Many business people use sports analogies and stories to promote teamwork, spur a spirit of competition and help develop the mental toughness of professional athletes. This past weekend I watched a lot of the U.S. Open. I love golf and I think there are some good lessons to be learned by watching the competition but that’s not what this blog is about. The lesson I learned is very different. It has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with business. First a little background for the non-golfers. This was the first year that Fox Sports became the broadcast partner for the U.S.

~~In this morning’s Wall Street Journal, writer Ben Fritz talks about Disney’s ability to turn movie hits into “Profits Ever After.” Each movie mega hit becomes its’ own franchise, with a dedicated team focused on turning that movie hit into successful and profitable rides, toys, clothes, video games and more. In the advertising business, we would call this “having legs.”

Holidays are great but after a long weekend it is hard to get back into the rhythm of doing business. If you planned ahead then you probably have a list of things to tackle. But, in case you did not here are a few things that you might want to consider while you are fresh from a few days off.

Clean Up Electronic Communications

I try to do this before I go back to work after a holiday. But, if you completely unplugged you need to get this done and see what “fires” may need to be put out. Believe it or not, I often find that over a holiday something suddenly becomes a priority to my customer and now it needs attention. I also find lots of newsletters, recurring communications or promotional items that are filling my e-mail box. Now is a good time to unsubscribe and simplify. It makes the important e-mails stand out and not get lost in all the clutter.

Get a Handle on Sneaky Expenditures

It’s easy to go along and not realize that you might be costing your company money. These are dollars that might be better used elsewhere. Examples include the golf outing, etc. that you get hit up to sponsor or the subscriptions that you really don’t need. The phone plan that might have been good last year but now could be renegotiated. Do you have service contracts that you really don’t need? Look at all your recurring charges and make changes.

Do Some People Planning

If you have gotten out of the habit of regular meetings this is a good time get back in the swing. Do you have good plans in place for people to be productive? Should you be thinking about moving people around, getting them trained up in new areas? Should you be delegating things that you have been doing that you really need to stop doing? After a holiday break is a good time to make changes because it’s like getting a new start.

Stop Procrastinating

We all have things we just don’t want to do. You need to have a conversation with a supplier that is not performing. A customer has been making unreasonable demands. An employee is not happy and it is affecting their work. The time right after a break is ideal for dealing with issues. You had a little time off and now you have some perspective. Don’t delay any longer. Whatever it is that you have been avoiding, you need to jump in and fix it. In fact, put a time limit on when the task needs to be done.

Get Your Physical Space Back in Order

Think of it as spring cleaning for the business. One of the reasons employees are not as productive as they could be is the lack of organization in the workplace. Are tools always put away where they can be easily accessed? Does everyone know where to find them? Are files, both printed and electronic, in order? Are supplies kept in a convenient location… is it obvious when they need to be reordered?

I always feel a little better when I have some of these things under control. Then I can tackle the big projects with a clearer mind.

The more you gain the more you have to lose. This fact often pressures leaders into spending more time defending their positions than they do in listening to new ideas.

The one word every leader should avoid is, “But…”

The word “but” signals that your brain has quickly conjured up reasons for not taking a risk, for not choosing to do something different, or for not considering that past successes should not provide the blueprint for going forward in the future.

Your Powerful and Overprotective Brain

I really like Dilbert— Scott Adams’ dry take on the ins and outs of corporate life always makes me laugh. Not long ago Adams did a series on mentoring, where engineer Wally seeks out the company’s CEO and asks him to be his mentor. “Yes I will!” the CEO replies. “You are wise to ask because it shows you have the drive to succeed.”

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