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I’m sorry but… April 14, 2011

Posted by wooddickinson in Change, Hope, shared vision.
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I listened to the news today and that, along with the speech made on April 13th by Obama, leaves me feeling very pessimistic about this country. Once again the Democrats wage war on “wealthy” Americans. The problem as Obama sees it, we don’t tax enough and we can keep spending at the current rates as long as we justtax people more.

OK…tax those that own small businesses and tax those who invest in the economy and take the risk, monetarily, to help drive the economy (that ultimately creates jobs). Just have the Feds create more jobs instead. Let’s just ramp up the old class warfare argument. I have to ask, where is the bipartisan? When did it become a crime in the USA to make money? Don’t people who make money spend it? If they don’t then aren’t jobs lost and local economies hurt?

Call me stupid but I don’t see how raising taxes on anyone works. It promotes the idea that middle class people and poor people (especially those who are unmotivated to work) should get part of the success of hard-working Americans who have made a few bucks.  I’m not talking about our billionaires in this country or even those with 10 million and up in assets. Does anyone really think a person who has saved up 2 or 3 million dollars through hard work are “the rich!”

Why oh why can’t we just for this one time seriously cut government spending. Roll it back to pre 9/11 levels. Defund all non-essential and repetitive programs. Yes, The National Endowment for the Arts and NPR are non essentials. I’m an artist, writer, filmmaker and I have never used any federal money. States can offer tax credits (again back to NOT paying taxes) to attract filmmakers.

I do believe that true solutions to problems are usually simpler than the solutions dreamed up and implemented. The same is true here. End the IRS, stop federal taxes both personal and corporate, institute a national sales tax and I bet you’d have more than enough money. I know, the problem is EVERYONE would pay tax now. This would hurt the poor. Right? Well they are being hurt now with state and local sales tax. Exempt food and other essential items. This way everyone pays even all the gray market workers. Even the criminals!

Taking away the deduction for giving to non-profits by really wealthy people will hurt all those agencies trying to help society. Giving is already down. Go ahead and remove an incentive. You might say the rich should give regardless the deduction. Do you? The government by its tax rules shape how we act. They want us to save they create IRAs and 401Ks. They don’t want us to buy a house, remove the mortgage deduction.

Just think about it. Republican or Democrat I don’t care. I’m an independent and I’m sick of the excuses.

Time to start thinking for ourselves December 24, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in 7 Habits, Change, consulting, executive coaching, Hope, Life Coach, Neurobiology, Systems Thinking.
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Over the last several months I have develop quite a problem with Franklin Covey. Let me tell you a story.

Recently there have been discussing here about walking the talk. How important is it? The idea is we can just teach this material but don’t really have to live by it. We all know that’s insane.

If I’m going to deliver a workshop everything I teach must be material I believe is true, has scientific backing and also I have integrated it into my life. With this highly personal type of workshops, integrity is essential. If the participants sense you don’t believe what you are teaching and/or don’t live by it they will get nothing from your presentation.

We have to be committed body, mind and soul. Does that me we are perfect? No. Last time I check the only perfect man lived about two thousand years ago and we are about to celebrate His birth.

I find my stories of my failures and success make great material for the workshop. The participants learn I’m human just like them. I work hard, and get it right and get it wrong. These personal stories seem to touch people more than anything. I shows how I struggle but don’t give up. It shows I practice what I’m preaching warts and all.

Just to give a very short bio, I started teaching in 1994 when they were the Covey Leadership Center. Those were the days. I have lived through three major upgrades of the three day workshop. I lobbied endlessly for the creation of a one day workshop with one new stunning video. This would be aimed at frontline workers. I ran a large theatre chain at the time and turn over of frontline staff was common. Training dollars had to be spent well.

I beta tested the class and help fine tune it into its final form. McDonald’s was involved as well. A wonderful video was made. Legacy. How to Live, Learn, Love and Leave a Legacy. It was so good I worked with the Covey Leadership Center to transfer it to 35mm film and ran it before the show in all my theatres. No charge!

I won an award that was for employees of CLC only. It is the “Principle Centered Leadership Award from the Covey Leadership Center. It is a wonderful compass and I collect compasses so it was just wonderful. I was so glad my efforts were not going unacknowledged.

I was profiled for Stephen’s book Living the 7 Habits. My company was included as well with examples of how we used the material to improve relationships and create a better product.

In these days there was no Covey Planner. Franklin had that market. Their time management system was different so I’m sure Covey looked at them as a real roadblock to growth. I have no problem with growth but I have to ask, were the real ends in mind really thought out where this merger was concerned? Were all scenarios considered and the negative ones pushed very hard.

In business these kinds of moments are not for the faint of heart, wishful thinkers or those who “believe” it will work out. We all believed in Santa once didn’t we? Where was the empirical evidence.  All we had was anecdotal reports, vague answers from our parents and the pressure of a societal belief system. We would try and perform our own experiments. Leave notes, bake cookies, try to wait up; you know the drill. With all this I swear I heard the reindeer on the roof! Belief is a powerful elements behind our actions.

So needless to say I have a long and involved relationship with what is now called Franklin Covey (FC). I really though we had a truthful relationship. I believed FC walked the talk. When I sold my company I was granted a public license through my foundation that allowed me to continue teaching at will. I worked hard to get the program in public and Catholic schools. I tried to show how these principles could be used to solve public policy issues in city governments and was involved with the effort to turn Kansas City into a “Principle Centered Community.” Oh, and I’d meet Dr. Covey several times.

Recently I found all this doesn’t matter anymore. I also am a writer and producer of feature films for cable TV and direct to video sales. I have learned that it is impossible to make a feature film then get it released through Stars or Lionsgate but I’ve done it 4 times. Not bragging just making the point no dream is too big.

My problem with FC and the 7 Habits is the science. Current science doesn’t support the concept of stimulus and response. It dawned on me that proactivity only exists in our minds. We can’t be proactive except in the realm of remembering to change The car oil, set the home alarm, buy insurance, etc. and that all still reeks of simple control. If you are in an emotional conflict with someone finding a place to interject proactivity can be impossible. Determinism can’t be blamed because it has been discredited too. If you get made when Bill comes around bragging about all the new accounts he’s brought in and you want to stand up and break his nose, that’s driven by neuro-wiring. When the neurons follow a time worn path to the same conclution it is because we can’t help it. To override that programing is like hacking into Nasa. You can do it but it isn’t easy and unless you understand system architecture the access to Nasa will be blocked forever.

Now that I have your attention I want you to take a deep breath, calm yourself and just think about it. Change the wiring you change the reaction. It isn’t “Be Proactive” it is “Take Initiative.” You must want to change (like a smoker) then retrain your brain to truly respond differently because the new wiring works that way!

What got me to thinking about this is how FC has treated me lately. I was doing fine and then approached by a FC employee. He said they didn’t have a facilitator in the Kansas City (mid-west) area. Would I like to do that? I said yes if I can solicit and present public programs. That was OK. Now, I’m humming along getting re-certified on both the new 1 day and 3 day workshops. Things have come a long way since 1994. I got info up on my website. I used FC verbiage so as not to misrepresent anything. My biggest stumbling block was cost to participants. The American Management Association (AMA) now runs all of the FC public workshops. All of the facilitator work for FC but the AMA administers the programs.

Needless to say I set up m website with FC stuff and sent out mailings and all and what I got for my money and time was a nasty letter from the FC legal department telling me to “cease and desists” any use of 7 Habits. Now I could teach but I could tell anyone I could.

To cut a long story short, when I finally talked to the regional manager of FC I used my Dr. GRAC to start working toward a synergistic solution and FC would even talk about going there. Sure they kept saying win/win as long as I lost and they won. So I finally went for the lose/win to get it over with.

I truly was aghast. FC couldn’t even use the material they sell with in their own organization. That is very sad.

Well, this all made me mad and when I get mad I like to channel my energy into something productive and positive that might hurt the company I’m dealing with.  So I did. I’m still deep into the study and research but after a serious survey of the 7 Habits compared to current scientific facts (and I’m reading scholarly publications and books, no pop culture junk, there are some gaping wholes in Dr. Covey’s ideas. These are flaws I saw a long time ago but just passed it off as people being upset when they are told they are responsible for their lives.

That’s about all I’m going to say about this for right now but I have assembled a team of professionals that are helping me because they desperately need to be able to explain neuroscience in a simple and direct way. We’ll get there and you will be amazed.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


Top 10 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Writing a Business Plan November 23, 2010

Posted by wooddickinson in consulting.
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Writing a business plan is often a crucial first step to getting your start-up off the ground. A good plan can help you raise money, recruit members of your management team, set your marketing strategy and, perhaps best of all, refine your thinking. A plan riddled with errors? That can sink you. Here are 10 mistakes that entrepreneurs frequently make when crafting their business plans, according to Akira Hirai, a consultant in California who advises start-up companies on elements of business-plan writing, including competitive analysis and financial forecasting.

Being All Things to All People

You cannot expect a business plan to appeal to every possible audience. With this in mind, try to pick one business model, and to focus on one industry or one problem. Otherwise, you risk spreading yourself too thin, and potentially creating a sprawling plan that makes a bad first impression.

Being Boring

If a potential client gets two pages into your plan and is bored, that’s a terrible sign. It is important to have the reader interested right from the executive summary on the very first page. And don’t neglect your cover page: a well-designed logo never hurts.

Measuring the Size of the Market Too Optimistically

Although it may seem impressive if you project vast markets and the potential for huge sums of revenue, outsize financial estimates often appear gimmicky to investors. Worse, big numbers often make you sound as if you don’t know what you’re doing or how hard it will be to penetrate your target market. Don’t make big promises unless you’re absolutely sure you can keep them.

Lacking the Confidence to Sell Your Product

In an effort to portray confidence, too many business plans ignore the competition that a new business will face. Doing so betrays a lack of sophistication. Few if any ideas face zero competition. Even if your concept is completely original, you should take into account forces that compete with your product or service, including different solutions to a problem, different ways that customers might choose to spend their money, and inertia in the marketplace.

Repeating Yourself Too Much

Avoid repeating a few catchphrases and a few simple ideas in ten different formulations. Nobody wants to hear the same thing over and over again. Be sure to keep your plan’s fundamental message consistent throughout, but employ creative language and appealing imagery to flesh out your ideas.

Using Too Much Jargon

Remember that not everyone in business is familiar with cross-industry lingo. If you have a background in a specific industry – this is especially true in science and engineering – try to use simple, specific, and concrete phrases to describe your business. Rely on general terms that most everybody will understand.

Not Being Consistent

Eliminate contradictions. Make sure that the information in your plan is consistent — that, for example, a financial chart deep within the plan does not undermine a fact used in an earlier section. Make absolutely certain that every fact about your industry, the market, and key competitors is accurate and readily verifiable.

Failing to Incorporate Feedback

Presenting a business plan about which you have not received feedback is an easy amateur mistake to make. Remember: Presenting to a top investor a draft business plan that contains silly errors or gaps in logic is worse than presenting no plan at all. Try reaching out to a few friendly contacts who have vetted business plans in the past before you begin to share it with qualified potential investors. However….

Taking Too Many Perspectives Into Account

…Do not go so overboard in anticipating lines of questioning or identifying possible flaws in your thinking that a reader will have a hard time following the narrative thread. Make sure you address some likely investor objections, but balance the desire to be clear-eyed with the overall objective, which is to make a persuasive pitch.

Failing to Acknowledge the Competition

Successful plans come in all shapes and sizes and formats, so don’t worry about crafting one that looks and reads exactly like every other plan that’s out there. Your goal isn’t to fit in; you want your business plan to stand out. Remember: If you create a proposal that expresses your idea and your personality, you will be more comfortable and confident when you are called on to present it.


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