Saturday, July 5, 2008

Business Intuition: Redefining Success

Let me ask you this:
- If your company is making money but your customer are dissatisfied, are you being successful?
- If your CEO is working 80 hours a week and is on the brink of a heart attack, are you being successful?
- If you experience high turn over, absenteeism or alcohol in the workplace, are you being successful?

We live in a fabulously rich country and yet most people are unhappy with their jobs, work more hours a week and have less vacation days than any other industrial country like Japan, Canada or Britain and they don't feel they can achieve life/work balance.

How long can we keep this up? Burning out brilliant minds, breaking up marriages and financing costly medical plans to cover stress induced illnesses. This is not a sustainable strategy for business success. And yet, we keep trying to define corporate success in terms a "net profit no matter what" approach.

But at some point, we're scraping the bottom of the barrel. Profit margins are shrinking, jobs are lost to outsourcing or downsizing and we're replacing quality with quantity when it comes to hours worked. As if pedaling faster in the wrong direction could somehow lead us to a successful destination.

So what now? Slowly but surely, some businesses have realized that rested executives make better decisions, happy employees are more productive and eager to satisfy customers and happy customers are loyal and bring more business. Even if this means more time off, flexible schedules, job sharing, training and other expenses that target a simple concept: happiness.

Sustainable business success is not just about the financial bottom line. It's about creating inviting, inspiring and supportive work environments so that every employee can thrive, both personally and professionally, while creating new venues for business profits. A business works much better when it works for everyone involved.

But how do you find those great ideas that can turn your boat around and fuel sustainable business success? That's where business intuition comes in. There is no technique that will work for every business. But there is always something that will work for your company. You just have to find it. And it must take into account the state of your industry, your company culture, your financial resources and so many other factors.

How can you possibly compile all these critical factors without using your intuition or what most CEOs call their gut feelings? When you're tapping into your intuition, you are freed from rational left brain limitations which constantly argue that everything is too expensive or impossible. Instead, you are exploring the creative right brain which handles complexity through abstract thinking and creativity.

That's where you'll find your strategy for sustainable business success.

In love,
Elise Lebeau, M.Sc.
www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Business Intuition: We're making progress!

I've noticed more and more searches on Google are using the keywords "business intuition". It's still very sporadic but still, there's a trend. So what will it take to bring this concept in mainstream business conversations?

Well, probably a few more years. And a more systematic approach to intuition overall. This field has been plagued with dial-a-psychic connotations and the fuzzy-gut-feeling concepts, making it difficult to get a credible approach to strategic intuition.

Yet, every successful CEO is using intuition, whether she calls it that or something else. Business is a fluctuating world where you have to make decisions with limited factual information. That exactly the Business Intuition niche.

Business Intuition is a unique opportunity to turn sporadic "gut feelings" into a systematic right-brain approach to decision making. It's not about predicting the future or reading people's minds. Business intuition allows you to leverage all the little pieces of information that are scattered all over your conscious and subconscious mind. By bringing it all together in a coherent "whole", you are more likely to create lasting results than by just guessing or hoping it turns out well...

And when you consider that both Oprah and Trump attribute their success to following their intuition, it makes that approach pretty darn interesting.

So there's still a long ways to go but we are making progress! I was very surprised and so excited to get a call from Intel (an Engineering firm, no less!) asking me to speak at their employee conference about Business Intuition. They were specifically looking for an approach to Intuition that kept it relevant to the business world...A perfect match for my work in this domain.

So even though the trend is just beginning, it's definitely gathering momentum. And in business, there's nothing more exciting than momentum!

Elise Lebeau, M.Sc.
Professional Intuitive
www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Business Intuition: Keeping your employees happy

Millions of Americans get up every morning and go to work in Corporate America. How many do you think feel proud, inspired, supported in their work environment? How many feel happy?

Corporate America was bled to death by the downsizing and outsourcing eras.
Employers and employees have become enemies, struggling against each other in a desperate effort to stay alive. In order to stay competitive, American businesses commonly have to resort to cut throat strategies, legal or not.

The small business owner, the franchise retail store, the big financial corporation, we're all affected by this. It's pervasive, like a poison working its way through a living organism. And it doesn't matter how we got there. The fact remains that we're now facing a wide spread cultural contamination. This is clearly not a sustainable business strategy for Corporate America.

Fundamentally, everyone wants the same thing: to be happy. Whether it's through money, power, social status, relationships, material possessions. It's all one big quest to feel better. Heck, we fight wars so we can feel better and less afraid!

But it's easy to get backed into a corner. When you strip down every once of happiness from the work place, you're starving everyone from the thing they most desire. And if you've ever been really hungry, you know that by then you'll eat just about anything...even things that are bad for you.

People fundamentally want to do good. They want to be successful. They want the company to make profits. They want to help the customer. They want to facilitate their coworkers' job. But when the company doesn't support their ability to feel happy at work, you've got a ticking time bomb sitting at that desk.

There's costly consequences to unhappy employees and partners:

1) Their ability to generate profits is greatly limited. Unless you're using fear or greed to motivate your troops (which is not a sustainable success strategy since it's not based on what people want), they won't be interested in going the extra mile, finding new ways to be more efficient or taking good care of an annoying client. You've just shot down their creativity. And if anybody can tell you the real pulse of your business, it's those people in the trenches.

2) They will start to look for ways to "feed" their need to be happy with whatever they can get their hands on. That's a fertile ground for embezzling, back stabbing, drug use and absenteeism.

Of course, being an employer doesn't mean you have to become everyone's mommy. Some people have problems in their personal lives and that's not for you to solve. But ignoring or countering employees' needs to be happy at work is probably costing more than trying to find creative ways to meet those needs.

The question is: How can you support happiness in the work place without plundering your profits?

Benefits costs money, raises cost money, time off costs money...Yes. But what do you think you'll find if you look behind the request for benefits, raises and time off? A desire to be happy!
Why not cut the middle man and finds ways to keep your employees happy without always dipping in your bank account?

This is where Business Intuition comes in. Using your intuition in business can open the door to creative solutions you didn't even know existed! And in order to find these solutions, you can leverage your best asset: your people!

Business Intuition is not just for CEOs. Every employee in your company can be taught to use their intuition. We tend to associate strong business instincts with CEOs because you really can't be a good leader if you don't know how to use your intuition. You might not call it Business Intuition. You might not even be able to teach other people how they can do what you do. But if you ever had to make tough decisions in times of uncertainty, it's a guaranteed fact that you have used Business Intuition.

When an employee knows how to leverage their intuition, they can start having ideas on how to become more efficient, more profitable, more helpful, more successful...in short, happier. Your job is to facilitate this process. Give them the tools their need to use their intuition and listen to what they come up with!

Not every situation calls for Business Intuition. And not every solution acquired through intuition is immediately applicable. Most of the time, it needs some "tweaking" to make it realistic and effective. But it is the beginning of a Corporate American that we'll want to work for. Widespread use of Business Intuition is really the future of Corporate America.

Empowering employees to feel happier in their workplace by using Business Intuition is a sustainable success strategy.


"You can give a man a fish and he will eat for a day.
Teach him how to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life."
-Kwan Tzu

Elise Lebeau, M.Sc. is a Business Intuitive, providing a result-oriented approach to strategic business planning. She offers individual consultations and Executive Corporate programs on her web site at www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Business Intuition: Don't leave home without it!

There is only one reason we ever do anything: Because we think it will make us happier.

Sometimes our actions have a transitional relationship to happiness: we work -> we get money -> we buy a BMW -> we're happy! There might be several hoops from the action we're doing right now to the end result. But feeling better is always the core motivation.

So what does that have to do with business, you say? Well, if you ignore the fact that happiness (or at least feeling better) is the basis of human behavior, how are you going to satisfy your employees and customers? A satisfied employee gives better service and makes a better product. A satisfied customer comes back for more. Do you really want to miss out on this business gold mine?

There is a common misconception that you have to choose between money and happiness. That's a myth built on the limiting belief that if you're not doing what everyone else is doing, you're doing it wrong. The Internet is regularly fired up with a hot, new technique that everyone should adopt right away unless they want to end up in a homeless shelter (and it usually costs $49.99 to learn it...).

But the reality is that there isn't one technique that will work for everyone. And yet, there is always a technique that will work for you. The question: How do you find it?

By using a simple concept: Intuition.

As I write this article, I know you already know this. Even if it's not conscious. Everyone in a business setting knows that you often have to rely on your "gut feelings", your "business instincts" or what ever you want to call it. Trump and Oprah both attribute their success to their business intuition. But how do they do it?

The good news is that you're already doing it: Intuition is an unconscious process (for an in-depth discussion on this process, read the fabulous book Blink. If you can experience emotions, you're already receiving intuitive insights because emotional intelligence is the basis of intuition. How does that work?

You actually know a lot more than you think. Maybe you read an article years ago that you can't recall right now. Or you overheard two business people talking at the table next to you in a restaurant, even though you didn't pay attention back then. You are constantly exposed to huge amounts of information that doesn't get processed consciously. It just gets stored in your mind, at the sub-conscious level.

When you are thinking about a business decision, your left brain (rational side) offers all the logical pros and cons based on facts. For most people, they stop here and make a decision. But your right brain (creative side) is also offering relevant information! By reaching in the sub-conscious mind, it can come up with very precise recommendations for success based on a much wider pool of information.

That right brain information cannot be expressed in a list of rational pros and cons, simply because most of it is stored in your sub-conscious mind. There are no words associated with it. Instead, the information needs to use a communication channel that can handle more abstract concepts, such as emotions.

So how does this work?

In the blink of an eye, you might have a good feeling about something. Or a bad one. The emotion that feels good (excitement, passion) is used by your sub-conscious mind to tell you that you're going the right way. Likewise, the emotion feels bad (guilt, anger) is telling you that you're going the wrong way.

Yes, intuition is that simple.

The problem is that you ignore it 99% of the time. Or worse, you actually go against what feels right because everyone else is doing it some other way. Now, there's a one way ticket to the homeless shelter!

We tend to trust more promptly information that comes from our left brain (the rational, intellectual side) than our right brain (the creative, emotional side). That reflex is often based on relevant personal experience: We trusted our gut feelings in the past and it blew up in our face! So we gave up on that.

But if you want to go from New York to San Diego, is it really productive to turn around because you got lost once or twice?

Here's the most compelling reason to give business intuition another try:
When you follow it, you immediately feel better as you receive positive emotions from your sub-conscious mind showing you which way to go. And as you keep following it, it will lead you to that solution that works for you, solving whatever business problem you're dealing with!

In short, by following your intuition you can be BOTH happy and rich!

Elise Lebeau, M.Sc. is a Business Intuitive, providing a result-oriented approach to strategic business planning. She offers individual consultations and Executive Corporate programs on her web site at www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Business Intuition: The Future of Corporate America

Maturing world markets have created tremendous pressure on Corporate America to stay competitive. After downsizing and outsourcing, we're down to the wire. Most companies are reduced to looking for cheaper ways to offer their products or services, thus compromising their quality standards just to stay alive. When that happens, everybody is dissatisfied:

  • The customer who bought a crappy product.

  • The employee who has to answer complaints about the crappy product.

  • The stock holder or partner whose investment is melting in shrinking profit margins.


  • And yet, entrepreneurs want to succeed. They want to make good products. They want proud and happy employees. They want to do business while upholding their principals. The true meaning of sustainable success is to achieve your financial goals while maintaining good relationships with your collaborators.

    This is where strategic Business Intuition comes into place. Intuition is a form of intelligence that uses a right brain approach to generate ideas and solutions from a divergent thinking perspective (the famous "think outside the box"). It is based on Emotional Intelligence (the ability to perceive and manage emotions in self and others), a critical skill of successful decision makers.

    Business Intuition is rapidly gaining momentum in the business world: 62% of CEOs use their gut feelings when making decisions (2006, PRWeek/Burson-Marsteller CEO Survey). Billionaires such as Trump and Oprah both publicly attribute their success to intuition.

    Certain areas are more likely to achieve quick and obvious results from using Business Intuition.

  • Marketing efforts

    Does your sales team know how to use their Emotional Intelligence to establish an emotional connection with prospectives clients? Using intuition before and during a call provides you with leverage in cold call situation where you have no other source of information.

  • Employee satisfaction

    By using intuition, you can identify the top problems affecting your employees as a group. And you might be surprised by the creative solutions that would solve these core problems!

  • Business relationships

    When research doesn't give you a clear green light on a business deal, intuition can provide much better results than a lucky guess (or worst, a blind guess!). When you see someone who is able to take the right decision in seconds, like Trump, you know they're not relying just on facts.



  • Unfortunately, the potential of Business Intuition is still hindered by a poorly structured approach to it. Sporadic "gut feelings" can hardly become a transferable skill within a company. It's difficult to develop your ability at something you don't understand.

    But more and more entrepreneurs are realizing the unlimited potential of intuition in keeping up with a fast-pace business world. This realization opens the door to a deeper understanding of intuition and its application in business. There's always a solution. It just doesn't always come from your left brain!

    The challenges of Corporate America can be successfully addressed by relying on the ingenuity provided by a structured approach to Business Intuition.

    To some, it's the only rational way to go:

    "The only real valuable thing is intuition"

    - Albert Einstein




    Elise Lebeau, M.Sc. is a Professional Business Intuitive, providing a result-oriented approach to strategic business advice. She offers individual consultations, onsite and online training programs at www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com

    How to Use Intuition to Leverage Any Business Situation

    So, you're stuck in a bad business situation? First, keep in mind that this happens to the best business people. The real question is: How quickly can you bounce back up, if at all?

    If you own a business, you're already knowledgeable about your field (hopefully). When you consider a business opportunity, you do your research and find out all that you can about the deal. All these things are great, but any successful CEO will tell you that they're only part of the picture.

    Trying to do business without using some form of intuition, or business instinct, is like playing a poker game with only 3 cards. No matter how hard you try, you're at a disadvantage. When you use your intuition, or consult with a professional intuitive, the missing cards are added to your hand so you can play your very best game. Just like you would not want to choose between the wheel and the breaks when buying a car, intuition is not a substitute for business knowledge or research. But using all these tools makes a winning combination.

    Before you walk in a meeting, or make a call to solve that nasty problem, you can use a simple process to generate Intuitive Insights about it, so that you are better prepared when it's time to make a decision and leap into action. This process only takes a few minutes but it can make a world of difference. Make sure you will not be disturbed while you're doing in.

    1) Clear your mind. You probably have been tossing all kinds of thoughts about this problem back and forth. This process clutters the mind and becomes counter productive. You end up more and more confused as you look for a way out. You can clear your mind by:

  • Take a short walk, even just around the office
  • Take a drive in your car (alone)
  • Say out loud: "I am clearing my mind"
  • 2) Clarify your vision. Good business deals are made by people who know exactly what they want out of it. Never walk into an important meeting without having a clear picture of your goals. You can do this by writing your answers to these questions:

  • What is the end result of this business opportunity?
  • How will this business opportunity benefit my company? My partners?
  • How could it turn out to be even better than I anticipated?
  • 3) Ask productive questions. When dealing with intuition, asking questions such as "how", "when" and "why" is totally useless. The answer to these questions will not provide anything you can use right now. The most effective questions is: "What can I do next to leverage this situation?"

    4) Take notes. If you don't take notes you will not remember the brilliant insight you just had! Have a pad of paper ready BEFORE you start this process. After you ask your question, write down everything that comes to your mind. If you haven't done this often, some of it will be unusable, weird or seem unrelated. That's fine, just write it anyway. Sometime it takes a few days for an Intuitive Insight to make sense. But take notes on what comes to your mind until you feel done. Give your mind at least 2 or 3 minutes to fully download what you got.

    5) Pick the winners. From this list, there will be some things that are both feasible and promising to a positive outcome. Prioritize the list by putting a number by each item. Give higher priority to things that are easily doable and feel like a good idea.

    You might think that this process if iffy at best. That's fine. But when your back is up against the wall, iffy is a lot better than nothing. As you practice being intuitive, you'll get better at it. And like Trump says, you can learn to build a multi-billion empire by using this little known skill. Talk about a competitive advantage!

    Elise Lebeau, M.Sc. is a Professional Business Intuitive, providing a result-oriented approach to strategic business advice. She offers individual consultations, onsite and online training programs at www.StrategicBusinessIntuition.com