1:st Floor, Agera Business Lounge

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Hi me, Nemo here again, writing in my logbook. I must tell you how it all turned out: Well, we left that harbor in full speed over pretty risky waters. I was nervous all the time, but felt fairly sure, that we would make it. And we did!! YES, WE DID!

While I am writing these lines, my crew is taking all the fresh fruit on board, so we can leave as very fast as possible. You know fresh fruit is just fresh for a short time and therefore the rush, of course.

Quite of a sudden the phone rings.

Captain Nemo here

Nemo, this your CEO. Don’t tell me you’ve already reached that harbor, have you?

Yes, sir we have

Via the shortest way?

Yes, we did some serious calculations before deciding for that route and it turned out to be a good decision.

A good decision you say! Hm, to me it sounds more like a risky gambling, where you put the whole crew and my ship at an unacceptable risk

Well, sir. My life was also exposed for the same risk.

I don’t like this at all. Not one bit!

Sorry to hear that, sir, but the calculations we did beforehand all gave a green light. If I were you, I would rather criticize me, if hadn’t gone that way.

Nemo! Do not tell me what I should have done! Got it?

Ok sir, I won’t! Sir, are you about to fire me?

I am seriously considering it, it’s a very tempting option

Sorry to hear that sir, but you should perhaps think about results based on serious calculations resulting in an enormous customer satisfaction – that also means huge profits for the shipping line. And on top of that you wouldn’t be able to keep this new huge key account, as I and the S/Y Enterprise were conditions for getting all their future orders. Remember sir?

Of course, I do, Nemo. That’s your only merit here right now!

Sir, while you are considering firing me. I’ll consider if I wouldn’t be a more appreciated captain somewhere else

We’ll talk tomorrow again. Bye for now!

Till tomorrow then. Good bye sir!

So here I am again, alone in my cabin, trying to figure out what to do. All shipping assignments were successfully carried out. The customer is more than happy, but my CEO really hates me and my way of running his ship. No, this can’t go on any further. I will sleep on it, but I think I’ve already made up my mind. But I’ll sleep on it anyway.

Captain Nemo just taught us, that there are different kinds of decisions. There are those, that need immediate actions and others when time allows a further “think it over”. This was one of those!

What he decides we’ll hear about soon!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


The S/Y Enterprise is still in harbor awaiting a new shipping assignment, which made it possible for captain Nemo to leave the ship for a meeting with his CEO at the shipping line’s head office.

Great to see you Nemo! Have you considered my offer about the new ship and the salary raise?

Yes, I have Sir! But I am sorry to say, that I’ve decided to stay on with my present job. It took some consideration and I couldn’t find an answer, but then quite of a sudden, my crew showed up and told me, that if I’d leave, so would half of them. That convinced me. I do hope you’ll accept that, sir?

You know what, Nemo. The freight owner, whose cargo you so successfully landed, called me the other day and said, that we will get all his future shipping orders, on one condition, and that was, that the S/Y Enterprise with its present captain will handle them. And that gave me a dilemma, as I’d already given you a new offer.

But that’s splendid sir, isn’t it?

It is indeed! I was worried before this meeting, as I’d given you an offer, that I then would have a problem to keep. This story has really come to a happy ending. So, this is what we’ll do Nemo. You get the salary raise anyhow, so now you keep the command over your fantastic crew and ship. Ok?

Marvelous sir!

Captain Nemo returned to his ship and a few hours later he got a new sailing order – to go to another harbor, far away from here, for new cargo, but this time it contains fresh vegetables, meaning that time is essential!

The problem is the distance, it’ll take quite some time to get there. Shit! I’ll consult my navigators.

Hi guys, we have a problem, which is how to reach that harbor as very fast as possible? Any suggestions?

Yes sir, we could try to go this way, but the problem is the water depth.

But with no cargo onboard, don’t you think our ship would be less heavy and thereby not going as deep as usual?

It would be quite risky, but there is a chance though. It’s your choice sir!

Yeah, I know!

Hm, how much water would we have between our ship’s bottom and the sea floor, you think?

Hard to say, sir, but with normal winds and weather I’d say half a meter.

Does speed have any impact?

Yes, sir. The faster we sail – the higher we’ll be above the sea floor.

Thank you, guys. This is what we’ll do. We leave now with full speed through those scary waters.

Got it, sir. I’ll order immediate departure with full sails.

Cpt. Nemo just showed us how and why calculated risk-taking is an essential part in all businesses!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


We made it! Yeepee! Yeah, sorry for my language, but now it’s time to be happy. After all adventures at sea and on land – we still managed to deliver our cargo in and on time! Our shipping line received its money and we, the crew, thereby received our salaries and on top of that I was given a bonus for this achievement. Also, the cargo owner was so impressed by our efforts, that he gave our shipping line some new orders. And that made our CEO so happy, that he gave me an offer that I really have to consider – to take command over the line’s newest and biggest ship, together with a salary raise. I asked for some time to really think that through. The offer certainly has its ups and downs. The question is what it is most of.

Leaving our S/Y Enterprise would mean leaving a superb crew together with a great ship. It would also mean starting all over again with recruiting and training new people for an unknown and new ship. Of course, the salary raise is meant to compensate for that, but still… I am not sure! Is really more money reason enough for taking on a new ship with all its troubles in the beginning, while staying on and sailing this familiar ship for some more time would be a lot more comfortable.

A knock on the door to my cabin and I open and see my first helmsman there:

Sorry to disturb you captain, but we just heard a little bird whispering, that you might leave us and the ship. Is that true, Sir?

Well, come in and I’ll tell you. This is what’s happened. The shipping line was very satisfied with our efforts to land this cargo in time, so they offered me a new ship and that is a thing that I have to think about. And by the way, how did you find out?

You know Sir, rumors travel faster than you can sail. I will not say any more on that. But this much, I can say – the crew, me included, would hate to see you leave and if you did – a new captain would take command and I don’t think he would have a chance to fill the vacuum after you. Furthermore, I believe, that at least half the crew would sign off and leave.

Thanks, my friend. You solved this problem for me. Tell your ship mates, that their captain stays.

Super! You know Sir, we do still have som speed records to beat. With you still on board we’ll do that fairly easy.

Now, on my own again in my cabin wondering if not career seekers can be very dangerous, as their only goal is to promote themselves. Or like Richard Branson said, “Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of your business”.


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


The ship is on its way back to the harbor, where two sailors were left behind. Captain Nemo is on deck, using his binoculars to see if his missing people are in that damnable harbor, which they left some expensive hours ago. Of course, he is wondering – what to do if they aren’t there? Would the crew demand a further delay to find them and thereby setting this whole Enterprise (name of the ship as well as its assignment) on ground?

Constant dilemmas – first solving the previous problem and thereafter fearing the next. “Business as usual” is a common expression. Business is never as usual. Business is a constant handling of unknown and unfortunately too often unwished surprises!

But not this time! In his binoculars, Nemo just saw his two missing guys on a beach just beside the harbor. He ordered a life boat in the water and soon afterwards, two wet sailors came on board, looking frozen, ashamed and awfully tired. Nemo told them to change their wet clothes and go to bed.

The ship’s speed suddenly increased. The captain wondered if the wind was stronger. It was not! It was the crew doing their outmost to compensate for the time lost. And they did that even without having been told to. I saw that Nemo almost had tears in his eyes. And who wouldn’t? From having been close to a mutiny, now instead he is having a crew more motivated, than what he ever could have dreamed of.

So, now we are sailing as fast as we possibly could – the average speed is a lot faster than our previous record. What a crew!

Nemo did his calculations and realized, that with this speed, they would still have a chance to reach their final destination in time and thereby also deliver their cargo in time and for that also getting their money in time.

Now the two saved sailors are awake and in a meeting with their captain, where these words could be heard:

Ok, guys, tell me what happened in that harbor. Were you robbed?

No, Sir to be honest. We had too much to drink and what happened afterwards – we don’t know. And Sir, we do really appreciate your efforts to find us.

Well, my friends – don’t thank me, thank your shipmates for that. And now, you go up on deck and help them to keep this amazing speed, as we thereby might reach all our goals.

Captain Nemo just taught us to realize, that usual business is how to handle unknown surprises. Good ones as well as bad ones! Which in fact, is what “business as usual” is all about! Hoping for the best but planning for the worst is another useless saying, as the worst is completely unknown and thereby not plannable! It’s all about mentality!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.



PS: In two days, we’ll reach our first harbor and the crew will have their first time off. They do really deserve it, but it worries me a little, as they just got their first salaries and this harbor is known for its temptations…

Hi, Nemo here again, struggling with my log-book. It’s pretty unusual to start with a PS, but I do that in order to make you remember my previous notes here, which were exactly finished with those words above. And now I’ll tell you what actually happened in and after that harbor visit. Well, we came there, the crew were given some time off with pockets full of money. They were ordered not to be away for more than 24 hours, as we had to sail on to deliver our cargo in time and thereby getting our payment for our efforts.

After 24 hours almost all men were back, but two sailors were missing. Dammit I ordered the crew to go ashore to find them, but only for two hours.

Now when 26 hours have passed and these two were still missing, I ordered departure, meaning leaving these two men behind.

We sailed off. The crew looked at me with eyes I haven’t seen there before. I saw hatred and disappointment in their eyes. Of course, I understood why, but still the products/cargo would have to be delivered in time, as otherwise our payment would be lost together with their future salaries. And so, I told them. Not even that did change their hatred towards me. Not at all. It grew even worse.

This was a moment of real frustration. Should I try to meet the timetable and thereby securing our money. Or should I turn around and sail back to find our two missing guys?

After some consideration I ordered the ship to be turned around and go back to that harbor to find these two crewmembers.

I’ve never in my life, seen a faster change of mood than then. People smiled even looked appreciating at me, worked harder than ever to make that return trip as quick as possible.

What made me change my mind was a thing I read on this blog some time ago, where a Mr. Iacocca and a Mr. Jack Welsh said, “there are only three P’s to worry about: People, Profit and Product, but without the right and motivated People you can forget about the other two”. And that philosophy I followed and if I hadn’t, I fear, that our future would have been behind us!

So, here we are on our way back to the harbor to hopefully pick up our two lost sailors.

Captain Nemo realized, that no goals can be reached without a good and motivated crew or staff. There is no way around it!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Well, here I am again on my own as usual, trying to figure out what to write about this passed day in the log-book. I start with the normal: Wind, speed, crew, supplies, remaining time to harbor and cargo condition. They are all ok.

So, instead I concentrate on another thing, that perhaps should be added in the log-book – the interview I gave the other day. It was a business reporter, who wanted to hear my views on management and responsibility. Furthermore, he brought a recording machine, claiming that my advices deserve to be heard by many others. Quite flattering actually!

He also asked me to write down a few words about how it is to be the “big boss!”. And so, I will:

Being the “big boss” is a never-ending responsibility, no matter how far away you are, the responsibility is always with you, day and night, on vacation or on duty – it never leaves your shoulders. It is unfortunately not like a politician’s or a meteorologist’ life, where one gets away with almost anything.

No, it is a very lonely job, as the responsibility can’t be shared, every success is mine as well as every mistake. Then the question occurs about how to handle that loneliness. Well, it’s a matter of character – either you have it, or you don’t. If you have it – lucky you and your staff. If you don’t have it – tragic for you as well as for your staff.

You might have passed all management schools in the world, knowing all techniques, but they can’t hide your own personality in the long run, especially not on board a ship, as you are on board and seen all the time, while a CEO in a company can leave in the afternoon to have dinner at home.

If you unfortunately would happen to be a lousy “big boss” you’d be terribly isolated, as the crew wouldn’t trust you and that lack of trust is the one and only most destructive power. The crew will seek comfort between themselves, while you, on your own, would be even more isolated and thereby useless.

While on the other hand – the opposite – if you would be a trusted “big boss”- respect will grow even further, together with working efforts and joy at work.

What captain Nemo just taught us was, that with a lousy CEO or captain, even the easiest goals will be hard to reach as well as the opposite – with a super “big boss” – almost anything is possible!

PS: In two days, we’ll reach our first harbor and the crew will have their first time off. They do really deserve it, but it worries me a little, as they just got their first salaries and the harbor is known for its temptations.


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world. Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


 

More than a month has passed since we started this journey and I’ve been given a chance to talk to captain Nemo privately in his cabin under deck, while the ship is still sailing.

Thanks Captain Nemo for this opportunity to interview you about how you handle your management and responsibilities here on board. I hope you don’t mind the recording machine and the microphone. I brought them, as I believe your experiences deserve to be heard by others.

No problem at all. The ship is on its way, the working crew is on their posts. The rest of them are relaxing. Weather is fine. The helmsman knows what to do. So, take your time and shoot away.

Thank you, sir! My first question is, how can you look so relaxed without being on deck and having an eye on everything and everyone all the time?

You know my friend, it’s pretty much like having new employees in a company. You start by showing them what to do, how to do it and what’s expected of them.

Is it that simple?

It’s a matter of trust basically. You train them, you show them, you correct them and foremost you recruit the right personalities.

Sounds simple! Is it really that easy?

Well, perhaps not, it takes that you have confidence in your people as well as in yourself. Picture this situation: I would be walking around 24 hours to look over people’s shoulders to make sure they aren’t doing anything wrong. No, that’s not a recommended procedure! It’s the other way around actually, you walk around just as long as it takes to see and feel that they know what to do and most important – that they enjoy doing it! Just by doing that, people will grow, accept responsibility and feel like a real and important part of the team, which in itself is a very important factor, that you can’t reach any successes without! Got it?

Not quite. You mean, that if you’d be around all the time, they wouldn’t take responsibility, as they’d know then, that any mistakewouldimmediately be corrected by you, and thereby they wouldn’t take any responsibility?

You got it! There is no way around it. People on board a ship as well as employees in a company are to be dealt with like this. If not, you’ll have a crowd not caring nor worrying about anything. They’ll just hang around. And you yourself would not only be exhausted, you would also be completely useless.

What captain Nemo just taught us was the importance of delegating not only work but also responsibility. By doing so, also the middle management will learn how to play their roles as managers and thereby the whole crew. You might call this – distribution of trust, which in itself is a basic key to success!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


– Hi sailors! How was your first shift on board? (Captain Nemo on loudspeaker to the other half of his crew)

Well Sir, thanks to the good weather it wasn’t that demanding, says a new recruit.

You know young man, if the weather forecast hadn’t told us just that, we would have waited in harbor a while for better conditions. I am glad to hear that the start was ok! A few moments ago, I talked with your fellow ship mates about what’s ahead of us. And what was concluded was, that we’ll cheque our positions all the time in order to know exactly where we are in relation to destination, position, speed, supplies, weather and of course your health and spirit. I am open for questions now. Are there any?

Yes captain, I do wonder, when we’ll set foot on land the next time and also if we’ll be given some time off there?

Good question! We count on reaching our next harbor within 30 days, if we do it quicker, you’ll get more time off there. If not, however, we just fill our supplies and sail on.

What captain Nemo just did, was to motivate his crew to sail as fast as they possibly could and for that they’ll be given some extra time off in the next harbor. In companies this is normally done by commissions based on occasional follow-ups long after the actual situation, but rarely on a monthly base. Big misstake! It has to be done frequently!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Hi, Captain Nemo here (on loudspeaker to half of his crew)

So, finally we are at sea on our way to an unknown far away destination. This trip itself will take a year, but in order to make it understandable and correctable we’ll break it down into months, if we wouldn’t do that, how the fuck (oh sorry for my language, but I am a sailor, you know…) would we know if we were on the right track or not? If we would be told only in the very last minute, that we were far away from our destination – we wouldn’t have a chance to correct it. Therefore, my friends – we cheque our position regularly – and by doing so we’ll have a good chance to be both in and on time. And you know what? That’s exactly what most companies also should do! Breaking down their long term wishes to short term accomplishments. Any questions?

Yes, why do you call a company’s annual budget long-term wishes? Sir.

Because that’s exactly what they are. A company has as little knowledge about the next twelve months as we sailors do. Got it?

Yeah, thank you captain!

Any other questions?

Sorry Sir, I might be stupid, but brave enough to ask: what do you mean by short term accomplishments?

I do appreciate that question, as the answer is obvious – the logbook – where positions, speed, weather, distance sailed, and remaining distance are noted. And on top of that it tells the crew’s mentality as well as the level of our supplies.

You mean Sir, that also companies should have a logbook?

– O, Yes! Absolutely! If they were the least worried about their organization’s welfare and future. Ok folks! Now you go for something to eat and then you’ll relieve your fellow ship mates from their duties and tell them to come here for the same briefing as you’ve just got. Ok?

Ok, sir!

What captain Nero just did, was to make sure that the whole crew gets exactly the same information from the big boss directly. He thereby demonstrated one of the most neglected areas within management do not delegate important information to messengers – do it yourself!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Thanks Mrs. Owl for your contribution to this blog.

Now, however, we’ll move on to other business situations, and I’d like to compare those with managing a sailing ship in all kinds of weathers. From storms to no wind at all. From mutiny to satisfaction. From lack of food and water to a surplus of both in harbor. From a see sick crewmember to an unwilling navigator. From winning races to losing them. From the frozen and cold on deck to the warmth underneath. From fairness to unfairnesses.

– So, welcome aboard the S/Y Enterprise! I am Mr. Nemo, your captain during this journey over unknown waters. Now listen to what I have to say.        A ship is like a company – a destination has to be reached as fast as possible and also to as low costs as possible. The crew – you – must know your different duties and how to solve them. The skipper – me – Mr. Nemo – must have a good judgement as well as the full responsibility and occasionally also take some risks.

There is a huge difference between being a crewmember and a staff member. The crew, even on their free times, can’t go home. They are onboard all the time. For making that free time fairly enjoyable we have surfing boards, rowing boats and other things. By the way do you know what S/Y stands for?

– Sailing yacht perhaps?

Exactly and the name Enterprise is as it sounds – a daring company. I just received our sailing orders (budget) for the next twelve month. We’ll start by being at sea for 30 days before the next harbor stop. So, now you go to your posts and prepare for these thirty days at sea. I’ll come around and see your plans in a few hours.

Ok, Sir!

The crew leaves the meeting. And later Captain Nemo walks around to the different stations onboard to see if everything is ready and prepared for the first part of this journey. Shipshape is the word, meaning that everyone and everything are prepared for whatever waits ahead.

Captain Nemo first sees his navigators (marketing- and salespeople).

Hi folks. How does it look?

Well, Sir. We have all the charts ready and also plans for alternative routes, if needed.

Perfect! Let’s hope we won’t need the alternatives, but if worst come to worst, it’s good to know they are there. Now I’ll check the galley to see that we have food enough for our thirty days at sea.

– Hi, cooks (finance dept), are you prepared for this journey?

Yes, Sir we are. Meals for us all during these thirty days is no problem. We got everything here.

Very good, but make sure we have food for another five days in case of delays due to bad weather! See my point?

Yes, good thinking, Sir!

Like I said in the beginning – running a company should be like managing a ship. Count on being on your own on rough waters. Shipshape is the word and most companies should learn the meaning of it!

Best Rgds,

Captain Nemo

PS: A mission can’t be successfully completed without a good vision and lots of passion! This coming journey will be the proof of that. Or in other words – let’s hope for the best and plan for the worst. We will surely come across both!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


– Ho. Ho, me again! Remember all the Ps Mr. Iacocca and Mr. Welch talked about? There is one more P – discovered by two Harvard researchers!

The assignment they were given was: “Find the single most important factor for companies with constant successes”. They spent six years on it! Yes, six years! The researchers investigated lots of companies in various industries, all with one thing in common – the constant success.

Neither sophisticated business ideas, nor charismatic leaders. Not even superior advertising and sales played any role. Their confusion grew day by day! What to do, they asked themselves. Over a beer, they decided to widen the search to also include soft values.

BINGO!  Now they found, without exception, what all successful companies with constant successes had in common – PASSION!

The CEO: s in those companies were more like architects, as they seemed to dedicate most of their time to make sure that people and routines were coordinated with the daily business. Decisions were simple, as they always were related to the fulfillment of the company’s vision. Another remarkable factor was that the CEO usually was recruited internally. These companies were all very precautious about costs – that not necessarily supported the company. On the other hand – they were almost adventurous about investments, that had a chance to improve their company’s strength.

They realized, that people were the single most important factor. Therefore, when recruiting, they searched internally first – giving their own staff a chance. If that didn’t work out, they took all the time in the world to ensure that any new employee would be perfect for the company, its team and its spirit.

– Ho, ho! PASSION was the missing P! Passion itself is not a management tool. It’s rather a result, you might achieve after having used the conventional tools successfully.

– But Mrs. Owl how does one go about fixing that?

– A good start might be to stop regarding your company as several different departments, that must be dealt with separately. Instead, think like a football coach, who always keeps his team together on training and matches, despite the individual’s different tasks and talents on the field. Or let me put it this way, if your car has a flat tyre, it’s not usable. See my point?

– No!

– Ok. The tyre itself is just a tiny part of the whole car, but still a very important piece for the car’s function. And so is every single employee! So, let them know that!

– Ok, I got it!

– Now my friend I am out of here. So instead of the usual Ho, ho – I say Bye-bye!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho, me again! “Business as usual”. Heard that expression before? Business is never as usual. It’s always changing. So, if you still believe in” business as usual”, I’d suggest that you try to find a salary elsewhere, for your own sake as well as for the company’s sake, that still has you on its payroll!

Remember Mr. Iacocca’s three P: s? Those were Product, Profit and People, where people come first, as without the right people you can forget about the other two. This philosophy was also embraced by Mr. Welch who said, “not even the most brilliant strategy or business idea can compensate for a lousy staff”. Then he added “but a superior staff can compensate for a lousy strategy”.

Having heard these two business giants underlining the importance of a good and professional staff is worth taking seriously, which Mr. Welch confirmed by saying “managing a company is all about managing people”.

Plans and strategies are far away from precise sciences, they are more like wishful thinking, where actions and activities have been scheduled on a time line, that is believed to happen during the nearest future, but there are always disturbing things coming up along that journey. And, on those you must react quickly.

So, now we come to another issue – decision making, which almost never is as easy as a choice between two alternatives. Normally it is initially a matter of separating the worst options from the possible ones. Then after having done that separation – you start choosing amongst the possible options. Or like both our business icons say it “it’s never a choice between black or white, it’s more like selecting one grey tone out of many similar tones and it has always to be done under time pressure”.

– Do you still believe in business as usual?

– No, Mrs. Owl I don’t.

– Good! Now again from our Mr. Welch above. He said, “a superior strategy without a matching staff is worth nothing, while the opposite has a good chance”. Got it?

– Yes, but what if strategy and staff are incompatible?

– A catastrophe!

– But what should I change first, Mrs. Owl?

– Good question! Depends on what line of business you are in. If you are in a heavy investment-demanding manufacturing industry. I believe that you should change your staff rather than your product, as its development has taken so much money to have come this far. But if you, on the other hand, were in some kind of service business it would have been easier, as there you can almost say, that “the staff is the factory”.

– A last question Mrs. Owl, how well do you know the misters Iacocca and Welch?

– Never met with them. Just red their biographies, which are worth reading for anyone who’s interested in business and sales management.

Thanks for now! I’ll be back only once more and then I’ll talk about the unknown P, that neither of the two icons mention. Curious? Stay tuned!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho, me again!

This time we’ll talk about SALES EFFECTIVNESS. But first let’s summarize the essentials from last week, where Mr. Iacocca talked about four different categories of sales people and how to deal with them. The categories and his suggested treatments were;

  1. Those who reach their goals and share all the company values. These folks should be stimulated and promoted and well looked after.
  2. Those who don’t reach the goals but share the company values. Support and training should be put in.
  3. Those who reach the targets but without sharing the company values. Should be fired within three months.
  4. Those who neither share the company values nor reach their goals – should be fired the very same day

You might wonder how and why. Well, first make sure that the categories 3 and 4 are dealt with immediately. By doing so you’ll secure the first two categories’ continued success and thereby the whole sales organization’s future. If you don’t, on the other hand, you jeopardize the good people’s respect for you as a boss as well as their respect for the company values with a corresponding fatal outcome.

Let me add that, that the importance of this is growing day by day. And the reason is, that no matter what line of business you are in – the supply exceeds the demand by far and the gap grows constantly! Which in its turn increases the competition and makes sales life tougher! And that’s the challenge!

Start here:

The first thing you should do is to find out how well your company performs in comparison with the trade as such. You do that by comparing your annual growth, your annual profitability and your annual market shares with the trade’s corresponding figures. (Your trade organization can provide you with those figures).

If you come out:

– Above average. You are on the right side and probably performing well.

– Average. Warning, warning you are on a slim line.

– Under average. Actions are to be taken immediately!

Ho, ho! More to come!

PS: Another business legend, Jack Welch, the former CEO at GE (General Electric), summarized this issue in two words HUG and KICK! And when asked, what that’s supposed to mean, he explained it with these words “winning teams come from differentiation, rewarding the best and removing the weakest, always fighting to raise the bar”. These two legends, Iacocca and Welch, seem to be convinced about this philosophy’s supremacy. How about you?


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho, me again. Last time we met, we talked about the increasing importance of time, which in fact is the only asset, that is equally shared between all living creatures on earth, including business people. One can’t buy time, neither sell it nor save it and of course not stop it! It just moves on mercilessly. What impact this has had on business can this story tell us;

Back in the 70s, when Dr. Philip Kotler was the marketing guru he established his 5P philosophy, which were:

1) Product 2) Price 3) Place (availability) 4) Promotion 5) Personnel.

His philosophy conquered the world and was more or less used by all selling companies (are there any others?).

As time moved on and its value became even more feared as well as appreciated, a certain Mr. Iacocca (Chrysler) won worldwide reputation for his more aggressive and fast ideas. He meant, that there are only 3P. s, which he explained with this famous phrase “Product, profit and people, where people come first and if they aren’t OK, you can forget about the other two”.

He took this way of thinking into his sales organization, where he identified four different kinds of sales people and how they should be managed.

  1. Those who reach their goals and share all the company values. These folks should be stimulated and promoted and well looked after.
  2. Those who don’t reach the goals but share the company values. Support and training should be put in.
  3. Those who reach the targets but without sharing the company values. Should be fired within three months.
  4. Those who neither share the company values nor reach their goals – should be fired the very same day.

Conclusion: Make sure that the categories 3 and 4 are dealt with immediately. By doing so you’ll secure the first two categories’ continued success and thereby the whole sales organization’s future. If you don’t, on the other hand, you jeopardize the good people’s respect for you as a boss as well as their respect for the company values with a corresponding fatal outcome.

Ho, ho. Back soon!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.



Ho, ho! This is the 14:th time we meet, so I think a summary of what’s have been said here, so far, would be appropriate. So here we go. We started out by establishing what’s successful business management is all about;

  1. Decision making
  2. Motivation
  3. Risk taking
  4. Delegation
  5. Communication (added by Mr. Iacocca)

Easy to say, tougher to practice of course! I earlier mentioned a few tips however, which were;

  1. Joint calls with sales people, where you meet sales persons as well as clients. Its advantages are obvious and described here before.
  2. Leave your office. Walk, drive and fly around FREQUENTLY and REGULARILY.
  3. Meet your “fellow crew members” preferably at their working stations rather than in meeting rooms.
    When they start greeting you with “Hi Boss” instead of a Good morning Sir”, you have come a long way!

Mr. Iacocca was very tough on the new MBA: s coming out from Yale and Harvard, as they there have been taught to reach almost a 100-% certainty before a business decision is to be taken. He meant, that there is no time in real business for that. Instead it’s here where risk taking comes in. What he also says, “we correct things as we move”, meaning that speed is more essential than the 100% certainty before decisions.

And now back to our continuous improvements, which is exactly the same thing as Mr. Iacocca’s comment “we correct as we move”. Ho, ho! How interesting isn’t this? Two different approaches have come to the same conclusion!

In all service industries continuous improvements are the same as product developments, as the offers constantly are being adjusted and updated with a minimum of investments. In the heavy industry, on the other hand, investments are frequently required, but will last longer with continuous improvements.

PS: Back in the early 70’s, when I got my business education and training, our bible was written by the famous Mr. Philip Kotler with his five P: s. Mr. Kotler was a highly regarded university guru in marketing. His five P: s. is now reduced to three by Mr. Iacocca. More on that soon. Rationality and simplicity are now the name of the game. Or why don’t put it this way? Business from class room to board room! Stay tuned! Ho, ho!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Instead of the usual Ho, ho, I now say Go, go and here is why. The other day I came across some management advices written by Lee Iacocca (the former Chrysler magic icon). I goggle while you google…

I’ll try to summarize bits of it;

Management is all about risk-taking, motivation, delegation and decision making. (I, the old owl, wrote the same things some time ago on this blog, Ho, ho).

Mr. Iacocca means that a 100%- certainty that courts require for a verdict can never be achieved in any successful business, as that would be too time consuming and thereby be without importance for practical business decisions.

He also means that all MBA: s floating out from schools like Harvard and Yale, where they learn to intellectualize everything, meaning that when these students reach business positions they try to reach a court-room certainty of 100% before any decision, no matter what time it takes. Catastrophe!

There is no 100% certainty in any business and that’s where risk taking comes in. Analyzing and discussing in groups before a decision is essential, but when the decision is to be made, it’s not to be voted about, or as he himself phrases it “Ok, friends this is how we move on from here, thanks for your contribution”.

Another quotation sounds “we correct things as we move”. Meaning that speed is more essential than 100% certainty, which he justifies by an example from duck hunting, where a split of a second is the difference between a hit and a miss.

He adds another needed quality for being a super manager – communication, which is as much about talking as it is about listening. Far too many managers tend to use their own voices much more than they use their ears. Big failure, done by ego trippers. This lack of talent could jeopardize any company!

So far Lee Iacocca. Me, the old owl, found his advices simple, obvious, usable, straight forward and therefore extremely wise. How do you feel about them?

I’ll be back soon! Ho go…!

PS: You might wonder what happened to the continues improvements. They are connected with this and will be described soon! So, stay tuned!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho! Yes, me again and now you’ll listen carefully!

There is a huge difference between you with your human brain and intelligence and me with my simple owl-effectiveness. When I, high up in my tree, see a little mouse – I see food and I go straight after it and normally I succeed.

While you, on the other hand, when you see a possibility in the market, you start discussing and planning about how to catch this piece of food, and thereby the chance is lost, as time is no longer on your side.

My strength is the simplicity, the straight forwardness and my immediate action. Your superior intelligence is occasionally more of a burden than an asset and that has consequences in terms of designing and planning ways of working. Take your kitchen for example, where you have a number of cabinets for plates and glasses, a dining table and a dish washer. Now, see how you use those facilities: You start by opening the cabinets to lay the table. When the meal is finished – you put all plates and glasses in the dishwasher and when the washing is done – you put everything back into the cabinets.

– You see my point?

– No!

– Ok. Well, imagine that you had two dishwashers and no cabinets. Then it could work like this. When you lay the table, you take all you need from the dishwasher, that has cleaned everything. When finished eating, you take all dirty dishes and put it in the other dishwashing machine. All it takes is to buy yourself a second dishwasher and threw the cabinets out.

– Hm, don’t think my wife would approve of that.

– This, my friend, is an extreme and shows how continuous improvements could work even at home. Your little misses will appreciate it, I promise.

Ho, ho! Next time I’ll talk more specific about these types of improvements and I can assure you there are lots of unnecessary cabinets as well as needs of additional washers in every company.


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


HO, ho me again!

Recently we talked about the difference between a “God Morning Sir type” of manager vs a “Hi Boss” type? Now we’ll take this way of management a step further. Picture this!

It is a normal Monday morning and as usual our “Hi Boss” is meeting with some fellow crew members, where they work, not in a meeting room. See the difference?

Well, a meeting normally means, that people are seeing each other in a meeting room, while meeting in this case means seeing each other at the people’s normal work stations.

Are you with me? Here is the difference: in a meeting room everything including attitudes tend to be too formal and thereby limits a creative discussion. At the normal work stations, on the other hand, everyone feels at home and can point out things, small or big, and suggest new solutions. Got it? I hope so, if not, here is an example of how it could look and sound:

– Hi boss, come here and see this, says a salesman, and shows his big boss what he has on his computer screen, where an offer recently had been turned down. Instead we should perhaps have done it like this, he argues.

– Good thinking! Let’s try that this week and when we meet again next Monday we’ll summarize these new experiences. Ok?

– Yes Boss!

Fine, says the boss and leaves for the same kind of meeting, but now in the factory – well aware, as he now is, of these two fundamentals

  1. Regard your personnel as your fellow crew members instead of the impersonal word personnel.
  2. Walk/drive/fly around regularly.

Ho, ho! Continuous Improvements are about to take effect! More to come. Stay tuned!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho! Me again.

Remember? When we last talked I wanted you to do two things;

  1. Regard your personnel as your fellow crew members instead of the impersonal word personnel.
  2. Walk/drive/fly around regularly.

Do you know when these two things start paying off? No, perhaps not, but there is one very obvious sign and that is, when your fellow crew members start greeting you with Hi boss instead of a Good morning Sir.

Now you may wonder what difference in the world that makes. I’ll tell you, it means a hell of a lot! And this is why: because of your regular presence – you’ve become a familiar face, a trust worthy person, whom one can ask things, propose things and of course also criticize.

When you were the “Good Morning Sir type” – only politeness existed. Now a base for mutual communication is established.

And that’s the whole point, as we hereby have built the ground for Continuous Improvements!

More on that soon! Stay tuned! Ho, ho!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.


Ho, ho me again. Now, hear this!

Stop regarding your employees as the personnel! See them instead as your fellow crew members.

I can assure you, that it will result in an immediate change of attitude towards you as well as towards the company. What more can you ask for? Perhaps you wonder how it can be done?

Good question! Well, don’t spend any more than a third of your time behind your desk!

Walk around, talk to people – your fellow crew members! And do it often and regularly. After a time, they’ll get used to see you and then instead of answering your questions politely – they ‘ll start asking you questions about lots of things, that are important to them, to the company and to you.

Got it? Good! So, start walking and you’ll soon see a tremendous change in engagement and commitment from your fellow crew members, because you yourself have shown them the same!

What benefits this will give, I’ll tell you, when we meet next. And they are quite a few! Indeed!

Ho, ho!

PS: This applies as well in the factory as in the office as in sales!


Peter Forsberg Agera Sales

Peter Forsberg
Agera Sales

Dedicated his full life to business in Sweden as well as in the US, Germany and Switzerland. Also a number assignments all over the world.
Experiences; salesman, sales leader, marketing director, vice president and CEO.