February 2016

Welcome to the February HTG Way. We are mere days, if not hours, from our Q1 meetings in Phoenix. Where has the time gone? Seems like yesterday we were celebrating Christmas and closing out 2015. But here we are. 

From my limited view of 2015 financials across a few groups, the general observation I'd make is that revenue was a bit softer than expected in 2015 and EBITDA was softer yet. Not a lot of major misses, but a number of companies came up a bit short and few actually exceeded their revenue and profit targets. 

I do have a bit of concern about 2016. The craziness of the election cycle and the unknown that comes with trying to determine the next president won't be bullish to the economy. Certainly the first month of 2016 has been tough on the markets and that too will have a dampening effect on what happens. 

So keep your eyes and ears open so you don't get blindsided by any major changes along the way. 

CALL TO ACTION:  Make sure you attend the Leadership Academy or
BASE session in Phoenix and watch the recordings with your team.

One thing that is fairly obvious is that business is becoming more complex, and we tend to get caught up in all the different things going on and lose sight of the real objectives. This is one reason why we're going to focus on the theme SIMPLIFY during the Leadership Academy in 2016.
Verne Harnish, a guy who I think highly of and who has written a number of great books like "Rockefeller Habits" and "Scaling Up" made an observation that I believe is worth repeating:

"The Danger with the Rockefeller Habits  -- the Rock Habits can hurt a company. This is why we wrote Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0). While most growth firms really do need some tightening up, some leaders have gone too far with the whole priorities/metric/meeting thing. This is why setting up the weekly "council" for the CEO is the second most important "next step" - to give the leadership time to think and talk about strategic direction. This is why "The Core" chapter is critical to maintaining a healthy culture. And this is why we put such a strong emphasis on talking to employees and customers each week - and really listening to them (though you don't necessarily do everything they ask - a real balancing act). This is the qualitative data that MUST balance the quantitative data in making decisions."

much of anything becomes a problem, even if it is good discipline in following a system like Gazelles or StratOp.  We have to make sure we manage our businesses with some level of simplicity so people can follow and execute effectively.  It doesn't mean to stop doing the good things we've added by way of systems and processes, but that we pause and evaluate how we are doing things and if they are really providing the outcome we are attempting to drive.  And most of all, do we have a healthy culture that will allow us to continue producing a good outcome into the future?  We have to walk the tightrope and make sure we have balance.

"Building a Sales Engine" Series
The other Wednesday content day option available during 2016 will be Building a Sales Engine (which we'll also call BASE).  We have a fantastic program set up featuring some of your peers and vendor members that will help provide the basic blocking and tackling we need to truly build a robust sales engine.  Selling is a lot more than getting the sale.

It's a process that includes many aspects such as:
  • Tools (CRM/Quoting/Marketing/Reporting)
  • Marketing (Content (blogs/thought leadership)/Email/Website/Inbound (SEO/adwords))
  • Lead Generation (consistency, predictability, quality)
  • Sales Strategy (target market/clearly defined products, services and pricing)
  • Sales Culture (executive support/broad company understanding that nothing happens without a sale)
  • Sales Talent Management (hiring/enabling)
  • Pipeline Management (prospects through proposals)
  • Sales Process (defined and systematic approach to every step of selling)
  • Sales Management (oversight/compensation/training/coaching)
  • Metrics/Reporting/Analytics (real time data/ability to mine data for targeted needs)
  • Customer Satisfaction (true measure of satisfaction)
You'll hear real life stories and step by step guidance around how to take your sales engine to a new level.  Nate Austin and Steve Riat are longtime HTG members who are from seasoned and successful sales organizations, and they are going to be guiding the experience.  I highly commend both of these men to you as resources that you take advantage of if sales is a pain point for you.  They are Go Givers to the core and will be sharing their learnings and providing coaching tips along the way.

Now I already know you can't be in both places at the same time, and if you've been sleeping you may not have even scheduled the extra day to be with us on Wednesday morning for either of these fantastic events. So here's the good news - BASE (sales engine) will be captured and available via video. Some of the Simplicity content will also be available, but some speakers throughout the year do not allow us to record their content due to copyright.  Plan now to watch these valuable sessions with your team when you return from the Q1 meetings. HTG wants to be a resource to help you build a bench of leaders. That is why we invest quarter over quarter in videotaping the content days and archiving it for you in the HUB Video Resource Library.  Take advantage of the value these videos provide not only for your own learning but for your team as well.

The other thing to note is that Wednesday afternoon is all about community. My recent blog post on the difference between a Network and a Community and HTG's firm place in the latter category is one that is worth a read if you want to understand the "why" of our plan for Wednesday afternoons in 2016. I can't encourage you enough to really consider this extra value that HTG provides - the opportunity to be part of a deep and caring community.  That happens when we spend time together and get to know each other well.  So plan to take advantage of the time Wednesday afternoon each quarter to engage and deeply invest.  The most successful HTG members I see are those who leverage community broadly, inside and outside of their groups. They are only able to leverage those relationships because they have taken time to build them.  

Have FUN While Investing in Community 
In Q1 this is our Wednesday afternoon plan: When the content days end at noon, we'll head outside and enjoy eating from a handful of food trucks and enjoying the warm weather and sunny skies. We've got some unique options coming to the parking lot to serve us, so plan to
be there and interact with our Premier and Platinum sponsors over some great food. After lunch we'll have some fun in the sun with our first HTG Olympics. There will be prizes and challenges that will give you plenty of reason to laugh as we spend time together and build relationships with people across groups. The day will wrap up at 4 PM, and the evening will be yours.  

Some of you have asked me for years for more flexibility in the schedule to take advantage of being among the best and the brightest leaders in the industry.  We are intentionally providing that latitude and opportunities to share and engage this year through the Wednesday schedule.  I look forward to seeing the fruit of what will come from Wednesdays across 2016, as we SIMPLIFY or attack the nagging issue of growing our sales and as we focus on community.  Good things to come.
It's going to be a fantastic week together.  Come prepared to share the reality of your 2015 and the targets you are planning to hit in 2016.  You should have your business plan done and budget completed and posted for your group to review. We need to drive each other to execute and reach those targets. This quarter we focus on leadership, and it doesn't just happen because you woke up this morning. We have to be intentional in planning our own leadership journey, as well as planning the investment and strategy to grow our team and their leadership as well. One of the Achilles heel areas for many HTG companies is the lack of a deep leadership bench. Too often growth is hampered because we have not invested and built a leadership layer that can step up when needed to help drive growth.  Bring your plans and strategies for how you'll address building leaders (self and others) in 2016.

I look forward to seeing all of you next week in Phoenix.  Wednesday afternoon there will be a chance to get me wet in a dunk tank if the team gets their way. I won't go cheaply, but we'll take donations for Hands That Give that will buy you a chance to try and dunk me.  Since most of you throw like children anyway, I feel pretty safe.  (No offense to the children who read this and throw just fine.)  I'll look forward to taking your money for a good cause and laughing as you try to knock me into the tank!  See you next week!


Prospective Member List
The new and prospective member listed on the HTG HUB in the Prospective Member List  are being vetted by an HTG group for membership, or are invited to their next quarterly meeting. Per our membership agreement, this is the opportunity to HTG members at large to review the list and provide written feedback on any objections they may have to the members or prospects under consideration. Member companies have 48 hours following this email to communicate concerns to Scott Scrogin for review by the Advisory Council.