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This Entrepreneur Saw the Glass Half Full and Perfected his Product into the Perfect Holiday Gift!

Perfectly chilled beverages, no more shattered glass, and a solution for every can size!

BrüMate, The Dehydration Company:

On a mission to put an end to boring drinkware, one sip at a time. Hate warm beer? Can’t stand warm wine? They have a solution for everyone.

“There is no better feeling of accomplishment than taking an idea on pen and paper and creating something great from it. That is my passion,” says Jacob. 





Brumation is a term used for the hibernation-like state that cold-blooded animals utilize during very cold weather. On the other end of the spectrum is a state known as aestivation, which like brumation, provides a way for reptiles to handle temperature extremes.

Check out the interview here: http://brainhackers.com/the-brains-behind-it-dylan-jacob-brumate/ 

Growth Human Resources Leadership Personal Development

Keys to Effective Training

Let’s take a look at two professional trainers. For this article, let’s call them Joan and Jack.

Both Jack and Joan are energetic trainers who get their audiences laughing quickly. They will both do whatever it takes – using props or quacking or asking trainees to do silly things – to illustrate a concept or get their trainees excited and engaged. And when trainees leave at the end of the training day, they feel energized, happy and ready to take on new challenges.

But there are significant differences between the results that Joan and Jack achieve. A few weeks after training is over, the performance of the people who trained with Joan has improved dramatically and measurably. The performance of the people who trained with Jack? Well, it hasn’t improved much at all. Most of them quickly went back to “business as usual.”

In other words, Jack’s training is edutainment. Joan’s isn’t, because it gets results. And that is true, even though someone who peeked into either of their training rooms wouldn’t notice much difference.

How Can You Avoid Wasting Money on Frivolous Training?

The first step is understanding that although good training is often entertaining, it is not entertainment. In other words, training is supposed to achieve demonstrable results, not just make people laugh or enjoy themselves or kick back and enjoy a day out of the office or away from the selling floor.

I call the wrong kind of training edutainment. It’s entertaining, it does well on the “smile sheet.” but doesn’t actually have long impactful results.

How can you make sure that your training is hitting the right targets? Here are some steps that can help assure that you are getting a good ROI on every training dollar you spend, because your trainers and your training are hitting the right goals:

1. Think of training as a strong combination of education, engagement and usefulness. Training must educate by teaching skills, transferring knowledge, cultivating attitudes and hitting other specific targets. Yet training that is purely educational doesn’t get results. That is why training must present information in ways that are engaging, interactive and require the learner to think and use the information learned.

2. Apply the VAK Attack model to increase learning. VAK stands for the three ways that people learn, and your live training should make use of all three. Visual learning happens when people watch materials that can include videos, PowerPoints, charts and other visual elements. Auditory learning happens when people learn by listening to people who might be other trainees, compelling trainers, visitors and others. And kinesthetic learning happens when people get out of their seats and move around as they take part in work simulations, games, and other meaningful exercises.

3. If you’re hiring an outside trainer, speak with other organizations where he or she has worked. When you do, ask for specifics about what the training accomplished. Did average sales orders increase by a certain percentage? Did customers report measurably higher levels of satisfaction when they were polled? Did thefts and losses decrease by a certain significant percentage when training was completed? Remember to look for hard data about results. Statements like “We loved Paul’s training!” might be nice, but they don’t tell you much about whether Paul’s training was worth the money it cost.

4. Define outcomes and make sure your trainer can reach them. Do you want your salespeople to contact 25% more new prospects? Do you want the people who deliver and install appliances for your store to give true “white glove” treatment to customers? Or do you want your hotel front-desk staff to delight guests with exceptional service?  Your trainer should explain his or her plans to break those processes down into individual steps and address them directly through training.

5. Help your trainer know who your trainees are. A good trainer will want to know about their ages, prior experience, educational level, current jobs, and all other factors that can be leveraged to engage them more fully in training.  A concerned trainer will also want to be aware of any factors that might cause them not to engage.

6. Let your employees tell you what they need to learn during training. Your salespeople know the biggest challenges they face on the retail floor every day. Your service technicians know the glitches that arise most often when they are interacting with customers. Why sit back and hope that your training developers will guess or already know what those issues are and address them in training? It is less haphazard to ask your employee what they most need to learn in training, then make sure those topics are covered.

7. Work with your trainer to develop meaningful metrics. If you work together to define what you will measure after training is completed, chances are good that your training will accomplish much more, because its goals are well defined.

8. Monitor sessions and make sure that training stays on track. If you are a company training director or a member of senior management, you might not want to attend sessions, because your presence could put a damper on trainees’ ability to relax and learn. If that is the case, ask a few trainees to check in with you at lunchtime or other breakpoints to tell you whether the trainer is hitting the benchmarks you created. If not, a quick check-in with the trainer can often get things back on track and avoid wasting time and money.

The Special Challenges of Training within Franchise Systems

The structure of franchise systems makes it even more difficult to deliver effective training, especially to front-line retail and service employees who work at the franchisee level – in other words, the people who are doing the work. Delivering training to them becomes a two-part process because it is first necessary to train the franchisees, who must then train their employees.

Strategic use of e-learning technologies can go a long way toward simplifying and optimizing that process. In fact, that is why Tortal Training was created: to create effective training at low cost via e-learning to franchisors to offer franchisees.

It’s All About Getting Your Money’s Worth and Getting Results

If you are a training director who wants to record serious results from serious training, it’s important to work closely with professional trainers who don’t only entertain, but educate.  That’s the difference between training that’s frivolous and training that offers a good ROI on your investment.

Best Practices Growth Leadership Personal Development

Small Businesses are the Heartbeat of Our Neighborhood

Get Your Walking Shoes Ready! 

On Saturday, November 24th we have an opportunity to pay it forward, celebrating small businesses and all they do for the community. Created by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday showcases the importance of shopping and dining local, which fuels the economy as a whole. Small Business Saturday is the analogue to Black Friday and Cyber Monday which spotlight big retailers and e-commerce outlets. Small business is defined as privately owned corporations, partnerships, or sole proprietorships that have fewer employees and/or less annual revenue than a regular-sized business or corporation. , during one of the busiest shopping periods of the year.
According to the US Small Business Administration, there are nearly 30 million small businesses in the United States employing 47.8 percent of US workers, all of which have a big impact on the US economy. Small businesses create jobs, drive innovation, and give cash, time or goods to support local nonprofits or other community groups. They also provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to achieve financial success and independence, and often adapt quickly and creatively to changes in the economy.
A surge of national and local initiatives have increased the popularity of Small Business Saturday with 88 million consumers shopping small last year, up 14.9 percent from 2013, spending $14.3 billion at local and independent businesses. In a world where much of human interaction is through a digital platform, it is vital to experience personalized service and create relationships. Small Business Saturday helps keep the little guy in the public’s mind.
Small business owners are key to a thriving and developing community and it’s no secret that small businesses are BIG business. Thanks to their unique character and charm, attention to detail, and one-of-a-kind personas, small businesses make a profound impact on our communities and neighborhoods. Putting small businesses center stage on this day is the least we can do as customers for businesses and the people that work within them who do so much for us year round.
Growth Management Personal Development

9 Ways Leaders Can Prepare Key Players for the Unexpected

What if one of your key players:

  • got a once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity and left your organization?
  • was in an accident?
  • had a family emergency and was out for an extended period?
  • God forbid, died suddenly?
  • got sick and was in the hospital?
  • won the lottery and said adios amigos?

This week has been a bit challenging, but nowhere near the catastrophe it could have been. My computer hard drive unexpectedly crashed. Since a majority of my work and business are contained on that hard drive, it truly could have been devastating. Fortunately, though, I was prepared with backups to a local external drive and to an online/cloud service. So, yes, it has been inconvenient, but I didn’t lose data thanks to my backup plans.

This experience got me to thinking about how, as leaders, we need to make sure that we have backups for our people, not just our data. Would you be prepared if some unforeseen event happened?

I know no one wants to think about such things, but as an executive leader, you have a responsibility to ensure that your business operations could continue if some unforeseen event like this happened. Pulling the covers over your head, burying your head in the sand, or sticking your fingers in your ears won’t help you if one of the above events occurs. (I know. I’ve tried.) Author Ryan Holliday says that we should literally engage in negative thinking. For you leaders, that might mean thinking about worst case scenarios so that you can set up contingency plans to deal with the unexpected challenges that might crop up.

Organizing a contingency plan for your people is just good business. While many think that succession planning is just the HR Director putting names in boxes on an organizational chart, it’s actually about thinking ahead and being prepared, and yes, even thinking about the worst case scenario. And BTW, succession planning isn’t just for the CEO. If you’re a leader of a division, department, or a small business, you still need to think about this and be proactive. And repeat after me: It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Steps that you can take to jump-start your succession planning:

1. Start today. There’s an old Chinese proverb that says: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Identifying and prepping someone to step into a leadership role can take some time, but you’ll be so glad you did if the unexpected happens. Just do it.

2. Don’t go it alone.  Get your leadership team, your board, and any other stakeholders involved. You’ll want their input and perspective on this.

3. Discover the skills and strengths of team members. If you’ve never taken the time to do this, the whole process will be beneficial for everyone involved. You may unearth a latent talent or strength that a team member has never put to work for your organization. Ideally, you want to have everyone working in their areas of strength so that they’re making their maximum contribution to the organization and they’ll feel engaged and dialed into their work. (If you’d like some help with this, give me a call. We’ll work with you to determine the best tools to help you tap into the strengths of ALL of your team members.)

4. Identify high potential leaders. Regardless of their current role, look for people who exhibit the characteristics and strengths needed to be successful in the leadership position.

5. Include high potential leaders in strategy discussions. Show him the big picture so that he has context and a broader perspective of the organization.

6. Assess your high potential leaders’ interest, willingness, and enthusiasm for taking the reins one day. No matter how good you think he might be, if he says he never, ever wants to be in a leadership role, you may need to look for someone else.

7. Offer coaching and training to top performers. How will you need to invest in her today, so that she’ll be ready tomorrow? While she may have the technical skills necessary for her current role, she’ll likely need some help with things like communication, delegation, coaching, and performance management.

8. Identify talent gaps. As you go through the process of identifying high-potential leaders within your organization, make note of where you may be lacking talent or skills.  Keep your succession plan in mind when hiring and recruiting and see if you can fill those gaps.

9. Refresh, revise, update. Your succession plan doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be a living document that you update regularly as people, circumstances, and the business environment change.

Working through this process may open your eyes to the strengths and talents of the folks you’ve already got on your bench. And from my experience, helping your employees to recognize their strengths and putting them to work will cause them to be more engaged and eager to contribute their best.

Succession planning, like backing up the data on your computer, may seem like a task you can put off to another day. I encourage you to view it as insurance against a business-busting catastrophe. Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.

For more resources on leadership and employee engagement, be sure to sign up for our monthly Ezine and you will receive our report: “7 of Your Biggest People Problems…Solved.”

You might also like:

Why You Shouldn’t Bother with Strategic Planning Until You First Do This

The One Program Your Organization is Missing

Ten Tactics for Leading Through Tough Times


Best Practices Culture Economics Entrepreneurship Industries Leadership Marketing Personal Development Technology

To See the Future, Think Both/And

Whenever a new game-changing technology is introduced, our instinct is to assume that the current technology we are using will quickly become obsolete and will vanish from our use.

History has shown that the hottest new breakthrough technologies do not necessarily replace older ones. Instead, they often coexist side by side because the old technology has its own unique profile of functional strengths that the new technology never fully replaces.

How many times have you greeted a new innovation with an either/or assumption? Either you use the old or the new. But this is not an either/or world we live in; it’s a both/and world. It’s a world that is both paper and paperless, online and in-person, old media and new media.

Yes, No or Some of Both

In my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage, I teach readers how to gain a major competitive edge by learning to accurately anticipate the future. This is a skill that can be learned, and in this blog I’ll share one of the principles I have used for decades to accurately predict the future of technological change, one that you will be able to apply in countless ways: the Both/And Principle.

First, a bit of history. In the early 1980s, I developed the Both/And Principle and started applying it with great success. Here are some examples that will help you to see how to use it yourself.

Either/Or Assumption #1:

The introduction of digital documents meant that we would all be 100% paperless in a few years.

For example, in the late 1980s, when CD-ROMs were introduced, industry experts, the press and futurists predicted that by the mid-1990s, offices would be completely paperless. At the time I applied the Both/And Principle and predicted that we would have increasing amounts of both digital documents as well as paper documents in the future. It’s now 2018 and we are still managing both paper and digital documents.

Why is paper still around? Paper is inexpensive, portable and can be folded and tucked in a pocket or purse. It is an inexpensive display medium that does not need power. In addition, a handwritten paper note of gratitude to an employee is far better than sending a text or an email.  So instead of asking “How can I eliminate all paper?” a better question I had my clients ask was, “What is the best use for paper and the best use for digital?”

Either/Or Assumption #2:

E-commerce will render brick-and-mortar retail stores completely obsolete.

In the mid-1990s, around the time that Netscape, Yahoo!, eBay and many other Web-based businesses started rapidly growing, many futurists and the media predicted that bookstores, auto dealerships, shopping malls and retail stores in general would soon be obsolete.

The logic was that a physical store can only hold a few hundred or several thousand items while a virtual store gives you access to millions of items or titles 24/7.

So why do retail stores continue to survive and why are many even thriving? The answer is that physical shopping is experiential, not just transactional. Brick-and-mortar stores and malls that have continued to elevate the customer experience are social gathering places that create a sense of community, which technology can’t fully replace. In addition, many products are difficult to buy without physically seeing them and trying them out. Others require a knowledgeable person to help you make a decision. Why did Apple open an Apple Store? If you have been there, you know why. Why is Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores? Now you know why.

Either/Or Assumption #3:

Smartphones will replace laptops.

Not that long ago, business publications were having a debate about the future of computing. They asked the question, “With our smartphones and tablets becoming our main personal computers, won’t this make laptops obsolete?” The answer is still “no.”

The reality is, we still have the equivalent of mainframe computers, we just use them differently than 20 – or even five – years ago. If they have a smartphone and/or tablet, the majority of business users are already using their laptop differently, and perhaps much less, but they are still using both.

Introducing Both/And Thinking

While others were predicting the end of laptop computers, printed paper and retail stores, I did not fall into the trap of those bad predictions because I had developed a series of research-based guiding principles that would help avoid such mistakes, and the Both/And Principle is a major one.

The premise is simple: Your technology works well for you, but you discover a new app, gadget or process that could significantly transform your business. You don’t want to part with what’s been working for you, but you also don’t want to be left behind.

The Both/And Principle allows you to keep bridging your legacy systems with the new technology or processes. Integrating them in a way that will create higher value than either has by itself provides a pathway forward.

It is a powerful corrective measure to either/or thinking, meaning that the future will only be either one way or the other. The Both/And Principle recognizes the folly of assuming that the “new” will totally supplant the old, and it recognizes that they can be integrated. Once you try it, you will see the Both/And Principle can accelerate your team’s performance because you haven’t settled for one or the other.

Powerful Both/And Duos

Digital documents have powerful strengths; they are here to stay, but so is paper. Here is a short list of Both/And Principle examples:

  • Brick-and-mortar retailers and Internet retailers
  • Digital and analog
  • Paper mail and email
  • Nautical charts and GPS
  • Full service and self service
  • Wiring such as copper and  fiber-optics and wireless
  • Traditional media and digital media
  • Gasoline engines and electric motors
  • Digital music playlists and live concerts
  • Video conferencing and face-to-face meetings

A key success strategy is to integrate the old and the new based on the strengths of each. In fact, the hottest breakthrough technologies tend to coexist and integrate to create new value with their predecessors rather than completely co-opting them. Why? The old technology has its own unique profile of functional strengths.

Case Study: Amazon.com and Kohl’s

In August 2017, Kohl’s announced it would sell Amazon products in its retail stores. But that was just the beginning of this Both/And Principle business maneuver. Kohl’s department stores and Amazon.com have been piloting a retail model that even more perfectly demonstrates an integration of the old and new.

Since September 2017, the two have been running a pilot program in which Amazon.com purchasers who want to return an item can return it to a Kohl’s customer service desk. Customers who bought a product online can now skip the post office and instead return it to an ever-increasing number of Kohl’s stores.

Consumers enjoy the convenience, and according to a number of recent studies, total visits to Kohl’s stores with Amazon’s return program have outperformed other stores in sales by about 8.5%. In other words, customers returning items end up finding more to buy at Kohl’s. Kohl’s also reported an increase in new customers.

Both/And Thinking and You

What are some examples of Both/And thinking that could benefit you? Are there any new technologies that would give you amazing new capabilities that could become something you feel your business could not live without? What are some of the newest technologies that you believe will disrupt and transform your business? What would happen if you combined the old and the new in a way that creates higher value than either has on its own?

If you would like to learn more anticipatory skills so that you can turn disruptive change into your biggest advantage, read my latest book, The Anticipatory Organization: Turn Disruption and Change into Opportunity and Advantage

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