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People Tools

by Guest Writter

his past week I read a book that offers business owners information that they can use every day. It’s called People Tools and the name does the content justice. There are lots of books about business. In fact, far too many with some unrealistic views about how a business owner can achieve success.There are also plenty of “self-help” books that seek to provide insight on how to live a more fulfilled life, something that many business owners struggle with every day. Every once in a while a book comes along that is an excellent blend of common sense business concepts and relationship strategies. That book is People Tools by Alan C Fox.

The book lays out 54 strategies for building relationships, creating joy and embracing prosperity. Who doesn’t want all that? While I can’t possibly share everything that is in this book, I will point out a few things that are particularly helpful. In a chapter called Target Practice, Fox shows how we are often so narrowly focused that it is impossible to hit the target. We’ve all done that. We become so invested in a program or product that we just keep trying to make it work even if it doesn’t deliver results. Fox’s advice is to expand the target.

Fox also believes, like most successful entrepreneurs, that you need to take a chance. I believe in that strongly. If I didn’t, I would never have started my business or taken chances so that it would continue to grow. Fox says, “Take a Chance, not blindly, not stupidly, but deliberately and more often than you do now. It is important to remember that it is often better to enjoy even victories and three losses and to experience only a single victory.”

Make Lemonade is a chapter that I especially enjoyed because I use that strategy in my own business. In fact, I say to my staff, “Let’s make lemonade” when they are discouraged about the progress of a project. It is my way of challenging them to take something that is not going well and turn it around. It is a great feeling when you can accomplish that.

Another chapter with a powerful message is The Four C’s. This chapter focuses on what you need to do to solve an urgent problem. I like this chapter because it seems that more and more people do not plan. As a result, business people are often faced with what I like to call “the fire-drill.” This is where you are asked to do the impossible on a ridiculous schedule for much less money than it is worth. That’s a difficult and urgent problem. However, if you value the relationship with your customer, or believe in the effort then you have to figure out a way to get it done. The Four C’s provide a roadmap. Fox says;

Confess that you are lost. It’s hard to admit you don’t know everything but it is really smart.

Climb as high as you can so you can get some perspective. Things always look different from afar.

Contact or ask for help. You will be surprised how well this works when you tell someone “I need your help.”

Commit to a course of action. Trying too many things will dilute your efforts. Pick one and go for it.

People Tools is an easy read because there are so many anecdotes to illustrate the strategies. I also love that each chapter begins with quotes to get you thinking and set the stage. Finally, since each chapter covers a unique topic you can skip around. Choose the strategy that you most need that day and get some great common sense help. By the way, I have reread a few chapters already. Today I am working on “Get Past Perfect”- Chapter 16.

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