Volkmar Völzke's BLOG


A lesson for making decisions

leadership strategy Apr 13, 2018

Recently, I watched the film, The Post, from Steven Spielberg and took some lessons that are crucial insights for any leader. 

Not only do Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks perform extraordinarily well, but they also highlight the dilemma of a serious decision, with two strong alternatives, under great time pressure. In the end, the film is about freedom of the press, but that is not my point here. 

When the Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham makes her most important decision with global impact within a few hours (in the end minutes), the same factors you see with every small business decision come into play: diverging interests, uncertainty, and values. 

What can you learn from this for your next decision-making situation? Three things:

  1. Define strong values and your mission! Ms. Graham finally made her decision based on the strong values that had once been defined for the newspaper (e.g., serving the people and not the politicians). Such values can only be invoked...
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That's how it works!

culture leadership strategy Apr 06, 2018

I must admit, sometimes, I doubt whether what I contribute to companies as principles of success really works. But the clear answer is: YES! 

Why do I know that? Because I see the evidence at events, namely when business leaders - from any industry - report on why they are outstandingly successful. This was recently the case at the KMU SWISS Forum in Switzerland. 

Here are the three most important success levers from my perspective, which were unanimously reported by CEOs:

  1. A clear and strong vision. It is an ancient wisdom, yet it continues to be disregarded by most managing directors: Only with a strong, concrete, and convincing vision can you create something outstanding. By when do you want to be there with your company? Many businesses exist only because of this vision; others have disappeared because of lack of vision. It is your choice!
  2. Winning culture. This also runs like a repeated pattern through all success stories. Clearly, you can't be successful without...
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Do you believe in Easter bunnies?

Let's keep it short today: Happy Easter! I hope you have a great time with your loved ones and do what you enjoy the most.

Here are three Easter ideas on how to make the remaining nine months of the year outstanding:

  1. Have exactly three main goals for the next nine months. Who exactly are you and what exactly do you have achieved until the end of the year? Write this down and hang it on the wall in front of you (or even better: paint your ideal situation at the end of the year!)
  2. Install exactly one new habit per month. Yes, right: If you apply ONE new success habit for 30 days every month, you become "automatically" better, 12 times per year!
  3. Read at least one book or invest in a video or audio course per month. And this also applies if you are "employed": Don't wait for your boss to tell you! It's YOUR life. So invest in it!

To make faster progress with all this, take a look at my Success Academy Pro. Click here.

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Why success ends abruptly

mindset productivity Mar 30, 2018

In principle, one would think that anyone who has once been successful should also remain successful. Although we are used to seeing people and companies again and again whose success suddenly turns into the opposite, we rarely understand the true reasons behind it. 

So what keeps us on track, even if we continue to increase our success, and what, on the other hand, throws us off track?

The question is highly relevant to everyone at all times. 

Here's the simple answer: we often forget to keep doing the things that originally made us successful. We believe that success happens "automatically" at some point. The opposite is also true. 

Success must be regained every day! 

Here are three examples in which we keep falling into the trap of success:

  1. Relationships. Regardless of whether private or business, relationships must be maintained with the same dedication with which we initially built them. Companies would have more recurring customers, and more marriages...
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This is how everyone learns to sell


Do you want to boost your sales without such dubious measures like price discounts? Then invest in your company's sales skills. 

Most of the organizations I see operate in sales at perhaps 50 percent of their potential, with many even being far below. 

The reason is often that management doesn't see (or want to believe) the connection between sales skills and success. Most B2B sales people know more about the technology of their products than how to communicate their value to their customers. Change that! 

Here are three ideas on how you can immediately increase your team's sales success: 

  1. Train copywriting, i. e. the ability to write and communicate convincing texts. There's a difference between saying,"Our product is based on 10 years of research" and "Our customers use our product to cut costs by an average of 20 percent". Just as example.
  2. Learn the importance of numbers. Every salesperson must know "his or her own figures" at all times, e. g. a number...
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Courageous or fearful?


It has long been clear that the boundary between internal and external communication in organizations no longer exists. Assume that what you communicate internally is also known externally. 

(A similar phenomenon: what you say to yourself always causes exactly what you convey to others. Whether you like it or not, you are consistent: your thoughts determine your actions.) 

Back to corporate communication: The question is, how do you deal with it? Are you afraid, preferring to withhold all information? Or are you brave enough to go on the offensive and share your "stories"?

It is clear that the latter is winning in the market. This requires courage and, very often, a questioning of paradigms on the "management level". 

Here are three areas in which you can start adapting your company to the "new" reality: 

  1. What do you stand for? Answer this question clearly and courageously, both internally and externally. The message is exactly the same: What really...
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A huge problem


Yeah, I know that doesn't concern you. And yet you surely know people from your surroundings who have a huge problem with it. What am I talking about?


Sure, that’s not you! Or is it? Sometimes? Here's the truth: EVERYBODY is sometimes unreliable. Some rarely, some more often, others almost always (you can at least rely on their unreliability!) 

The problem is that unreliability massively reduces productivity and success. The most successful people are reliable. 

Reliability means that you keep ALL promises and inform others in advance of any necessary (!) changes. You may think it's very simple, and that everyone should be reliable. 

Well, I am always amazed that an estimated 50 percent of business people I know are regularly unreliable, with corresponding negative effects on performance. Examples

  1. Joining agreed telephone calls late or not at all
  2. Not sticking to project milestones
  3. Starting meetings late
  4. Not implementing strategies
  5. Not...
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Become extreme!

leadership mindset Mar 01, 2018

Let us assume that you want to achieve something in the future that you do not yet have. You may want to be someone who you are not today (often a prerequisite for the former). Or maybe you want to do more good for other people than today. 

Then here's my tip: Become extreme (above all in what you define as your benchmark!)

You don't even have to quote the usual "suspects" like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs or Richard Branson. Anyone who achieves significantly more in due course than others will have "extreme" standards in terms of what is possible. 

I repeat it over and over again - you CAN achieve much more if you apply tougher standards.

Here are three areas where you can start immediately to become extreme:

  1. Goals. Do you want to grow by 5% or have 10% more customers? Then you can double and change your targets to 10% growth and 20% more customers. Unrealistic? Sure, just like the moon shot, the iPhone, or even your car once was.
  2. Personal growth. Listen and read from experts...
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Your most important responsibility

leadership mindset Feb 22, 2018

What do you think about Elon Musk, the Olympic Games, and the world economy? The past few weeks have been a good opportunity to reflect on what we want to see and what we don't want to see. 

I keep writing about it: the world is not what it is, but what we see. And what we see is a reflection of our experiences and our mental attitude.   

Back to the above examples: 

  1. Elon Musk: The guy shot the heaviest rocket and one of his cars into orbit. What do you think? Crazy, lavish and narcissistic? Or visionary, daring and inspiring?
  2. Olympic Games: The recent games in South Korea have allowed a certain rapprochement with North Korea, with the outcome open. What's your view on it? Political calculation, marketing, hot air? Or hope, perspective, icebreaker?
  3. World economy: Currently we see and hear more and more warnings that the economy in many countries is running hot, with uncertain results. Your view of it? High risk, probable downturn, disaster? Or great...
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Forget discipline!

mindset productivity Feb 15, 2018

Forget discipline (at least in the way most people understand it)! 

Discipline is an important element for any success. However, as most people understand it, it is not enough to ensure lasting success. 

It helps to imagine that discipline has three levels. The most successful individuals and companies are disciplined in all three levels, the average only in the first. 

The good news: you can work your way up the ladder. For outstanding success, you even SHOULD. 

Level 1: Task discipline. You have the discipline to carry out planned actions and comply with agreements. In other words, you and others can rely on you. 

Level 2: Growth Discipline. You consistently implement growth plans. This means you systematically develop your personality, invest a certain amount of time every day in your education and consciously change habits towards more success. 

Level 3: Success Discipline. You set goals for yourself (and your team) that are extremely challenging...

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