Author Archives for Curt Fowler

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About Curt Fowler

Curt is a graduated of the Kellogg school of management, and has had a hand in hundreds of millions of dollars of investment.

Achieve Your Goals in 3.5 Steps

January 27, 2013 5:55 pm Published by 6 Comments

As Americans, we are a nation of goal setters. I’m sure you have set your fair share of goals that were forgotten, not accomplished or even lost. Actually, losing the goals (assuming you wrote them down) is very convenient when you don’t want to be reminded of your inability to finish what you started. Today, I am going to tell you how to set and accomplish all of your goals in 3.5 easy steps (this works great for businesses, teams or individuals). 1 – Make your goals SMART  S – Specific – Each goal should answer what, why, who and when. For example, let’s say you want to increase sales from the current the 2012 level of $2 million to $3M in 2013. Your goal should read something like this: “Increase Acme’s sales revenue to $3 million in 2013.”  M...


5 Questions That Deliver Growth

December 28, 2012 5:58 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

As leaders, the questions we ask tell everyone what we care about most and drives the behaviors of those we lead. Asking the right questions will keep your team focused on the right goals and dramatically increase how quickly your business can reach its primary objectives. What questions do you ask first when you get into the office? Do your questions reflect the values and purpose that your business was founded on? How often do you ask about people versus profits? Remember that business is all about the people and the people, if treated right, produce the profits. Below are the five questions that will drive your growth strategy (if you take the time to ask them): 1. How are you? Seems simple and it is. Tons of people ask the question, but few actually care to hear the response. Be different. Ask...


How Do You Grow?

November 30, 2012 12:49 pm Published by 2 Comments

Not how to grow your business, but how does your business grow? I’ve spent a lot of time lately around business leaders who are experiencing great growth in their businesses that assume the cause of the growth is that they are getting better at what they do. Key word = Assume. Let’s say you are in the enviable position of leading a growing enterprise. Step back and take a critical look at the growth. What is causing it? Are you a young company that is spreading its wings into new products or territories? Is your market growing and your business is rising on the tide with all the other boats? The problem with these methods of growth is that the music will stop. You’ll reach the geographic ends for your business or your market will take a downturn. When these things...


Why Values Matter

November 30, 2012 7:50 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Trust.  Customers demand it from the companies they shop, trade and work with.  Employees demand it from their employers. Jobs, products and services will quickly become a commodity without trust.  Quickly traded to the next provider for a slightly lower price or flashier packaging Trust can stop this rush to the lowest cost or highest salary.  Trust builds loyalty from customers and employees How do you build trust?  Values (not just having them, but sticking to them!). Everybody has values.  Just ask them.  They may not be able to tell you what they are off the top of their heads, but they certainly have values!  How could you dare to ask?  If you give them a little more time they will probably start to list some of the most common values like honesty, hard work, self-reliance or the one that...


Chasing Growth?

Chasing Growth or Executing Your Strategy?

October 31, 2012 7:42 am Published by 4 Comments

According to The Conference Board 2011 CEO Report, the primary challenge facing CEOs is growth.  Not profit, not customer retention or expansion, not innovation, but growth!  This doesn’t make any sense. **At the bottom of this post, you can link to our 4-part How to Execute Strategy series** Growth is what is known as a lagging indicator.  In other words, lots of things cause growth to happen or not to happen, but you can’t just make growth happen!  For instance, an innovative new product, new customers or more purchases from current customers would all drive growth, but you can’t do anything about growth without these other things happening.  Growth is not what you should be tracking and growth should not be your goal.  Growth is the consequence of executing your strategy every day! It’s like trying to lose weight.  You...


Improved Outcomes without an Increase in Skill

October 29, 2012 12:44 pm Published by 3 Comments

That is how the manager of a billion dollar investment fund described the benefits of his pre-investment checklist in Atul Gawande’s book, “The Checklist Manifesto.” It turns out several fund managers feel the same way. Mohnish Pabrai of Pabrai Investment Funds and Guy Spier of Aquamarine Capital Management both incorporate formal checklists into their analysis of investments. Click here to learn how to create great checklists.  Pabrai’s checklist started from his lifelong study of Warren Buffett and the “mental checklist” that Warren uses to make his investment decisions. Over the years, he has added to the checklist from mistakes he has made and the mistakes he has observed others make. His checklist isn’t complicated, but it includes all the basic checks that can be easily overlooked. Checks include things like review the fine print of mandatory stock disclosures and the footnotes of...


Increase the Value of Your Company

December 2, 2011 8:13 pm Published by 1 Comment

In a purely economic sense, the value of any for-profit business is the present value of its cash flows.  A lot more goes into the valuation of a business and there are exceptions where businesses are valued based on metrics that most ordinary Americans could never understand (just think back to the internet bubble).  Factors such as reputation, patents, brand, organizational health and new product pipelines are all considered when valuing a company, but all of these elements are only measured because of their expected effect on the future cash flows of the business. So, how do you increase the value of your enterprise? Let’s start from the end and work our way back.  To increase the value of your organization you need to increase the cash flows that a reasonable buyer can expect from your company in the future. ...


The Value of Values

September 27, 2011 8:12 pm Published by 1 Comment

  Can the core values of a company create economic value? Would you believe they can create 15x the returns that your stock portfolio is giving you? People often assume that sticking to your values can cost you, at least in the short term.  For instance, have you ever been in a negotiation where the other party finally stops the arbitration with a statement similar to “I value our relationship…so..”?  That person is implying that they value their relationship with you more than a few extra dollars on the price.  Therefore, there is a short term loss of income related to valuing the relationship more than an increased selling price. The seller’s assumption is that the relationship will in the long term generate much higher profits than the short term gain from a higher asking price. But is that true?...