CEO Blog

Category Archives: Management

All blog posts by Kevin Dee, Chairman at Eagle — Canada’s premier staffing agency, related to management.

“Why?” Is a Powerful Tool

wHY?There are certain words and phrases that really stand out in business … “Why?’ is certainly one of them.

Why, You might ask?

Right there is a perfect example of the power of this word.  When coupled with the ability AND discipline to actually listen, it will open up a treasure trove of information.

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”   Bernard Baruch

Too many people are too busy talking to be actually learn anything!  Sad … but true.

How many salespeople have you met who just “dump” every reason why anybody ever bought their product or service … without even an attempt to understand WHY you might be interested!

“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.”  Voltaire

How many interviewers ask a question and then take the answer at face value?  Here is the thing,  with every ask of the question “why?” you get another layer deep and that much closer to what you really need to know.

How many times have you just accepted a decision without asking why?  It is truly amazing how many decisions are made without the decision maker really thinking through the reason for the decision.  If they asked themselves “WHY?” then just maybe they would have come up with the right answer.

“A sense of curiosity is nature’s original school of education.”  Smiley Blanton

Steven Covey’s Habit #5 is Seek First to Understand … THEN to be understood.  He knew what he was talking about … how can you provide answers if you don’t really know the question?

If there is ONE thing that you can do to enhance your career it is to be more curious, to ask the question “Why?” … a lot!

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?


10 Signs Your Sales Rep is Struggling

Coaching quote by Ara ParasheghianIn a perfect world a manager will know how well, or not, their salespeople are doing.  They can then help course correct, adjust strategy or provide training in time to ensure that they deliver as expected.

However we rarely operate in a perfect world and one thing salepeople seem to universally good at doing, is hiding their sins!

So … here are ten signs that just maybe your salesperson is not doing as well as they might have you believe.

  1. Lack of Results.  The obvious indicator, but sometimes we don’t get the numbers until too late.  In many cases the numbers are a result of effort done previously, so by the time we have the numbers, the problem has been around for a while!
  2. Lack of activity.  This is a classic.  Very often salespeople who are struggling will be spending more time in the office, more time “researching” prospects and less time selling.
  3. Lack of relationships.  Great salespeople have a wide network and are always adding to it.  Salespeople can be successful with a small network, but that also makes them vulnerable .. a key contact leaves and suddenly the results go South!  Don’t let your salespeople coast with a few key contacts!
  4. Lack of direction.  The successful salesperson will know exactly what they need to do to keep their success going, the struggling salesperson will seem a little lost, perhaps distracted and not sure where to spend their time.
  5. Lack of facts.  Struggling salespeople will talk in generalities.  “It was a GREAT meeting”, “the client is going to be spending”, or perhaps  “I’m sure things are picking up”.  A little digging, asking very specific questions about detail will uncover the  reality that the salesperson is operating on the “hope and a prayer” plan!
  6. Lack of effort.  Nothing saps energy out of salespeople like a slump.  Just when they should be upping the ante, they are demotivated and not putting in the effort.
  7. Lack of focus.  A struggling salesperson will often go into panic mode, chasing everything rather than executing against a well thought out plan.
  8. Lack of energy.  Related to number 6, but a struggling salesperson might feel the weight of the world on their shoulders.  Their usual energy is not evident and they seem to be slower and less “vital” than usual.
  9. Lack of ideas.  Successful salespeople are creative, and always finding new ways to grow their business.  When a slump hits they might be out of ideas, struggling to find ways to change their situation.
  10. Lack of confidence.  All of the above are manifest in a general lack of confidence, and a need for help … although salespeople are not always good at recognising that they need help or at asking for it!

Early recognition that a salesperson is struggling makes the fix so much easier.  The longer the slump goes on, the harder it is to turn around.

Recognise the signs and work with your salesperson to come up with actions that will change their situation, because as we all know the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” (Thank you Einstein).

Kevin Dee is the founder and Chairman of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Get The Best Return on Your Time

Zig Ziglar on time managementYou work hard.

You have a “To Do” list.

You chop away at that list every day!

You don’t seem to be getting ahead!

You could probably work 24 hours a day and still not clear your list.

“There is nothing less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.”  Peter Drucker

Some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you working on the right things?
  • Do you know what the right things are?
  • Are you getting the best return on your time?
  • Can you delegate?
  • Can you outsource?
  • Can you stop doing some of the things you do?

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.”  Golda Meir

Some thoughts about what it will take:

  • To get where you “need to be” requires FOCUSED effort on the activities that will get you “there”.
  • it requires setting priorities … and focusing on those.
  • It will require a liberal use of the word NO.
  • It will require willpower.
  • It will require discipline.

BUT … You CAN do it!

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?


What Makes a Winner in Sales?

The will to prepare to win .. quote Bear BryantAt the very highest levels of competition the difference between winners and “the rest” can be miniscule!

Sprinters win their races by hundreds of a second!

Soccer matches are very often won by a moment of brilliance out of a ninety minute game.

The same holds true for most sports … the best of the best are distinguished from the rest by incredibly small margins.  Yet the “the rest” are typically able competitors!

AND YET … to the victor goes the spoils.

It is the winners who take the trophies, the glory and their place in history.

Winning is a state of mind that embraces everything you do.”  Bryce Courtenay

It is also true that the winners work hard to attain their position.  It can be argued that all of the competitors work hard … but it would be extremely doubtful that any winners did NOT work hard!

So we can take away one lesson … winners NEED to do the work!

In the more mundane world of business, and in particular in the sales profession, it may not be as dramatic, but there are often still small differences that will decide who wins and who loses.

“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Jim Rohn

A second lesson we might learn from winners is that we need to find those “little things” that can differentiate us from our competition.

In order to find those differentiators you may need to answer questions like these:

  • Do you truly understand the prospect’s business concerns?
  • Do you know what their preferences are?
  • Do you understand their personal motivations?
  • Do you understand your competition?
  • Are you current with your industry’s evolution?   What is changing?  Is technology impacting you?  Are disruptors entering your field?  What is happening elsewhere?
  • Are you putting enough effort into your messages, or are they the same tired stories from 5 years ago?
  • Do you understand where pricing is in  your market, today: because today might be different than last week!
  • Are you continuously investing in your relationships?

“Winning is not everything, but the effort to win is.”  Zig Ziglar

Winning take hard work AND part of that hard work is establishing the reason why a prospect will pick you before the competition.

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Supercharge Your Days

Zig Ziglar quote about using time effectivelyHow good are you at time management?

I have always cited time management as one of my strengths.  I am not afraid of hard work and i have always studied ways to improve my productivity … yet I also believe it is a never ending quest!

Some things I have learned along the way:

    • We can always be more productive.
    • What worked in the past is not necessarily going to work today.
    • With every change in role/job/position comes a need to revisit what works.
    • We forget some things that we used to do.
    • We get a little lazy about some things that used to work for us.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”  Karen Lamb

So, here are some questions you might want to use, in order to do a “check up” on your productivity.

      1. Are you 100% clear about which activities are the highest priority?
      2. Are you spending the majority of your time on those high priority items?
      3. Are you very focused on a few tasks … or are you spread thinly across a lot of tasks?
      4. Do you have goals?  Annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily?
      5. Do you hold yourself accountable for those goals?
      6. Do you change things up when you are not meeting your goals?  (Definition of insanity etc)
      7. Do you use a “To Do” list (as distinct from your notebook (in which of course you capture lots of notes).
      8. Are you passionate about using your calendar?  Keep it up to date?  Schedule everything in it?  Set aside time for yourself in there?
      9. Do you make the most of your travel time? Multiple meetings, reading pile, social media, hand written cards
      10. Do you use checklists?  Great way to remember everything you need to do regularly (we always get distracted, slip our minds, stuff happens)
      11. Do you read some time management  books/articles every now and then … for new ideas.
      12. Do you embrace the technology available to you?  Smartphones/apps/synch with CRM tools and email/calendars etc.

“Don’t count the days, make the days count.”  Muhammed Ali

When we put a big focus on productivity then we find ways to get things done rather than find excuses or procrastinate.

“Days are expensive. When you spend a day you have one less day to spend. So make sure you spend each one wisely.”   Jim Rohn

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

A Peer Group for Motorbiking Business People?

Kevin riding the Tail of the DragonA post I wrote about the power of peer groups prompted a couple of questions about how they work and what really happens.  Some of the interest was specific to the CEO Ride, which is a peer group/conference for business leaders who ride motorcycles.

The typical comment I receive is a sarcastic, “Of course it was a conference !” … inferring that perhaps it was a boondoggle.  For people who have not experienced it I concur that it certainly sounds like just an excuse to ride motorcycles, rather than a business event.  The reality is that I always derive great value from these events, and let me explain that a little.

To get an explanation from the founder, Dwain Deville (Author of the Biker’s Guide to Business), here is a  CEO Ride video that gives a clue to the allure of these events.

One of Dwain’s quotes reads, “I would sooner be on my bike thinking about business than at my desk thinking about riding!”

One of the rides that I attended was in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, near the border with Tennesse and Georgia.  I flew into Atlanta and picked up my rental bike from the Atlanta EagleRider dealership, joined up with four other people and we rode about two and a half hours to our destination, a couple of cabins up in the mountains.

That evening we quickly settled in, opened a few bottles of wine enjoyed some barbequed dinner and got to know each other.    Meeting new and interesting people, who already have two major things in common with me (riding motorbikes and business ownership) is always stimulating.  We learn so much just through these conversations, ranging from how business ownership affects our lives, through how we cope with the stress and how we work on our personal relationships.  These kind of conversations are priceless and we make new friends for life!

The mornings are spent in a more structured format, focusing in on the major business challenges facing the participants and using a methodology developed by Dwain.  Again there is value here because when new eyes are brought to bear on a challenge it can provide new clarity, new ideas and potential solutions.  The mere act of having the discussion in a different setting has value because it makes you think differently.  The bonus here is that even when discussing other people’s challenges it is rare that there is not some relevance to your own world.

Smokey Mountain roads

The afternoons are spent on the bikes, typically four or five hours of riding with perhaps a couple of stops along the way.  The map above shows just a few of the possible rides in the Smokey Mountains.  We rode through the Tail of the Dragon (311 curves in 11 miles) and back.  We rode the Cherohala Highway, Hellbender and many other roads with challenging curves.  Anyone who rides a motorbike knows that while riding there can be no other thoughts in your head, it is a great way to clear the conscious mind and allow the brain to background process important issues.  As leaders, quiet time is tough to find, and bike time is a great way to achieve that same clarity!

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”  Helen Keller

These retreats provide me with time to think about my business, fresh eyes on my business issues, new friends and a great way to recharge the batteries.  That is a pretty good value proposition!  Oh yeah, I get to ride too!

Kevin Dee is the founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Peer Groups are Great Tools for Learning and Support

A problem shared is a problem halvedWhen I started my company I called a couple of friends who also ran their own companies.  I asked them to call a couple of other people and explore the prospect of a monthly gathering of business owners.  We started a “President’s Club” with the objective of learning from, and supporting, each other.  We kept it simple, met after work at someone’s office, brought in sandwiches and discussed the kinds of issues we were facing.  Anything discussed was confidential and for a bunch of years this group gathered on a monthly basis … indeed many are still friends.

Over the years I have belonged to a few different peer groups, all of which have been beneficial.  In recent years I joined a group of CEOs, who happen to have a shared passion for motorcycles.  Once or twice a year I will head out for 4 days with a few of these fellow business leaders and we spend the morning on business discussions, afternoons riding and evenings networking.  Powerful stuff if you generally spend your days tied to a desk dealing with the million and one issues facing any leader on a daily basis.

“Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?”  Voltaire

There are many peer groups for CEOs and business owners however there is no real reason they should be restricted to this group.  The one typical difference for business leaders is that they have no-one to talk with inside the company about some issues.  Other  than that, many of the benefits that business owners enjoy could be beneficial to anyone who formed a group of like minded individuals.  These are the kinds of benefits peer groups provide.

  • Shared experiences.
  • The same kind of problems and issues.
  • A common background .and therefore good understanding and empathy for each other’s situation.
  • A place to be able to discuss concerns perhaps not so easily discussed at work.
  • The benefit of many minds and experiences.
  • The insight into how other companies operate.

“The only source of knowledge is experience.”   Albert Einstein

If you are looking for ways to learn and grow, other than the normal options then perhaps forming a peer group might be of benefit.  Here are a few tips …

  • Invite people like yourself, but from different companies.
  • Get then to invite a few people they know.
  • Determine how big the group should be … probably not more than 12.
  • Work on an agenda … raise issues/determine focus for a meeting/discuss issues/social ending (beer and munchies?)
  • Set rules … confidentiality, attendance expected etc
  • You might consider bringing in speakers, moderators etc.
  • Keep it simple … and cheap.
  • Do regular evaluations (quarterly?) to determine whether it is bringing value, and what could be improved.

Maybe peer groups could be the next big thing in personal development?

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

Independent Thinking

Be yourself. Quote from Mark TwainIt is very easy to be “swayed” by others.

People with strong opinions will share them quickly … and often!  If a couple of people are of the same opinion then there is a momentum, and that can pull others along into a herd mentality.

“Too often we… enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”  John F Kennedy

In the normal course of our daily lives there will be many such moments when this kind of “peer pressure” really doesn’t matter.  It might be about mundane things like characters on a TV show, or which color of beige is best on the wall (really … once it is done you will likely not be able to tell the difference!)

Other times it is important to keep your own counsel, understand the situation and make your own call.

If you are in a leadership role, or aspire to be in a leadership role it will be important that you demonstrate an ability to make sound decisions, and the fortitude to not be swayed by popular opinion.  That does not mean being inflexible; it does mean making measured decisions and informed opinions.

The herd mentality is rarely a good way to reach important decisions.  The “herd people” are typically loud, opinionated, easily influenced and see only one side.

Ask lots of questions.

Try to understand the situation objectively.

Don’t leap to conclusions.

Block out the “herd people” … you already know who they are.

Make a habit of thinking for yourself, not just taking a story at face value!

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  Aristotle

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?


Give Help Unconditionally

Plant trees you don't expect to sit underOne of the things that I have learned in life is that giving is a good thing.

It could be giving money or time to a good cause.

It could be giving advice or counsel to someone looking to me for advice.

It could be helping an entrepreneur out with some ideas or contacts.

There are many ways to give.

There does not always need to be a quid pro quo.  I give that help with no expectation of a return.

Some people always expect something in return, and while that is for them to decide, I would suggest that life has a way of paying us back for our good deeds.

Take a leap of faith and help people whenever you can, and do it unconditionally.
It feels good … and your life will be enriched just by doing it.  Anything else is just gravy!

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  Mohammed Ali

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?

The Devil is in the Details

Details quote by Stephen BrewsterEvery venture will depend upon a sufficient level of detail in order to be successful.

This applies whether you are talking about a home hobby project or your new business venture.

So my advice to the budding entrepreneur, new manager or really anyone trying to accomplish something significant, is as follows …

You MUST engage your brain to think things through at a sufficient level of detail!

You MUST apply the required amount of rigor … paying attention to the details.

You MUST be willing to make things happen … which means  taking ACTION!

You MUST put in the required effort … because it takes HARD WORK to do things the right way!

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”  Beverly Sills

There will be MANY who view this as obvious but there are relatively FEW who are willing to actually do it!

Kevin Dee is founder of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
Want to know where Canada’s hot jobs are?   Visit the Eagle Job Board!
Have you tried Eagle’s (very cost effective) Virtual Recruiter service?