Saw this from Tim Fulton, a Vistage Chair here in Atlanta and thought it may be of interest to you… Best, David

I know that many of you have yet to complete your own holiday wish list and I would like to provide several suggestions. Here we go:

1. A portrait of your best customer. This would hang right behind your desk to remind you and your followers why you are in business. Having a hard time making a tough business decision? Just turn around and consult the picture. What’s in their best interest? Trying to make a difficult hiring decision? Would you want this applicant spending considerable time with this customer?

2. A Greyhound Bus miniature. My wife gave me a little red sports car miniature several years ago because she said she could not afford to give me the real thing. Why a bus? Just a reminder of author Jim Collin’s (Good To Great) suggestion of your role as the bus driver in your company. As the bus driver you must make very important personnel decisions. It is your job to decide who gets on your bus (should you hire them?) and where they are to sit (which job?). You must also decide who needs to get off the bus.

3. The book “Good To Great” by Jim Collins. I believe that this may the best read for any small business owner. Keep it close to your desk for frequent reference. Consider how you measure up as a Level 5 Leader. What is your “Hedgehog”? Are you moving the “Flywheel”?

4. A mirror. Every once in a while we need to remind ourselves who is in charge. Sometimes we forget and allow the patients to run the asylum. When things are going well, look into that mirror and take credit. Likewise, when business takes a turn for the worse, pose for a brief time in front of that mirror and take responsibility for strategic action.

5. A subscription to Inc Magazine. I consider Inc Magazine to be consistently the best monthly reading for small business owners. Dare you plan on joining the Inc 500 this year?

6. A set of Dumbo elephant ears. It pains me to suggest that small business owners in general are not good listeners. We tend to listen with our mouths open and lips moving. The Dumbo ears, strategically positioned in our office, will remind us to make better use of our ears and less of our lips. Steven Covey said it best when he suggested that we should “Seek first to understand and than to be understood”.

7. Walking shoes. We are spending way too much time behind our desks wading through endless streams of electronic mail. Tom Peters prescribed many years ago that the best leaders should “MBWA” (manage by walking around). Set aside a certain period of time each day just to walk around your office, sales floor, or factory and see what’s going on. This can send a very powerful message to the troops that you are sincerely interested in their work and can open up lines of communication that may never be opened otherwise.

8. A picture frame. Find a picture that best illustrates your passion outside of work. Insert the picture into this frame and place this picture in a very conspicuous position in your office. This is a reminder that there is life outside of this office. It may be a picture of your family, the 18th hole at your favorite golf course, or your Harley.

9. Personal note cards. When was the last time you send a personal thank you note to a customer? An employee? A supplier? We have become much too comfortable with electronic messaging and have forgotten the power of a personal touch. I know some CEOs that make a habit of sending at least one personal note a week to a key business stakeholder.

10. I have saved the best gift idea for last. It’s a gift certificate to yourself. You fill in the amount and the store of choice. Why? You have worked very hard this year under increasingly difficult economic conditions. While recognizing all of your employee’s efforts this year, you may have overlooked the highest performer of all…yourself. Hence, treat yourself to something nice. You’ve earned it. FYI…next year will be no easier.

Happy Holidays.

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