FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW:
Aaron: Hey everybody, welcome to American Small Business Institute. I’m Aaron Konzelman. We’re here today with Ray Seggern.
Ray: Hey Aaron. Thanks for having me, man.
Aaron: Yeah, good to have you.
Ray: Thank you for inviting. I’m a big fan.
Ray: It’s good to be here with you today. Thanks.
Aaron: Yeah, awesome. So now you were saying that your big idea today is actually about ideas, right?
Ray: My big idea and I appreciate the irony-
Ray: My big idea is that ideas are overrated.
Ray: I’ll tell you that this started with a couple of… Actually, there are people that are familiar to the ASBI universe, talking about Jeffrey Eisenberg and Tim Miles, who on the Facebook thread… I think it was Jeff. Maybe it was Jeff and Brian, but somebody floated the idea out that ideas are overrated. That got me to thinking about a quote that I share with my clients very often. In consulting business owners very often in the strategy of figuring out what is the road map to success, what is the strategic plan we sometimes… It’s not that we’re slow learners, it’s that we’re quick forgetters. Okay?
Aaron: Oh, I like that.
Ray: What I find that I tell my clients a lot is that, “It’s not so much that we suffer from a shortage of ideas. What we lack is the focus and the time and the resources to do all the good ideas we’ve already got.”
Aaron: Right, yeah.
Ray: I think that it, for a guy that is a business strategist, for someone who is a business strategist and in the marketing and advertising realm, I think those industries very often are predicated on this is the next big idea and this is the Eureka. All due respect to Archimedes, very often it’s not that we’re missing some aha. You know?
Ray: What it is is had we had the focus and the follow through.
Ray: And allocated resources.
Ray: And stayed diligent and been mindful of our bandwidth to go do all the things that we’ve already sort of cooked up. I have three tips for you.
Ray: That I use with my business owners, so we’ll get you out of here on that. Each one addresses focus, it addresses time, and it addresses resources.
Ray: The first one when it comes to focus is, when we have in my business it’s a monthly strategy meeting, but in various walks of life it could be team meetings, it could be sales meetings, whatever it is, but I limit the agenda to three items. A maximum of three. I call it the rule of ABC – 123. With the tip of the hat to the Jacksons back in the day.
Aaron: Of course.
Ray: Of course. I have found over 15 years of consulting dozens of business owners that when we hop on a call or when we have a meeting, if we’re discussing somewhere between four and 17 items what we really need is more than one meeting, right?
Aaron: Yeah, absolutely.
Ray: And I like the idea that I can juggle two balls pretty well.
Aaron: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ray: I can juggle three. I can keep it going. But when you starting getting four or more it’s a hot mess.
Aaron: Oh, absolutely.
Ray: ABC – 123. Let’s keep a tight focus and we’re going to have some sort of strategy pow wow or sales meeting absolutely three items, not four. And two is even better than three. All right?
Ray: That’s how we would address focus.
Ray: Addressing time. When we get finished with a meeting I’ve discovered a recurring pattern, again it’s not that we’re slow learners, but we’re quick forgetters, and what I would find is we spent 90 minutes talking around this topic and the other and then a lot of the times it’s like everybody is just ready to get off the call, ready to get out the meeting. Do you know what I mean?
Ray: It’s a pressure cooker. What we fail to do very often is get that clarity, that granular clarity of who is doing what and by when.
Aaron: The next step, yeah. Exactly.
Ray: Who is doing what and by when.
Ray: I’ve actually and I’m really more of the intuitive creative brainstormer type in the language of Myers Briggs I’m an ENTP.
Ray: So that big N and that big P tell you I’m the worse guy potentially, essentially to be the guardian clipboard carrying, guardian of boundary border deadline execution.
Ray: But what I found is that before we get up and out of a room or before we get off of a call I’ll say, “Okay, so Aaron is doing this by Friday and Ray is doing this by next Tuesday and then Monica is doing this by next Friday. Did I forget anything?” And then somebody will go, “Oh yeah, well don’t forget that Aaron’s also doing this today.”
Ray: Great, so Ray’s doing this, Aaron’s doing this, Monica’s doing this, and Aaron’s doing this. Did I forget anything?
Ray: The very last thing before everybody is like, “Oh good, thanks for being here today” is a clear declaration of me saying everything everybody is doing.
Aaron: All the marching orders.
Ray: Even if I have to go back and do it five times.
Aaron: Yes, yeah.
Ray: The last thing before there’s a palpable, what is it pregnant pause, the palpable silence before everybody goes, “Nobody is going to add anything to Ray’s list.” And then we go, “Okay, thanks bye.”
Ray: It’s where everybody is clicking out or getting up to go to the bathroom or whatever. Then the third thing when it comes to… So we’ve talked about focus and we’ve talked about time. When it comes to money what I do with my clients is I force us every year to get very granular and specific. A recurring theme when it comes to budget. When it comes to advertising I have a rule of thumb that I call Air Land and Sea. It’s the Army, Navy, and Air Force of your marketing budget. The air is the Air Force, but the air is also the airwaves.
Ray: Anything that’s radio or TV or cable or mass media production goes under the Air Force, the air budget. Okay?
Ray: If you throw the slide up you’ll see then the sea is what? That’s where surfing happen.
Ray: Anything that is relating to the website goes there. Then frankly the land is the catch-all. If it’s not primarily a mass media vehicle or primarily an online vehicle, then if it’s a parade or if it’s postcards, anything that’s boots on the ground is the land, the Army, right?
Aaron: Yes, right.
Ray: What we’re able to do is, if we force that to be the starting point of our planning what we all opt-in, the covenant that we agree is is we’re not going to get knee-jerky along the way.
Ray: Once a year we’ll adjust. Hey, do we need more… Hey, this is the year where we’re going to do a big website overhaul. The sea, the Navy, needs more money this year.
Ray: Then the following year it might be, okay this is the year we go from radio to add a TV station. Now the Air Force needs more money. And what it forces us to do, it actually gives a longitudinal narrative for the companies that we work with. Now, this could be the shorthand between a marketing consultant and a business owner, but it can also just be any business owner could use this in their own shop. It’s just an accountability tool.
Ray: If you do it… This will be the fourth year that I’m doing it with clients and over a longer time horizon what it allows us to do is, is the way we spend our money informs what we’re chasing.
Ray: It gives us a longitudinal narrative-
Aaron: Yeah that’s true.
Ray: Of what’s important to the company.
Ray: Because that’s what we choose to spend our money on.
Aaron: That’s right.
Ray: So Air Land and Sea, Who What When, ABC – 123. You see a recurring theme of threes there Aaron.
Aaron: Love it.
Ray: While ideas are great, it’s not that we suffer from ideas. It’s what we suffer from, what we lack is the focus and the time and the resources to do all the good ideas we already have.
Ray: And that is my big idea for the day.
Aaron: Yes. Love it. Fantastic.
Ray: Thank you Aaron.
Aaron: All right thank you for being with us.
Ray: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
Aaron: Rock and roll. All right, we’ll see you guys next week.