Frank Sinatra will always be a legend. I admired Sinatra as an entertainer, but have recently gained tremendous respect for his management skills as well.
Sinatra simplified his career to a perfect three step: show up, perform and get paid. He concentrated exclusively on his unique abilities and never got caught up in the adjusting of stage lights or moving his own piano. He knew to do his job and let others do theirs.
Sinatra’s unique ability was singing. My unique ability is helping producers finance their films and television productions. Sinatra / Silver, singing / financing — worlds apart? Not really. There are several very different ways of approaching business (and life), but focus is the common factor for success.
I learned to focus on my unique abilities through an entrepreneurial-management program called The Strategic Coach. I first heard about the program from someone whose business was clearly growing quickly. Looking into it more closely, I was struck by the positive vibes I received from other participants.
Run out of Toronto by Canadian entrepreneur Dan Sullivan and attended by businesspeople from around the world, The Strategic Coach is a long-term program that has helped me set goals, create more efficient systems and manage my staff more effectively. It prides itself on being a holistic program, so I’ve changed not only my business strategies for the better, but many of my personal philosophies as well.
The first big change was how I looked at my time. The program splits days into three types: Free, Focus and Buffer. “Free” means days of rest, and they are essential to survival and success. Free means no cell phones, trade journals or any contact with the business.
Most of your days should be Focus days: spending time with key moneymaking relationships. If you have identified what you do best and are doing what comes naturally, these will be not just your most productive days, but also your most stimulating. At the end of a good focus day I find myself more enthused and fresher than at the start.
Buffer days are spent planning for effective Free and Focus days, plus taking care of office “stuff.” How days will be spent is mapped out on a 90-day basis, just right for short-term planning. The emphasis on free time has been a struggle for me, but it has paid off in terms of a more relaxed, focused and efficient frame of mind for the days that count. And my family appreciates this, too.
These are the areas in which the program has helped me most:
- Delegation and team building Key to growth is the mental shift that an entrepreneur has to make from rugged individualist (someone who does everything him- or herself) to a team builder. I have learned to look at myself objectively, to figure out what I do really well (help producers finance their productions) and to delegate the rest to a team around me. My team will ultimately be composed of people using their own unique abilities to the fullest.
- Problem-solving and decision-making I have learned to put a problem on a simple chart. Start with the desired end result and break it down into small manageable steps. Suddenly, by using this simple process, all problems become easier to manage. Visualizing the successful end of a problem has often maintained my spirit through dark days.
I used this tool, for instance, when I decided to explore setting up my own film-financing fund. By breaking a daunting task into steps on a chart, I was immediately able to see what had to be done — and with whom. The project is now moving forward nicely.
I’ve also learned the benefits of thinking in terms of continuing growth — the mentality of striving for more. Envision your business as 10 times greater than it is now, and look back at how you got there. It’s quite an invigorating exercise.
- The Four Referability Habits To gain business by referral, which is vital for me, I embody four seemingly simple habits: do what you say; finish what you start; show up on time; and always say “please” and “thank you.”
At first glance, these habits appear all too easy. But when looked at very closely, they are in fact sound foundations for gaining business by word of mouth. I have become someone whom people can always count on — a rarity today.
A wonderful tool of The Strategic Coach is “The Gap.” It’s a transformative way of looking at your life. Instead of comparing myself with an ideal (against which I always come up short), I now look back to see how much progress I have made. I have even used this tool with my children, so they know how to measure themselves against where they were before, and to celebrate their progress. I now do this every night before I go to sleep, and sleep better and feel more present every day as a result.
The Strategic Coach program consists of one full-day workshop in Toronto per quarter, with a commitment for three years. It has transformed my thinking, organization and approach to life. Dan Sullivan believes the next 25 years will prove golden for entrepreneurs, as corporate machines go the way of the dinosaur and business becomes housed in smaller and more efficient work environments.
Sullivan says entrepreneurs today will find the greatest opportunities for success if they focus on their unique abilities. I say, don’t get stuck moving your own piano!
Malcolm Silver is president of Malcolm Silver & Co. Ltd. in Toronto, Canada, specializing in film and television production financing. His successful financings include Codco, The Handmaid’s Tale, Blues Brothers 2000 and the television series “Viper”. For details on The Strategic Coach program, call (416) 531-7399.
© 1999 Malcolm Silver