Hello! If you've been patiently waiting for my newsletter, I do apologize for it being 2 days tardy. I've been a tad busy this week and a little pressed for time. Here's a snapshot of this week's activity: 3 workshops, 7 1on1 coaching sessions, a breakfast meeting with a client, 2 meetings with prospects, 1 interview for a blog, a networking meeting, a day off for a family event, and I taught my college class and graded about 35 papers. Whew! But you know what? It's awesome. I'm so grateful for the activity. And now I'm grateful to have a few minutes to put together this newsletter for you. Thanks for being a subscriber!
Be Super Careful With Interns

There's a Bay Area venture capital firm that got in to some trouble recently over the way they were handling interns. It seems Fenox Capital replaced employees with interns and had them doing real work...for free. 

Now if it was just 1 or 2 people that would be one thing, but they had 56 interns. You read that right. This wasn't a new idea either. They were using them for years to do work for free. Now they will have to pay for 3 years of back pay plus damages. That number's north of $330,000. Ouch. 

Please, please, please don't get caught up with the idea that interns are free employees. If interns are doing work that your company would otherwise pay someone to do, that's a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. You're better off just paying an intern for their hours instead. To learn more about Fenox's egregious behavior, check out this CNET article. If you'd like to know the 6 criteria the government uses to determine if you have an intern or an employee on your team, read this
Ready, Fire, Aim?

Since we're on the subject of Silicon Valley companies behaving badly I want to talk about Zenefits for a moment. This is a software company in the corporate benefits industry. They recently announced that their Founder and CEO, Parker Conrad, had stepped down because he had made some very wrong decisions. One of them was to allow salespeople to sell insurance without a license against state law. They're being investigated by the state of Washington for violating their laws. Apparently there were sales managers who didn't think the law was that important. Buzzfeed News reported that one unlicensed sales rep who hit his quota was promoted. I heard that Zenefits' internal motto was Ready, Fire, Aim. Well, look who got fired now? 

If you think, as a small business, that rules and regulations aren't that important, and are actually made to be broken as you seek to disrupt an industry, then just be aware of the seismic risks associated with that position. Fortune has a great article on this big mess and the notion of disruption. My position is that the rules are there for a reason and if they need to be changed, then we should seek to change them through the proper channels.
Remember That FBNs Are Good For Just Five Years

It recently became necessary for me to produce my Fictitious Business Name (FBN) statement. When I couldn't find it I went on to the county website to see about getting a copy. 

Guess what I found out?

It expired 2 years ago! They are good for five years from the date of filing. Be sure to check yours if you're not sure that it's still active. For San Mateo County you can do that here.  
A Message to Salespeople Who Don't Like Their Manager

Last year I worked with two salespeople who got fired. Why? Well, they weren't selling as much as they needed to be, but more importantly because they couldn't get along with their manager. If you know a salesperson who dislikes their sales manager, please share this video with them.
Book Recommendation: Best Business Books For 2016

As you know I like to switch up the recommendations once in a while. This time I'm not recommending one book, but rather a whole list. David Burkus over at Forbes has compiled a list of what he thinks are books you must read this year. 

One of my Strategic Mastery groups (goal setting combined with mastermind) has opted for The Happiness Track by Dr. Emma Seppala. She believes that happiness leads to success, not the other way around. I love the sound of that and am looking forward to listening to this book. The other book on the list that really intrigues me is Small Data by Martin Lindstrom. He is a marketing consultant with a very unique approach to research. Hope you find something on this list that pulls you in.
Did You Go to TED 2016?

Me neither. However, I feel a bit like a fly on the wall by reading an article from Bill Gross who did attend. He chronicled the top 12 things he learned by attending this year's conference in Vancouver. Did you know that children actually start to lie as early as age 2? Or that a new type of photographic style has been developed by Stephen Wilkes called day-to-night? Now this is my kind of creative disruption. Another speaker shared about the value of procrastination for the creative process. Apparently DaVinci worked on the Mona Lisa for 16 years! After reading this article you'll be a bit better informed about our world in February of 2016.
Great Quote

"However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." - Winston Churchill

Reflection is an important activity for business people, and really, any mature person. Don't just aim, fire, and move on. Go back and see how you did.
That's a Wrap!

Hey, that's about it for this issue. Two last things I want to say. One is that my next Strategic Mindset group kicks off on March 4th. This is serious, ongoing strategic planning and reflection on a systematic basis for business owners ready to execute consistently at a high level. If you want to learn more or want in, let me know. There are 3 seats left as of this writing. Two, my son, Adam, came in 3rd place in this year's Spelling Bee! I'm super proud of his effort and results. In 3 years he's placed in the top 3 consistently. That's an achievement I am really inspired by. Until next time I wish you the will to do what others won't to achieve lasting success.

Michael Neuendorff | The Growth Coach | 650.373.2022