September 30, 2018



The 8020Info Water Cooler

  Highlights from the latest information
  for managers, leaders & entrepreneurs



In this edition of the 8020Info Water Cooler we discuss options for growth, how to win back trust, negotiation tips, stalled projects, focus for meetings and quick-to-read sources for leadership ideas. Enjoy!


1.  The 10 Paths To Growth: 

Businesses and non-profits all need to grow. Often the paths they’ve followed in the past start to narrow, and another opportunity needs to be pursued.

In the new book Growth IQ, Tiffani Bova, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, outlines 10 paths for moving ahead:

  • Customer experience:  By providing a better experience for your existing clients, you might inspire them to buy more.
  • Customer base penetration: You can sell more of your existing products and services to existing customers.
  • Market acceleration: Take your existing products into new markets. The local restaurant or store that adds a second outlet in the same town – or a nearby town – is following this approach.
  • Product expansion: Sell a new product to your existing markets.
  • Customer and product diversification: Sell new products to new customers. Marvel realized the value of its brand wasn’t the comic books but the characters and moved into areas like movies and toys.
  • Optimize sales: Improve your sales efforts to increase productivity.
  • Churn: Minimize customer defection. It’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than find a new one.
  • Partnerships: Make alliances with others to increase your sales. Collaboration is critical these days.
  • Co-opetition: As you look to co-operate with others, consider ways that you can work with your competition. It’s sometimes possible to both compete and co-operate (in different areas) at the same time.
  • Unconventional strategies: Disrupt current thinking.

The specifics have to be worked out by your own team, but discussing that list may unlock vital growth possibilities.


2.  Winning Back Trust With A Colleague: 

Trust must be earned. And sometimes it can be squandered at work.

“When we make a mistake — as a boss, as a co-worker, or as a subordinate — we will discover that trust can fizzle. We’ll steal the credit on a project, or chew someone out unnecessarily. It will happen,” Inc. contributing editor John Brandon notes.

To win it back requires both forgiveness and restoration, as well as forgetfulness.

First, be honest about what you did to lose the trust. You have to own up to the mistakes in your own thoughts, emotions and actions and then go to the person you offended to clear the air. Be specific about what happened, and not as an excuse.

The next step is to forget. Both parties have to agree to forget there were mistakes and problems, settling the conflict. Obviously that isn’t easy. Try to remember how you acted with each other before the mess-up.

“The important part of this forgive-and-forget model is you have to be intentional — you need to talk it out and stick with that plan. It’s a time-consuming process,” he writes.

“Restoring trust is not an act of quick assumption; it’s an act of gradual submission. You submit to the idea that you made mistakes and then you forget that you had the conflict and then start acting in a way that shows you are right back where you were before,” he writes.


3.  A Solution For Stalled Projects:

At times, projects become stalled — they go into permanent limbo, with everyone uncertain about what to do. Time and money has been spent, and there’s a desire to not lose those sunk costs. The urge is to get everything moving again.

But maybe that’s not the best move.

In fact, entrepreneur Seth Godin says on his blog that if you’re smart, you will cancel the project, giving one week’s notice of termination.

During that week, one of two things will happen:

  • A surge of support and innovative ideas for re-energizing the effort will arise, and it won’t be stuck anymore.
  • A vacuum will occur, you will cancel the project, and you won’t be stuck anymore.

“It costs focus and momentum to carry around the stalled. Let it go,” he says.


4.  Two Tips To Improve Your Negotiations: 

Here are two things you are likely doing wrong in negotiations, according to business writer Vivian Giang in Fast Company.

  • Not making the first offer: Conventional wisdom says that making the first offer is folly. But research suggests the first offer greatly influences the rest of the negotiation, especially if what’s being negotiated has an uncertain or ambiguous value. It serves as a psychological anchor, and there is a strong correlation between the first offer and final results. So you want to cast your first offer as an anchor into the seas of negotiation.
  • Accepting the other party’s offer too quickly: Even when the other party’s first offer is close to what you want, you should demur since, ironically, accepting it immediately will likely decrease their satisfaction in working with you.


5.  Zingers: 

  • Meaningful out-of-office messages:  If you don’t give your out-of-office message a second thought, perhaps you should. Michele Gielan, a psychology researcher and author, says you should share a meaningful piece of information that can be a conversation starter next time you’re talking to the person leaving a message. If you’re off for a few days for a conference or to celebrate a special wedding anniversary, include it in the message. (Source: Harvard Business Review Blogs)
  • Learning needed for high standards: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos says high standards are domain specific, and you have to learn them for secondary areas. For example, when he started the company, he had high standards for inventing, customer care, and hiring — but not for operational processes, such as eliminating defects at the root. (Source: Thrive Global)
  • Find common ground: Resist the urge to have the last word. Digital strategist Molly Page says when you are fighting for the last word instead of fighting to find common ground, nobody wins. (Source: Thin Difference)
  • Competence isn’t uniform in teams: Management consultant Michael Wade says when you meet a team and every individual on it is highly accomplished and competent, do not make the mistake of assuming that the team is competent. (Source: Execupundit.com)
  • Avoid leading questions: Bryant University Professor Michael Roberto says managers continually include presumptions in questions that can lead to false results. For example, “How much will market share rise if we increase our advertising spending?” That question presumes that more advertising spending will increase sales, and more so for the manager’s firm than for competitors, who might actually respond more effectively. (Source: Professor Michael Roberto’s Blog)


6.  Q&A With 8020Info:

    Daily Sources For Leadership Ideas

Question:   I love The 8020Info Water Cooler. But what might I be reading every day — in brief periods of time — to supplement it?

8020Info Associate Harvey Schachter responds:

The best business blogger for my money is Seth Godin. His blog comes out every day with a short piece of provocative wisdom. Usually it jolts, forcing you to think about a new notion or rethink old ideas. And it’s a rare day that his post is not an A+.

Also good at forcing you to think is Professor Michael Roberto’s blog. As befits his position as a management professor, he often shares research studies, explaining them crisply and clearly, offering advice on your takeaway. It’s newsy, informative and thoughtful.

The liveliest and best source of management and workplace news comes from Fast Company’s daily newsletter. It’s usually got an array of stories, with one or two that will fit your interests.

Harvard Business Review is solid, solid, solid — an admirable resource of thoughtful articles. It has a weekly newsletter – Weekly Hotlist – with eight to ten links. It requires more time than the other sources I’m listing but is well worth it. There are also a variety of daily alerts and tips from Harvard.

Leadership coach Dan Rockwell is a gusher of short posts on leadership issues in his Leadership Freak blog. He says he is “empowering leaders 300 words at a time.” The ideas are actionable.

Henry Mintzberg, McGill’s eminent (and contrarian) professor of management, has taken to blogging with his usual flair. He sends something about once a week, with the off-putting title of TWOG (TWeet2blOG).

James Clear provides practical, well-researched ideas, usually once or twice a week, for work-related self-improvement and changing your habits. Eric Barker, a former screen-writer and terrific writer, takes on similar topics each week.

Farnam Street’s Brain Food newsletter comes out Sundays with some thoughtful reading for that day, based on blog posts, mental models and other interests of Ottawa’s Shane Parrish.

My tenth and final tip might be considered a biased suggestion, but my two columns for The Globe and Mail on management issues are unique for newspapers and should inform and prompt thought.


7.  Around Our Water Cooler: 

    Find Focus For Your Meetings

As you look ahead to another week of meetings, this scene from Jeff Haden, a contributing editor at Inc, may come to mind:

“Many meetings limp to a start. The group sits waiting for people to straggle in late. Others want to keep chatting about ‘important’ but unrelated topics: the dreaded ‘since I have you here’ move that turns the group’s agenda into a personal one. Still others keep texting and emailing.”

What are some solutions?

Brendon Burchard, author of High Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way, emphasizes focus. He says Oprah starts every meeting the same way:

  • What is our intention for this meeting?
  • What’s important?
  • What matters?”

High performers, he says, constantly seek clarity so they can not just focus, but continually re-focus, on what is important.

Handling focus:

Chris Bailey, author of Hyperfocus: How to be More Productive in a World of Distraction, suggests some other practical ways to increase focus and improve attention:

  • Simplify your physical environment and tame distractions up front. Use an “awareness timer” to remind yourself to check what you’re doing and get back on track.
  • When dealing with creative tasks, consider unfocusing — what Bailey calls “scatterfocus”. Let your mind wander freely, perhaps while engaging in an effortless, routine task that lets a greater number of creative insights percolate.

Neil Pasricha notes in The Star: “Our best ideas rarely come in a stuffy boardroom that smells like printer toner with someone at the front encouraging us to do ‘a brainstorm’”. Perhaps your meeting should be conducted during a walk in nature.

Match timing to your purpose:

On Forbes, Carmine Gallo highlights Dan Pink’s insight about selecting the best time of day for meetings.

“When we schedule meetings, we only think about one criterion—availability,” says Pink. “Instead, we should be thinking about what kind of meeting it is: analytical, administrative, creative.”  We should also be thinking about whether the participants are morning people or evening people. His advice?

  • Schedule important meetings or calls earlier in the day.  Our ability to be hyper-focused and keep distractions at bay spikes in the morning. Decision fatigue also increases as the day wears on. The research shows analytical decisions are best made in the morning hours — that’s why Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos schedules key leadership meetings at 10am.
  • Save creative pursuits for later afternoon and early evening. Not all brainwork is the same. The evidence suggests that ‘aha moments’ or creative insights often occur later in the day, after 5pm or so.

All of these tips resonate with our experience in facilitating strategic planning sessions and may improve your meetings this week too.


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8020Info helps boards and senior leadership teams develop, clarify and build consensus behind strategic priorities. Our services support research / stakeholder consultations, strategic planning processes, change and marketing communications. We would be pleased to discuss your needs and welcome enquiries.


  1. Closing Thought 

“The leader of the past was a person who knew how to tell. The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.”

— Peter Drucker