Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Planning for the Future

How well do you plan your future? Towards the end of a year is a good time to look at and plan for a new year. For our company we have just completed our 2012 Strategic Plan and one of our big goals for next year is a sales goal of $16 million in sales. This will be a slight increase over this year.

We know from our history that we can do OK if the economy is good and we treat our customers right but in an unstable economy and a shifting marketing mix - we have to do more. We are looking at existing clients that we have more opportunity with and are spending more time working on those opportunities. Our main focus though is adding new clients with net new business. We know as a sales team we need to push hard for next year and add a group of good customers in order to hit our goal.

To hit our goal, we as a sales team are focusing on three primary areas. We are tracking a certain number of business development calls, we are tracking new customer aquisition and we are tracking technology sales. We know if we hit our weekly activity goals our sales goal will happen.

On a weekly basis we meet and report this data. We then use the time to share stories of what went well and what we need to improve.

Take your goals for next year and break them into actions and smaller goals and push hard every week to win. This will make for a great 2012.

Friday, December 23, 2011

One More Push

Being in an economic slowdown gives us all a new opportunity to do more. It seems that most, if not all, parts of the economy are experiencing some sort of slow down. We are now seeing it in our small part of the universe - it's not just a problem for other country or the other part of the US.

If each of our sales people is able to add one or two medium jobs a week, then we are back on track. That is well within the scope of our sales force. The amount of quoting is steady, so the business is there.

I'm sure this is true in many industries and parts of the country. Just a little extra effort each day will bring the level of business back to a point of sustainability. It's time to quit listening to the news and use that time to look for and land new business.

Friday, December 16, 2011

How We Learn

"I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand" is a saying credited to Confucius. Here is a saying capable of driving everything this blog is about. From sales to marketing to personal effectiveness to lean principles - this saying hits them all.

Without doing there is no sales. No one can help others sell a service or a product unless s/he has been in the trenches and has dealt with the disappointment of making a call, having a first meeting, making a presentation and then delivering the presentation to find out the business has been lost.

Without doing there is no marketing. The most ideal marketing plan is almost bound to fail if the team building the plan has never been part of successful team. Ideas that happen in a meeting room may be spectacular, but they don't have the backing of real life experience.

Without doing there is no personal effectiveness. I remember in the past reading book after book on personal effectiveness thinking this will be easy - my troubles are solved. Then the implementation happens and all the "what if" problems arise. It's after dealing with the "what if" problems that a real system can be developed.

Without doing there are no lean principles. In the lean philosophy, there is a concept called PDCA (plan, do, check, act) which is a system of trial and error with continual feedback and improvement. This is what Confucius was talking about. It takes real life to test any belief and then to improve on that belief.

All of these examples say to just get on with it - just start doing something. And then realize that forever the parts and pieces and systems will be changing and improving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is Thanksgiving week and it's one of my favorite weeks of the year. Living in a country that is full of blessings and having a life full of blessings it can be easy to take things for granted. I thought it would be worth sharing what I am thankful for.

I am thankful for my beliefs. When I think of how this country was founded and how the founders made sure each person could worship in freedom, I am incredibly thankful.

I am thankful for my family. My wife and kids are the main reason I get up every day and go to work. They are the driving force behind me trying to improve as a husband and dad.

I am thankful for my country. We live in a free country with incredible opportunity. We can chose where we live and we can chose what we do.

I am thankful for my job. I enjoy being able to help others and see them improve and grow. All of this and a paycheck - not bad.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Do You Work Hard - Not Like This!

How many times have you heard someone claim s/he works 60 hours per week? How many times has that statement been true? Often times people have a way of exaggerating what they do. They will calculate the longest week they have ever worked, round up the number a little, and then use that as the average. To work a 60 hour week means working from 7 am to 8 pm, with a 1 hour lunch, 5 days a week. That would be an intense load. When I saw a headline about Jack Dorsey claiming he worked 80 hour weeks - I thought to myself that this can't be true. So, obviously, I had to read the article.

If you're in the technology world you know that Jack Dorsey was one of the co-founders of Twitter who ended up leaving the company. After leaving Twitter, Jack founded another company called Square. Square is a payment processing company that allows a user with a mobile phone to collect credit card payments on the fly. It's an innovation that is helping small business start ups collect payment via a mobile phone. It's an incredible development.

It takes Jack 40 hours a week to run Square - not a huge leap since Square is a fast growing technology company. Earlier this year Twitter came back to Jack to lure him to run Twitter. Jack decided to do both. He works 5 days a week - 8 hours in the morning with Twitter and then walks to Square and works another 8 hours. He is able to keep this going with both companies because of his disciplined schedule. He developed a theme for each day and focuses only on what is most important.

When I read this article about Jack Dorsey I had to wonder "What more could I do with this kind of perspective and focus?" How much more could I get done with that type of focus on doing only what is most important? Jack has developed teams of people to get the daily work done and then he focuses on the big picture items like strategy, recruiting and culture. Take a few minutes and read this article then ask yourself what more you can do.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How To Leverage Your Brand

When someone thinks of Hopkins Printing, I want certain thought to happen. My goal is for them to think of superior service, honesty, technology and that we are easy to work with. There are many ways for this to happen but the fact remains that if a brand is built on purpose then that brand will be more powerful.

How do you want your business to be branded? How do you want "you" the brand to be know? How much time do you spend working on this? A recent article in the Multichannel Merchant magazine helps shed some light on this topic. The article was titled 9 Ways to Leverage Your Brand Difference. The first way is to decide to become the very best you. The article explains how you don't need to be anyone else - you need to decide what you want to do and become the very best at that. Sometimes we like to see a good competitor and then look for a silver bullet fix to be more competitive. Great companies just do the right thing over and over and in the end they win. Rarely are there ever true silver bullets anyway.

Another way is to tell your story well and to tell it often. At Hopkins Printing we have some great stories about how we were founded, how we are run and what we are doing for clients. I am always amazed at how clients love to hear these stories. There are even times when I will have a good client repeat back a story that they heard years before. It's true that stories make more of an impact than the greatest equipment sheet.

Spend time thinking about who you are and who you want to become and build a great company and a great brand.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Grow People and A Business

How often do you leave a meeting hoping that you are not burdened with getting a task? How often do you come to a meeting and find that one or more of the participants has not done what s/he committed to at the last meeting? These are two reasons why meetings are often exercises in futility. How can you run a meeting and have it be productive?

One simple technique was recently written about by Cameron Herold. Cameron was the COO of 1-800-Got-Junk during the formative years when it went from three to one hundred million in sales. This tells me when Cameron speaks, I should listen.

Cameron says before a meeting ends, the meeting leader should have each participant verbalize to the group what s/he is committed to doing and make sure there is total agreement. This greatly improves the chance of the work being done. This also acts as a self correcting tool because the group will put pressure on the non-producers.

Try this in a meeting that you run and see the quality of the meeting and the quality of your team improve.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Putting the Bulldozer in Park & Removing the Earplugs

hopkins printing 

Putting the Bulldozer in Park & Removing the Earplugs


A wise man who was a member of The Ohio State University faculty, was known to preach "you have two ears and one mouth and that ratio exists for a reason. Remember, you should listen twice as much as you speak." Listen twice as much as you speak. It seems that this nugget of wisdom is not entirely embraced by the business world. How many companies go through each day with a bulldozer mentality? They have an agenda in mind, they know what is going on, and they are here to execute their plan. The bulldozer mentality is a lethal one. While at the end of the day the company may have cleared the path they planned to, they may have also failed to see or consider all of the opportunities that were thrown under the two ton roller.

The opportunities that lie crushed in the bull-dozers wake of destruction are often customers. Instead of focusing on executing a drawn-up plan, businesses should be focusing on their clients. "Customer-centric" is becoming one of the biggest buzzwords in marketing for a reason. The evolution of technology and increased access to knowledge has resulted in an empowered consumer. There is nothing preventing the customer from pulling out their smart phone, Googling "company who can XYZ" and having a list of thousands of businesses who are eager to offer their services. The power now lies in the hands of the consumer and companies need to put their bulldozers in park and listen up. A company who takes the time to listen to their customers knows what they want and can more easily produce it to satisfy the customer's needs. Satisfying customer needs to their exact specifications can give companies an advantage over of the thousands of other companies on the Google result list who would just offer a generic solution.

 At Hopkins every one of our employees strives to make the customer the priority. From our conscientious CSR teams to the direct point of contact of our sales reps, our every move is made with regard to the customer. In an effort to increase this relationship with our clients we sent out an email a few months back to check in with them. We asked questions: why are you buying from us? What are your expectations and are we meeting them? What benefits do you derive from working with us? What could we do to better your experience?

You can see some of the responses on our website.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

To Get Results, You Gotta do the Work

All to often people want the outcome without the work it takes to achieve the goal. Within a company the leadership has to drive the change and the improvement. Often companies hire consultants or coaches and then hope that the outsider will do the work. There is a blogger I read called Got Boondoggle. Recently he wrote a blog entitled To Get Results, You Gotta do the Work. Below is an excerpt from his post.

Don’t hire Lean consultants to do the work for you and expect to become lean. Any improvements we might see will not stick. Lean consultants can teach, motivate, influence, demonstrate, coach, yell, scream and cuss, but you will only get results by doing it yourself.

Don’t delegate continuous improvement to your lean department. Kaizen is everybody, everyday, everywhere. A culture change towards becoming lean MUST be led by the top, no other way!

Just like you can’t sit on the couch eating ice cream and expect to lose weight, you can’t sit in your office looking at the computer screen and expect to improve your processes.

Too many executives don’t want the labor pains, they just want the baby.

YOU have to get up and get moving. Go to gemba. Don’t say I can’t, I don’t want to hear I can’t. Do what you can. Go, Go Go. You better toughin up. Improve something every day. Again. (Wow, I could get used to this!)

This tells me that no matter what type of organization you are a part of - the change comes from the top. If you're at the top make sure the improvements are part of the overall corporate strategy and then get in the process and drive improvement.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs - A Legend Is Gone

Below is a letter from Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, to the employees of Apple.


I have some very sad news to share with all of you. Steve passed away earlier today.

Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

We are planning a celebration of Steve’s extraordinary life for Apple employees that will take place soon. If you would like to share your thoughts, memories and condolences in the interim, you can simply email

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Who Needs College? 7 Core Success Skills of “Self-Educated” Billionaires

In the accompanying video, the author and Forbes blogger discusses the common traits and the 7 Core Success Skills he gleaned from these titans of industry:

  • Learn How to Sell
  • Learn Marketing
  • The "Right" Way to Network with Big Wigs
  • Define Your Vision
  • Invest in Yourself
  • Build the Brand of "You"
  • Take an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Steady Drip Marketing

Drip marketing is a great concept that basically uses a steady touch program to get your product or service in the top of mind position with your prospects and customers. Unfortunately this part of marketing is easy to drop when times are bad and easy to ignore when times are good. Here is a link to a great blog post which shows the value of consistent drip marketing to help even our the peaks and valleys which results in more consistent cash flow.

Do yourself a favor and keep the drips going so your company can better weather the current turbulent times. At our company we have been on an aggressive new customer development program this year and about 9% of our sales for 2011 will be from customers we didn't have in 2010. During busy months and during slow months we have kept the pressure on and it has paid big dividends. This has been our drip program and it has been a tremendous help this year.

We are currently working on the ideas for 2012 that will keep us moving in the right direction. Our plan is to grow no matter what the national economy or our industry does. Drip marketing will definitely be a part of the program.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Richard Branson on Branding

How do you define the image of your brand - whether it be a corporate brand or a personal brand? What is it that you want people to think of when they think of you or of your company? When you think is Coke - you think of soft drinks. When you think of Dell - you think of computers. When you think of Xerox - you think of copiers?

Entrepreneurs Magazine recently had an article about how Richard Branson views branding. He believes when a person thinks about the Virgin Group s/he thinks about a fun experience that is easy to do. Whether it's a phone, a plane ride or a health club - the message is that dealing with the Virgin Group will be run and easy.

The article states that a brand, like Virgin, "must be focused" to succeed. Branson and his team spend hours working on keeping his brand focused and keeping the fun in the game. He also says that if "you don't define what the brand means, your competitors will". This really struck home because all of us know how our competitors would like to brand us.

The Hopkins Printing brand is all about being honest and easy to do business with. We work every day to make sure our customers know that and that we are living up to the standard. Make sure you define your brand and then work to keep it on track and alive.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

For Great Leadership, Clear Your Head

Clear your head! What a great concept. How many times do we gut sucked into the day and then before we know it we are spit out other end and can't remember what went on during the day? How often do we stop, take some time to think and then get back to the rat race. The more I read about and study people who accomplish great things - the more I read that they take time to clear their heads and just think.

In a recent HBR blog I read about clearing your head. Joshua Ehrlich covers five strategies to give you more time to just think. The blog post is well worth reading.

A friend of mine who is a VP of Sales for a $40 million printer helped his company develop a strategy years ago that became the basis for the tremendous growth and success that the company has experienced over the last decade. At one point the C.E.O. of the company asked him to spend more time thinking and less time doing. We joked about this many times but the concept makes sense. Scott has great ideas and his company can benefit from those ideas, but the only way the ideas come is if he spends time thinking.

Schedule "thinking time" to ponder the next 5 to 10 years. This time may yield the ideas you need to really succeed during the next decade.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tim Cook - The New Apple CEO

It's a sad day when Steve Jobs steps down as the CEO of Apple. Steve is considered one of the greatest CEO's of all time which means the new CEO has very large shoes to fill. Why would Steve Jobs recommend Tim Cook to be the new CEO? What type of person is Tim Cook?

In a recent article at cnet there is a story that starts to paint a picture of why Tim may be the guy for the job. Tim was running a meeting and during the meeting it came up that there was an issue with a problem in Asia. About 30 minutes later during the same meeting Tim looked at one of the participants in the meeting and asked "Why are you still here?" This person got up, went straight to the airport, boarded a flight and started working on the problem. I don't know of many people who think this way and are this driven.

Another story I read was about meeting that was called after a keynote address in New York. The team had a party planned for a Mets game that night but Tim wanted to meet first. The meeting ran so long the game ended before the meeting ended. Tim is definitely a focused and driven executive. This is required to lead a company like Apple. I wish him all the best.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Paddle Wheel Method

Several years ago two of our sales people attended a seminar by Sean McArdle. He has a sales method called the Paddle Wheel Method that we have used and benefited from. Below is a video explaining this concept that I thought was worth sharing.

Paddle Wheel Sales Method by 5minBusiness

Friday, August 12, 2011

TechCrunch Video of David Allen

TechCrunch video of David Allen. In only 5 minutes you can get an overview of David's methods.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Leadership and a Lean Transformation

Below is a blog post I read this week that I thought was well worth sharing. We are a couple of years into a lean transformation and at first it seemed that the tools were the main thing - now it is clear that the people are the main thing.

Leadership and a Lean Transformation

By Al Norval,

As I work with various organizations on their Lean transformation, it amazes me how many organizations start out believing that Lean is all about implementing a set of tools. They believe that if we only implement these tools, then we’ll be Lean. Often times, I see this develop into implementation lists and audits which check to see how well the tools have been implemented. Sometimes companies carry this one step forward to sending out “Corporate Auditors” with the goal of having a standard set of people to calibrate the audits so the audit scores are valid.

What these organizations miss is that only 10% of Lean is about the tools. The remaining 90% is about people and culture. It’s about engaging people at all levels of the organization to solve problems so that every day we get a little bit better and drive more value to our Customers.

What does this have to do with Leaders?

Tools can be managed but people need Leadership if they are going to change their behaviours and truly start to change the culture.

Leaders need to exhibit these new behaviours. This follows the old adage “What you do is what you get.” What Leaders do is amplified many times over in the organization. Small changes in Leadership behaviour can have an enormous impact on changes in Team Member behaviour in the Value Stream.

But how do Leaders know how to behave in a Lean world?

Their behaviour needs to be based on Lean Leadership Thinking which is based on Lean Mental Models. There are six primary Lean Mental Models:

- Leader as a Sensei
- Go to Gemba to see for yourself
- Problems are gold, make them visible
- Don’t pass junk down the Value Stream
- Simple, visual standards for all important things
- Everyone solves problems using simple methods

As Leaders begin to change their behaviours based on these Mental Models, the rest of the organization picks up on it and more and more people become engaged in solving problems to root cause rather developing work arounds. Business results start to accelerate and Lean becomes locked into the culture of the organization.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mulally: It's OK not to be OK

Alan Mulally is an incredible executive. He is credited with keeping Ford out of the doghouse during the past couple of years. Below is an article from USA Today which shows why Alan is so effective - he brings problems to the table and deals with the problems. This sounds like an obivous tactic but it is not often used. Enjoy the article.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally recounts an episode that makes him certain Ford has broken unworkable old ways and is locked and loaded for the future.

In one of his Thursday management meetings, where managers are supposed to show color-coded charts, red for serious problems, yellow for lesser issues, green for all OK, "all the charts were green and I know — we're going to lose $17 billion. I stopped the meeting and I said, 'Is there anything that isn't going well? We're losing $17 billion.' Eye contact goes down to the ground."

Mulally: "The next week here comes Mark (Fields, now president of Ford's North and South America operations) and the charts are all red. Everybody else's were green. I started to clap, and I said 'That's great.'

"I looked around and said, 'Is there anything we can do to help'" resolve problems Fields was having launching the Ford Edge.

A dam burst. Other managers started tossing out solutions to similar problems they'd had.

Even so, managers took two weeks to follow the Fields example. "Next week everybody still was green, but (two weeks later) the entire 320 charts (of all the managers) looked like a rainbow. Everybody knew it was safe" to ask for help.

"At that moment I knew, and everybody else knew, that we had a chance now. You can't manage a secret. It was all out in the open. And everybody was committed to helping everybody else."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Readers Are Leaders

Recently at a conference I heard a speaker say that "readers are leaders". During his talk he mentioned multiple CEO's he had worked for and how each of them liked to read to broaden his horizons. It got me thinking about the people I know who are readers and they are typically the leaders. It doesn't make sense that a non-leader can become a leader just by reading but someone who is interested in leading others is generally interested in self improvement. One of the greatest self improvement tools is reading.

A typical manager will read one book a year that relates to his/her job. A typical CEO/COO/CFO will read six books a year that relate to his/her job. This stat came from the same speaker and seems to make sense to me. To rise to a leadership position a person must me interested in self improvement/learning and a metric for that would be reading.

Are you wanting to grow and improve? Make it a habit to read on a daily basis. Google the top ten business books of all time and commit to reading them and using at least one or two items from each book in your business. You'll be amazed at the benefit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

We Are All in Sales

Interesting blog post from Jack Daly. I think we all need to train our people to realize everyone is in sales in that we all impact the customer.

We Are All in Sales

Airlines losing money, as normal course of biz.

I recently sat on a flight that was 30 minutes past departure time, and there was zero communication to the passangers (also known as customers, the people who create the revenue). 4 flight attendants were standing 3 rows up from me in the bulkhead, having a jolly good time with one another, catching up with who knows what.

Meanwhile, the customers (many who missed connections the previous day due to weather and were anxious to get on to their destinations) are ignored. I wondered if the owners/managers of the business were present if the flight attendants behavior would have been different?

What if the flight attendants were outside their business and were now the customers, being ignored by the store they were considering shopping in. Would it affect their purchasing attitude? Would they share their negative experience? Is it any wonder the airlines as an industry are losing money?

So, now, let’s look to your business. What messages are the people in your company sending to their customers on a regular basis? Create a system to ensure you know regularly and that all can be consistently aware.

We are all in sales, just don’t realize it enough.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

7 Amazing Lessons from 7 Distinguished Billionaires

Below is a post from Dumb Little Man that I thought was well worth sharing.

They say that a million dollars in $100 bills is 43 inches high, but a billion dollars in $100 bills is almost three times the height of the Empire State building. A million dollars in $100 bills would weigh 22 pounds, but a billion dollars would weigh 11 tons.

Suffice it to say that the accumulation and maintenance of a billion dollars requires much wisdom. Today I want to look at seven amazing lessons from seven of the world’s most famous billionaires. These billionaires range from Bill Gates to Mark Cuban and each of these individuals have accomplished amazing things.

There are many things that we can learn from them so enough with the monologue; here we go!

7 Amazing Lessons from 7 Distinguished Billionaires

1.Look for Opportunities

“It's through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we've always mapped our path at Dell. There's always an opportunity to make a difference.” – Michael Dell, Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Dell Inc.

If you never look for an opportunity, you will never find one. The Wright Brothers were looking to see if it was possible for man to fly, they didn’t stumble upon it, they were looking for it. What are you looking for? The Scripture says seek and ye shall find, knock and the door will be open to you.

2.Believe in Yourself

“I always knew I was destined for greatness.” – Oprah, Media Mogul

As the famous poem goes, “If you think you’re outclassed, you are, you have to think high to rise, you must be sure of yourself, before you can ever win a prize.” You must believe in “you” before anybody else will. Oprah believed that she would be a success, and she is. What do you believe about yourself, whatever it is, that’s what you will become.

3.Create an Atmosphere of Success

“It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffet, Investor

You can’t soar with the eagles, if you spend your time hanging with the chickens. Find people who are going where you want to go, and “conspire to aspire before you expire.” Atmosphere is critical, diligently guard who enters your inner-circle. Your friends are a prophecy of your future.

4.Empower Others

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates, Co-founder and Former CEO of Microsoft, currently the 2nd richest man in the world behind Carlos Slim.

Who are you empowering, who are you helping, who needs you. You can’t go forward without helping others go forward. Instead of being concerned about how you’re going to get ahead, find a way to help others get ahead, and you will get ahead in the process. Empower others and you will empower yourself.


“In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish.” – Donald Trump, Real Estate Investor/Developer, TV Personality

Don’t be a “jack of all trades” and master of none. Don’t bite-off more than you can chew. Decide what you want to accomplish in your life, and spend your time accomplishing it. Work hard, take breaks, and in the end, if your focus is single, you will have accomplished it.

6.Learn From Your Mistakes

“I'm the type that thinks if you don't learn from history, you're doomed to repeat it.” – Mark Cuban, Internet Entrepreneur and NBA Team Owner

It sounds simple, but many people live a life of repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

The “cow in the ditch” example below gives us a pattern for how we should deal with our mistakes.

Here are the three steps you should follow whenever a "cow ends up in your ditch:"

Step 1: Get Cow Out of Ditch
Step 2: Find Out How Cow Got in Ditch
Step 3: Make Sure Cow Does Not Get in Ditch Again

Using these three simple steps, you can solve many of life’s problems (from debt to relationship issues).

7.Only Go Forward

“We will go forward, ... We will never go back.” – Michael Bloomberg, current New York City Mayor and Founder of Bloomberg LP

You can’t make much progress forward if you keep on taking steps backwards.

Make a decision to go forward, never settle, never stagnate, life is about growth, it’s about development. You are supposed to grow, you’re supposed to become all that you are capable of becoming, so go forward and never look back!

Thank you for reading and be sure to pass this article along!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time Management by David Allen


Time management is not the issue

Most everyone these days admits they could use better "time management." But the reason it has not really been addressed to any universal satisfaction is because time management isn't about managing time. If it was, just buying and using a calendar (and a good watch) would handle it.

The savvy among you will usually acknowledge that it's really self management—what we do with ourselves during the time we have.

Many people these days talk about "information management," because there's so much of it, and many consider themselves roadkill along the information superhighway. Too much information is not the problem though—if it were, we would walk into a library or do a web search and die.

So, what is time management, really? It's dealing effectively with the things we have and want to do. It's the latest industry publications sitting in a stack on our desk, about which we told ourselves we could/should/ought to do something. And the hundreds of hours of undone "stuff" sitting in most people's brains (in psychic RAM) and on their desk and on the floor of the back seat of their car.

That's why my flagship seminar is called Managing Workflow, Projects & Priorities—because that's what time management really is. It's about capturing things we collect and create, deciding what (if anything) we want to do about them, organizing the results of that knowledge work into a trusted system we can review appropriately, and making intuitive strategic and tactical choices about what to do at any point in time from our options.

It's hard to manage your workflow, projects, and priorities though, when you don't really know what they all are, or if they are still unclear. "Projects" are results that require more than one action step to get done, and they need to be defined and reviewed as stakes in the ground to keep us moving toward their goal line. And the "moving" needs to be defined ("What's the next action?"), so we can execute elegantly and intuitively when the ball is snapped, instead of continually thinking that we should be thinking about what to do.

When I ask people, "What's the next action?" on big projects they're procrastinating about, the answer is often, "Find time to...." Well, you won't ever have time to change your corporate culture, write the book, or lose weight. Until you define the very next action, you don't know how much time you really need. "Pick a date and email my assistant to set the senior team meeting about changing our culture" only takes two minutes—less time than it took to read this essay.


"There's no such thing as not enough time if you're doing what you want to do."

—Robert Half

Friday, June 24, 2011

Great Goal Setting Blog Entry - Jack Daly

Below is a great blog entry from Jack Daly.

Daly News, January 2011

January 2011
Volume 42
It’s January and the traditional time for people to adopt new year resolutions or take it to another stage and go with goals. Regardless of what they are called, the results are typically abysmal. Often times, whether personal or business related, by the end of the first quarter they are long forgotten and bear no relationship to reality. As such, I’ve often wondered why then do people even do them. I think the answer is we would “like” them to happen but are stuck on the “how”.
I’ve been hooked on the goal setting process since I was 13 years old and have found the process one that delivers great success. Over the years I’ve converted many to the system and process I use to achieve my goals, albeit I recommend to most to not go as deep as I often do. Going deeper in the process can better come over time, and needs to be tailored to one’s personality.
For many who have been to my “delivered live” presentations, you have seen and heard this goal setting process. To you I say, “So, what did you do with that process in 2010? If anything!” Congrats to those who have taken action, and I hope you found the process to be of value. My 2010 was one of great fun and accomplishment, and my 2011 looks to be even more so! For a look at my Year-end report to the Board of Directors of my life as well as my 2011 Personal Goals, click here My business goals and plans are handled on a separate document but the process is a similar one and I feel people universally can relate to the personal side better, so they can then deploy it for both their business and personal sides of life.
Here is the condensed version of the “process” to “turning goals into reality”.
1. GOALS IN WRITING- If your goals are not in writing, they are dreams. Dreams don’t often come true, but goals in writing do.
2. WRITTEN PLAN- Number 1 is what you want to accomplish; number 2 is the “how”. Detail out more of the how, and lace it with specific activities that will be necessary to get number 1 completed. Then, just work the activities! The more “non-refundable” commitments that can be made in advance, the higher the likelihood that the goals will be achieved. Example- if you lived in Washington, DC and your goal was a family vacation in San Diego for a week, just writing this down (#1) would be much less effective than: picking the week, getting vacation approval, locating the airline/flights and paying for the tickets, locating the lodging and prepaying for the week, reserving a rental car, identifying activities such as Sea World and again buying the tickets, etc. Imagine doing all of the above; sounds like that vacation is actually going to happen! Well, we can do something similarly in generating more sales. For each of our businesses, the specific activities can be well defined beforehand and then put into place so that the results materialize.
3. SYSTEM OF MEASUREMENT- Once the activities are identified as to “how”, we then need to track if we are actually doing those activities. I find a daily log of such actual keeps my momentum going and should I slip, gets me right back at it the next day. Regardless of what the “fires of the day” are, the successful sales professional works hard to be sure the key activities are completed as this is the lifeblood of consistent sales production.
4. SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTABILITY- For most of us, having someone watching over us is a great motivator to getting things done. Many people heading back to the fitness centers this month (seems a frequent resolution) will stay with their program longer if they engage a Trainer. Well, it is true a trainer will help with technique and designing a program initially, the continuance of a Trainer at the health center typically has more to do with ensuring one gets up and goes to the gym, since the Trainer is being paid by them and is waiting for their appointment. Again, it’s about accountability. I have 5 people on my Board of Directors for my life, who I sit down and review my goals and activities with about 4 times each per year. Rarely does a month go by without one of them holding me accountable. Beyond that, I’ve gone to publishing my goals for the year on my website, so thousands can now “call me out”. As such, I find I am more determined to “making things happen”.
One of my Facebook friends shared this quote recently: “Opportunity doesn’t knock. You knock, opportunity answers.” Perfect- start knocking with this goal setting process!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Inc Leadership Conference

Last week my wife and I were able to attend the Inc Magazine Leadership Conference in Dallas, Texas. There were two and a half days of speeches, lectures, breakout groups, meals, mixers and an awards dinner. Our company, Hopkins Printing, was recognized as one of the 50 Best Small Workplaces in the United States. This was a tremendous honor for us to receive a national award.

During this conference there was a change in my mindset. It was amazing to spend time with so many successful people from so many successful companies. It seems that when you spend day after day in a private manufacturing firm that it's easy to think the world ends with the four walls of the plant but then when you get out and meet people and hear what they deal with you find out we are all in the same boat.

I heard people talk about how to grow sales, how to drive down health care costs, how to get people aligned with the vision of the company, how to resolve conflict and how to energize people to serve the customer. It didn't really matter what the business was - almost everyone deals with the same issues. By spending a few days with others who were dealing with the same issues we are - I have become more energized to tackle some issues we have. It is clear that if others can do this then we can as well.

If you ever have a chance to spend a few days with other people in the business world, don't let the opportunity pass you by. The experience may mark a change in your life.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Inc Magazine Top 50 Small Company Workplace In America

hopkins printing 

For Immediate Release winning workplaces



COLUMBUS, OH (May 23, 2011) -Inc. magazine and Winning Workplaces announced today the winners of the 2011 Top Small Company Workplaces competition and awarded Hopkins Printing one of the 50 coveted spots. The Top Small Company Workplaces competition is an annual contest that has recognized the nation's best small and mid-sized company work environments since 2003.

Winning Workplaces and Inc. received nearly 350 completed applications for the 2011 contest. A national panel of experts in leadership and small to mid-sized business judged finalists on employee engagement and development, company mission, rewards and recognition, management effectiveness, and benefits.

 "These firms represent some of the finest privately held companies in the world," states Bob LaPointe, president of Inc. "Their stories, appearing in the June issue of Inc., clearly demonstrate that taking an innovative approach to creating the right culture-one in which human capital is embedded in a company's value proposition-can create real competitive leadership. Each of these Top Small Company Workplaces offers an environment in which people flourish and, as a result, profit follows."

Hopkins Printing is committed to creating an environment where employees can thrive and one way they do so is through a "three-deep" training agenda. 75% of all positions are trained 3 Deep at Hopkins, which means that at any one time three people are capable of operating a particular piece of equipment or covering for a certain position.  Cross-training of all employees to cover other positions increases productivity, creates flexibility, and allows employees to become knowledgeable authorities in multiple areas of business and production.

"It is a true honor to be named one of the best small workplaces in the nation and a greater surprise to have Hopkins as one of the featured companies in the Inc. magazine article. Winning Workplaces reviewed each of our programs, policies, and benefits before they surveyed all of our employees.  It was a thorough process and we're pleased that everyone was able to contribute their thoughts.  Hopkins employees care about the success of our company and together we all make it a great place to work!" said Michelle Waterhouse, HR director for Hopkins Printing.

About Hopkins Printing
Founded in 1975 by Jim and Arnie Hopkins and located in Columbus, OH, Hopkins Printing is a leading provider of comprehensive graphic communications and technology solutions for North American businesses. Hopkins Printing is a 100% Employee Owned company that treats others as they would like to be treated. Hopkins has been named Best Workplace in America by Printing Industry of America and has received the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.

About Inc. Magazine
Founded in 1979 and acquired in 2005 by Mansueto Ventures, Inc. magazine is the only major business magazine dedicated exclusively to owners and managers of growing private companies that delivers real solutions for today's innovative company builders. With a total paid circulation of 708,450, Inc. provides hands-on tools and market-tested strategies for managing people, finances, sales, marketing and technology.

About Winning Workplaces  Winning Workplaces is an Evanston, IL-based not-for-profit, whose mission is to help the leaders of small and mid-sized organizations create great workplaces. Founded in 2001, Winning Workplaces serves as a clearinghouse of information on workplace best practices, provides seminars and workshops on workplace-related topics and inspires and awards top workplaces through its annual Top Small Company Workplaces initiative.

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For more information, please contact:
Roy Waterhouse
Hopkins Printing

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Hopkins Printing
2246 Citygate Drive · Columbus, OH 43219 · 1-800-319-3352

Friday, May 20, 2011

Throwing The Last Dart

Below is a great post by Jason Fried of 37Signals. He puts an important concept into simple words.

I’ve been working out with a trainer for the past few years, mostly because I’m too lazy to go to the gym on my own. But also because I want to get better at working out. I want to be more efficient and not waste time doing stuff that doesn’t matter, etc. It may sound counterintuitive, but you can actually waste time by doing things too quickly.

My biggest problem has been slowing down. I tend to work out too fast. Lift too fast, do crunches too fast, do pushups too fast, etc.

I haven’t been able to catch myself when I’m going too fast. I’m certainly capable of slowing down, and I fundamentally understand the benefits of slowing down, but I just couldn’t come up with something that pops in my head to encourage me to slow down when I find myself going too fast.

Then my trainer asked me what I would do if I had three darts, had already thrown two, and I only had one shot left at hitting the bullseye.

I told him

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Alphabet Soup of Green Graphic Communications

hopkins printing 

The Alphabet Soup of Green Graphic Communications

April showers bring much more then May flowers. The 30 days of grey drizzle are all worth it when a full canvas of pantone green 356 emerges come May 1. [If you are unfamiliar with the pantone matching system - or if you just want a visual of green 356 - check out this link]. With so much green cloaking the surroundings, even the allergy sufferers don a slight grin when the sun shines through some oak leaves blowing in the first warm breezes of the year. Over the past 20 years there has been a concerted effort to participate in sustainable practices to preserve the green that everyone loves. The graphic communications industry has embraced the eco-friendly mindset and adopted a variety of programs, certifications, and awards to ensure the longevity of Mother Nature. Below are some of the ABC's which encourage sustainable practices at every stage of the graphic communication process.

FSC = Forest Stewardship Council Certified
FSC logoThe Forest Stewardship Council is an international labeling and certification system for directing responsible forest management and sustainable outcomes of paper and wood products. Fiber harvested from FSC certified forests is tracked with the Chain of Custody system from the tree, all the way to the consumer. The FSC label informs the world that the printed product in their hands was made by individuals who support the highest social and environmental standards. 

PCW = Post Consumer Waste Fiber Content
PCW logoThe three arrows comprising the universal recycling symbol, also known as the mobius loop, inform the paper purchaser that their paper was made using recycled paper. It is suggested that the percentage of recycled paper used in the production of the new paper be displayed beneath the symbol.

AGFA GreenWorks
GreenWorks awarded printers must meet a required set of criteria that confirms 
they areAGFA logo integrating sustainable technology and participating in additional green movements. For example, all AGFA GreenWorks awarded printers use low chemistry and chemistry free plates, which have a significantly lower impact on the environment. Hopkins Printing is proud to be awarded AGFA's Greenworks award.
From the tree, to production, to the offices the products are used in, it is evident that the graphic communications industry is making every effort to preserve the natural pantone 356 for this generation and many more to come. 

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Hopkins Printing
2246 Citygate Drive · Columbus, OH 43219 · 1-800-319-3352