Healthcare Financing

As more healthcare practices are being Consolidated, Acquired, Sold Expanded etc. I have provided some example questions for Dental Practices (many would be relevant to other Doctor Fields), and financials that would be required to help with a smooth lending experience. (By having this information ready, it will quicken the underwriting process, and hopefully prevent some headaches.)

On the lending side Financial Institutions can assist with Acquisitions, Expansion, Practice Buy-Ins, Working Capital/Term and Equipment Purchases. (Generally looking for the practice to be in existence for 2+ years otherwise seen as a startup)

HEALTHCARE FINANCING:

Some Options Available: Physicians, Dentists, Veterinary Services, Optometrists, Mental Health Specialists etc.

With conventional underwriting Banks are generally looking for cash flow of 1.2 or greater (subject to time in business, strength of guarantors, length of loan etc.).

  1. Acquisitions/ Expansions/ Buy-ins subject to the strength of the borrower (and time in business) options up to 15 years (subject to strength of the borrower and time in business) and 100 % financing (conventional financing). SBA options can provide alternative options
  2. Real Estate: up to 10 year terms, 25 year amortization and up to 100 % financing. (There are also SBA options which provide alternative options.) You/ Client should be provided ALL options.
  3. Working Capital/ Term Facility: up to 10 year terms, 10 year amortization and up to 100 % financing. (SBA options provide alternative options)

Borrower Information:

  • What type of Practice? (e.g. what procedures will be performed)

Staff : Current /Proposed 

Dentist(s)

Office Manager(s)

Administrative

Dental Assistant(s)

Hygienist(s)

Associate(s)

Other

  • Resume
  • What is the borrower’s basic business strategy, key factors to success, and primary competitors? 

Loan Request

  • Purchase Price
  • Business Evaluation (if available)
  • Sources and Uses (i.e where funds are coming from, and what they will be used for e.g. equipment, buildout, purchase of real estate etc.)
  • Practice Acquisition:
  • Who are the primary customers and how are payments received (e.g. Fee for Service, Insurance/PPO etc.)? 
  • What is the borrower’s basic business strategy, key factors to success, and primary competitors? 
  • Why the borrower would like to purchase this specific practice. 
  • Discuss any procedures performed by the seller (i.e. crown & bridge, fillings, endodontics, etc.) that will not be maintained by the borrower? Will the borrower maintain the existing production of the seller?
  • Why is the practice being sold? What is the transition plan? Will the seller have a non-compete agreement
  • Is there an Associate working in the practice? If yes, please address the following:
  • Why have they elected not to purchase the practice?
  • Does the Associate plan to remain with the practice post acquisition? 
  • What is their compensation and will that change post acquisition? 
  • What is the associate’s non-compete agreement and will that change post acquisition?
  • What, if any, concerns are there regarding patient and/or staff attrition?

Practice Startup (less than 24 months in existence)

  • How many days per week (current/proposed) is the borrower working as an Associate? What is the distance between their Associate and proposed practice location? 
  • Is the borrower currently under a non-compete agreement? If yes, how many years are remaining and what are the distance requirements?

General Questions:

  • How many active patients do they have?
  • How much of the revenue comes from routine hygiene visits?
  • What new services will be added or removed?
  • How does / will the practice do to ensure high patient retention?
  • Does/ Will the practice take advantage of the demand for cosmetic dentistry?
  • Breakdown of procedures income generated.
  • How many chairs?
  • Hours of operations?

Provide any additional information you believe is significant to this request.

FINANCIALS:

  • 3 Most recent Years Business Tax Returns (of current Dental Practice and Dental Practice purchasing
  • 3 Years yearend Balance Sheet and income Statement (internally prepared is fine) – if available
  • Interim Financials current year v. previous year (Balance sheet and Income Statement)
  • 2 Years Personal Tax Returns
  • Personal Financial Statement (Owners of 20 % or more) - the bank will provide
  • Accounts Receivable and Payable Aging
  • Projections
  • If Startup (Business Plan)

Please feel free to reach out with any questions. If you have some good advice please share in the comment section.

Reminder: Each loan request is different. The above are guidelines only.

 

Are You/Your Business Customer Centric

Are You/Your Business Customer Centric

Is customer service top of mind of your business and employees? With competition in all Industries being highly competitive what are you, your business and employees doing to differentiate yourself from your competition? Are you speaking with your employees to find out what is working and not working to be able to provide the stellar and WOW Customer Service Experience?

Read More

Stop the Screaming, and Take a Step Back

Yesterday I was reminded of many good lessons about life and dealing with people from my five year old daughter.

When arriving home I heard a lot of screaming coming from upstairs.  Thankfully this is not the norm in my house, thus it was a bit worrisome.  Walking into our twin’s room I saw why my wife was not extremely happy (understatement), and I think I may have even gone purple with rage when I saw what she was screaming about. My oldest daughter (never done this before) had decided to draw with a marker all over the new furniture which we had bought a week ago. With my blood boiling I went in search for my daughter, and found her in her room. This is when thankfully my control set in. I was able to calm myself down before I did anything I would regret, and remember a few lessons I had learnt over the years. 

 Lessons Remembered:

  • People do ‘stupid things’ all the time ---count to 10 before reacting
  • Calm yourself prior to deciding how you are going to deal with the situation
  • Mistakes are made ---It is not the end of the world
  • Mistakes can be fixed
  • Make sure lessons are learnt, thus preventing the same mistakes repeating themselves
  • Follow through with the lesson (it may need to be reinforced)
  • Conversations are better than being spoken ‘at’.
  • When ‘teaching or giving someone advice’ let them get to the answer and do not just give it to them.
  • Make sure to put everything into perspective and take a step back

 Later in the evening our daughter asked my wife, “Do you want to live in a crying house or fine house?” “If you want to live in a fine house then stop yelling.”  After being taken back a little by this question, it reminded us that as a human being you control the situation and environment that you would like to live and work in.

If my better half and I had carried on screaming and did not take a step back, the lessons learnt may have been none.  

Thankfully peace is back in our home. After doing some research online and a lot of scrubbing we were able to get the marker off the furniture. My daughter has learnt a lesson, our twins have learnt a lesson and I’ve been reminded of many lessons learnt.

 “Raising children uses every bit of your being – your heart, your time, your patience, your foresight, your intuition to protect them, and you have to use all of this while trying to figure out how to discipline them.” Nicole Ari Parker

 

stop the screaming.jpg

Sales Using the Drip Irrigation Technique

Drip irrigation. ... Drip irrigation is a form of irrigation that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of many different plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters

Sorry I am not interested. Sorry, I am not looking to change. Sorry, I am happy where I am. Sorry, it is too much effort.…..anyone in sales has probably heard these phrases.

The technique of the old sprinkler style, spray everywhere, and hope all the trees, plants shrubs etc. get enough water to grow is constantly used. When you have high sales goal this technique may feel like the best and only way to make your goals. I recommend including drip irrigation sales with sprinkler style sales and having two lists. One list for your Sprinkler prospects and a second for your Drip Irrigation prospects.

Your drip irrigation list, is the ‘cream of the crop’ businesses you are looking to assist. The drip irrigation list is your long term prospects, where patience and dedication is a prerequisite. It may take years for you to win the business, however when they eventually choose to go with you, they will be clients for life.

I recently heard a sermon which resonated with me. He spoke about parents only bringing their children to their Place of Worship on the High Holidays. He emphasized that it is information overload for the children which could have a negative outcome.

 

His suggestion: Look to bring your children once a week, or once a month (whatever works for you) for an hour service and use the drip effect. The children will get more out of the experience, will have a more positive outlook on going to services, and not see it as a chore. (High Holiday services can be over 4 hrs.).

Remember not to overload your prospect with too much information, do not look to sell to them, do more listening than talking, and build rapport and trust. Sales is a relationship. Your prospect is going to have to like you if they are going to do business with you. (Character is very important) You are looking to build a long term relationship with the Drip Irrigation Technique, and not have a one night stand.

With your drip irrigation list you need to be patient yet consistent. Send relevant articles, invite them to events, wish them happy birthday etc. . Your goal is to make sure you are the firstcall they make when they are ready to move/work with someone who has their interest at heart. Drip slowly to the roots, and don’t leave the water on the top of the soil.

 

Good luck with your Drip Irrigation List.

 "Constant dropping wears away stone."

Organizing a Golf Day

What we learnt in organizing our first Golf Day for our Networking Group.

My Co-Founder and I had been talking about putting a golf day together since we started our networking group, and this year we pulled the ‘trigger’ and hosted our First Annual Golf Day.

I do not think either of us realized the amount of work that it would take, and the saying, “I will build it they will come” was not going to work.

Our enthusiasm, belief in our group, people we knew and what we were looking to achieve drove us forward. We were excited to assist our community in making new connections and raising funds for a Non-for-Profit of our choosing.

Steps we took:

  • Choose a course
  • Decide on format
  • Choose a day of the week
  • Choose a non for profit
  • Do a budget
  • Get Players
  • Get Sponsors
  • Get silent auction items donated
  • Get a caterer going with the theme (we decided not to use the course as had a 'theme')
  • Get wine tasting at the 19th hole
  • Did not get a committee to assist
  • Get goodies for giveaway bags
  • Get prizes for winners of competitions
  • Make the day fun
  • Competitions Explained– side note pink ball competition a lot of fun

We did a good job with the Budget, as we knew what the golf would cost + all the additional costs and then worked backwards on how much we would like to charge. (Cost – charge = donation). We had also decided that we would like to keep the day affordable, which does reduce the amount you can raise. On the flip side, we had a company to sponsor the printing of the signs, thus all funds raised were going straight to the donations.

We used our resources ingetting hole sponsorship's, prizes for winners, goodies for the give away bag and most important a sponsorship for a Beer Kegwhich was enjoyed by all participants.

In hindsight we would have done two things differently.  We would not have the event on a Friday, and we would ask our members to be part of a committee early in the process.

We had decided to have iton a Friday, thinking we would get some out of Towners to play and spend the weekend in Chicago which did not materialize. We learnt that if people are going to take off early on a Friday, they generally would like to go home to their family and start their weekend. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are generally good days. (Don’t have it at the end of the month)

As we did not get a committee to assist from the start, all the above tasks fell to us to do which at times became daunting. Overall I believe we did very well, and we received very positive feedback with most participants informing us they will be back next year. 

 A committee is a definite must. With a team you will be able to delegate responsibility for each committee member to get players, hole sponsorship's, items for goodie bags, prizes and silent auction items which would have taken lot of stress away. As one of our members stated while we were contacting our lists , “You guys are relentless!”

We both enjoy helping our community grow, and by being able to raise funds made the ups and downs of organizing the Golf Day extremely rewarding. Being our first Golf Day I can confidently say we both enjoyed the experience, and had a great time putting it together.

“This crowd has gone deadly silent, a Cinderella story outa nowhere. Former greenskeeper and now about to become the masters champion”-Spackler

A very big thank you to all our sponsors and attendees. Without your support and encouragement the day would have not been such a success. Thank you, and we hope to see everyone next year.

We are already looking forward to next year.

Working on your Vacation

Is it possible to go on ‘vacation’ and completely switch off? If you are like me (sorry), you will check your work email/voicemail during your time off, and respond.

The only time I have been able to switch off completely is if there is no reception or Wi-Fi.

When I have been lucky enough to travel overseas I have made an internal rule to only check my email once in the morning and once in the evening. (I do not have international roaming)

This rule was necessitated by a manager who actually told me to stop responding to emails and enjoy my vacation.

However, when travelling within the States, I somehow still feel ‘obligated’ to respond to work emails and voicemails.

So what do you do, when you are on vacation and have Cell Phone Reception and you continuously hear the beep of a new email coming in? Are you able to switch off?

Rule 1: Make sure you have an out of office message on your email, and any phone number associated with work. (You should if possible have an alternative contact for clientswhile on vacation.)

Options:

  • Go somewhere where there is no cell phone reception or Wi-Fi (very difficult these days)
  • Switch off your work cell
  • Set designated times when you will return calls and answer emails
  • Once the battery runs out, do not recharge it
  • Do not check work emails or messages until your return from vacation

WHEN YOU ARE WITH YOUR FAMILY, MAKE SURE TO ACTUALLY BE WITH YOUR FAMILY.

Enjoy your vacation!

“As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you've allotted for vacation.” John Battelle

p.s feel free to add your suggestions in the comments

Roadblocks, Set-backs and Happiness

If you are like the rest of us, you probably have had many roadblocks and set-backs to overcome in your personal and business life.

During the process of overcoming the roadblocks and set-backs what did you do to keep yourself happy, and moving forward?! It is easy to digress into depression when things do not go the way you had planned or envisioned.

Each obstacle I believe should be looked at as a lesson, and what can be learnt from it. If you do not learn from each set-back, and hopefully spin it into a positive you have lost an opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong we are all human (some of us at least) and will get upset and maybe a little depressed. However, the people who succeed are the ones who get out of the ‘funk’ the quickest, and keep moving forward.

In your career you may not even know that you are unhappy, yet your better half will (or close friends). My wife new before I did that it was time to move on from a specific company, as she saw my demeanor change which I was unaware of. My work unhappiness had crept into my home life, without me even realizing it. So I kept moving forward, and found a new opportunity which made me happy. I looked to learn from the experience, and hopefully won’t make the same mistakes again.

  • Roadblock: Look for an alternative route. Have a mentor you can speak with, and bounce ideas off
  • Set- Back: What can you learn from the situation? How can you turn the set-back into a win? Look at the bigger picture
  • Always look to better yourself, and move forward
  • Ask for help
  • Don’t be afraid of two letters ……NO. If you do not ask, you will never know what could have been
  • What makes you happy? (e.g. family, going for a walk, eating good food, travelling, working, gardening, golf etc.)
  • Never lose sight that Family and Friends are very important
  • Learn to ‘switch off’

I have thankfully reached happiness in my family life which I am always grateful for. This helps me in continuing to look to move forward* and better myself.

 What makes you want to move forward?!

"If you want to go fast, go alone. IF you want to go far, go with others" African Proverb

*moving forward –For me it means bettering yourself and not giving up.

“Never let the fear of striking out get in your way” Babe Ruth

Bring Back Common Courtesy


Courtesy - excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior. A courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.

I have had the conversation on too many occasions lately, "Has common courtesy disappeared?"  I have been too and hosted events where more than 150 people were invited to the event and less than 30 % responded.

From the discussions we came to the conclusion that common courtesy has taken a backseat.   Today, when you email someone internally or externally from your company it’s a 50/50 chance they will respond in a timely manner or at all. The same seems to be the case when leaving a voice message, and the odds drop I would say to less than 30 % response rate when sending someone an Evite. Has technology been slowly eating away at our common courtesy?

Put common courtesy back on your to do list, and hopefully it will have the butterfly effect.  I am positive that if we show each other respect/courtesy, our colleagues, our prospects, our friends and our current clients will be happier and business service internally and externally will improve.
 Courtesy goals:

  1. Return voice messages within 24 hrs (do not respond ALL when it is not necessary)
  2. Respond to ALL email requests within 24 hrs (48 hrs max)
  3. Respond to all invitations prior to the RSVP date (even if not going). If you say attending and then cannot, let the host(s) know asap don't just be a no show. (Hosts put time in putting events together, and have invited you for a reason. Have the courtesy to respond)
  4. Say thank you and please (if you have children teach them early of benefits of showing respect)
  5. If you are on vacation, have an out of office message on your voicemail and email
  6. Don’t have your phone 'out' while having a conversation (definitely no texting)
  7. Turn off your phone ‘ringer’ when in meetings
  8. Be on time to your meetings (aim to be 10 minutes early)
  9. If you are running late (sometimes unavoidable), let whomever you are meeting know
  10. If you have someone coming to your office, and your current appointment is running long let your next appointment know (e.g.would it not be nice if your doctor's office called/ text you to let you know they are running late and please come 30 min later) Treat everyone's time with respect.
  11. Don't play pokemon when you are with others
  12. Check your emails for spelling errors prior to sending (been guilty)
  13. If you say you are going get 'something' done by a certain date or time make sure it gets done. If you cannot complete by promised day/time let the person who is expecting the 'something' know. (under-promise over-deliver)

I am sure you have many additional courtesies that you miss. What is important to you to you? Please feel free to add in comments.

"The true greatness of a person, in my view, is evident in the way he or she treats those with whom courtesy and kindness are not required." Joseph B. Wirthlin

May common courtesy once again raise its head, and become the norm.

Thank you for taking the time in reading the article.

4 M's and 5 C's For Business Loans

I have been asked  many times what lenders look at when receiving a loan request (e.g. line of credit, equipment loan, owner occupied real estate etc.) for a for profit business*

My goal here is to provide information that offers some guidance on a few of the facets that are generally  taken into consideration  when a loan request is received.

Please not the ‘M’s and the ‘C’s’ do overlap.

The 4 M’s:

Money, Management, Markets and Materials are all important risk factors that are taken into consideration.

  • Money: Financial Analysis (ratios, historical performance etc.), Guarantors, Financial Preparation (e.g. audited, reviewed, company prepared ) - I have provided some ratios below.
  • Management: Ownership Structure, Succession Plan, Management Strengths, Weaknesses etc.
  • Markets: Industry the business operates, size, competitors, entry to market, customer concentration etc.
  • Materials: What is the collateral, costs, length manufacturing process, condition of inventory etc.

The 5 C’s:

  • Character/ Credit Score: What type of person are you. What is the general impression you make when people meet you?
  • Conditions: What affects the industry, segment, overall market
  • Capacity: What is your ability to repay the loan
  • Capital: The money you have personally invested in the business. This is an indication how much you have to risk if the business had to fail.
  • Collateral: What will be securing the loan (what is the quality)

 Financial Consideration:

 Balance Sheet:

 Income Statement:

  • Sales – what is the trend
  • Gross Profit Margin trend(sales – cost of goods sold)
  • Net Profit Margin trend
  • Net income
  • Earnings before income & Depreciation (EBIDA) = NI + Dep + interest +- one time event

 Calculation:

  • Debt Service Coverage (DSCR) EBIDA/ total debt service >= 1.25. This is a measure of the business revenue to cover the cost of its loan payments. It is calculated by dividing the net operating income by the total debt service. (looking to generate 25 % more revenue that is required to cover the debtpayments)

Please take note that there are many additional factors taken into consideration besides what I have listed. The information is for guidance purposes only and to help you put together a good loan package for your lender. It will hopefully help you prepare for some of the questions that you now know that will be asked.  It does not guarantee a loan approval or a decline if you do not meet some of the criteria listed in the financial consideration.

Knowing the five ‘C’s , 4’ ‘M’s  and financial considerations is a good start in preparing yourself for a small business and lower middle market loan request.

 To be prepared is half the victory.Miguel de Cervantes

 Good Luck.

 * There is different criteria when looking at a for profit business and non for profit and if you use an SBA program

Is the art of conversation being lost through technology and causing bad service?

What has happening to customer service and common courtesy?

Courtesy - excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior. A courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.

Customer service -is the process of ensuring customer satisfaction with a product or service. Often, customer service takes place while performing a transaction for the customer, such as making a sale or returning an item. Customer service can take the form of an in-person interaction, a phone call, self-service systems, or by other means.

I am sure you can attest that you can easily receive 20 – 50 (or more) emails per day, and may only read a quarter of them well and skim the rest. By the end of the day you probably have missed a few important emails which should have been read and responded too.

I have been known to be guilty of emailing a colleague sitting three desks down, instead of getting off my…. and going to speak to them directly. (I have improved since Istarted tracking my steps per day –changing of my mindset).

How many emails could be a quick phone call or a walk to colleague’s desk? How many misunderstandings could be avoided? Emotions cannot be expressed in emails (one sentence can be read with different inflections which in turn makes it have multiple meanings).

The art of conversation is being lost. The loss of this important skill amongst homosapiens I believe is one of the reasons service is slowly deteriorating.

We are losing the capabilities of being able to read body language and tone of voice as there are fewer conversations happening on a daily basis. This in turn is leading to an extremely politically correct society, as we cannot distinguish what is a joke or not. It is very easy to offend someone now a days because I believe this skill is lacking. Which in turn can hurt service within and outside of your office.

Service in large organizations are also moving more and more to an automated service on the telephone and in their stores.

There seem to be more self-service machines than employees at manylocations. I am not against self-service but getting the right balance is the trick.

Corporations need to realize quickly that consumers have choices and with social media word of good service or bad service is spread quickly. Consumers are starting to place more and more emphasis on service and I believe are willing to pay a little more for it. When a consumer makes the ‘effort’ to walk into a store they are generally looking for human interaction and a conversation.

Little things can make a big difference in the mindset of a consumer. I recently received excellent customer service from Turkish Airlines who definitely go the extra mile. Some of the ‘extra’ little things they did:   They had special treats for the children, gave bottles of water to the passengers when they switched off the lights (not just filling up a small cup), all passengers received a hot towel when boarding (not just business class), all passengers received a piece of Turkish Delight, and the most important part…All the Stewards will friendly.

I have since shared my experience with my friends, and will look to fly with them again. I have also had an opposite experience with an airline and have not flown with them for over 10 years, and have never referred them business.

What are the answers? If I had them I would be writing books and not an article, however I do have a few suggestions. Good service starts with common courtesy (with your colleagues and clients) and appreciating your clients.

Suggestions:

    • Have more conversations and fewer emails
    • Return voice messages within 24 hrs.(max 2 days)
    • Respond to ALL email requests within 24 hrs. (max 2 days) -DO NOT REPLY TO ALL if multiple people on email
    • Respond to all invitations prior to the RSVP date (even if not going)
  • Say thank you and please

 

  • Don’t have your phone 'out' while having a conversation (definitely no texting)
  • Turn off your phone ‘ringer’ when in meetings
  • If you have someone coming to your office, and your current appointment is running long let your next appointment know (e.g. would it not be nice if your doctor's office called/ text you to let you know they are running late and please come 30 min later) Treat everyone's time with respect.
  • If you are on vacation, have an out of office message on your voicemail and email
  • Be on time to your meetings (aim to be 10 minutes early)
  • Staff correctly (you will lose more business if you do not)
  • When interacting with someone: Relate/ Listen/ Check-in
  • Sometimes you got to spend money to make money
  • Technology is great, but don’t let it take over. Most ‘things’ can be done online. If a consumer walks into a branch/ shop etc. they are looking for the human ‘touch’
  • Hand write a thank you note
  • Say Hello and have a nice day (with a smile)
  • Customer Service: no gum, no drinks on counters, no rolled up sleeves, answer phone 2 rings (2 ring policy) Customer Service Customer Service
  • Teach your children early about the art of conversation (no technology at the dinner table)
  • Train Train Train your people
  • Keep improving.

“Choose to deliver amazing service to your customers. You’ll stand out because they don’t get it anywhere else.” –Kevin Stirtz

“No one is more insufferable than he who lacks basic courtesy.” - Bryant H. McGill

What can learn from a Team that were 5000:1 to win and now on the brink of History?*

What can be learnt by Leicester’s FC (pronounced Lester) climb from bottom of the pile to the peak? Starting the season as 5000/1 to win the league, their rise to the top is very unexpected. It would be as if a School Football Team beat the 1986 Winning NFL Bears Team. To put it another way the odds of Simon Cowell to become the next Prime Minister was 500/1, for Hugh Hefner to admit he's a virgin 1000/1, Andy Murray to name his first born Novak 500/1.

When Leicester FC play some of the larger clubs in the League the cost of their 11 players is less than one player in the other Team. Yet, they keep on winning!

There are clubs that have been re-building for years and spent hundreds of millions on high profile players that have not seen the success of this Leicester team.

Some lessons which I believe can be learnt. (You could add a hundred more)

  • Leave the Ego at the door- No one is bigger than the Team or Club
  • They play as a Team and work as a Team. - No one player is more important than another. When a team mate misses a tackle, makes an error their teammate is right there cheering them on and assisting. Are you helping your Team be better, and coaching for success?
  • Sometimes you need to take a chance – When Ranieri became the Manager the pundits could not understand the club owner’s choice, and thought he would be one of the first manager of the year to lose his job. The owner now looks like a genius. When was the last time you took a chance?
  • Never Give Up - Leicester’s FC always play until they hear that final whistle. Going for that big account, looking to set an appointment –keep following up
  • Leadership – Ranieri as the coach installs confidence in his players, and gives direction. He keeps his Team focused and has all their goals for the year outlined. Have clear, concise and attainable goals.
  • All Players know what their job/goal is and are prepared– Each game Ranieri will have outlined what each players ‘job’ is for that game. They will know who to mark, where to run etc. Know what you are looking to achieve, and the strengths of your colleagues.
  • Are not distracted – The Team has not been distracted by the media, and have kept their focus. In business do not be distracted by others, and stick to your game plan
  • Be Prepared and Play to your strength – Leicester study their opposition, however will always play to their strengths and not be caught up in their oppositions style of play. Know who your competition is, and play to your strengths to overcome them.
  • Ways to Fail - Complain about everything, Blame Others for your problems, Never be grateful - Ranieri never complains or blames anyone about decisions that have gone against his team. He is extremely grateful for what his team has achieved. (he was seen crying with pride after a game)

 "This is a small club that is showing the world what can be achieved through spirit and determination. Twenty-six players. Twenty-six different brains. But one heart."-Claudio Ranieri 

Congratulations to Leicester FC on their success in 2016. May you have as a successful year as them.

Feel free to add in the comment section what you have taken away from the success of Leicester FC in 2015/16.

*since writing this Leicester have been crowned Champions. Congratulations to the Team and all their supporters!

From South Africa to America

When arriving in the States fourteen years ago my plan was to be here for one year, and then head back home to Cape Town, South Africa. Three Kids, A wonderful wife (of ten years), the ‘White Picket Fence’ and fourteen years I am still here.

During this time there have been many highs, some lows and some very ‘funny’ conversations. In 2001 South Africa was an unknown entity in the states, and the majority of the people I met were shocked I was white. Today, if watching television South Africa will be mentioned a minimum of once during the week. South Africa is no longer unknown and the questions below would not be asked today.

  • Just like Lethal Weapon 2, people were continuously shocked that I was white
  • Was asked how I got to the states……with a follow up….by Boat?
  • During a ten- fifteen minute conversation was asked what language I was speaking. (mind you I was answering her questions and then she had follow up questions from my answers—she had miraculously learnt a new language and she did not know it)
  • What do you do with all the animals? (I used to come up with a lot of fun answers for this one)

The first piece of advice I was given after arriving was too talk slower and enunciate. South Africans tend to swallow their words and run their sentences together. After fourteen years I still sometimes need to remind myself too talk slower. If you were looking to give yourself advice in life and business today what would it be?

I have learnt many lessons living in the states. There is a lot of competition in America which makes it  extremely competitive. When applying for a job, bidding on a new contract, prospecting etc. you are always competing with multiple people/ businesses. This I believe is one of the reasons that America is a leader in many segments. If you do not present yourself well, do not have the expertise and are not competitive it is difficult to succeed. There are always many people/ businesses standing in the wings waiting to replace to you.

 A few lessons learnt:

  • Build up your credit as early as you can
  • Higher Education is extremely expensive- start that 529 Plan early
  • Everyone is very Politically Correct
  • Do not talk politics (very sensitive subject)
  • Enunciate
  • Your accent will be mistaken for English or Australian
  • A lot of job positions like you to have an MBA
  • Make internal connection within your company
  • Network outside of your organization
  • Your Major while studying does not need to be Finance to be in Banking
  • Carry two pieces of identification with you
  • Baseball is definitely not cricket AND Football is definitely not Football (soccer)
  • America has a very diverse demographic (thus I believe miscommunication happens frequently)
  • Make sure your message is heard correctly
  • Generally people are very friendly
  • “Just Now” is still the greatest South African saying (idiomatically used to mean soon, later, in a short while, or a short time ago)

 

AMERICA is still the land of opportunity.  If you are willing to work hard, listen and learn you are generally given a chance.

 List of South African Regionalisms:

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_African_English_regionalisms

http://www.southafrica.info/travel/advice/saenglish.htm#.Vaam2_zF97k

 “My heart is in South Africa, through my mum. My mum being from here, me spending a lot of time here as well, I feel most connected to this part of the world.” Roger Federer

"We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give" - Winston Churchil

 

If you attend networking events on a consistent basis you may have noticed, that you are starting to see the same faces over and over. This initially is not a bad consequence, as you get to know all attendees well. The issue starts when you are not meeting new people at the events being held. This I believe is one of the main reasons some groups eventually fail.

The question becomes how does your group not become a statistic?! Consider Winston Churchill’s quote, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” This can have many interpretations dependent on the nature of the conversation. For a networking group, you are only as strong as your community and group you have created. Without your community and group members ‘giving;, your community and group will eventually fail.

If you/members are only attending a networking group to see what you/they can gain, the group will eventually become extinct. Individuals need to change the way they approach and feel about a Group.

The mindset of people attending and who have decided not toattend Networking events should look to change. You should not look to go to a meeting/ gathering to see what you can gain, rather go to the meeting/ gathering to see how you can ‘give’.

A cliche, “What comes around goes around”. By being a resource and a connector people will naturally think of you when an opportunity in your field arises. Be generous with your time.

There are no hard and fast rules showing which groups will succeed or fail, however my belief is: If more people have the mind set of Winston Churchill's quote there would be more success in business and life in general.

When you were climbing the ladder of success, would it not have been great to meet your future self to give yourself advice on what you should have done or not have done.

CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, Business Professionals, Business Owners, Entrepreneurs I invite you to volunteer your time. Choose a group (s) and attend on a regular basis, speak at local business events, invite your connections and share your knowledge and expertise.

2015 is coming to an end, let the rest of the year and 2016 be the year that everyone listens to Winston Churchill.

Good luck with your groups and making new connections.

Some Questions to ask yourself if you are looking to create a Networking Group:

  • Who are you looking to attract to the group? (Who is your target market?)
  • How are you going to generate a list of professionals to invite
  • Where are you going to have the meetings (morning /+evening, how often etc.)
  • Will you have speakers? Will you invite outside speakers
  • How are you going to get the ‘big hitters’ to attend? How you going to get anyone to attend?
  • WHAT IS THE GOAL OF THE GROUP YOU ARE CREATING?

Never, Never, Never, Never…..Give Up!” –Winston Churchill

The Importance of Leadership

How important is leadership within an organization? Very. Unfortunately I have the distinguished honor of supporting Liverpool FC who have not won the Premier League for more years than I care to remember (not as bad as the Cubs but getting there). There have been many factors which have played into this. From not enough support from the backroom, wasteful spending and bad leadership from the owners and the manager of the Liverpool Team.

Manchester United supporters you might as well stop reading now, as I am going to start praising Jürgen Klopp. For those who do not follow English Premier League Soccer, Jürgen was recently hired as the new manager of a floundering Liverpool Team. From the very first game of his tenure Liverpool FC look like a different team from what we witnessed at the beginning of the year.

The previous manager had placed blame of the poor results on the players. When watching the game you could see that the players/team were not happy, and were playing some of the worst soccer a Liverpool Team has ever played. Pundits were starting to say this was the worst squad in the History of Liverpool. Below is a statement made by the manager which probably lost him the respect of many of his players:

"I think I have shown in the early stages of my management -- without being arrogant -- that with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league," Brendan Rodgers

"I know how to manage top players. If you give me the tools, I'll do the work," he added

This quote I believe shows that Rogers was still a manager and had yet to become a leader.

A leader builds confidence and takes the bull by its horns. When hearing the quote above it would have not provided his players with the confidence they required to compete at the highest level. He was laying all the blame at the feet of his team, instead of taking ownership. The perception was that Rogers had lost faith in his players, so why would they still have faith in him their ‘leader’?!

Since then Liverpool have fired Rogers and replaced him with a leader. One of his first tasks was to build up his team’s confidence. He started this at his first conference.

“This is a great club with big potential, fast players, strong players, and good defenders. Everything is there. Four or five strikers you can work with when they are not injured, midfielders, and defenders are experienced and young, goalkeeper is really good.” –Jürgen Klopp

Which Leader would you prefer to work with? The one who blames his players, or the one who builds their confidence?

How the tides have turned. The pundits are now talking about Liverpool FC winning the league (my personal feeling is they are getting ahead of themselves), they are playing with a smile and extremely exciting soccer.

Jürgen has only been at the club for approximately 3 months, yet the changes and confidence in the players is immeasurable. Liverpool F.C finally have a Leader at the club. So what defines leadership?

Brendan was a Manager but unfortunately not a leader in 2015.

Here are some quotes from Brendan and Jürgen. Try and guess who said which.

"I am 'The Normal One'. I am a normal guy from the Black Forest. I was a very average player. I don't compare myself with these genius managers from the past."

“History is only the base for us. It’s not allowed that you take the history in your backpack. “Not always compared with other times. “Only state - this is a great team. Everything is there. Let’s try to start a new. This is the perfect moment.”

I am the same guy who nearly won us the league, but better. I think I have shown in the early stages of my management – without being arrogant – that with a talented group of players I can compete at the top end of the league.”

“I don’t compare myself with these genius managers in Liverpool’s history. “It’s cool that you are looking forward to these next years with me but it’s not my [concern]. ““I don’t think ‘I want to be a legend’ here.”

'I always say a squad is like a good meal. I'm not a great cook, but a good meal takes a wee bit of time. But also, to offer a good meal, you need good ingredients.' 

 'My biggest mentor is myself because I've had to study, so that's been my biggest influence”

 Leadership Characteristics

  • Be Humble
  • Build employees self-esteem and confidence
  • Make people feel important and want to do their job
  • Give direction and provide honest feedback
  • Take ownership and do not place blame (the buck starts and ends with you)
  • Have a positive attitude and be able inspire others
  • Have Confidence and empathy
  • Be committed
  • Want others to succeed, and are willing to put the time into their people

What it is not:

  • Giving orders
  • Taking the ‘Glory’
  • Being a Follower
  • Being a  yes man/ woman
  • Doing the same thing over and over because that is the way it’s always been done
  • Avoiding Conflict
  • Making everything about you
  • Putting people down
  • Passing the blame

Leadership is not about you, but the people who ultimately work for you. Leaders are able to transform teams/ staff, motivate them and are extremely knowledgeable in what they want to achieve. Be a Leader and not just a Manager.

It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.Nelson Mandela

 (Answer: Jürgen, Jürgen, Brendan, Jürgen, Brendan, Brendan)

YNWA (You Never Walk Alone).

Lessons learnt in the first Year of Starting a Networking Group

networking.png

Creating a networking group can be a lot of work, throw up many roadblocks, yet can also be very rewarding.

A friend and I have been working on creating a stronger South African Business Community in Illinois and across the States/Canada. South Africans generally still have a lot to learn from other Nationalities when it comes to Networking amongst their community.

As a Nationality we currently do not take advantage of contacts and mobility through our ‘ethnic communities” in the US where other entrepreneurs from other countries have done so for many years very successfully.

I still often receive the email “I do not have the time or interest. Please remove me from your list.” Or no response at all when looking to connect with a South African Business Professional or inviting them to an organized event.

When receiving such an email (or no response at all) when setting up your group do not take it to heart. There will be others who will be thankful and appreciate what you are looking to achieve for your community/ group.

There are many Business Professionals who live by one of my favorite quotes, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill.

These are the professionals you want to be associated with.

As our Networking Group has grown, we have been ‘attracting’ more of the Professionals who believe in the Winston Churchill quote than the email, “I do not have the time or interest. Please remove me from your list.”

So let me thank you, the CEO, CFO, COO and high flying Professional who attend Events not because you are looking to get something for yourself but because you are looking to see what you can give back to others. (We are lucky to have a few of these Business Professionals in our Networking Group, and we all thank you)

Lessons learnt in the first Year of Starting a Networking Group:

  • It takes more time than you may think
  • You are going to get a lot of No’s
  • Be Consistent with events
  • Find a Niche Group you are looking to attract (e.g. Nationality, Profession; Sport Interest etc.)
  • Aim Big
  • People do appreciate what you are doing
  • Take the little wins
  • Do not take things personally
  • Curve balls will be thrown at you. (e.g. Our Breakfast Location is not serving Buffets anymore-we quickly had to find a new location)
  • Be Professional. (Create a Brand)
  • Take Credit Cards (get attendees to pay prior to event- more likely they will attend and gives everyone more time in making new connections)
  • People do not respond to Invitations. Do not be afraid in sending multiple reminders.
  • Use LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Advertise your Events on Social Platforms
  • Have evening and morning Events
  • Have the event at different locations as it will bring different business professionals (we generally have 3 in the Suburbs and then one in Chicago)
  • Make it beneficial for the attendees (have your members speak on topics of interest that they have the knowledge in)
  • Use the resources within your group (e.g. See if your members will let you use their office/ building for events)
  • Thank the people who come
  • Everything takes time
  • Know what you are looking to achieve (What is your mission statement)
  • The reward is seeing new connections being made
  • Get your members involved.
  • Plan Fun Events (e.g. Wine Tasting/ Art Show-get your members involved)
  • Advertise your members.
  • It takes time to get it off the ground (we are still working on getting consistent attendance and attracting new members)
  • Never Give Up!

Thank you to everyone who attends networking events and looks to give back. May you make an excellent new connection at your next function.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” – African Proverb