The Most Annoying, Pretentious And Useless Business Jargon

My Say , Contributor, Forbes Entrepreneurs, 1/26/2012

The next time you feel the need to reach out, touch base, shift a paradigm, leverage a best practice or join a tiger team, by all means do it. Just don’t say you’re doing it.

If you have to ask why, chances are you’ve fallen under the poisonous spell of business jargon. No longer solely the province of consultants, investors and business-school types, this annoying gobbledygook has mesmerized the rank and file around the globe.

“Jargon masks real meaning,” says Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

To save you from yourself (and to keep your colleagues and customers from strangling you), we have assembled a cache of expressions to assiduously avoid.

We also assembled a “Jargon Madness” bracket—similar to the NCAA college basketball tournament—featuring 32 abominable expressions. Each day, for 32 days, readers will get to vote, via Twitter, on one matchup. The goal: to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it and all of those other ridiculous terms, too.

Core Competency

This awful expression refers to a firm’s or a person’s fundamental strength—even though that’s not what the word “competent” means. “This bothers me because it is just a silly phrase when you think about it,” says Bruce Barry, professor of management at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Business. “Do people talk about peripheral competency?  Being competent is not the standard we’re seeking.  It’s like core mediocrity.”

Buy-In

This means agreement on a course of action, if the most disingenuous kind. Notes David Logan, professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business: “Asking for someone’s ‘buy-in’ says, ‘I have an idea.  I didn’t involve you because I didn’t value you enough to discuss it with you.  I want you to embrace it as if you were in on it from the beginning, because that would make me feel really good.’”

S.W.A.T. Team

In law enforcement, this term refers to teams of fit men and women who put themselves in danger to keep people safe. “In business, it means a group of ‘experts’ (often fat guys in suits) assembled to solve a problem or tackle an opportunity” says USC’s Logan. An apt comparison, if you’re a fat guy in a suit.

Empower

This is what someone above your pay grade does when, apparently, they would like you to do a job of some importance. It’s also called “the most condescending transitive verb ever.” Says Chatman: “It suggests that ‘You can do a little bit of this, but I’m still in charge here.  I am empowering you.’”

Open the Kimono

“Some people use this instead of ‘revealing information,’” says Barry. “It’s kind of creepy.” Just keep your kimono snugly fastened.

Bleeding Edge

Someone decided that his product or service was so cutting-edge that a new term needed to be created. It did not. Unless you are inventing a revolutionary bladed weapon, leave this one alone.

Lots of Moving Parts

Pinball machines have lots of moving parts. Many of them buzz and clank and induce migraine headaches. Do you want your business to run, or even appear to run, like a pinball machine? Then do not say it involves lots of moving parts.

Corporate Values

This expression is so phony it churns the stomach. Corporations don’t have values, the people who run them do.

Make Hay

This is jargon for being productive or successful in a short period of time. The phrase ‘to make hay’ is short for ‘make hay while the sun shines’, which can be traced to John Heyward’s The Proverbs, Epigrams and Miscellanies of John Heywood (circa 1562). A handy nugget for cocktail conversation, but that’s it.

Scalable

A scalable business or activity refers to one that requires little additional effort or cost for each additional unit of output. Example: Making software is a scalable business (building it requires lots of effort up front, while distributing a million copies over the Web is relatively painless). Venture capitalists crave scalable businesses. They crave them so much that the term now has become more annoying than the media’s obsession with celebrity diets.

Best Practice

This refers to a method or technique that delivers superior results compared with other methods and techniques. It is also perhaps the single most pompous confection the consulting industry has ever dreamed up.

Think Outside the Box

This tired turn of phrase means to approach a business problem in an unconventional fashion. Kudos to a Forbes.com reader who suggested: “Forget the box, just think.”

Solution

This word has come to mean everything from the traditional way to solve a mathematical proof to a suite of efficiency-enhancing software–and it is the epitome of lingual laziness. Says Glen Turpin, a communications consultant: “It usually refers to a collection of technologies too abstract or complex to describe in a way that anyone would care about if they were explained in plain English.”

Leverage

Meet the granddaddy of nouns converted to verbs. ‘Leverage’ is mercilessly used to describe how a situation or environment can be manipulated or controlled. Leverage should remain a noun, as in “to apply leverage,” not as a pseudo-verb, as in “we are leveraging our assets.”

Vertical

This painful expression refers to a specific area of expertise. For example, if you make project-management software for the manufacturing industry (as opposed to the retail industry), you might say, “We serve the manufacturing vertical.” In so saying, you would make everyone around you flee the conversation.

Over the Wall

If you’re not wielding a grappling hook, avoid this meaningless expression. Katie Clark, an account executive at Allison & Partners, a San Francisco public relations firm, got a request from her boss to send a document “over the wall.” Did he want her to print out the document, make it into a paper airplane and send it whooshing across the office? Finally she asked for clarification. “It apparently means to send something to the client,” she says. “Absurd!”

Robust

This otherwise harmless adjective has come to suggest a product or service with a virtually endless capacity to please. A cup of good coffee is robust. A software program is not.

Learnings

Like most educated people, Michael Travis, an executive search consultant, knows how to conjugate a verb. That’s why he cringes when his colleagues use the word “learning” as a noun. As in: “I had a critical learning from that project,” or “We documented the team’s learnings.” Whatever happened to simply saying: “I learned a lesson from that project?” Says Travis: “Aspiring managers would do well to remember that if you can’t express your idea without buzzwords, there may not be an idea there at all.”

Boil the Ocean

This means to waste time. The thinking here, we suppose, is that boiling the ocean would take a long time. It would also take a long time to fly to Jupiter, but we don’t say that. Nor should we boil oceans, even the Arctic, which is the smallest. It would be a waste of time.

Reach Out

Jargon for “let’s set up a meeting” or “let’s contact this person.” Just say that—and unless you want the Human Relations department breathing down your neck, please don’t reach out unless clearly invited.

Punt

In football, to punt means to willingly (if regretfully) kick the ball to the other team to control your team’s position on the field. In business it means to give up on an idea, or to make it less of a priority at the moment. In language as in life, punt too often and you’ll never score.

Impact

This wannabe verb came to prominence, says Bryan Garner, editor in chief of Black’s Law Dictionary, because most people don’t understand the difference between the words “affect” and “effect.” Rather than risk mixing them up, they say, “We will impact our competitor’s sales with this new product.” A tip: “Affect” is most commonly a verb, “effect” a noun. For instance: When you affect my thinking, you may have an effect on my actions.

Giving 110%

The nice thing about effort, in terms of measuring it, is that the most you can give is everything—and everything equals 100%. You can’t give more than that, unless you can make two or more of yourself on the spot, in which case you have a very interesting talent indeed. To tell someone to give more than 100% is to also tell them that you failed second-grade math.

Take It To The Next Level

In theory this means to make something better. In practice, it means nothing, mainly because nobody knows what the next level actually looks like and thus whether or not they’ve reached it.

It Is What It Is

Thanks. Idiot.

Intelligence Is Overrated: What You Really Need To Succeed

Keld Jensen, Contributor, Forbes Magazine

Albert Einstein’s was estimated at 160, Madonna’s is 140, and John F. Kennedy’s was only 119, but as it turns out, your IQ score pales in comparison with your EQ, MQ, and BQ scores when it comes to predicting your success and professional achievement.
IQ tests are used as an indicator of logical reasoning ability and technical intelligence. A high IQ is often a prerequisite for rising to the top ranks of business today. It is necessary, but it is not adequate to predict executive competence and corporate success. By itself, a high IQ does not guarantee that you will stand out and rise above everyone else.
Research carried out by the Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that 85 percent of your financial success is due to skills in “human engineering,” your personality and ability to communicate, negotiate, and lead. Shockingly, only 15 percent is due to technical knowledge. Additionally, Nobel Prize winning Israeli-American psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.
With this in mind, instead of exclusively focusing on your conventional intelligence quotient, you should make an investment in strengthening your EQ (Emotional Intelligence), MQ (Moral Intelligence), and BQ (Body Intelligence). These concepts may be elusive and difficult to measure, but their significance is far greater than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence
EQ is the most well known of the three, and in brief it is about: being aware of your own feelings and those of others, regulating these feelings in yourself and others, using emotions that are appropriate to the situation, self-motivation, and building relationships.
Top Tip for Improvement: First, become aware of your inner dialogue. It helps to keep a journal of what thoughts fill your mind during the day. Stress can be a huge killer of emotional intelligence, so you also need to develop healthy coping techniques that can effectively and quickly reduce stress in a volatile situation.

Moral Intelligence
MQ directly follows EQ as it deals with your integrity, responsibility, sympathy, and forgiveness. The way you treat yourself is the way other people will treat you. Keeping commitments, maintaining your integrity, and being honest are crucial to moral intelligence.
Top Tip for Improvement: Make fewer excuses and take responsibility for your actions. Avoid little white lies. Show sympathy and communicate respect to others. Practice acceptance and show tolerance of other people’s shortcomings. Forgiveness is not just about how we relate to others; it’s also how you relate to and feel about yourself.

Body Intelligence
Lastly, there is your BQ, or body intelligence, which reflects what you know about your body, how you feel about it, and take care of it. Your body is constantly telling you things; are you listening to the signals or ignoring them? Are you eating energy-giving or energy-draining foods on a daily basis? Are you getting enough rest? Do you exercise and take care of your body? It may seem like these matters are unrelated to business performance, but your body intelligence absolutely affects your work because it largely determines your feelings, thoughts, self-confidence, state of mind, and energy level.

Top Tip For Improvement: At least once a day, listen to the messages your body is sending you about your health. Actively monitor these signals instead of going on autopilot. Good nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate rest are all key aspects of having a high BQ. Monitoring your weight, practicing moderation with alcohol, and making sure you have down time can dramatically benefit the functioning of your brain and the way you perform at work.

What You Really Need To Succeed
It doesn’t matter if you did not receive the best academic training from a top university. A person with less education who has fully developed their EQ, MQ, and BQ can be far more successful than a person with an impressive education who falls short in these other categories.
Yes, it is certainly good to be an intelligent, rational thinker and have a high IQ; this is an important asset. But you must realize that it is not enough. Your IQ will help you personally, but EQ, MQ, and BQ will benefit everyone around you as well. If you can master the complexities of these unique and often under-rated forms of intelligence, research tells us you will achieve greater success and be regarded as more professionally competent and capable.

What is Your Business Why?

One of the most difficult concepts to understand when you are at work is: it is not about you. Whether you work for someone else or you own your own business, the quicker you take your ego off the playing field, the sooner you will meet Success.

Ego tells you that you know best. Ego also whispers to you that you are right. Or, that your products and services are the best that are available.

One way to shut the door on Ego is to always turn questions like, “What do you have to offer?” away from I and back onto the other person. Instead of answering, “I can do this…” or “We are experts at…” Answer the question with another question that focuses back on the customer. For example, “What are you looking for today?” or “What is it you need?”

As you read this article and are checking in on your why, first ask yourself where you find your inspiration and motivation. Is it internal or external? When you begin to notice your motivation waning, there are two very important questions to ask yourself to find renewed energy. They are:

1. Why are you in your current line of work?

2. Why do you believe in your business?

Give yourself time and space to linger over these questions, and see what answers bubble to the surface.

Are the answers I statements? Or do the answers explain what gives you purpose in life? Chances are if your answers involve your ego, rather than how you are helping customers or clients find what they need, then this is why it feels like your motivation has dried up.

If you want to make the switch from self-centered living, to one where you are more connected and in-sync with others, then you can change by asking yourself, “Why are you in ____ business?” When you truly believe that your services and products increases other people’s quality of life, then your consumers will notice this change.

When your products and services are making life easier for your buyers, then there is an inexhaustible amount of energy. Why is there no end to the energy? It’s because your value and belief system are tied into something greater than yourself. When you are excited about what there is to offer to others, the emphasis is placed on customer satisfaction not you.

And, the easiest way to re-center is to remind yourself when doing business that it’s not about you. It’s always about the other person. If you can enhance the customer’s experience, answer their needs, and make them feel satisfaction then Success will find you, and perhaps repeat customers as well.

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

In Business, It’s Never About You

Recently, I had an interaction with another business person that left me deflated. I felt deflated, because the other person was acting irrationally based on fear, rather than seeing the opportunity for what it was—mutually beneficial. We could have helped one another out in promoting our businesses. When I network it is to get to know someone so I can link them with others. As I build the relationship based on genuine interactions of getting to know them, the majority of the time I find us wanting to help and recommend each other’s services, because we value and can speak for the other’s services. When you have a working knowledge of gender and emotional intelligence you quickly realize it’s not the exchange of products or services that really matters; it’s the experience and connection that makes buying and selling memorable. This is more of an organic way of doing business, but I have found it to create sustainability, and long-term results.
A lot of times what we do not realize is that even in buying and selling, our emotions are often the deciding factor in whether the experience is a positive or negative one. So here’s the secret—always choose for your interactions to be about the other person, never about you. So in this example, while his behavior was not desirable, I let him close the door on the business relationship. It initially made me feel deflated, because there were great opportunities and possibilities, but I respected his decision. When you are able to label and identify your emotions as they are happening, instead of reacting based on emotions, you can choose logic and the best course of action.
Putting the concept, it’s never about you; it’s always about the other person benefits your business in three ways. It works in networking, with colleagues, and with customers. When you remember that it’s about the other person, and not you, then you can quickly wade through whom to pursue relationships with as you network. When you use this concept with co-workers and employees you keep the lines of communication open and honest. And, when you use this concept with customers, you create an environment where they feel good about themselves, and will want to return or recommend your product or service to others. In each of Dr. John Gray’s, Mars Venus books, the Mars Venus Coaching eWorkshops, and working with Mars Venus Coaches these principles are espoused. It is always about learning how to communicate with others in their language so they can hear and understand you. When you shut the door, you limit yourself on future opportunities. So remember when you are interacting with others, ask yourself how you can help them get what they need, not what’s in it for you. And, in doing so, people will seek out your business. And, when the other person is not of like mind, be genuine when you wish them well. You never know, they may come back!
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

10 Things To Do When You Win The Lottery

By:  Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes Staff 2/11/2012

The Mega Millions jackpot has increased to $540 million. If you win the jackpot in tomorrow night’s drawing, you won’t ever have to worry about money again–right? Wrong. With good money management you–and your heirs–could live handsomely for many, many years. But from the moment that you claim that prize, you will be descended upon by vultures who want a hefty helping of those winnings. And if you didn’t have smart money habits up until now, you could easily turn out to be your own worst enemy by quickly squandering the fortune. The first precautionary step you should take between now and the drawing is to sign the back of the ticket, says Carolyn Hapeman, a spokeswoman for The New York Lottery. A lottery ticket is a bearer instrument, she explains, meaning that whoever signs the ticket and presents a photo ID can claim the prize. So if you haven’t signed the ticket and it blows out of your hand while you are waiting for a bus, or if you show it to a buddy in a bar and accidentally leave it on the counter, you’ve lost the loot. Here are some steps to help you steer clear of additional risks. Most of them work well for other windfalls too–for example with sudden wealth that comes from an inheritance or the sale of a business.

1. Remain anonymous if your state rules permit it. Once people know you’re suddenly wealthy, you’ll be badgered by requests for handouts from everyone from charities to long-lost friends and relatives–not to mention all the financial “experts” who will be vying for your business. So check state rules to see whether you can dodge them all by remaining anonymous. Although Mega Millions is a national lottery, rules on winner publicity vary by state. In New York, for example, winners’ names are a public record. Elsewhere it may be possible to maintain your anonymity by setting up a trust or limited liability company to receive the winnings, says Beth C. Gamel, a CPA with Pillar Financial Advisors in Waltham, MA. A client of Gamel’s who won a past lottery did that, and had a lawyer claim the prize on behalf of of the trust. Depending on where you bought the ticket, prize winners have between 180 days and one year from the date of the drawing to claim their prize. So find out what the state rules are and plot a course.

2. See a tax pro before you cash the ticket. You have the choice between taking the prize money all at once or having it paid out over 26 years in the form of an annuity. With a lump sum payment, you must immediately pay tax on the entire amount, says Michael A. Kirsh, a financial planner in New York. With an annuity, you are taxed only as you receive the payments. People who have trouble controlling their spending might prefer the discipline of receiving the money as an annuity. But this payout form has other drawbacks, Kirsh notes. You will want to compare the effective yield of the annuity with what you could earn by taking the money as a lump sum, paying the taxes and investing the proceeds. Another issue to consider is whether taking an annuity will leave your family without the cash they need to pay estate tax if you die before the 30-year period is up, Kirsh says. In such situations people typically buy life insurance policies to cover the estate tax bill. You have 60 days from the time you claim your lottery prize to weigh the pros and cons. During this time, ask advisors to crunch the numbers and help you decide which type of payment suits you best.

3. Avoid sudden lifestyle changes. For the first six months after you win the lottery, don’t do anything drastic, like quitting your job, buying a McMansion, or trading up for a luxury car. Meanwhile, set aside a fixed amount for splurges—it’s only natural to want to celebrate your windfall. Save the big purchases for later. For example, you could rent a house in the neighborhood where you were thinking of moving, before you make any commitments, says Guerdon Ely, a financial planner in Chico, Calif. If you need a new car, buy a budget model for now.

4. Pay off all your debts. As I wrote in my post, “The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received,” there is no better investment than paying off debts. Whether it is credit card debt or a mortgage, your rate of return equals the interest rate on the loan. With today’s abysmal yields on relatively secure investments like CDs and Treasurys, that’s especially true. When you’ve paid down a dollar of debt, that’s a dollar you no longer owe. When you invest a dollar, you can’t be sure whether it will grow or shrink.

5. Assemble a team of legal and financial advisers. In situations like this it’s very hard to know “who’s trying to help you and who’s trying to use you,” says Ely. Rather than signing on to a group of advisors that someone else has put together, he recommends handpicking your own lawyer, accountant and investment advisor, and requiring them to work together. Carefully vet each advisor before discussing your situation. Check broker records at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. For attorneys and insurance agents, see whether there have been any complaints filed with state disciplinary authorities. If you live in a small community and don’t want lawyers there to know your business, seek out a professional in the nearest large city. Names can be found on martindale.com, the nationwide lawyers’ directory that you can search by location and area of practice, and on the Web site of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, a group of trust and estate lawyers. In effect, the team you put together will function as your board of directors, Ely says. You can start by having a fee-only advisor put together a long-term financial plan and running it by the group for comment. Once you’ve decided on a plan, they can provide checks and balances on each other. You can ask one of them to serve as quarterback, coordinating the group effort. That person can also play the “bad guy,” declining requests from people or organizations for gifts that you don’t want to make.

6. Invest prudently. Ely recommends putting the money in safe, short-term investments and not even touching it for the first six months. Then ask your advisors is to put together an investment portfolio divided half-and-half between equities (such as stocks) and fixed income (like bonds). Don’t fall for investments that you don’t understand or that sound too good to be true.

7. Live within a budget. Especially if you’re not accustomed to having a lot of money, it may take some discipline to preserve your winnings and not go on a wild spending spree. One way to restrain yourself is to only spend income–not principal. Especially in today’s investment world, “It takes a lot of principal to generate income and once you start spending principal, the principal quickly dissipates,” says Dennis I. Belcher, a lawyer with McGuireWoods in Richmond VA.

8. Take steps to protect assets. People who are worth a lot of money need to guard against losing assets to creditors. They include everyone from disgruntled spouses and ex-spouses to people who win lawsuits against you. If people think you have deep pockets they may look for reasons to sue. “If you win the Powerball, everyone’s going to be laying in front of your car so you can run over them so they can sue you,” says Ely. It’s prudent to ensure you are not an easy target. The best defense is to erect a variety of roadblocks that make it difficult, if not impossible, for creditors to reach your money and property. These asset protection strategies, as they are called, can range from relying on state-law exemptions to creating multiple barriers through the use of trusts and family limited partnerships or limited liability companies. It may be possible to rely on a variety of strategies, either separately or in combination with each other.

9. Plan charitable gifts. You can offset the additional income from your lottery winnings with a charitable deduction. But you must make your donation by Dec. 31. For gifts to a public charity, donors are entitled to an income tax deduction for up to 50% of adjusted gross income (AGI) for cash contributions and up to 30% for donations of other appreciated assets held more than 12 months. If you are unable to decide between now and year-end which charities to support, it may be worth considering a donor-advised fund. With a donor-advised fund, you can make a charitable donation this year and claim a federal tax deduction for your irrevocable contribution but postpone recommendations about which charities should receive grants from the account until some time in the future.

10. Review your estate plan. If your winnings have made you suddenly wealthy, this may be the first time that you need to plan for estate tax. The sweeping tax overhaul of 2010 offers more flexibility than ever before. Each person has a $5 million limit on tax-free transfers, which can be applied during life, when you die or some combination of the two. If Congress doesn’t act by the end of this year, that exclusion amount will revert to $1 million and the tax rate will increase to 55%. So if you want to share some of your largess with family and friends, this is the ideal time to do that.

 

Hitting Rock Bottom at Work and Surviving

It’s rare today that your first job is also your last job. In the course of many people’s careers, as they gain time and experience, their positions change. Increased responsibility in most cases should mean increased pay. It can be tricky identifying a good time to move to a new position. If we’re fearful of the change, sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom, sometimes repeatedly, before we wake up and choose to be survivors and not a victim. How do we go from hitting rock bottom to surviving?
A lot of it lies in our perspective, how we internalize change, and how we incorporate our growing pains into the fabric of our lives. We can always increase our resiliency, or our ability to bounce back despite setbacks.
Our lives are such a kaleidoscope of colorful events if we choose to see it this way. It’s easy to focus on the pain, on what’s not going right. The real test of our character is our ability to face setbacks, discomfort, and failure and see it for what it is—find the lesson learned in the experience, and move on to better things as a more humble and compassionate person.
When we are at the bottom looking up we often feel alone and unappreciated as we wonder if anyone cares about us or sees the pain through our tight smiles. Sometimes we ask ourselves what the point of going on is if we feel like our work isn’t valued. If we’ve royally screwed our personal relationships up (or lack thereof) by putting our job ahead of what’s really important to us, then it really can make us question the worth of our lives. Sometimes we hit rock bottom, because we no longer are interested in our job. We could be worn out or stressed to the max. What may really be going on is that we’re ready for a change. We’re having trouble finding purpose in what we do for our job. And we think that holding on to the way things are will keep things the same. However, when we resist change and hold on so tightly to the past or the future, we lose sight of what we’re doing in the here and now.
I have found throughout the years that a storm always precedes a fresh new beginning. Always.
When I find myself blocked or resisting a change with my job, it’s usually because I’ve outgrown the job. I’m ready for a new challenge—whether it’s more responsibility or a new career field. If I find myself anxious or dreading going in to work a storm is definitely brewing. Are you there right now?
Why not try identifying the why behind the pain, discomfort, boredom…the sooner we’re able to move past these negative feelings and beliefs, the sooner our next job will surface.
Hitting rock bottom means the only way to go is up. That we’ve outgrown the current experience and our soul is yearning for something more, something bigger, and something beyond our current situation. So ask yourself what you truly long for and how you can do something right now, today that will get you one step closer to that longing.
Step a little outside of your comfort zone.
Enlist the aid of someone with the experience and willingness to be a safe place that you can be vulnerable and explore what it is you really want.
You are definitely worth it—and the people whose lives you touch in your job will be profoundly affected by your interactions when your job is your passion. Who knows, your relationships may just fall into place as well. When you value your worth, and recognize the tenuous web that intricately spins us all together it will begin to make sense the sooner you work past the pain, longings, and yearnings, you will find happiness, compassion, and success in pursuing your passions.
Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd
Mars Venus Coaching
Corporate Media Relations

Creating a Character-Based Company the Mars Venus Way

We’re increasingly married to work. We spend most of our waking hours getting ready for work, going to work, working, driving home from work, doing ongoing professional development to get ahead at work, and unwinding from…work! The companies that incorporate core values into their business model are the places where people love going to work, and their customers love going to get a fix that they matter. Why? Companies that base their internal and external customer service on values, such as the ones Stephen Covey discusses in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, are successful. These companies are successful, because their services and products drive people together into a sense of connecting in a community of like-minded individuals.

So what are some of the core values that most people believe in?

  • Responsibility
  • Respect
  • Honesty
  • Accountability
  • Collaboration
  • Cooperation
  • Ethical
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Quality
  • Dependability
  • Flexible
  • Adaptability
  • Growth
  • Reliability
  • Fairness
  • Proactive
  • Visionary
  • Efficiency
  • Innovation
  • Caring
  • Service
  • Members
  • Fun
  • Education
  • Legal
  • Partnerships
  • Democratic
  • Value
  • Competitive
  • Professionalism
  • Balance
  • Training
  • Relationships
  • Competency
  • Citizenship
  • Loyalty
  • Prudence
  • Stewardship
  • Strength
  • Confidentiality

The question you have to ask is how can my business meet their needs? What are we doing to meet ____ need? How do we convey these values to our internal and external customers? How do we create this climate? How do we market what we care about? How does the community we work in benefit? If you’re able to weave the values listed above into the fiber holding your business together, then you naturally become a business based on character.

One way that Mars Venus coaches help businesses incorporate these values is by asking the tough questions. They find where you are dissatisfied, and encourage you to find solutions and be proactive. Coaching is different than consulting because coaches help to motivate and provide accountability so businesses, and the individuals within them, reach their full potential.

Another way Mars Venus coaches help businesses to be a character-based company is by always paying attention to the glue which holds people together: communication. In order to have a healthy relationship that’s based on assertive communication, you must be a good listener, and able to see another person’s point of view without judging. They are personally trained by and use John Gray’s, PhD, material to help people have healthier relationships inside and out. Mars Venus coaches, whether they specialize in business, executive, or life areas, are trained to model and teach gender-based differences in the ways men and women:

  1. Use communication,
  2. React to and cope with stress,
  3. Buy products and services, and
  4. Sell products and services.

As I’ve stated in previous articles (Article #55:Innovation Drives Long-Term Success for Businesses), the success of a business also depends on its ability to adapt quickly to changing trends. So not only do businesses need to address how to make internal and external employees have a better quality of life, they also need to focus on innovation and creativity to stay competitive.

From reading the latest blogs on Forbes, bNET, and Financial Times the trend becomes apparent that the most fiscally successful businesses over time focus on character-based and values-based business models. In 2008, Bo Edvardsson and Bo Enquist published Values-based Service for Sustainable Business: Lessons from IKEA, which further details how important integrating core values are when creating a sustainable business. The best way to incorporate values-based services into your business is by having someone help you create measurable action plans (Mars Venus Coaching uses 90-Day Action Plans) and provide accountability to ensure you stay true to your core values when pursuing your vision in everyday activities.

Another way for businesses to increase quality of life for their internal employees is to partner with a life coach. Did you know Zappos.com does just this—they’ve hired a life coach as an employee! Who else has such great customer service, free shipping and returns, and often next day service?! While business and executive coaches can provide assistance with intra- and inter-personal relational dynamics—life coaches specialize in this component. It’s something to think about, right? It’s outside of the box right now in regards to how businesses do business. Just like gender intelligent buying/selling is innovative, so is hiring life coaches on staff. As an employee and a consumer, what do the trends say to you? As a forward-thinker, how would you then implement a solution like this for business sustainability?

Lyndsay Katauskas, MEd

Mars Venus Coaching

Corporate Media Relations