It’s been said, if you ask better questions, you’ll get better answers. Much of an entrepreneurs’ day is spent requesting information from others —asking for status updates from a team leader, for example, or questioning a supplier in a tense negotiation.
Yet unlike professionals such as litigators and journalists, who are taught how to ask questions as an essential part of their training, few founders think of questioning as a skill that can be honed—or consider how their own answers to questions could make conversations more productive.
That’s a missed opportunity. Questioning is a uniquely powerful tool for unlocking value, personally and professionally. Here’s a look at five questions and answers from CEO and Servant Leader of CEO Experience, Ken Gosnell to spur learning and the exchange of ideas, and fuel success.
1. Where can business leaders find inspiration in their daily lives that will set them up for success in their lives and careers?
Ken Gosnell: Create win lists! I have exchanged my to-do list with a win list. A win list is a list of actions and behaviors that I know will create momentum for me and my organization. I focus on at least one win a day and then I record all the wins, big and small, at the end of the day to review everything that I feel good about accomplishing that day. Often one win can lead to the next win and many other wins.
2. Going from a small, intimate team to a growing company with remote employees, how can leaders scale company culture while adjusting for the demands of a larger entity?
Ken Gosnell: Develop Chief Culture Officers. Culture is essential to business success. When a leader loses the culture, they will lose the company. One tool that leaders can use is to develop Chief Culture Officers in each remote location. The primary role of these CCOs is to tell culture stories, establish cultural values that mirror the culture of the company, and to promote events where the team can be together.
3. How do you determine the stock value in a buy/sell agreement?
Ken Gosnell: Sales Revenue Plus Assets. Although stock value can be determined by many factors, one of the easiest ways to determine stock value is to take the total sales number plus the accumulated assets of the business over a twelve-month period and multiply that by 1.5 to get a value for your business. High growth businesses can have a larger multiplier. This number will give you what your business would be worth if you would put your business up for sale. Then you take the total number and divide that by the number by the number of shares that you have per stock.
4. If a buy/sell agreement states when a partner retires, he/she is to sell remaining stock to remaining partner(s), but the retiree doesn’t offer to sell until five years later, should the stock be valued at the time of retirement?
Ken Gosnell: The date of the sale, not retirement. The buy/sell agreement should include a time in which the stock should be sold after the retirement date. In this case, it sounds as if the partner used a loophole in the agreement to sell at the time that was best for the one that was retiring. When the agreement was signed it was understood that the stock would be sold on the retirement date. However, because both parties took the risk of holding the stock, the stock must be valued at the date of the sell, not on the date of the retirement.
5. When your client’s brand is a bit lackluster, how would you suggest they improve it?
Ken Gosnell: Think national, Most companies that have lackluster brands often think locally rather than nationally. National brands have a clear and crisp look and feel. Most local brands look amateurish which will often cause those companies to lose business and the confidence of the customer. When a local company focuses on what a national brand would look like, it inspires the team and engages the customer.
Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CEO Experience (CXP). His company serves CEO’s and leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. Ken is the publisher of the CXP CEO Executive Guide that is designed to help leaders learn faster by encouraging to give themselves a monthly learning retreat. His monthly CEO retreats have helped thousands of CEOs and their leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, keynote speaker, executive coach, and strategic partner with CEOs and successful business leaders. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.
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