Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Effective learning: 7 entrepreneurship lessons on optimizing your retention from a mighty king

By Virginia Mburu
Mwakazi the Passionate Entrepreneur and owner of Makao Interiors Ltd continues to pick a number of lessons as he progresses in his entrepreneurial journey.

He notes that he is taking a bit too long in practicing some lessons learned and thus costing him a few contracts.  He shares his predicament with his wife Pendo as they drive to work one morning. Pendo comments that he should pick some lessons from   One King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 4.

On closer scrutiny, he comes up with 7 lessons towards optimizing learning as under;

Lesson 1....Be clear on what new skill/lesson is to be learned
Verse  18“‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.”

It is imperative that we learn new skills to take our businesses to greater heights  and at times we need  new skills to solve  certain problems. The new skills may be personal or business related. 

King Nebuchadnezzar had a personal lesson to learn- that he was reigning over a mighty kingdom not because of his power but because he had been raised by God.

What new skill do you need to learn? Is it in communications, sales, goal setting, business planning, patience, negotiation etc.?  Sometimes the skill is pretty obvious but at times you may need to be humble enough, take a step back and ask those who work with you  or those close to you. 

Should he have asked, King Nebuchadnezzar maybe he would have known that he was abusing his position!   As a consequence, he now had an unusual problem... he had a dream, a vision that he could not understand!

Lesson 2.....Learn from the best and from several sources
Verse 7-8 When the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners came, I told them the dream, but they could not interpret it for me.  Finally, Daniel came into my presence and I told him the dream....”
Nebuchadnezzar consulted the local experts- the best there was to interpret his dream. When they could not assist him, he extended his reach and Daniel came into the picture.

What about learning from experts in the needed skill and from those who have succeeded where you want to succeed? When learning, seek out the best experts, written, audio or visual material in the area under study.

Lesson 3.....Get ready for the lesson
Verse 18 This is the dream that I, King Nebuchadnezzar, had. Now, Belteshazzar, tell me what it means, for none of the wise men in my kingdom can interpret it for me. But you can, because the spirit of the holy gods is in you.”

Whether you plan to take a one to one, or group lesson or you will study written content, you better do some your homework. Be clear on what you want, questions to ask, clarifications needed etc. 

Do you need additional materials, books, stationery etc.? What is your state of mind? Are you ready to soak in the information learned? How should you dress (you surely cannot take a swimming lesson in your office suit)? 

How will you behave? How will you communicate (language, phrases to emphasize etc.)?  King Nebuchadnezzar knew exactly what he wanted- his dream interpreted and just the right words to get Daniel to saying yes! 

Lesson 4.....Be teachable...Be a good student
Verse 19 “Then Daniel (also called Belteshazzar) was greatly perplexed for a time, and his thoughts terrified him. So the king said, “Belteshazzar, do not let the dream or its meaning alarm you.”

Listen, Listen, Listen- To what your teacher be it in person or from learning material has to say. You are here to learn- stop trying to impress the expert.  Ask the questions you had prepared plus others that crop up during your study to clarify issues or introduce a new angle.  

Ask for examples related to your current scenario. Find out what works and what does not. Listen to what U.S. Admiral Hyman Rickover has to say about mistakes and probe to find out what mistakes you can avoid. He says that, ‘You have to learn from the mistakes of others; you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself”

Get proposals on what action needs to be taken, WHY ...and the consequences of taking or not taking action. Be ready to receive the not so good information about the scenario you are facing and be observant enough to note critical and meaningful changes in body language (yours and your teacher's). 

King Nebuchadnezzar was eager to listen to the interpretation of his dream and even observed Daniel’s reluctance to deliver the dream’s interpretation.
Lesson 5..... Assimilate the lessons  
Verse 27-29 “Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.  All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later......”

We internalize and work ideas into our minds in different ways. All the same, we best learn when we write. Some of us summarise, others draw flowcharts, graphs, images etc.

Review your notes to identify learning gaps and determine whether you need for further questioning/ research/ feedback from whoever is teaching you or from other audio/visual material. 

You may even sleep over the matter as you let your brain digest the information without much effort from your conscious self. 

Did King Nebuchadnezzar assimilate the information he received from Daniel? Not from what we read in the above verses despite the grievous consequences prophesied to his person and kingdom!

Lesson 6....Test and Practice what you learned
ABC... Always Be Testing. Before you go for the long haul, test the ideas you have formulated on a small scale.  By doing so, you will avoid expensive personal, financial, social etc. mistakes. 

Test that new product, market, process, policy etc.

Many a times, we are too proud to take advice or we believe too much in our abilities, or we disregard whoever is dishing the advice, or we are not willing to change, or we are too preoccupied with our position.......Whatever.  

We will always present reasons or is it excuses as to why we continue practicing the old habits despite the new lessons learned. 

King Nebuchadnezzar was building his empire by exploiting and taking advantage of the poor. He was the king and could do as he wished. And this he did until twelve months later.....

Stop procrastinating executing the new lessons learned....Take immediate action as there is always a ‘sell-by-date’. 

The consequences of King Nebuchadnezzar’s inaction caught up with him a year later as we see in verse 33 for “Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like the ox. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird”. 
He was in this condition for seven good years!

Lesson 7.....Document and Share what you have learned
Verse1 ,
“King Nebuchadnezzar
To the nations and peoples of every language, who live in all the earth: May you prosper greatly!”

After the seven years in the wild, King Nebuchadnezzar had learned his lesson and we see him voicing it in verse 37 – “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble”.   And his sanity, honour, splendor and kingdom were restored. We are told he became greater than before!

He had learned a great lesson that had to be spread to the nations and peoples of every language on earth via a correspondence that narrates his experience! 
How do you document what you have learned? How can you share the lessons - a meeting, a correspondence, a book, an article online or offline, a classroom, a one to one, etc.?

Jim Rohn reckons that "Whatever is valuable to you, you must Study, Practice & Teach". Is the lesson valuable?

Over to you Passionate Entrepreneur
  • How do you ensure you optimize your learning?
  • What about sharing the lesson learned here with the nations and peoples on earth?

Share with your experiences, suggestions or questions in the comments section below and help another Passionate Entrepreneur.
Whatever you do, make sure it results in less work, more money and positive impact.


Virginia Mburu
Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach

Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year. Access some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons on www.biasharacoach.blogspot.co.ke

Business Coach: 7 Customer Service lessons towards generating "Wow" customer experiences

By Virginia Mburu

Mwakazi, the Passionate Entrepreneur and owner of Makao Interiors Ltd continues to prepare for his meeting with this famous property developer this side of Africa .......

From the last episodes, he has learned negotiation skills, the mistakes to avoid when bargaining and now wants some lessons on how to make this interaction  a “wow experience” . He remembers the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-35  and the various characters in it. 

A man in  dire need just as his customer who needs  his services  so as to create a masterpiece, the Priest and the Levite who were  not willing to assist and the Good Samaritan who went out of the way to assist the man in need.

This parable was narrated in response to a question “who is my neighbour” but several lessons can be learned on how to treat our customers or is it client?

Lesson 1.....Have an active customer service policy plus the right process and technology
Verse 30- 33 - “In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

This Good Samaritan must have had a ‘help any person in need’ policy otherwise he could have adopted the same “I do not care” attitude of the Priest and Levite.

Have the right people to interact with customers. Have everyone understand what a ‘wow’ interaction is. They should be quick, accurate, courteous, empathy, patience, adaptable, clear communicators, have a good work ethic, have a thick skin etc.  Make it a point to hire front office personnel who can smile within 30 seconds, can easily recognize voices and recall names.

Are you demanding excellent performance from Customer Service Personnel?.. Then, it is imperative that you have excellent processes, systems, equipment, environment etc. Equip and train your employees about the business, products/ services, communication, the customer service process and the technology in effect. Let everyone in the business know the standards of customer service expected and how they contribute to the achievement of the ‘wow’ interactions.  What about the employees appreciating that it is the customer who pays their salaries/wages?

Lesson 2.....Did you ‘see’ the customer?
The Priest, Levite and Good Samaritan all saw the injured man. They did not just look at him- they took note of what had happened to him... they all saw that he needed help.

How often do you walk into a store and the attendants just glance  and go back to whatever they were doing and act like they do not see that you need help?

It is important to quickly respond to the presence of a customer. Make eye contact.

Lesson 3.....Make them feel special
 Continued verse 33 “......and when he saw him, he took pity on him.”

The Good Samaritan cared for the injured man and he was drawn to his predicament.  Possibly, he took a little more time to observe the injuries, to empathise.....

Let the customers know they are welcome and you are willing to serve them.  What about a genuine, wide and sincere ear to ear smile that makes your customers feel extra special?

Lesson 4.....Give them your undivided attention
Verse 34 “He went to him.......”
While the Priest and Levite evaded assisting the injured man and crossed to the other side of the road to continue with their journey, the Good Samaritan went to him.

Go to your customers, greet them, address them by name where possible. Introduce yourself and then proceed to find out how you can be of help. What can you sincerely compliment them on? 

You can start a general conversation about weather, current happenings etc. to develop rapport and trust. Let your words and body language be congruent- no looking around to see who else you would rather be attending to!

Lesson 5.....Engage them to find out what they want 
We are told that the injured man was half dead. He may not have been able to articulate his needs but your customers can!

Genuinely care for them- first for the person keeping in mind that we buy for emotional reasons and then rationalise to back our decision.  It will help that you go the extra mile to make it easy to buy from you. Show that you respect them. Make use of the courtesy phrases- please, thank you, may I etc.

Probe customers to identify out where they are, where they would like to go, what is stopping them from getting there, what it’s costing them to be in the current situation, how do they plan to get to the desired destination etc.   Listen actively to discern the stated and unstated needs.

While at it note that current customers expect to be treated differently from prospects. Find out if they have bought previously---reason why a Customer Relationship Management System is critical. Make it possible to share customer information with the next person the customer will interact with.

Lesson 5.....Educate them
The Good Samaritan had an unconscious man to deal with and thus there was no one to discuss the diagnosis and prognosis with! You do!

Having identified the stated and unstated customer needs, now it’s time to educate. How does your product or service benefit them first as individuals and then as a business? Is it ease of use, time saving, productivity improvement, cost reduction, improved sales, improved welfare etc. How will it get them to their desired destination?

Lesson 6.....Time is life or is it money? Act fast
Verse 34 continued “.......and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii  and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.”

Some needs must be handled immediately. This is what the Good Samaritan did and he gave generously. He immediately administered first aid to the injured man, provided ambulance services, booked him a room in an inn, nursed him overnight, paid a cash down payment and wrote a promissory note to cater all extra expenses!

Agree on contract terms and act fast as time is essential. For you...For the customer...Make the transactions quick. Limit mistakes, misunderstandings, process gaps, system hang-ups etc. that eat into transaction time. Give customers as much as you can within desired profitability margins and considering other constraints such as time, personnel and available resources.

Lesson 7.....End on a high note
Customers gauge how pleasant or unpleasant an experience is based on how they were handled during peak times and at the end. I am sure the injured man was wowed by the actions of the Good Samaritan!

Over to you Passionate Entrepreneur
How do you ensure you are ‘wowing’ your customers and prospects?
How do you ensure you end on a high note?
Who was the neighbor in this parable?

Share your experiences, suggestions or questions in the comments section below. Who knows- You could probably be the customer who will benefit from the “WOW” interaction!

Whatever you do, make sure it results in less work, more money and positive impact.


Talk to us... we will assist your business improve customer satisfaction through the “My Customer Lifetime Value Optimizer" program? Click here for more details...... Do you know  an entrepreneur who would benefit from this coaching?...Please  do share  the link......
Virginia Mburu
The Work Less, Make More Money Passionate Entrepreneurs Coach
Virginia empowers and motivates Passionate Entrepreneurs to realize their purpose and pursue it. She then assists the entrepreneurs to clarify, prioritise and focus on management and marketing strategies and action plans that will get them to work less, make more money and positively impact within one year. Access some of her gifts- absolutely free lessons on www.biasharacoach.blogspot.co.ke