Summer of 2008 Interview
It has been several months since we last spoke.
I understand that you have completed a few more special assignments and even recently completed a marketing certification from UCLA.
First, tell us about this UCLA marketing certification.
Completing this marketing certification from UCLA Anderson School of Business Management was a privilege and honor for me.
The campus is beautiful and the professors quite knowledgeable.
This specific program focused on medical and healthcare marketing.
The subject material is applicable to all markets, industries, products and services. All they did was use examples and cases in the medical and healthcare markets.
Good business fundamentals are often the same across markets.
The business professors spoke about how this advanced material is taught for all markets.
The university basically took the most important subjects in their PhD and MBA business program and summarized them into this marketing certification program.
Subjects included; marketing, segmentation, sales management, strategy, market research, product management, new product development and launch, costing, forecasting, ROI, and more.
I am privileged and honored to have been accepted into this program and consider it a fine educational and training program.
What type of participants and students were in this program.
It is designed for senior management to upper middle management level.
How difficult was this material for those in the program to learn.
For myself, I value such a senior level educational opportunity to learn and update my knowledge and expertise.
Since I have a fairly strong background in these subjects, I found most to be refreshing but I had to concentrate and focus.
Many times, I stopped the instructors with questions and for clarifications and to discuss real business situations as they relate to the subject material.
The instructors challenged me and I challenged them.
The instructors loved this level of participation and interaction.
This marketing certification program added to my knowledge and expertise.
How about the other participants in the program and how did they do in this program?
For most, the subject material was difficult but with some hard work and effort they were able to comprehend and learn much of this: maybe not all of the information but a lot of it.
For a few, it was just too much to learn and they actually dropped out of the program and went home.
It sounds like a very extensive program that is fast paced to cover so many of the higher level subjects.
It was and I learned a lot.
Some of the subject material helped me to understand more about the many real business situations that I have been involved with over the years.
I now have some peace of mind with some business situations.
In this program, I learned things that clarified some very challenging situations.
Are there some things that stand out in your memory of special interest or importance to you?
There were several things that the business professors commented about that I took special notice to.
One; how so many companies think that many of the fundamentals do not apply to them and they are the exception to them. All of these companies find out later that they are not the exception to business fundamentals.
Two; how so many companies have staff at all levels that are not well trained and lack appropriate skills: the errors and poor decisions being made by these individuals are significantly harming the companies.
Third; how so many companies do not have a good understanding on which products and services are making what profit levels and ROI return on investment. Companies not having a clear understanding of ROI, costs of R & D, cost of sales, product launch costs, profit margins, price points and competitive pricing analysis, seem to be more common than I realized.
These things are part of business fundamentals but so many companies lack a thorough understanding of them.
This reflects on the actual skill level of management and leadership in some companies.
Fourth, how so many companies do not evaluate properly or sufficiently, marketability, potential market share per market segment, marketable price points, profit margins; for new products and services.
Many companies end up losing significant money on new products and services launches that could have been avoided with better market analysis, cost analysis and ROI return on investment analysis.
This happens far more than people would think.
Fifth; how so many companies that utilize the business professors as business consultants and advisors, challenge good business fundamentals that the business professors are guided by.
These companies often comment on how the professors are only academics and lack enough real business world experience that would show how they the company are the exception to good business fundamentals.
These same companies find out later that they are not the exception.
This illustrates how companies management staff that lack training and appropriate skills can harm a company.
This is very interesting and insightful.
Tell us about specific business experiences that you have had and what you learned from this certification program that helped you in some way.
In some assignments and positions, I have worked so hard to re-position the company in the marketplace with more aggressive marketing and sales efforts and expand into more market niches and target segments.
Sometimes new products and services were part of this.
With these efforts I was able to accomplish in a very short time frame additional sales revenue opportunities and new accounts.
Sometimes, sales revenues grew quickly and other times the sales revenue grew slowly.
Sometimes sales revenue grew significantly and sometimes it grew a limited amount.
Sometimes, the clients’ leadership and management refuted the business fundamentals and insisted that these business fundamentals do not apply to them and they are the exception.
Trying to persuade them other wise was a real challenge.
I now understand better the time frame required to expand into new markets with existing or new products and services.
This is strongly influenced by a company’s branding and market recognition.
The better the targeted efforts to market segments with the highest potential, the greater the results but time frame is time frame.
As UCLA taught me, most companies think that they are the exception to the fundamentals and the normal time frame needed to penetrate and expand into markets.
Most companies find out the hard way that rarely are they the exception.
I now understand that this is more common than I once thought.
It sounds like you put a lot of pressure and burden on yourself to produce sales revenue results in a short time frame when in many situations it may actually take longer than expectations.
Yes, this is true.
I am now managing expectations better of the time line for increased sales revenues; for myself and for the companies that I work with.
This is a very big thing for me since I work so very hard to get sales revenues increased quickly.
I take this challenge seriously and personally.
What other significant things did you learn and you are now applying?
Well, there are a few more things but it is not that I just learned them but rather that more clarification was given to things than I knew before.
Gives us some specifics.
First thing is how important it is for a company to have management and leadership level staff with good training and skills.
The importance of company leadership o have knowledge of good business fundamentals and accept them as critical is very important.
Without this, business will suffer, poor decisions will be constant and any advisor, consultant or newly hired highly skilled staff will encounter considerable obstacles and probably will fail in helping the company.
I have seen this many times.
Second thing is how difficult it is to help a company turn around the business for growth in a short time frame when there has been neglect and poor management over a long period of time.
There is a longer time line for such situations and it is difficult to short cut.
I have seen this many times as well.
Third is in regards to time lines for turn around management, expanding into new markets and segments, and launching new products and services.
Sometimes acquiring another company, merging with another company that has more brand recognition and market recognition or developing strategic alliances, can help short cut the time lines for such.
These approaches can also be more cost effective and become the difference between success with profits and failure with money lost.
These approaches can have large potential for companies.
You have had numerous advisory and special contract situations.
Some you have had great results with helping a company to grow sales revenue, launch new products and services, and enter into new markets.
Some have taken longer to see results. Later, possibly a few years later, good results were accomplished based on your initial hard work.
As I understand, some did not get good results at all and continue to decline.
Share some of your thoughts and insights to this and why.
What you have just summarized has had me in considerable thought and reflection for several years.
Early in my career I thought that if I worked hard and communicated good business fundamentals appropriately, everyone would accept them and understand the importance.
I have learned, you either have these fundamentals and good business attitudes or you don’t.
To get a good understanding of these fundamentals and accept them into business attitudes and personal ways takes some major effort and major changes.
Generally speaking, during business turn around efforts is not the best time to try to make this happen.
Often, management staff and possibly leadership struggle at making the change.
Of course, everyone says they are of good fundamentals and willing to improve, but when issues come up, their lack of understanding good business fundamentals get in the way.
I have seen this quite often.
Completing the marketing certification from UCLA, I learned some very important insights into these things.
Much I have already discussed with you.
I am truly amazed how many times I have encountered companies’ upper management and leadership that told me things at the early stages of me working with them that eventually proved to be considerably off track from the truth and actual realty.
Sometimes, they down right mislead me about the state of affairs.
Sometimes, they thought chronic problems; neglect of business affairs and previous poor business decisions would not affect turn around management efforts.
Sometimes, they were not aware of what they were doing right or wrong.
Over 6 to 10 months of hard work into the turn around management efforts and launching major marketing and sales efforts, the true facts and realities tend to surface and become known.
At this time, the true time lines and cost to increase revenues and a successful turn around management become better known.
This is kind of like ‘sticker shock’ when one discovers the price for what you want is considerably higher and time line to accomplish such is longer than what you originally thought.
At this time, I have to evaluate if the company has what it takes to go forward and whether they have the right products, services, attitudes, skills and motivation.
At this time, the companies have to make a decision about whether they want a successful turn around management to get them into increased sales revenue or if they want to have the dreaded “Business Psychosis” which is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
This is where our business relationship becomes stronger or we part our ways.
Give us some examples.
I remember one company that I had a contract assignment with, where their products did not work or perform properly.
They were aware of this for quite sometime but did not share this important information with me.
They thought that better marketing and sales efforts would overcome poor performing products.
This was one major obstacle that was difficult.
I remember another special assignment where my evaluation and hard work led me to know that the specific company could not be competitive in the marketplace the way that they were trying to do business.
To survive and grow they had to change their strategy and how they did business.
I advised this and gave the owner several suggestions; from a new strategy based on solid research and market input that could help turn his declining business around to suggesting he consider selling to competition who was positioned to be far more successful.
Well, this business owner that had a large ego and thought he knew all far more than anyone, decided to continue losing money like he had been doing for several years.
Besides having a large ego that he put ahead of good business practice,
he had a bad case of ‘The Business Psychosis’; doing the same things over and over again expecting different results.
He decided not take my advice and not to take similar advice from his accountant.
We parted our ways and he continued to struggle, losing money and spiraling down.
This experience taught me to be far more careful of whom I work with.
I worked with a company that had 10 years of market neglect and key accounts neglect.
Within 3-4 months of starting to work with them, the majority of their key accounts left.
Their products and services had far more competition than what they originally knew.
New products and services with higher market demand were launched but with lack of market recognition, obtaining new accounts were slow.
We often heard from new potential customers, “how is it that you have been in business for over 25 years and we have never heard of you?”
They expected significant sales increase within months to make up for 10 years of market neglect and key accounts neglect.
I have experience with just the opposite where company leadership embraced challenges and change.
They may not be performing up to all of their potential but they were reasonable good stewards to the business to prevent major business decline.
In such cases, a successful turn around management occurs and sales revenues increase significantly and sometimes in a short time frame depending on the situation.
With these situations, you are not trying climb out of such a deep hole if you know what I mean.
To this day the owners and senior leaders in these companies with a better situation to start with, refer to me as their “rain maker”.
I have learned that the deeper the hole is that a company has put itself into, the longer it takes to climb back out of this hole.
Another company that I worked with wanted me to increase their market recognition, increase brand name and increase sales revenues with new accounts.
After much market research it was apparent that their sales potential was limited due to market potential and competition.
I advised considering positioning the company to sell the company to larger competition with an established brand image who then could use the products to expand their product line.
The owner agreed to this strategy and even admitted that he had been thinking about this for a couple years already.
After aggressive PR public relations, new articles released into trade journals, attending new trade shows, direct marketing with new dynamic literature and communication materials that highlighted cost advantages of their product over competition; they got major attention from their competition regarding interest in buying the company.
This is very interesting.
From your stories, you have many positive and successful experiences as well as disappointments at no fault of yours.
Do these things tire you out or drain your efforts over time?
Experiencing such a broad range of business situations is important for increasing marketing and business development expertise.
Experience is a strong educator.
Some companies and clients, I have significantly helped turn their business around to increase sales and profit revenues for better business health.
Others have selected to continue to struggle and have poor business health.
This is similar to medical doctors where some patients get better with treatment and care, and others do not get better and may even die.
The doctors still continue their medical practice and helping others to better health.
Besides gaining experience over years in practice, medical doctors are also continually going to school and updating their knowledge in a variety of ways.
Has this something to do with why others refer to you as “The Business Doctor” and you often refer to yourself as such?
Yes, I have a PhD in business concentrating in marketing, sales management and business development along with over 30 other business related certifications.
Yes, I continue updating my skills, education and expertise.
Yes, I have helped many companies to increase sales revenues, enter into new markets to increase profitability, launch new products and services and gain good business health.
But there are those few companies that their situation prevented a successful turn around into better business health in a short time frame.
You have both national and international expertise and experience.
You also have formal education, training and certification in international business federally accredited.
Which do you like more and which would you like to do more of?
I like to travel both nationally and internationally.
I like international assignments.
Often, I am responsible for all marketing and sales both nationally and internationally.
In today’s business world a company needs to do business both nationally and internationally.
We are a global economy.
International business and international marketing and sales is part of a successful marketing and business development program.
Do you think this applies to all companies, businesses, markets, products and services?
With businesses like medical, healthcare, education, associations, retail stores and others that you may think do not apply; international business is a part of their business already or could be.
Internet, telephones, jet airplanes and world banking has helped increase international business for just about every market.
There is a business saying of “be international/global but act local”. This refers to the need to do international business but communicate and conduct business with people appropriately keeping in mind the customers’ location and their local ways and customs, no matter where they live.
Show respect and show caring.
Before I travel to another country for business or discuss business with a company from another country, I put out major effort to study the company, the country and their business culture and customs.
This always works for me and avoids many problems.
It normally gets favorable comments from the potential new customer.
Respect and courtesy always work.
We seem to be out of time, now.
As always, we have had very interesting discussions and covered many important subjects.
Your willingness to share is greatly appreciated.
We look forward to speaking with you again in the near future.