Business Growth Newsletter #186-Consistency, Minimum standards, Six degrees

Sales and marketing Newsletter

Quick notes to help you get more sales and marketing done in less time. . . next week.

In this issue:

– Techniques for FIT
– Being Human
– Random Stuff

Techniques for FIT

  • I’ve written just over 500 of these pithy techniques for FIT, my shorthand for using Individual self-identified strengths to get more work done in less time to spend more time on other things, like chatting. Or painting a room again.
  • Put your best new ideas in front of the people who will use them. Whether it’s a book, a recipe, a service, or process improvement, get out of solitary and bounce the idea off end users because there’s no better sampling method around.
  • Do you think business would collapse if you took three straight months off work in 2020? My in-laws successfully ran Halloween stores decades and as far as I could tell “worked” no more than 9 months a year. What would have to happen for your business to go on hold for extended period of time? What would you do with that time?
  • Others have been down the same road you’re traveling, especially if you look for people who can describe the road from a perspective 1000 feet above it. Who are you talking to that’s “been there, done that?” Mentors/role models are critical for building momentum.

Being Human – Minimum Standards

“…all decisions were objective until the first line of code was written. After that, all decisions were emotional.” Ben Horowitz in “The Hard Thing About Hard Things”


A concept I’ve referred to in the past (Being Human #35Techniques for FIT#130, blog Sunk Costs) is management using minimum acceptable standards. This came up in a call when a CEO mentioned in an off-hand way “and if you can help with that sick to your stomach feeling when you have to fire someone, that’d be great.” The funny thing about his comment is I’ve been there. I’ve been part of some fast-growing businesses where people came and went before I even knew if they had pets. Minimum acceptable standards came from those experiences.

With every action you take there is a desired outcome you’re hoping for. Whether it’s hiring a vendor, hiring an employee, making an investment, buying a company, whatever. We’re pretty good at describing best case scenario good outcomes. Stronger branding, higher quality work, financial returns, an expanded market, etc. We may even do a little “worst case scenario” outcome visioning. There’s nothing wrong with these exercises, but as Ben H. states up top, our objectivity goes out the window once we start doing the work.

Start early

Committing to minimum acceptable standards long before the work begins can help us stay objective. For instance, if we know that a new hire’s first week is the most critical week of their first year we can make plans to make the week amazing. We can also imagine some instances where the first week goes off the rails just a bit. In addition to those planning for success I suggest you take some time and work through, objectively, what the absolute minimum standards for the first week are. Before your manager ever brings this person in, what is the worst first week you’d accept from your team?

This exercise helps you avoid future stomach churn because you can communicate all expectations your management/training team up front. Saying, “I expect this, will be happy with that, and if any of these bad things happen we need to visit,” up front is powerful. However, when I describe this to clients, they tend to look at me like “hmm. . .no way that works.”

The secret

Here’s the secret. You can’t set minimum acceptable standards above what currently happens in your team without consequences. If you say there will be consequences if a new hire goes through an hour waiting for an activity, yet the last two hires think, “Hour? I had to keep myself busy most of the first month!” it won’t be a minimum standard. This is where culture eats strategy, as they say.

Minimums work, but you have to know what your unwritten minimums are before attempting to put new ones in place. It takes time and effort, but in the end, no upset stomachs for all sides. You know what’s expected, your people know what’s expected and you both charge forward confidently.

It works. Good stuff.

Random Stuff


“Easy for you to say.”


I get calls to visit with business people on a regular basis. Most of the time it’s with small businesses that are too small for projects with me. I enjoy visiting with them, however, because more often than not, what they’re doing is more interesting than most of the large businesses I talk to. We sit, we chat, if I can help I offer to do so and if I can’t I offer to think about it because sometimes all it takes is 24 hours for an idea to pop up. This week I met a business owner who would be the ideal business for a friend of mine to introduce to his senior in college. Maybe some magic will happen because she’ll be job hunting in the next 6-9 months.

My friend passes the information along to his daughter, she’s interested, and we’ll arrange an introduction. He asks how I met this guy and I said, “Someone told him I’d be a good person to know because I know a lot of people . . . but I don’t think I know that many people.”

My friend looks at me and it’s clear that I’m doing my “in every head it’s own world” thing again because I forgot to remember that he hates to visit with strangers and is probably the very definition of someone who doesn’t know many people. The anti-six degrees of separation.

“I guess it’s relative?” I say.

He just shakes his head and walks away.


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