Many people get caught by “downsizing” of their company. Maybe your manufacturing volume has dropped off a bit and you no longer have to work 8o hours a week to keep up. Maybe that class didn’t make and now you have a hole in your schedule. Maybe you lost one of your clients, and no one else is walking in the door this week.

What do you do with that downtime? Is there something you can do with that time that will pay you a dividend tomorrow. Like investing money, investing time can be a valuable asset for the future!

Things you might do with your downtime:

  • Write a book in your field
  • Learn a new language (Computer programming or spoken could enhance your skill set.)
  • Read a new book in your field
  • Work on building your connections with others in your field.
  • Work on building connections with possible future clients…in a tribe building way rather than a sales way.

These are just a few ideas, but I hope the next time you are sitting around wishing there were something to do, you will use that downtime to create a better future for yourself!

 
I have written various posts about my views on the future of higher education. I have warned of the coming end to the “education bubble” that has expanded to the breaking point in the United States of America. So it was no surprise when the following showed up as part of an e-mail.
Recently, the 114-year-old Sweet Briar College, a Virginia-based woman’s college, surprised its community by announcing its Board of Directors voted to close the school at the end of the summer session in August. Citing “insurmountable financial challenges,” the governing board of the 70-year-old Tennessee Temple University, a fine Christian Liberal Arts College, also voted to throw in the towel and is shutting operations down May 1 with a possible merger into Piedmont International University.
Approximately 123 regionally accredited institutions failed the Department of Education’s Financial Viability test for 2014–more to close, merge and struggle.
Notice that there are 123 accredited institutions…those are schools that supposedly are offering a solid education. They aren’t fly by night internet colleges that are one guy in his mom’s basement. These are schools with traditions and campuses, faculty and quality programs. What is happening?
Sweet Briar College and Tennessee Temple University were both schools in a niche market. My belief is that being in a niche market isn’t the problem.
In both cases, I believe, the schools relied on the niche to support them even when they weren’t doing the hard work to make themselves accessible to the tribe they were counting on.
How can a school keep this from happening? If your school is trying to be an average college offering an average education for average students…I believe you will soon become an average statistic of a failed school. You must do something different. Do something remarkable! If you are a Christian institution like Tennesee Temple University claimed to be, then be the place where Jesus Christ truly reigns supreme in your campus. Be the place that exudes Christianity. Lead the nation in reaching out with the love of Jesus. Send student mission teams out to the world. Students and faculty should be actively involved in their churches. Seeking God should be something that people talk about regularly, not just something on the school brochure. If you are a women’s college, what do you offer that other schools don’t? Make it clear what advantages a young lady will have going to class with all women. Don’t hide it. Show how your students and alumni are not just competitive, but stand out better than those who go to a co-ed school.
The key ingredient is to be truly remarkable. That means worthy of being remarked upon. Do things that make people talk about you! Some schools do this through great athletic programs, others through top rankings. No school can be #1 in every category. Find the thing that your school can excel at and push that program, that major, that service to the highest level.
The kick back might be, “But then we will seem lopsided or like we don’t care about other majors.” My response is…that is fine! Be lopsided. Be unique! I teach Spanish. I would love to be part of a school that says, “We want our modern languages program to be the capstone program of our school. It is what we will be known for. We will offer more languages than any other university or college. We will have graduate programs in odd and unique languages instead of just Spanish, French and German.” The marketing for that school would become more narrowed in some ways. They would have to recruit faculty for Mandarin, Japanese, Afrikaans, Farsi, Arabic, Urdu, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Hindi, Bengali, Korean, Cantonese, Thai. You get the idea. In the beginning, it might seem crazy, but when people say, “Why should I go to University of Pennsylvania or Princeton University when I could go to this other university that offers so much more because I really want to study languages and linguistics.” It wouldn’t be “Harvard” it would be unique in its own right. For someone who wants to study engineering, law, chemistry, criminal justice…it isn’t the place. It isn’t even on the map. For the person who loves languages, cultures, linguistics, this school would soon become the top choice world wide!
That is just my example in my field. Each field could do this. Rose-Holman University in Indiana is a small school, but very well known among people who know about engineering and pure science. If you are in the humanities or arts, you have probably never heard of it and don’t care. For those who want to be engineers…it is the top school they can go to. If you are in the arts, then  schools like The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City or Savannah College of Art and Design are probably on your radar, but if you want to be an engineer, you wouldn’t go there. You wouldn’t even consider it. The point is, you can’t be all things to all people and succeed in a world that is each day becoming more and more specialized.
What area are you going to focus on to make your school the very best in the world at what you do?
Please don’t say any of the following!
  • We will add an online education degree. Unless you think you can compete with the top online programs already out there.
  • We will add an MBA. Unless you can truly add a program that is better than Harvard Business School.
  • We will start …degree. Unless you know that adding that degree will take you to the top in that field and it will compliment what you are already doing.

It isn’t about starting something totally new or hopping on the latest trend. It is about figuring out what you do already that you can grow to become the very best in the world. You might need to add some things…and more importantly, you might need to delete some things. You will need to focus on your niche.

 

We all have played a board game or computer game. There are rules. In order to win, we must stay within those rules or it is considered cheating. Over the last 1/2 century, the landscape of business has been changing. We don’t live in the world of Leave it to Beaver anymore. The rules have changed and no one has gotten around to writing the new rulebook!

Through the eras of deregulation, globalization, reconfiguration and now many are calling the beginning of this century the era of leadership, we find ourselves competing in a global market. The rules have changed and we don’t really know what the game is anymore.

In comes the connection economy. No longer is it good to make the most quantity of the cheapest widget with an assembly line. We have almost regressed to the point where people want to do business with someone they know…or at minimum trust.

When you makes something of high quality with that personal touch, you can hold your head up high and be proud of your work. And you can charge more for that great product, great service given to people that you have connected with. Those who care about what you do will be glad to pay for it. Not just because it is great work, but because they care about you personally! They want to see you succeed almost as much as you do!

Are you making a point of connecting with your customers? Maybe you should before the game changes completely and you find yourself without a piece in the game.

 

How can you work with people to create opportunities out of their challenges? Recently, I have noticed things about companies with whom I deal regularly that could make them a good bit of money and improve their ability to serve their clients. My problem…I don’t know exactly who to talk with about the issues.

The two companies I am attempting to deal with are both large enterprises. On a much smaller scale though, how can you help a local business do better? What is a problem that you see a solution for. Have you seen the opportunity where others only see trouble?

You can begin to turn things upside down and make a difference! You CAN speak out and do something. You might even be able to make a living out of solving that problem!

What is an opportunity you see in the midst of a challenge?

 

A commercial in the Superbowl is sort of like a hurricane washing over the coastline. If you can afford it, it will reach more people than any other paid for minute of the year can reach. Most entrepreneurs can’t afford that kind of interruption publicity. We are more like the faucet that it putting out one drip of publicity at a time. A facebook status, a press release, a blog post, a tweet…over time though, each of those drips adds up! If you ever put a bucket under a leak in a pipe, you know that in time, that bucket fills up.

In the same way, each contact you have with customers, potential clients, the public in general is a drip letting them know that you exist and what your product or service is. With enough drips, you create connection. Especially when those drips are wanted and anticipated…in other words, NOT SPAM!

Most of us don’t have that one hit wonder or that great viral hit. Even if we do, it has to be backed up by more or it fizzles out and goes away.

As someone who likes to write, I am keenly aware of this principle. For any writer, the most important thing is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be the next great American novel, but writing needs to take place. Each drip (day of writing) adds up. Eventually, ideas are on paper, blog posts are put out, articles are written and  books are published. No matter what you do, each drip is important.

When you are tempted to cut corners with a customer, remember, each drip matters. Will they tell their friends about the incredible service they got from you, or will they think of you as just another business that is trying to get their hard earned dollars for mediocre work?

Thank you for taking the time to read this drip today! I hope it inspired you just a little bit.

 
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