and they allow for a much more meaningful exchange of ideas and information.

Team development and growth need to be part of your own monthly CEO checklist – especially when things are going great.

Yours in Success,


P.S… If you are concerned about employee retention or engagement then it’s time to set up that free consultation I’ve mentioned before. I’ve only got a few each month – so if you’d like yours just Click HERE and we’ll set it up.

Doug BrownWhy Good Employees Quit
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The 1 Thing You Must Have to Grow Your Business

I used to believe the number 1 thing you need to grow your business is customers.

I was wrong.

Yes, you need customers to have a business.

But the most important thing to grow and scale a profitable business is having the right people on your team to deliver on the promise of your business.

Even if you are a solo professional, you’re going to need people to support you so that you can do the work you’ve been hired for.

In his business building classic book Good to Great, Jim Collins found that companies who made the leap to greatness focused on getting the right people on the bus first.

Getting the right people on your bus isn’t as easy as it used to be. In fact, the tables have turned in recent years from a buyer (employer) market to a seller (employee) market.

Today employees are looking for much more than fair compensation.

They want the opportunity for career growth. They want to be satisfied and feel like they are making a difference – and working toward something that’s aligned with their values.

Use the same discipline you bring to attracting your ideal client or customer to the talent game.

Who are the people you want to attract? What do they value? Why?

What words would they use to describe the work environment that would be most satisfying and engaging?

Let’s say you have the perfect candidate sitting in your office, just waiting to be convinced that you are the very best place for them to work. You can’t throw more money at them.

What would you say?

Would you take the job if the roles were reversed?

These aren’t rhetorical questions.  Take a stab at answering them for real – in writing.

The business you grow (or save) might just be your own.


P.S…  I know first-hand how difficult it is to do this exercise by yourself about your own business. We’re so close to it we’re often blind to the good and the bad. If you want a really clear picture you’re going to need some honest expert guidance. If you do, give me a call. It’s what I do.


Doug BrownThe 1 Thing You Must Have to Grow Your Business
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5 Strategy Myths that Hurt Your Business

Matt never wanted to talk about “strategy”. Whenever it came up he even use the air quotes with his fingers to mock the idea. He saw it as an unnecessary distraction that didn’t apply to his decades-old business.

He had bought into some of the most dangerous myths about strategic planning – and strategic thinking in general. Myths like:

  1. My business is too small (or too established) for a strategic plan.
  2. Strategic planning is an expensive, academic exercise with low ROI.
  3. I don’t have time to write a strategic plan. Besides, it will be out of date as soon as it is done.
  4. It’s all in my head and that’s good enough.
  5. My operating work plans have everything I need to succeed.

The truth is that lots of businesses achieve a level of success without having a strategic plan. They might have been in the right place and the right time. They might have been lucky. Or maybe the founder really was that good. This kind of accidental (or fortunate) success can be dangerous because it isn’t sustainable.

Thinking strategically, and writing up a simple and actionable plan is essential to avoid or minimize the impacts of the plateaus and stalls that impact every business.

A good plan will help you:

  1. Establish and communicate clear priorities and directions for your business.
  2. Attract and retain excellent team members and partners.
  3. Ensure everyone is aligned and working together to achieve your true objectives.
  4. Simplify and accelerate decision-making.
  5. Anticipate and adapt to challenges and opportunities.
  6. Prepare for business succession and transition.

Now, I’m not advocating that you drop everything and go out and write a huge strategic plan.

I am inviting you to set aside some time to start educating yourself about the core strategic planning disciplines and how you can put them into action in your business. If you’d like some help getting started, just click here and set up a time to talk.

Consistent and persistent investments of time to develop your strategic thinking – and to creating a strategic plan will make your life and your business easier and more profitable.

Yours in Success!



Doug Brown5 Strategy Myths that Hurt Your Business
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The Missing Links …

Michael came to me for help with building his practice. He was already a very skilled professional with a list of clients waiting to work with him. He was making good money and he had grand visions of the business he wanted to build – but it was all he could do to keep up with his current workload.

Like many professionals, Michael built his success on his intelligence, personality, work ethic, and excellent instincts. His business revolved around him and his ability to make virtually all of the decisions and be in control of almost everything. He knew in his heart it wasn’t sustainable – and he needed a way out – and up.

I see this all the time because professional education focuses on what it takes to provide professional advice and service – not how to run a business. At least that’s what law school was like for me.

These missing links for many professionals, including Michael, are core business disciplines such as:

  1. Strategic Planning and Goal Setting. How to create a practical strategic plan to guide your business so you can achieve what you really want, and move away from simply reacting to what comes your way.
  2. Leading and Managing People. How to use leadership and management skills to drive team productivity and improve client relationships and service.
  3. Building Processes and Systems to reduce errors and improve quality and speed.
  4. Protecting your own energy, time, and attention you can be at your best for yourself, your business, and your family.

The first step is most often creating space and time on your calendar to get to these higher-level tasks. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Especially when the stakes are high and everything revolves around you. Stay tuned for tips on how you can create this kind of space for yourself.

When you’ve created that space you’ll need to get in action to see which of the four missing links need attention in your practice. And if you’d like help with that, just Click this Link and let’s talk.


Doug BrownThe Missing Links …
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