Stop The Vanilla Blog

Annual Goals

When creating goals, nothing is simpler or more effective than the tried-and-true SMART approach introduced in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham. You may have heard about this goal-setting technique before, but it bears repeating. In our variation model, SMART stands for:

SPECIFIC: be able to answer who, what, where, when, and why questions about the goal

MEASURABLE: identify concrete criteria for gauging progress

AGREED-UPON: in a team setting, gain consensus regarding the appropriateness of the goal and any incremental steps to achieve it

REALISTIC: you must believe the goal is possible in order to make it happen

TIMELY: ground the goal in a time frame

If you have three years to accomplish your vision, what are the most important goals you need to accomplish in the next year to take the first step? Try to identify some attainable goals to take a small bite out of this elephant. As you work through this goal-setting exercise, you’ll want to brainstorm action plans to attain each goal.
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Learn More About Your Market

Market Research

Since you can’t make strategic decisions in a vacuum, collecting market research and evaluating how it impacts your organization must be one of the early steps you take in identifying potential competence options. Market research helps you identify the strategic opportunities for the organization.

Market research is on the of the greatest struggles for an organization, because typically there is no one assigned to do it. Every organization must challenge itself to collect as much market research and intelligence as possible prior to developing its strategy. While collecting market research is a lot of work and it’s tempting to ignore it, you can accomplish a lot without too much effort or expense. Market research companies can offer incredible insight, but it may be unrealistic to spend more money on research when you’re already committing significant resources to planning. But you can rely on your team to step up and fill the role: they probably have the industry experience necessary to do their own market research without the need to hire an outside agency if you don’t have the budget for it.

It’s important to understand that market research and analysis are not one-time events. Through continuous market research, successful organizations adapt their competence and strategies to the changing marketplace. This proactive approach enable companies not only to maintain their competitive advantage, but also to strengthen it.

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Your First Plan is Your Most Important Plan!


I call it the light bulb. It’s when the room gets a little brighter because an individual or team just experienced a breakthrough. It’s my favorite part of the planning process: that “aha” moment when the light bulb goes on. I recently experienced … [Continue reading]

5 Reasons to Prove You Are the Best


You see it every day. Organizations stating they provide the best product or service. But few of them ever prove it. In our experience, we estimate that fewer than 7-percent of all companies illustrate the tangible value that their customers receive … [Continue reading]

Planning For the Short Term

Short Term

I often get asked how these economic times are affecting business planning and company’s perspective towards it. More companies are planning than ever before. However, right now I am seeing a trend toward short-term planning. Developing and … [Continue reading]

The most asked talent question ever – skills or experience?


Whether you are looking for a new career opportunity or a manager hiring a new employee you must answer one of the toughest talent questions there is: What is most important natural skills or experience? It is one of the most common discussions that … [Continue reading]

Are you looking for your top sales producer?

Top Sales Producer

In today’s environment, many business leaders are looking for a top sales producer. You may be surprised to know that your number one producer is already in your organization. It is your brand strategy. At SM Advisors, we are not branding agency … [Continue reading]

Moving from corrector to coach – A life changing breakthrough


“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them, but by building a fire within."   This quote by Bob Nelson captures the essence of one of the greatest breakthroughs that I see in leaders as they develop. That breakthrough is … [Continue reading]

To be understood, consider others’ communication styles


There’s an old Indian saying that says you cannot understand a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins. It would serve us well to remember that when we are communicating with others. Take your cues from the other person, and communication … [Continue reading]

Life Changing Ideas Happen in the Zone

Getting into your zone

If you watched the Olympics in February¸ you probably heard athletes talk about “being in my zone” when they performed really well in their sport. Finding your zone applies to each of us in our professional and personal lives as well. Getting into … [Continue reading]