Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

How Do You Become World-class?

Because I teach business excellence for living and have won a few “Thought Leader” awards I often have people ask me, “John, how do you become the best in the world at something?” The answer is very simple, but definitely not easy. Here is my advice on how you become world-class.

FDA

FOCUS

You have to define very clearly what you hope to become world-class at and then focus on that intensely. People do not become truly great at something by happenstance, it’s because they’ve identified exactly where they want to excel, studied it very carefully, created a detailed plan, enlisted a group of supporters and helpers and then dedicated their life to becoming among the best-of-the-best in their chosen field. IMPORTANT: You’ll notice that I put “among the best” not “best in the world,” because to actually be number one on the face of the earth at something is exceedingly challenging. It is one thing to be really, really good at something, it is a completely different pursuit to be the undisputed global leader, so be careful what you wish for.

DISCIPLINE

Once you have determined where you want to be considered as one of the best, then you must have the discipline to get up every day, follow your plan and take all of the steps necessary to become world-class. There is a significant amount of research that supports the idea that it takes about 10 years or 10,000 hours of persistent and disciplined practice to achieve world-class status. I recently read that if you were to pick one business topic and study it for one hour a day, seven days a week, for seven years…at the end of those seven years you’d be considered a national authority on that subject. I know that sounds ludicrous, but I’m living proof. I have read a minimum of 100 business books year every year since 1989 (this does not even include magazines, white papers, blogs, videos and audio books) and have been named one of the Top 100 business thought leaders in America and one of the top 500 leadership development experts in the world. I am not a genius, I’m just very, very focused on the topic of business and leadership excellence and have dedicated 26 years of my life to learning everything I possibly could about those topics. With enough discipline, you can achieve the same level of expertise in any area that you might choose (as long as you are physically able).

ACTION

The amount of disciplined action you apply will in large part determine your success. A little bit of focus; not quite sure where you want to go… a little bit of discipline; you don’t always do what you’re supposed to do… a little bit of action; you don’t really try that hard – the outcome is mediocrity. If you choose someplace where you deeply and passionately want to be regarded as world-class, exercise extreme discipline in pursuing your plan and apply massive action… you will likely look up in several years and realize that you are among the best in the world in that area.

Yes, it is just that simple and just that difficult!

To make my point even more strongly (definitely not to blow my own horn), I hope you’ll take a moment to read the press release below. I was recently recognized by the American Management Association for a cool designation and was blown away by the other people on the list. Also, I’ve been nominated for a different award which is considered the single most prestigious management and leadership award in the world, the Thinkers 50. Part of this award is based on voting, so if you feel that I deserve your vote I would be extremely appreciative if you would take just a minute and fill in the needed information to cast your vote for me (you can only vote once).

For those of you that aspire to be among the best in the world at what you do, I hope that you will use the formula of:  FOCUS + DISCIPLINE x ACTION to assist you in your quest to be world-class.

John Spence Named one of the top 50 leaders for 2015

The American Management Association, one of the world’s most respected business and professional development organizations, has named John Spence as one of the top 50 leaders to watch in 2015.

As part of AMA’s continuing mission to provide the best resources and insights from the world’s leading business minds, this list was created to highlight the work of some of today’s most impactful business leaders. According to the organization’s website, “These influential business leaders have contributed to the business world in many ways, and AMA is excited at the potential contributions and innovations they will make in 2015.”

This prestigious award for John Spence comes on the heels of recently being named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speaker’s in America and by HR.com as one of the Top 500 leadership development experts in the world. In the last year Spence has also been recognized by Small Business Magazine as one of the top 100 small business influencers in America.

“I am extremely honored to be on this list,” said Spence. “I have spent my entire career trying to help businesses and people be more successful and this is a wonderful validation that my work is making a positive impact.” Other leaders on the 2015 list include, Jeff Bezos the CEO of Amazon, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, strategy guru Henry Mintzberg, world renowned consultant Ram Charan and leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner.

About John Spence: John has presented workshops, speeches and executive coaching to more than 400 organizations worldwide from firms such as Microsoft , Coca-Cola, GE and IBM, to dozens of private companies, non-profits and associations.  He is the author of four books and has been a guest lecturer at over 90 universities including Stanford, Cornell, the Wharton School of Business and the Entrepreneurial Masters Program at MIT.

About the AMA: For over 90 years, American Management Association International (AMA) has been a world leader in professional development. Organizations worldwide, including 90% of the Fortune 500, turn to AMA as their trusted partner.

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to the Thinkers 50 voting page, I cannot possibly thank you enough for taking a moment to vote for me if you feel that I am worthy of this award.

You will need this information to cast your vote:

Person who gets your vote: John Spence
Person’s title: Managing Partner
Person’s organization: John Spence, LLC
Person’s email address: John@JohnSpence.com

Click HERE to vote

Change Is Changing

082For years I have implored my audiences to “create a culture that embraces change.” I even put together a custom program for the Apple Specialists Group on “Nimblocity” (that is being nimble with velocity) and tell clients that if they want to be successful in the future they have to be… Nimbolicious! But frankly, that is not true anymore.

To be successful in the future, the rate of internal innovation must exceed the rate of external innovation, in other words, you can’t simply embrace change – you have to be the one who creates and drives the change.

I challenge you to go back and read that last sentence and think deeply about how that will impact you and your business. That means that in order to win in the marketplace you must out-think, out-innovate and out-execute everyone you compete against – both as an organization and as an individual. This is a HUGE idea and an even bigger challenge. To me, there are a minimum of six key things you must do in order to be a game changer.

 1. Business Acumen

To even get on the playing field you must have a strong foundation of general business knowledge. This means constantly studying the fundamentals of business excellence such as strategy, finance, marketing, sales, talent development, technology / innovation, customer service… and keeping a close eye on local, regional, national and global business and economic trends. It’s also critical to look at best practices of top companies (inside and outside of your industry) to see what ideas you might be able to apply to your organization.

2. Industry Expertise

You must be an expert, and I do not use that word lightly, on your industry, your competitors and especially your products and services. There is absolutely no excuse for not being exceedingly knowledgeable about your industry and all of the factors impacting your business within it. I know that sounds pretty obvious, but I am constantly surprised how many people I meet that are clueless about even major trends in the field they work in.

3. Strategic Thinking

Once you have built a solid base of general business acumen and become an expert on your industry, then you must dedicate the time necessary to combine those two areas of knowledge and think about everything you are learning and what it might mean to you and your business. That is right, you need to dedicate 5-10% of your time to just sit and think, noodle, brainstorm and introduce random ideas to each other to see if they get along. The reason that so few people are great strategic thinkers, is that so few people invest the time and effort necessary to do serious strategic thinking.

4. Pattern Recognition

The purpose of all of this thinking is to find the patterns. Strategic insight occurs when you see something before others see it; when you notice a trend, an anomaly, a spike in the data that indicates a change in your industry. Netflix saw the trend in online movie delivery, Blockbuster did not. Apple saw the trend in smart phones, Blackberry did not. Nikon saw the shift to digital photography, Kodak did not. Those who succeed in business today do not just adapt to changes in the marketplace, they anticipate and then create changes in the marketplace.

5. Business Model Reinvention

For an insight to be of value to organization it must represent a major disruptive change to your industry that will give your business a clear (and hopefully sustainable) market advantage. However, this sort of change typically means that you will have to make some dramatic adjustments and innovations to the way you currently operate. What is required here is courage; the courage to take big, bold risks, the courage to abandon old ways and the courage to create a totally new path for your industry.

6. Disciplined Execution

Even the best strategies in the world are completely useless if they are not implemented effectively. Great ideas do not change an industry; taking great ideas to market better and faster than any of your competition does. This means that your management team must be superb at taking your strategic insight, turning it into a sharply-focused and well-communicated strategy and then ensuring that is implemented flawlessly. An easy thing to say, a devilishly hard thing to accomplish.

I have spent the last 25 years of my life running businesses and studying, writing and teaching about business excellence around the world and in no time in my career has the need to do the six things I listed above been more urgent. We are entering a new era in the business world, what many people are calling the Second Machine Age, marked by mind-boggling advances in technology, computer learning, robotics, medicine and many other fields that will fundamentally change business on a global scale. As I see it, you really only have two choices: drive the change or be run over.

John has also been recognized as one of the Top 100 Business Thought Leaders in America, one of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers in America, one of the Top 50 Small Business Experts in America and one of the top 500 Leadership Development Experts in the World. The American Management Association named John one of America’s Top 50 Leaders to Watch along with Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google and Jeff Bezos of Amazon.

You can learn more about his work at JohnSpence.com


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