Leaders plan – even in the shower

Jerry Bellune’s January 2019 Leadership Letter

January is always a good time of year for entrepreneurs to look back – and ahead.
Take a look at the goals you set last year. I did and was surprised that half are undone.
Sure, many other opportunities came along and we jumped on them.
As to the unmet goals, we just ran out of time – not desire or energy.
Those go on the 2019 goal list or, if no long valid, go into the dustbin of history.
How’s that for a fancy phrase?
If you aren’t holding yourself accountable, you can bet your colleagues and family are.
Friend and fellow entrepreneur Ruth King advises us to plan and track our results.
Ruth suggests investing at least 15 minutes a day to planning and tracking. Where do you get that? Try:
• 7 minutes in the shower. That’s half the day’s 15 minutes.
• Close your door, shut off your phone, and research for 15 minutes, but at slower times of the day
• Stay home and think. You will begin to enjoy the quiet.
• Plan while you are walking your dog. 
Ruth walks Blackie. I walk Gypsy and Scoop. Or they walk me.
• Get your kids involved. They hear you talk about business and you’ll make them feel like grown-ups when you ask for their opinions. They may come up with ideas you would never think of.
Here are 3 goals at our newspaper and book publishing business you can adapt to your own operation:
1. Lower payroll to 35% of total expense.
2. Cut other expenses we can control by 5%.
3. Raise net profit 5%
Your Leadership Challenge
1. Can I make walking the dog and time in the shower more productive this year?
2. What can we do to improve and track our profits in specific revenue areas?
3. What can we do to lower and track our payroll and other expenses this year?

January Takeaway. Great leaders are entrepreneurs at heart. If you aspire to be one, order “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” In it 11 entrepreneurs share their strategies. Be among the first to receive the book. Purchase digital copies through Amazon by clicking here. Get your autographed copies by calling 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com .

What’s your Thanksgiving strategy?

Jerry Bellune’s November 2018 Leadership Letter

When our kids were young we took them to Disney World.
It was an experience for our kids. It became an investment in my own leadership education.
I saw how the Disney “cast members” treated us … and their respect and affection for each other.
Bruce Jones of the Disney Institute recommends the Golden Rule as your team’s gold standard,
Jones says, “At Disney, we believe the extent to which you genuinely care for your employees is the same extent to which they will care for your customers and one another. We are walking billboards for caring for all our customers, those who pay us and those we pay.
Leaders who learn about their team members’ cares and concerns, interests and goals can better show recognition and appreciation in ways that will count with each one. That goes for our customers, too.
Employees who feel personally cared for are more likely to care for our customers and colleagues.
Jones says that at Disney they have created a “caring” strategy to:
1. Find as many ways as practical to show genuine care for their people. This doesn’t cost lots of money. Their cast members don’t expect elaborate gestures. They want to know the boss cares about them individually.
2. Practice intentional listening. When your team members know you will listen to them, they feel a tremendous sense of worth. It builds their self-esteem and confidence in you. Ask them what they think about problems that arise or new opportunities that present themselves. Listen and respond to what they say.
3. Make daily work as hassle-free as possible. Find out what holds them back or makes their jobs more difficult. Resolving even minor annoyances can have a major impact on their morale.
4. Encourage member-to-member caring. Team members can support each other. Team members who show their genuine care to one another create a strong sense of community.
For example, our bookkeeper and subscription manager work side by side. They back each other in answering phones, waiting on walk-in customers, proofing pages and other tasks. They look out for each other.
Team building isn’t achieved overnight or easily maintained. We have to work at it consistently.
Practicing the Golden Rule helps keep us alert to what others want and how they feel. Showing our “love” is one of our best investments and will pay great dividends.
Make this Thanksgiving your reminder to give thanks for your teammates each and every day.

Your Leadership Challenge

1. Make a list for each of your team members of 3 ways you can show each that you care for them.
2. List what they can do to qualify for each of these rewards or recognitions.
3. List ways you can show your own member-to-member caring as a role model for them.

November Takeaway.

Great leaders are entrepreneurs at heart. If you aspire to be one, order “Maverick Entrepreneurs’ Million Dollar Strategies.” In it 11 entrepreneurs share their strategies. Be among the first to receive the book in December. Advance orders for $20 autographed copies are available at 803-359-7633 or email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

October 2018 Leadership Letter: Leaders lead by example

Years ago, one of our employees gave me a wake up call.
She told my wife  I was too moody. My wife wisely passed this along to me.
I had always thought of myself as a can-do over-achiever who had found his ideal career.
I loved what I did and appreciated the support of our team. Was I moody?
Our production manager was a woman who spoke her mind.
Whenever I left written comments on an error in our newspapers, she called them “snot-grams,”
It was a wake up call.
I appreciated her candor. What was she to do after the paper was printed?
I quit writing them and started checking our pages carefully before they went to press.
I realized that I could have handled this in a positive way by talking with her rather than leaving snot-grams.
Leaders often may be unaware of how their behavior is perceived by and affects others.
Our friend Andrea Nierenberg recently sent some pointers on sales for young sales people.
It was from Marty Rubin, a veteran of over 60 years of selling on the road.
Marty shows young sales people how to conduct themselves to become exceptional.
Any leader can benefit from Marty’s points. Leaders are, after all, in sales to sell their ideas and themselves.
If our people don’t trust, respect and appreciate what we do for them, we aren’t much good as their leaders,
Marty says his “old fashioned” tips will make any of us exceptional.
1. Smile.  It makes people react favorably. It is an introduction, a compliment and an ice-breaker.
2. Make eye contact. It compliments others and acknowledges their value when you look and listen to them.
3. Stand up and sit up straight and tall even if you are 5’ 2. or 6’ 7.
When you appear confident and interested in them you send a message that says “I am a person of value.”
4. Shake hands firmly – not like a dead fish – or crush any bones. This projects confidence.
5. Dress appropriately for any occasion.  Always be neat, clean and acceptable.
6. Control your body language. Appear relaxed and confident.
7. Make them feel welcome, especially if you are in a host role.
8. Greet them as if you genuinely care about them.
9. Never complain or offer excuses. If you mess up – and we all do – admit it, apologize and move on.
10. Remember their names. Ask it, repeat it, ask for the spelling if it’s unusual. That helps your recall.
Dale Carnegie wrote, “the sweetest sound anyone enjoys hearing is the sound of their own name.”
Marty advises us to make a commitment to remember names whether business or social and use them.
Greet people by name and inject their name in your conversation.
Unconsciously those people will like you more because you clearly respect them.
Your Leadership Challenge
1. What am I doing that my people may interpret as negative, bossy or dispiriting?
2. How can I turn all corrective measures into positive learning experiences for them?
3. How many ways can I come up with to show my team members they are appreciated?
October Takeaway. The above is from “Lead People, Manage Things: Volume 1.” Would you like to order autographed copies of the book for your people as a discussion guide on leadership this year? They also make great holiday gifts for your people. For special bulk order rates, email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

In a crisis, what should leaders do?

Jerry Bellune’s 
September 2018 Leadership Letter
I was a rookie infantryman in Korea the day IBM founder Thomas Watson Sr. died.
The long Korean winter snows had vanished and the hot, humid summer had begun.
I recall reading in Stars and Stripes, our military newspaper, about Watson’s death of a heart attack at age 82.
It was years before I would realize the significance of his life and the leadership lessons he taught.Watson and his son, Tom, Jr., had built one of the world’s most advanced technology companies.
At International Business Machines, they had built a culture of education, customer value and work ethic.
They never fired anyone. If you made in through their screening and landed a job, you never had to worry about that.
They believed that when you treat your people well, they will treat your customers well.It worked for the Watsons. In his time, Tom, Sr., had become known as “the world’s greatest salesman.”
As a leader, if you think you aren’t in sales, you’re wrong. As a leader you must sell your vision to your people.
If they believe in you and the products ad services you offer, they will sell with confidence and all of you will succeed.
The Watsons believed in the knowledge industry IBM was leading and the vale of education and thought.
They didn’t call it this but I like to think of their creed was “Don’t just do something stupid. Think about it first.”One of my favorite leadership stories about Tom Sr. was about a young Harvard MBA grad he hired.
The young man, filled with confidence, came up with what he thought was a bright idea, and sold it to the Watsons.
They thought it good, too, invested a million dollars (probably worth 10 times that now) but the product’s sales fizzled.
The market either wasn’t ready for it, saw little value in it or tried it and was not impressed with the results.The young man was crushed. He painfully typed – on an IBM electric typewriter – his resignation letter.
Watson read it and in front of the young man tore it up.
The letter writers was shocked.
“We just invested a million dollars in your education,” Watson said. “Get out there and bring me another bright idea.”In  meeting with fellow salesmen, Watson became frustrated by their lack of good ideas.
“The trouble with every one of us is that we don’t think enough,” he told them.
“Knowledge is the result of thought, and thought is the keynote of success in this business or any business.”
Note that he said “The trouble with everyone of us.” He did not say, “The trouble with you.”
Watson knew the value of inclusion. He never pointed fingers. If something failed, he took the blame.
Watson knew the power of two words, “we”? and ”us.” He never separated himself for the responsibility to succeed.I once worked for a publisher who could do no wrong – in his own mind. If it failed, it was someone else’s fault.
He was quick to blame and quicker to take credit. I didn’t work for him any longer than it took to find a better boss.
What’s your attitude towards your people. Do they work “with” or “for” you? And do you work for them?
Your Leadership Challenge
1. What must you do to adopt a more inclusive leadership style and hold yourself accountable?
2. What’s your first reaction  in a crises? Leap into action? Or pause long enough to make a decision?
3. How can you encourage your colleagues to look for more thoughtful solutions to problems?
September Takeaway. The above is from “Lead People, Manage Things: Volume 3.” Would you like to order autographed copies of my leadership books for your people as a discussion guide on leadership this year? For special bulk order rates, email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

Help wanted: Contrarians needed

When he first joined the Marine Corps in 1975, Robert Neller’s commanding officer named him president of the “I don’t see why” club.
Neller questioned everything.
That doesn’t go over well in the tradition-bound US Marines. They have been doing what they do successfully since George Washington was pruning cherry trees.
Neller had it tough rising in the ranks.
“I was always the guy tossing the metaphorical Molotov cocktail,” Gen. Neller admits.
It took guts to be a contrarian.
All of us in business need at least one.
They are the ones with the guts to question our decisions, find chinks on our armor and save us from doing something stupid and expensive we may regret.
I’ll bet you have at least one on your team at work and probably at home, too.
Many of us are married to one.
Count your blessings.
They can save us from bad judgments and costly mistakes.
The executives at SC Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper could have used a Robert Neller.
They hired incompetent contractors to build a pair of multi-billion dollar nuclear reactors,
They had no plan, no schedule or penalties for cost overruns and expensive delays in finishing the job.
Robert Neller would have raised red flags.
How do you encourage contrarians?
It’s not easy. Listen to and show respect to them.
Let your people see your show of respect.
It may encourage more timid ones to raise questions.
For a complimentary digital copy of “Uncover Your Inner Sales Genius,” email JerryBellune@yahoo.com

27 words leaders should use

The July 2018 Leadership Letter

As a young editor, my boss would often wave an early edition and demand, “Who wrote this headline?”
Other editors would hunker down, glad that it wasn’t one of their headlines that provoked his wrath.
If it was one I wrote, I would admit it.
Was the ax going to fall and I would be looking for other work?
“Great headline,” he would say. “Thank you.”
Other editors would say nothing but I could coast a week on his words.

Leaders often forget how powerful praise can be — and the example it sets.

Leadership expert Ron Edmondson says our goals should be to encourage, strengthen and challenge our people.
Just as cheerleaders rouse fans at games, we should use our influence to bring out the best in others.
Much of this is done by the things we say and do.
It is why I started writing a “Thursday Morning Quarterback” email to praise good work in our newspapers.
\When I was busy with other projects I let it lapse until a colleague reminded me.
“All of us look forward to it,” she said. Had she said nothing, I would not have started wiring it again,
Edmundson recommends intentionally using 27 words with our people.
 Thank you. Two of the most powerful words in our language and often the most appreciated.
• I believe in you. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. As leaders, we should surround ourselves with people we believe in. Tell them.
• You are an asset. Let them know they make a difference. One of the best ways to do this is by bragging on people when they do something well in front of the rest of the team. Even the most introverted person enjoys this kind of recognition.
• I’ll support you. Empowering leaders encourage their people to step out on their own. When they take risks for the benefit of the team, they need to know you have their backs – even when mistakes are made.
• Great job. If they did well, tell them. Celebrate wins to encourage the team to strive for more wins.
• I’ll help you reach your goals. This could even mean losing them but it protects their loyalty while they are with you. They are willing to work with you because they know you won’t attempt to hold them back from their goals.
• I respect you. What is it that impresses you about your team members? What do they uniquely add? Tell them. There’s power in this.
• I trust you. This requires more than words. You’ll have to prove it with your actions. But, when a team member feels trusted by the leader they are more willing to take risks. They will have more loyalty to the leader — trusting the leader in return. They will be more likely to overlook the days you aren’t leading quite as well.
You may not be able to use these phrases every day. Don’t overuse them. They need to be genuine, heartfelt and honest. These aren’t to be used every week but they will help you build a better team.
Any phrases you would add?

Your Leadership Challenge

1. What steps must you take to be more encouraging as a leader?
2. How can you build their confidence and desire to excel?
3. How can you use praise to show your team the performance that’s needed?
July Takeaway. The above is from “Lead People, Manage Things: Volume 1.” Would you like to order autographed copies of the book for your people as a discussion guide on leadership this year? For special bulk order rates, email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com
Jerry Bellune and his family own and operate online and print book, magazine, newspaper and newsletter publishing companies in South Carolina.

3 critical keys to your leadership success

If you are unfamiliar with Napoleon Hill’s teachings, now is the time to start.
Hill wrote a few of the all-time bestselling books on success and leadership including “Think and Grow Rich.” His book is about far more than accumulating wealth. It is about living a richer, fuller life. These three principles are from his book, “MasterKey to Riches.” It sits on my bedside table with a few other motivational books worth reading before sleep.

1. Going the extra mile. This principle takes first priority as it conditions our minds for useful service. My father was an extra mile leader. Most of his patients fortunately could and did pay or our family might have starved to death. He extended credit to those he felt he could trust or who needed his help to be able to work and take care of their own families.
When I was old enough to qualify for a drivers license, he sent me out in his car with a stack of invoices to collect. If I could catch the woman in the house, my chances of collection jumped 50%. That was good because he paid me 10% of what I collected. If the man of the house answered the door, my chances plummeted. I heard every hard luck story these self-proclaimed paupers could invent. I asked my father why he extended credit to these deadbeats. “Because I can help them.” he said. That was my father’s way of going the extra mile.

2. Definiteness of purpose. Make sure that going the extra mile leads toward your major purpose. All of us are born with a purpose but withoiut an owner’s manual. By trial and error, we have to figure out for ourselves what our purposes are. Years ago, two of my friends, Don and Pat, ran a successful sandwich shop in my home town. Don and I ran into each other years later. He was driving a truck. He and Pat, he told me, had sold the shop and been divorced. I was shocked. They had seemed so happy working together as husband and wife. Don told me, without a trace of envy but with some sadness, “You’re lucky. You found what you were meant to do. Pat and I never did.”
As a young writer, my models were Thomas Wolfe, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and other successful writers. A job working for our local newspaper was one way for an English Lit major to sharpen his writing and gain experience of the world, Then something magical happened. I fell in love with journalism. I’ve spent most of my life in it. It became my calling – one of my purposes in life. It has been exciting. I look forward to it every morning.

3. Choosing friends and mentors.
My choices in friends have not always been sound ones. Looking back, there is an important lesson in that. My friends have included a hopelessly romantic poet who became a somewhat successful Shakespearean actor, an alcoholic Army buddy who long ago lost contact and a former publisher who talked a great game but left me to do most of the work. Like Andrew Carnegie I finally smarted up and began to choose better friends. That led to several mentors – coaches, teachers, publishers and CEOs who took a personal interest in me. They taught me not only what life taught them but how to mentor others. Napoleon Hill’s writing led me to the most effective mentoring imaginable. He called it a Master Mind.
Hill learned about it as a young journalist interviewing U.S. Steel chairman Andrew Carnegie, At that time, Carnegie may have been the weakliest man in the world. Yet he had come to America as a penniless lad from Scotland. He talked his way into a job in a steel mill and, with the guidance of successful people, rose through the ranks. He surrounded himself with bright people who helped him solve problems.
Carnegie called it a Master Mind. When two or more minds work together, a third mind  forms. The results are amazing. If you want to learn more about the Master Mind group our small publishing company sponsors, email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

March Takeway. Many fine books have been written about leadership. If you are interested in “Lead People, Manage Things,” I will send you a personally autographed copy for a $25 donation to our adult literacy tutoring program.
Just call Jewel or Katie at 803-359-7633 and give them your mailing address and credit  card number. Copyright 2018 The Bellune Company Inc.

How to work 3-1/2 days a week

Greg Wych’s office manager thought they had a problem.
Phyllis worried about cutting from 4 to 3 1/2 days a week.
“What are you worried about?” he asked.
“You’re making more money, aren’t you?”
Well, yes,” Phyllis admitted.
“Well, quit worrying. We’re just fine.”

How did Greg do this: Make more in less time.
You will learn this and other secrets Friday.

We start at 9:45 a.m. with coffee or tea, your choice.
Chuck, Linda and I will have a sales tip for you.
Then we’ll go to the hot seats.
You pose your challenges to all of us.
We’ll help you turn them into opportunities.
Then lunch and Greg Wych’s secrets.

We’ll be out of there by 1 p.m.
You’ll leave with notes and great ideas.
It can change your business and life.

Bring your best client or best friend.
Just let me know who’s coming with you.
See you Friday morning.

Jerry Bellune’s January 2018 Leadership Letter

Are you a good listener?

My wife occasionally gets on my case — for interviewing people.
When we travel, I talk with cab drivers, tour guides, bellhops, waitresses, cooks, you name it.
When we go out to eat, I learn waiters and waitresses’ life stories.
All of this is fascinating. I’m a journalist, and I like to hear other people’s stories.
My wife is a journalist, too, and she understands.
But some times she feels I’m too interested in others.
“Why don’t we just talk, you and me?” she will ask.
“Fine,” I’ll say. “I’m all ears. What do you want to talk about?”
What I’ve found is that most people welcome questions. No one ever listens to them, they think.
If you are a good listener, they will tell you almost anything, even embarrassing incidents.
That’s an attribute of Level 5 Leadership.

Level 5 Leadership
One of my personal heroes — and a Level 5 leader — was the late Floyd Spence.
Floyd was a retired Navy captain, U.S. Congressman and House National Security Committee chairman.
Floyd was our neighbor in Lexington, SC, and was one of the most modest men I’ve ever known.
His campaign manager urged Floyd in campaigning for re-election to let his constituents know what he was doing for them in Washington.
Floyd would reply that he was more interested in what was on his constituents’ minds.
He never shied from that approach to constituent service throughout a double lung transplant and other health problems that finally ended his life.
Floyd endeared himself to almost everybody in his House district whether they were Democrats or Republicans.
He had an attentive ear and he was always interested in what was on his constituents’ minds.

The Stockdale example
Consider for a moment the story of another Navy hero, Admiral Jim Stockdale.
Stockdale was the highest-ranking U.S. military officer ever shot down and incarcerated in the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War.
During eight years as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese, Stockdale was tortured more than 20 times.
He lived day to day without any rights, not knowing when, if ever, he and the other prisoners would be released. He lived without even the certainty that he would survive to see his family again.
Stockdale did not despair. He shouldered command. He did everything possible to help fellow prisoners survive with spirits unbroken.
He fought an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use him for anti-war propaganda.
He even beat himself with a stool and slashed his face with a razor to disfigure himself so that the enemy could not videotape him as a “well-treated prisoner.”
He exchanged intelligence with his wife through their letters, knowing that if he was discovered, he would be tortured and perhaps killed.
He set up rules to help other prisoners deal with torture. He designed an elaborate internal communications system to help others endure their sense of isolation.
Admiral Stockdale was a Level 5 leader.
What it takes to survive
Which prisoners did not survive? “The optimists,” Stockdale said.
That’s a surprising answer. You would think the optimists would have the attitude to survive.
No, Stockdale said. Unfortunately, the optimists said, “We’ll be out by Christmas.” But Christmas came and went.
So they said, “We’ll be out by Easter.” But Easter came and went.
After a while the optimists lost hope and gave up.
“You must never confuse faith that you will prevail — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be,” Stockdale said.
A Level 5 leader looks reality in the eyes, asks questions until the best solutions are reached and then executes them as if his life depended on it.

When do you eat?
In his celebrated “Up the Organization,” Robert Townsend wrote: “True leadership must be for the benefit of the followers, not the enrichment of the leaders. In combat, officers eat last.”
As chairman of Avis Rent-a-Car, Townsend took his cue from the teaching of Lao-Tzu:
“As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear. And the next, the people hate. When the best leader’s work is done, the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’”
At whatever level of leadership you are in — and that may be as an informal leader, without rank or stripes, but influential among your peers — follow the examples of Floyd Spence, Jim Stockdale and Robert Townsend.
Assess the brutal reality of whatever situation you face, come up with the best solutions, execute the plan with the firm conviction that you will prevail — and take that next step up the ladder to Level 5 leadership.

Your Leadership Challenge
1. What steps must you take to be a more attentive listener as a leader?
2. How can you share the harsh reality of a crisis without lowering your people’s morale?
3. What will it take to follow Lao-Tzu’s example and let your people feel they did it themselves?

January Takeaway. The above is from “Lead People, Manage Things: Volume 1.” Would you like to order autographed copies of the book for your people as a discussion guide on leadership this year? For special bulk order rates, email me at JerryBellune@yahoo.com
Copyright 2017 The Bellune Company Inc.

Jerry Bellune and his family own and operate online and print book, magazine, newspaper and newsletter publishing companies in South Carolina. Write him at JerryBellune@yahoo.com

What Santa recommends

At the North Pole, Santa and Mrs. Claus get the weather channel but that’s all.
That gives him a chance to read a lot.
This month he’s recommending five books he believes you should read in 2018 and give to those important to you this Christmas.
This and eight pages of field-tested marketing, sales, cost control and revenue producing strategies in the attached 2017 December AdVisor.