Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Pull It Apart

In order to be an effective leader you have to be willing to take risks and set goals that others might perceive as too extraordinary, too difficult to achieve or too visionary. Today's business and economic climate has created an environment in which an out of the box approach to traditional business as we know it could represent a refreshing approach that would act as a magnet for attracting customers.

In order to explore what this type of approach would mean for your business, you have to step outside of what you do on a daily basis, which is difficult to do. You need a fresh set of eyes to take a look at what you do that will give you the ability to ask the "why" question on everything that you are currently doing. Why do we do this in this particular way? Why are we investing here? Why do we measure this, and why is it important? Sometimes, in order to put something spectacular together, you have to first pull it completely apart.

Our business is structured in a way that we have multiple business units with our parent company. This gives us at The Employment Guide the ability to look at how other businesses approach certain aspects of their business and find what might make sense for us to try. One of our sister companies is For Rent and another is We like to compare notes on what they are doing to give us a fresh perspective on some aspects of our business. It is almost like having a built-in consultant team.

This type of resource is going to be of even greater value in 2008 than in years past. Given the conditions with which we are all faced, including the credit and investment market upheaval, slower job growth (projected to fall to a total of 100,000 in 2008 by Kiplinger), identifying new ways to approach your business will be invaluable. After the innovation process, you have to make sure you have the resources to develop. That in and of itself can be a challenge, especially if you are in an industry that has faced restructuring, layoffs, etc. (such as the automotive industry). Then you have to allow for the proper amount of time for testing, quality control and a trial period before taking your new product or service to market. What is interesting is that while this process takes time, it is the businesses that can compress this time-frame and get their new product or service out to market first within their industry that will typically be looked at as an industry leader. It is my opinion that within the realm of electronic or internet related businesses the understanding that back-end development will need to take place after a product is launched is readily accepted more so than the "make sure the product is 100% before we roll it out approach." This is largely due to the fact that you can measure what your customers are doing with your product and modify the product to better meet their needs as you track usability. In fact, within our electronic media industry, this is now becoming the norm. Typically the website that you are on this week will change in some form or fashion next week. These changes are not readily noticeable, but they are in fact designed to enhance the returning visitor's experience.

So what are you going to do in today's business environment that will change the way you are approaching your business? What are you going to do differently? If you are ever going to take a great risk with the potential for high rewards, now is the time!

Take what you have currently and pull it completely apart. Can you put it back together in a way that so the end result is better than what you currently have? If so, do it.

Any time there is change there is opportunity. So it is paramount that an organization get energized rather than paralyzed.- Jack Welch, CEO, General Electric

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 Staffing Industry Analysts Executive Forum

Last week I attended the SI Executive Forum in Las Vegas. The event was packed with quality breakout sessions and notable keynote speakers. I was particularly impressed with Robert Reich's (former Secretary of Labor) presentation on the state of the US economy and Dr. Kevin Freiberg's keynote on change and being brave enough (or having the "Guts") to be a game changer in today's business world. Kudos to the staff who was responsible for putting this event together and their selection of fabulous keynote speakers; nice job!

Robert Reich did an outstanding job of articulating the current state of our economy and his opinion of where we are headed. He used the word "stagflation" to describe the current "perfect storm" economic conditions in the US economy. He also pointed out that the world economy is now stronger than the US economy. Immigration was another big topic in Mr. Reich's presentation. He shared with the crowd that the largest percentage of workers in the US at any given time that were immigrants was 15%. We are once again closing in on the magic number, which in years past has been the cause of legislation, (Smoot-Holly Tariff Act) which in turn had a deepening negative impact on our economy.

Although recently there has been a lot of negative press surrounding our labor economy, there are still bright spots. According to the latest BLS data the health care industry added 36,000 jobs in February, and the food services industry (hospitality) is still growing. The staffing industry is upbeat and confident which could partly be due to the increase in the total number of individuals in the labor force that are now working part-time jobs.

Dr. Kevin Freiberg really got the audience fired up. If you did not get fired up, you were obviously not listening to the passionate presentation in which I was engaged. Trust me when I say that the bravery level among entrepreneurs within the staffing industry went up a notch after listening to Dr. Freiberg's presentation. Current times call for new innovation and strategy that will take bravery in business. Do you have the "Guts!"?

Thank you to all of the staffing industry executives who stopped by our booth for a demo of our newly redesigned website, and a special thank you to all of our customers who stopped by to share their successes using our products. We love to hear from advocates! I also greatly enjoyed the round tables and the chance to learn about current trends within the staffing industry directly from industry leaders. Our attendance and participation in the event is another good example of an investment The Employment Guide is making to stay in tune with the dynamic needs of the staffing industry. We have been meeting your recruitment needs for more than ten years and look forward to continuing to exceed your expectations well into the future.

Let me ask you one more time. Do you have the guts it is going to take to be successful in today's business climate?