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The Little BIG Things Make the Difference

163 ways to pursue excellence.

Axel Rittershaus

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To improve both my skills as an entrepreneur and a top executive and entrepreneur coach, I make sure I read a lot of books, articles and blogs. Recently a client of mine recommended a book to me called The little BIG things by Tom Peters. It has blown me away! My advice? Go out and get this book today!

It’s just perfect for every entrepreneur, no matter how limited your time is. It consists of 163 ways to pursue excellence and every entrepreneur should be striving for excellence!

There are so many good books with sound ideas, but the only thing that really counts (and makes a difference) is turning an idea into reality.

Attention to detail

A few weeks ago I stayed at a hotel that could have been the role model for Tom: they paid attention to all the little BIG things!

I held a seminar for the executives of one of my European clients and we stayed at an award winning seminar hotel in Germany, approximately 200 km north-west of Munich. The service concept of this hotel is built around little BIG things. They pay attention to little things that you have never thought of.

Little BIG things like:

  • Sunglasses and sunscreen in all outdoor sitting areas, so you get sun protection while working outside
  • A hand written personal welcome card at your desk when you enter your room
  • A CD player with several relaxation CDs to chill after a long seminar
  • A little map with routes for runners, in case you need some exercise
  • A DVD library at the reception and a DVD player in every room in case you can’t stand the TV programming
  • The cakes, fruits and sweets during your coffee break are not served on a table but on a ‘Sushi conveyor belt’

For me and most of the guests who were staying at the hotel for the first time, the most unique service happens during check-in. You tell the receptionist your name and while they are looking for your reservation, you get offered a free glass of champaign. Before I continue, the champaign is not the unique service.

After enjoying your glass, the receptionist doesn’t just hand the keys over to you. No, not at all. She steps in front of her desk and guides you to your room, no matter how close or far, no matter how often you’ve been there. Every seminar attendee who stayed there for the first time mentioned this experience when I asked him about comments regarding the hotel. Every single one!

You probably wouldn’t miss these little things if they would not be there. But as soon as you experienced them once, you will always look for them at every other hotel! And you most likely won’t find them.

Award-winning details

Did I mention that they won an award not once, but nine times. They have been the number one seminar hotel in Germany for nine consecutive years. Impressive. This doesn’t happen by accident; it requires hard work, outstanding customer service and a sense for the little BIG things. The hotel is called ‘Schindlerhof’ in the city of Nuremberg.

I think Tom Peters would love this hotel as well, because it symbolises what he preaches in his book.

From theory to reality

Tip number 149 says: “What makes you so special?” Tom quotes Jerry Garcia’s words “You don’t want to be merely the best of the best. You want to be the only ones who do what you do.” That’s it! If you are the only one (in a positive way of course), how can anyone compete with you? This doesn’t mean you need to dominate a market that no-one else is playing in. It means you need to be so good at what you do, and pay so much attention to the little details, that it doesn’t matter who your competitors are.

I believe that in the end excellence is the only way to have a sustainable business, because being excellent requires you to reinvent yourself again and again. As soon as you stop improving, you’re taking a step back while your competition is jumping forward and eventually ahead of you, to kick you out of business.

If you need some inspiration, if you want to improve your business and don’t know where to start, just get this book. Open it at any page and implement the tip you find on that page. If you do that once a week, your business will have implemented 52 little BIG things and be outstanding in one years’ time! It will take just a few minutes to read the one or two pages and you will immediately know what you have to do. It might even be more valuable than getting your MBA…

Start paying attention to the little BIG things and offer your customer some extra value he never expected and has never experienced (before you, that is).

It’s your duty to find these little things, because nobody else will tell you! Make it a fun part of your own and your employee’s life to find a little BIG thing every week. You can have a rule that it mustn’t cost you more than a given amount of money. The little things are most likely very cheap, but priceless in terms of you WOWING your customers.

If you have fun doing that, your clients will have fun as well – and that’s a good foundation for a successful business!

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.

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Self Development

Listening To These 8 Audiobooks On Success Is A Better Use Of Your Long Commute

Commuting is mostly just unpaid work, unless you make an effort to learn something along the way.

John Boitnott

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Commutes are getting longer, and in some cities they’re up to two hours each way. I have a friend in Los Angeles who does this. He passes the time with audiobooks. Now that’s still a lot of time to be stuck in transit, but he doesn’t view it that way. He says it allows him plenty of time to feed his personal and professional goals.

I’ve spent years listening to literature in the car while commuting, but somewhere along the line I switched over to books on business and personal improvement. I mostly gravitated toward amazing people who built their success from scratch and who experienced tremendous hardship. It stands to reason that if you’re dealing with hardships like a long commute, it’s important to hear motivational words that can help you transcend the difficulties.

Here are eight audiobooks that will help grow your success, both personal and professional, on your next commute:

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Self Development

3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

Erik Kruger

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3 Questions To Guide You To Success In 2018

Goal setting as a concept makes perfect sense. At the most basic level you decide on the destination and then plot the way to get there. But as with many things, we like to overcomplicate that which should be simple.

Before you know it, you end up with 2 big goals in 15 different areas of your life and 100 micro goals that will help you reach your 30 big goals.

Complicating something simple. Some of the biggest obstacles to people in reaching their goals are:

  • The overestimate the effort it will take to achieve those goals
  • They want to go from 0-100km/h in the blink of an eye
  • Life is dynamic and static goals often do not make sense
  • They get so entrenched in the day to day running of things that goals get pushed aside.

What if instead of goals, we just focused on giving our best every day?

Of course, you still want to have an indication of where you are going.

But, if you are giving your 100% every day then you can forego the micro goals for a better way of calibrating your compass… using questions.

Related: Goal Setting Guide

I suggest you ask yourself these three questions regularly:

1. What does better look like?

The question at the heart of development and incremental improvement. This question allows you some creative space in which you can imagine a better future.

  • What does better health look like?
  • What does a better business look like?
  • What does better customer service look like?
  • What does better leadership look like?

By reflecting on this question, you materialise the gap between where you are and where you could be. Now, the only thing that is left is to align your daily actions with the better future you imagined.

2. What can I control?

Borrowed from Stoicism this question highlights the power of decision in your life. Epictetus said we should always be asking ourselves: “Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?”

Once you ask this of yourself regularly you will feel more in control of your life and more in control of your business.

Why?

Because your focus is solely on the things that you can influence. It restores the belief that you can actually impact the world around you in a meaningful way.

3. Was I impeccable with my actions today?

One inherent flaw with goal setting is that the goal setter often feels judged. As if we need more of that. In addition to the constant negative self-talk we have to endure we now have an additional source of judgement – whether we reached our goals or not.

As we discovered in question #2 We cannot control everything. Most of the goals we set have some external component to it. Some component that we cannot control. Yet, we act like we can.

So, instead of judging yourself, commit to giving your best every single day.

Related: The Tim Ferriss Approach to Setting Goals: Rig the Game so You Win


Accountability

What I love most about these questions is that they provide a built-in layer of accountability. Use them every day.

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Self Development

To Be Successful Stay Far Away From These 7 Types of Toxic People

You need a network of talented people, not toxic personalities who undermine you.

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Surrounding yourself with prospective mentors is an excellent way to build lifelong success. When Steve Jobs founded Apple, he learned from colleagues like Steve Wozniak about what it took to build computer hardware. And he learned from early investors like Mike Markkula about what it took to build a successful company and market a product. Now imagine if Jobs had surrounded himself with toxic personalities instead. It is likely that he would not have been able to create a company that is on course to be valued at $1 trillion.

If you interact with people who demonstrate questionable behaviour, you’re more likely to model that behaviour yourself or to become stressed as a result. At the very least, you will be missing out on the opportunity to network with more successful and inspiring individuals.

This article will review seven personality types that should be eliminated from your life in order to build your most successful self. Once these people are gone, you can work on building a network of people who influence you positively.

1. Micromanagers

According to a report by NPR, micromanagement is one of the biggest factors associated with employee dissatisfaction, lowered motivation and lack of professional creativity. To be successful, you must learn to solve problems independently. Micromanaging can make it difficult to develop these skills.

Related: Keep An Eye Out For Toxic Employees

2. Short-term thinkers

If you surround yourself with short-term thinkers, it will be difficult to know if an idea is destined for long-term success. Those who are narrow-minded may be more likely to dismiss one of your ideas because it will take time to develop into a meaningful success.

Take the creation of Airbnb as an example. The company was founded in 2008. At the time the “sharing economy” did not exist, and hotel chains like Starwood and Hilton dominated the lodging market. A short-term thinker would have criticised an idea like Airbnb.

In order for the company to be successful, Airbnb would need to change people’s attitudes and expectations about travel. They would need to encourage people to be comfortable staying with strangers, and they would need to find ways to mitigate possible liability should something tragic happen during a customer’s stay.

Well-respected venture capitalists decided to pass on Airbnb because of these short-term concerns. The Airbnb founders were only able to find success once they connected with people who were comfortable thinking long term.

3. Pessimists

pessimistsPessimism is not always a bad trait; at times it can help entrepreneurs to recognize certain pitfalls that might otherwise be overlooked. However, a steady diet of pessimism is toxic when it comes to taking big professional risks.

As David Armor, an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University, says, “An entrepreneur starting up a company, for example, might drive himself to work 18-hour days for months and even years because he optimistically believes that there will be a big payoff for him at the end.” Conversely, a pessimistic attitude would make it difficult to tolerate such a prolonged stressful situation.

For those interested in taking on stressful professional situations, pessimistic people should be avoided in most cases.

Related: Tips on how to Survive and Thrive in a Toxic Workplace

4. Selfish people

Relationships that contribute to success are mutually beneficial. This dynamic cannot exist when dealing with selfish people. As a result, it is best to eliminate selfish people from your life in order to make room for more giving relationships.

A recent study found that a job applicant who is referred by an existing employee is 15 times more likely to be hired than someone who applies via a job board. If you befriend a selfish person, you probably can’t rely on them to introduce you to new career opportunities. However, forming connections with someone who is altruistic could give you a professional leg up.

5. Risk-averse personalities

Business success is about making informed decisions by weighing risks and rewards. If you are surrounded by people who over-index on possible risks while ignoring the possible rewards, it will be challenging to identify good business opportunities.

Take Amazon as an example. In 2014 Amazon launched a smartphone called the Fire Phone. In the end, the phone was not successful. Following the unsuccessful launch of the Fire Phone, risk-averse people might have avoided developing another piece of computer hardware.

But instead, Amazon correctly assessed the opportunity for an in-home smart speaker, and launched the Amazon Echo just one year later. Today, Echo has 75 percent of the smart-speaker market in the United States.

6. Unmotivated individuals

People who lack motivation or work ethic set a bad example for those interested in working diligently to become a professional success. There is no worse colleague than someone who simply does the bare minimum to get by.

Rather than associate yourself with people who cut corners or avoid hard work, try to surround yourself with people who are motivated to succeed. Collaborating with people who have a healthy drive for success can instill an extra dose of motivation in you.

Related: 3 Strategies for Dealing With Toxic People

7. Spendthrifts

Financial responsibility is a critically important quality to develop if you want to become successful. Warren Buffet is perhaps the supreme example of a financially responsible and successful person.

Buffet is the third wealthiest person in the world, worth nearly $80 billion. But despite his professional success, Buffet does not spend his money on flashy cars or large homes. In fact, Buffet still lives in the modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, that he purchased in 1958.

Those who associate with spendthrifts may be more motivated to make irresponsible financial decisions in order to fit in. At the very least, it will be harder to associate with people who make good financial choices, as these personalities are frequently diametrically opposed.

Conclusion

Business is all about who you know. From landing a new job to launching a new company, your network will enable or prevent future professional success. When developing a network of talented people, it is best to avoid toxic personalities who could set a bad example or demotivate you.

Be sure to avoid people who are micromanagers and short-term thinkers, as they can make it difficult to think autonomously. Risk-averse individuals or pessimists may cause you to think twice about great business ideas, and spendthrifts or selfish people may hamper your ability to grow. Last but not least, stay away from unmotivated individuals, as your success is dependent on your willingness to work diligently in order to succeed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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