Dave Lindsey: How ‘focus = growth’ for rapid business expansion involves the ‘main thing’

Dave Lindsey, founder, Defender Direct

Dave Lindsey, founder, Defender Direct

You will never get it all done!

My first job out of grad school was managing one product line, no people and a “to do” list that was a mile long.

I remember breaking down to my dad one night, who at that time was a bank executive who managed multiple divisions, hundreds of people and a lot more responsibility than I could ever comprehend. I was beyond frustrated working 70+ hour work weeks yet I couldn’t manage to get everything done, and my to-do list kept growing!

That’s when Dad gave me some of the best advice that I have ever received. He said, “David, they don’t pay you to get it all done. They pay you to get the most important things done.” Wow! That simple phrase changed my life.

Let me clarify by saying that some jobs, entry level specifically, do warrant the employee to get everything done; all phones need to be answered, hamburgers cooked, etc. prior to leaving for the day.

But as we begin to move up the ranks of responsibility we don’t want to take this mentality with us. When we are managing people, places or things, the options of what we spend our time on grows exponentially. We can conduct training, print a new catalogue, go to a meeting … the list goes on and on.

 

Learn to focus

So many options and requests on our time and soon, we find that we can never get it all done. This is why it is imperative that as we grow in our positions, we learn to focus on the right things.

The power of prioritization is undeniable in terms of your future success and in order to be exponentially successful, you must learn how to differentiate time management from prioritization.

Peter Drucker says it best: “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Don’t waste your energy just crossing things off your “to do” list. Instead, spend some time prioritizing. Then pour your energy into the projects and tasks that you have deemed to be the most important things to complete today.

In the early days of Defender, I was a young entrepreneur obsessed with thoughts about how I could grow our business. As Defender grew, our team members were presented with new opportunities everywhere we turned.

While sometimes it was hard to turn away from an opportunity to sell what was presented as the “next big thing,” early on I took a step back to really evaluate our business. Every time we said yes to a new idea or product, it meant more training, more options, more complexity.

 

Stay in focus

Success does create more and new opportunities, but that means we must stay focused say no more often! Otherwise, our team and focus will fragment and slow us down.

I hear so many stressed out business leaders say, “But it’s all important!” However, by definition, if everything is important, then nothing is important.

If you want to be the leader of a high performance, fast-growth business, then your No. 1 job is to figure out what is most important and to “keep the main thing as the main thing.”

Still, today I divide my to-do list into A,B,C and D priorities and every morning I write my top three A priorities on a Post-It note, which I carry with me throughout the day as a reminder to keep me focused.

If each day I can get my top three most important things done amongst the chaos of life, I figure I’ll have a pretty successful life.

Remember, there will always be more things to do than there is time to do them. You’ll never get it all done and your “to do” list will never be empty. Let this philosophy release you from the stress of trying to get it all done and put that new energy into getting the right things done today.

Morgan Stanley posts $958 million profit as wealth management grows

NEW YORK, Thu Apr 18, 2013 — Morgan Stanley reported a stronger-than-expected first-quarter profit of $958 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $119 million, as its wealth management business grew.

The sixth-largest U.S. bank by assets said on Thursday it earned 49 cents per share on a consolidated basis in the first three months of the year, compared with a loss of 6 cents per share a year earlier.

Excluding a charge related to debt value adjustment, or changes in the value of the company’s debt, Morgan Stanley earned $1.2 billion, or 61 cents per share.

On the same basis, analysts had expected earnings of 57 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

However, revenue from fixed income and commodities trading fell to $1.5 billion from $2.6 billion a year earlier, reflecting declines in commodities and rates.

Shares of the bank, which has reported a profit excluding items in every quarter since the first quarter of 2012, were down 2.3 percent at $20.98 before the bell.

Excluding items, total revenue fell 4.8 percent to $8.48 billion, beating the average analyst forecast of $8.35 billion.

Revenue in the wealth management group, which had been expected to drive earnings, rose 5.4 percent to $3.47 billion, making up about 41 percent of total revenue.

 

Entrepreneur Mal Mixon joins CSU president at Fireside Chat Wednesday

Mal-on-Mountain--smallCLEVELAND, Tue April 9, 2013 — Mal Mixon, chairman of the Invacare Corporation, will join Cleveland State University President Ronald Berkman for a Fireside Chat as part of the President’s Lecture Series to discuss his newly released book, “An American Journey.” The event will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 10, at Drinko Recital Hall in the Music and Communication Building, 2001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

In “An American Journey,” Mixon discusses his life’s experiences and how they built his character and business know-how. An added bonus in the book are his 18 Life Lessons, which have been called “a virtual playbook on how to win in life and business.” The book was published by the Book Development Group of Smart Business in Westlake, Ohio.

Mixon has led Invacare since 1979 when he and a group of Cleveland-based investors bought the firm from then-parent Johnson & Johnson. A graduate of Leadership Cleveland, he is chairman emeritus of the board of directors and board of trustees of the Cleveland Clinic and chairman of the board of trustees of the Cleveland Institute of Music. He is highly regarded in the Cleveland business community and has been recognized nationally for his entrepreneurial skills and leadership. He received his BA and MBA from Harvard and served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps prior to entering the business world.

A reception will follow immediately. Mixon will sign copies of the book which will be on sale. The event is open to the public.

J.C. Penney board comes under fire for CEO switch

PLANO, Texas, Tue Apr 9, 2013 — The board of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. is facing scathing criticism from retail investors and corporate governance experts after ousting Chief Executive Ron Johnson and replacing him with his own embattled predecessor, Myron Ullman.

Hours after the switch was announced on Monday, there was at least one call for the entire board to resign, while others suggested shareholders might vote out current board members at the company’s next annual meeting.

“It was the wrong thing for the board to do to get rid of Johnson here. With the board firing Johnson now, at this stage in the game, they should tender their own resignation as well,” said Brian McGough, managing director and head of the retail group at Hedgeye Risk Management.

Though the board may not face serious legal challenges to the decision, shareholders may question whether its move to replace Johnson with Ullman, who Johnson himself replaced in late 2011, is good for them.

J.C. Penney shares lost half their value during Johnson’s tenure after having shed 15 percent during Ullman’s time as CEO from 2004 to 2011. The stock price plunged further Monday night on the news of Ullman’s return, as analysts blamed him for creating the problems that Johnson was supposed to fix.

Business spending plans gauge hits one-year high in January

WASHINGTON, Wed Feb 27, 2013 — A gauge of planned U.S. business spending increased by the most in just over a year in January and new orders for long-lasting manufactured goods excluding transportation rose solidly, pointing to underlying strength in factory activity.

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday non-defense capital goods orders excluding aircraft, a closely watched proxy for business spending plans, jumped 6.3 percent, the biggest gain since December 2011, after slipping 0.3 percent in December.

Economists had expected this category to only rise 0.2 percent.

Durable goods orders excluding transportation increased 1.9 percent, the largest gain since December 2011, after increasing 1 percent in December. That was well above economists’ expectations for a 0.2 percent gain.

However, overall orders for durable goods – items from toasters to aircraft that are meant to last at least three years — tumbled 5.2 percent as demand for civilian and defense aircraft fell sharply. Last month’s drop was the first since August.

Gauge of U.S. business investment plans edges lower

WASHINGTON, Mon Feb 4, 2013 — A gauge of U.S. business investment plans dropped in December, a possible sign companies were losing confidence in the economy’s strength due to fears over tighter fiscal policy, government data showed on Monday.

The data from the Commerce Department also gave some positive signals, with a big jump in defense industry orders suggesting some of the surprise fall in U.S. economic output late last year was poised to reverse.

Many economists have expected businesses to invest more timidly because of uncertainty over government spending cuts and tax increases, which had been scheduled to kick in last month. Congress ultimately struck a last-minute deal to avoid or postpone many of the austerity measures.

Signs of any blow to confidence have been difficult to discern from economic data, but Monday’s data provided a hint of weakness in December.

The government issued a revised estimate for capital goods orders outside of the defense and aircraft industries, showing they edged 0.3 percent lower in December.

Boeing books 47 net new plane orders in latest week

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. said it booked 50 new orders for planes in the latest week, including orders for 31 of its wide body 777 jets, worth about $9 billion at list prices.

Customers also canceled orders for three planes – one 747, one 777 and one 787 — bringing the net increase in orders to 47 for the week. So far this year, Boeing has booked net orders for 1,115 planes.

The 50 new orders include four 767s for FedEx Corp., one 777 for the Republic of Iraq, and 15 737s and 30 777s for customers that Boeing did not identify.

The company did not say which customers had canceled orders.

U.S. stocks seen nearing all-time high in 2013: Reuters poll

NEW YORK, Thu Dec 13, 2012 — The S&P 500 may end 2013 within a stone’s throw of its all-time intraday high hit in 2007 on the back of an improved outlook for global growth and with an end to uncertainty surrounding the U.S. “fiscal cliff”, according to a Reuters poll.

A major relief for the stock market would be the resolution of the fiscal cliff, nearly $600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts that are set to take effect in January and which could threaten to bring on a new recession.

The median forecast for the S&P 500 by end of 2013 was 1,550, according to 47 respondents surveyed in the latest Reuters poll of equity strategists. That is just off the index’s all-time intraday high of 1,576.09 on Oct. 11, 2007.

By mid-2013, the S&P 500 is seen rising to 1,500, for a roughly 5 percent increase from Wednesday’s close of 1428.48.

Asia coal export boom brings no bonus for U.S. taxpayers

WASHINGTON, Tue Dec 4, 2012 — U.S. miners who are booking big profits on coal sales to Asia are enjoying an accounting windfall to boot.

By valuing coal at low domestic prices rather than the much higher price fetched overseas, coal producers can dodge the larger royalty payout when mining federal land.

The practice stands to pad the bottom line for the mining sector if Asian exports surge in coming years as the industry hopes, a Reuters investigation has found.

Current and former regulators say their supervisory work has lagged the mining industry as it eyed markets across the Pacific. They say they will now give the royalty question a close look.

“We are committed to collecting every dollar due,” said Patrick Etchart, spokesman for the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which collects federal royalties.

At issue is the black rock pulled from the coal-rich Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Miners there say they abide by the letter of royalty rules that call for the government to get a 12.5 percent cut on coal sold under federal lease.

Chesapeake Energy Corp. targets new asset, debt sales

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Chesapeake Energy Corp said it would sell off $10 billion to $12 billion in assets and issue another $1 billion in debt to cover its spending this year amid the weakest natural gas prices in a decade.

To bolster its cash flow, the second-largest U.S. natural gas producer has been cutting production from “dry gas” wells and shifting to liquids-rich fields that produce products whose prices are based on that of crude oil.

Chesapeake said on Monday that it would put fields in Texas and Oklahoma as well as some midstream assets on the block and sell its future production in the Granite Wash field.

Investors initially welcomed the announcement. Shares of Chesapeake rose more than 5 percent in early trading, before falling back somewhat.

Chesapeake may find it difficult to get the prices it wants for the assets because of low prices for natural gas, which are hovering near $2.50 per million British thermal units, Brean Murray, Carret & Coone analyst Raymond Deacon said.

The low natural gas prices are also putting pressure on the company’s cash flow.

Analysts have said anticipated cash flows of about $5 billion in 2012 are likely to fall far short of Chesapeake’s spending needs of around $12 billion.

“They need to get those levels more in line,” Deacon said.

Chesapeake shares had slumped nearly 40 percent since their peak in August through last week, hurt by the weak gas prices. The company has promised to trim its debt to $9.5 billion by the end of the year from nearly $14.5 billion at the end of the third quarter.

Last week, Chesapeake said it had cut its gas output by 500 million cubic feet per day and was considering pulling production down by double that amount, a move that could help reduce spending.

Included in the expected deals are sales or joint ventures for the company’s West Texas Permian Basin assets and Mississippi Lime acreage in northern Oklahoma, which will yield $6 billion to $8 billion.