Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

November 2012

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I really like Ron Johnson! Ron Johnson is the new CEO of the 110-year-old J. C. Penny chain. He’s an atypical CEO. That really appeals to me as an entrepreneur and small business owner. As entrepreneurs, we travel to the beat of a different drum. We’re often labeled “rebels” and “renegades” – like if it’s a bad thing. It’s not always easy being an entrepreneur in a business world that applauds conformity. And, to that point, entrepreneurs can always benefit from a healthy dose of inspiration which is what I found in a recent AP article by Anne D’Innocenzio, J.C. Penny CEO tries to change the way we shop.

The gigantic task of reinventing J. C. Penny’s wasn’t Ron Johnson’s first rodeo. Johnson has a strong track record of success when it comes to innovation. He was the brains that made Target hip with its “cheap chic”, and Apple’s stores and their Genius Bar’s even hipper at a time when Dell store fronts were closing like tents in a rainstorm.

What lessons can entrepreneurs learn from Ron Johnson? Here are just a few:

1. Have a vision that sparks enthusiasm – and make sure it’s yours!

Ron’s story: Despite the naysayers and critics, Ron Johnson maintains his “boyish enthusiasm” for his vision. “Lots of people think we’re crazy. But that’s what it takes to get ahead.” Well said, Mr. Johnson!

Consideration: Have you heard it said that if you fail to set your own vision, someone sets it for you? Well, it’s true. If you haven’t considered what you want the future of your small business to look like, it’s easy to get caught up in a course sparked by someone else’s vision and enthusiasm. Your vision must be your own. It’s what inspires and carries you through those tough times that all entrepreneurs face.

2. Take time for reflection and renewal.

Ron’s story: For a period before becoming CEO, Ron traveled across the globe in search of ideas to transform J.C. Penny’s.

Consideration: Innovative, transformative ideas require space and time to bubble to the surface of your consciousness. Although you may not be able to escape your day-to-day routine for an extended period, consider scheduling a 3-day weekend retreat every quarter to rejuvenate your brain cells and revitalize those ground-breaking ideas.

3. Look for innovation in unlikely sources – outside yourself.

Ron’s story: While traveling the globe, Ron visited with cool and stylish designers and retailers. Although meeting with others in the apparel industry may be viewed as an unlikely source, he didn’t really solely on his own brilliance for reinventing J.C. Penny.

Consideration: It’s easy for entrepreneurs to become blinded by their own genius and ingenuity. Sourcing new and novel ideas from unusual and unexpected resources can net you some unique inspiration. Go for a hike. Take an improv class. Run a marathon. Enroll in an art class. Be amazed by your discoveries.

4. When you’ve made a mistake, admit it early and move on.

Ron’s story: Brilliant as he is, some of his ideas blew up in his face. Rather than stubbornly hold on to what he thought would be astonishingly successful strategies, Ron quickly admitted he blew it and made the necessary course corrections.

Consideration: Learn from Ron. Admit mistakes early and often and keep moving.

5. Don’t panic.

Ron’s story: Despite stock losses, comments from nervous investors, lack-luster sales from fickle customers, and cynicism from investors, Ron remained steadfast and unflinching in the enthusiastic pursuit of his vision.

Consideration: See point 1. When you have a vision you believe in, nothing can deter you from your success. How you get there may change but your vision remains the same.

6. Learn. Adapt. Move forward.

Ron’s story: Despite the beating Ron’s newly implemented strategies were taking, he viewed the failings as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and continue to move forward.

Consideration: Entrepreneurs fail forward to success. Without failure, there is no success. Learn to view failure – not as a personal reflection of you and/or your abilities – but rather as the learning one needs to discover what will and will not work.

Before reading the AP article, I had no idea who Ron Johnson was. Now he’s my new hero. I want to learn from and be like Ron – enthusiastically steadfast in the pursuit of my vision. Are you inspired by Ron’s story? Or, do you have someone you learn from and source your inspiration?

Ahhh, ‘tis the season….What is it about zombies and little princesses begging for candy at your doorstep that triggers the start of the real “spooky” season – THE HOLIDAYS! Entrepreneurs are stretched to capacity running a successful business and now it’s time to squeeze the additional activities joyfully ushered in by the holiday season. Wouldn’t it be nice to gift yourself a stress-less holiday?

Unconsciously, we journey into the holidays. There’s shopping for the family, friends, business clients and colleagues. If you’re miles from your family, there’s wrapping and mailing in time for Santa’s delivery. Traveling to see family or friends includes making travel arrangements, fighting long lines and crowded planes praying a storm doesn’t ground your flight somewhere in New Jersey. There is menu-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, and baking. Oh, let’s not forget the holiday parties and school plays to squeeze into your calendar. Did I mention the newsy holiday letter and cards needing to be mailed? Some entrepreneurs have an added pressure of year-end inventory and we ALL face planning for a more fruitful, successful new year. Is it any wonder that our strategic plans aren’t complete until mid March? What could possibly go wrong?

Other than stress killing you – literally – there’s plenty that goes hay wire this time of year. Partnerships go sideways. Fatigue leads to poor decisions. Burnout caused you to hide in your office closet to avoid work. Conflict rises up between the best of business colleagues. The day-to-day demands of growing a business easily exceed capacity. The obligations of the holidays – even when carried out to the tune of “White Christmas” – tip the scales. Even so, it doesn’t seem to stop us from repeating the same crazy schedule year after year.

Rather than wait for the festivities of the season to strike like a blast of arctic air, let’s make a pact to move toward this holiday season differently so our new year can be kicked off with renewed energy for all you intend.

Here are 8 tips to help you and your business get through the holiday season unscathed:

1. Be intentional – Set your objective and purpose for this holiday season (Being everything to everyone and meeting everyone’s expectations doesn’t count.)

2. Create your project and commitment list – Personal and professional projects need to be completed. Rather than trying to keep them all in your head, write them down. It helps sort them out and puts you in the driver’s seat.

3. Plan ahead – Equipped with your calendar, jot down you’re current commitments including business meetings with clients, networking events, personal parties, etc. Allow enough time (aka white space) to allow something to go amiss at the last minute.

4. Align expectations with capacity – Ask yourself what personal and professional projects need to be completed during the next 6 weeks? How much time does each project require? Once you have a sense of your commitments, schedule them in.

Getting the picture? You now have a much clearer view of what you (and others) can realistically expect.

5. Delegate – Yes! We can do it all but is it necessary for us to do everything? Review your project and commitment list to identify the tasks to be delegated. Nail down who’s responsible for what, by when, and what you need reported to you that gives you confidence in handing over tasks.

6. Get enough sleep – There’s nothing new here but it’s good to be reminded how much better you perform and cope with stress when you’re rested.  Don’t just ‘say’ you’ll get more sleep – plan for it!

7. Exercise – You’ve heard this one too but did you also know that entrepreneurs who run or bike actually have higher sales than those who don’t exercise? In other words, if you move it, you’ll make it! Again, time available for exercise doesn’t magically happen, you have to plan for it.

8. Say No – It’s our most used word as a toddler yet it seems to get lost with age. If you can’t say “Heck Yeah” to projects or parties, say no!

How about an early holiday gift for yourself – a little less stress to go with that egg nog, perhaps?

What are you doing to make the holidays less-stressful for yourself this year?

Related Blog Posts:

13 Tips to Make Time Work for You

Declutter Your Task List

Say Goodbye to Things That Bug You

The Entrepreneurs Naughty & Nice List for Business Growth

7 Tips for Entrepreneurs to Achieve Work/Life Balance

As an entrepreneur, you have taken on the task of a lifetime and you want to make the most of it! That’s why you’re considering a strategic business coach. You’ve likely heard about the many benefits associated with business coaching and, what’s most important, is what you want to achieve with the business coaching relationship. It’s more than just about the results—it’s also about the type of business coach you need and the extent of the coaching they offer.

What You Need Help With

Before you decide what you need from your strategic business coach, you want to determine what you want to achieve. Do you need to organize and improve efficiency in your business? Are you looking for coaching for team-building? Do you want to grow your revenue with coaching on pricing strategies, lead generation, and/or client acquisition? Understanding your business needs helps determine what you want from a business coach. Still not sure what you most need from your business coach? One of my clients described her inability to clearly see her business needs as, “I’m all tangled up in my socks.” Aptly put! Even a strategic business coach can coach you through unraveling your socks.

Objective Perspective

You count on your friends and family members for lots of things but, unfortunately, they are incapable of providing that objective feedback your business needs. A business coach is fair, interested in your success, reasonable, and knowledgeable when it comes to coaching your business through the various stages of business growth and development. Coaches are also willing to tell the truth rather than what you want to hear. Although this is the sort of feedback that may be difficult to hear, it can have the greatest impact on the business as a whole. And, if you and your business coach are a good match, you’ll welcome the feedback.


Let’s face it, not everyone’s personality, or level of knowledge and expertise, may work for you. An otherwise perfect business coach may not fully understand your business or mesh with your personality. Look for a coach you can trust and confide in and a person with whom you feel has the skill and knowledge you need. After all, you’re using strategic business coaching to better your business.

As an entrepreneur, you want to interview and select the right business coach for your business. You worked hard to get your business up and running, and as a small business owner operating in a complex marketplace, you want to feel confident about your business coach selection.

Want to experience business coaching first hand? Schedule a “get acquainted” 30 minute strategic business coaching consultation today. It’s on us!

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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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