Maximize the impact of business conferences, seminars, and special events in your organization

15 06 2007

Attending business conferences, special events, lectures, seminars, classes and courses are part of our professional lives.

Events provide great information, professional tips, up to date industry information, inspirational and motivational ideas, and fantastic opportunities to expand your business network.

Unfortunately not all the events are interesting, useful or entertaining.   At times it is a waste of time and money.

But the occasional great event is inspirational, we leave the room vibrating with ideas, enthusiasm, motivation and the desire to put the words and concepts to work in our own lives and business organization.

Two days later we forgot about what we were going to do, how we were going to do it, and why it was important.

Then we sign up for another event, and the cycle repeats itself.

How can we take full advantage of the ideas, knowledge and opportunities from business events?

To get the most out of these events a bit of planning and follow through will allow you to maximize this knowledge and it’s impact in your professional and personal life.

Before you go

  1. Main reason why are you going to attend?  Write down your reasons for attending; to gain specific business knowledge, exploration (don’t know what to expect, but it might be good), my boss thinks it might be important, seek inspiration or motivation, networking opportunities.
  2. Why do you expect to learn, or who do you expect to meet?
  3. Can you do anything to prepare before you go?  Contact people before you go, read works from the author or about the topic, prepare specific questions?

After the event

  1. Write a brief,  one page, executive summary.
  2. Include the name of the event, place, date.
  3. What was the conference/event about.
  4. Note any reference materials given at the event, where are you going to file or save them?
  5. What did you learn that is applicable to you or your business?  This might be a general concept, or specific information, it’s what you want to bring back and implement.
  6. Who else in the organization should know about the information or is affected by it?
  7. Who did you meet while there, full contact information, how can they be interesting to your business in the future.
  8. What follow-up required (thank you notes, contact specific people, more research, share it with others, file it, forget it).
  9. What should be investigated further, and who should do it.
  10. What does it take to implement or disseminate the idea or knowledge in your business (resources, people, attitude, commitment).
  11. Personal comments or observations, what did you feel.
  12. Retain all these executive summaries in a file titles “Events, Conferences, Seminars, Classes, Lectures” or something similar, organize events by date, subject or month.
  13. Review your summary in 30 days and note progress or lack of progress.   What happened or didn’t happen?

The key to maximizing the impact of a special event in your organization is to take a few moments to reflect upon your objectives before attending and then summarizing your learning, next actions and follow through required after the event.

Simple, focused and effective.

Highly recommended that each attendee from your organization be required or encouraged to keep such a file, and share it with their co-workers or managers.

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Are you involved in creating the future?

20 10 2006

Facts serve no purpose by themselves, they exist.

We confuse the accumulation of facts with education.

A good education should inspire us to continue to discover and understand more. It should give us the tools and teach us how to think.

Thinking is the abilty to visualize, create and discover relationships between facts.

Intelligence should not only be measured by how much we know, but rather on how we apply our thinking and on much of that knowledge is passed to others for the future.

The future will be in the hands of those learning today.

Are you sharing your intelligence with others and creating that future?

(inspired by the study “Are they really ready to work?”)

Related Links

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Are they really ready to work? (PDF)





The right breakfast can boost your brainpower

1 09 2006

Got an all day meeting with the boss, attending a seminar or conference, have important negotiations with clients or suppliers, cranking out a mountain of work today? If you haven’t had the right food for breakfast, you results may be up to 20% below your capabilities.

A study by Duke University on children revealed evidence that what you eat in the morning has a definite effect on your ability to learn and concentrate. Link

This is especially relevant for the business traveller. Too often breakfast is a cup of coffee and a donut. Add up the factors of jet lag, a poor night’s sleep, change in personal routine, late night wining and dining clients, stress, and a lousy breakfast and you can quickly see how your professional results might not be at 100%.

Eat that brain boosting breakfast, protein and whole grains; including oatmeal, whole grain bread, toast or cereal, dried fruits or an egg white omelet. Turn your back on sugary and refined starches. Do yourself a favor, eat the right breakfast and let your brain work at 100% for the rest of the day.

Related Links

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How to create an international business travel destination file

31 08 2006

The international business traveller has a lot of work to do before each trip. The preparation of the journey can be complicated and usually requires quite a bit of time in order to finalize visas, appointments, hotels, transportation, and tickets and connections.

I highly recommend an international travel destination file be created and maintained for the countries and business destinations that you or your organization travels to.

This should be updated each time someone visits the destination. This important accumulated business travel information will save time, money, trouble and aggravation for everyone required to travel in the future.

Notes should be written during the trip and a final executive summary presented and filed at most 5 days after your return. This is not a personal travel diary, and should be focused on providing practical useful information for the next person who is required to visit the destination on business.

The file should contain the following information and observations:

  • Is a visa required?  Contact information for the embassy or consulate, required information that must be submitted and the time required for the process from start to finish.
  • Travel agency and airlines used. Comments and observations about flights, connections, and prices.
  • Information about hotels that you have stayed in, names, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, email. Comments about the cost, distance to clients, pros and cons. security and other observations.
  • Alternative hotels to consider for the next trip and contact information.
  • Airports, names and airport 3 digit code. What services are available at the airport, money changing, auto rental, taxis, airport taxes upon arrival or departure, how far from the city or hotel, other comments.
  • Restaurants, recommendations, places to avoid, addresses and contact information.
  • Information and comments about business manners; the way people dress, gift giving, what NOT to do, other observations.
  • Cultural tips and observations. What and when do people eat. Tipping, what is correct. What to do or where to go in your off time.
  • Weather and climate. Recommendations for how to dress and what to pack.
  • Information about average costs, hotels, meals, transportation, and other related business costs
  • Other observations: What would you do differently and why? What would make the trip better or more efficient the next time? Recommendations for the next traveller from your organization.

The institutionalization of this information will result in more efficient planning and execution of travel plans, better administration of costs and time, and more satisfaction for the international road warriors in your organization. They can dedicate their time to getting work done, and not about travel worries.

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When leadership fails – an example – the Mexican shoe manufacturing industry

24 07 2006

It’s quite interesting to watch certain businesses and industries succeed and fail, and try to identify the factors that lead to these very different outcomes.

For example in Leon, Guanajuato, the shoe-making capital of Mexico, the industry is under severe pressure from imported product, and lower costs from China, Vietnam, Brazil, and other countries.

It’s quite clear to everyone in the industry that there are several solutions to the problem.

  1. Ask the government to create trade barriers and import tariffs. This will only support the inefficiencies in the national industry, postponing the inevitable.
  2. Invest in design and create a brand. Shoes are purchased for two reasons, fashion and protecting your feet. The fashion market has much higher profit margins, but requires constant investment in research and development and marketing.
  3. Invest in technology. If your product is focused on low prices in the market, you must have low costs, and lower costs than your competitors. This might be achieved with new technologies.
  4. Create alliances within the industry. If China production costs are cheaper, but it takes 60 days for the product to reach the US, doesn’t it make perfect sense to create an alliance where the initial production comes from Mexico (5 days to market), followed by the mass production from China?
  5. Purchase the shoes from the overseas competition and close your production facilities.
  6. Create new markets, export to new markets.

Those are the choices, and what do you think is happening?

The majority of companies are pointing out the danger and requesting government intervention, but not implementing any other strategies to avoid the “doomsday” scenario.

The few companies (industry leaders) that have invested in branding, design, technology and purchasing from competitors are thriving, earning money and making profits.

Why is avoiding the obvious or inevitable, such common behaviour in most organizations and groups?

I believe it has to do with the failure of the leaders to move out of the Thinking-Identifying stage and into the Planning and Implementation stages.

The cycle of business leadership and management consists of:

  • Thinking-Identifying. Thinking and identifying important internal and external factors and understanding how they interact.
  • Planning. Using the data and information to formulate a plan and strategy
  • Implementing the strategy. Putting the resources and motivation behind the plan and “making it work”.
  • Reaction-Modification. Reacting and modifying the plan as the conditions change.

Many leaders are uncomfortable or unable to identify the major factors that are and will affect their companies. They are unable to create strategies and delay important and critical decisions because they lack data, or have too much of it, or don’t know how to properly analyze it and find conclusions. Without a strategy there is obviously no implementation, and the organization begins to react to situations created by others (crisis management).

This inability to read the market, identify market forces, create strategies and adapt to changing conditions will eliminate those organizations from the market. Creating strategy is not easy, and creating successful strategies is even more difficult. It requires excellent leadership and management decisions.

What are the known problems in your organization and industry?

What strategies are waiting to be created and implemented in order to prepare your business for the future?

Why isn’t it happening now?





9 steps to better decisions

21 07 2006

Trying to pin the blame for a bad decision on an individual or group is fairly common corporate activity.  We believe that errors are not to be tolerated, and that anyone who commits an error should be identified and punished.  Too often this search limits and inhibits people from speaking up and making good, creative and bold choices in their organizations.  The fear of failure prevents action. 

We have to “blame” the process more and the people less. 

But who doesn’t make bad choices, mistakes, and accidents due to omission or over confidence? 

It’s part of life and learning.  The more I learn about chaos theory, and the butterfly effect, the more difficult it is to identify an individual who can be singled out as the responsible party for a “decision gone wrong”.  The trial and error decision-making process is still prevalent in the natural world, and will continue to be part of the corporate world.

What would happen in your organization if you stop seeking someone to blame, and focus on the decision-making process itself and the evaluation of results, independent of individuals? 

Where there is a failure, first take a look at the following list, answer the questions to determine if the decision-making system was at fault, or if it was an individual failure within the process. 

Run de-briefings and analysis of outcomes, good and bad, and find elements that were responsible.  Let your people know that mistakes can happen, and can be tolerated, but that a systemic process should be used in order to eliminate or reduce errors. 

9 steps to better decisions 

  1. What are our objectives and expected outcomes?
  2. What information should we accumulate in order to make a decision?
  3. What information is not important for this decision?
  4. Who is evaluating and processing the information?
  5. What criteria are being used to evaluate and process the information?
  6. What are the possible scenarios based upon the present information?
  7. What is the most likely scenario or best decision for the company at this time?
  8. Who are the decision-makers for this issue and why?
  9. What elements are critical and essential for success?

Shift your focus from the person to the process itself, what is or was missing?  Why? 

Related Links

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16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz

6 07 2006

16 Essential Questions – International Business Traveller’s Quiz

Every international business traveller should be able to answer these questions about their destination before getting on the plane.

  1. What is the size of the country; population and area?

  2. What are the top 3 or 5 cities, and why?
  3. Who is the President?
  4. What are the main political parties?
  5. What are the official languages?
  6. What is the ethnic makeup of the country?
  7. What is the climate and weather throughout the year?
  8. What are some of the important geographic features (rivers, mountains, lakes)?
  9. What are the major religions?
  10. What countries are neighbors?
  11. What is the currency and exchange rate?
  12. What are the countries biggest industries; national and export?
  13. Who are your competitors, and how long have they been established in the country?
  14. What are 3 significant issues affecting your industry in this country?
  15. What are 3 significant national issues that are in the news in the last 2 weeks?
  16. What national holidays or events will be celebrated during your visit

If you can’t answer every question. Set aside an hour, fire up the Internet, and do your homework.

It may be the most important hour you spend preparing for the trip.

Related Posts

7 Tips for International Business (Link)

Global Managers, what does it take to succeed (Link)

How to do business in Mexico, Parts 1 – 28 (Link)