Sincere Questions That Cut Through Small Talk

One thing I know for sure about myself is this: I’m not great at small talk. I wasn’t born with the gift of gab. While I thrive on other people’s energy, I hate to come up with frivolous conversation starters. I’d much rather jump right into a meaningful dialogue than participate in idle chatter. This makes opportunities like networking events a bit intimidating. And I’m certain I’m not the only one with this aversion to small-talk.

Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, discovered that to be able to draw people in, he simply had to ask the right questions. Here, we’ll share some of Schwantes’ questions that drive interest and persuasion in a professional conversation. He points out that the first four questions are borrowed from business author David Burkus, which were shared in the Harvard Business Review.

1. What excites you right now? As Burkus explains, this question can go in many directions with a wide range of possible answers that may overlap into your personal life or work life, which will open the conversation further. And asking it allows for the other person to share something that he or she is passionate about.

2. What are you looking forward to? Like the last question, this one is more forward-looking, which, says Burkus, allows for the other person “to choose from a bigger set of possible answers.”

3. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year? It’s the same technique as the previous two, but this one goes back in time for the other person to reflect on something pivotal that may have changed the course of his or her life. It also opens up a wealth of answers to choose from, which may overlap into some of your own areas of interest for further discussion.

4. What’s the most important thing I should know about you? Because it can come across as a little direct, this is certainly not your first question, and it may not even be your third or fourth, but it “gives the broadest possible range from which they can choose,” says Burkus. Use it in context, listen for clues and wait for the right timing.

5. What’s your story? This is open-ended enough to trigger an intriguing story—a journey to a foreign country, meeting a famous person, getting funded for a startup, a special talent used for making the world a better place, etc. It’s a question that immediately draws in the other person and lets him or her speak from the heart.

6. What is one of your defining moments? This question invites the speaker to share on a deeper level, which builds momentum and rapport more quickly. Obviously, asking a few casual questions before it helps set the mood for hearing about a profound moment or transition in that person’s life.

7. Why did you choose your profession? This assumes that, at some point, you dropped the mandatory “What do you do?” question. As a follow-up, it’s a question that will reveal multiple layers of someone’s journey. It speaks to people’s values, what motivates them and whether their work is their calling. It may also trigger a different, more thought-provoking response: some people aren’t happy in their jobs. By asking, you may be in the position to assist or mentor a person through a career or job transition.

8. What are you currently reading? You may have the same authors and subjects in common, which will deepen your conversation. Also, use this question to ask for book recommendations. You may find the conversation going down the path of exploring mutual book ideas to solve a workplace issue or implement a new business strategy.

9. How can I be most helpful to you right now? To really add the most value to a conversation, once a level of comfort has been established, ask the other person how you can be most helpful to him or her, whether personally or professionally. You’ll be amazed how pleasantly surprised people will be by that thoughtful gesture, and how responsive they are in their answer. Your genuine willingness, no strings attached, to make yourself useful to others leads to more interesting, engaging and real conversations that may lead to future opportunities.

Whatever question you decide to use, the important thing is to always ask open-ended questions and to avoid work-related questions or business questions until much, much later in the conversation. You’ll be surprised by how seamless the transition will be to business, conducting a sales pitch or exploring partnerships once both parties know each other.

Source: Marcel Schwantes is an expert in developing exceptional servant leadership work cultures where employees, managers, executives and their businesses thrive. He is an entrepreneur, executive coach and adviser, and keynote speaker.

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Using “Thank-You” To Get What You Want

Most of us like to be thanked, especially when the sentiment is sincere. For that reason, saying “thank-you” is one of the most powerful phrases in any language.

Upon meeting you, a job candidate thanks you for considering him for the position. Your boss thanks you in a staff meeting for the project you are about to undertake. A sign in your gym thanks members for placing used towels in the hamper.

Today, we share these insights into the power of saying thank-you in advance to get what you want from Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc.

Why A Thank-You In Advance Works

Zabriskie says that thanking people in advance works for a several reasons. The first has to do with a sense of obligation many people feel to reciprocate after they’ve received something.

The second explanation for the technique’s effectiveness is because people want to conform to a positive image of themselves. In other words, “I’m going to act like a good worker because I am a good worker.”

A third explanation for the power of this method has to do with instruction. Often, we assume people intuitively know what they are supposed to do. Guess what? Many don’t. They’ve forgotten, they’re preoccupied or they’re simply not thinking. Offered in the right way, many people will follow a suggested course of action, because it’s the path of least resistance.

The Structure Of Saying Thank-You In Advance

To plan an advanced thank-you, use the following framework:

1. Think about the desired result. “I want my employees to show up on time.”

2. Identify the type of people who typically demonstrate that behavior. “Responsible and accountable people show up on time.”

3. Craft a statement that identifies the people you are addressing as that group, and be specific about the result you want to see. For example: “I appreciate the fact that I have such a dedicated team. I want to thank you in advance for giving 110 percent this week. The hours during this busy season are demanding, and it takes a true group of professionals to act upbeat and engaged with every visitor. This is why we hired you.”

Tips and Cautions:

1. Thanking people for good behavior should be done before you’ve observed anything particularly egregious. For example, imagine a chaotic scene in a retail environment where customers are pushing and shoving each other. It’s more difficult to thank them into a reverse course after they’ve gone wild. However, a little advanced gratitude offered earlier could have helped avoid mayhem.

2. Thanking people is not a substitute for confronting inappropriate behavior. For example, if an employee comes to work dressed improperly, you can’t thank your way around addressing the problem. However, you can use a thank you as part of the corrective conversation. “Mary, I appreciate you listening to me this morning, and I want to thank you in advance for taking the conversation seriously. I know you have what it takes to represent our company well. I look forward to seeing you be successful here.”

3. Thanking people for everything dilutes the method’s effectiveness. “Bill, I want to thank you for coming in on time today. I know how important punctuality is to you, so thank you for parking in the employee lot and not taking a visitor’s space.” Too much of that, and Bill is going to think you’ve got a screw or two loose. Worse still, he’s not going to believe a word you say.

Perfecting the science and art of the advanced thank-you takes time but it can be an important tool of influence.

PCT wants to thank you in advance for checking your inbox tomorrow for the next issue.

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage PR

It was Edward Bernays, known as the father of public relations, who said, “”Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse. It must understand the changes in the public mind and be prepared to interpret itself fairly and eloquently to changing opinion.”

In today’s business world, public relations is often associated with large, corporate challenges and societal issues. But, PR can have an important impact on a small business as well. In fact, when it comes to branding and marketing, PR is one of the most important tools to help get you the right type of attention-and it can easily fit into your marketing budget.

Here, we share these five tips for PR success, from business author Shannon Gausepohl.

To get started with PR, begin with the right mindset. Building brand awareness and name recognition takes time. Gausepohl advises to set aside 10 percent of your annual budget for public relations activities. Use these dollars to help you:

  • Establish clear, measurable goals for your business.
  • Determine the best strategy to achieve these goals and execute this strategy.
  • Review your results and establish new goals or a new strategy.

Here are key steps to building and implementing your plan:

1. Figure out your “why.” What is the ultimate goal of your PR campaign? Increase customer engagement? Position yourself as a community leader? You’ll need to define your goal before creating your PR strategy or tactics.

Remember, the “why” is your story, not your product or your service. For example, say you are a launching a new restaurant. Instead of telling people to check out this new trendy place (your what), you’ll need to answer why it matters. Why did you decide to start this restaurant in the first place?

2. Build your own media list. The next step is to identify your influencers, both online and offline. Who are those influencers with the most targeted reach that can serve as a third-party earned endorsement? Before you pitch anything, make sure that what you’re sending is relevant to what the media out writes about or covers.

3. Create your brand message. When sending information, personalize it to both your brand and the person you are pitching to. Often, highly personalized, short email pitches are better than long-winded news releases.

Also, if you don’t hear back right away, don’t take it personally. It often takes a few tries before a journalist will reach out to you. If one pitch doesn’t work, be patient, wait and try a new angle when you have something newsworthy to share again.

4. Be a source for the media. It’s valuable to build relationships with journalists in your industry. You can save them time by providing industry information and being a resource. Be fast in your response to their requests and don’t bother with multiple follow-ups. Be sincere, helpful and informative.

5. Ask for help. There are PR resources to fit any budget, so ask for help. You can source both independent contractors as well as PR firms to help you navigate your industry landscape. These resources already have the trust and relationships with the media, and they can help you design PR campaigns that build your brand and serve as a resource should you need to navigate through any potential issues.

Try these tips to improve your PR value, influence key audiences and build your brand equity.

Source: Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Gausepohl is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Six Body Language Tricks To Create Instant Rapport

Research shows that up to 80 percent of the information we receive in personal conversation is transmitted nonverbally, making body language as critical as the words we use. According to the book, How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes, you can capture and hold anyone’s attention without saying a single word.

here we take a look as, Business Insider contributor Maggie Zhang shares these body language tips from Lowndes’ book for capturing someone’s attention. Try these during your next prospect or customer meeting to increase your credibility and engagement.

1. The Flooding Smile: “Don’t flash an immediate smile when you greet someone,” says Lowndes. If you do, it appears as if anyone in your line of sight would receive that same smile. Instead, pause and look at the other person’s face for a second, and then let a “big, warm, responsive smile flood over your face and overflow into your eyes.”

This delayed, slower smile creates a sense of sincerity and the recipient feels like this smile was specifically for them. It increases the depth of how people perceive you.

2. Sticky Eyes: “Pretend your eyes are glued to your conversation partner’s eyes with sticky, warm taffy,” Lowndes advises. After the person speaks, don’t break eye contact. Lowndes says, “When you must look away, do it ever so slowly, reluctantly, stretching the gooey taffy until the tiny string finally breaks.” You can also try counting your conversation partner’s blinks to maintain eye contact. In a case study, subjects reported significantly higher feelings of respect and fondness for their colleagues who used this technique.

3. Epoxy Eyes: In a group of people, you should occasionally look at the person you are interested in, no matter who else is talking. If your attention is drawn to that person even when they are simply listening, you show that you are interested in his or her reactions. You should primarily watch the speaker, but allow your glance to bounce to your target when the speaker finishes interesting points.

4. The Big-Baby Pivot: People are very conscious of how you react to them. When you meet someone new, turn your body fully toward them and give them the same, undivided attention you would give a baby. Lowndes says, “Pivoting 100 percent toward the new person shouts, ‘I think you are very, very special.'”

5. Limit The Fidget: If you want to appear credible, try not to move too much when your conversation really matters. “Do not fidget, twitch, wiggle, squirm or scratch,” Lowndes says. Frequent hand motions near your face can give your listener the feeling that you’re lying or anxious. Instead, simply fix a constant gaze on the listener and show them that you’re fully concentrated on the matter at hand.

6. Hello, Old Friend: When you first meet someone, imagine they’re your old friend. According to Lowndes, this will cause a lot of subconscious reactions in your body, from the softening of your eyebrows to the positioning of your toes. When you act as though you like someone, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy — you might really start to like them. The next time you are introduced to someone new, try this positive approach.

Using these tips in various business settings will set the tone for more positive working relationships.

Source: Maggie Zhang, an English major from Princeton University, is an editorial intern at Business Insider. Her article appeared in the Thrive Global Community.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Seven Ways To Motivate Your Team

It’s 2018, a new year, and a great opportunity to assess what can be done to make your team more collaborative, motivated and effective in the coming year. Here, we share these pillars from executive coach Jan Makela to help you and your team get there.

1. Vision and mission: Begin by asking some key questions. What is it that you want? What is in it for others? There has to be something bigger than you that others can grasp and buy in to. Why does your organization exist? Workers today want to work for organizations that can show a purpose or cause. Makela gives the example of Google, whose corporate mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

2. Goals: In just a few weeks, everyone will be setting goals for the New Year, whether it’s losing weight, saving money or something else. And then what happens? The goals go into a drawer or are hidden in an electronic file never to see the light of day until someone asks for them. So, put your goals on display so that the entire team can see them daily. Why? Out of sight means out of mind. Keep your goals in front of the people in charge of accomplishing them and ask them about their progress on a routine basis-preferably weekly. Ask them how they are doing and what can you do to make the goals easier to accomplish.

3. Expectations: Only 30 percent of employees know what is expected of them at work. Your goal is to get people to work and perform together. People will live up or down to the perception of your expectations of them. If they think you believe in their abilities and expect them to do well, they will. Remember, if people don’t know what you expect, don’t be surprised by what you get.

4. Feedback: Positive feedback grows and negative feedback stifles. Catch your employees doing the job right and recognize them for it. They will do more of what generates positive feedback.

5. Treat everyone fairly but not equally: The people you work with are all unique individuals, and although you need to treat each one fairly, that does not necessarily mean equally. They have different values, wants, backgrounds, skill sets and experiences, and most likely they are at different stages of their careers. One size fits nobody. Great managers play chess, meaning that all of the pieces move differently. The key to success is knowing the differences between the pieces, how each piece moves and how to create a strategy that maximizes the moves for all of them. Another key piece of the puzzle is showing your team that you genuinely care about them. They need to know you have their interest at heart; people want to know that someone at work cares about them as a person.

6. Provide tools and resources to do quality work: Most people want to do quality work. Part of that is having the tools and resources to do a quality job. Ask your team members what you can do to make their job easier. If they say, “I need a new widget maker,” get it. Provide them with the resources they need to succeed. If they say they don’t need anything, your response should be, “guess I can expect quality work.” You want to remove any and all reasons for failure. You only leave a path to success.

7. Celebrate success: What do organizations do when they accomplish a big thing? Well, they move on to the next big thing. It is important to stop and celebrate with your team. Allow people to share the memory of what has been accomplished. Simple things like handwritten notes are important. Remember to thank everyone for what they did and how their contribution led to the overall achievement of the group.

The seven pillars can help you and your team stand out within your organization.

Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker and bestselling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Makela has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development with a focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners and professionals.

Five Ways To Maintain Brand Value

When it comes to your business, do you know the value of your brand? In other words, what is the monetary impact of your brand to your bottom line? According to Forbes magazine, the values of some of the world’s top brands look like this: Apple, $104.3 billion; Microsoft, $56.7 billion; and Coca-Cola, $54.9 billion.

Your brand value is most likely not in the billions like these global companies, but nonetheless, it’s important to maintain your brand value. Here, we share five ways to retain your reputation, make the most of economic upswings and positively impact your bottom line from Mark Di Somma, a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project.

1. Be part of a rising category. If you have a brand in a rising product category, then you want to invest in building that brand interest. If you don’t have a brand in an up-and-coming category, then consider how you can get your brand in that space either through acquisition, a partnership or co-branding opportunity.

2. Tackle social issues. What are the reputational or social issues that your market segment faces? What impact could your brand have on a social issue? For example, product safety is closely tied to child safety. In the fast-food industry, those brands are being challenged by healthier brands, so they are having to step up with more health and nutrition programs.

3. Increase “share of life.” This phrase from Millward Brown refers to expanding your touchpoints and extending your ecosystem to reach customers in multiple ways and through multiple products and channels. Di Somma uses the example of Apple, a brand that affects lives every day through mobile phones, apps, iPads, point-of-purchase, music and entertainment. Amazon is another brand example of this with its easy, one-click shopping and relevant purchase recommendations. Nike, with its Nike+ Fuelband, has transformed itself from a mere apparel brand to a companion and coach for runners.

4. Be more convenient. One way brands like Apple and Amazon are successful is by creating seamless experiences. This is convenient for the consumer while also helping the brand control the consumer journey. Di Somma points out that digital media plays a key role with this, so think of ways you can develop digital touchpoints through your brand to keep the customer engaged and connected.

5. Beautify. Continue to review and adjust the design and style of your products and your advertising so that your brand feels “now.” This is hard, but not impossible, for brands with long lead times. It is also relative, and chances are your competitors face the same logistical issues that you do. By continually checking the appeal of what you offer, you can introduce your brand to new segments. Remember the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”? An updated car design led to a younger market for the car manufacturer.

Be a champion of your brand and try these tactics to continue to increase your brand value.

Source: Mark Di Somma is a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project. For more than 20 years he has helped decision makers, brand owners and brand agencies define, articulate and elevate the value of their brands.

Image courtesy of google image search.

Want Innovation? Learn From Ants

As is virtually always discussed, innovation plays an important role in any organization, both large and small, but there’s a significant difference in how innovation shows up in each type of organization.

Large companies usually have innovation teams focused on large-scale problems and large- scale production. Ron Ashkenas and Markus Spiegel, authors and contributors to HBR.org, note that these types of teams move in a specified direction at predictable speed.

On the other hand, innovation is not as organized and formal in small companies. It’s usually more spontaneous and nimble, driven by those wearing multiple hats.

Ashkenas and Spiegel have studied more than a dozen global organizations and their approaches to innovation—some successful and some not so much. Here, we share four of their findings on innovation.

1. It takes the mindset of an ant. Teams functioning like machines—blindly following highly defined processes and execution plans—were the least effective at achieving their goals and coming up with innovations. The most successful teams operated less like highly efficient machines and more like ant colonies, where they quickly adapted to changes in their environment. They had a set of simple rules and a clear goal, allowing them to be more flexible and able to learn along the way.

2. Centralize your mission; loosen your structure. As Ashkenas and Spiegel point out, ants have no central control, no single “master ant,” yet the entire colony works together as one community. They’re able to align their individual activities to the powerful common purpose that each ant shares—the survival of the nest. Thus, when the environment shifts, individual ants adapt their roles for the collective good.

Leaders of effective innovation teams communicate and centralize the mission of the team, but give the team members the freedom to do what’s needed to achieve their part. This allows the team to adapt when they hit dead ends. This is also why companies like Google align their people through yearly and quarterly goals, while giving them the ability to work toward these results in multiple ways.

3. Communication is key. Back to the ants. We’ve all seen long ant trails leading to a food source. If the source is particularly good, the trail intensifies and more ants follow it. It’s a time- and energy-saving way to communicate.

Rich, frequent and candid communication is also important for organizational teams to find innovations as quickly as possible. People need to bounce around ideas, share insights and challenge each other’s assumptions. Leaders need to make sure their teams have the time, space and tools to make this happen. Bring your team together often and create a comfortable atmosphere for dialog and brainstorming. Make it easy to share ideas through tools like instant messaging and file sharing.

4. Experiment with ideas. Always test new ideas and new ways of doing things. It’s at the heart of innovation. Ashkenas and Spiegel us the example of Intuit, who puts new product ideas on the internet before they are developed to test whether there is a market. If there’s interest, they proceed with development; if not, they modify the idea or quietly withdraw it.

Encourage your team to test ideas through action instead of just through studies and analyses. Of course, this requires both dollars and resources to build prototypes and mock-ups early in the discovery process and to engage directly with customers to get rapid feedback and test assumptions.

Embrace these management concepts behind innovation and watch your “colony” flourish.

Source: Ron Ashkenas is partner emeritus at Shaffer Consulting, where he helped leading organizations achieve dramatic performance improvements and coached CEOs and senior executives on strengthening their leadership capacity. He’s also an avid author and contributor to publications such as Harvard Business Reviewon topics related to organizational change.

Markus Spiegel is partner at Schaffer Consulting where he helps organizations to master the challenges in complex environments. His experience includes working in the automotive and financial services industry, including key roles at the BMW Group. He is also a contributor to Harvard Business Review.

Four Ways To Combat Lukewarm Leadership

In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy by leadership can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Today, we will share four ways to combat lukewarm leadership from business coach and author Brian Braudis.

1. Set the tone: Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. What you do as a leader has tremendous influence on those throughout your team and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your all-in message.

2. Communicate: Communication is a standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and gain followers. Here’s how:

  • Get specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in-person communications.
  • Get face to face: Aim for dialog rather than monologue. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received.
  • Demonstrate beyond words: What you do supersedes what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and seven percent communication through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedures.

3. Be the Island of commitment in a sea of uncertainty: Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, and being less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who

are anchored in commitment. They bring a calming presence and a higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show consistent enthusiasm: Leaders who show enthusiasm remove any hint of being lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second best. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Source: Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Braudis believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. His passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader.  Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Essential Principles For Growing Your Small Business

When it comes to succeeding in growing a small business, many people view success as luck. Some will succeed and some won’t. And it’s stories like John Mackey’s that inspire us to try. Mackey started a small vegetarian store in Austin, Texas, more than 30 years ago and this year sold his Whole Foods empireto Amazon at a price tag of $13.7 billon.

Business author Faisal Hoque points out in his recent Fast Company article that luck isn’t what it takes. Small business success comes from five essential elements, which we’ll share here.

1. Timing is Everything. The timing of your product or service must be right in the marketplace. There must be a need or a pain point that your product or service solves in order to gain interest and traction. If the market isn’t ready, then your business will fail or you will need to wait to launch your product or adjust your product to the market needs. As Hoque points out, smaller businesses have the advantage of being able to make choices and implement changes without the exhaustive process and conflicting points of view that slow down major corporations.

2. Brand, Brand, Brand. You need to create a positive experience for your customers to stay competitive. And, if you want to create a scalable business, you must understand just how crucial it is to build brand equity. The emotional attachment that links customers to your product, as opposed to any other, translates into sustainable growth. Hoque shares these basic rules for brand-building:

Choose your target audience. The surest road to product failure is to try to be all things to all people.

Connect with the public. Your objective is to make your audience feel an emotional attachment to your brand.

Inspire and influence your audience. An inspirational brand message is far more influential than one that just highlights product feature functions.

Reinforce the brand image within your company. Make sure employees at every level of your organization work and behave in a way that reinforces your brand image.

3. Scale Your Sales. You also need repeatable sales processes to create a business that can easily grow. It is one thing to sign up a few customers; it is another thing entirely to identify, design and implement repeatable sales and customer delivery processes. According to Hoque, you know your business is scalable when:

You can add new hires at the same productivity level as yourself or your sales leader.

You can increase the sources of your customer leads on a consistent basis.

Your sales conversion rate and revenue can be consistently forecasted.

Your cost to acquire a new customer is significantly less than the amount you can earn from that customer over time.

Your customers get the right product in the right place at the right time.

4. Embrace Technology. Bottom line, it pays to embrace technology. If a small business can identify a genuine need, technology likely exists to fulfill that need both locally and globally. There are few barriers to entry in an age where anyone with wireless can cheaply and quickly access the enabling technologies needed to execute their business model. Put effort into mapping out a plan that ties technology into your operational and business needs.

5. De-Stress For Success. As Hoque points out, managing the success of a small business can be twice as stressful as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner, nearly three times as stressful as raising children, and more than four times as stressful as managing your own personal finances. In fact, a Bank of America survey pointed out that 38 percent of small business owners maintain full or part-time jobs while running their own business.

If you’re not happy, healthy and motivated, growing your business will be difficult. You also set the tone for everyone who works with you. So, take care of your mental and physical well-being so that you can provide the best of you to the business.

PCT returns tomorrow with more tips for success.

Source: Faisal Hoque is founder of SHADOKA and other companies. His newest book is “Survive to Thrive — 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders” (Motivational Press, 2015). He is formerly of GE, and other global brands, business author and contributor to Fast CompanyBusiness Insider and the Huffington Post.

Japanese firm gives non-smokers extra six days holiday to compensate for cigarette breaks

Company based on 29th floor of Tokyo office block says every break lasts at least 15 minutes.

A Japanese company is granting its non-smoking staff an additional six days of holiday a year to make up for the time off smokers take for cigarette breaks.

Marketing firm Piala Inc introduced the new paid leave allowance in September after non-smokers complained they were working more than their colleagues who smoked.

Hirotaka Matsushima, a spokesman for the company, told The Telegraph: “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems.”

Following the suggestion, the company’s CEO Takao Asuka decided to give non-smoking employees extra time off to compensate, Mr Matsushima added.

The matter has been taken seriously by the Tokyo-based company which is reportedly based on the 29th floor of an office block — making any cigarette break last at least 15 minutes, according to staff.

Mr Asuka hopes the scheme will create an incentive for the company’s staff to quit smoking.

Efforts to reduce the number of smokers and impose tougher anti-smoking regulations have been seen across Japan in recent months.

In July, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike made plans to impose a smoking ban in public places across the Japanese capital ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

But the proposal is likely to encounter strong opposition from pro-smoking politicians, restaurateurs and cigarette manufacturing giant Japan Tobacco, which is one third government-owned and paid the state $700m in dividends in 2015.

The World Health Organisation ranks Japan at the bottom of the list in anti-smoking regulations according to the type of public places entirely smoke-free and around 18 per cent of Japanese are believed to smoke.