Friday, January 26, 2018


Your Free Starter Kit For
Effective One On One Meetings

These questions will go a long way to creating
fierce loyalty and boosting productivity as well.

There are 45 questions in the list below. Asking just a few in each One On One will keep things fresh, while ensuring you’re covering important subjects regularly. It will also give you ample time to dive into each question as they often will open up into greater detail as long as you follow up with questions like “What makes you say that?” and “Tell me more…”

Keep track of your conversations in a notebook so you can accurately assess the effectiveness of your conversations and agreements with your people and theirs with you over time. Make it obvious that you are taking notes of your conversations, so they know you are keeping track.

I’ve organized these questions, so you can quickly skim through the list for a question in a topic you want to cover that meeting.

             1.     What are your long-term goals? Have you thought about them?
             2.     Do you feel like you’re making progress on your big goals here? Why or why not?
             3.     Is there anything blocking you from getting your work done?
             4.     What can I do to help you be more successful with your goals?

             5.     In what parts of your work would you like to deepen your skills in or get additional training?
             6.     Do you feel we’re helping you advance your career at a pace you would like?
             7.     What are we not doing that we should be doing so you could be more successful?
             8.     How could we change our team meetings to be more useful to you?
             9.     If you were me, what’s the first thing you’d change?
           10.    Do you think we are loyal to our people? Why or why not?
           11.    Are there any aspects of our culture you wish you could change?
           12.    Which company values do you like the most? Which the least? Why?
           13.    What is the #1 Problem at our company? What do you suggest we do about that?

           14.    How can I help you be more productive?
           15.    How do you prefer to receive feedback?
           16.    Do you feel you’re getting enough feedback?
           17.    What’s a recent situation you wish you handled differently? What would you change?

           18.    What do you like about my management style? What do you dislike?
           19.    Would you like more or less direction from me on your work?
           20.    What could I do to make you enjoy your work more?
           21.    How can I better support you?
           22.    What would you like to know about me?
           23.    Is there a situation you’d like my help with?
           24.    Is there an aspect of your job about which you would like my help or coaching?

           25.    What worries you?
           26.    What’s on your mind?
           27.    What’s not fun about working here? What do you enjoy most about working here?
           28.    Who are you friends with at work?
           29.    When was the time you enjoyed working here the most?
           30.    What do you feel is your greatest recent accomplishment here?

           31.    How are you? How is life outside of work?
           32.    How do you feel your work/life balance is right now?
           33.    How do you feel about your current compensation and benefits?
           34.    What’s one thing we could change about work for you that would improve your personal life?
           35.    How are your parents/grandparents? Where do they live?
           36.    If they have children: How is [name of child] doing? (Ask something related to their age like starting school, playing sports, or other interests.)
           37.    What do you like to do in your free time? What are your hobbies?
           38.    What did you do for fun in the past that you haven’t had as much time for lately?

           39.    What drives you? What motivates you to come to work each day?
           40.    What’s an inexpensive thing we could do to improve our office environment?
           41.    What are the biggest time wasters for you each week?
           42.    What makes you excited and motivated to work here?
           43.    When you get stuck on something, what is your process for getting unstuck? Who do you turn to for help?

These next two questions you must ask in *every* One On One:

           44.    What can I hold you accountable for next time we talk?
           45.    What can I be accountable to you for the next time we talk

BIG TRUE FACT: None of the things you talk about in your One On Ones will matter if you don’t follow through and take action on what you discuss. The last two questions will ensure you always follow through with the important things you discuss in your One On Ones.

Have fun with this and please call if you need any help.

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Okay, here we go with another bit of musing for you to consider.

I found this list of 8 habits of highly productive people a while ago and rather like it. I especially like Habit 1 and Habit 6 and 7. 

HABIT 1 says Ruthlessly Cut Away The Unimportant. Here we are asked to get rid of all the unimportant stuff in our lives, stuff that is in no way connected to our goals or to anything that matters.

So if we have a bunch of useless stuff around, well, why? What for? To frustrate us, 'cause that's what it sort of does.

Unimportant stuff takes up space, physical space. But even worse, it takes up mental space and then our thinking is impaired. Who wants that? We need all the mental space we can get - so unclutter we must.

What if you tossed out at least half of the useless stuff you have in your life and in your business? Just get rid of half. That's very liberating. You no longer have to look at it that stuff, move that stuff out of the way, or ever think about that stuff again. It's good riddance.

Now, Habit 6 says Optimize Time Pockets. And Habit 7 says Set Timelines. These are similar to another concept I like called TIME BOXING. Think of it as putting a clock in a box.

In Time Boxing, before you start a task or assignment you decide how long you will work on that, the time when you will actually start and the time when you will finish. You set a timer to beep you when you’ve reached the end of the Time Box.

Then the beep sounds you can stop and move onto something else like you intended. Or if need be, you can reset the Time Box and work on the task some more.

The benefit is obvious. You don’t get lost and work on something, maybe struggle with something for hours – then suddenly realize how much time you were engaged in the activity, perhaps to the determent of other things you had planned to do that day.

And even better, you no longer drive home feeling angry at yourself for “wasting” the whole day on something stupid.

So give these habits a try and see what happens.

Feel free to try the others too if you like ‘cause they’re all good.

And finally please remember this Big Fat Truth:

Nobody can go back to the beginning and make a brand new start. But anybody can start today and make a brand new ending.

If you like this Insight & Strategy stuff - and happen to own a small business - perhaps you would enjoy attending one of our monthly Master-Mind Alliance® meetings.

We're all about planning how to make businesses work better.

And in truth, there is never a good reason to avoid talking about making your business work better.

To attend - if you are in or near Eureka in Humboldt County, CA just call me at 707-268-8691. Or if you are in or near Chico in Butte County, CA just call Graham Skinner at 530-343-4012.

We have active programs in both locations - and like it says below, we have space for you to come see what we do.

Monday, September 1, 2014



This is so very true. If you simply repeat doing what does not now give you what you want, you will only keep getting what you are getting already, more of the same, that result you don’t like. In order to get something different, something hopefully better, you must steer your ship into uncharted territory. Might be scary - but how do you do that even though it is scary and even though you don’t know where to go or how to get there? Well, now you have an interesting problem.

You want something you do not have, and you do not know how to get it. So what’s the strategy for that? It cannot be trial and error, shoot a big gun and hope you hit what you want, because that will probably take a lot of time, waste a lot of resources unnecessarily and perhaps never get you what you want.

Here’s what to do. ASK FOR HELP. That’s right. It’s like the guy who spends all afternoon driving around looking for a street he’s not been on before when if he’d just stopped to ask someone for directions he’d have arrived at his destination in a few minutes. But he doesn’t because he’s reluctant to ask for help. What’s wrong with him? What keeps him from asking for help? Is it fear of feeling embarrassed, admitting he’s lost, what?

The answer to this conundrum is irrelevant; it really does not matter why he does not ask. What matters is how long does the guy wish to stay lost? And what if he never gets to his destination, what are the consequences of that outcome? If he really wants to get to his destination, sooner or later he will have to suck it up and ask for help.

It’s the same for each of us. When we are well and truly stuck, do not know what to do, we must ask for help. And helpful input is always out there somewhere. No matter what the issue, someone has faced something like it before and resolved it. Thirty some years of facilitating the Master-Mind Alliance® has proved over and over again to me the truth of this fact. There are very few completely unsolvable business problems.

No matter how weird or strange an issue or how pesky and seemingly unresolvable a problem, when a member presents it to the group for input - input flows - most of it helpful. Why does this work? Simple, the one thing you can never give yourself is clear perspective. That must come from outside the inner loop from people who see things you cannot see. That's how asking for help - and getting it - works.

And embarrassment, I’ve never have a seen a business owner crushed with embarrassment for asking what he or she thought was a silly question.

Everyone gets stuck sometimes. Asking for help from helpful people helps. Offering fresh perspective from outside - this is what the Master-Mind Alliance® is all about.

Friday, July 18, 2014


In 11 studies conducted at Harvard University and other places - researchers found that most people would rather electrocute themselves than spend 15 minutes alone in a room with nothing to do but think.

Now the research subjects were not strapped to a death producing electric chair. But all they had in the room with them – in addition to their minds – was a machine for administrating small electrical shocks – which were indeed painful.

In the 15 minute time period, almost two thirds of the subjects gave themselves three or more electric shocks out of sheer boredom – seemingly unable or unwilling to spend a short amount of time exploring their own minds. One man administered 190 shocks to himself rather than just sit quietly with nothing to do.

So what does this mean?

Some would argue that this means that the attention span of the general population is slowly eroding away to non-existence. Why? It seems our addiction to electronic devices like smart phones and television and the allure of computerized media tools such as Facebook and Twitter is causing our attention to dwindle. Simultaneously the non-in-person interaction all these digital options provide makes us crave more stimulation so much – that electric shocks are better than the boredom of silent thought.

Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative and painful. And sit quietly alone and meditate even for 15 minutes, forget about it.

How far does this go? I know people and you probably do too, who just cannot be still. They are always plugged into their smart phone, constantly interacting with their email, Facebook, Twitter and all the rest. They do this all day long, even during meals. Heaven forbid they miss something. If they check their Facebook and nothing new has been posted since the last time they looked, they feel disappointed and even sad.

The Harvard researchers duly noted that analytical and critical thinking is what defines us as human beings and is an essential skill when deliberating the future or recalling the past. The notion that a startlingly high number of individuals – perhaps the majority of under the age of 40 or so, seemingly now cannot or will not engage in analytical and critical thinking is highly disturbing and does not bode well for the continuation of the human species.

The French scientist and philosopher Blaise Pascal nailed it when he said, “All human evil comes from a single cause, man’s inability to sit still in a room.”

And none other than Albert Einstein wrote, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of IDIOTS.”


See how long you can go without checking your email? How long can you stand having your cell phone switched off? Can you last through one day, a week end? How long can you go without logging onto Facebook, a couple of hours? How addicted are you?

And the acid test, can you sit alone in a room without the television or radio on for 15 minutes and do nothing but think? And if you can do this, do you like it or hate it. How uncomfortable are you without the usual bombardment of electronic stimulation? Would you ever consider sitting quietly alone for 15 minutes once a day as part of the routine of taking care of your analytical and critical thinking skill? Yes or no.

Napoleon Hill wrote the following about thinking. “Every one of us is self-made. The habits that we select and internalize are the component parts of our success composition. Our habits of thought are the most important ones to cultivate first since once control is gained over these, it will be simple to follow the marching orders that we assign to ourselves. By first controlling our thoughts and balancing our emotions, we then can select the most expedient road to our goal in life. In disciplining ourselves to take proper action, we are notifying our ego that we mean business in achieving what we want in life. You cannot take possession of your own mind or direct it to definite ends without a practical system – a system of self-discipline.

So electric shocks or quiet analytical critical thinking, what will it be for you for me and for our society as a whole? Maybe we should learn about this in school. Although by the time kids reach school age these days it might already be too late. They may already be addicted to electronic stimulation. Certainly they have already consumed thousands of hours of television and they probably already have cell phones and a Facebook page. We’re probably doomed.

Friday, June 20, 2014


So...what is that anyway?

What if you are a business owner and sometimes you are frustrated because you know things could be better than they are right now? What do you do about that? What might help? 

Well, INPUT from peers might help. You know, people who also own a business and who also have at times been stuck with some pesky problem or issue and who might be willing to act as an advisor and mentor to you.

Here's the deal. And you already know this. To be successful in the long run, you must offer things - goods, products and services - that enough people are willing to buy. There must be a reason for potential buyers to contact you, or to accept your contact when you reach out to them. That’s basic business 101 right? Yeah.

For this to work, there also must be a way to economically communicate your offer to the people who would most likely buy from you, if they knew about you and your offer.

And of course, acceptance of your offer, in the form of a purchase, must result in enough profit for you to keep going, to stay in business.

Now then, if you could figure out how to do all this yourself, there would be no need for the Master-Mind Alliance®. Or, if you could figure out how to do all this, and were able to make yourself do what you need to do, there would also be no need for the Master-Mind Alliance®.

We are here to supply business owners and operators with helpful problem solving INPUT and advice from peers.

We also provide genuine ENCOURAGEMENT so the input people receive will turn into implemented strategy, that is, direct profit generating action.

And last but not least, we provide a boat load of follow-up and ACCOUNTABILITY so people will actually do what they agree is good for them, that is, take all reasonable necessary steps pertinent to making measurable progress in reasonable time actually happen.

We know that without follow-up, meaningful progress often does not occur. People get distracted, it happens all the time.

Here's how we operate. Once a month the Master-Mind Alliance® brings together a group of successful business owners who meet to solve problems, evaluate opportunities and work on an assortment of strategic and operational issues. These meetings are confidential forums of business owner peers who rely on each other for wisdom and counsel. The goal is more success and greater happiness for all participants.

Hey, I have to advertise once in a while.

INPUT, ENCOURAGEMENT, and ACCOUNTABILITY, that's about all we have to give. 

You have an idea of what you want. Now you just have to figure out how you will get there.

Please remember we can help with that part.

Friday, April 18, 2014


      in-ten-tion  -- noun \in-`ten(t)-shen\
      : the thing that you plan to do or achieve
      : an aim or purpose


Here we go…


This stuff is so very, very important. 

INTENTIONS that are sparklingly clear, strong and compelling - that are aligned with your deepest heartfelt interests - and within the realm of possibility - inspire, motivate and create passion - become the fuel and the spark to take action in the pursuit of everything you must do in the process of growing and improving your business.

The ACTION that you take day to day and week to week - goes far better - and is far more likely to produce DOUBLE YOUR INCOME RESULTS - when your INTENTION is unrelentingly compelling.

Before you engage the DONE BUSINESS SOLUTION® - CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT CYCLE - with the expectation that measurable progress in reasonable time will occur, you must be inspired and motivated by INTENTION. Then the improvement process is almost fun. Almost.

This imperative is the core of President Kennedy’s message - and the core of the Master-Mind Alliance® too.

To project your INTENTION…you must have a strong and sincerely believable answer to three questions:

·       WHAT DO I WANT?

Now here’s the thing. Far too many business owners do not have answers to the three simple sounding questions. And the reason for that is plain. They are tough questions. They are questions that take deep thought and time to ponder. So how to start finding answers, that’s the question.


DRAW your Intention anyway you can,
symbolize what it is with a picture.

Try this. Get a blank piece of paper and start drawing your future, the things you want to have, the things you want to do, the legacy you want to leave to your family and friends and all those who matter to you. Start BIG PICTURE. Then narrow it down to your business and your business-life today and in the next few months ahead. 

For inspiration do a Google Image search of key words and phrases that matter to you. Words like financial freedom, accomplishment, money, business growth, peace of mind, contribution, community, family, love, vacation, and so on. See what your mind experiences as you search through images. As you do this, if a particular image is attractive to you, that’s a clue, that image may have deeper meaning. Something about it might be compelling - and compelling images and the feelings that are associated with them is exactly what you need. 

For further inspiration revisit an event from your past. Your first bike ride, when you learned how to ride a bicycle. Remember how good that felt, that feeling of accomplishment and that feeling of freedom. Recall that feeling now. Hold onto it for a moment now. Search Google Images for a child riding a bicycle and see the joy all over his or her face. 

These good feelings and others like them are what you ought to be after as you think about projecting your INTENTION and growing and improving your business. You want to imagine today the good feelings you will experience as you achieve whatever goals and objectives you seek in the future. 

Images of future achievement - connected to expectations of how good you will feel when you get there - are incredibly inspiring. This is why people keep a picture of the next car they want to own, or of the type of house they’d someday like to have, on their refrigerator. Each time they see that picture they are inspired - and a piece of the feelings they expect to experience driving that new car away from the dealership or walking into the front door of that new house for the first time - come to them - causing them to smile just a little. Just enough to be motivating, just enough to inspire action aimed directly towards getting that car or that house.

For sure, President Kennedy nailed it. “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.” It’s the same with growing and improving your business. To be successful you must be crystal clear about what you want, where you want to go, and why. It’s all about spark, whatever it takes to get you going. 

President Kennedy called it Purpose and Direction. In business, we call purpose “Mission” and we call direction “Vision, Strategic Objectives and Goals.” In psychology we call purpose and direction “The Intention to Behavior Construct.” Whatever the name, it’s all the same stuff. It’s the notion of what you want, where you’re going and why. Doesn’t really matter what you call it. What matters is that you have it.

In my consulting practice and in the Master-Mind Alliance® I have all too often seen people who are far less than clear about their Intentions and who have fuzzy answers at best to the questions about what they want, where are they going and why. For them the issue is the same. How to get more growth, how to set and act sensibly upon goals and how to move forward - how to make measurable progress in reasonable time. Without first getting answers to what, where and why, they are stuck rudderless, intention-less. This situation needs attention - immediate attention and resolution.

Once they do the work (answer the questions) and arm themselves with clear and compelling Intention - reasons to act - the better the chance that all appropriate behavior - leading to a successful outcomes - will follow. Simple. The stronger the Intention, the more likely DELIBERATE PRACTICE - leading to championship performance - is to occur, and for sustained long term victory- DELIBERATE PRACTICE is required.

So… once again. What do you want? Where do you want to go next? Why do you want to get there? What images or pictures and what good feelings are you associating with the answers to these three important questions? Work on this. When you climb into bed tonight let this be the last thing you think about. When you get up tomorrow, let this be the first thing you think about. And do that Google Image search. 

Good things of all kinds - and good feelings associated with them await you. They really do. Once INTENTIONS are clear, the rest is joyful pursuit.