Saturday, May 24, 2008

What can we learn from the Canterbury Crusaders rugby team?

If you haven’t heard of the Canterbury Crusaders, then click here The Canterbury Crusaders are the most successful rugby franchise in Super Rugby based in Christchurch, New Zealand.

You can draw comparisons across many different successful sports teams from the successful Green Bay Packers (NFL) of the 1960’s, the Chicago Bulls (NBA) of the 1990’s, the New York Yankees (MLB), to Manchester United (Football).

When you examine all these teams, all have a couple things in common. A great leader who has vision, stellar management skills, strong meticulous attention to detail and an eye to spot and nurture talent. Add to that a cast of key personnel to execute the vision and plans of the leader.

In Canterbury, they have a successful coach named Robbie Deans who is well known in the rugby world for his professional work ethic, attention to detail, continuous learning and his ‘meritocratic’ culture which moulds his players and extended squad into a ‘no-egos’ culture.

Each and every individual player understands their role in the team and is encouraged to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses to improve their individual performance. Deans then gels his team together through various drills and team sessions to focus and practice the new game-plan he wants to execute in the next match. The systems and culture of excellence that Deans has created within his franchise is reflected in the number of championships he has won.

As the saying goes, a great team will always beat a team of great players.

What does this have to do with business? Tonnes.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you a visionary leader?
  2. Have you employed a great leader to grow your business?
  3. Is your staff smarter than yourself?
  4. Do you have a strong team culture?
  5. Do you have systems within your business that are easy to follow?
  6. Do you have a culture for success?
  7. Do you reward your team/employees with other benefits?
  8. Are you focused on the small details as well as the large ones?
  9. Are you continuously learning and improving yourself and your people?
  10. Is your staff armed with the right knowledge and tools to deliver the results you expect?
  11. Do you measure the outputs of your individual team members?
  12. Do they know their strengths and weaknesses?
  13. Do you know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors?
  14. How focused are your people on achieving the short, medium and long term objectives?
  15. Are you congruent with your message?

These are a couple questions (not in any order of importance) you may want to reflect and chew on. Each situation is different so tailor your initiatives for your specific needs.


The Canterbury Crusaders have just won the right to play in another Super rugby final next weekend and being a one-eyed fan of it’s arch-rival – the Auckland Blues, one can only respect the fantastic work and commitment Robbie Deans has instilled within his franchise.

You may not be a fan of the team but you can sure appreciate great talent in Robbie Deans and his band of Crusaders players.

At the end of the day, it’s the results that will reflect your work and commitment. I have wagered a hard soy skim latte with a friend that the results of next weekend’s final will be another Crusaders win. If I lose, then I know the other team has prepared better than the Crusaders and they will definitely be worthy champions for 2008.

From a coaches point of view, to beat the Crusaders would be equivalent to beating Vince Lombardi and his Packers, Phil Jackson and his Michael Jordan led Bulls, Joe Torre and his Yankees, and Sir Alex Ferguson and his Manchester United team.

Question: How prepared is your business for success?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Do you have a business model that makes no sense?

After attending the CeBit Expo in Sydney 2008 over the last few days, it was apparent that there were some business's whose business models just didn't make sense to me. Your business model is basically how your business makes money. It is a system and a blueprint on how to generate revenue.

One of the industries I found interesting where I found the business model to be weak was in the area of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Don't let the acronym scare you. It is simply a platform on how your voice is transmitted via the internet. All this is invisible to the end-user and the most important thing to note about VoIP in countries like Australia, New Zealand and other countries where data usage is mostly tiered and capped, is monitoring your usage. If you are on a small bandwidth plan, forget about VoIP if you make many calls, downloads and uploads. Stick with your normal telephone service if this is the case.

At Cebit, I found there were many businesses promoting their services in the VoIP area yet felt there was a lot of spin and advertising falsehoods being promoted. Please any expert correct me if I'm wrong with what I'm about to say. Here's the rub. These businesses were promoting, in my opinion, expensive software and hardware to allow people to make calls via the web (ie. VoIP). Most of them promoted their business model through a longterm subscription model namely $X per month depending on what plan you use. I asked all the salespeople that approached me how they could be compete against a FREE product like Skype or Yahoo Messenger?

I can understand possibly a large business procuring hardware and software to take advantage of VoIP technology but surely small to medium sized business can get by on a FREE robust and secure softphone application like Skype or Yahoo Messenger?

I have been using both for several years now and have experienced very few technical issues. Most of my calls are from skype to skype or yahoo to yahoo so they are free. I rarely lose quality in the call as I use broadband and the receiver usually has broadband.

So tell me, how can you beat "free"? why would a small to medium size business need to purchase a new VoIP package and hardware? Wouldn't all I need is a headset and a downloaded free app like Skype or Yahoo?

Maybe Im missing something but I just don't see strong enough reasons for anyone to use an alternative that's not free.

Side note and this is a classic. When I asked the salesperson how they could beat a free zero priced service, their reply: "You only pay $25 per month for etc etc etc and you can do the same". Am I missing something? or is $25 per month cheaper than FREE?

What do you think?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!!!

Happy Mother's Day to all Mothers in the world!!
May you enjoy your day and the next 364 ;-)

Love you Mum/Mom ;-)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Can you jump into your jeans? These guys can!

One of the hottest hits on the Youtube circuit now is the 'uncovered' ad by Levis Strauss where guys literally jump into their pants performing all kinds of stunts and antics to do so.

If buzz/viral marketers were looking to create surreptitious advertising online then Levis Strauss has created a nice template. It is the intersection where Jackass meets ordinary people, outrageous stunts, wow factor, fun, intrigue and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary .

I must warn you though, blatant naked advertising isn't that effective in social media circles. It is too impersonal, formal and for reasons explained they don't quite encapsulate what it takes to get mouths 'wagging' or in this case, 'forwarded'.

As people become more educated and frustrated with the flood of advertising on their senses, the less they want to see it. However, if the ad is highly interactive, relational, and feels less like an ad, the more likely it will succeed.

Check out these guys because in the space of a week, it has been viewed 1.5 million times!!!

Just one thing before I forget: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!! Im sure these got well compensated and possibly a few visits to the doctor and physiotherapist.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

COLES (Australia) - The problem with supermarkets

Why is it when one walks into a supermarket and it seems like an eternity to find what you're looking for? For example, I walked into a Coles supermarket in Sydney and the signs blended into the aisles and it just took too long to navigate throughout the store. I hope Coles cut that interior designer(s) contract short....I doubt it.

As a shopper, when I walk inside a supermarket, I want to have clear visibility of signage to show me where things are, I want to have less clutter in the aisles so that I'm not bumping things over, I want clean shelves, great lighting, dusted products, clean floors, clean shopping carts, working shopping carts with functioning wheels, fresh produce, clean mirrors, fully stacked shelves, friendly service, helpful service, knowledgeable service, smiling staff, I want complimentary products sitting together if possible. For example, if I'm going to make a pasta, is it possible to have the sauces nearby? Is it possible to have recipes next to the items that I'm purchasing? I hope this isn't too much to ask for.

Some of the best supermarket experiences I've ever had has to be Big Fresh (Auckland, NZ), Wholefoods (USA), Woolworths (NZ) and Foodtown (NZ), and Sainsburys (UK).

Poor Coles, not only do they have a interior design problem in their stores, now they are under scrutiny for allegedly ripping people off at the pump. I really do hope Coles gets their act together because competition is great in this market space of food and gas.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

How good is your customer service?

Now this video is a bit old school yet the lessons are timeless. Press play and there might be some great tips there on how to improve your customer services.

5 lessons to make you think about the way we treat people.

Now before you wonder what relevancy does this email below have to do with business, a lot. Although this email has been doing the cyber circuit for a while now, it is still a positive message to be shared. What this email will highlight are these themes:
- respect for people like all your stakeholders (staff, customers, suppliers, partners, creditors, shareholders etc),
- respect for yourself,
- having faith (which we all need in business to succeed),
- paying attention to the details,
- show charity all day every day,
- give more than what is expected,
- going the extra mile,
- and always expect the unexpected,

Have a read and let it simmer. Then work out how you can make a person's day by doing something positive without expecting anything in return. In business, that could be sending your customer to your competition if you don't have what they need, tipping your courier person, giving them a coffee or some food, sharing a smile, complimenting a customer on how they look, what they're wearing, writing a positive message or quote on your shop window or website and more.

Read below:

1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.

During my second month of college, our professor
gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student
and had breezed through the questions until I read
the last one:

'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?'

Surely this was some kind of joke.. I had seen the
cleaning woman several times. She was tall,
dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question
blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if
the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

'Absolutely,' said the professor. 'In your careers,
you will meet many people. All are significant. They
deserve your attention and care, even if all you do
is smile and say 'hello.'

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her
name was Dorothy.

2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain

One night, at 11:3 0 p.m., an older African American
woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway
trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had
broken down and she desperately needed a ride.
Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.
A young white man stopped to help her, generally
unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s.. The man
took her to safety, helped her get assistance and
put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his
address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a
knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a
giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A
special note was attached..

It read:
'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway
the other night. The rain drenched not only my
clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.
Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying
husband's bedside just before he passed away... God
bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,
a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and
sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

'How much is an ice cream sundae?' he asked.

'Fifty cents,' replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled is hand out of his pocket and
studied the coins in it.

'Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?' he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the
waitress was growing impatient.

'Thirty-five cents,' she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

'I'll have the plain ice cream,' he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on
the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice
cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress
came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the
table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,
were two nickels and five pennies..

You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had
to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a
roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if
anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the
king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by
and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the
King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did
anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of
vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the
peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the
stone to the side of the road. After much pushing
and straining, he finally succeeded. After the
peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed
a purse lying in the road where the boulder had
been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note
from the King indicating that the gold was for the
person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The
peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a
hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who
was suffering from a rare & serious disease. Her only
chance of recovery appeared to be a blood
transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had
miraculously survived the same disease and had
developed the antibodies needed to combat the
illness.. The doctor explained the situation to her
little brother, and asked the little boy if he would
be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a
deep breath and saying, 'Yes I'll do it if it will
save her.' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in
bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did,
seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his
face grew pale and his smile faded.

He looked up at the doctor and asked with a
trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away'.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the
doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his
sister all of his blood in order to save her but he had chosen to save her anyway.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hugging always brings a smile to one's face...

.....but be careful. You wouldn't want to do this to a stranger in your place of business as a lot of people like their personal space and may take it as an offence. You may try giving away a free hug to people on a public accessway. Much safer ;-)

Have you hugged a total stranger before? Watch the video below to see how one Australian wanted to make a difference. This is a project that started over a year ago and the creator was also interviewed on the Oprah Show.

I know this doesn't have much to do with business but hey...hugging has everything to do with life.....and besides, its FREE! Reach out and give a hug. ;-)

Friday, May 2, 2008

Smile and the world smiles with you!

What is the power of a smile? A smile shows your friendly, warm, approachable, positive, trustworthy, welcoming, helpful, accessible, you have a good attitude, inviting, responsive, very cordial etc etc.

You try this test with yourself, smile at anyone you see on the street and see how many people smile back. In business, a smile does wonders. It makes your customers feel welcome, it alleviates the tension of their buying decision because they know they can approach you for advice/help. A smile breaks the ice and creates an overall positive customer experience. This positive customer experience is what you as a business owner wants to achieve.

If you have an online business, you smile using positive language in your emails by making your email sound like its from a real person and not a generic mechanistic spiel. Take a template reply and customise it. Ask how people how they are, tell them to have a great day, say you look forward to matching their face with a name one day, tell your customers they have a beautiful name (if they have one that you like), ask your customers if they would like you to call to make it more personable and there are many more friendly compliments and questions.

If you have an internet business, you can smile through your website by having people smiling in your graphics, use colour to create a warm feeling to your site and use language in your copy to relate to your customers.

Ohhh and here's a nice trick to try when you're hiring people to sell your business, smile at the potential job candidate when you first meet them. Try not to look like the boss or get someone you trust to do it. Then watch their reaction. If they smile back at you, then the chances are this candidate will smile at your customers. If they don't smile back, then imagine if you were a customer? Not good.

So get smiling my friends!!

Join our discussion here for your opinions on smiling.