The Ugly “C – Word”… revisited

snake oil             – re-posting this as written in 2015…….

 

I thoroughly enjoy all aspects of my business, LOOKIN UP.  Although a large part of our work load has been related to Project Management; overall Business Improvement is what we’ve become known for.  There is something about digging in there and making improvements to our clients’ business that I enjoy immensely.  The feeling of leaving something better than it was is really what drives me, and my passion for LOOKIN UP.

But, throughout all of this, one thing has always bothered me.  The ugly “C word”……   “Consultant”.  In my mind, it conjures up images and conveys the perception of a Snake Oil Salesperson.  The word “consultant” just does not have a trust worthy vibe to it.  My dislike for that word, term, or category is something that has been under my skin for too long now.  And in short…..  I’M CHANGING IT !!!!

In doing so, I took a hard look and thoroughly examined my business.  What are we best known for?  What is the largest segment of our work load?  What am I truly gifted at, with regards to LOOKIN UP?  In a business that offers a diverse range of services, your business needs to be proficient at each of these services.  BUT, there is always one area in which you naturally excel.

With these questions in mind, I began to create a list of words and/or terms that would replace the dreaded “Consultant” word.  Although the list became quite long; one term stood out firmly from the rest; because it best captured what we do best.  From this point forward…..  I, Dan Kenney am a Business Technician.

A “technician” is actively submersed in the task at hand; getting his or her hands dirty if you will.  A “technician” is involved in actually doing the work.

Another frame of mind is, when your vehicle is just not running right, or losing performance, not operating as efficiently as it should.  Where do you go?  You go see a good, trust worthy Automotive Technician.  A mechanic.  One who optimizes the performance of your engine.  Or, one who modifies and greatly improves the performance of your engine.  The latter could involve swapping out camshafts, increasing the compression ratio, upgrading the valve train, adding a performance intake or exhaust.  My point is….  this person fixes and/or improves your vehicle.

This is what I do in business.  And is what I truly love.  I get great joy out of seeing a business perform more efficiently, or with greater “horsepower”.  Horsepower could be developing a new product/service.  Improving an existing one.  Entering into a new marketplace.  Expansion.  The list goes on…..    THIS is what I thoroughly enjoy.  And THIS is why I am a  BUSINESS TECHNICIAN.

I’d love to help you with your business.  Small or large projects, we love them all.  Visit  http://www.lookin-up.com  now.  And let’s get your engine performing as it should.

I look forward to working with you,

Dan Kenney

blower engine

info@lookin-up.com         http://www.lookin-up.com

Be Thankful To Give….

Thanksgiving is here in Canada, and just around the corner for our American friends.

Thanksgiving…… as I sit by the fire this morning thinking about this great holiday and all of the things I am truly thankful for; I have the feeling inside that being thankful is great… but just being thankful is simply not enough.

I’m suggesting we focus on being truly thankful for the various means we may have… to give. Be thankful to give. Each of us have special and unique ways to give. Giving has many forms. Yes, giving with money usually comes to mind. But there are many different and powerful forms of giving. Giving of your time….. your unique talent (everyone has one); giving of some unique knowledge you may have that can benefit someone. Giving your ear…. listen to someone who may need to talk, vent, or is seeking guidance for an issue they are dealing with.

Be thankful that you can give…..

give1

1 Peter 4:10

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

Christmas… What Does It Mean To You?

Reflecting back over this past year; there has been much hatred, cowardly acts, and an overall sense of uneasiness throughout the world.  While this is a “business blog page”; there are times when we all need to consciously step aside from our business focus and tasks and examine current events, cultures, and direction.  As a Christian, I would like to humbly suggest that there is no better time to do so than Christmas time.  Take time in self reflection as Christmas approaches to re-examine your direction and priorities.  Let’s do all we can to show respect, convey love, and help those in need.  Realize and be grateful for your loved ones around you… family and friends.  Ask yourself whether you’ve fallen into the trap of “too busy” when opportunities have come to enjoy their company over this last year.   Make the time to be with these people during this Christmas season.

Christmas truly represents “Love”, in the form of God sending His son Jesus to be born into this world so that we may believe and accept such a precious gift.  We are to strive to do our best in showing love and respect for others as Jesus did during his short time on this earth.  The birth of Jesus gave us all hope and opportunity to exercise true faith.  And most importantly the chance to make a choice.  A choice on where you’d like to spend eternity.

The Question I Get Asked The Most……

This past weekend, I was asked a question that I get asked quite often actually.  So I will address it now, in this manor.

Because a lot of what I do is Product Improvement, New Product Development, or Production Efficiency Improvement…. there is one question I get asked more than any other.

How do you learn so much about so many different things, so quickly? 

This gets asked because through LOOKIN UP, I work on such a wide variety of products, processes, and business sectors.  Projects I do and/or have done and lead range from Optical Development for automotive lenses, experimental work with Composites of Carbon fusion, Kevlar fusion, and natural fibres such as Flax for the canoe and kayak industry, high-end handcrafted custom guitars, air ventilation for underground mines, plastic injection molding of many different products, etc.  The list goes on.  Although some of the technology within such projects is similar to some degree.  Most are entirely different.

Without confusing you or boring you with listing more projects I’ve worked on….  let’s get back to that initial question and answer it.

  How do I learn so much about so many different things, so quickly?

Idea

The answer to this is 2 fold:

ONE

I do humbly and thankfully admit that I seem to posses a certain “gift” enabling me to observe, absorb, and learn quickly.  Over the years, I have seen and done many different things with regard to developing and/or improving product.  I can cross reference these experiences in my mind and at times re-apply concepts to different items.  Many times there is great benefit to me having the opportunity to see things “from the outside, looking in”.  I enjoy learning about new things in great depth.  Much time and hard work is spent RESEARCHING the technology, related technologies, and business sector as I begin a project that I am leading for a client.  There have been a few times where I actually have the probable solution as we are about to begin the project.  Still experimentation must be done with other possible solutions throughout the project; because surprises of unexpected possible solutions do arise.

TWO

I have a very intentional purpose when I enter into leading a project for a client.  I’ve developed a truly unique process that builds an Atmosphere of Innovation within the client’s physical building, and within their team working on the said project.  I can take some of the most negative, bored employees who feel unappreciated… and I am able to draw creativeness, drive, and confidence from them over a fairly short period of time.  Many, many times great ideas that can lead to positive solutions lie within my client’s business and their own employees.  I’ve developed a unique process to draw this from their team.  Every individual has much value within them that can be attributed to the project.  Sometimes their spirit is broken, or the feel caught in a rut, or under appreciated within the workplace.  Re-igniting that lost spark within them is what I do best!!  Effectively involve everyone on the team…..  there is “us” in “genius

GeniUS

Right here I will say…. this process is proprietary.  After all, LOOKIN UP is a business, and I have developed this unique process that greatly increases my success rate for any given project that I take on.  Egotistical?  No.  Simply, factual.

Consider letting LOOKIN UP create an Atmosphere of Innovation within your business.  Contact me today, and let’s talk.

http://www.lookin-up.com

My PRACTICAL BUSINESS PLAN Method Explained……

Quick….. what is your first thought when you hear the word “Plan“??

Most likely this word “Plan” conjures up thoughts of boredom, tedious, never ending.  And feelings of confusion, dreary and even overwhelming.  The reason for this is most plans are long winded, unattainable and simply “mumbo jumbo”.   I am going to show you how planning can actually be fun….. when you do it backwards!!!

Referring to my previous postings….. Until now our thought progression has gently flowed forward; the Idea, followed by Dreaming, and now the practicality of the Plan.  It is now time to throw that thought progression aside and work backwards.

I want you to imagine the process of developing an effective Business Plan as a pyramid.  Picture a pyramid in your mind; that’s your Business Plan.  There, lesson over.  I’m kidding of course.

It is important to note before we go any further that a “5 Year Business Plan“, or any 5 year plan for that matter is a complete joke.  Painfully humourous actually.  I am here to say that know one can effectively plan for 5 years into the future.  There are simply too many variables to accurately predict and plan for.  With my clients, I write 3 Year Business Plans.  The concept is that banks and/or investors like to see a long term plan in order to prove that you are planning as far ahead as possible.

Your business in 3 years is the tip or “Apex” of the pyramid.  When creating a practical and effective Business Plan, everything you do from this moment forward must work toward and align with the tip of the pyramid.  Practical Tasks and milestones that you work at along the way are the steps of the pyramid.  The key is to co-ordinate these well so the tasks and work you need to do flows nicely from the base of the pyramid, right up to the very tip 3 years from now.  Does this mean in 3 years once you’ve worked effectively and reached the tip of this pyramid; that’s it…. no direction or anything to strive for?  No, because at that point; you do it again establishing that point as “ground zero” and working forward following another 3 Year Business Plan which would be written at that point.

       Developing a 3 Year Business Plan  (my pyramid concept):

Vision Statement:

A simple, factual statement of what your business is 3 years from now.  The tip of the pyramid, if you will.   (1 or 2 sentences)

Mission Statement:

Why are you here and what do you do?  Define your business and why it exists and is essential.   (1 or 2 sentences)

Objectives:

Short factual statements of what you will do.  It’s best to have 5-8 of these.  It is very important to state a deadline for each of these Objectives.  Have the order of these flow from most recent to furthest out into the future.

Strategies:

  Goals stated in general terms that flow in order aligning with your Objectives.  You should also have 5-8 of these.

Practical Tasks:

(my favourite section)   These are “matter of fact” tasks/milestones that are to be completed in order to achieve the Strategies.  Give definite due dates for each of the Practical Tasks and have 6-9 of them.  These are the base or foundation of the pyramid.

Do you notice how everything “flows” and how each section compliments and aligns with the previous?  A pyramid is structurally sound.  Keep that in your forethoughts as you work through the different milestones of your own plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen….. this is how you reach your goals and successfully fulfill your 3 Year Business Plan.

Feel free to contact me personally to assist you in creating one.  Actual geography is of little relevance; as I have helped clients from all over create PRACTICAL, EFFECTIVE and TRUE Business Plans.

info@lookin-up.com

Thank you, Daniel Kenney

My Hopes For YOU in 2015

                       My “Friends”….   My True Hopes for 2015

 

I hope the following might be useful and perhaps inspiring to you. These are thoughts and perceptions that have been running around in my mind and I realize now is the time to state these to you, my “friends”.

 

30 mins ago I was suddenly awakened in the midst of a nightmare. It’s 4AM now on January 1st, 2015. We all have nightmares from time to time, but this is of the worst kind…that which could easily happen……. But only if I let it. I am writing this now at this crazy hour because the message and words are in me right now.

Sadly, this morning many of you will awaken to headaches and being hung over. I just want to say…. I’ve been there. That was me once…… as I was trying to run from what I am truly put on this Earth to do. But this is not the time to talk about “me”; sorry.

 

Although the concept of Happy New Year and the hype associated with it is somewhat uplifting and appreciated. The concept in itself does and has eluded me to some degree. What is a “year”? Mankind is so fascinated and tethered to what we call “time”. But really, time is of little relevance in the grand scheme of things. Odd statement… but think about it. It’s true. Do we wish people Happy New Month, or Happy New Hour? The well wishes of Happy New Year are something I do appreciate and cherish; don’t get me wrong. But guess what….. “wishing” for a great 2015 is somewhat misguided. Why?? Because simply wishing for it is not going to result in a great 2015. More on this in my closing statements, but for now….. something more pressing.

 

As friends, when we see the people we care for going through some hard times whether that be sickness, loss of a loved one, job loss, etc. We often say “prayers for you and your family”. Or “our thoughts and prayers are with you”, even simple stating “prayers”. The problem is sometimes this is the only time we acknowledge God at all, or by stating such things….our own individual belief in God. Why is that? Perhaps because out there in this world it’s not really politically correct to talk about God. This is wrong on so many levels. The Lords Prayer is no longer said in schools. Merry CHRISTmas is barely allowable these days. We need to stop being so passive and truly stand up for what we believe. Why do we gradually let the world dictate what is acceptable for us to freely state? And subconsciously this leads to us perhaps even being too embarrassed to talk about God more. Or admit the fact that we believe in God. Again, this is scary and bothersome to me.   Believing in God is simply not enough. Those who are truly evil in this world believe in God. For “believing in God” is really just acknowledging His existence. We are to serve God…..to fulfill His special plans for our lives. God has a specific use for each one of us. Some of you, my friends out there are teachers and God uses you to guide and help children. You have no doubt directly touched some of those young lives more than you actually realize today; I’m willing to bet. Others are business people, coaches, stay at home moms, health care workers, etc. God uses YOU specifically in these roles to positively influence others. We all need to accept Gods’ plans for us as individuals and as a whole. Be proud to talk about that. Don’t let the world out there make you feel embarrassed about it. Embarrassment leads to shame, which can eventually lead to loss of faith.

We as your friends can help comfort you in your times of need, and help to try to improve whatever this situation may be. But we are very limited really. I encourage you to truly take your problems to God.

Some of my “friends” out there flat out denounce God and even poke fun at the thought of His existence. Although honestly I do find this offensive; I will not turn my back on you and sever our ties. Because guess what, a true friend won’t and a true friend will help those who are misguided, bitter, egotistical in thinking they are simply too smart to believe in “a fairy tale like God”. Guess what you’re WRONG. Doesn’t make you someone I will turn my back on. Sorry for you…. quite the opposite actually.

 

I’ve very recently written a song that deals with many of these things. The song will be made known and put out there shortly. The lyrics are finished, chord structure and melody complete for the Chorus. Chord structure/rhythm for the verses is not yet to my satisfaction. I’m working on that and it will be soon. This song is extremely powerful and the message within it is very much needed today with all of the hate/fighting and general “God-lessness” out there in the world today. The song is titled “Back To Me”…… you will see this shortly.

 

Now the closing statements/questions……   They are simply this:

 

  1. What are YOU going to do with 2015?
  2. Will you let God guide you and fulfill His plans for YOUR life?

 

 

Push on my friends, and make some changes…..

Dan Kenney

 

 

Are YOU Ready For 2015?

As this year is drawing to a close, take a few moments to reflect on 2014.  What were you hoping to accomplish?  Did you meet or exceed your 2014 goals?  Without a true Practical Plan, it would’ve been almost impossible to do so.

success

Do yourself a favour and break the routine for 2015.  Initiate a clear, realistic Practical Plan to reach your goals for 2015, one reachable milestone at a time.  One cannot get on the roof unless you climb a ladder, step by step.  Achieving success in reaching realistic goals is much easier than you may realize.  The key is to break the climb down into smaller, rewarding elevations.  And take the time to reward yourself for those milestone accomplishments.

Begin planning for 2015 now and come out swinging in the New Year!!!

If you need assistance with creating and implementing a Practical Business Plan; feel free to visit our website at  http://www.lookin-up.com.  Or send me an email at  info@lookin-up.com

I’d be happy to help…..

Dan

Self Doubt and Fear Can Be Crippling

Do you ever wonder why we are so hard on ourselves?  Why am I my biggest critic?

This writing is of a very personal nature.  It relates to my own struggle of being a musician.  A true “creator of music”.  In my mind, this defines a musician.  And in my particular case, a guitarist.  I am not a guitar player….but a guitarist.  How I see the difference will be revealed below.

Those 2 initial questions are questions that I have been struggling with for over 20 years now.  This writing is deeply personal, and I am speaking to music.

Within myself, I examine my efforts and outcome and it’s really never good enough.  Subconsciously I have this internal bar set that I continually measure myself against.  I have never allowed myself to reach this bar level…….Why?  Trust me, after more than 20 years of being too scared to record my music; finding the answer to this question is of very great importance to me.  The answer may dwell in the fact that I have never “played guitar” – meaning strived to play songs that are on the radio. This made me different from other guitar players and I never truly fit in; or bought into the whole garage band thing.  My passion truly lies in CREATING MUSIC.  Creating from nothing, based on emotion/observation/a message that I feel needs to be told.  To me, being a “guitarist” and more so a “musician” parallels a true artist that paints images of what he/she sees or wishes to convey.

While writing this post and examining myself; I know the answer lies within.  Perhaps…. due to the way I view my music… I can not hit the bar I’ve instilled upon myself.  Because there is no bar.  The image or message I am trying to convey with my music is just that…… a painting of true expression if you will???  The practical side of me says…. How can you measure that?  I really struggle with why am I so afraid to unveil these “paintings of music”?  I still lack the confidence to do so.  But the urge and need to do this grows stronger with time and has been very overpowering within the last 2 years especially.  I have songs.  I have the ability.  I know I can sing decently and suited to the songs I’ve created.  I have a connection and agreement with a good recording studio.  I have a cousin/friend patiently willing to add his own dobro type accents to one of the songs I wish to record for my GrandMa while she is still with us.  Everything is in place…..  but why my intense fear and self doubt???  The thought of singing in front of anyone terrifies me beyond literary description.  I’ve talked with people I trust about this, read scriptures from the Bible that deal with this, prayed…..  but I can’t get past this massively indescribable FEAR.

I do not know the answers to the initial questions above.  But I do know that I must discover these answers and move forward.  My urge, desire and need to expel my music is simply growing too strong to bare much longer.  God has given me musical talents.  God has also been urging me to use these talents for a purpose that I do not yet truly understand.  And for more than 20 years…. I’ve been running, trying to ignore, burying deep inside to the point where I hardly touched my guitar from age 26-39.  My very first guitar lessons began at the age of 10.  I am 43 now; been playing/creating intensely again for 2 years now.  I am again as good or even better than I was in my early 20’s……  I know it’s time!!!

I’m not entirely sure why I felt I had to write this posting.  Truth is, I may never overcome my fear….who knows.  But maybe, in reading this someone out there can understand and overcome theirs…

Dan

The Importance of Feeling Valued

I’d like to re-iterate a very important, but often overlooked aspect of “Team Building”, “Moral Improvement”, and positive mindset within a business place, group, team, and even a family.

Yesterday I had the privilege to be involved in a day of physical experimentation with a manufacturing client of mine.  This was the first day of any actual experimentation, following a few weeks of much research, discussions within the management team, as well as true feedback from their customers regarding the product we are striving to improve.

To step back abit…. this product has been dwindling in sales because a competitors product performs better in one important aspect.  Significant sales have been lost over the last 18 months to this competing product.  Our project is to improve my client’s product so it can perform comparably, if not better than their competitors product… while keeping costing and overall sell price under control.  No easy task.  But it can and will be accomplished, one small documented step at a time.

Our experiments performed yesterday were a very large step in the right direction….. but “why”, and “how so”?

While I have been doing research over the past many weeks for this project and interacting with my client’s employees out on the shop floor, the usual and expected mindset seemed to be present.  The employees out on the shop floor thought I was crazy, management was wasting time, etc.  Really…..  How could I, could their management team know better when it comes to producing this product in question.  Guess what…. I don’t, we don’t.  BUT, we all MUST be successful in this project or sales will slip further and the people that actually manufacture this said product will be out of a job.  That was and is the harsh reality.  It’s always important to have employees like this understand the reality and purpose.  Then at that point…. INVOLVE THEM by asking for some ideas, feedback and suggestions.  This was done over the last few weeks and gradually I and the management team didn’t seem so crazy.  Our team was beginning to unite to the common goal.

Starting off these experiments yesterday had the expected and usual comments like, “this won’t work” or “how are we going to deal with this?”   Human nature causes any of us to be unsure and even fearful once our normal/standard procedure is not followed.  As the experimentation began, negative aspects were pointed out almost in a “see, I told you so” manner.

But, step forward a couple hours…. the experimentation is beginning to have some positive results.  This is the exact time where you interact, praise, congratulate and celebrate with these same employees.  Their excitement was simply un-disguisable.  We all pushed forward excitedly and positively.  Many additional “what if we try this?”, statements came from these same employees.  Why….because everyone was working together toward the common goal and we were starting to see some rewards for our efforts.

We still have many days of further research and experiments to make even greater improvements so our end product will reach the objectives slated for it.  This product must be competitive, if not better than the other product. In closing, yes…. I am very confident that the product we are all working on to improve WILL be successful.  Sales will be re-gained and hopefully even improved further.  This is the direct, tangible positive outcome of this project that my client will see.  And this will be awesome…..project will be deemed successful.

But, what is even more valuable will be the intangible/indirect “bonus result” if you will.  And that is….  the unitedness of their team, the drive to improve even further, and the probability of even inventing an entirely new product that is needed in the market place.  Everyone’s ideas need to be heard.  To have some employees, team members, family members too scared and unwilling to speak forth ideas and perspectives will be devastating to the business or group in time.  Build confidence in people around you and you will automatically be building a better business, group or family.

My PRACTICAL BUSINESS PLAN Method Explained….

Quick….. what is your first thought when you hear the word “Plan“??

Most likely this word “Plan” conjuers up thoughts of boredom, tedial, never ending; and feelings of confusion, dreary and even overwhelming.  The reason for this is most plans are long winded, unattainable and simply “mumbo jumbo”.   I am going to show you how planning can actually be fun….. when you do it backwards!!!

Until now our thought progression has gently flowed forward; the Idea, followed by Dreaming, and now the practicality of the Plan.  It is now time to throw that thought progression aside and work backwards.

I want you to imagine the process of developing an effective Business Plan as a pyramid.  Picture a pyramid in your mind; that’s your Business Plan.  There, lesson over.  I’m kidding of course.

It is important to note before we go any further that a “5 Year Business Plan“, or any 5 year plan for that matter is a complete joke.  Painfully humourous actually.  I am here to say that knowone can effectively plan for 5 years into the future.  There are simply too many variables to accurately predict and plan for.  With my clients, I write 3 Year Business Plans.  The concept is that banks and/or investors like to see a long term plan in order to prove that you are planning as far ahead as possible.

Your business in 3 years is the tip or “Apex” of the pyramid.  When creating a practical and effective Business Plan, everything you do from this moment forward must work toward and align with the tip of the pyramid.  Practical Tasks and milestones that you work at along the way are the steps of the pyramid.  The key is to co-ordinate these well so the tasks and work you need to do flows nicely from the base of the pyramid, right up to the very tip 3 years from now.  Does this mean in 3 years once you’ve worked effectively and reached the tip of this pyramid; that’s it…. no direction or anything to strive for?  No, because at that point; you do it again establishing that point as “ground zero” and working forward following another 3 Year Business Plan which would be written at that point.

Developing a 3 Year Business Plan  (my pyramid concept):

Vision Statement:  A simple, factual statement of what your business is 3 years from now.  The tip of the pyramid, if you will.   (1 or 2 sentences)

Mission Statement:  Why are you here and what do you do?  Define your business and why it exists and is essential.   (1 or 2 sentences)

Objectives:  Short factual statements of what you will do.  It’s best to have 5-8 of these.  It is very important to state a deadline for each of these Objectives.  Have the order of these flow from most recent to furthest out into the future.

Strategies:  Goals stated in general terms that flow in order aligning with your Objectives.  You should also have 5-8 of these.

Practical Tasks:  (my favourite section)   These are “matter of fact” tasks/milestones that are to be completed in order to achieve the Strategies.  Give definite due dates for each of the Practical Tasks and have 6-9 of them.  These are the base or foundation of the pyramid.

Do you notice how everything “flows” and how each section compliments and aligns with the previous?  A pyramid is structurally sound.  Keep that in your forethoughts as you work through the different milestones of your own plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen….. this is how you reach your goals and successfully fulfill your 3 Year Business Plan.

Feel free to contact me personally to assist you in creating one.  Actual geography is of little relevance; as I have helped clients from all over create PRACTICAL, EFFECTIVE and TRUE Business Plans.

info@lookin-up.com

This concludes this 3 part series.

Thank you, Daniel Kenney

Improvement….. in business, and in life.