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    09 Aug

    I’m not a big St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, but as the National League team in my home state and relatives (including my son) that are fans I have at least a passing interest in the team.

    *side note – one of my favorite baseball memories is witnessing the 1985 World Series as a college Freshman in Columbia Missouri, halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis.  The campus was crazy during the whole series…

    Anyway, I brought the Cardinals up because of the latest update in the Rick Ankiel saga (it should be made into a TV movie).

    For those of you that don’t know who Rick Ankiel is, he was the real life version of ‘Wild Thing’ (from Major League – Wild Thing, you make my heart sing, you walk everything!)

    The hard-throwing lefty won 11 games and struck out 194 in 175 innings as a 20-year-old rookie in 2000 and was a surprise pick to start the Cardinals’ postseason opener that season against Atlanta. But he became the first major league pitcher to throw five wild pitches in one inning since 1890.

    Ankiel threw nine wild pitches in four innings during the 2000 playoffs and never really was the same after that.

    Nine wild pitches in 4 innings…that’s amazing.  Ankiel burned bright (albeit for a very short time) and then presumably faded away like so many other players do in the big leagues (for example, most of the Royals roster from the last 3 years…).  😉

    But his story wasn’t over.  yahoo.com/mlb/news-Ankiel  After fighting injuries and failure as a pitcher, he switched to an outfield position in 2005 and returned to the Major Leagues today – 6 years after blowing up (in a bad way).  He hit a home run in his 3rd at bat…after hitting 32 home runs in the minors this year.  He’s a power hitting outfielder.

    Rick Ankiel reinvented himself.  That’s an amazing turn-around and pretty inspirational.

    So what does this have to do with your business?  According to SBA statistics, about 56% of businesses fail within the first 4 years of existence (Greg Balanko-Dickson does a great job of clarifying this confusing statistic Here).  Are you at risk of falling into that category?  Obviously completely reinventing your business is pretty unlikely, but it’s not a stretch to think that you could reinvent parts of your business that aren’t working and make a significant positive difference in your success as an outcome.
    In E-Myth-Mastery Michael Gerber talks about the process of improvement and the essential skill of Innovation.  World Class companies are constantly improving and innovating aspects of their business that are lagging or holding them back.

    In other words, World Class businesses are reinventing parts of their business all the time.  Here’s a quick summary of the process of improvement:

    1. Select the aspect of your business you wish to improve.
    2. Determine what your current process is for that aspect.  If you don’t have a current process, create one.
    3. Quantify the effectiveness of the current process.
    4. Analyze the process for assumed weak points and change 1 of those weak points (but only 1).
    5. Test the updated process.
    6. Quantify the results of your test.
    7. If the results are positive, implement the new process and start all over with some other aspect.  If they aren’t an improvement, the go back to step 4 and change another of the assumed weak points and repeat.

    Obviously this is much easier said than done, but if you approach it with this kind of rigor, you can reinvent your business, one aspect at a time.

    It may not be as dramatic as the Rick Ankiel story, but it’s a lot more likely to succeed and keep you moving forward (which is the whole point…).

    What aspect of your business could you reinvent?  As a starting point, could you identify the 1 or 2 biggest things that are slowing you down or holding you back?

    Go get ’em Wild Thing!

    Shawn Kinkade – Aspire Business Development

    03 Aug

    I did a great goal exercise the other day with one of my networking groups.  This is one of those things that can help you shake up your perceptions and might help you see things a little more clearly.

    If you want to play along at home, take a piece of paper and draw out 5 boxes (draw them big enough to cover the whole page so you’ll have some room to write). 

    You won’t likely get the point of the exercise without playing along…but it’s your call.

    In box #1, write out a personal goal and a business goal that you would like to achieve (ideally you should do 3 of each, but the process will work with one).

    As an example, a personal goal might be: Lose 20 Pounds by this time next year.

    In box # 2, write down approximately how long you have had that goal.

    For our example, let’s say 5 years…

    In box #3, write down what your biggest obstacle or obstacles has been to date in achieving this goal.

    Example:  I’m always eating on the run, which means fast food, junk food, etc.  Who has time to make balanced healthy meals?

    In box #4:  What specific actions have you taken in the last 24 hours to achieve this goal?

    Example:  Tough one…I didn’t eat a second brownie last night after dinner…

    Finally, the home stretch, in box #5 write down what you’ll feel like once you’ve achieved this goal?  What is it about this goal that makes you want to do it?   What will you be?  What might others say about you?

    Example:  I would be healthy and more active with my kids.

    Now take a look over what you wrote.  In the first box you wrote your goal, hopefully it was a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-framed). 

    Have you had the goal a long time?  Or did you just make it up for the sake of this exercise?  Ideally you’re going through some sort of regular planning process at work and at home that would identify these goals, but a lot of people aren’t very good at keeping up with this kind of stuff.

    In box three, are you making excuses or are these real reasons outside of your control that are keeping you from what you want?

    Box #4 is important as an indicator of how important this goal really is to you.  A top level priority goal should be on your list pretty much every day – if not, how important is it really?

    Finally – look at box #5 again…isn’t this really your goal?  Take the example:

    “I would be healthy and more active with my kids”! 

    Isn’t that what I really want? 

    It’s pretty common that we focus on what we need to DO or what we want to HAVE as a measuring point in achieving some life purpose.  If I DO this, then I can HAVE that and then I’ll BE what I want to be.

    As soon as I save up $50,000, then I’m going to start a business and become an Entrepreneur.

    I would contend that you have it out of order.  The right order is…BE. DO. HAVE! 

    If I start BEing a healthy person, then I will start DOing things that healthy people do and I will HAVE the weight loss and fitness achievements that I want…!

    What do you think?  Are you holding yourself back somehow or can you start being the person you want to be?  It’s a leap of faith, but does it make sense to you?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Shawn Kinkade – www.aspirekc.com

    31 Jul

    Breaking Through

    Posted in Inspire  |   1 Comment

    Paper will spontaneously combust at 451 degrees Farenheit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farenheit_451).  Water will boil and turn to steam at 212 degrees Farenheit.

    Why the science facts?  I received an interesting newsletter today from Simple Truths – an online retailer specializing in inspirational books, movies and stuff.  I’m not normally a big fan of those kinds of things – actually www.despair.com is more my style, but I have been really impressed with several of the things that this site has shared on their newsletter.

    I think this particular movie has been around for awhile, but it was new to me and I thought it was well done and thoughtful (or thought provoking anyway).  The clip from today’s newsletter can be found at http://www.212movie.com and as the title suggests, focuses on the extra degree of heat that takes water from being merely hot to a physical change of composition to steam. 

    Sometimes it only takes one more degree to take you to the next level.

    The movie focuses on internal motivation, focus, willpower, etc. as ‘going the extra mile’ to be the extra degree.  I agree that can be a critical component for a lot of people, but I also think that external components could also be your competitive edge.

    Maybe it’s your educational background and the unique perspective it gives you on your marketplace (I have a client with degrees in Sociology / Urban Studies and Web Development – he has an extremely interesting way of looking at things).

    Maybe it’s your family – perhaps a spouse that challenges you and brings out your best or siblings that make you look at things through rose colored glasses.

    Maybe it’s your Business Coach…  😉 (If you don’t have one I’d be glad to talk to you about it!).

    Whatever it is, in today’s competitive environment, it’s important that you have something that gives you an edge, that you know what it is and that you consciously take advantage of it.

    So what’s your ‘extra degree’ ?  What can take you from good to great?  I’d really like to hear some feedback on this.

    Shawn Kinkade – www.aspirekc.com

    30 Jul

    I’m back from vacation.  We had a great time, but anytime you’re 24×7 with a couple of 8 year olds (our kids), it’s anything but relaxing.  We did see a lot of great scenery (Rocky Mountain National Park) and I got at least a few good pictures and the kids had fun, so all in all it was a success.

    So…on to some thoughts about the difficulties of hiring.  This came to mind because I pulled together some specific ideas on how using Extended DISC assessments (Extended DISC) could be extremely beneficial to making good hiring decisions for a contact of mine that’s looking to solve a hiring problem.

    This particular challenge is to build up a business almost from scratch…they currently have 6 employees, but they’re going to be ramping to 3 or 4 times that number in a fairly short period of time.  They will likely have some unique issues, but the essence of it is the importance of hiring good people.  (good for you, good for them, win-win all the way around).

    The hiring concept that I’ve used successfully and seen preached by experts (the most common example is Southwest Airlines) is “Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill”.  There’s an old (but still relevant Article from Fast Company that highlights this idea:  “What people know is less important than who they are.”

    That’s where Extended DISC comes in, it’s a fantastic assessment tool that clearly and concisely outlines the behaviors of prospective candidates.  The process is quick (online), inexpensive and has been proven to a high degree of accuracy across a very wide user base.

    So how could you use this tool to solve a hiring dilemma? 

    One idea would be to use an assessment with a model employee and use those results as a template for prospective hires.  

    Another approach would be to build a customized Job Analysis using the Extended DISC tools and process which would give you a customized assessment that prioritizes the results based on your particular job needs.  This takes a little more up front work, but it’s a thought process you probably needed to go through anyway if you’re creating a new position.

    Obviously these are some simplistic examples, but the beauty of the tool is all of the different things you can do with it, quickly, easily and cheaply.

    How do you approach hiring?  Do you agree or disagree with hiring for attitude versus experience?  Share your thoughts and let me know what you’re thinking.

    Shawn Kinkade – Aspire Business Development

    21 Jul


    Originally uploaded by WSK_2005

    Vacation – had to get away. Sure I’m dating myself with the Go-Gos, but it is a really catchy song.

    If you couldn’t tell, I’m leavin’ (on a jet plane) for Colorado for a week with the family. We’re spending a couple of days in Denver and the rest of the time in Estes Park. We’re also going to catch up with some old friends that we haven’t seen in too long, so that will be great.

    Vacation for me is a time to recharge, not obsess about work, spend (hopefully) quality time with the family and get some good photo opportunities (the attached picture is from last year’s trip to Oregon – beautiful place).

    I’m always amazed at people that bring their work with them. I might bring a business book to catch up on, but I’m not bringing the laptop, I’m not planning to check messages and I’m not planning to really get anything tangible done next week.

    There have been a lot of studies done on the importance of taking a break. Your productivity, your creativity and your health will all take a negative hit the longer you go without getting away.

    So what do you think about vacations? How many vacations do you take a year? Do you hold yourself to that every year, even when you’re swamped?

    Take care and I’ll see you in a week.

    Shawn Kinkade