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Your Company Sucks: It's Time to Declare War on Yourself Paperback – August 2, 2011
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"In his latest release, bestselling author Mark Stevens gives business leaders practical strategies for transforming a company that "sucks" into a company that thrills its customers." -Gaebler.com- Resources for Entrepreneurs
"In "Your Company Sucks" Mark Stevens lays out why all businesses fail and what to do about it, how every business can rebound from its lows and regain its momentum, thrill its customers and once again be a source of pride and profit." -BusinessNewsDaily.com
"Quick read on how to save your biz & thrilling clients...to get you to focus on company problems. Stevens doesn't sugar coat anything- for those that don't have much time to save their business...relevant for those that haven't started or are in what Stevens calls the "Infancy" stage of their business." -Hearpreneur.com
Rich Parlontieri, CEO and President, Speedemissions, Inc.
"This is a book that every business owner needs to read. The challenges we face today in the world of commerce are clearly identified with brilliant clarity by Mark Stevens. Reading this is like having Mark personally guide you and your team through the process of identifying exactly where you are in the life of your company, and more importantly, what to do about it."
Dennis Curtin, Regional Owner, RE/MAX Mid-states & Dixie Region
Mark Stevens offers a vitamin boost into the blood stream of business; an elixir for newbie entrepreneurs and war-weary tycoons alike.”
Ben Koether, Chairman and Founder of Kitchen Brains
"Immediately useful, and wildly inspirational (no matter what size business you run). Filled with practical ideas and entertaining stories, Mark Stevens helps you identify how your company sucks and gives you an action plan for doing a U-turn."
Regis Hadiaris, Creator of the Dot Connector Blog, Director of Internet Marketing for Quicken Loans
"I absolutely love this brutally honest and practical approach to lifeand business. Your Company Sucks motivates me to sleep less because I am so excited about working on the many things in the book that ring true to me and need attention in my business. Bravo, Mark Stevens, on your courageous approach to being aware of the obvious and actually coming directly to the point about how to change for the better."
Joseph Essa, President, Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc.
"Sometimes the simplest explanation is also the best. If your company is struggling you may not have to look further than the mirror to find the cause. Mark Stevens knows that. More importantly, within these pages he tells you what to do to get back on track."
Paul B. Brown, New York Times financial columnist
It’s an easy read that can make a middle seat tolerable.”
Joseph Mancuso, founder of CEO Clubs, Inc.
About the Author
Mark Stevens shook the marketing establishment with his BusinessWeek bestseller, Your Marketing Sucks (Random House/Crown Business, 2003), and redefined the rules of sales with God Is A Salesman. He is the author of 24 business-related books, including the bestsellers: The Big Eight; King Icahn; Sudden Death: The Rise and Fall of EF Hutton (a Wall Street Journal bestseller and Library Journal "Business Book of the Year").
Stevens' incisive understanding of critical business issues is geared toward achieving extraordinary growth and success for his clients. His firm, MSCO, represents a stellar roster of clients. Through integrated marketing campaigns, MSCO focuses on achieving financial results for its clients instead of awards that serve egos. Stevens possesses an innovative and iconoclastic view of the business world.
He is an in-demand speaker at organizations from Siemens, Virgin Air, Nike and Oracle to the American Chamber of Commerce Executives. A frequent guest commentator, Stevens lends his insights and opinions on a wide variety of topics, from Carl Icahn’s latest moves (Fox Business Channel) to Tom Cruise's image (Fox News Channel), to "Why Successful Business People Don't Sleep" (The New York Times) and how to "Be a Better Boss in 2007" (Forbes.com).
His wildly successful blog, "Unconventional Thinking," is in the top 1 percent of all published blogs (out of 95 million blogs) and was recently named in the top 10 of all marketing blogs. Stevens is regular guest blogger for Brandweek.com and the Digital PR blogger for PR News Online. More about Mark Stevens can be found at www.MSCO.com.
Top customer reviews
As Mark says, there are millions of companies in the world, and most fall far short of the CEO’s ambitions—all for FOUR basic reasons. Below are those reasons, and what to do about them.
1. Ineffective Leadership
This is when management has lost control of the business: employees act on the basis of their own agendas, are accountable to no one, and engage in random actions devoid of a cohesive strategy.
Mark’s first rule of management is to take the role of the lowest ranking employee and your customers and forgetting the focus groups, management off-sites, etc. Using this “lens” into your business is the only way to know if it thrills or sucks. He suggests that once you see where your company sucks, it’s time to live Harry Truman’s mantra “The Buck Stops Here” as a leader, make decisions and accept ultimate responsibility for the ineffective parts of your company or team. Then, by adopting (and relentlessly repeating) Apple’s model of Innovate + Execute + Innovate, you can reinvent every corner of your company or team.
I’ve always believed that effective leaders make quick, decisive decisions and learn from them. I favor making many decisions quickly, with adjustments in approach along the way, over getting into “analysis paralysis” mode and missing possible opportunities. It’s also just as critical that anyone leading a project, a team, or a company takes ultimate responsibility for the effectiveness of it.
2. The Lust-to-Lax Syndrome
This is where all focus is put on luring new customers, at the sacrifice of existing ones. In time, the former loyalists leave, frustrated by their stepchild status and the lackluster service that comes with it.
To resolve this, Mark suggests creating a “Touch Point Map” that analyzes and perfects the customer experience at every point of interaction. The Touch Point Map scrutinizes each of these points of interaction, rates the experience, and assesses the quality of each. At every point of interaction with customers, the goal is simply to thrill them.
This part of the book reminded me of an experience I had at Caribou Coffee not long ago. I stumbled in, half-asleep, and ordered a skim dark chocolate mocha with no whip cream. The person across the counter promptly yelled “congratulations!” After seeing my puzzled look, she then replied “you just saved 130 calories in your coffee today!” That simple gesture thrilled me that day, and has left a positive impression about Caribou with me ever since.
So many business wounds are self-inflicted through ignorance, arrogance, and oversight. Mark outlines the following 5 destructive actions that turn companies into misdirected failures. I’ve included my take on each one:
Conducting email wars inside the company – After about 3 emails, it’s time to get the discussion out of email and into another medium!
Allowing people to undermine their managers by circumventing them and launching appeals to the manager’s boss – If senior executives need to approve everything, something is very, very wrong. It’s critical to establish and reinforce decision making authority with the people who are responsible for those areas of the business or team.
Empowering whiners to rant about their co-workers – On my team, the rule is you never say something about someone you wouldn’t say to their face. And, I encourage people to do just that: talk to the person face to face. Sometimes it’s hard to do, and sometimes the feedback can be painful. But in the end, everyone is always better off for doing it.
Managerial indecisiveness – As a leader, I feel it’s critical to tell the story of our team’s strategy at every opportunity. That way, we can eliminate any guessing games about where we are going and why certain decisions are made the way they are.
Managers who change their minds every time the wind shifts in a new direction – Another thing that’s critical is to explain why you make a major change in strategic direction. Don’t make your team guess. Remember, nature abhors a vacuum, and someone else will gladly tell your story for you.
4. Conventional Thinking
Mark talks in the book about how early in our lives, we are all handed a book titled “This is the way things are done.” The obedient read it and follow it as dutifully as possible. The wise, the innovators, the change-makers read it and then re-write it with their own version of “The Rules.” He also talks about how the free markets are not fair, and only those who can identify conventional wisdom and prevent themselves from being trapped in it will move their companies and teams forward.
As Mark said in my interview with him, “It’s about not being a follower, not following convention, and not accepting the terminology of the lowest common denominator. If ask most managers, do you believe in this (idea), they’ll say I want to build a “consensus” around this. Well, I hate that word. I don’t understand what it means. Why do you have to build a consensus around it? I can’t imagine. The metaphor I always use is, Steve Jobs wakes up in the middle of the night and says ‘I want to create an iPhone. But, let me go to the office first and see if I can build a consensus around it.’ I mean, no!”
An Action Plan for Change
If any of the traits above have emerged at your company or on your team, it’s time to make a change. Starting on page 73 of the book, Mark outlines a four-step plan, complete with useful ideas and action steps you can take. To get the full details, I suggest you buy the book. In the meantime, here is an overview of these steps:
Step 1: View Your Business with Fresh Eyes
Step 2: Envision Delighting Your Customers
Step 3: Learn from Others
Step 4: Continually Improve
The only thing I disagree with in his conclusion is that "Kindness can create and enforce balance of power" is delusional. I disagree with that assessment, studies have shown otherwise.
Chapters 7- 10 are very helpful and true. My marketing strategy is similar and the efforts he suggest are usually very successful.
All in all the book is easy to read and straight to the point worth the money.