Managed Growth

August 24, 2010

While every business owner seeks to positively advance their company, there exists a fine line between growing and taxing an organization.

2010 has been an incredible year for Dover Realty Advisors – since last December, we have experienced a 50% growth in our group, including expansion through our recently added Cincinnati Regional Office. Our goal of growth into the multifamily markets of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky has begun to be realized. Adding properties in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky will be next on our horizon. Yet, despite the continued demand for our services, we are proceeding with caution, moving forward.

The key to success in this economic realm remains treading carefully; pausing for reflection and analysis even when things appear to be going “great guns” – in particular when it comes to people. For example, sometimes you need to take a look at utilizing contract employees and outsourcing particular functions. This approach serves to make sure your in-house staff does not become too stretched while keeping overhead in check. It also protects you should the need for right sizing come about.

Many companies are moving forward in this way with an eye in particular on how healthcare reform will affect operations beginning next January (2011). I’ve read the 2,000 page Act and am particularly concerned. The government says companies will be able to keep their health insurance plans but the Act says otherwise. Instead, with new dictates in place, many plans could go away and companies and their employees could find themselves faced with less desirable options – from both a benefits and cost standpoint.

The possible ramifications are not pleasant with resulting uncertainties sure to influence many companies to at least temporarily shelve thoughts of growth, even of the well-managed variety, for a more conservative wait and see approach.

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The Adversity Quotient (“AQ”): Understanding, Overcoming

August 18, 2010

Last time, I wrote about “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence) and its role in effective problem solving.  This time, I want to briefly examine another acronym, “AQ” and its role in turning obstacles into opportunities.

“AQ,” or “Adversity Quotient” is the brainchild of Paul Stoltz, Ph.D., who has authored several books on the topic, which examine dynamics related to overcoming adversity. What does it take to succeed in life? Why are some individuals able to overcome adversity while others simply give up? Stoltz adeptly takes a look.

How good are you at dealing with loss and/or unexpected change?

Many people, myself included, have experienced misguided career or business decisions. The key is in how you handle them. You’ve “stepped in it.” Now what? Scream…cry…moan and then move on. Get it out of your system within thirty minutes. Then, collect yourself, regroup and consider all of your options. You may have been dealt a “bad hand”; yet, if played correctly, it could turn into a winner.

At the end of the day, I always recommend, don’t waste time and energy worrying about where you want to be or what might have been. Instead, look forward and positively focus on what actions you need to take to get there.


EQ (Emotional Intelligence) vs. I.Q.

August 11, 2010

I am an avid reader – in particular when it comes to books on business philosophy and leadership.  Jack Welch wrote the book (actually several) on both.  Another outstanding author that delves into this genre is Robert Cooper, Ph.D., with “Executive EQ” and is worth a closer look.

Wikipedia describes “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence) as: “The ability, capacity, or skill to identify, assess, manage and control the emotions of one’s self, of others and of groups.” Studies have shown that incredibly intelligent people are quite often not successful in their personal lives nor, this book demonstrates, in business.  They are lacking, this theory postulates, in ‘EQ.”

Some have applied this theorem to the Obama administration and the failings of many of his Cabinet members.  They are “book smart” but, their detractors would say, perhaps too academic and, as such, lacking in the ability to focus and “see the forest through the trees” when tasked with effectively problem solving.

I have found over the years that most problems don’t require an overly sophisticated approach or thought process, which can often lead to “analysis paralysis.” Rather, great common sense and good judgment (both a function of innate emotion rather than high I.Q intelligence) lead to more efficient and effective problem solving and decision-making.

All of that said, brilliant minds are most adept at a specific type of problem solving; they are exactly who you want around when you are faced with a major financial catastrophe. When it comes to numbers, derivatives, trading assets and the like, their skills and talents shine most brightly.

As an effective manager, then, are you matching the skill sets of your people to the tasks to which they are most suited for?


Growing a service business

July 30, 2010

No matter your industry you are no doubt constantly focused on serving your existing clients with an eye toward new business. While some say that the day to day of maintaining and growing a business  is a balancing act of duties between the two, I would argue that one is much more important; yet, both are intrinsically linked.

Whether you focus on multi-family and turnaround or Receivership work like Dover Realty Advisors or any service business, I feel strongly that the key to long-term success is, first and foremost, doing an outstanding job for the client and customers that you already have.

It is a simple strategy, really: You worked hard to attract a particular client. You should work even harder to build and maintain a level of trust based on honesty, transparency and superior service. Do that enough times and with enough people and, suddenly, you’ve built not only a strong client and referral base but also a solid reputation.

In turn, that reputation and foundation of satisfied customers, referral sources and business partners builds referrals and new business.  Word always gets around when there is a “good thing” out there.

So, don’t get bogged down or distracted with worrying about where that next big client is going to come from. Fear is always unproductive.  Instead, stay focused on and dedicated to the customers that you have.  Treat them well and others will follow.


Let’s shake on it

June 30, 2010

Remember when someone’s word meant something?

I can still recall the days when a simple firm handshake sealed a pact. No need for lawyers or pages of documents with footnotes to sign in quadruplicate.  You simply looked your potential partner in business squarely in the eye and moved forward in earnest and with best intentions.

So, what happened? Somewhere along the way, we stopped trusting each other.

Unfortunately, precedents of bad behavior set the tone for a bad business environment.  A litigious society, further, forces one into an often defensive stature where it is imperative to protect yourself against people who say one thing and do another. To be sure, even supposedly “fool-proof contracts” designed to avoid future disputes, are often not worth the paper they are written on.

Thankfully, it is not all “doom and gloom” and Gordon Gekkos

hellbent on stabbing you in the back in order to feed egos and fatten back pockets. In fact, in the wake of high-profile cases of corporate deceit (from Enron to JP Morgan), there has emerged a movement in the business world towards renewed honesty, integrity and transparency.

Portraying and maintaining a positive image and reputation are important again. (Just look at the NFL and the intangibles, beyond talent, that helped make Tim Tebow a first round draft pick).

Today, I still prefer the handshake to seal a deal and I continue to maintain many arrangements, in particular with colleagues, sans paper.  Who knows, maybe we are on the path to once again doing what we say we’re going to do as a rule and not an exception.


Decision-making in business

May 26, 2010

I’m a big believer in having minimal layers in business. It helps to eliminate “red tape” and ensures operations run smoothly. Too many layers tend to slow down decision-making and decrease efficiency.

If you need group meetings to make every decision, you should re-think your business plan. Meetings should be for information gathering rather than decision making. You gather 75 to 80 percent of the information from a meeting or sources, and the rest is strong business intuition. Think Lee IaCocca or Jack Welch, guys that made intelligent decisions based on a combination of information and intuition. Consider some of these great IaCocca quotes.

Ideas for discovery, change and improved efficiencies should come from the bottom up. Decisions regarding compensation, benefits and major structural changes in an organization and the like are made at the top and distributed throughout the organization.

A good decision-maker has great instincts, can cut through the noise and not get distracted. They understand the weight of a decision and its short and long term implications; appreciates the potential unintended consequences of any significant decision; and appreciate the fact-finding and information-gathering process. They also take into account the “top-10 percent influence”, which tells us decisions involving PR, crisis management and financial issues should be made at the very top, by a competent CEO. But don’t underestimate basic common sense and good judgment.  They’re the foundation of any good decision maker.

How do you and your company make decisions? Does the process work, or do you need to reevaluate processes and outcomes?