maybe you don’t get enough leads because you are doing something wrong?

You are doing it wrong

“If you do NOT have an easily generated endless stream of good leads… you are doing it wrong.”
So I was told by someone who clearly knows.

Like most small businesses, most of my good leads come from customer referrals, but, again like most small businesses, that number of referrals alone is not enough to get the amount of sales that I want. Since nearly all of my clients are in the same boat (they are growing businesses that really generate quite some customer referrals, but not enough to hit the growth goals), I decided to start looking for ‘a better and easier way’ to get more good leads. Especially since I find cold or bold calling frustrating activities.

So I started working with this marketing coach from Silicon Valley. He is as far as I can tell in the global top 1% of business coaches, and it felt like drinking from the fire hose…  Not only did I learn a whole new, deeper layer below the marketing reality, and many new pieces of technology and best practices that I had never seen; after a while I started to realize that there was even more. Could it be that the field of marketing itself is moving into a phase of disruption again? Just like Google did to search, and Amazon and Ebay to retail, and Uber to the world of taxi drivers?

“A website with SEO is not that important”

Now the first shocker: I am listening to him delivering a training session where he explains how to create a good ‘lead-magnet’.
“I tend to offer a good template for how you built an effective website with good SEO, because most small business owners think that is what they need the most. We know better of course, a website is not that important compared to your click funnel…

A website is ‘not that important?’!  How could he say that?  Isn’t online marketing a game of who has the slickest, highest ranking website, with many good reviews on review sites, and a good stream of traffic driving social media?
Because isn’t that how we buy now? We hear from you or find you, then look you up online and check your testimonials and reviews before we, if we like your website, contact you? And that if the continuous changes in online marketing are becoming too much for us to keep up with, after all we are only small businesses, we better outsource our marketing to get help from SEO and other marketing agencies that will help us get the leads we need?
Apparently not anymore according to these online marketing gurus?

I have to admit it took quite some time to understand this, but over the months that I have been trying to diligently perform all the steps he wants me to take to build my own effective click funnel it slowly started to click. Didn’t I hear a guy from Google say that ‘Google expects there will be a time that websites will not be that relevant anymore’…?  I always thought that was due to Facebook and its ilk adding more and more functionality, but it suddenly hit me:

I bought from a guy I did not know, did not look up on review sites and I did never look at his website. Yet my first check to him was a 1000 bucks and I was excited about the opportunity.  That was the first time in my life I had acted this way!
When I looked around in his customer community that turned out to be the rule. Over 90% never checked his website, nor online reviews.
Social media activity to draw attention? He has a CLOSED Facebook group for his clients!

And yet nearly ALL his leads come from the Internet! Enough to earn a seven figure income working only a few days a week (I saw his agenda).

Oh, and he is against small businesses outsourcing their marketing. Not until they truly understand marketing and how it is done.

I bought from a guy I did not know, did not look up on review sites and I did never look at his website.

And what type of businesses do I see adopting this new style of marketing? That is the next shocker: maybe you think that it would only work for coaches like me. No, when I check his customer community I see a chiropractor, a lawyer, a tree surgeon, a company that teaches drumming techniques, companies that sell physical things and so on. Just ‘ordinary small businesses’ that want endless leads …

Let’s put an end to this story for now. I learned a lot. “It’s huge” as our new president would say.

I had to redo my website, learn how to write marketing content, change my entire coaching system, and so much more. But it makes sense. Full common sense. This is how marketing works, and why it works.

And on Friday March 31 I will explain what I have learned. Walk you through the new marketing framework and all the templates.  8.30am till 2.00 pm. (first 30 minute is old fashioned networking). Hot Lunch around 11.30 and included. I promise it is all new stuff, and even the way it is presented is new, as that is part of what I am learning and will teach you that day as well.
Do NOT come only a part of the day. This new stuff is like a ladder, and you cannot skip some rungs. Start skipping rungs and the higher up ones fail. If you want an easily generated ‘endless stream of good leads’ then come, if not, I hope to have another topic for you another time.

In abundance,


P.S. There will be more blogs to follow on this topic.

Making your Training Stick

Mid Atlantic Strategic Services Hosts 90 Day Business Challenge with Guest Training Speaker Bruce Wahlgren of Workforce Excellence Group.

Training | Mid Atlantci Srategic Services

Each quarter Mid-Atlantic Strategic Services (MASS) offers its clients an opportunity to come together as a group and evaluate their business taking a look at the past quarter and projecting to the future. The 90 Day Challenge is also built around issues that confront businesses. The upcoming workshop on December 15th will discuss the problems business face training their employees.

“The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave
is to not train the and have them stay” – Zig Ziglar

Guest speaker, Bruce Wahlgren will conduct a highly interactive session where business owners and management staff will learn how to make training more effective.

Wahlgren is the President and lead trainer of Workforce Excellence Group, LLC. Bruce has over 18 years’ experience in training ad development in the public and private sectors. For 13 of those years, he led Maryland’s professional development initiatives for the workforce development system as director of the Maryland Institute for Workforce Excellence.

When funding cuts eliminate “The Institute” in 2011, Wahlgren launched Workforce Excellence Group, LLC with the mission to help people stay on the cutting edge of one’s profession through training facilitation, and coaching. Wahlgren areas of focus include helping employees develop the essential soft-skills one needs to thrive in today’s workplace, and making training more engaging and productive.

Passionate about life-long learning, Wahlgren is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), a Certified Profession Resume Writer (CPRW), a certified Master Trainer for the Workplace Excellence Series soft skill curriculum and a Certified Master Trainer for the 5 Steps to Rapid Employment program. For more information, go to Workforce Excellence Group.

Businesses will discover a simple 4-step process for designing training that you can use in any setting. Experience some simple activities that make training more interactive and memorable. Learn how to avoid “death by PowerPoint,” and how to make your training resonate with the various generations in your workplace, including your millennial employees.

This workshop will be held at the Hampton Inn by Hilton N/Convention Center at 1204 Berryville Avenue in Winchester. The workshop will begin with Rene Hollebrandse, CEO of MASS and Cort Maddox of Silver Line Coaching discussing the TOP 5 questions every business owner should be able to answer!

Mid-Atlantic Strategic Services is the leading business coaching company in the Shenandoah Valley. Hollebrandse has re-written the entire coaching methodology because of all the new insights in marketing and training. The result is the Triple Triad system, which will be introduced at this workshop.

So why a business coach? – “If you are struggling with your business or your business has your personal life out of control, then consider hiring a business coach,” says Maddox of Silver Line Coaching. Business coaching as an industry is growing about 5% a year making it one of the fastest growing industries. “Just as a an athlete will not rely on only himself to become great but searches for the best coach one can find, so a successful business owner recognizes the need for a good business coach.” quotes Hollebrandse.

Perhaps these businesses say it best –


“There are truly no words to describe the impact that Rene’s coaching had upon me and my business. Without Rene’s insight I dare say MPR would not be where it is today. With his guidance, Rene challenge me to examine some of my long-standing beliefs and business practices. I could never enumerate the vast changes that we’ve made at our firm but I can share the most meaningful.,” said Angela Duncan.

“Through Rene’s coaching, MarketPlace REALTY has established Mission, Vision and Core Value statements that guide our every decision and which our Team has embraced. As a result, we are a culture-rich environment with a strong sense of purpose and direction. I can only describe the vibe at MPR as magic and it has everything to do with the expert coaching that I, as Leader of MarketPlace REALTY, realizes through working with Rene Hollebrandse,” said Duncan.

“Like many, when I originally consulted with Rene I was hoping to make more money, in less time by expanding my business.  I stopped, thinking I had learned all that I needed.  Upon returning to Rene’s guidance I have seen my company and my goals grow exponentially.” Jim Ogletree, A+ Handyman, Inc

Register today for the workshop. Special introductory offer to new businesses – $195.00 (savings of $54). Space is limited so register today and address your employee training challenges.

Success is a System

Improve yourself using the Success Matrix

In the previous 10 blogs we described how in order to create success habits, we first must understand the multi-dimensional nature of our thinking. We described eight distinctively different dimensions of the Human Character and posed that we have different ‘Deserve Levels’ on each of them, leading to us being set into a certain behavior. After that, we described changing our thinking from an entirely different angle: the concept of the relative amount of effort that it requires to change our thinking, which we called ‘Identity Iceberg’. Today we will reveal the Success Matrix.

The Success Matrix of Self Improvement

When we combine the 8 Dimensions of Character with the ease of Changing your Self according to the Identity Iceberg concept, we get a matrix that looks like this:

Success Matrix | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services

The Success Matrix is used to identify the best way to address low Deserve Levels.

To change the deserve levels of any of the 8 Dimensions, you need to first find out if you are dealing with something where you can just suffice by teaching or improving of a skill, or that you have to change a belief, or maybe even have to change a value.

Examples of using the Success Matrix

Some examples will make this clear.

Let’s assume we measure that a particular person needs to improve their deserve level in the ‘Connect and Trust’ dimension. If you measure that they are just awkward communicators, send them to a communication skills training.

In the Triple8 Business Coaching Framework that is exactly what we did. Once we learned how to measure where people are with their deserve level in this framework, we mapped about 120 typical ‘Self Help’ strategies to the cells of this matrix.

For example: let’s explore the same dimension of ‘Connect & Trust’, but now on a much deeper level. How about dealing with a couple that really loved each other; but that is on that trajectory where the love and affection between them seems to slowly ‘cool’. The spark is gone. That is a Value issue on the ‘Connect, Like and Trust’ dimension. They still hold to the belief that they love each other, but the value, the importance of that belief, is slowly eroding.

One of the great exercises that address an issue like this is the creation of the gratitude list. Let one partner, maybe even without the other knowing it, for one year, write down one thing every day that they like, appreciate or love about the other…

I can tell you from personal experience, that way before I handed the completed list to my wife, our relation had already dramatically improved. Because of me having to find something positive about her every day, I had started to act much more positive and affectionate to her, and she had responded. But unexpectedly receiving that list was ‘the most beautiful thing you have ever done for me’.

Here is another example, but now on the ‘dimension of growth – beliefs’ cell of this success matrix. One of the tools that you can find in this cell is specifically designed to help business owners understand and change their beliefs. It is called the ‘Entrepreneurial Ladder’.

The Entrepreneurial ladder describe how your beliefs, and therefore actions, will change based on the progress you have made on the entrepreneurial ladder. At the bottom we find the unemployed who believe that they are entitled to things. At the first rank of the ladder we find the employee mindset that believes that hard work is the key to success. Next rank, the Self Employed, is where you have to do everything yourself ‘because if you want it done right, you have to do it yourself’…. Then one rank up we find the ‘Manager’ mindset, where you find the empire builders as everything is about the number of people working for you, as well as managing cash flow. Above the Manager is the ‘Owner’ mindset, which focuses on profit, and improving things. Then there is the Investor, and on top of the ladder, the Entrepreneur that looks to own nothing, but control everything, and where business has become ‘moving paper’.

When you are on a different rank of the actual ladder than in your mind, you will run into problems. It is where you find the managers that are micromanaging, or have to do things themselves as they are still on the self-employed mindset. As coaches we have to move people to the right rank on the ladder in their mind, before they can grow their business.

As coaches we can also run into situations where you have a business that has partners that often seem to disagree with each other. One of the reasons could very well be, that they each are on a different rank of the Entrepreneurial mindset ladder, where addressing that, is then the way to fix that.


You are what you think, your actions follow your thoughts, and ultimately your success in life will follow your thoughts and actions.

One good way to find out how to improve the likelihood of success by addressing your thought patterns, is to measure your deserve levels on each of the 8 dimensions of Character. Once you have decided which dimension you would like to see a higher success level of thinking in, you apply the Identity iceberg principle to find out which skill needs to be added, or what limiting belief needs to be changed, or what value needs to change.

Knowing that there are over one hundred ‘self help’ techniques mapped to this success matrix means that you can be assured that almost any limiting thought pattern can be improved upon.

Success is a system. The question is, do you want to use that system?

Success is being in control of your environment

How much effort will it take to change your Identity?

In the previous 9 blogs we discussed the Dimensions of Character; an eight dimensional structure that explains our thinking patterns. The concept of ‘Deserve Levels’ was explained as well. The relative rank you are willing to give you on each of the Dimensions of Self. We went over how Self Sabotage was the mechanism to keep people stuck at the lower level.
Let’s assume that you get it. That you went through the Triple8 Measurement system to find your Deserve levels. Let’s also say that you want to improve your deserve level at one or more of the eight Dimensions of Character. How do you do that? Where do you start? Can you even change your identity?

The Triple8 model for changing your ‘BE’: Identity Iceberg

Our behavior, the actions people can observe, are really like the tip of an iceberg. The thought patterns that made us act in that particular behavior, are the part of iceberg that is hidden below the waterline.

Changing Identity | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services

Identity Iceberg. We can see your behavior, but your character, how you are wired, is below the waterline.

To address the effort it takes of how to change the thought patterns that make up our identity, just follow this rule: the closer to the surface, the easier to change, the deeper we have to dive, the harder it will be to change the ingrained and over time shaped though patterns that make up your character, your attitude towards your health, and your responses to your environment.


Just below the waterline we find the skills that someone has acquired. It is simple, without certain skills you would never show certain behavior. For example, if you have learned to swim, you are much more willing to go in the water to swim. Therefore, the easiest way to start showing certain type of success behaviors is by learning new skills.

Of course, once you acquire a skill, your beliefs will change as well. When you learned to swim, and you crossed the pool for the first time, you probably build the belief that you can swim to the other side of the pool. After swimming many laps without resting, you developed the belief that you could swim across a pond of a certain size.

In fact, once you get good at a certain skill, there is the likelihood that you actually will like it, which is a change in values.


Below the level of skills we find ‘beliefs’. Beliefs are ‘the things you hold to be true’. You might hold true that ‘Money is the root of all evil’. If that is what you think, you will probably not be so successful in business.

Sandra held to the belief that money was evil. As she was a very independent woman, she had owned a string of businesses that always were hovering around that break-even point, or just below. After coaching her for a while I discovered this belief in the evilness of money. “Your belief is not biblical” I told her. “That text states that the lust for money is the root of evil. The moment money has no power over you, and you see it as a tool, the whole ethical question is about what it is you want to do with it. Having money itself has no ethical value. Your actions what you do with, and motivations to gather the money have.”
Once she accepted that, interestingly enough, her business took off.

So beliefs are ‘what we hold to be true’. This means, that some beliefs can be limiting, others can be liberating.

“If you believe I cannot help you, I indeed cannot help you.”

Beliefs can be changed though! You just need someone to believe in you. Have an event happen that shakes your beliefs. Or pick up the skill that will start to erode certain beliefs about what you can or cannot do.

“I always thought that selling something was a mysterious ‘gift’ that some people are born with, and other just don’t have. Until I got my first sales training that removed the mystery, and explained the psychological process that people go through when they buy something. That was it? Well, then I could learn how to sell. And I did…”


Values are ‘what you hold to be important.’ They are deeper in our iceberg than beliefs, and are therefore harder to change. Let’s get a quick example between a belief and a value:

Do you belief you should obey the laws that the government has set? Probably yes. So, if that is the case, when was the last time you went over the speed limit? If you are like most people, you violate the speed limit very regularly, at least by a little.
Turns out that some laws are more important to you than others…

Values are truly a deeper part of our character set. We all probably believe that we should treat other people well. But how important it is to us, differs for each of us. Some believe only if there is a win – win, others believe that you must treat others well even if you have to take a hit.

Can our values change? Yes, although this is typically a process that takes much longer than changing a skill or a belief. For some extremely deep rooted, and degrading values, it can take years of therapy. However, the good news is, that in the field of business and success, there are many exercises that are designed to crease a certain experience to improve the liberating values of your self esteem, and others to let go of limiting values.

To get a bit more specific, some people have the value set that everything they do must be perfect. As a result, they take too much time to reach perfection. Once you give them certain exercises that make them realize that in many cases 20% of the effort can give 80% of the desired result, and that it is better to move to the next thing first before returning to reach a higher level of perfection, they get much better in letting go of the limiting value that they need perfection in everything before moving on.


At the deepest part of our iceberg we find the DNA part. The hard coded genetic part we are born with.

However, although it is hard to change, even that can be changed up to a point. Yes you are born with a given set of genes, but diet, sleep and exercise can switch some of them on or off. A simple example is Diabetes II. It is almost always related to a form of obesity. Loose the weight, get moving and eat healthy, and in many cases the Diabetes is almost gone, or at least gone dormant. Still, you might say that this is only about health, and not about the intellect you are born with…


Did you know that you have several distinctly different forms of intellect? The ability to pick up certain skills, has besides the quality of your teacher, a lot to do with your genetic profile. But, what many people do not realize is that intellect can show in many different forms. There is the traditional intellect, when we think about the capability to do abstract reasoning and remembering of certain facts and that we express as IQ. But the ability to craft things with your hands is also a form of intellect, as is the capability of a formula 1 driver to hit the brakes while turning into the pit stop, from going 200 miles per hour, and stopping within an inch of the legs of his pit crew that is waiting while standing in an U-shape around the car. These formula 1 drivers will tell you that they ‘know’ exactly where the outside dimensions of their car are, and what their speed and angle of steering at any moment in time is. It is a form of spatial intelligence.

There are two take-away points from this. First off, don’t think you have a lower chance of success if you think your IQ isn’t as high as some of the academically schooled people around you. You are very likely to have a different form of intellect, maybe the capability to easily understand and communicate with people. Find what you are wired to do, and became real good at it is a very simple success principle. Then let others do the things you are not so good at.
Secondly, even if people are potentially wired to do better than you in a certain field, the winner is usually the one who kept going. Once you realize that you never stop learning, and you will continue to hone your skills, you will outperform the people that could have been much better at it. It is the principle behind the fable of the Turtle and the Hare…

Part of the Triple 8 Strategy for Success developed by Rene Hollebrandse, CEO and Business Coach with Mid-Atlantic Strategic Services.  Email for more information.


Success is a being part of something bigger than yourself

Are you driven by a sense of being part of a Greater Purpose?

The conversation I had so far with Estefan had not revealed any surprises. Of course he wanted his business to be successful. How successful? Well, he had two daughters going to college soon, and he would like to pay their full tuition and a car on top of that. Maybe after that, he would like to buy a villa on the Atlantic Coast. All nice, but not too exiting. “So what if you had all the money in the world. What would you do?” I asked him. He was quiet for a moment.
Said: “I don’t know. I would probably visit Mozambique, my father was a doctor in a small clinic there during the war did you know? I always would like to see what place he spend his time those years. Did you know that putting a well in a village there, plus pay a teacher for a year, would only cost a thousand dollars? I think I would adopt one village and do just that.”
“Why would you not adopt a thousand villages? That is only a million.” I asked.
His eyes lit up. “That’s it! To the memory of my father, I am going to adopt one thousand villages will wells and education!”
Estefan’s business took off.
He was now part of a greater purpose.
His drive was coming from the Character Dimension of the ‘Orientation towards the Transcendence’.

Character dimensions 6: Orientation towards the Transcendence

This character dimension has two sub dimensions:

  1. A) Having a Moral Compass
  2. B) Relation with the Higher World, beyond the LAW

Having a moral compass is all about your relationship with the LAW. The inner moral code, but also the laws of the society and profession you are in. Are you ready to break the law, follow it to the letter, or to the spirit?

We find people who disregard any laws at the bottom of this dimension of course, but just above that is another, more tricky category… Have you ever met people that always have the tendency to walk very close to the edge of the law, trying to follow agreements to the letter but not the spirit? Here you will find people who act morally wrong but who will hide behind the letter of the law. It is the type of behavior you see displayed by Lawyers in the courtroom, and is an example of being on the lower part of this character dimension.

In the middle of this ‘having a moral compass’ sub dimension we find very interesting behavior: It can be describe as ‘treat me well and I do the same, but if you don’t…’
Note that in a relationship this deserve level is what is called a ‘dependent giving’ and a ‘dependent love’. It is a love and a relationship with conditions attached to it. In the long term it breaks marriages and relationships.

Character Dimenison 6 | Mid Atlantic Strategic ServicesEnough on how much people try to follow an agreement, let’s focus on the realm beyond the law. The next sub dimension is the Relationship with the world of the Transcendent.

This is the dimension that asks you: Are You God? Meaning, everything revolves around you– Or do you seek to find your place in a Greater Scheme by living for a greater purpose?

At the bottom of this sub dimension we find the egocentric people, at the higher middle we find people who feel part of something bigger and participate somewhat, and at the highest end we find the people who dedicate their life to the ‘cause’. Let’s explain the difference between the higher middle and the top of this dimension with a famous passage from Biblical scripture

Matthew 12:41-44 41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

Mother Theresa was at the highest level of this dimension, but so was Adolf Hitler. Both had a greater purpose by living for a cause bigger than themselves, and both would inspire millions. One for good, one for evil.


Success is your Drive

Your Energy level is the determining factor for your Drive

Thomas was the energetic owner of a small brokerage firm that sourced rare and sometimes dangerous materials for its clients. It was a strange world of heavy regulation, and lots’ of ‘who knows who’ contacts. Three months into coaching Thomas seemed to change.
“I am so tired every day now. I don’t get it. I just went on a vacation, but I dread coming to work. I know I should care about the bad sales, but I cannot be bothered anymore. My drive is gone.”
Something in his story sounded familiar. “Have you visited a doctor?” I asked.
“Why would I, I am just tired.”
“You might have Lyme’s disease. I had a colleague who had the same symptoms as you. Went from high energy to just being miserable.”
So Thomas went and visited the doctor. It turned out, he had Lyme. Since the entire company was carried by his high energy relationships, the company returns took a deep dive…

7th dimension of Character: Energy and Health

In the previous blogs about the ‘dimensions of Self’ far we have discussed 6 dimensions of the inner world of people’s character, but there are two other dimensions of the Human character left to discuss. The first one is the relationship between ‘Body’ and ‘Mind’; your attitude towards your Energy and Health level.

High Energy | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services It is well known that the more people acquire real wealth, the more they are aware of their bodies, whereas for example obesity is far more prevalent under the working poor. And although some of that can be explained by the tragic fact that junk food is subsidized and healthy food is relatively expensive, there is much more to this. Ask someone who just lost a significant amount of weight about how they feel and they will usually respond with an answer like “I have so much more energy now”.

People like attractive, self confident people. Therefore people that feel better and look better will get the better opportunities, and as a result spend even more attention, and money, to how they feel and look. It can become a self reinforcing spiral, both upwards as well as downwards.

And what is drive other than focused energy?

When we speak about this 7th dimension of Energy and Health we are really talking about your Mindset on:

  • Nutrition (and related to that all medication taken),
  • Physical exercise, and
  • Relaxation (sleep and vacation periods).

It is a combination of knowledge and goal setting, discipline (habits), and of maintaining all three fields at their peak performance levels.

That your mind is influenced by your body, and vice versa is of course the basis for Yoga exercises. Just as in any area, success starts with measuring. I have witnessed remarkable comebacks by some business owners who addressed their vitamin D deficiency and suddenly were no longer tired all the time.

Low Energy, no drive yet | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services Rhythms (optimal time to perform)

One often overlooked part in this dimension is that of the natural sleep and rest cycles, the so called circadian rhythms. Besides the needed rest at night, there is a smaller ‘slow down’ period, usually early in the afternoon.

Get weaned of coffee and alcohol for a while, and discover your natural cycles: When is your brain performing at its peak power? In the morning? Or are you ‘an evening person’. What is the best time for you to go to sleep? Once you have found that out, schedule your daily activities around these time periods. Do the ‘busy work’ when you are not at your optimum energy level. Do the (mental) heavy lifting when you are at your peak.

In his world famous work ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’ Noble Prize winner Daniel Kahneman describes how an Israeli study showed that the time of day when judges handled requests for clemency due to good behavior had a major impact on the likelihood that the request was approved. If you were unlucky that your case was handled at the end of the day you were basically always out of luck. Why? The judges were tired, and were not ready to make risky decisions where they could make mistakes. But a case that was handled straight after a break, had a much better chance…

The extra energy that you can put into your important activities, instead of going through the motions, can make the difference between success or mediocrity. It is no wonder that the ads in the ’employee wanted’ section often mention the need for someone with ‘drive’.


Think big in order to have success

Successful people think BIG

A significant percentage of my clients go through the following steps: They hire me as a coach to fix something, and then bring their business to the next level. About two to three years into it, things are wonderful. There is more money than ever, and since the business doesn’t require much day to day involvement anymore, there is loads of time for the family and for playing golf. So they quit coaching. “Thank you for all you have taught me”.
And yet, I know, and they know, they could easily grow their business dramatically beyond this point, with even more money to do great things with, and even more time to do what they want to do. Yet they won’t.
They have grown beyond the point that they are comfortable. They have hit their limits on the fifth character dimension… They just were not willing to think big.

Character dimensions 5: Orientation towards Increase

8 Dimensions of Character | Mid Atlantici Strategic Services

It is Human to have a drive to ‘grow’ into more than you are at any given moment. It is in fact something that many computer games try to explore: they give you a ‘best score’ that you try to beat, to set a new record. This drive towards ‘increase’ is the fifth dimension in our Character. What is put to use; grows (muscle, brains, skills). If you do not put your talents to use, you will lose them in the end (remember the parable in the Bible about burying the talent instead of putting it you use?).

Note the difference with the previous dimension: fixing things also makes things better, but it makes things better that already exist, they are ‘repaired’. Growing things makes things stronger than they originally were. You can be a great problem solver, but not a grower. Managers are typically good ‘maintainers’, while entrepreneurs are ‘growers’. It is the ‘Fixers’ that excel in character dimension 4, vs. the ‘Dreamers’ that excel in character dimension 5.

To ‘score’ really high on this dimension you must

  1. Have a willingness to grow,
  2. master FEAR,
  3. Learn to take risk versus gambling,
  4. Avoid unhealthy growth (also includes no rest, and no celebration of achievement),
  5. put time and money into growth,
  6. invite outside pressure in your life (like a coach, other successful people),
  7. and grow others.

Let’s explore these elements of this dimension where the successful think big.

Having a willingness to grow is the opposite of opposing anything that would risk you getting out of your comfort zone. These are the people that settle for ‘good enough’, versus the people on the other end that believe there is always room to improve. Always have ‘personal bests’ to beat.

The ONLY failure in business is the failure to Participate. Failure, is to stop, or even never start, trying.

Falling down never stopped children from developing. But getting yelled at, criticized, and put down can stop them for life.

The biggest obstacle in this dimension for most people is the concept of FEAR. The fear of what could go wrong if you make the jump into the unknown. The ‘what if I make the wrong decision’, ‘what if it doesn’t work out?’   The fear center in our brain will, when stimulated, create a ‘fight or flight’ thought pattern, and that is why people seem to freeze when they have to make a decision. They hate this feeling. Interestingly enough, when observed under a brain scan, exactly the same part of the brain lights up when confronted with real imminent danger (like being confronted with a huge shark) as when confronted with a decision to take a significant business risk. The shark is real fear, with the business risk is more likely that the fear is more like:

Fear | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services FEAR: False Expectations Appearing Real

‘False expectations appearing real’ is usually the fear of being criticized, ridiculed, or loosing relations. For the fear part in our brain, it is the same as the fear of being eaten alive…

This primitive animal part of our brain was wonderful when we were hunter gatherers who could at any moment change from hunter into the hunted. But for making business decisions it is hopelessly primitive.

Not being able to see the difference between taking a Risk versus Gambling is another flaw in this dimension of character. “It feels good, so I did it” is a gamble. Properly investigating all the pro’s and cons, then weighing them as careful as possible, followed by the rational decision that based on the information you have, this is the right thing to do, is taking a risk. Risks are measured, gambles as gut feelings.
To put it in another way: Risk means you do something that has the possibility to have a bad outcome, and you embrace that possibility and are okay with that. Essential is that you have to put yourself into the position of responsibility. It typically is an expression of a way that was already grown into and learned, but applied to a new way or arena. It happens when a point has been reached where what you are doing can no longer contain what you have become. It is time for the next step.

Gambling is when you have never done a deal of any kind, or only a few, and yet you bet the farm and the family’s security on somehow hitting it big.

People who grow are not afraid of getting into a position of exposure, but they are not stupid and risk in increments. Start small, master that, and move to the next step. If someone cannot take the negative outcome, it is a wish, a gamble.

I coached a transportation company. One day I was told they had decided to acquire a small competitor, mainly to take over their big truck. The thing was old, and on the long distance, interstate trips, tended to break down a lot. The costs of repairs ate more than all gross profit it brought in.
Acquiring that company was done on a gamble. It was never thought through how a 25 year old truck with an unknown maintenance record would hold up on trips of several thousand miles. Price increases that I suggested, as the margins looked horrible, were ignored for a long time as “I just feel that our clients will not accept that”.
The owner loved to grow and thought big, but these types of gambles, acting on gut feelings with no data to support the decision kept happening, and played a big role in the demise of the company. By then I had given up to be their coach.

Unhealthy growth is when growth becomes a world on itself. No rest, no play time, always that feeling of ‘never enough’. It is the type of people that can actually build an empire, but with a wake of broken personal relationships left behind, as everything, including every waking hour, has to be sacrificed on the altar of further growth. Once a goal, or a nice toy, is acquired, it immediately loses the attraction it once head. There is the next thing that is not acquired yet.
In biology we call unhealthy growth for the sake of growth ’cancer’. It can be the cause of a burn out.

Therefore, one end of the extreme in this dimension is the lack of motivation; the other end is the driven personality that gets never ‘there’, because there is no ‘there’ that is good enough to be of value. Related to this is the capability to rest and recreate. There is a reason why the concept of the Sabbath exists since ancient times! Some people are incapable of rest, to feel good about themselves they have to be constantly producing, if they don’t, unresolved conflicts emerge, feelings of emptiness, fear and other bothersome states bubble to the surface.. Since they struggle to regenerate, they will ultimately become linear until even that cannot be maintained anymore.

Of course there are people who agree with all of the above. They will assure you that they want to grow, learn new skills, and reach higher targets. But the moment you ask how much time and money they are willing to invest in reaching these new heights it gets quiet.
Putting money into growth? What? These courses are expensive! Hiring a business coach? Of course I like to grow, but that is a great commitment. I wait a while till I have more time and money to spend.”

It is like a patient that states that he wants to get well first before he can visit the doctor. If you take a look at your calendar does it show that you have the courage to leave it all to develop yourself? Meaning, have you reserved times away from the firefighting and making money now to work on your futre?

Growth needs energy infusion & it needs a force or principle that shapes its growth. Inviting outside pressure in your life is therefore a sure way to grow. Think about it, when you had a boss who was looking over your shoulder, where you working harder than when he was not in the room? In some ways, inviting this outside pressure is like the dimension of truth, it creates awareness that things can improve. Technically this topic belongs in the 8th dimension of BE, ‘your environment’, so let’s get to the point here. One of the best suggestions you can give anyone who wants to be more successful is: ‘Surround yourself with more successful people.’

Do you only talk to people who believe as you do? Someone who thinks he ‘knows it all’, who is not exposed to new experiences and sources of growth, is caught in a ‘closed’ system: no new energy.

The number one reason for lack of growth in people’s lives is the absence of joining forces outside themselves who push them to grow – instead, they keep telling themselves that they will somehow by willpower or commitment, make themselves grow. That never works.

Get a coach, join a group, get a counselor, get into a community of growth

Successful people Place themselves in situations that demand more of them than they can deliver

Lastly, the drive to grow others is part of the higher level of achievement in this character dimension. True leadership is when you grow other leaders. And the longest lasting success in any organization is when the great leader grew other leaders. It is one of the strongest sign of someone fits the ‘Think Big’ category.

This focus on others will start to blend with the sixth dimension of character, the dimension of Transcendence, which will be the topic of our next blog.

Success is Embrace Adversity

Embrace the Negative

I had one client where I ultimately had to end our coaching relationship. Adversity had hit the business and it was bleeding. We found out that a major reason was his highly paid, non performing brother who worked in the business. Not only was spending the salary on this brother a waste, the negative example that his brother did set in the organization was killing the morale and culture in the company, leading to even more problems.
“So I have to let him go…” concluded my client, finally.
“Yes, if you want to bring some money home for your family to live on… You will yes. When will you tell him?”
“I will have it done by next week.”

For two months this conversation repeated, and the business bled more and more. Yet he never let his brother go. He promised to, but never get to actually deal with the adversity of confronting his brother.

No matter how often we role-played how the conversation would go, he could not confront this particular problem. I fired him as a client, and three months later the business closed its doors. The brother still present…


Character dimension 4: to Embrace the Negative and Confronting Problems well

In our discussion on the elements that make up a success driven character, we have reached the fourth of the character dimensions. This dimension is about the

embrace negativity | Mid Atlantic Business Services capability to

  • Embrace the Negative
  • And Confront Problems Well

Some would say, this is the dimension of the ‘Fixers’, people that are excellent troubleshooters.

Embracing the negative

Have you ever postponed going to the doctor? Or going to the dentist?

Ever avoided looking at the scales?

Have you ever met someone who goes in hiding when things go wrong?

Do you know why this is? It is because our normal tendency is to enjoy our comfort zone. To do whatever is most comfortable, even if it is not going to get you to ‘profit’ (whatever that is). The living in the NOW is more important than the results of your behavior in the future.

This procrastination is a sign of having a weaker deserve level in this character dimension. Whereas people with a high deserve level are good at ‘Embracing the Negative’.

What does this ‘Embracing the Negative’ mean?
It is about your ability, habit in fact, to find out what is going on, own it, and know how to confront the problems without leaving a trail of dead bodies in your wake.

  1. This character dimension is all about how well you can ignore your own comfort zone when confronted with something negative (known as ‘being above the line’),
  2. how quickly you can recover of emotional setbacks and
  3. how well you can disconnect person from results.

For those who are leaders, being strong in this dimension is essential: the leaders who are respected are the ones who can be depended on to deal with things directly and competently. The leaders who ignore the elephant in the room by avoiding to deal clearly and decisively with a person that is hurtful (to others or the organization) loose the confidence and respect of the others in the team.

A good sign of being strong in this character dimension is the habit to ‘actively seek out the negative in order to resolve it’.

This reminds us of ‘Murphy’s law’. The infamous Edward Murphy is supposed to have said that ‘Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.’ What people forget though, is that there are two ways to deal with this ‘law’. You can sour and hide behind it, from the perspective of ‘see, I told you it will go wrong’, or deal with it the way Murphy’s colleague Stapp would later describe it: because of this, you will go through all the possibilities on how things can happen the wrong way, and then act to counter them.
The sour, ‘see I told you’ is a low level of thinking in this dimension, the ‘let’s go through all the bad scenarios and prevent them from happening’ is at the higher end of this dimension.

Another important part of this ‘Embracing the Adversity’ dimension is ‘the ability to recover quickly’ (regain functioning after being dealt a heavy mental loss) versus the behavior of some people who go in hiding when things go wrong.
Did you know that one of the best predictors of a successful marriage is the couple’s ability to recover from a disconnection, conflict or problem?

Lastly, besides the drive to address the negative, and the ability to recover from bad events, the truly successful are to disconnect the person from the results: high achievers do not derive their sense of who they are or how they feel, from the outcomes of their performance. Results are the results, the self is the self.

In other words, when something goes wrong, admit your role, but don’t shift to self blame, as that depowers your drive to deal with it better if there would be a next time.

The Ability to ‘Confront’ well

– Lack of confrontation, often leaves a mess.

As business coaches we often have to tell our clients:
“You get what you tolerate”

– Doing a confrontation not well, will also leave a mess. The combative, angry, critical or demeaning confronter does not solve problems: he or she usually drives problems more deeply into hiding by creating an atmosphere of fear rather than resolution.

– To confront well, your truth side of your character must be integrated with the loving (caring) side of your character. Confront the problem but in a way that preserves the relationship and the person. Deviate on one or the other side and the problem might get worse.

Confrontation: Go hard on the Issue, but soft on the person

Confrontation | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services And remember, ‘honesty without love, is not integrity’. Yes, you have to present people the honest facts about their behavior, even if that is painful. But if you do that without love, you will only tear down, not build up.

Note that to do a successful confrontation; you need the ability to let bad things go as well.[1]

In fact this whole part of character integrity, ‘how to do confrontations well’ can almost be reduced to ‘the more you care about the results of the confrontation, the better the confrontation will be’.

The more you care about the results of the confrontation, the better the confrontation will be.

One of the best things you can do before going into a confrontation is to ask “what do I want to happen as a result of this confrontation? How can I can confront the problem, make the relationship stronger, help the person develop and empower their development?”

Another aspect here is that you must follow up. Confronting a problem is a process, not an event.

There is another way to explain the ‘ability to confront well’, which is, that the more you are able to treat the confrontation like

“You and I, versus the problem”

As well as

“The best way to solve a problem, is to not have it in the first place.”

The better you will be in this dimension of embracing adversity.

Maybe the ‘not to have a problem in the first place’ sounds too easy to you, so let’s give a tip here:

If you have a ‘cringe’, that is the feeling that something is not right, don’t do whatever it is you intend to do at all. Optimists tend to fall for this one. They have that cringe, but then say “we’ll work it out”.
For example, do not hire that person that you do not really want, ‘but we have to fill that place quick’.

If you are one of those people that make hasty decisions, you should consider having a ‘decision matrix’ in place for common decision making processes such as investing in new equipment, or hiring new employees. An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure!

[1] that aspect has been handled as part of the dimension 3, the ability to finish well.

Success is Get Results

Getting Results; Get it done well

I met Donna, who was one of those high energy types where even keeping the conversation focused on one topic was hard. She had her hand in anything. I counted five different businesses, most of them unrelated. And once I started to probe deeper, counted a string of past business ventures, and dozens and dozens of new business ideas.

Almost all of them had failed or were failing, despite the good ideas behind them, and Donna being a charming lady who to top it off, was one of the people with the biggest heart I have ever met.

It was clear. Donna had a problem to stick to existing ideas. She lacked the persistence to work till completion so to speak. “I have ADHD” was her excuse. “I get bored, and maybe not even that, I have so many other exiting ideas.”

Donna scored really low on character dimension 3: getting Results…

Character dimensions 3: To get Results and Finish well

This dimension is about the

capability to

  1. be prepared, focused and decisive,
  2. in touch with your strength, and
  3. to lose well.
  4. In other words: the capability to impose Self- Discipline: controlling ones’ words, actions and reactions

“Lots of people work hard, are committed, and do not produce impressive results. They just do ‘a good job’”

How many of you or your employees do just ‘a good job’?

The interesting thing about this dimension is that it has a lot to do with your level of Conscientiousness. In psychological research, the level of Conscientiousness has the highest correlation with measured success…

The main character flaw in this dimension is being ‘Impulsive’ instead of ‘Focused and Decisive’. Lets’ start with Focus:

  1. Better results by being prepared | Mid Atlantic Strategic Servies To be in control of Impulsiveness
  • Means doing Due Diligence before action is taken
  • Non-gratifying preparations are done instead of skipped
  • Getting an organization ready before a new change is announced belongs here as well.

Ever met those people who are always starting new things, and never complete them as there is already the next big thing? This is the dimension where ADHD patients suffer; that is those that never learned to control these impulses as having ADHD is typically also having an endless source of creativity.

One of the most important things for Outgoing, Bold leaders, is to get a counterpart with them that is almost their opposite, someone focused on execution, as it is the downfall of many outgoing personalities that they tend to rush to conclusions and false starts.

Better resutls due to Focus | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services

Focus means accepting limits

This would be a good moment to quote Warren Buffet:

I have reached my success by saying ‘no’ to 99% of the good opportunities that were presented to me”.

Do not for one moment think that Warren is not a man of action. But he relentlessly focuses on only a few things. Things he knows, he is good at. Warren embraces limits.

To have the ability to decide, and go for it.

  • Willingness to make hard calls
  • Perseverance to not give up on the ideal (but able to cancel a strategy)

Even if you are in control of your impulsiveness, and have learned to focus on a few things that you know should make you successful, there is one last thing you must master in this dimension. The ability to decide, and then go for it. And once you go for it, to persevere.

That is where many of those people blessed with cautiousness, who never take rash decisions fall short. They tend to make no decision at all. That is where the bold, outgoing types have the advantage, as they dare to pull the trigger and go for it.

Better results by Perseverance | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services Another aspect of this is that when results don’t happen quickly; you know when to adjust your strategy, but to still persevere towards the ideal. We called that ‘the ability to Finish well’. In other words, you know when to stop, and when to adjust, and when to not give up.

  1. To be in touch with your strength

You can be focused, decisive and persistent, but you could still struggle in this dimension if you would be trying to do that is just so ‘not you’. You will shine when you are in touch with your strength. When you know your weaknesses and find others around you to deal with those is when you get the best results.

An important question in this second aspect is:

  • Is your Profession, Colleagues, and Industry making you fully Engaged?
    At the highest level of this aspect, is where you can say “I am following my calling”. At the lower levels we find people who hate their job, their colleagues or even their profession. No wonder they don’t succeed.
  1. To have the ability to Lose well

Life isn’t always a string of wins. Things will go wrong. HIGH ACHIEVERS actually let go of things they are not the best at. They see what they can learn of the loss, but then let go. But there are people that just cannot let go. It is as if they hate losing so much that they keep trying to change this outcome, without changing their strategy.


Because they do the same things over and over that led to the last loss

In the military world it is accepted that you now and then need to retreat, in order to regroup. Many believe that Hitler could have defeated the Soviet Union if he would have allowed his armies to now and then regroup, instead of having to immediately counter attack if they lost some territory to the Russians. If Hitler had defeated the Red Armies, he would likely have won the War. So the Nazi’s were ultimately defeated because Hitler could not finish well…

Success is embracing truth

Success is embracing the truth

“Is it just me or do you often, before a couple has a big fight with a potential break up, see one of them make statements about how much they love each other just a few days before?” (an observant friend) “I think deep down they knew it wasn’t the way they wanted it to be. But maybe if you just shout the opposite of what you want the truth to be, the bad thing can be averted?”

I don’t know about the above statement, but I have indeed seen examples of this observation. It is indeed true that in order to successfully cope with things, we need to acknowledge the truth.

Character Dimension 2: Orientation towards Truth

This dimension is about

‘the ability to be in touch with the truth of a situation, see it clearly, and have the ability to accommodate.’

Truth | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services
The Unwelcome Truth is often the Elephant in the Room

Have you ever ignored ‘the Elephant in the Room’?

Met people that are in DENIAL about a certain situation?

Or ever told people that things at work were okay, when you knew they were not? That you said “Things will be all right” while you had to rob Peter to pay Paul?

The above situations however, is where people KNOW there is something wrong, but don’t admit. Yet the issue with this character dimensions is that most ‘un-truths’ are unknown. We assume things, and take them for truth.

“Our company delivers great service” Really? How do you know that?
“Our clients stay with us” – In my experience as a business coach, I’d say that in about 8 out of 10 cases once we started measuring, it turned out that most clients did NOT stay with us…

“If the ball would not have bounced off that branch, I would have hit a 69 on the golf course today! Now it was a 73, but I was so close! It bounced off, and it kicked into that impossible rough, I couldn’t get out and made a double bogey. But it could have been a 69!”
Could have, would have, should have. It did not happen! Yet the alternative reality where we were so close, is so much nicer than the real one. We want to feel good…

Daniel Kahneman, the nobelprize winner in economics, wrote a superb book on how our brain tricks us. It is called ‘Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow’. His main thesis is that our brain, in order to preserve energy, develops these amazing shortcuts to run our day to day lives. The list of examples and situations where we do not really take the time to think things through, but just jump to conclusions is near endless. And our brain is so smart, that we can get away with foregone conclusions and assumptions that are never tested anymore.

Thus we create our own reality in our brain. The one where customers tend to stay, and we close “over 80% of all leads into sales” (when we measure, we usually find about half what people expect).

There is a second reason why we prefer subconscious fast brain loops over ones that are likely to be more truthful: telling others the truth can be unpleasant, which could then open an energy draining conversation. Many business suffer from sub par performance because people don’t give honest feedback to each other. We use the acronym ‘NICE’ for that.

NICE, as it stands for ‘Not Interested, Caring Enough, to tell you the truth.
With that acronym in mind, we coaches often tell each other ‘Stop being NICE to each other.’

Stop being NICE to each other.

In our model, we measure the

  • Truth about yourself
  • About others
  • About the world

At the higher levels of this dimension we find people who are actually quite aware of the truth, but who are unwilling, or unable to do something about it.

Hard Truth | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services
Eli hears the news of the lost Ark. The consequence of not dealing with the unwelcome truth turned out to be deadly

An example of this is the biblical story of Eli, the high priest, whose sons are horribly misbehaving by stealing from the offering table and sleeping with the women that visit the tabernacle. Eli is totally aware of it, knows that it is wrong, but does nothing. Ultimately, him looking the other way to avoid a conflict leads to the death of both his sons and himself, and probably even worse, the loss of the Ark of the Covenant. His low score at this character dimension, leading to a very serious character integrity issue, was the cause of his epic fail.

At the highest level we find people who learn the truth, and even when it is unpleasant, deal with it.

Remember the section about ‘every change in thinking starts with Awareness’? Almost every good coach will start with this character dimension when they really want to move their clients thinking to the next level. It is like losing weight. Until that dreaded moment where you look at the scales, or realize that a certain piece of clothing is no longing fitting, you wait to take action. It starts with acknowledging the truth.

If you are interested in the system to actually measure these dimensions, contact your compound coach, or else

Series 4 of your 8 Dimensions of Being – “How to Embrace the Truth” by Rene Hollebrandse

Success is connecting and building trust

Like and Trust – Connecting and Building Trust is part of the thought pattern to business success.

“I don’t know. This guy feels like a used-car sales person to me.” Oh those poor sales reps in the used car sales business. Their reputation sucks! When you are compared to a used-car sales person, people are really saying that they think they cannot really trust you. That you are at least lying by omission… In the opinion of the average person, used-car sales reps have low character integrity due to a low score on dimension 1: the ability to connect with others, and build trust.

Character Dimension 1: the ability to connect with others and build trust

This dimension is a combination of

“The other person understands, that you understand” (empathy) and

“I feel I can trust the other person” (trust)

Empathy | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services Let’s assume that you are not at the pathological level of not caring anything about anyone, and not giving anything about the need to be trusted. Almost everyone would like to be liked and trusted, but most people then make some typical mistakes that erode the ‘like and trust’ they gain with others.

It is really simple: if you don’t feel that someone understands you, and empathizes with you, your trust will not go beyond a certain level. Note that it is not just that you must value the need to understand others, you must also have the skill to convey that you care.

Have you ever met someone who immediately rejects all critique or dismisses all questions regarding his or her plans to move forward? If so, that someone gave you the feeling that you (and your views) were not taken serious. It is an example of a displayed lack of empathy.

Another example of a displayed lack of empathy is someone who actually might be caring, and very nice, but who doesn’t show that he or she cares so you now think of this person as curt or cold.

When a business coach is confronted with a leader that complains that he only gets the compliance of his employees, we check this dimension of like and trust, as leaders who fall short on this will only get someone’s compliance, not the passion. We then ask “tell me, as a boss, do you go beyond the ‘hi’ and ‘good morning’ with your people, how much do you truly connect with them?”
And when their response is: “I truly care, I have this wonderful benefits package for my employees…” they don’t get it. Yes, great that you care enough to give this wonderful benefits package. But that doesn’t mean you connect with them. Maybe it is just a calculated move on your side to attempt to keep employees longer, but nothing about their needs to be liked and understood.

The human heart will seek to be known, understood, and connected with above all else.
If you do not connect, the ones you care about will find someone who will…

So this dimension is very much about the involvement in the other, versus being detached. Being detached is one of the sins in this dimension. Think about the stereo typical joke where the husband is reading the newspaper or watching TV while the wife is talking and talking and the husband totally ignoring her. Guess what, he is detached from her. How far will a spouse go for someone who makes no attempt to understand and connect with where he or she is and what he or she is experiencing in the relationship?

By the way, it is said that a significant number of extra marital relations started with ‘I finally found someone who I could really talk with and who would listen’. They started innocent enough, but since the spouse was in detachment mode, and this friend was the only one who really connected, one thing lead to another…. If you do not connect, the ones you care about will find someone who will!

Another sin, the other way around, is ‘over-identification’; known as a lack of boundaries. Some parents make this mistake, when they hear some criticism on their kids. They will immediately personally be involved, as they feel it as an attack on them. Not only will they smother the child that sooner or later will fight to become independent, but they also give the clear message that when their children are involved, you cannot trust them to be reasonable.

By the way, don’t confuse this dimension with being introvert and extrovert. Yes, outgoing people have it easier to make new connections, but introvert people are often better at keeping them. This dimension is about how much you care, how much you show, and how much you can successfully communicate that you care and can be depended on.

To Trust means to be CarelessBuilding Trust | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services

You have organized an event. Invited many friends and relationships; bought lots of food and paid for other preparations. They said they would come. And then… only one third of the people who had said they would be there showed up. Only a very few took the effort to send you a message to give you a heads up that they were not going to make it. There you are, in front of an almost empty room…
They broke your trust. In a small way maybe, but they did. They probably didn’t even realize they did…

Integrity, doing what you said you will do, is a big element of the Trust dimension. As is Respect for others’ people time and property.

Let’s get to the point. In order to be ‘Able to Connect’ you need

  • To be in touch with emotions and feelings of both yourself and others
  • Cannot be Detached
  • Have good boundaries
  • Have the ability to listen in a way that communicates understanding
  • Opposite is Invalidation

And in order to be trusted

  • You will Trust someone to the extent that you believe that this person can and will take care of you.
  • An element here is the amount of Respect (treating people and property with care) as well.

If you are interested in the system to actually measure these dimensions, contact your compound coach, or else

Series 3  – “How to develop thought patterns” by Rene Hollebrandse

Success thinking has multiple dimensions

The multiple Dimensions of Self – Success Thinking

As business coaches we are hired to make a business owner successful. This often also implies we have to make their key team members successful. Now most of that is based on providing the ‘How to’ of business strategies, combined with a model of accountability and the outsiders’ perspective. But long lasting permanent success is only achieved when the coach can change the success thinking of the business owner and his or her key employees. In other words, the business coach that has to operate with the concept ‘BE * DO (over time) = HAVE’ of his client, will have to change the ‘BE’ of his client. This means that the ‘BE’ of the owner has to change into a mindset of success creating thought patterns.

Business coaches are paid to make their clients successful, and this is typically hard defined in increased profit and decreased amount of time needed to run the business. It is the measurable change in areas essential for success that ultimately create the extra money and time. Therefore, having a ‘BE’ model that only makes clients ‘feel good’ but does not create measurable success in life and business is insufficient for a business coach (and should be insufficient for any type of coach). This is why the Triple8 coaching model for BE was developed to coincide with the model for the ‘DO this in your business’ and why it is such a measurable, practical yet sometimes brutally honest concept.

Let’s explore the challenge of having to create successful thinking that fits in this multi dimensional structure of how we order our thoughts.
There are multiple angles to take to cluster typical thought patterns. On top of that, there is the nature of how easy it is to change those thought patterns. For example, learning a new skill is typically much easier than changing someone’s value system.

Let’s start with exploring the multiple angles of thought patterns. We call these, the dimensions of SELF. First, there is someone’s ‘Character’, the core set of ingrained thought patterns and habits.
Are you stubborn? Friendly? Mean? Vicious? Meticulous? Driven? Sloppy? All these words describe characteristics of peoples’ character. And who would deny that these characteristics have a major impact on someone’s decisions and therefore actions in life?

Besides the Character, there is the matter of Health and Fitness. Let’s face it, if you are sick and have low energy, it is hard to grow a successful company.

And then, there is an even bigger factor: the Environment you are in. Isn’t it said that if you take the 5 people you hang out most with, your amount of success is an average of those 5… Every night wasting your living hours like a zombie in front of the TV isn’t helpful to get a fulfilled life either…

If for now, you are willing to assume that there another six main dimensions in determining someone’s character; that would give us 8 dimensions in total.

The 8 Dimensions of CharacterMastermind | Mid Atlantic Strategic Services

Character, what is it?
A definition could be: “The aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of people and things”

One could say that you recognize somebody’s character by the wake they leave behind, just as that you can see the wake, the trail, of a fast moving boat. Just like when a boat makes a turn, you see the turn in the wake behind the boat. Does your character leave a straight impression? Or crooked?
As business coaches we teach our clients to ask the following question when they do reference checks for a potential new hire:
“What did mister or misses X, accomplish, AND how did he or she deal with people?” In other words: “What were the Results, and what were the Relationships?” (Relationships as in would they say ‘they were better off in their life knowing mister or misses ‘X’?) – this then followed by the question: “would you hire this person again?”

Think about it. If you have left a group that you spend time with, what would they say about you? Would they miss you? Or would they be relieved? Did people always feel at ease with you, ready to tell their secrets, or were they always guarded? Would they describe you as a positive force, or as someone whose presence was draining?

Success Thinking | Mid Atlantic Strategic ServicesAll these statements say something about your character. To get a better handle on it, let’s group these features and traits into eight dimensions:

  1. Able to connect with others and build trust
  2. The amount of orientation towards reality (Truth)
  3. To ability to get Results and Finish well
  4. Embracing the negative (problem solving)
  5. Orientation towards increase (Growth)
  6. Understanding of the transcendent
  7. The Body and Mind connection
  8. The Relationship with the Environment

Once we have done this, we can find out what makes a character ‘strong’ versus ‘weak’ in terms of having thought patterns that create lasting success.

Almost every year a politician hits the news-cycle with the following bad news scenario: They rose to power promising strong ethical and moral values, often even agitating against those that lack in those values. And then suddenly there is the arrest, and the news about prostitutes and drugs. Usually the politician tries to deny it at first, but ultimately the truth comes out.
How is this possible? How did this moral knight suddenly stumble and fall? Displaying behavior that seems to show that he or she was now above the law?

It is a character flaw. Something made this politician lose all touch with reality…

Two types of character flaws

There are two types of issues that weaken a character:

  1. First off, very low deserve levels in one or more of these six dimensions will ‘taint’ the reputation of anyone’s character. It is when you say that someone is ‘not to be trusted’ (low dimension 1), or ‘living in their own reality’ (low dimension 2), and so on. People that are described as ‘selfish’ are low on dimension 6 as they don’t care about anything beyond their own self interests. The flaws connected to these extreme low levels of deserve in any of these dimensions are easy to spot by asking about someone’s reputation.
  2. The second, harder to spot character flaw is the lack of character integrity. What this means is that there can be a lack of ‘balanced integration’ between the dimensions. The wake left behind by people who suffer from this is often a trail of failures, after initial successes. Think about the serial entrepreneur that you know, whose ventures all seem to sooner or later fail. Or the person that cannot seem to keep a steady relationship with someone and jumps from relationship to relationship. What is going on? Where the first type of character flaw was a very low deserve level in one or more of the six dimensions, in the second type of character flaw there is a mismatch between the dimensions. There is typically one or two very high scoring dimensions, but they will be sabotaged by a set of traits in a lower scoring character dimension. Some examples are someone that is over connecting and trusting (high level 1), but not seeing reality (low level 2) and thus putting their trust into something or someone that will never deliver. A second example is someone who focuses on results only (dimensions 3) at the costs of connection (dimension 1). A third example is someone who is always focused on ‘the higher Self’ and ‘we should love each other’ which is a transcendent focus only (6), with no connection with results (3) and reality (2).

Now that we know what can go wrong, let’s dive deeper into each individual dimension, to get a better understanding of it. After all, what you can measure, you can improve.
If you are interested in the system to actually measure these dimensions, contact your compound coach, or else

Series 2 – “How to develop thought patterns” by Rene Hollebrandse

Rene Hollebrandse joins Mid Atlantic Strategic Services as CEO

Rene Hollebrandse formal_o

Rene Hollebrandse has accepted the CEO position at Mid Atlantic Strategic Services (MASS). MASS is located in the historic Post Office building at 200 North Braddock Street in the center of Old Town Winchester business district.

Mid-Atlantic Strategic Services was Initially born as a company that would provide complementary services to clients of local business coaches such as bookkeeping and social media marketing. Today MASS has expanded into a full service business coaching enterprise.Although primarily working with large local business firms with assets of a minimum million plus, MASS also offers the “Mom and Pop” shops an opportunity to begin in the Street Smart Academy and then move into individual counseling as the business grows.

Hollebrandse is from the Netherlands where he received his masters in business economics at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Hollenbrandse comes to MASS with seven years experience working with the largest business coach franchise in the world, Action Coach. Prior to joining Action Coach, Hollenbrandse had a global career in business and IT. His work ranged from managing massive implementations of Enterprise Resource Planning software to product management and driving the development of huge end to end software suites that would manage everything in a company. It was during this career that he was asked to move to Herndon, Virginia in 2002.

For seven years he worked as a franchisee out of his Winchester office where he became recognized as the number one business coach in Virginia. Many of his clients have become recognized winners in the “Greater Goods awards” as run by the local Chamber of Commerce. This award centers on rapid growth in both profit and number of employees, a better lifestyle for the business owners, as well as actively giving back to the community. He has also assisted in clients such as Nibblins of Ruttherford Crossing to earn the Best Small Business Award form the Top of Virginia Chamber of Commerce in 2013.


“There are truly no words to describe the impact that Rene’s coaching had upon me and my business. Without Rene’s insight I dare say MPR would not be where it is today. With his guidance, Rene challenge me to examine some of my long-standing beliefs and business practices. I could never enumerate the vast changes that we’ve made at our firm but I can share the most meaningful.,” said Angela Duncan.

“Through Rene’s coaching, MarketPlace REALTY has established Mission, Vision and Core Value statements that guide our every decision and which our Team has embraced. As a result, we are a culture-rich environment with a strong sense of purpose and direction. I can only describe the vibe at MPR as magic and it has everything to do with the expert coaching that I, as Leader of MarketPlace REALTY, realizes through working with Rene Hollebrandse,” said Duncan.

“Like many, when I originally consulted with Rene I was hoping to make more money, in less time by expanding my business.  I stopped, thinking I had learned all that I needed.  Upon returning to Rene’s guidance I have seen my company and my goals grow exponentially.” Jim Ogletree, A+ Handyman, Inc

Hollebrandse working as the CEO is responsible for the development of business systems which MASS will implement in the upcoming year. “My goal is to take an owner who is still involved in the day to day operations of his business and have him run the business by himself” f you need to spend a day or less a month – that business runs itself,” said Hollebrandse.

Working with the business coaches at MASS, Hollebrandse will expand on their market offering business coaching to two percent of the businesses here in Loudoun and the Shenandoah Valley. MASS’s mission is to create 1000 new jobs every year by assisting in the growth of area businesses. “My mission is to develop the finest group of business coaches in the region using the strategies found in Compound Coaching, an eight tier business coaching methodology I have developed,” said Hollebrandse.

If you are struggling with your business or your business has your personal life out of control, then consider hiring a business coach. Business coaching as an industry is growing about 5% a year making it one of the fastest growing industries. Just as a an athlete will not rely on only himself to become great but searches for the best coach one can find, so a successful business owner recognizes the need for a good business coach.

Blog five essential things that small businesses in particular tend to ignore:

Blog five essential things that small businesses in particular tend to ignore:


1 Alignment

The personal goals of the owner are often not in sync with the goals of the business, the goals of the business partners, the employees and the views of the customers. Imagine a tire with 4 ropes and 4 people pulling in 4 different directions. The tire will be stretched and stretched, but not move much. The same is true for non aligned businesses.

The personal goals of the owners can be unclear, if there are business partners they might not feel the same drive and motivation, they might even have different goals. Employees sometimes are unaware of the company goals, and so on.

The result is a lot of effort pulling the business in all type of different directions.

Is your business in Alignment?

When a Business Coach starts coaching a business, the first thing to do is to do a business alignment. Get all the energy, from your life’s goals to the entire company and its stakeholders flowing in one direction!


2 A practical ACTION plan

Some businesses have business plans into place, although often they were made once, then put into a drawer and forgotten. But based on a business plan, there ought to be an ‘action plan’: that is a practical plan that step by stepsdrives the business to improve itself, every week…

It is great that a business has goals, but only a real action plan will tell HOW the business is going to achieve these goals on a week by week basis.

Does your business have an Action Plan?

MASS clients have to make an action plan, every 90 days. This is done at an event called ’90 Day Business Challenge’ – and it is done as a 6 hour workshop where Business owners and their essential team members receive a business training on various topics.

Businesses that have a plan outperform businesses that do not have one. So where is your business?


3 Regular meetings and feedback

Does the team in your business meet weekly to check where they are compared to the Action Plan? Do team members get regular feedback? Does the business owner get regular objective feedback on how things are going? Are regular performance reviews in place?

How many business owners do you know have a process in place to improve themselves, their lives, and their business?

It is the reason why a business coach meets a client every week to push him or her beyond what they think is possible. After all, isn’t that what you expect from a coach?


4 To Measure Everything with simple KPI’s

What you do not measure, you cannot improve. It is that simple. It is one of the reasons why an estimated 75% of marketing dollars is wasted. It is one of the main reasons why businesses stagnate. Why team output does not improve.  Some business owners are afraid of numbers, think that their business is unique.  And then they are outperformed by their competitor and don’t know why.

The rule is simple. Measure everything!

Yes, within reason, and when you just start, you focus on the main things. But in millions of businesses, it is proven over and over again that just the act of measuring what you do, will give a significant improvement. The figure of an average of 10% improvement is often used. Imagine that, having a 10% higher sales rate, a 10% higher efficiency, a 10% of everything… The compound effects of all these higher rates will improve the profit level dramatically.

Does your business have Key Performance Indicators in place to measure everything?

A good Business Coach teaches what the most important KPI’s are that you need to track, and will provide the templates to help you out. Running a business by numbers is what it is all about.


5 Having the right balance between Time Investment and Time Spending

How many hours do you spend working IN the business, versus ON the business? And how is that true for your team? How often do you go home at the end of the working day, tired because you have been so extremely busy, but… you cannot remember what on earth did eat your time.

So many business owners spend their time, and forget that in order to make real money, and to gain time to spend outside of your business, you have to INVEST your time.

Imagine this, a person that can reach 80 years of age, has had 4000 weeks of life to live. So if you are 40 years young, you have 2000 weeks left. We all know time goes by faster than we think, so the question is: Is time in your company spend wisely? Is the business running you and dictating how you spend your time? Do you work IN, or ON your business?

That is why time management is one of the essential areas that a business mentor will work on.

Your business needs to work without you!



Rene: “My clients who took me on as their mentor will start implementing these 5 things – results then follow, with an ROI that is positive within 4 months. Within a year several clients started to have record breaking results.”

Not getting what you want… Do you Chase instead of Attract?

Not getting what you want… Do you Chase instead of Attract?

Do you want to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it keeps eluding you? Maybe so much that you start to doubt that there even is a pot of gold?

Have you heard of the ‘BE * DO = HAVE’ formula? Or of the more realistic version ‘(BE * DO)T  = HAVE’ ?

This formula states that for whatever you want to HAVE, you will need to persist in Doing, which you only can do because you Become the person that would consistently Do the right thing. In other words: ‘Be times DO, will over time, lead to HAVE.’ The power of this formula is that it puts attention to the fact that you will likely have to change first, in order to consistently do the things that will lead to what you want to have.

But either you haven’t heard of this, or you understand the concept, but struggle in applying the concept, because despite hard work, you still are not getting what you want.

That is maybe because you ‘Chase’ instead of ‘Attract’. What does that mean?

A simple example will explain the difference:

“I want to be Rich” is really a statement about what you want to have. Things like nice houses and lots of money. Now compare this to “I want to Know how to make loads of money” which is a ‘Be’ statement. You have to become someone who knows how to make (and keep) money first, before you will Do the making of the money, before you can have it.

Chasing riches will be an endless pursuit if you never changed yourself. Because consistently doing the things that make (and keep) the money will then forever be hard to do. That is the difference between chasing an outcome, versus attracting an outcome because you became a different person.

Another reason why you might Chase instead of Attract is because your core values clash with who you have to BE in order to do the right things that attract.

A simple example is someone who has a high value of being a family man, but sets a goal that will totally sacrifice all time available for the family. This person will either have to become someone who lowers the value of family time (at least for a while) or will constantly experience friction with the end goal, and if the family time wins, will not do enough consistently to reach the goal.

If you want the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, become a leprechaun. And have peace with being a leprechaun. Otherwise you will chase that end of the rainbow forever…

Let’s get practical:

  1. Ask yourself what you want to have
  2. What type of person would you have to become to reach that goal?
  3. Is being that person in sync with your core values?

Attract the right things because you feel happy with who you have become. Never chase instead of attract….

chase instead of attract
Do not chase the pot of gold, instead, become a leprechaun




Political Stinking Thinking

Political Stinking Thinking

I watched the Republican debate, the one they had just before the 2016 New Hampshire voting. It was sensational, especially when Chris Christie started to tear down Marco Rubio with his “you only repeat pre-scripted phrases” comments. I believed that Marco’s weak response was going to kill all Iowa momentum he had built. Of course I watched all candidates, and soon started a game to find out how they would lie by omission in their next answer, as that seems to be a very common tactic uses by all politicians from all political views. The world of politics seems to be one of one liners and sound bites, presenting an extreme simplistic and often twisted version of the truth.

Later I started wondering about what my Facebook friends would start to post. Those that are brave, or stupid enough to post their more and more extreme political views, in more and more demeaning one picture insults about the opposing party or politician, not caring about any consequences.

“Do you really believe that you are immune to that draining negative energy field of Anger, Fear and Anxiety?”

Consequences abound, and more than you think. Since this is a business coaching blog aimed at business owners, let’s just focus on the influence of getting involved with the dirt throwing, making other views ridiculous looking and fear, anger and anxiety provoking world of American politics of 2016.

First consequence: I know of people who told me they avoid doing business with certain local businesses, because of their, and I quote, ‘extremist political views’.  I don’t believe for one minute that the like minded people who might do extra business with you because of your similar views will make up for that loss.

Second consequence, something that hit me with a blinding flash when I thought about the debate I just watched: The energy was negative. Sensational, but negative. Just as the energy that I see in almost every political post on Facebook is negative. Do you really believe that you are immune to that draining negative energy field of Anger, Fear and Anxiety?

I have a client who always had the news running on the background. One of the more polarized news stations. Each time when I showed up for a coaching session she would ask what I was thinking about another scandalous development that was showing that America was going down the drain. At one point I sensed she was becoming so depressed that she even wondered if it made sense to grow the business, because ‘other people would all come and take it away’. That is when I asked her to for one month stop, and ban all political talk and television out of her life, and replace it with something positive. “You are getting wound up about things you cannot do anything about” I said. “Just do your civil duties and vote, but ignore them. Nothing you can do, politicians will be politicians. But this negative energy is killing your drive to become better.”
To my surprise she agreed, and instilled the ban. Some radio station with positive pop and rock songs would be the background wallpaper from then on.
I wonder if it is coincidence that she would become one of the top contenders for the ‘Most Improved Business Profits” award that I assign to one of our clients each year. The ban on destructive media exposure was never revoked…

“Stinking Thinking”

Zig Ziglar always kept repeating: “stop the stinking thinking” and “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”
Stop the energy drain. Stay away from the political circus, especially on Facebook. To be successful, surround yourself with positive people, and positive thoughts.

  • René Hollebrandse

9 questions to selecting a business coach.

Business Coaches are more common than you think. 


What is now occurring in the world of business is what happened in the world of professional sports long ago. Amateurs and professionals alike realized the need for coaching to be competitive. More and more business owners are realizing that in order to stay competitive in their industry, they need a good business coach. This is why the business coaching industry is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

The business coaching industry today (based on 2014 numbers) is a $9 billion sector made up of more than 37,000 firms in the United States, according to research institution IBIS World. These services do not come cheap, with fees for even junior, non-certified coaches starting at $100 per hour, and leading-name consultants charging thousands of dollars hourly.

That is creating a new dilemma for the potential client: there are suddenly names to choose from!

When investigating what business coach you should work with, ask yourself the following eight questions:

9 questions that help determine what business coach to select.

1) What are your expectations and can they be met by the person or company you choose?

Having a clearly defined set of objectives and being upfront allows both you and your potential coach to decide if your expectations are truly possible.

2) Am I looking for a Business Consultant or a Business Coach?

A consultant will bring you very specific expertise and will often do the work for you. Think about a more expensive, ‘white-collar’ sub contractor. If you are only interested in knowledge, and you think that your business will actually absorb the changes that the consultant prescribes, you might actually be looking for an (industry specific) consultant. If you believe that the business is somehow a kind of reflection of you, the owner, and you want lasting change? Well that means you want to improve your business starting with yourself. It means you need a coach. A coach will not do the work for you, but focus on you, or your team members to actually become better at what you or they are supposed to do. One piece of advice: do not look for lookalikes with a coach. Their task is to keep you sharp. They need to know how to run a business, not necessarily have in depth knowledge of your industry.

3) Am I looking for a Life or Executive Coach, or a Business Coach?

There are much more so called ‘Life Coaches’ out there than Business Coaches. And real Executive coaches have experience coaching C-level executives in big companies. However, since many life coaching techniques will also work in a business setting, many Life Coaches believe that they can also be good Executive Coaches. Some don’t even see the difference between an Executive coach and a Business coach. We suggest the following basic rules:

If you want to become a better person? Use a Life Coach.

If you want to become a better leader? Use an Executive Coach

If you want to become a more successful Business Owner, ask for a Business Coach.

4) Do I want to meet this coach weekly in a face to face fashion? (i.e. is he or she local)

Many coaches have remote sessions with their clients, using Skype or just over the phone. That can really work well, but some folks really want to meet their coach face to face, in the same room. It is a matter of personal preference, but relevant for your choice.

5) What is the Coaching philosophy of the coach?

This is harder to determine, you will actually have to interview the coach and several of his or her clients to get an answer to these questions: Are you looking for a motivational boost, or do you think you need more of almost brutal accountability from your coach? Will this coach ‘put you and your team to work’? Or provide more of a therapeutic or brainstorm session each week? How much actual business training and knowledge does the coach provide versus a focus on asking questions that lead you to discover this knowledge yourself? Is their psychological model ‘pop psychology’ (typical ‘Self Help’) or empirical science based? Are they ‘spiritual’ or ‘down to earth’?

6) Do I need one-on-one business coaching,or am I more in need of business education with accountability in a group setting?

Group coaching can be a good option for smaller companies that think they cannot afford full blown ‘one-on-one’ coaching. When well run, they will even add more and more ‘Mastermind’ elements to the participants. On the other hand, spending time one-on-one with an experienced business mentor typically provides a much more personalized in depth experience but you will have to spend more money.

7) What are the credentials of the coach you are investigating?

How ‘serious’ was their education to become a certified coach? Are they even certified? Do they have a coaching ‘system’? How extensive is it? How business oriented versus general ‘leadership and self development?

8) What ancillary benefits does working with this coach provide?

Does the coach give you access to a wider set of resources that are included in the coaching process? Is there a business community they would give you access to? For example a mastermind group with veterans in business?

9) What is their track record and reputation?

Of course you should interview clients that this coach is working with, but how about checking if past clients are still positive about the experience?How much did the businesses grow? Do the businesses report success in the area you are looking for the most help in? What reputation does the coach has with his or her peers? Can you find out what the ethical reputation is of the coach you are investigating?

Want a free copy of the Value Formula in order to increase your customer retention?  Just enter your email address for free access.

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Business Backpacking (follow up story)

sunriseFirst off, this is a little longer than intended, I tried to shorten in, but was unsuccessful.  It is still not terribly long though. (one of the photos I took above.)

Having completed my backpacking adventure, I wanted to follow up on the experience and of course tie it into business. 

The backpacking trip was scheduled far in advance, just as you would prior to starting a business.  We did not know what the weather (economy) would be when we started planning.  As we come into town the morning of; it is raining, not a hard rain but rain nonetheless.  Last minute trip to the store to pick up some rain gear, kind of like forgetting that key document to starting a business that won’t prevent an opening but will make it a little bit harder. 

When we arrive we begin to put the final touches on the packs we will be carrying and lift this 40+ pound pack on our backs and get started.  By the way, that’s a lot of weight and makes a huge difference in how fast you can go and how quickly you can wear out. 

Going up and down the trails, up one mountain to a beautiful overlook, then back down in the valley.  Up another for another overlook, then back down.  Sound  familiar?  We all are very familiar with those peaks and valleys of profits and cashflow.  By the way, the backpack becomes heavier and heavier throughout the adventure. 

At 7.5 miles we pass by the first camp as we make the decision we are going to push forward to the next one at 10 miles.  Yes, we are overachievers!  About 7.6 miles I wondered why in the world we did that, but there was no way I was going to give up, nor was I going to go backwards.  As it gets to early evening we arrive at the camp at 10 miles.  No one is there but us, not that many people eager to do the extra. ( I don’t blame them.)

There’s a problem though, I had committed to my wife that I would check in when we got to camp, and… we are in a valley.  I drop my pack and head forward a half a mile to find high ground to get a text out to no avail, I head backwards from camp a half a mile with no success either.  My decision is either to give up and for her to be worried or to grab my pack and forage forward on my own to reach high ground.  (is all this sounding familiar with your business or life?)

About a mile past camp I am exhausted and am looking straight up at yet another mountain.  By this point it is getting dark and becoming dangerous to push forward with both my legs that are worn out as well as not knowing what is lurking in the dark.  I decide to stop and set up camp and will have to continue on in the morning.  I am out in the woods, in the dark, on my own, and trying to set everything up on my own and unaware of what might be out there.  (I know this sounds familiar for all you business owners out there.)

Obviously it was a toss and turn kind of night, hard time sleeping with the wonder of what was this or that sound and not knowing how much further I had until I was going to come across anyone.  In waking early the next morning, I packed up and headed out and was only about half a mile from another camp and high ground to get a call to go through, but as we know in business you never know where that light is to the end of the tunnel and sometimes it feels like it will go on forever in the dark with no help. 

The rest of the couple of miles from there was a breeze!  I had seen success and was capitalizing on that success one step after another. 

The Dash

What if you just took your last breath? Dash of life

How would you feel?  Would you feel accomplished?  Would you have regrets?  What would you be known for?

A morbid thought?  Maybe, but the reality is that no one knows when we will take our last breath.  As one of my most favorite statements “Life is not about the breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away.”  The reality is that it’s not about the dates on the obituary, but rather the DASH in between. 

How did you spend your DASH? 

This is a question I ponder from time to time and wonder if I am one of the few or the majority.  We try to do good for others, do the right thing, plan our next step or steps, look at the future and what we can do with it.  We just ultimately don’t know how long the dash can be and when it will all end. 

In the conversation of plans, have you thought about what happens if your dash comes to a sudden halt?  Are you prepared personally?  What about your business; is it prepared?  Will life move forward for your family or all come crashing down around them? 

At this point, you are probably trying to figure out if this is some sort of a plug for life planning or life insurance.  It could be, but my main reason for bringing this up as a topic is because I come across far too many people that are not participating in their life.  I, myself have to take time to focus on this as well.  I think it is something we all struggle with, because the “everyday” things get in the way and take over.  None of us know how long our dash will be, it could be decades long or just another instant. 

So, what will you do with your DASH?!

Bird in the hand…

A Bird in the Hand is Better Than 2 in the Bush???  Bush

Most are familiar with this age old adage; however is it true when it comes to business? 

Yes, I understand that the original premise was to be happy with what you had and not let something go to try to get more, but what if we took a different spin?  What if we had a plan and we put the bird in the hand in a cage and devised a plan to catch the other three? 

A lot like business when you can’t afford to just hold on to one customer or group of customers and not go after others.  Will that one customer or group of customers keep your business afloat?  We all know that answer, but are you sure of how to catch those others in the bush? 

Create a plan and go for it.  You don’t have to throw a lot of money at the plan, but at least have a plan and track the results.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What can you do different?  What did you learn?  Keep these questions in mind when you are creating your plan and then document the goal of what you want to achieve and the answers to the questions. 

You are closer now than you were before, now go do something!

Severely Underestimated Threat to your Business.

Business owner! A severely underestimated threat to your Business….

Sadly, one of the most common, and easily preventable, causes for businesses to get into deep trouble, up and to closing the business forever, is ‘bad bookkeeping’. And with this I do not mean the business that put a totally incompetent employee behind their QuickBooks, because ‘the software looks so simple’… No, this is about bad bookkeeping because the person that entered the data was given too much power.

It happens a lot. I went over the list of the last 50 businesses I dealt with in the last 6 years, and 5 of them had to suddenly replace their bookkeeper. One of these businesses closed down, and another came very close to closing… That is 10% of businesses I was exposed to within 6 years! 

Remember, the most common culprit in company theft (after the owner), is the CFO, and then the Bookkeeper. Some people steal because they can do that easily. Sometimes there is not even malicious intent, but a bookkeeper that was promoted above the level competency. For example, I have seen cases where the business had gone through a period of significant growth and the owner was finally making some well deserved higher income and reduced working hours. During all those years, the same bookkeeper was present, who maybe had had a small raise, but who was now managing the books of a company with ten times the size and at least four times the complexity. 

And then someone else than the bookkeeper opens that envelope from the IRS that states that the company is behind on payroll taxes. The owner is informed and has almost a heart attack once he or she sees the amount owed, grown by penalties and steep interest rates. Or maybe the CPA is the one who smells something funny when looking at the balance sheet. Whatever the reason the what is basically malpractice in bookkeeping is discovered, the shock is usually immense:

There are feelings of betrayal, funds missing, invoices that were never paid (or send out) and the overall realization that the numbers have been wrong. Anger: ‘why did I not know this?’.

Yes, that is a good question: Why did you not know this? How often do you as the owner read both the P&L AND the Balance sheet? Do you truly understand what these numbers mean? 

And almost as important, why did you not put a very simple strategy in place that would have prevented this mess? 

The rule is simple: The person that enters the data CAN NOT be the same person as the one who does the reconciliation. It is that simple. Yes, you might be a small company, and yes, the person who does your books is more than capable of doing the reconciliation. But allowing the same person to do the data entry to do the reconciliation is like putting your wallet on the chair next to you in the bar you visit. Nobody is supposed to take it for themselves, but in some way, you are asking for it. 

If your business is too small, hire an outside bookkeeper part time, it might be less than $50 a month to have this person to just do the reconciliation. But if something is wrong, this person will discover it.

What do you think is more rational: paying $50 a month, or taking a 10% risk that you lose thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars within the next 6 years?


Adventure of Business

Backpacking, the Adventure of Business

As I prepare for a short backpacking trip away, I started to think about how this applied to business.  I have a checklist of what is needed for the weekend, what I have, what I need, where to find it, and a wonder of what could go wrong that I can be prepared for.  I called to seek the advice of friends that had backpacked before as well as some that have not to see how they would prepare.

That being said, it is a backpacking trip, therefore I have to carry everything I choose to bring for 15+ miles.  This means packing light and efficiently in order to not crush myself.  I also cannot carry enough of the most essential ingredient to get me through- water.  I must pack a filtering device to filter water out of a stream in order to make it the rest of the way through the trip. 

Tying this in to not take too much time:  Business is a backpacking adventure.  You must be efficient, prepared, and you cannot have everything that you would like along the way – even the most essential of ingredients; cash.  Certain sacrifices must be made in order to get through the journey.  Having the right guidance along the way is key to help you avoid others mistakes and having a checklist to make sure nothing big is missed and to allow yourself to improve if there is something missed.   I also have no idea what to expect through the trip, I know there is a path, however I have no idea what that path looks like and how difficult it will be at times, I won’t know how much more I must push forward to reach the peak, nor how long I will be descending to reach the bottom. 

All of this being said, you must enjoy the preparation for your journey and the journey towards success just as much or even more than that of reaching what you deem as success. 

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston Churchill images

Writing a Vision & Mission

Two Common Mistakes when writing a Vision and Mission you should avoid


Have you ever wondered what a good Vision and Mission statement is?  You will recognize them immediately,

Walt Disney’s ‘We make people smile’ (Vision statement).

The instructions to write them are typically deceivingly simple, such as:

 •  Who are we?
•   What business are we in?
•   Who are our clients and customers?
•   What makes us different from our competitors? And so on.
But in reality you will find far too many businesses that have Vision and Mission statements that seem to be designed by committee: drawn out, non focused statements that seem to try to please everybody. Not the simple, focused and inspiring statement it should be. Why is that?
It is because of two common pitfalls, which once you see them are obviously related:

Trying to cram too much into the statement.

Adding elements from the Common Goals, Main Strategies, Target Market and Culture statement into it.

Your Vision statement describes a state of being, something that the company will be known for. It should be almost Zen like simple. Such as ‘We make people smile’.
In the case of Disney you will find the ‘providing wholesome family entertainment’ in the Mission statement.
A Mission statement helps narrow down the options for the company of how to achieve the Vision.
Using laughing gas Disney could also make people smile, but that is obviously not wholesome family entertainment. So what are the sources of the other elements that seem to pollute too many Vision and Mission statements?
The Common Goal describes a very specific, measurable Goal, to be reached at a very specific date, that provides proof that the company is clearly providing the above to the market. This is where you find things like number of clients, employees or revenue goals. Being a billion dollar plus company at a certain date is a Common Goal. As such, that Billion dollar element does not belong in the Vision and Mission statement.
The Culture Statement describes the norms and values that are seen as critical for everyone that works in the company. When you read statements about being family friendly and having high integrity in a Vision and Mission statement you are actually looking at Culture Statement elements. Things like ‘Technological innovation’ and ‘having the best tools and equipment’ are Main Strategies elements. And describing your Target Market such as ‘families with a disposable income of…’ is of course also the wrong document.
All these additional things are very useful, but if you cram them all into one Vision and Mission statement, you missed the point.
Keep It Simple, Stupid. Those are the best Vision and Mission statements.

Be Different

UmbrellaDo Something Different!


Sometimes it takes you doing something different to create the results you are striving for.

As an old boss always told me “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

While it drove me crazy to hear this, as he would say the same thing over and over and expected it to generate a different response from us, it certainly rings true in most circumstances.

In doing something different, just as with life, there is no magic 8 ball with all the answers.  Just making an educated decision and going for it.  Now, make sure to test and measure to get the results, these are key for going forward after this.  Having collected the data from what it was that you did different, now find out what worked and what didn’t and change again.  

You certainly won’t get stale by changing it up, you may actually like it a little, and will like it much more when it generates results that you like.  

So go out there and give it a try, feel free to let me know how it goes and if you have any questions- ask them.

Goals and Dreams




Ever thought about your goals?  What you aspire to do or become?  Ever

dreamed of becoming someone completely different?  Had that dream of

winning a big lottery and what all you would do with your winnings?


If you noticed in the previous questions, I quickly transitioned from goals to

dreams.  Why?  Well, I would ask you “why not?”  Why can’t your dreams

become your goals?


“If you dream it, you can do it.” ~ Walt Disney


The Challenge:  Most love to dream, yet never take the time to document

those dreams and see what it would take to make those dreams a reality.

Most would challenge a dream as if it is some fairytale and not a possibility.

Why would you want to limit yourself and create a mediocre reality when your

dreams are so much more?  Why not take those dreams and break them

down into steps to making them real?

FYI- in doing this you actually are creating goals.  That’s right, with just a

couple steps and a little more thought, you have created goals and the

stepping stones to your dreams.


“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.  Always remember, you have

within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the

stars to change the world.” ~ Harriet Tubman


Make sure they are documented in some way to make them real and ask

yourself when you start doing tasks: “Does this get me closer to my goals?”  If

the answer is yes- you are on your way, if the answer is no- why are you

doing the task?  I’m not here to say that every task not directly related to your

dreams is not important and not to do them, I’m simply saying to ask yourself

the questions.  Tie your tasks to your goals, maybe it means altering the way

you are doing something or the amount of effort you put into it, just make sure

it ties into what your goals are.


Hindsight is 20/20 right?  If you looked back on all the things you have done

over the past week, were there things you didn’t need or have to do and that

didn’t add any value to you or those around you?  Nobody said it was easy to

make your dreams come true, however if you put in the correct work and

focus you can accomplish your dreams, you can live your own fairytale so to



I ask you one final question: What are you doing still reading this?  Go create

your stepping stones to your dreams and live life to the fullest.


Don’t dream your life, live your dreams.

8 Major Ways to increase profits

Do you want to increase profits in your business? Well, who doesn’t?

But when you ask other business owners how they would do it, you typically will get two types of answers:

  1. “Get more clients” (often in the form of ‘increase your marketing’)
  2. “Cut your costs.”

And come think of it, these two answers seem to contradict: Increasing your marketing would probably increase your costs, while decreasing your costs means typically cutting expenses, including on marketing or on the other perks that your customers have started to appreciate.A major business coaching franchise decided to break this conundrum by suggesting a simple ‘Five ways to profit’ formula which goes as follows:

(Leads * Sales conversion = Clients. And Clients * Average $ sale * Number of transactions = Revenue.)

Revenue times Margins = Profit.

In other words: Leads * Sales conversion * Av $ sale * Number of Transactions * Margins = Profit.

What is good about this formula is that it breaks the simple ‘either decrease your expenses or increase your marketing’ statement. It becomes clear that you can also increase your profit by focusing on how often your clients will use your services. Or that you need to upsell, or become a better closer. What is not good about this formula is that it still misses, or over simplifies several essential elements that are the basis for profits.

The true formula for profit in a certain time period is based on eight ways that affect profit, not five:

(1) Leads, (2) Sales Conversion, (3) Customer Retention, (4) Average $ Sale, (5) Number of Transactions, (6) Collections and Cash Gap, (7) Gross Margin or Variable Costs, (8) Overhead or Fixed Costs

And before you dive into the formula, there is a likely order of getting more bang for your buck.

  1. At the very first: measure very element of these eight ways. What you cannot measure, you cannot improve!
  2. Improve your Cash Gap and your Collections. CASH = KING
  3. Address expenses in two ways: first cut any needless overhead (usually in the so called ‘Fixed Costs’), secondly, address time wasters as they effect the gross margin (and probably mean you can work with less overhead as well)
  4. Keep your customer Retention high! It is so much easier to make money from existing clients than trying to get new ones in. Never lower your service and quality standards! Make them happy and they will be more likely to give you referrals.
  5. Now work the average dollar sale. Maybe you can upsell a bit, or change your prices. Be aware though, pricing is the sharpest tool in your toolbox. It can make, or break you. Make small changes and test and measure.
  6. Time to work the Sales Conversion rate. When was the last time that your sales force was retrained?
  7. Now see if you can get your customers a bit more often in the door by increasing the number of transactions. Note that this requires reaching out to your existing clients, which might cost some money
  8. Lead generation is the last area to work on, and unless you know of low price marketing strategies, the most expensive. It is typically also the one that is basically unlimited.

For those who want to see the full eight ways formula:

(1) Leads * (2) Sales Conversion Rate = (A) New Clients

Old Clients * (3) Retention Rate = (B) Remaining Clients

Total Clients = (A) + (B)

Total Clients * (4) Average $ per sales ticket * (5) Number of Times they buy = Sales Revenue

Sales Revenue – (6) Collections % <and cash gap> = Collected Revenue

Collected Revenue * (7) Gross Margin = Gross Profit

Gross Revenue – (8) Fixed Costs = Net Profit

Note that there are over a 1000 recorded strategies that increase profits, all of them somehow fitting in one of these eight ways. If you don’t know where to start, ask a business coach for whom this eight way formula with its 1000 strategies is day to day stuff to get you going.

After all, who doesn’t want more profits?   money