Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The 4 Ds of success

I recently read several motivational, success and self-help books and listened to a fantastic podcast by Brendon Burchard where he talked about the 4 Ds of Achievement. I agreed with 75% of his talk, but wanted the change the last D. So here is my take on the 4Ds of success, I hope you find this of great value, add your own ideas and share it with your network. I wish you every happiness and success – John

Important Business Idea: The Second Machine Age

toprank-poll-2010This is an Important business idea: How the Second Machine Age will dramatically change the way we work and learn.

I watched this video earlier this week and it absolutely has my head swimming. I also bought the book and am about halfway through it – fascinating! This is a topic I have been following pretty closely for the past three years, I believe it will have a PROFOUND impact on all of us. The video is an hour-long, but truly worth every minute of it. Think about YOUR job and what YOUR future will look like (and if you have kids this should be even more impactful)  if / when these things come to pass…

I very much look forward to your comments on this important business idea! What do you foresee in the Second Machine Age and how will impact your job, your business, your life and the global business arena????

Some Thoughts on Personal Branding

 Recently a good friend of mine who is in the financial services industry asked me for my thoughts on personal branding, because he was preparing to make a presentation to his team of associates about how critical it was to their career to create a strong and focused personal brand. Here is the note that I sent to him…


Dan, great to hear from you this week. Here are some thoughts on branding/marketing /sales – and especially personal branding – I hope you find this helpful.

Branding is about creating an image/feeling/connection with the customer. There are many branding experts that say that the customer actually owns the brand and creates the brand – but I believe that an organization/person can have a great deal of influence on how the brand is perceived in the marketplace by the consumer. An excellent example of branding would be products that are automatically tied to thoughts/emotions. Some examples would be:

 Volvo equals safety — A diamond is forever — Pepsi is for the new generation — Nike: just do it! — BMW, the ultimate driving machine — The little blue box from Tiffany’s — Ritz-Carlton = ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen — With a name like Smuckers it’s got to be good!

All of these organizations have done a fantastic job of linking their brand to a belief/emotion. The goal of branding then, is to understand the emotions, thoughts, beliefs that you want your customer to have – and then attempt to present your brand in such a way that it will elicit those thoughts and feelings when your customer thinks about you.

 Marketing is much more about getting someone to want to purchase your product. Marketing focuses on features/benefits/price – and your USP or Unique Selling Proposition. There are two major marketing strategies – the “push strategy,” which says you push information out in the marketplace and drive the end-customer to go buy the product at whatever place you want them to go to, for example – think of a computer or electronics company that tells you about their awesome new product and says,  Available at Best Buy now! The other major marketing strategy is the pull strategy which says that you create awareness and interest in the customer and get them to request your product  from the supplier – so that the customer “pulls” the product into the marketplace. A good example might be soy milk – it isn’t until consumers start asking for it that major chains will pick it up – that is why a lot of new products from smaller companies use guerrilla marketing to build up a big fan base – and then have their raving fan customers demand their products from their local suppliers – think: micro beers. Advertising is the tool used to implement the marketing strategy.

 Sales, is the last step in the process which is convincing the consumer to buy the product. This is where it is critical to understand the customer/client at the deepest possible level – and understand the decision-making/ purchasing process. I have a saying here that is one of my very favorites: Whoever owns the voice of the customer – owns the marketplace. Whoever gets the closest to the customer, has the strongest relationship, and understands them at the deepest level – has a huge advantage in the marketplace.

 Now you can take all of these things and apply them directly to personal branding.

Each of us, as a professional, and especially those of us that interact directly with our clients – need to consider the importance of creating a personal brand. In other words, what are the thoughts, beliefs, emotions you want to come into people’s minds when they hear… your name! Do they think: “trusted advisor,” do they think about someone who is highly competent, caring, a true expert? Or does your brand not have a distinctive and unique position in the customer’s mind? Today, to create a successful career as a person who delivers professional services – such as a lawyer, insurance salesperson, real estate agent, financial manager… or “business expert” such as myself, it’s critical that you take the time to think through the images, feelings, thoughts, emotions and connections that you want your clients to make when they think about you – and when they refer you to their friends and colleagues!!!

 Let me use myself as an example:

After more than 17 years as a business consultant and professional speaker I have listened to my customers closely enough to understand that they hire me for three very specific reasons – what I call the 3R’s.

 Research – you would be hard-pressed to find any other business consultant or professional speaker in the world who spends as much time, energy and effort as I do in reading 100+ books a year, listening to another 50 on audio, reading hundreds of white papers, magazine articles, blogs – truly investing a major part of my life into becoming as knowledgeable as I possibly can about the topics I teach.

 Real Life – not only do I read and study an enormous amount of information and data – I have been the CEO of 10 companies – two of them multinational – so I don’t just teach, I have been there and done that. I know what it’s like to have to make payroll – I know what it’s like to make bets with hundreds of thousands of dollars and many people’s jobs on a strategy. I have been in the trenches and continue to be there with my clients right now. I don’t teach theory – I teach what I know works from direct personal experience.

 ROI – the number one reason that people hire me is that I don’t waste their time or money – everything I teach, every idea I put forth, every workshop I deliver is focused intensely on delivering a strong Return On Investment for the money they have invested not only in me – but the sometimes very substantial expense of bringing in a large group of people, flying them in from all over the place – putting them up at a hotel – feeding all of them – and letting them spend a few days in training with me. The investment can be massive – the return must also be significant.

To my clients my brand is pretty straightforward: John Spence is a human Cliff Notes who can teach my people extremely valuable ideas in a simple and easy to understand way – and he constantly drives for turning the ideas he teaches into action in my company!

 As you can see I have a very clear and specific understanding of the brand that I am trying to portray – and that my clients have told me reflects who I am and the work I do for them. Actually, I have a 15-page “brand platform” that my team and I wrote to help us stay extremely focused on what the “JohnSpence” brand is and how to communicate it effectively.

 That is exactly the idea of personal branding, just like any company would, you sit down and figure out clearly what you want the brand “YOU” to stand for the marketplace and how you want your customers – and potential customers – to think about you and the services you offer. And in this day and age if you want to be successful as someone who delivers professional services it is absolutely essential that you take the time and effort to carefully craft a unique and compelling (compelling – as defined by the customer) personal brand and then become and expert at using social media and personal referrals to market your brand aggressively. But that’s an entirely different topic…

 I hope you found this helpful – let me know if you have any questions at all. Take good care — John


What Do You Expect?

During the past several months I have delivered numerous workshops and speeches for clients who were all struggling with the same basic issue: Lack of Clear Expectations. Regardless of the size of the company or the industry in which they competed, I’ve noticed a pattern of three critical areas where failure to set clear expectations has had a significant negative impact on the organization. Continue reading “What Do You Expect?” »

The 12 in 2012 Challenge!!!!!




Here are just a few VERY good books that I recommend — PLEASE feel free to add you suggestions!!!




I am VERY thankful for…

I am extremely thankful this week because a group of college students have restored my faith in the leadership potential of the next generation. This semester, in partnership with a great company in my hometown called TutoringZone, we offered a special leadership training program called “Let The GATOR Lead” in conjunction with the Warrington College of Business Administration at the University of Florida. Every other week or so, a group of students would get together with a student facilitator and go through a chapter in my book: “Excellence by Design: Leadership – the six key characteristics of outstanding leaders,” and talk about the principles I put forth and what those leadership characteristics meant to them as college students.

Out of the 250+ students that originally signed up – more than 130 wrote essays that were judged by me and several senior executives from Fortune 100 companies in order to choose three winners that received cash scholarships as well as donations to their favorite charity and a small reward for the rest of the people in their discussion group.

All-in-all the essays added up to about 500 pages of reading, and I must say it rivaled the best leadership books I have read in the last few years. The essays were thoughtful, focused, provocative and entertaining – I could not be more thankful for all the wonderful ideas and feedback these amazing students gave to me about how they view leadership and the way they want to lead their generation. Below you will find the top three winners and two honorable mention recipients, I think there’s some wonderful stuff here that you will enjoy great deal – and I have to say that it is a shame I cannot put all the essays here on my blog – the students did an incredible job and I’m very, very thankful for what they taught me!  Continue reading “I am VERY thankful for…” »

How To Be a Successful Entrepreneur

During this week alone I will meet with eight different entrepreneurs who are all looking to start businesses. Some are building mobile apps, some are starting publications, some are going into manufacturing, and one is creating a TV show. Yet even though they’re all over the place with what they are focusing on as a business, my advice about how to be successful as an entrepreneur was just about the same to all of them. Here are some of the key ideas I shared with them for what I feel it takes to successfully create and grow an entrepreneurial business. Continue reading “How To Be a Successful Entrepreneur” »

The Knowing-Doing Gap

Last week I delivered a workshop on the “Leader of the Future” to a group of Directors at the Florida Recreation and Parks Association annual meeting (The FRPA is my longest standing client – 17 years – wow!). Most of these folks have 20 to 30 years in their careers and I told them at the end of the workshop that there was probably very little “new” information that I taught them… but my goal was simply to remind them of the core fundamentals of business excellence and challenge them to take a long hard look in the mirror and see if they were actually living these things every single day in their organizations. Continue reading “The Knowing-Doing Gap” »

The REAL Secrets to Success – for FREE!!!

In just the past week I have received more than a dozen emails from people who promise to teach me the “Secret To Success“… for ONLY $499  I Googled one of the people who sent me such a note and could not find him anywhere on the internet? No career history, no connection to any company, no awards, no charity work – as far as I could tell he has never accomplished anything.  Yet I still have a spam folder full of people who can make me “mega-rich working just four hours a week!” 

The “Secret to Success” is NOT for sale — it is free to anyone who wants to learn it – and these bogus emails upset me so much that I decided to put together this video to outline the very best ideas I have ever learned (so far) about what it TRULY takes to build an incredibly successful life. Whether you are a high school or college student, work in an office or factory, run or own a company – no matter how much education you have… I honestly believe that the ideas I share in this video (for FREE) can make a dramatic positive impact on your life and the lives of those you love… IF… you take these amazingly powerful ideas and apply them in your life every day. Continue reading “The REAL Secrets to Success – for FREE!!!” »