Fred Koury

Friday, 02 April 2004 04:40

The art of negotiating

Everyone wants a good deal, but at what cost?

We should all be striving to create win-win relationships, but unfortunately, some people are only interested in themselves. A win-win relationship makes you and your client happy, leading to a long-term relationship.

I believe in the old adage that what comes around goes around. People who are out for themselves will always end up in a win-lose relationship that will eventually turn into a lose-lose relationship.

In business, we negotiate every day. Some thrive on it and others avoid it at all costs, seeing it as potential conflict. Don't look at it as conflict, but as communication.

Here are five keys to ensuring a win-win relationship.

1. Patience. Good things come to those who wait. In business, we want it and want it now, but a win-win relationship doesn't come easy. It takes time, and if you strive to do your part, the rest will fall into place.

2. Research. It's important to be knowledgeable about the subject matter. Learn about the person and his or her business needs before going in. The more you know, the better you'll be able to focus on the issues.

3. Vision. Don't only look at it from your own viewpoint. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Try to see the issues from their perspective, and you might be able to work out a better deal for everyone.

4. Partnership. You can put magnets together two different ways: One way they will come together naturally, the other way takes force. Force never works. If you encounter resistance, you may need to approach the problem in a different way.

5. Gratitude. Show gratitude regardless of what side of the negotiations you are on. When other people see this, they will want to go out of their way to make you happy.

Past relationships may not have not ended as win-win. Take a few minutes and send letters to these people to let them know you'd like to restore the relationship when they are ready.

They might be hurting your business without you realizing it. This gesture will go a long way.

Tuesday, 28 June 2005 20:00

Keep it short

Welcome to the premiere issue of Smart Business Los Angeles, a monthly management journal for C-level executives of middle-market and large companies. Before you say it, let me do it for you: "The last thing I need is something else to read."

I know how you feel. Running a growing organization is enough to keep anyone busy. The demands on our time from employees, suppliers and clients seems to increase every day. That's why we designed a unique publication.

After 17 years in the publishing business, we know to listen to our readers. The publication you hold in your hands -- the 12th in our growing chain -- is the result of all our listening. In one-on-one conversations, CEO focus groups and written surveys, here is what readers like you told us they want in a local management journal.

1. Big minds, big ideas. Smart Business Los Angeles will tap into the top local business minds. Take this issue as an example. Our cover story tells how John Anderson, one of L.A.'s most respected business leaders, built Topa Equities into a multibillion-dollar enterprise.

Our Smart Leaders feature, a collection of thoughts from another top local executive, showcases United Online CEO Mark Goldston, who combined Juno and NetZero into one of the largest Internet Service Providers in the country.

In the coming months, you'll hear from more of the best business minds in Los Angeles on issues ranging from leadership to motivation to innovation.

2. Go to the source. To get the latest thoughts on best practices in important business areas, we have partnered with key local service providers in areas including accounting & tax, banking & finance, management strategies and legal affairs. They have front-line experience with the issues facing middle-market companies in Los Angeles.

We talk with these companies to develop insights into issues facing executives. As I always say, wisdom comes from an abundance of counselors.

3. Keep it short. Most articles in Smart Business Los Angeles fill just a page or two. Only our cover stories are longer -- because they delve into the management styles and strategies of top executives.

And don't look for us to drop on your desk some day like a phone book. We plan to keep our page count low so you don't have to fight to find articles you are looking for.

So why are you getting Smart Business Los Angeles? One of two reasons: Because of your success in building a business to middle-market status or your senior management role at a larger company that values the middle market.

In either case, I hope you enjoy our premiere issue. And I invite you to share your feedback with me.

FRED KOURY is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at fkoury@sbnonline.com or (800) 988-4726.

Sunday, 10 April 2005 20:00

Keep it short

Welcome to the premiere issue of Smart Business Detroit, a monthly management journal for C-level executives of middle-market and large companies.

Before you say it, let me do it for you: “The last thing I need is something else to read.”

I know how you feel. Running a growing organization is enough to keep anyone busy. The demand on our time from employees, suppliers and clients seems to increase every day. The sluggish economy only adds to the pressures of managing a successful business.

That’s why we have designed a unique publication. After 15 years in the publishing business, we know to listen to our readers. The publication you hold in your hands — the 11th in our growing chain — is the result of all our listening. In one-on-one conversations, CEO focus groups and written surveys, here is what readers like you told us they want in a local management journal.

1. Big minds, big ideas. Smart Business Philadelphia will tap into the top local business minds. Take this issue as an example. Our cover story tells how CEO Bill Ford Jr. is rethinking how Ford Motor Co. should be operated as ir begins its second century in business.

Our Q&A feature, called One on One, showcases Doner CEO Alan Kalter, who talks about how he leads the advertising agency by thinking big and producing results for clients.

In the coming months, you’ll hear from more of the best business minds in Detroit on issues ranging from leadership and motivation to brand-building and innovation.

2. Go to the source. To get the latest thoughts on best practices in key business areas, we have partnered with key local service providers in areas including accounting and consulting, technology and executive education. They have front-line experience in dealing with the issues facing middle-market companies throughout the Detroit area. We work with these companies to develop commentaries on issues facing C-level management of middle-market companies. As I always say, wisdom comes from an abundance of councilors.

3. Keep it short. Most articles in Smart Business Detroit fill just a page. Only our major features are longer — because they delve into the management styles and strategies of top executives. And don’t look for us to drop on your desk some day like a phone book. We plan to keep our page count low so you don’t have to fight to find the articles you are looking for.

You will find those three principles carried throughout the premiere issue of Smart Business Detroit — and every subsequent issue — just as our readers have come to expect the same from our other award-winning publications for the last 15 years.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t know how to have fun, too. We realize that not every minute of your day is spent planning or executing strategy. So from time to time we will include other offerings, such as reports on the latest luxury autos, high-tech gear, books and travel.

Also, we will summarize recent executive changes on our Movers & Shakers page so you can keep up on what’s happening with your peers. So why are you getting Smart Business Detroit? One of two reasons: Because of your success in building a business to middle-market status or your senior management role at a larger company that values the middle market. In either case, I hope you enjoy reading our premiere issue. And I invite you to share your feedback with me by e-mailing me at fkoury@sbnonline.com or calling me at (800) 988-4726.

Tuesday, 16 December 2003 19:00

Keep it short

Welcome to the premiere issue of Smart Business Atlanta, a monthly management journal for C-level executives of middle-market and large companies.

Before you say it, let me do it for you: "The last thing I need is something else to read."

I know how you feel. Running a growing organization is enough to keep anyone busy. The demand on our time from employees, suppliers and clients seems to increase every day. The sluggish economy only adds to the pressures of managing a successful business.

That's why we have designed a unique publication. After 15 years in the publishing business, we know to listen to our readers. The publication you hold in your hands -- the fifth in our growing chain -- is the result of all our listening.

In one-on-one conversations, CEO focus groups and written surveys, here is what readers like you told us they want in a local management journal.

1. Big minds, big ideas. Smart Business Atlanta will tap into the top local business minds. Take this issue as an example. Our cover story tells how United Parcel Service CEO Mike Eskew helped build a domestic package-delivery service into a global supply chain management business that serves 200 countries and delivers $32 billion in annual sales.

Our Q&A feature, called One on One, showcases one of the region's most dynamic business minds, RTM Restaurant Group CEO Russ Umphenour. He talks with us about the challenges he faced building an 11-unit Arby's chain into a 1,100-unit restaurant colossus.

In the coming months, you'll hear from more of the best business minds in Atlanta on issues ranging from leadership and motivation to brand-building and innovation.

2. Go to the source. To get the latest thoughts on best practices in key business areas, we have partnered with key local service providers in areas including accounting and consulting, health care, human resources, law and investment banking. They have front-line experience in dealing with the issues facing middle-market companies throughout the Atlanta area. We work with these companies to develop commentaries on issues facing C-level management of middle-market companies. As I always say, wisdom comes from an abundance of councilors.

3. Keep it short. Most articles in Smart Business Atlanta fill just a page. Only our major features are longer -- because they delve into the management styles and strategies of top executives. And don't look for us to drop on your desk some day like a phone book. We plan to keep our page count low so you don't have to fight to find the articles you are looking for.

You will find those three principles carried throughout the premiere issue of Smart Business Atlanta -- and every subsequent issue -- just as our readers have come to expect the same from our other award-winning publications for the last 15 years.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun, too. We realize that not every minute of your day is spent planning or executing strategy. So from time to time we will include other offerings, such as reports on the latest luxury autos, high-tech gear, books and travel.

Also, we will summarize recent executive changes on our Movers & Shakers page so you can keep up on what's happening with your peers.

So why are you getting Smart Business Atlanta? One of two reasons: Because of your success in building a business to middle-market status or your senior management role at a larger company that values the middle market. In either case, I hope you enjoy reading our premiere issue.

And I invite you to share your feedback with me by e-mailing me at fkoury@sbnonline.com or calling me at (800) 988-4726.

Tuesday, 26 August 2003 11:56

Generous nation

According to a report by Giving USA, Americans gave more than $200 billion dollars to charity last year. Of that amount, approximately $9 billion came from corporate contributions, which represents about 1.3 percent of corporate pretax profits.

To put that in perspective, more than 2 billion people around the world live on less than a dollar a day. It should not come as a surprise that more than 90 percent of aid to the rest of the world comes from America.

We are very generous as a nation on an individual and corporate basis. This prompted me to think of some questions about giving. What makes people give? How do they decide who they will give to? How do we decide how much we'll give? What will we give?

Here are some thoughts.

* What makes people give?

People give based on a sense of duty for their fellow man. They tithe based on religious beliefs of Judeo-Christian principles. People give based on the overflow of their wealth because of their gratefulness. They want to give something back.

As the demand for help increases, so does the giving.

* How do people decide where they will give?

A person or organization might have a specific need. Or an organization might have the same political, religious or social agenda. People give based on a personal relationship experience, or where they feel like they can make a difference.

* How much do we give?

Affordability is an obvious issue. People might give to meet a specific need. Our gut feeling may tell us to give a certain amount. Religious beliefs might dictate a certain percentage.

* What will we give?

Money can be used to buy supplies such as food or medicine. Time can be given to help build a house or bring someone a meal. Talent can be donated to help a person or organization achieve goals.

We need the continued assistance of the community's business leaders and corporations to provide advice, personal involvement and financial commitment. As the world's wealthiest nation, it is our responsibility to continue to share that wealth with others.

As we help people throughout the world, don't forget those close to you like your family, friends and members of your community. These are people that you can help and see an immediate result.

Think about your giving -- both as an individual and as a corporate leader -- and the reasons behind it. You might be surprised by the answers.

Friday, 25 April 2003 12:08

Servant leadership

There are many different leadership styles, but the one I want to focus on is known as servant leadership.

This is not the kind of leadership that requires you to be in control of everything, make all the decisions or have all the answers. This is the kind that is self-sacrificing and responsive to other people's growth. It develops people who initiate, take responsibility and become accountable for their actions.

Servant-style leaders are willing to lower themselves to humbly serve another person and put the best interests of others before their own needs. In return, this style reaps success by developing great employees.

How often do we see this leadership style today? Rarely.

Servanthood and leadership are compatible. Great leaders do not force people to follow them.

Servant leadership has proven to be the most successful over time. Look at who I consider to be the greatest leader of all time: Jesus Christ. He was born more than 2,000 years ago and had 12 people who followed him in the beginning. His ministry only lasted three years, he had no marketing budget and he died young, but today, he has 2 billion followers.

What you believe about Jesus is irrelevant. The shear number of followers shows that he is the greatest leader of all time.

This servant leadership style is what we need more of today. There are too many examples of executives who didn't live up to the responsibilities of good leadership and who have violated the trust placed upon them. They didn't serve anyone but themselves.

Ask your employees what they think of your leadership style. People take their employees for granted, and that's a big mistake. By serving their needs with a better management style, everyone wins.

Leadership is not to be taken lightly. The more you care about your people's needs, the greater the chance you will be the person leading them tomorrow.

Even when you think your employees are wrong, if you listen carefully, they're probably telling you something about your business that you could learn from. Take care of them, and they'll take care of you.

Thursday, 27 February 2003 08:09

Service commitment

"The customer is always right."

Have you ever stopped to think about what this means? The customer is the lifeline of a business. Besides employees, customers are the greatest asset a company can have, and they must be treated accordingly.

For many companies, this has been a difficult time. People are waiting it out and treading cautiously through this first quarter, keeping purchases to a minimum. However, some companies have prepared for a time like this and are in a position to stay on the offensive and press forward.

Those companies took careful measure of their return on each investment, assembled the best management team and are quick to adapt to new circumstances. They instill confidence in their customers.

For customers to continue to make investments, they have to be reassured yours is one of those companies.

Here are four principles customers look for before making an investment with you.

1. Innovation. Are you leading or following? Find new ways to set yourself apart from the competition.

2. Value. Give customers more for their money. When people receive more than they expect -- in goods or services -- they place more perceived value on that transaction, which leads to higher customer satisfaction.

3. Sound leadership. Good leaders make good decisions. Evaluate whether you have the right leadership to keep your company on top.

4. Customer service. Service doesn't end after the transaction is done. If you want to keep customers happy, stay in contact after the purchase. Stay up-to-date on their needs and find out what they like and dislike about your product or service, which will help you fine-tune it for the next customer.

Even when you think customers are wrong, if you listen carefully, they're probably telling you something about your business that needs correcting.

In the current economic climate, you can't afford to ignore them. If you and your staff remember the customer is always right, you'll never go wrong.

Friday, 27 September 2002 12:38

The art of negotiating

Everyone wants a good deal, but at what cost?

We should all be striving to create win-win relationships, but unfortunately, some people are only interested in themselves. A win-win relationship makes you and your client happy, leading to a long-term relationship.

I believe in the old adage that what comes around goes around. People who are out for themselves will always end up in a win-lose relationship that will eventually turn into a lose-lose relationship.

In business, we negotiate every day. Some thrive on it and others avoid it at all costs, seeing it as potential conflict. Don't look at it as conflict, but as communication.

Here are five keys to ensuring a win-win relationship.

1. Patience. Good things come to those who wait. In business, we want it and want it now, but a win-win relationship doesn't come easy. It takes time, and if you strive to do your part, the rest will fall into place.

2. Research. It's important to be knowledgeable about the subject matter. Learn about the person and his or her business needs before going in. The more you know, the better you'll be able to focus on the issues.

3. Vision. Don't only look at it from your own viewpoint. Put yourself in the other person's shoes. Try to see the issues from their perspective, and you might be able to work out a better deal for everyone.

4. Partnership. You can put magnets together two different ways: One way they will come together naturally, the other way takes force. Force never works. If you encounter resistance, you may need to approach the problem in a different way.

5. Gratitude. Show gratitude regardless of what side of the negotiations you are on. When other people sees this, they will want to go out of their way to make you happy.

Past relationships may not have not ended as win-win. Take a few minutes and send letters to these people to let them know you'd like to restore the relationship when they are ready.

They might be hurting your business without you realizing it. This gesture will go a long way.

Friday, 30 August 2002 07:10

To be or not to be

 

Everything in the universe was created with a sense of order to it.

God created us all with a purpose and for a purpose. Some people are born with gifts and talents that other people don't have. Untapped, these talents go to waste, possibly leaving our purpose unfulfilled.

Recognizing the gifts that we may not yet be aware of is important if we want to reach our fullest potential. Here are several ways you can explore what it takes to recognize your natural talents .

1. How you view yourself. Write down your unique gifts and talents. These might be a particular skill in a sport or simply good hand-eye coordination. It might be a subject you excel in, like history or math.

By taking the time to identify what you are good at, you may realize you have strengths in areas you didn't notice before.

2. How others view you. Sometimes others notice things about us that we don't.. Ask people close to you what they think your gifts or talents are and compare them to what you identified.

If they're different, the ones you identified may be talents you haven't fully tapped into.

3. How you would like to be viewed. You are what you think you are. Sometimes we limit our thinking, and thus, what we are capable of doing.

Don't put yourself in a box. Decide what strengths you want to utilize and act on them.

4. Who you aspire to be like. This would be a mentor or role model. We shouldn't idolize anyone because we are uniquely created for an individual purpose, but this doesn't mean we can't learn from others. Watch how others apply their gifts and maximize their abilities.

Don't assume your talents and gifts will flourish naturally. It can take a lot of practice to get the most out of what you have. But if you identify your strengths and watch how others maximize their talents, you'll be better prepared to reach your fullest potential.

Wednesday, 31 July 2002 11:18

Turn around

The down economy has been hard on many companies, and it's showing no remorse. It does not have a conscience, does not know right from wrong and is unforgiving.

There seems to be no turnaround coming in the near future. Consumer debt is at an all-time high, job growth remains stagnant and there is uncertainty about terrorism.

What does this mean? It means you have to get your company faced in the right direction to survive the downturn. Here are four things you need to do to turn your company around.

* Have a flexible plan. This plan will detail how you'll get from where you are to where you want to go. Once the plan is complete, it should be reviewed and approved by others with experience. Too many companies operate from the seat of their pants, going from one fire to another.

* Be patient. It's important to have realistic expectations. The economy is slow and business is hard to come by. Don't expect in a bad economy the same sales you had before the recession or you'll be setting yourself up for failure. Set realistic goals and do everything you can to help your employees reach them.

* Work hard. The Book of Proverbs says the diligent hand brings forth wealth. You have to outwork your competitors to survive. There aren't any easy dollars anymore. Set an example for the rest of your company to follow.

* Innovate. Differentiate yourself from your competitors. Don't get caught in a commodity battle that bogs down into a price war you can't win. Highlight the advantages of your products or services and deliver more than the customer expects in both service and value. Customers are looking for a good price, but also want service. Show them you can deliver both.

Don't assume the economy will suddenly improve and turn your company around. Take control while you still can.

You have to set the direction your company will travel and do everything possible to stay on that course. It won't be easy, but with the right attitude and hard work, success is assured.