Fulcrums + Levers = Strong Business

Posted: September 1, 2015 Written by: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.” ~ Archimedes

Business managers often use the term ‘heavy lifting’ to describe their work. And I know first hand that is true. One prime example is Kirchner Group’s “Successor GP” program, which began in 2004, where we take over the management of portfolios of companies. This type of challenge is different every time and requires a lot of heavy lifting from start to finish. But in the end, thanks to that heavy lifting, it pays off. Recently we announced several crystallization events as a result of our efforts.

“Bud and his team did an excellent job taking over a declining situation, turning things around and managing this portfolio to its successful completion.” ~ Chairman, Foragen Board

Whether you are managing multi-million dollar takeovers or multi-person offices, on a daily basis you must rise to the challenge of executing your business plan, staying one step ahead of the never-ending competition, adapting to ever-changing macroeconomic factors and handling a growing list of weighty burdens! It is enough to make your head hurt and spin.

So let’s think about ‘heavy lifting’ outside of the metaphor for one paragraph. You, yes you reading this – you can only lift as much as your muscles and tendons allow. The only way you can exceed your core strength, your inherent strength, is with a lever. And with the proper lever you can move heavy using less force; you can propel faster despite less speed; and you can send an object a lot further with less push/pull.

So now back to the metaphorical ‘heavy lifting’ and your reality. Every day as you run your business or manage people, you are being asked to lift more than you can lift – especially if you are running a small to mid-market business. You desperately need a fulcrum and as many levers as you can get. Well – you have the fulcrum in your head – it’s your brain. That also means you have the levers in your head because your brain will discover and power the levers that will do your heavy lifting.

Lessons Learned

The Business Brain Model is a unique approach where you enter the business arena armed with the relevant principles from neuroscience, psychology and related areas in an integrated fashion.

This article takes you inside the Business Brain Model to identify levers you have (or can learn) and will need in order to succeed.

Just to be clear, I am not suggesting these are magic bullets (or Katniss-like arrows). These are some of the many lessons I have learned from years of looking into what scientists are teaching, proving and adopting in the areas of behavior, brain plasticity, etc.

“The Kirchner Group is the Mr. Fix-it of the venture capital world.” – National Post

Below is a list of areas that can give you an edge in a world (business) where the difference between success and failure can be centimeters. Included with each area is insight into a lever from that area that will help you exceed your normal lifting potential.

  • Performance: Olympic athletes are very similar in terms of attributes and training so we know the biggest differentiator (key to success) is their ability to match capacity with challenge – the “internal” factors that reflect state of mind. As an example – The Dana Foundation, a private organization that supports brain research, posted an article a few years ago talking about “a state of mind in which you can perform with a certain ease and automaticity….”
  • Subconscious/Emotions: There has been considerable work done of late (we will talk about this in future articles) illustrating the importance of the subconscious when it comes to making decisions and the emotional component that generates so much of our likes and dislikes. Consequently, the subconscious affects how we relate to people around us and make decisions: 90% of thought is subconscious!
  • Thinking Errors: I promise not to do this often, but sometimes Wikipedia says it best calling a cognitive bias (or what I call a part of thinking errors): “a pattern of deviation in judgment, whereby inferences about other people and situations may be drawn in an illogical fashion.[1]…. Thus, cognitive biases may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality”.
  • Non-verbal Communication: This goes so much further than voice inflection and eye rolling. Try touch, proximity, appearance and so on. The spoken word alone has numerous characteristics such as pitch and speaking style. This topic is actually be a series of articles.
  • Making Decisions with Imperfect Information: In business, you always wish for more information. It is not just an issue of quantity but also quality and that includes biases of your source and yourself. As far back as 1979 researchers studied “the bird in the hand” fallacy yet today, people still believe that is strong advice.
  • Body and Mind: How common is the understanding that our thoughts, attitudes and feelings affect our body? The Cleveland Clinic, an academic medical center in the U.S. that sees more than 5 million patients annually, provides a detailed list of Mind Body Exercises for people to perform in order to harness “the power of the mind-body connection.”
  • Environment and Communication: This actually goes into relationship building which is the backbone of good business. I already have a bBlog post coming soon (The Most Difficult Aspect of Business is People) that touches on relationships but that post does not go into the surroundings and how that affects the interaction among those involved.

And I cannot talk about the areas influencing the reliability of one’s communication and reasoning power, etc. without the two areas below. These two sections are the most recognizable, and yet probably most often misunderstood, within the Business Brain Model. They require, and deserve, much more attention and focus but for now here is a quick peek:

  • Behavioral Economics: This is linked to Cognitive Biases (what I call “Thinking Errors”) and Making Decisions with Imperfect Information but takes a focus on finance including valuation, tradeoffs and much more. Much has been said about this and I will have my say soon.
  • Neuromarketing: The Cambridge Business English Dictionary simply says it is “the study of how people’s brains react to advertising.” With that, we toss it to Wikipedia one more time: “Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing research that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.”

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” ~ John Wanamaker

For me neuromarketing can be distilled down to this quote from the 1880’s:

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” ~ John Wanamaker

You could almost argue this was a half article (despite its length) because there are more in-depth posts on each of these (including specific skills) to come. There are also many more levers in my mind but you will need to stay tuned in order to stay informed and stay ahead.

About the Author: W.B. “Bud” Kirchner is a serial entrepreneur and philanthropist with more than 50 years of business success. He is not a scientist or an academic but he does have a diversified exposure to neuroscience, psychology and related areas. Generally speaking, the ideas he expresses here are business-angled expansions of other people’s ideas, so when possible, he will link to the original reference.