Bobb Biehl's Alphabet Soup

Bobb Biehl is a proven personal coach. He has devoted his life to helping leaders like you clearly define and reach your dreams. He's an executive mentor and it's what he enjoys most! Since 1976, he's consulted personally with over 500 senior executives. In that time, he's met one-to-one with over 5,000 executives and invested an estimated 50,000 hours in private sessions with some of the finest leaders of our generation.

Bobb is a master of asking the right questions. Let's take a trip through the alphabet with Bobb as he asks you some of his most potent questions!

# - $2,000 / HOUR To focus on your largest boulders fast, ask yourself what professional activity you do that is worth $2,000 per hour. And, ask yourself what activity you do that is worth $20 per hour. en concentrate on the big items and try to eliminate the $20 items.

A - ASSUMPTIONS “All mis-communications are the result of di ering assumptions,” according to Dr. Jerry Ballard...and lead to frustration, pressure, and tension. To get to the bottom of a frustrating situation fast, remember this quote. Begin listing your assumptions.

B - BALANCE Life is a constant struggle for balance. Balance is a result of one word...schedule. Typically you determine your own schedule. Therefore, you schedule your own balance/imbalance. Plan basic balance into your life by scheduling many of the really important things into your life a year in advance (family vacations, personal retreats, time with parents, etc.) At this point in your life...it may be the only way to achieve any semblance of balance!

C - CREDIBILITY When your visibility exceeds your ability it destroys your credibility.

D - DELEGATION When you are doing something that someone else on your staff could do 80% as well, you are probably wasting your time. Learning to delegate effectively is even more important in determining the size of your contribution in life than your native intelligence is.

E - EXCITEMENT What are you really, really, really (yes, you need to repeat really 3 times) excited about today? This is a non-threatening but very profound question to ask a person. It is also a great question to ask each team member over lunch, dinner, or as a team discussion.

F - FUN Fun is “uninhibited spontaneity.” Things that are inhibited and not spontaneous seem boring. Think back to the last time you were having fun. Why was it so much fun? The activity was uninhibited and spontaneous.

G - GOD If God does not exist it changes everything! God does exist and that changes everything!

H - HEART “When you meet a man you judge him by his clothes...when you leave a man you judge him by his heart.” (An ancient Russian proverb)

I - IF, BEFORE YOU DIE If you could only accomplish three measurable things before you die, what three things would you accomplish?

L - LEADERSHIP IS Leadership is Knowing WHAT to do next... Knowing WHY that is important...and, Knowing HOW to bring the appropriate resources to bear on the need at hand.

As a leader keep asking yourself... What next? Why? Where will we get the resources?

M - MENTORING Ideally, Mentoring is a life-long relationship in which the mentor helps the protégé realize her/his God-given potential.

N - NEW NORMAL When major change comes to most people, they keep waiting for things to “get back to normal.” When this “I just want it the way it used to be” feeling hits you, or someone you love, remember the phrase a “New Normal.” It really helps in the adjustment to difficult new realities.

O - OPPORTUNITY “Last year’s unexpected success is next year’s opportunity.” —Dr. Peter F. Drucker

Have each person on your team identify what surprised her/him with how successful it was... then ask, “How can we take full advantage of this opportunity to make this area 10 times as successful next year?”

P - PROBLEMS - HUGE What one huge problem are you dealing with that you would happily pay 10% of your annual salary to have solved for you?

Q - QUESTIONS If you ask profound questions you get profound answers! If you ask shallow questions you get shallow answers! If you ask no questions you get no answers at all!

R - RAW REALITY If we just look at “raw reality” where are we?

S - SINGLE GREATEST STRENGTH What is your “SINGLE GREATEST STRENGTH”? What do you DO the very BEST? There are many things that you do “better than most.” But which do you do the very best? What does each member of your team do the very best? It is your responsibility to maximize that strength.

T - TIMING - GOD’S God’s timing is perfect... even when it differs from our plans.

U - UNIQUENESS What is our unique market/ministry position? What can we do that others can’t? How can we maximize our positive uniqueness?

V - VISUAL PERSPECTIVE Draw a picture of how you are feeling right now...this gives you “visual perspective” and can snap “fog” into focus very quickly!

W - WANT What do you really want from life? What do you really need to get there?

If you enjoyed this article full of leadership insights from Bobb Biehl, you'll enjoy hearing from him at our live learning venue even more! Join hundreds of leaders learning together how to operate their company well, all on a biblical platform at the Leadership Summit 2017 in Hilton Head, SC on May 3-5, 2017. Find out more here.
Can't make the Summit but crave more learning? Tune in to our Convene online leadership learning portal!

Everybody Should Play the Business Owner’s Game, Not Just Owners

There is a game every person at work should be playing every minute of every day, with every decision they make. It’s called The Business Owner’s Game, and is at the core of building a successful business or career. It transforms your relationship to work.

The objective of the Business Owner’s Game is simple: More money in less time.

Successful business leaders play this game all the time to increase their revenue (or income) and reduce the amount of time they have to personally spend increasing it. The smart leaders have everyone at work playing the same game. The objective is to discover the “highest and best use” of everyone’s time, and get them focused on doing those things.

More Money in Less Time

Anybody can make more money in more time; it’s easy—just work more hours. Except you only have 168 hours in a week. So the better idea is to discover how to make more money in less time. A lot of people intend to make more money every year, but how many of them intend to do it in less time?

Why do we all have the first graph, but not the second one? Because we’re stuck in Industrial Age thinking about how money is made, by trading time for money.

A traditional employee thinks that way as well, but shouldn’t. The Industrial Age was wrong. Everyone working in every business should be on a manic pursuit to answer the question, “How do I make more money in less time?” Your business would make more money if all your people thought this way. And if you, as a business owner, want to build a successful business, you can’t afford to succumb to this old Industrial Age habit. Let’s learn the Business Owner’s Game.

The Game: Two Simple Questions

The good news is that the Business Owner’s Game is very simple. There are only two questions:

1. Is this (whatever I’m doing right now) the highest and best use of my time?

The answer to at least seventy-five percent of what we’re doing will be, “No.” Whatever we’re doing is rarely the highest and best use of our time. We just haven’t bothered to get it off our plate (short-term decision-making).

If the answer is no, and it almost always is, then move on to question number two:

2. If this is not the highest and best use of my time, then how do I do it for the last time?

The answer to that question will lead you to freedom.

If you are serious about getting things off your plate, you’ll come up with a number of ways to offload things that don’t belong there. Freedom Mapping is just one common answer to the question. But if you’re afraid, distracted, believe your business is unique (it never is), have a big ego, believe you’re indispensable (you almost never are), or a dozen other excuses, you will find 1,000 ways to not get things off your plate.

Business Owner vs. Income Producer

This is the most important game a business owner and everyone in your business can play. We waste more time and money doing things others should be doing than just about any other way.

If you are playing this game, you are a Business Owner (even if you don’t own the business, you own your destiny). If you aren’t, you are only an Income Producer, the fatal mindset of the “employee” (yes, Business Owners can be employees of themselves!) You may think you own a business, but all you really own is a job.

How Staff Members Should Play The Game

When Krista first came to work with us, we asked her to create a Freedom Map of the processes she ran. A year later we had her go back over this with the two questions in the Business Owner’s Game, to discover the highest and best use of her time. She circled everything in the process that did not qualify, and we hired Lauren who loved doing those things and was great at them. Both of them were firing on all cylinders now. As she gained experienced and the job changed, we had Lauren re-draw her Freedom Maps another year later, and hired Donna to do the things that were not the highest and best use of Lauren’s time. As Donna gains experience we will have her do the same thing.

Don’t Hire For Jobs; Hire For Effectiveness

We never hire someone for “a job”, but instead, we hire them to take over things that aren’t the highest and best use of someone else’s time. Does anyone ever get to 100% ideal use of their time? Of course not, but everyone in our company is always closer to it than they would be working anywhere else. And they all have more freedom and more meaning in their work as a result.

Get Off The Treadmill

What is the highest and best use of your time? How do you the other things for the last time?

Apply the two simple questions in the Business Owner’s Game to everything you do for one month and see what happens. It will transform your business if you are an owner, or your job if you are a Stakeholder. It will begin to give you the answers that allow you to make more money in less time, get off the treadmill and get a life.

Why Time Management Doesn’t Matter Until You Get One Thing Straight

Imagine you are a kid again and your parents tell you on Monday to clean the garage this Saturday, with the help of your siblings. But during the course of the week, you forget what they asked of you, and instead, you decide to set up a lemonade stand at the corner of your block to make some extra money. On Friday night, you’re determined to make a big profit, so you start planning out the day…

What is the optimal time to open for business?

How many batches of lemonade should I make in advance?

How can I make the process as efficient as possible?

What should the price be?

Who should I get to help?

How can I attract the whole neighborhood to the lemonade stand?

As you fall asleep that night, these questions swim through your mind.

Saturday morning comes, and you get right out of bed at 7:00 a.m. to start making lemonade. It’s going to get hot early, so you want to get a head start.

Everything goes as planned! You sell a lot of lemonade, the neighborhood seems like it has a skip in its step, and you go home fifty dollars richer. But when you come back to your house, your smile fades as you see your parents in the driveway and realize…

you forgot to clean the garage.

As punishment, your parents take away half of your earnings and tell you that you have to spend the rest of the night cleaning the garage. To top it off, while you’re working, the rest of your siblings get to go off and see a movie.




Everyone talks a lot about how to manage your time. There are countless books and resources about the subject from gurus who can really help you get a grasp on using your time well. But before we talk about good time management, you need to make sure that you’re actually doing the right things in the first place. The kid in the story made fifty bucks selling lemonade, but that’s not what his parents asked him to do. He can make all the money he wants, but he would still miss his original responsibility: cleaning the garage.

Time management is useless until you get your priorities straight. Efficiency in the wrong things is foolish. Just like the kid in the story, you can be extremely efficient in an endeavor, and even make a lot of money and experience happiness…but it doesn’t matter if you’re doing the wrong thing. What we need is not to be more efficient, but more effective. Efficiency is doing things right, effectiveness is doing the right things.

The Path to Effectiveness

  1. Take an inventory of your life. What are you involved in? Make a list of everything you’re committed to…work, family, relationships, church, boards, volunteer work, personal projects. Write it all down and see what’s there.
  1. Take an inventory of your heart. What are you passionate about? Are you in the right job? Are you making the highest contribution with your gifting? Do you feel like your schedule doesn’t accurately reflect your desired life? See if your life inventory matches up with your heart inventory.
  1. Make any necessary changes. After examining your life inventory and your heart inventory, what changes do you need to make? Start aligning the two and investing in the things that you’re called to instead of the things that the world is requesting of you. Get rid of the good so you can take up the best.
  1. Pursue that which you love. After you have gotten rid of the things that are crowding your life, you’ll have the time to invest in the things that really matter. What are those few things for you? What is essential? Where can you make the highest contribution? Start taking steps toward those few things and apply all your energy to driving them forward.
  1. Reject the stuffers. As you move forward with your new priorities, there will be people that want to stuff their own agenda back into your life, or make you doubt the decision you made to pare things down. Don’t listen to them! Don’t get clogged up again, involved in things for the sake of pleasing others. Reject requests that will distract you from the priorities you’ve set ahead of time. Once you start intentionally spending your time, it will be tempting to slip into the old way of doing things: submitting to the priorities of other people. Stay strong, hold the course, and pursue what you know to be the most important work.

Only now that you have the right priorities in place can you begin thinking about time management. Now, the books and resources on time management will actually help you instead of assisting you in doing the wrong things faster.

One question as you leave: Are you currently running a lemonade stand that should’ve been taken down a long time ago?

Being Mean and Being Effective are Not the Same Thing

The New York Times recently published a great article about how there is “No Time to Be Nice at Work.” Author Christine Porath was on target regarding several significant concerns that are especially relevant today. One of the first things that struck me was her points that incivility has been growing, and that it definitely has a cost.

Porath joins others in noting that incivility and similar behavior causes stress. Continued stress, even intermittent stress, creates a hit to one’s immune system, sometimes a big hit. Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and ulcers are all possible results or side effects of long-term stress. Several of these can kill you or a co-worker.

The author also notes that you don’t always need to experience causes of stress directly. Simply being in a chronically toxic environment for several hours each day can do the damage.

Porath focuses much of her article on mean bosses, but I’d also note that toxic environments can also be caused by fellow employees. That’s why I stress that smart leaders should be aware of the environment at the office, including how staff members treat each other. It’s the type of intangible that can make a big difference in any workplace.

Some will find it unintuitive, but numerous studies have shown that performance is degraded by more than half when testers deliberately exhibit a rude, dismissive or demeaning behavior. Although it would be an exaggeration to expect 50 or 60 percent better office performance just from being nice, the evidence clearly shows that chronic off-hand brusqueness and the like is counter productive. Employers and managers who prefer to be rude and obnoxious can continue to do so, but they need to know it costs them, big time.

One of Porath’s interesting points involves contemporary incivility. She writes that this and similar bad behavior have grown over recent decades and that it’s part of a culture of “busy-ness.” In one extensive study, Porath noted people said they were simply “too busy to be civil.”

“Over half of them claim it is because they are overloaded, and more than 40 percent say they have no time to be nice,” Porath wrote. “But respect doesn’t necessarily require extra time. It’s about how something is conveyed; tone and nonverbal manner are crucial.”

Clearly, no human in any role can always be “Miss Manners,” and any executive, manager or other leader can always be nice. Just ask Donald Trump! But good management starts with awareness if others are experiencing anxiety or stress, followed by offering to listen and providing support. This used to be called moral support—letting people know that they are not going through this alone is stress and anxiety reducing. Likewise, deliberately creating a “Shark Tank” environment as part of a long-term organizational plan is not a good idea. It might work for a 30-minute television show, or even peak office situations that occur on occasion, but it will not lead to long-term success.

Most managers will know if some staff members are feeling pushed too much, but keep in mind that everyone will react to pressure and show stress in different ways. A given factor may be serious for one person and little more than a bump to another. Differences will occur depending on what is going on in the employee’s life; illness, death of a loved one and financial problems are among the possible factors. Likewise, people will show stress in different ways; some are very vocal while others keep it bottled up (which may be worse). That’s why an option worth considering is an annual employee satisfaction survey. These can help you know if employees are overly stressed or anxious and pickup on issues you might not sense.

I would definitely agree with this article that stress in your office should not be overlooked. Although seeing and dealing with it may require some effort, especially at first, handling it properly can definitely pay dividends.