You probably know the fable of the boiling frog. A frog dropped in boiling water will immediately leap out but if you put that same frog in cool water and sloooowly bring it to a boil it will stay in the water until it dies.

I had two initial conversations with 2 established business owners last week. Business owners who have built meaningful businesses (One 8 years old and the other 10). After they each told me the standard intro about their companies, I asked a question that does not usually get asked in a business context. “You have…

Over 25 years ago I was sitting in the office of the CEO of one of my clients and behind him was an embroidered pillow that simply said “He who pays, says.”

I was reminded of that saying when, last week, entrepreneurial darlings Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson decided to make some sweeping cultural changes at their very successful project management software company, Basecamp. Most notably, they were not going to allow any more political discussions to take place on company time (As a totally virtual company, one would imagine this had been happening in their internal chat rooms)…

You probably have heard what Michelangelo believed about his sculpting process. He believed that the statues he carved were already inside the blocks of marble. his job, as the sculptor, was to simply remove the right marble that would set the statue free. It is a lovely image to consider but, in my experience, the opposite of what happens in most businesses. Maybe even yours.

Over and over again these past few years, my turnaround work has been less and less about pivoting a business to a new market or altering their marketing and/or sales strategy. …

“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.” — Ernest Hemingway

I wish I could remember where I first heard the above quote but it is one that I remind myself of and have shared with countless friends and clients over the years.

As I thought about the year 2020 has been, I was reminded of it again.

It resonates with me because if you have lived a while (I am a few weeks away from my 54th year on this planet — Yikes!), …

“When everyone in my firm gets a bonus between $3 and $5 million this year, how am I going to keep them motivated?”

This was the question asked, 20+ years ago in the YPO group I used to belong to, by a member who founded a hedge fund/finance business. I have never forgotten it. Not just because of the sheer out-of-touchness (Not a term. Should be.) …

The final scene of the movie Field of Dreams (1989 ) chokes me up no matter how many times I see it. You know the scene, Ray Kinsella (Played by Kevin Costner) realizes all of his work has brought him face to face with his Father when he was a young man (Brought back to life via the magic of the baseball field he built in the middle of his Iowa corn farm). All of his regrets about his relationship with his Dad culminate in him asking him to have a catch. …

Business is supposed to be fun to run. This core truth has been the through-line for most of my work and career. Through the ups and downs of businesses I have run and for the many clients I have worked with.

Just like in a marriage or relationship that has lost its fire, not feeling the love for your business anymore impacts your life, leads to flailing strategic decisions and leads to stifling resignation to just endure.

So HOW can you make business more fun, more fulfilling and capable of bringing you joy? It is not enough to just…

“If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.” — Snoop Dogg

Have you ever learned about a knife maker who lovingly creates every blade by hand? Have you ever watched a video about someone who painstakingly builds custom bikes that may take months to make? Perhaps you have watched Chef’s Table, the great series on Netflix, and marveled at the creativity (and success) of the worlds great chefs and their lifetime devotion to their craft.

I envy them. Maybe you do as well.

Now that we have started to focus on getting our profit margins to the right levels, let’s discuss how you reliably attract the right business to engage with you (Next week we will talk about how to close/sign all the new business you will attract).

It is 2018 and I doubt if most of you are marketing and selling like it is 2018. Shining a critical light on how you currently market and sell, above everything else, will make the biggest shift for you.

If you’re like most of the businesses I’ve met and work with, you have salespeople, brochures…

Last week, we talked about a more simple formula to reliably grow profit. This week, my temptation was to focus in on how to attract and sign new business. I bet it was what you would like to focus on too. Not yet.

Once you get a reliable attract and sign system in place, nothing will do more harm than adding new clients to a business that is not structured to retain and delight them at the lowest possible cost.

But why be so focused on profit? Isn’t running my business just to get as much profit as possible greedy…

Howard Mann

Business Builder & CEO Coach — I Help Entrepreneurs Build Stronger and More Thoughtful Businesses. Author & Speaker. Learn more at

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