Highlighting Rich Hall

Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.

Rich Hall has been a valued member of Silver Fox Advisors since 2020. He currently serves as a Board member, Chair of the Membership Committee, and Facilitator of two CEO Roundtables (The Woodlands area and in partnership with Houston’s Better Business Bureau).

As the founder of Rich Hall Group, he works with small business owners and leaders to help them achieve their vision of success for themselves and their company. He has extensive experience with family-owned businesses looking to grow, transition to the next generation, or prepare for a successful exit.

In addition to his advisory and coaching services, Rich is the proud father of 3 boys, Jeremy, Mark, and Daniel, and husband to his beautiful wife, Jamie. They’re active members of The Woodlands Methodist Church, and parents to pandemic puppies, Bucky and Riley.

If you would like to learn more about Mr. Hall, or Silver Fox Advisors, see our website at www.silverfox.org/directory

Top 5 Mistakes CEO’s Make When Trying to Grow Their Company

I work with a lot of CEO’s and a common trait is the desire to grow their company. Instead of reviewing how to grow, I thought I’d highlight some approaches that DON’T WORK!

Hire more sales people!

I was leading a CEO peer group when I heard a CEO say the solution was easy, “Just hire more sales people”.

If it was ONLY that easy.

Increasing revenue must come from an expanding market, new product or service, new form of lead generation, etc. Simply adding to your sales force will not ensure increased revenue.

Build it and they will come

This is not a baseball field.

Careful thought and planning should go into the product features, market demand, market research, buyer profiles, competitor analysis, etc.

Don’t build something new and hope.

Just work harder

I’ve heard owners say “we’ve got to grow and you’ve got to work harder”….as the CEO departed for happy hour.

How you grow is the responsibility of the owner/CEO and leadership team. Be very careful when you ask team members to work harder. That’s rarely the right answer.

Focus on increasing demand, not working harder.

Buy more social media ads

There are LOTS of gimmicks out there. People will promise leads through Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. by hiring them. Don’t fall for it. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Can you generate leads via social media? Absolutely. It should be part of your growth strategy, depending on the industry you’re in.

If you’re unsure how, hire a reputable advisor to help you better understand how it works and to make recommendations.

Don’t chase the pretty penny

Most small business owners are entrepreneurs that get excited by trying new things. Unfortunately, many put their best and brightest on the new “project” while impacting the ongoing, bill-paying operations.

Consider developing a market research team of 2-3 people. Let them do the research and come back to you with a plan.

This doesn’t mean you don’t pivot when the market changes. A smart CEO always looks forward. Just don’t chase an idea without applying a process and logic to the approach.

Summary

We could probably come up with another 100 items a small business CEO shouldn’t do to grow their company. If you have additional ideas, send me a note at rhall@silverfox.org.

Perfecting the Art of Recruiting Key People

Are you prepared when recruiting key personnel into your organization? 

What is your process? 

Are you sourcing, identifying, and choosing the best candidates or simply choosing from the most available?

Should you be using a recruiting firm or are you sufficiently set up internally to handle this function effectively?  If you use a recruiting firm, make sure you are using one that is ROI focused and delivers prospects that can provide a return on your investment.

Here are seven steps to consider before starting your recruiting process.

  1. Yes, you must have a Job Description
    1. It’s important to know the title, duties, and responsibilities of the person to hire and where they fit into your organization chart.  This is a given.
  • An Extended Company Vision-Mission Statement. 
    • Have a clear vision of the company’s mission, including established goals and the required strategies and tactics of who’s doing what by when to achieve projected results. 
    • An accurately portrayed picture story of where you will be in 10 years adds value to your offering by proving growth opportunities and a security factor.  Know clearly and communicate how this position contributes to your company’s success. 
    • Knowing where you are, where you are going, and having a plan on how to get there is a confidence builder in the minds of desirable candidates. 
  • Your Company’s Value Proposition. 
    • What differentiates your company?  Why should someone consider you and why do current employees work for your company vs. pursuing other opportunity possibilities? 
    • Know the reasons your people work for you and your company and know what they are saying about working in the company.
  • Knowledge of your Company’s current and desired Culture
    • What attributes are you seeking in a candidate that match your company’s culture? 
    • Are you wanting a person who fits your current culture or someone who is a culture creator to help establish best practices for the company’s future direction? 
  • Return on Investment (ROI). 
    • When considering an employee’s cost, know what the return expectations are for hiring them. 
    • Having team members involved in specific strategies and tactics that drive mission goals, they become profit centers for your organization. Employees either make or save money for your company’s operation. 
    • A key personnel attraction and retention feature is employees experiencing a sense of pride, knowing their contributions add value to the growing success of the organization. 
    • Promotional Opportunities – Are they lateral or are they expected to move up the corporate ladder?  What are the performance expectations, the contribution requirements, and how far can they go?
  • Established Agreements
    • When recruiting, discuss critical success factors and key performance indicators required to achieve the company’s objectives and goals. 
    • Your best prospects are those you can establish agreements with on your processes. 
    • As an added benefit, this helps eliminate on-the-job expectation surprises, the ….we didn’t discuss that, after they’ve been hired.
  • Compensation Plan
    • People not only want a cultural environment where they can learn, grow, and feel secure, they want to feel competitively compensated for their contributions. 
    • Make sure they know the What’s In It for Me.  Communicate the career/promotional opportunities along with pay and incentive plans tied to performance results achieved when attracting the desired candidate.

For additional information on recruiting key personnel and/or other strategic questions, give me a call. 

Jim Iden, CPC

713 927 3564

jiden@silverfox.org

Lunch & Learn June 23 Featuring the BBB

At our next Lunch & Learn series event, the BBB will be featured. This year marks the Centennial Celebration for the BBB. To join in the celebration, we will host a panel of three prior Pinnacle Award winners from the BBB.

The Silver fox Advisors are proud of our working relationship with the BBB, serving as the judges for the Circle of Excellence awards each year. BBB member companies submit their stories for inclusion in the annual contest. Winners are then selected in various product and service classes.

At the June 23 Lunch & Learn, you will hear from three of the prior winners. Listen as they describe their journey as small business owners, growing and shaping their brands.

Tickets are on sale now. Visit SilverFox.org/reservations to buy your tickets.

When – June 23, 11:00-1:00

Where – Houston Racquet Club, 10709 Memorial Drive | Houston, TX 77024

Featuring Mary L. Kole

Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.

Mary Kole is the founder of ML Kole, LLC, a consulting practice focused on assisting leaders of public and private companies with the development and implementation of strategies to achieve company or organization objectives. Mary is a professional Business Leadership Mentor, former Chairman, President, and Vice President of Silver Fox Advisors.

According to Silver Fox Advisors founder, Monte Pendleton, “Mary is the most capable person I have mentored in 30 years. She can do anything and do it well”.

If you would like to learn more about Ms. Kole or joining Silver Fox Advisors, visit our website.

Dr. Ken Wells

Featuring Dr. Ken Wells

Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.

Dr. Ken Wells is one of our newest members. He is a seasoned executive with extensive corporate health experience spanning clinical medicine, health benefits, public health, and pharmacy. He is an Army reservist, flight surgeon, and pilot.

Ken serves as Vice-Chair of our CEO Roundtable Committee and an active participant in several of our programs including our recent Lunch & Learn on April 7th when we returned to an in-person gathering at the Houston Racquet Club. Ken joined a panel of other Silver Fox Advisors and updated those in attendance with information about “Hot Topics Facing Business Today.”

If you would like to learn more about Ken or join Silver Fox Advisors, visit our website.

Featuring Member Ibrahim Saleh

Silver Fox Advisors is proud of our members and would like for you to get to know them better.

Ibrahim Saleh is the owner of TaQtics Consulting Group. He works with small to mid-sized businesses with revenues from $1MM to $50MM. Ibrahim has a strong background as a consultant, entrepreneur, and CFO from a 25-year career of leading finance and operational teams.

Ibrahim is Vice-Chair of our Membership Committee and an active participant in the evaluation and onboarding of new members.

If you would like to learn more about Ibrahim or join Silver Fox Advisors, visit our website.

Ibrahim Saleh, Business Advisor

The Entitlement Virus Is Killing Your Company

“Entitlement and privilege corrupt.” — Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale

One quiet Saturday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk at the far end of what I assumed was an empty office with just me there. As I was working, I heard the printer down the hall spitting out documents. I looked at my computer to see that I hadn’t sent anything to the printer. I thought maybe it was malfunctioning, so I decided to take a look. Only one other office had its lights on. I moseyed over to where the printed documents were spitting out to see what was going on.

It turned out that one of my employees was about to resign and start his own company. He was planning to compete against us, and he was making copies of our proprietary business documents. Apparently, he thought he was entitled to take what he wanted. Had I not been there, this employee’s sense of entitlement would have resulted in our confidential information, which I had trusted him with, being taken.

The sad fact is that 95 percent of all companies experience employee “theft” of some kind. It may be as small as employees taking home office supplies, or it could be as serious as millions of dollars embezzled by a trusted bookkeeper.

Entitlement is a Serious Matter for Your Business.

A sense of entitlement thwarts you, your employees, and your company from meeting the challenges of competition and growth. In his transformational, still relevant, 1993 book, Stewardship: Choosing Service over Self-Interest, Author Peter Block writes, “At the heart of entitlement is a belief system that my needs are more important than the business, and that the business exists for my sake.”

I’ve dealt with this issue myself when a downturn in business during the Gulf War made me want to keep my employees at any cost. But, as I learned, the need to nurture familial-type relationships with employees was a double-edged sword.

When I related to my employees as if they were members of my extended family, I made it nearly impossible to hold them accountable for the things I needed from them. That created a terrible model for getting important work done —not only with my longtime employees, but especially with others who had joined later and realized this was a place where you didn’t really have to work very hard, be on time, do what’s promised, or even complete assigned duties with any degree of enthusiasm or integrity.

It took me some real reflection, but I realized, finally, that I was the original source of entitlement in my company – it was my fear, thinking and actions that created it.

What Is Entitlement, and Where Does It Come From?

Anyone who has ever owned or managed a business has likely experienced the impact of entitlement and wondered what to do about it. It’s a covert issue that can be difficult to recognize. Entitlement is most noticeable when leaders appear to be doing everything they can possibly think of to keep their employees satisfied and stay with the company, while those same employees demand more from the employment relationship and then withhold their commitment and performance if they don’t get it.

Entitlement will prevent you from executing your strategy, but it’s merely the symptom of more dangerous underlying conditions. Employees who think they are entitled often believe they are victims of management exploitation or mistreatment. Left unchecked, entitlement can result in covert acts of revenge. Therefore, it’s important to understand what’s at the source of your employees’ entitlement thinking. Your company’s future depends on it.

Patriarchy Is at the Root

Entitlement Virus can be attributed to two issues:

1. The fear of losing, which makes clients, employees, and others more important than the business.

2. A pretense of leadership that claims employees are more important than management, although, in fact, management furtively believes chiefly in its own entitlement. Entitlement is the result of a patriarchal belief system that most of us share—a belief system often designed around financial control and the idea that you must maintain a clear line of authority to operate your business: Entitlement implies that if you’re the boss, you are endowed with special privileges that others don’t have, and it arises when management wants to avoid being seen by employees as taking advantage of the system for their own gain.

Don’t get ahead of me here – there’s more for you to consider…

To believe in your own entitlement as a leader, you must first operate under the (superior) assumption that you’re making all the (mostly financial) sacrifices and that, therefore, you should be entitled to something extra. After all, it is your company. But, at the same time, you are trying to hide that you’re doing exceedingly well financially; you might even become indignant if someone suggested that you were making all the money and not paying others what they “deserve.”

Finally, you might be telling yourself that if employees knew how much you were “raking in” compared to what you pay them, they just might up and leave. All this kind of thinking allows you to prolong the fiction that no such issue exists. And that will come back to bite you because you’re only fooling yourself.

In reality, you ARE entitled to something special. You ought to be making significantly more money than your highest-ranking employee. Why are you trying to justify your salary to yourself? When you have a good year, do you jack up everyone’s salary? No, you don’t do anything of the kind. Instead, you find a way to give people a nice reward along with verbally demonstrated appreciation. And that’s exactly what you should do, not go off half-cocked out of guilt, trying to make it up to others for your good fortune. That’s just another pretense of leadership, and it’s the pretending that is hurting you.

Even if employees come and tell you that they think they should get a raise, having your best year in business doesn’t mean you have to start overpaying employees. Once you overcompensate by raising a salary, you can never bring it back down, if necessary, without consequences.

Who Has the Entitlement Virus, and What Does It Do to Them?

So, to paraphrase my friend Peter Block, the viral ‘meme’ that best encapsulates the Entitlement Virus is “The employees’ needs are more important than the business.” As for who has been infected by this viral thinking, the answer is: business owners/CEOs who are trying to prevent employees from withholding their efforts unless they receive extra perks. Employees will know when you’re trying not to lose business, not lose good employees, not lose your best clients, or not lose face.

Managers who are infected by the Entitlement Virus think they’re doing what’s best for the company by overlooking infractions such as coming in late or taking longer lunch periods. These are the things that my clients complain about most. What’s the big deal with a little tardiness, they ask themselves, or missing a client’s deadline, or helping yourself to a pencil or a pad of paper for your kid’s homework? The answer is the loss of integrity. Little infractions turn into huge issues over time.

But the real cost of ignoring this kind of thinking is that it keeps your organization from operating with integrity. It’s an infected strategy that derails attempts at resolving even the slightest conflicts between you and your employees. When managers believe their own sacrifices entitle them to special benefits, that belief creates feelings of entitlement among the rank and file as well. It’s infectious. Management is the primary source of entitlement thinking, and therefore, only management can transform the negative Entitlement Virus into the positive Empowerment Virus.

The Plan of Attack

To attack the virus of entitlement, take these five steps:

1. First, eliminate the ridiculous conversation that begins, “We’re like family around here.” If I had $100 for every time a CEO told me he or she tried to treat employees like family, I’d be floating on a yacht in the Caribbean. Sure, it sounds good when you say it, and it might seem like it’s desirable to create close relationships because you can make the argument that it feels good to everyone. But the fact remains that most families are somewhat dysfunctional. Why would you want that kind of behavior in your company, too?

All families tend to be patriarchal or matriarchal just by nature. So even with the best of intentions, trying to create a business culture that’s like a family ends up ultimately breeding sibling rivalry, jealousies, and resentments. And as in your family (and in mine, too), accountability is usually absent most of the time.

When employees become familiar with each other, they tend to stop holding each other accountable because nobody wants to step on friends’ or ‘siblings’ toes. Start relating to employees according to their accountability (that is, in the job they hold or the professional role they play) instead of their personality (their privileged position in the company).

The ”vice president of marketing” is an accountability; my Starbucks buddy Anastas isn’t. The big shift usually takes place when you ask employees to make real promises to take real actions and then measure how well they have kept their promises. If they don’t do the job, rather than getting upset, simply be curious. Ask, “What’s missing that kept you from keeping your word?” Then, begin working with the employee to close the performance gap by helping to provide what’s missing. Doing this one thing will cause immense change within your company.

2. Next create a structure for fulfilling promises. When employees know what your vision for your company is and how they contribute to its fulfillment, they can make meaningful promises to take actions that will make a difference on the bottom line. But that requires a different kind of conversation from you as their leader. The first thing to do is knock off all the talk about all your great ideas. Sure, you’re an entrepreneur; you’re going to have great ideas. But you don’t have to blab about them out loud, so stop talking about all the things “we’re going to do” in the future hoping to get employees excited about the future with you. Keep it to yourself, at best it’s confusing.

Focus on your core business issues and start promising the specific measurable actions you are going to take right now. Rather than talking to your employees about what you will do in the future, be an example of what you want from your employees. Managers literally stop the action when they confuse “talking about taking action” with actually taking action. They collapse the two into each other.

For example, you may hold a meeting to talk about how to solve a problem or how you’re going to get a desirable new client, but a week later, you have the same problem because no action has been taken. No one is managing and measuring the promises for taking action; they’re simply “talking about” taking action. So, get into action and hold employees accountable, and then start measuring for what you want. Those are the only things that matter.

More to Come

3. Communicate fully and tell the truth. If you are keeping secrets of any kind in your company (yes, losses, affairs, transgressions, bad behavior toward others), you are building resentment, and feelings of entitlement will emerge. Without truth, employees cannot be expected to act in ways that support your vision.

Instead, they begin to make things up, and what they make up is either not the truth or wrong 99 percent of the time. Do you want that going on in your company? When you withhold information, you teach your employees that withholding is an actual value. Most likely it’s not a value you want. Not fully communicating means you don’t trust anyone with important and sometimes embarrassing information. And if you don’t trust your employees, your employees won’t trust you.

4. Understand that alignment is a leader’s work of art. Years ago, a great coach of mine, taught me that alignment was my principal job as a leader. Nothing moves in an organization unless there is alignment with the vision and mission. Without it, there is no accountability, so no accountability means no alignment. They go hand in hand. You won’t mitigate entitlement if you’re not aligned, and you can’t align if you’re not accountable.

5. Finally, make sure all employees understand that if you can’t count on them to do what they said they’d do, you don’t need them. We hold on to some employees longer than we should. There’s no reason to keep employees who have no intention of keeping their word. But if employees aren’t keeping their word, the first place we need to look is at our relationship to our own word. If what we say and what we do don’t match, people begin to believe it’s not important for them to keep their word, either. You’ll know you have a problem in this area when you notice employees breaking agreements with clients.

When we think we don’t have to keep our word because of our position or rank, we breed the Entitlement Virus. It spreads rapidly and is hard to knock out, even with our best strategies. An entitlement mentality exists, to one degree or another, in every organization. To neutralize it requires that people be put in charge of themselves and be allowed to choose how they will perform. With those privileges come responsibility, accountability, and a purposeful alignment with the vision and mission. However, that presumes that the purpose is well communicated and well understood.

Replacing the Entitlement Virus with the Empowerment Virus

How do we empower? When employees are put in charge of themselves, are told clearly what the purpose of the company is. Or we help define their purpose within the company, when they are allowed to choose how they will perform. Also when they are told that they and their leaders will be held accountable for their actions, they become empowered.

They are responsible for their own future. That creates an Empowerment Virus that employees can transmit and replicate among themselves and that serves as the best counteragent to the Entitlement Virus. Those who won’t commit to accountability tend to self-select out when it’s clear they aren’t on the same path as everyone else.

Your only choice as a leader is to take responsibility for performance and continue to enjoy the benefits of behaving like a conscious leader—or not. Choosing not to perform as promised means you’ll have to accept the consequences of your actions. The Entitlement Virus has the power to prevent any organization from reaching its objectives. When you as the leader can grasp the notion that it begins with you and you are squarely at the source of this issue, you can examine your own conversations around entitlement.

In Summary

To summarize, when managers believe their own sacrifices entitle them to the special benefits of a privileged class, the Entitlement Virus, and feelings of entitlement will show up among your employees. Only by creating awareness of the Entitlement Virus will you be in a position to transform it into the positive ‘Empowerment Virus’ and create a truly winning company.

Dan Prosser is a Houston-based entrepreneur, and CEO of Faster Growth Strategies, LLC, who has built and sold 3 companies. He helps others build and sell their companies. He has extensively researched ‘Best Places to Work’ companies to understand why they do so exceedingly well financially. From that research, he wrote the internationally acclaimed book, ‘Thirteeners: Why Only 13 Percent of Companies Successfully Execute Their Strategy and How Yours Can Be One of Them’. Named one of the top five English language business books at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Energy Security

As the Russia/Ukraine war escalates, oil and gas are really back in the spotlight. The rise in our gasoline prices largely driven by national policy to reduce the use of fossil fuels is now being exacerbated by the ramifications of this Russia/Ukraine conflict on worldwide oil prices. I had mentioned this in my recent blog …

Read more

A Serious PLIGHT of the Business Owners and Execs

In my coaching activities, I have found that there is one common issue present in virtually all of these folks that leads to what I refer to as the 3 Ps:

  • Lower Productivity
  • Lower Profit
  • Lower Peace of mind

What is this roadblock?

CONTROL – it seems that most want too much control over many aspects of their business and other affairs. Often referred to as micromanagers

Almost always, they see others performing certain tasks and their first thought is that they could do it better, faster etc.

This leads to micromanaging, a desire to control too many things. This results in

  • Poor time management – spending time on trivial matters
  • Resistance and resentment from workers who want to do it their way – that are doing their best.

The Need for Control

Unfortunately, this need for control usually carries over to other parts of their life.

They want to be the writer and director of the play that is going on in their daily lives.

But because they cannot control so many things, they lose focus and momentum. Then people resist and the results almost NEVER turn out exactly the way THEY think it should or the way THEY would do it.

Since things are not meeting their expectation, this, in turn, leads to toxic emotions like frustration, which can lead to anger and resentment.

And people DO NOT like to be controlled. Like a dog resisting when you pull their leash. And since people are one of any firm’s most important assets, you need to set the stage for them to succeed and not control them.

Breaking this habit of control is the single biggest breakthrough I have witnessed in business owners that I have coached.

After I point out this issue and the negative consequences outlined above, they are ready to get out of that rut.

They are ready to work ON the business, not IN all the details.

Like right NOW.

Time Usage

They reaffirm what they already know – they should use their time on the highest and best use instead of the minutia that comes from micromanaging – in ALL of their affairs.

But habits are hard to break, so I recommend a process that they repeat over and over until they form a new better habit of “LETTING GO”.

That process is:

  1. I ask that they commit to me and another person, to give up fighting to control people and things
  2. They come to realize that while they engage in that fight, they never or rarely win.
  3. I have them realize the value of peace of mind that comes from accepting people places and things for what they are. In most cases you cannot FIX people and have a minor influenced on other things/situations
  4. They are to carry a copy of the serenity prayer with them and when they become agitated with people or circumstances, they PAUSE and read/think about, the serenity prayer.

A good but simple example is traffic.

 Instead of tensing up and/or shouting, pause and read/think about the serenity prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can.

And the wisdom to know the difference

I have seen this work with many people, myself included.

Their state of calm and peace of mind is immediately apparent and rewarding to them, their coworkers, their family, and friends.

Of course, vastly improved results naturally follow from such freedom. .

Do everyone a HUGE favor, let go of the reins and let the world go around.

Note – This article was written by Howard Rambin, of the MoodyRambin Company. He is a Silver Fox Advisor and is available for consultation, advising, and mentoring.

UPCOMING EVENTS
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