Client Feedback Tool
  • Ten Things I Learned in 2015

    Posted on November 24th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Ten Things I Learned in 2015

    I’ve spent the year attending many of the best conferences in the industry, traveling alongside a few of the savviest business consultants, and working with many of the most forward-thinking professional services firms in the world. We’ve shared books, ideas, and other resources with each other.  It’s December, and my brain is full!

    Before I re-calibrate over the holidays and gear up for another new year of learning in 2016, I wanted to pause and reflect on the best of the best ideas I encountered in 2015. These ideas all went beyond AHA! moments and became integral pieces of how I operate. In short, these are the ideas that stuck, that changed my perception, and affected my behavior.

    Perhaps you’ve been too busy this year to get the professional development you wanted. Perhaps you’re just curious. Either way – I’m sharing my curated list, the best of the best, the things that rose to the top.

    In no particular order, here are ten things I learned this year I thought worth sharing:

    1. There Is No Hope! Darren Smith at Cima Strategic taught me to stop hoping for a project to end well. Instead, put processes in place to KNOW that it will end well. His goal: Have a “best project experience ever” – on every project. I have focused on understanding ideal outcomes from the beginning, and driving towards those more consistently.
    2. Precise Questions Matter. Bob Stocking at Vervago revealed the necessity of asking the right questions, precisely. A few simple techniques can keep even a talker like myself focused on listening with purpose. I have put into practice skills that are both more efficient and effective than the “old way” – leading to deeper conversations and more success in both sales and services delivery.
    3. Social Status is a Matter of Survival. Michelle Brown at Sentis shares how perceived social threats affect our neurochemistry, triggering base instincts and reactions rooted in the origins of humankind as a species. Becoming aware of these triggers, I have been able to re-wire my brain to handle criticism and negativity without the anxiety of before.
    4. Don’t Reject Myself. Jia Jiang at WuJu Learning, revealed how we’re so hardwired to avoid rejection, we will often reject ourselves before we allow others to reject us. Jia’s practical exercises have helped me be bolder, get over myself, and ask for more in life – and getting it.
    5. Clients Don’t Buy Me. Tim Asimos at circle S studio highlights how clients want their problems solved. I will never be an aspiration purchase, I will only be a practical part of a solution. I have begun to focus more on sharing relevant content that solves problems – and the work has followed.
    6. Communication Reduces Risk. Tim Corbett of SmartRisk presented evidence that firms that communicate effectively have a greater probability of being a “high performing firm.” These high performing firms realize dramatically increased profits and both reduced liability and liability premiums. I have begun re-engineering our services delivery process to increase the quality and frequency of client communication to drive better results.
    7. Client Journey Maps are Magic. Tania Salarvand at Valeocon showed me how to create a visual diagram that maps every step of a client interaction. Seeing all the exchanges and touch points enabled me to streamline our own client journey, launched a reorganization of our team to deliver accordingly.
    8. Client Delighters Drive Growth. Terry Reynolds at Kleinfelder shared a story of shopping at three stores one of which stood out. They surprised him with a unique approach that created real delight. It also created a new client and a sale. Terry’s experience encouraged me to look for delighters that we can insert into our processes every day.
    9. 21st Century Businesses Must be Frictionless.  Geoff Colvin at Fortune Magazine discusses the concept of “frictionless” businesses – new ways of doing old things that simplify processes – taking all the bumps out of the path. Uber revolutionized the transportation market – and continues to threaten many other established businesses. Uber works because it’s EASY for the consumer. Every week at our weekly team meeting we now discuss where our clients see friction points, and discuss ways to remove the friction.
    10. Build a Habit Forming Business. Nir Eyal from Nir and Far reveals the four step process every game-changing application employs. In a decade, Facebook grew from nothing to actively engaging 20% of the world’s people on a daily basis – ever wonder how? I have taken the core insights from Nir’s research and begun to shape both our services and our products accordingly. Our clients succeed when they develop habits of engaging with us, and we succeed when they keep coming back for more.

    I certainly learned more than these ten things – but these are the concepts, ideas, and best practices that have actually caused me to change how I approach business, leadership, and the future.

    What are the concepts you have put into practice in 2015? If you’re not already registered, join us on December 15th for a complementary webinar and share your ideas (so I know what to work on next year).

  • Are You Okay? I Was Worried About You.

    Posted on November 19th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments

    Are You Okay? I Was Worried About You.

    That’s the first thing I heard from the receptionist at the dentist this morning. I had placed the appointment on my calendar an hour later than scheduled, and missed the visit.

    Rather than show any frustration at how I messed up the schedule (it was a big visit), the receptionist’s first reaction was concern for me. You see, it was raining quite hard this morning. She knows I have a 30-mile commute. And her reaction to my lateness was one of care and concern – about me.

    I’m sure my mistake caused problems. At the very least, they provided a dentist for two hours, and now he would not be billing those hours. We had to reschedule a visit for a few weeks out, so now they can’t sell those hours to someone else. Who knows what other challenges I inconvenienced them with.

    Faced with a client who showed up an hour late to a meeting (or missed it altogether), many of us would sigh, or acknowledge the extra work we have to do now. Many of us would take another tack, and put on a good face: “Oh, no problem at all! We had a REALLY busy day here too, so it’s really quite convenient of you to reschedule. Actually, it helps us out a lot.” I’ve done that many times myself.

    But I’ve never had a person in business say “Are you okay? I was worried about you.”

    I’ve used the two unexpected hours of free time to ponder this mind shift, one where our bias is to care and to genuinely be concerned for our clients. Those two simple sentences humbled me immediately. Here I am, a professional who helps other professionals elevate their care for clients. And yet, would I have ever gone so far as this – SHOWING a client I care more about their wellbeing than my schedule?

    The lesson is clear, but the application of the lesson less so. I appeal to you, readers, to contribute stories from your experience in business. When have you seen compassion like this in business? By citing example, perhaps we can all begin modeling transformational, differentiating care to our clients.

  • Rejection Proof: Move Beyond Fear to Drive Better Project Outcomes

    Posted on November 7th, 2015 Ryan Suydam No comments
    Rejection Proof: Move Beyond Fear to Drive Better Project Outcomes

    What client conversations do you avoid because you fear rejection?

    Jia Jiang, leading authority on rejection, has found a way beyond this harmful fear. And, I want to invite you to attend his webinar on Tuesday, November 17th. Jia is a dynamic speaker and will offer tips to set you free to achieve more in your business (and maybe even your life).

    Jia will share his solution to the constant internal struggle we all face when looking rejection in the eyes. He tells the story of how he found the solution and finally conquered this fear.

    According to Jia, the most important insight he learned while overcoming his fear of rejection: just ASK. If you don’t ask, you reject yourself before you give the other person a chance to say YES.

    Overcome fear of rejectionWhen delivering a project or working with clients, we all give away too much, we undersell our value, and we miss opportunities to succeed because we simply fear our clients saying “no”. Jia will provide actionable steps you and your team can immediately put in practice to get clients saying YES.

    In this webinar Jia shares key insights:

    • Rejection is an opinion – the rejection is theirs, not yours
    • Fear of rejection turns others into adversaries rather than collaborators
    • Giving people the chance to voice their doubts gains their attention and trust
    • Rejection as a tool sharpens our learning, adaptation, and improvement
    • Rejection is sometimes not rejection at all

    Everyone who attends the Webinar on November 17th from 1:30 to 2:30 EDT can win one of ten copies of Jia’s book, Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible through 100 Days of Rejection.

    Whether you are responsible for business development, project management, or you are leading a team of individuals, don’t miss this chance to hear Jia live, as he takes our audience on a journey of triumph and self-discovery.

    Jia Jiang is a keynote speaker, author, and the founder of FearBuster. Jia has taken his message to the stage and is now a highly sought-after keynote speaker on how to empower your life by overcoming rejection. His story has been profiled in Bloomberg Business Week, Yahoo News, Forbes, and The Huffington Post. Soon, Jia is turning his “Rejection Therapy” into a highly anticipated television series.

  • Is yours a team of generalists or specialists? Why it matters.

    Posted on October 15th, 2015 Sally Orcutt No comments
    Is yours a team of generalists or specialists? Why it matters.

     

    A problem that our A/E industry shares with the other white-collar service professions, we don’t always optimize our most important asset: our people.

    I know you’ve heard this before, but do me a favor – keep reading.

    As leaders we have a sense of what to do intuitively. The challenge is we often lack the specialized tools and processes to put our people into their optimum roles or give them the training and support they need to be most productive.

    There is good news. Recent studies and surveys show that while most managers do not think that their firm’s current processes and approaches to improving performance of teams are very effective; they still think that approaches that are customized to the specific skill-set of each team member are best.

    Create strong teamsSo, we all agree training each individual to do what comes naturally to them gives us the strongest teams. And when it comes to managing clients and managing production, understanding what piece of the puzzle each person brings to the team creates a team of specialists that excel at the work they provide your clients.

    I want to invite you to attend my seminar this December at the PSMJ Industry Summit and if you register before November 9th, receive a $100 registration credit. Here is a quick link to some highlights I will be sharing in December.

    In addition to all the valuable networking and excellent speakers you will hear at this year’s Summit, when you attend my seminar you will see the latest strategies used to create high performance teams.  Through these specialized strategies, I will show you how to enhance job satisfaction by letting (and helping) each person do what they naturally do best. I will also share first-hand experience of how our firm “turned the ship” and used these methods to make us a stronger, more profitable firm while improving the performance and satisfaction of our team members.

    1. Seminar Includes the Following Strategies:
    2. Understanding the four major skill-sets in the A/E industry
    3. How to identify the skill-set profile for each of your team members
    4. Setting team member assignments by their profile type
    5. Enhancing cooperative interaction between types
    6. Fine-tuning feedback for each profile type
    7. Identifying the optimum training for each team member

    While certainly of interest to firm leaders and managers whose role is to improve the performance of their firm’s teams, this seminar will contain information very helpful to anyone growing towards a leadership position or who wants to help their firm succeed.

    I look forward to seeing you at the 2015 PSMJ Industry Summit! When you register, use Promo Code CFT to save $100.

  • John Doehring shares ‘Ten Top Tips’ in Free Webinar

    Posted on July 23rd, 2014 Sally Orcutt No comments
    John Doehring shares 'Ten Top Tips' in Free Webinar

     

    Dad was right.

    My dad used to say “It doesn’t matter what you know if you can’t communicate it effectively.” My dad was born and raised in England. I still remember the way he used to cringe when he would hear us ‘butcher’ the English language.

    According to a 2008 NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) poll, companies rate the ability to communicate effectively above work ethic and teamwork when asked what skills they looked for in employees.

    Typically managers spend 75% to 80% of their time engaged in written or oral communication. Think about it, email, team meetings, client meetings (and calls), proposals, reports – these are but a few examples of the ways managers communicate each day.

    Tom Northrup, Management Consultant and author of “Five Hidden Mistakes CEOs Make” says that excellent communication skills create a more productive work environment while poor skills lessen productivity.

    We’ve collaborated with John Doehring to bring you “Ten Top Tips of Totally Terrific Communicators“. His 90-minute webinar brings a fresh and candid perspective on how members of your team can effectively and consistently enhance both internal and external communication. Those attending will learn how strong communication leads to:

    • Increased team motivation and commitment
    • Ability to build your firm’s reputation and increase sales
    • Stronger time management and organization
    • Greater client loyalty through understanding preferences

    REGISTER today (live webinar is this Thursday, July 24th (11 am CST, noon EST, and 9 am PST). Hear practical, actionable ideas and methods for increasing the communication skills on your team.

    Space is limited. (Note: You will receive a login confirmation reserving your space.)

    John Doehring is an industry expert and a nationally recognized speaker. His programs include keynote and focus sessions at regional and national conventions such as ACEC, AIA, NSPE, SAME, SMPS, and SEA. Attendees at his sessions consistently identify his ability to provide action items that can be implemented immediately as a core strength of his message.