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Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


The 8 Universal Principles For Top Performance

leadership Jun 16, 2020
What do you need to bring your team or your entire company into the Champion’s League?

I summarized the answer in my book (only in German: “Business Fitness: escape mediocrity!”) in eight principles, which I call “peak performance principles.”

Here they are briefly. For detailed tips on implementation, I recommend you apply for a exploration session with me, personally.

Attention: Do not ask yourself if you have ever heard of them (everyone did!), but to what extent you apply them. I suggest evaluating each principle on a scale of 1 to 10.

Principle 1: Clarity. This comes above all. I have written several times about the fact that lacking clarity is one of the greatest obstacles to peak performance. Attention: Clarity begins in your own head!

Principle 2: Integrity. People are looking a lot more at what you do, how you do it, and what the results are instead of what you say. That is why it is so important that you do what you say you do. This...

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The problem with clarity

leadership productivity Jun 14, 2020

There is one aspect of sustainable success, which is both fundamental and most disregarded by most:

Top performance and outstanding success can only result from absolute clarity.

What many overlook: success without absolute clarity is luck and cannot be repeated or only with high effort.

Yet, the creation of clarity is not difficult, but requires willpower and discipline. I will give you some help here:

There are three areas where you need to create absolute clarity for yourself and your team to increase your success dramatically.

Here they are from my German book “Business Fitness: Escape mediocrity!“:

  1. Clarity in the goals and the ideal future. What do you want for yourself and your team or your company? How does the ideal future look in one, three, five, and ten years?
  2. Clarity in the principles. What are your most important beliefs and principles with which you want to succeed? What are your priorities for your value propositions?
  3. Clarity in implementation. How clear...
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We Can Do This!

leadership Jun 11, 2020

As I write these lines, I’m sitting in the Parc Milan, a beautiful park in Lausanne a few meters from my apartment, and I’m watching the colorful hustle and bustle. Small groups of friends, families, and couples are everywhere, enjoying the evening in the warm, early summer air and having fun.

We are in the final stages of the first wave of the corona pandemic here in Switzerland, and no one knows if there will be a second one. The so-called excess mortality rate is almost non-existent compared to flu years. Apparently, we all acted in time and with enough courage.

I also dare to predict that we will get out of the economic mess faster than some people fear simply because we combine enormous strengths and a strong work ethic.

Here is my point: I find it quite simply enormous and impressive how we, as civilized people, have managed to deal with such a threat. You can complain about our shortcomings as much as you like, but such a concerted global action (with some...

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The 3 secrets of productivity

productivity Jun 11, 2020
Basically, it is simple: To become more productive, you must start your day productive, stay productive, and finish your day productive. 

Sounds overly simplistic? Wait a moment: A key reason for mediocre performance is quite often that you violate exactly this simple rule: you start off slow, after lunch you lower productivity, and you slow down towards the end of the day. 

The most successful people (and teams) do it the other way around: 
  1. They start the day fast and with productivity-generating routines, such as lots of water, healthy food, and mental programming.
  2. They keep a high pace during the day (click here to learn how) and accelerate even when energy levels go down.
  3. They finish the day strong. There is no “slowing down”: they go through the finish line at full speed.
The key is: nobody can achieve this each day with pure willpower.

What you need instead, is to install new habits. How? That’s the topic for another memo. Meanwhile, just...

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You are weak!

productivity Jun 09, 2020

The problem with all execution of good intentions is that we all are weak. Our willpower is very limited. Since we have known this for thousands of years (that’s why we have been obliged to follow the 10 commandments, for instance), we know since a couple of years that this weakness is physical. 

To force the brain to make choices consciously consumes plenty of energy.

That’s why many leaders feel decision fatigue after half of the day. Again, this is no “soft fact”, but brutal physical reality. 

So, what’s the solution to execute on plans and strategies, considering our limited willpower? Three things: 
  1. Eliminate all unimportant decisions. Remember: each decision needs energy. So, better to keep this energy for the truly important stuff. How? Simply stop thinking about things that don’t matter. Most of us need a coach to remind us of this habit constantly.
  2. Install success routines that you do automatically without thinking about...
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Your personal success brakes

leadership productivity Jun 07, 2020

In one of my latest blog posts, I wrote that productivity is a habit and many have learned to be unproductive without realizing it – even and foremost senior managers. 

I received some questions regarding this provocative conclusion, because it is a rather uncomfortable idea for most of us:

We are consciously unproductive! Who wants this? The answer: In principle, we all do. Because productivity means that we produce results. And thus also bad results. 

In other words, higher productivity means more mistakes.

Since no one wants those, our brain has mechanisms that limit our productivity. 

Here are three ideas on how to release your productivity brakes: 
  1. Force yourself to “imperfection”. Very often speed is more important than perfection. Rapid prototyping and other methods have taken up this idea. However, many people have not yet.
  2. Beware Pareto: 20% of your activities generate 80% of your results. Surely you know that, but this...
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Laws of Nature and Other Rules

leadership mindset Jun 04, 2020

Last weekend was Pentecost. Do you know why these holidays even exist? Chances are you don’t have an exact answer unless you’re a practicing Christian.

The interesting thing is that whether you know or understand the background of a holiday, you can still deal with it. This reminds me of the laws of nature. Whether you know or understand them or not, they will still affect you.

Gravity, for example, doesn’t care what you think about it or whether you agree with it. If you drop a plate, it will inevitably move towards the ground and probably shatter once it hits the floor. Therefore, the best strategy is to use gravity in a favorable way rather than lamenting it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, the same connections apply to “mental laws”—they exist regardless of your belief or ignorance. The winners in life will always be those who make better use of them than others.

Here are a few important examples of how to achieve more in life with more fun...
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The secret to boost sales!

marketing & sales Jun 04, 2020
Today, I have a secret recipe to help you sell more, even if you have nothing to do with sales. 

If you have followed me for a while, you know sales activities are not limited to conversations with potential customers, but a reality of our daily life, be it professional or private; whenever you want to convince someone of something, you “sell.” 

So, what is the “secret recipe” to become more persuasive, to “sell” more?

There are three easy steps you probably know, but probably do not apply daily. Here is your “reminder”: 
  1. Reason. Why should the other be persuaded? What’s his or her advantage for being persuaded? Most of us (yes, even senior sales people) often forget this important first step. There is no persuasion without a clear reason.
  2. Reality. What is the other person already convinced of? Behind this question is the fact that it is much easier to convince people of a “complement” of their beliefs...
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Is your business model outdated?

leadership strategy Jun 02, 2020

Did you notice? Those who thrive (people and businesses) do something extremely well or they do something in a unique way. Or even both. 

Look at the most successful companies, Apple for instance, or Siemens, SAP, and many almost unknown SMBs: in the areas they thrive, there is at least one of these to elements in place: excellence or uniqueness. And they have business models that make these distinctions profitable. 

What I see at too many companies (in particular SMBs) is too little focus on business model innovation.

Often, this is left to chance or random evolution. Instead, I suggest considering these three steps: 

  1. At least yearly, run workshops with participants from all parts of your organisation to (re)invent new business models. There are specific methods to make this exercise very effective and efficient.
  2. Ensure you collect inputs from your customers and the marketplace: what would they dream of, ideally? What would help them make a leap forward?
  3. ...
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The big mass in the middle

culture leadership May 31, 2020

To which group do you belong: 20, 60, or 20? You don’t know what I’m talking about? Ok, here is the resolution: the longer I support business leaders in achieving substantial success growth, the more it solidifies my 20-60-20 rule. It simply states the following: 

  • 20% of the people of any group are keen to implement the new, to apply the learned, to try the ideas.
  • 60% are waiting for something. They are rather skeptical, but not unwilling to move. They listen, but hesitate with execution.
  • 20% are resistant. They will ignore good ideas and sometimes actively fight them.

This distribution is almost always true, no matter what you want to achieve. How does this knowledge help you, as a manager and someone who wants to implement something new? Here is my tip: 

  1. Ignite the fire in the group of the top 20%. Feed their hunger, so they cannot hold back to start the changes you want them to execute.
  2. Provide the middle 60% with certainty and address the typical...
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