The Goose and the Golden Egg

Almost anyone can deliver results for a quarter or two but the real challenge is to create a business that can sustain both the Goose and the Golden Egg, year after year.

Delivering superior performance while building the production capability to deliver it, again and again, is the very definition of greatness in any enterprise.

Why is this so?

Aesops Fable: The Goose and the Golden Egg

There once was a country farmer who discovered in the nest of his pet goose a glittering golden egg. At first, he thought it was some kind of trick to deceive him. But he decided to have the egg appraised and to his surprise discovered the egg was pure gold.

He becomes more excited the next day when the goose lays another golden egg. Day after day, he continues to find another golden egg. He becomes fabulously wealthy.

But with wealth comes greed and impatience. Unable to wait day after day for the golden eggs, the farmer kills his goose in order to get all the golden eggs at one time.

But when he opens the goose, he finds it empty. There are no golden eggs – and now he has no way to get more.

The farmer destroyed the very thing that produced them.

Within this fable is a key principle to sustainable success.

Sustaining success is a function of two things: What is produced [the golden egg] and the capacity to produce [the goose].

If you only focus on producing the golden eggs and neglect the goose [building production capacity for tomorrow] you will soon be without the golden egg.

The key lies in balancing of Achieving Results and Building Capability.

Operating from your 80/20 Sweet Spot is one way to achieve this balance.

We approach the goal of superior performance by helping you focus on and deliver specific results and build more sustainable production capability.

Under these two areas [Achieving Superior Results and Building Sustainable Capability] we work with you in three areas:

Achieving Results 

  1. Execution of Getting the Right things Done. Achieve specific results like increasing sales, improving quality, scalability, clarity of marketing messaging, or other specific initiatives that are in alignment with your overall goals, guiding principles and mission.

Building Sustainable Production Capabilities

  1. Developing Principle-Centered Leaders. We help build sustainable leadership capabilities based on principles, character, alignment and the ability to achieve consistent   We build principle-centered leaders.
  2. Individual effectiveness. We help small business enterprises to increase the personal performance of their staff.  We build personal greatness.


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The principle of completed staff work.

The power behind completed staff work helps address the greatest challenge in the business world today which is not being able to get everything done with the time and resources available.

Part of the problem is not knowing what to say ‘NO’ to.

Years ago I learned about a principle Henry Kissinger instilled in those who worked with him called “completed staff work” that helped address this problem.

The concept is about developing effectiveness in yourself and others and getting it right every time.

Completed staff work requires people to give you their best thinking, their best recommendations and ultimately their best work.

When a staff member came to Kissinger with a recommendation from a delegated task, before even reading it, Kissinger asked: “Is this the very best recommendation you could come up with?”

More times then not, the staff member would answer something like, “No, I can strengthen this recommendation with additional research and detail.”

Each time they come back with an improved recommendation, Kissinger would keep challenging them “Is this your very best?  Is there room for improvement?”

When I implemented this in my car dealership, I asked 5 times before getting the final version and finally reading it.

The idea of this is to empower your staff to reach their highest potential and make better contributions.

Unfortunately, many small BIZ owners have not learned to trust the principles of delegation and empowerment. They continue to do it all themselves until ultimately, they burn out.

Five elements of effective delegation and employee empowerment for greater effectiveness:

  1. Know What You Want and Clearly State it. Establish clear desired end results. Help employees to understand that they will be expected to give their best thinking in solving problems, making decisions and formulating recommendations.
  2. Ask Questions. As the manager or co-worker ask “What is your recommendation? How would you solve this or how would you implement this policy?’ Get in the habit of soliciting ideas and buy-in for those around you.
  3. Clarify Assumptions. Different assumptions have sunk more than a few good ideas before they even had a chance. Before walking away, always ask for clarification of what the other party heard vs what you said.
  4. Give People the Tools They Need. Provide the necessary resources, time and access to information.  Make yourself accessible for providing info and feedback.
  5. Provide an Environment for Success. Give people the time to present their recommendations and time for you to ask clarifying questions.

The principle behind completed staff work is simply a means to teach people to do their own thinking and to think accurately.

When done correctly completed staff work has the benefit of saving everyone’s time and produces better results – a true 80/20 win-win for all stakeholders.

[Source: Stephen Covey]

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Word of mouth

Whenever I speak to a business owner about how they market themselves, the most common answer is – Word of mouth.

That answer tells me this business has very likely plateaued and become mired in the status quo because while “word of mouth” marketing is great, it’s also painfully slow and a very unreliable way to build a business.

Word of mouth is the equivalent of a free lunch.

It’s great when it comes your way, but do you really want to rely on it to feed yourself and your family?

It takes a lot of blind faith to build your business on this method and is a very dangerous path to take.

Referrals have to be proactive, orchestrated and systematized.

Once you understand the psychology behind referral marketing, you’ll never take a passive approach again.

Think back to a time you recommended a restaurant or car dealer to a friend.

Did you do it as a favor to the restaurant or car dealer or did you make the referral because it made YOU look and feel good?

You did it because you wanted your friend to have the same great experience you had.

Keep that psychology in mind when proactively orchestrating your own referral marketing system.

It has to be reliable and deliberate.

When I first got into the car business I learned my automotive marketing and selling practices from the worlds greatest salesman – Joe Girard.

His system was created because of his “Rule of 250” he learned by observing the average attendance at a funeral was 250 and for weddings, the average number of guests was 250 for the groom and 250 for the bride.

He realized that if every person he met knew an average of 250 people then every person he did business with represented a potential 250 referrals.

So systematizing your process of delivering your product or service so that it was an exceptional experience and systematizing your nurturing and referral process is critical to growing your business.

Word of mouth is nothing more than a hope and a prayer method.

The optimal strategy for referrals is to have a system of consistently asking for one.

By putting a system in place for generating referrals, you dramatically increase the reliability and constancy of word of mouth marketing.

Relying on the goodwill of others is a fools’ errand.

The best referrals come from your ideal best customers so build your referral system around two things.

  1. Target your ideal best customers – the 5% to 20% that generates 65% to 80% of your business.
  2. Focus on the specific problem this group of potential customers has that you have a unique solution to.

If you are a B2B Biz, we have a technique called “Vendor Well” that is a unique and effective word of mouth referral system.


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Become a marketing farmer with three simple steps:

Become a marketing farmer 👩‍🌾 with three simple steps:

Step 1 Lead Generation marketing: to generate leads with the sole intent to find people who are interested in what you have to offer. 


Step 2 Capture their contact information: Add them to your database. 


Step 3 Nurture them: Stay in constant contact with them with information that is personalized and they value, while occasionally making a sales pitch. 


90% of all salespeople (businesses) stop following up after 4 contacts. 


By the 6th to 7th follow-up nurturing message, you have earned top of mind awareness. 


By the 9th contact, when your prospect is ready to buy, you have a 90% chance they’ll contact you. 


Follow these three simple steps every day and over time you will have thousands of raving fans who only buy from you and become your outside sales force. 


Joe Girard was my “book-mentor” when I first started selling cars. He is the reason I became more of a marketer than a salesman.

He is listed in the Guinness World Records as the “world’s greatest salesman.”

Between 1963 and 1978, he sold over 13,000 cars at a Chevrolet dealership in Detroit, MI. and he did it retail, one at a time, no fleet sales.

Here are his stats:

  • He averaged 6 cars per day.
  • His best day was 18 vehicles.
  • Best month was 174.
  • The best year was 1,425.
  • He sold more cars than 95% of all dealerships in North America.

What was his secret, besides work ethic and a likable personality?

It’s the one thing I emulated and it brought me enough success that I eventually was able to purchase my own dealership at the age of 39 – constant follow-up with everyone he ever met.

Joe sent a “personalized” card every month to his entire list of customers and prospects.

By the time he was in the business 10 years, almost two-thirds of his sales came from repeats and the vast majority of the rest came from referrals.

Top sellers in any industry have mastered being a market farmer first and a salesperson second.

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What are your Guiding Principles?

Guiding Principles are the core values, laws and rules we each live by. They define who you are, how you make decisions and they define your business.

In business, just as in life, eventually you will come up against a lot of people and situations that challenge your principles and core values. It’s vital to your success and emotional sanity that you never lose sight of who you are.

Guiding Principles are a blend of your personal ethics, core values and the personal rules of success we have defined for ourselves, on what is right and what is wrong. What is acceptable and what is not. What makes you happy, and what doesn’t. Your Guiding Principles hardly ever change. They are the “voice” that guides your every decision for life.

Guiding Principles trigger that nagging voice in your head that punishes you when you break them and give you the reassuring pat on the back when you follow their guidance. It is the conscience that keeps you on the straight-and-narrow path to right decision and becomes the very soul of your business.

If you want to leverage their power, make them part of your daily conscious thought. Start paying attention to your emotions in different situations. Every time something triggers strong negative emotions (like anger), ignore what triggered it for a moment and think about what Guiding Principle of yours has been broken. Similarly, when you feel strong positive emotion (like giddiness) think about why that incident made you feel good. Those inner thoughts and feelings are your Guiding Principles.

Some examples of Guiding Principles are: [note how each is written out and clear to understand; no one word platitudes!]

  • Honor all Commitments – both the spoken and unspoken ones. If you say you are going to do something and 30 seconds later you realize it is going to cost you more in time, effort or money than you thought, tough! Do it anyway. There are few things more valuable than your own reputation and integrity. (Note: One of the easiest ways to Honor every commitment you make is to Under Promise/Over Deliver).
  • Compatible: Do not spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince someone who does not want what you have to offer. Life is all about relationships – the right relationships. Surround yourself with people who support you, support what you are doing, and root for your success.
  • Be Honest and Transparent – Clarify Expectations (make sure everyone fully understands including yourself) Avoid platitudes like the plague.
  • Win-win or No Deal thinking: This is why I implemented One Best Price. Life’s too short to deal with a ding dong. I don’t mind honest negotiators but I have no time for win-lose negotiators.  That is someone who not only feels it’s okay to leave nothing on the table for the other side but thinks they have to take the table as well.
  • Under Promise/Over Deliver: Go the Extra Mile.  Always do more than is expected of you. 

    You want people like you, to like you.  So, create and nourish relationships who have your same “Speed of Trust”.

    Choose to work only with the 20%!!

    Your best customers share your same worldview and Guiding Principles

    Write down your own principles. Over time, as you get to know them better, refine them. Make them concise. Make them conscious. Your Guiding Principles will keep you on track.


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3 Steps to Your 80/20 Sweet Spot

Businesses that operate from their 80/20 Sweet Spot have the best chance to grow and expand.

Here are the three things you must know:

  1. Identify your Ideal/Top Clients
  2. Identify and Articulate your USP [Unique Selling Proposition]
  3. Create Systems to Under-Promise and Over-Deliver to Your Top Clients

If you truly are a business owner who wants to not just get by, not just exist on the flow of the market-but who wants to dominate their market…and when I say dominate, I mean be a recognized leader in all aspects; have great customers, great employees, systems that deliver consistent results under the umbrella of Under-Promise/Over-Deliver and have increasing revenue and cash flow, then you need to read on.

Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? 

  •  You feel as if you are doing all the right things, but your marketing is falling on deaf ears.
  • You are feeling the pressure from your customers, prospects and competitors to lower your prices.
  • You can’t take on any more business because you have no more hours to give. You are feeling burned out and unsure how to continue to grow and expand.
  • You are always understaffed and/or have the wrong people in the wrong slots.
  • Your cash flow is inconsistent or uncertain.

 If any of these symptoms resonate with you, then you are not operating from your 80/20 Sweet Spot.

Businesses that are operating in their 80/20 Sweet Spot:

  1. Easily attract the ideal target audience for their business – both customers and employees.
  2. Never experience pressure to compete on price. In fact, their customers gladly pay a premium for the value they are receiving.
  3. Can easily grow and expand their business without requiring extra hours of work from the owner/entrepreneur.
  4. Have consistent and certain cash flow – month in and month out.

It’s easy to fall for the “shiny ball” syndrome and get caught up in the latest marketing, selling or time management tactic or trend.

If your business does not have a solid 80/20 Sweet Spot Strategy, at some point, you are going to hit that growth plateau.

Your 80/20 Sweet Spot is where your Top/Ideal customers [the 20%’ers], your Unique Selling Proposition [USP] and your Under-promise/Over-Deliver Systems all intersect.

In order to thrive, grow and expand, you need all three.


  • If you don’t know who your best, easiest to work with, easiest to communicate with, most profitable clients are, and what they need and want from you, then you can’t possibly create marketing that will attract them.
  • If you don’t know or can’t adequately express what makes you different from your competition [in a way your Ideal/Top clients actually care about], then price will be the only thing you have to compete on.
  • If you don’t have the systems and process that deliver Under-Promise/Over-Deliver Results, consistently without you, then you are stuck trading dollars for hours. You will never be able to grow beyond the number of hours, you the owner are willing and able to contribute.

Would you like help identifying and implementing your 80/20 Sweet Spot strategy?

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Symptoms of Working with Everyone or How to Avoid a Slow Miserable Death

The most common symptoms of an ailing company are:

  • Lack of time.
  • Uncertain or inconsistent cash flow.
  • Not enough of the “right” employees.
  • Not enough of the “right” customers.

“Most ailing organizations are not suffering because they cannot resolve their problems but because they cannot see their problems.” – John Gardner

Most struggling entrepreneurs scramble for money and time and almost always it is due to saying “yes” to working with almost everyone.

Inconsistent or inadequate cash flow is the most devastating of the four most common problems most businesses have.

Does this sound familiar?

  • “We’re just one project, one client away. Once I sign this deal, we’ll be good.”
  • Borrowing money to meet payroll.
  • Not paying yourself.
  • Asking a key employee, usually a trusted manager, to hold off cashing his check until “Monday”

The say yes to everyone strategy is not sustainable.

Our 80/20 Assessment Analysis will identify, with absolute “black & white” clarity, who you should be working with and who you need to fire.

80/20 Assessment is about first identifying the customers who you are losing money on, who you are stocking inventory for that you don’t need, who make you cringe when you see their number on caller ID, who demoralize your staff, who pay late, who beat you down to the very last penny, etc. etc. etc.

When you have eliminated the deadwood you now have breathing space.

Could you cut back on staff? With the money you freed up in unnecessary inventory, where could you invest that more wisely?

You now have time to innovate and systematize your business.

Once we’ve helped you clear out the bad, the second step is to identify the very top clients and then implement knock-their-socks-off service and products for these select clients.

Through targeted marketing you now can nurture them and strengthen the relationship.

You can now start serving them so extraordinarily well, that they start to come in more often, purchase more when they do come in and become your private army of outside salespeople and refer more like them.

Every time you clean house you make room for more of your ideal clients.

More clients is not the answer. More of the right clients is the answer.

This is how you grow and expand your business the 80/20 way and eliminate the symptoms of an ailing business.


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How to Get Your Ideal Customers to Raise Their Hand and Beg You to Sell Them More

The real key to success is not having better answers…it is rather in having better questions.

One of the most effective 80/20 strategies you can utilize is to interview your TOP clients and find out what they wish you could change about your industry, what they wish you could provide them or sell them, what they wish someone, anyone could solve for them, what would make their lives so much easier, what would help them grow and expand their business.

Then, do your very best to fulfill every wish. It isn’t that you disregard everyone else, it’s just that you create your systems and solutions based on what your 20%’ers want and don’t want.

Your other “average” clients will benefit as well due to the trickle-down effect.

If you are going to be the business in your marketplace that dominates, you have to come to the realization that you can’t be all things to all people.

First, you need to go back to your 80/20 Assessment Analysis and pay special attention only with your ideal, top clients.

If you have 1,000 customers, it is likely that as few as 10 or maybe as many as 200 qualify as your ideal, top clients.

You interview these people and you talk to them, ask them smart probing questions and you LISTEN to them.

Ask them why they do business with you?

Ask them if there are any other products or services they would like to see you offer?

Ask them what they like least about your industry in general and you in particular?

Ask them what you do well that really, really pleases them?

Ask them what they hate most about other types of businesses – like restaurants, cleaners, auto dealers, shopping in general?

Ask them about their aspirations, challenges, short and long-term goals?

Our 80/20 Assessment Analysis consists of anywhere from 12 to 15 different qualifiers.   Contact me to learn more.

Never waste your time, staff or resources providing what your top, ideal customers don’t want or don’t care about.

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Do You Mind If I Show You Why Your Strategy Is Wrong?

Unless you have used the 80/20 Principle to create your strategy I am fairly confident that strategy is badly flawed.

For sure you most certainly have an incomplete and inaccurate view of where you make and lose the most money.

It is almost certain that you are wasting far too much time, effort and resources on the wrong people, products, and/or services and not enough on the right people, products and/or services.

You are focusing on the broad part of the pyramid instead of the narrow one.

To create a highly effective business strategy, you need to take a close look at the different pieces of your business that generate your profits and cash flow.

Unless you are a very small business, you make at least 80% of your profits and cash flow from 20% of your customers, 20% of your employees and 20% of your products and/or services.

The real trick is to identify which 20%.

Where are you making the most money and where are you losing the most?

In order to clearly identify which parts of your business are making very high returns, which are just getting by and which are complete catastrophes, an 80/20 Analysis has to be performed of your people and profit-centers for each of these different categories:

  • by product/service or product/service group
  • by customer or customer group
  • by employee or employee group
  • and possibly by any other category of your business that appears to be relevant that you have pertinent data for; things like competitive market segment, department, geographic area, etc.

80/20 Analysis is a task for a “smart” human. It can’t be outsourced simply to a computer.

Numbers always tell a story, but because every business is unique, the story is many times different for each business.

Just knowing the 20% that generates 80% of your results by product/services, customers and employees, gives you a tremendous advantage over your competitors because we now know what, who and where to focus all of our marketing and selling time, energies and resources.

The real low-hanging strength of 80/20 is showing you where you are losing money.

We tend to think that our business is doing the best it can and that the competitiveness of the market has reached its equilibrium and now we need to win market share by sheer force.

Nothing could be further from the truth or more destructive in thought.

By changing our thinking to 80/20 we begin to transform the way we do business at every entry-point, every segment, category and every level.

We begin to eliminate waste. Our inventory costs go down, which improves cash flow.

We need fewer employees because the employee we now have generate more and better results with far less management on our part and you can afford to reward them better thus creating a culture where people actually look at their jobs as a career.

We watch our customer loyalty increase, the frequency of purchases increases and because we are catering to the 20%, when they do purchase, the ticket sale is much higher thus the profit and cash flow increases.

80/20 is Your Guide to Developing Your Business into an Innovative Animal.

The 80/20 Principle is of enormous value in identifying the next big innovative leaps forward for your business.

80/20 is all about simplifying your life.  Getting more and better results with less – less time, less effort, less customers, less inventory, etc. etc.

The 80/20 Principle suggests you turn your business upside down and concentrate all of your time, effort and resources on multiplying the small but Wildly Important Parts [WIP’s] to your strategy.

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80/20 Email Marketing Strategy

There are 4 ways of using Email marketing as an essential part of your marketing mix.

  1. Lead generation. Getting low-cost exposure for your products and services is the first vital element to a highly successful 80/20 marketing process.
  2. Your sales process. An 80/20 sales process educates your customers and prospects on why they should buy from you and why they should continue to buy from you over and over and over.
  3. Your follow-up process. If you want a stable, thriving and growing business you need to keep educating your customers and prospects and following up after the sale.
  4. Getting referrals. The ultimate reward you get for educating your customers and prospects and over-delivering with service and value is having your own private outside army of very happy people who will be thrilled to refer you to others.

Email marketing starts with a well-maintained customer database that includes your customers and prospects Email address.

One of the most valuable assets you can have in any business is a well-maintained list of prospects and customers who trust you and are willing to purchase from you repeatedly and recommend you to their family, friends and associates.

Unfortunately, almost every brick and mortar business I visit ignores this asset.

Ask yourself this: How many businesses that you visit in the course of a week never make any attempt to capture your name, Email address, phone number or mailing address?

It costs a lot of money [actually a lot more than most businesses realize, but that will be a subject for another article] in advertising and expense to get a prospect or customer to walk into your place of business, to call you or visit your website.

You need to capture these leads and follow-up with them otherwise the value of theses leads is wasted.

Plus, by setting up an autoresponder, any small business can send an email to every prospect and customer automatically.

And by utilizing 80/20 Marketing and Sales you enter all the contact details you want into your autoresponder and it can follow-up with your prospects and customers with 80/20 targeted messages automatically for weeks, months and even years.

IMPORTANT POINT: This method should not be confused with spamming. Every one of your prospects and customers will choose to be on your email list and can get off at any time simply by clicking on an “unsubscribe” button in every email you send.

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