8 Mental Habits Of Successful People

Executive CoachingWhen we look at ways to innovate, modify or change ourselves or our business, we often need to look at 3 different things… What do need to START, MODIFY or STOP?  Sometimes, success comes not from what you learn to do but what you learn to stop doing.

That bit of wisdom comes from Sandja Brügmann, serial entrepreneur and founder of the Passion Institute, a recently launched online educational program and consultancy for executives and entrepreneurs. “Once we have developed understanding of how we interfere with our visions and goals, then comes the challenging process of unlearning and changing specific behaviors,” she explains.

Unlearning is hard work. “It requires one to move out of automatic behaviors and into conscious understanding, where we take control of our own actions and lives,” Brügmann says. “It requires confronting uncomfortable feelings and an attentive vision for a different business life.” In fact, she says, it takes many of the same skills that entrepreneurs need to succeed in their businesses. “It’s a real act of self-love at a deep level,” she says. It’s also what you need to do to become a transformational leader.

What are some of the behaviors we all need to unlearn to become effective leaders? Here are the ones Brügmann says she encounters most often.

1. Pleasing

The need to please others comes from fear of not being good enough and fear of being rejected, Brügmann explains. “We engage in pleasing behavior in order to feel that we are OK or loved, but ultimately to make ourselves feel safe,” she says.

This is a behavior even experienced executives often need to unlearn, she adds. It’s a matter of striking the balance between giving too much and giving too little. “It is a learning process to find the middle ground, where giving comes from a centered and whole place–the only place where it can truly be of value to yourself and others,” she says. We need to start by “filling ourselves up,” building both self-confidence and self-care skills.

“It requires a deep understanding that we are good enough and worthy of love and belonging,” Brügmann says. “From there, we are able to truly become caring, giving, and serving leaders, and make a positive impact in our companies and the world at large.”

2. Being fuzzy about boundaries

“Most people need to learn to create better, healthier boundaries,” Brügmann says. Many of her students need to unlearn the belief that saying no is an unkind thing to do. “In truth, learning to say a clean and kind no is a key foundational skill to successful leadership,” she says. “For many of our entrepreneurs, it’s a big aha! moment when they learn that saying no is in fact saying yes to yourself–taking your own business dreams and visions seriously.”

Loose, fuzzy boundaries create dysfunctional organizations, she adds. “Learning to create healthy boundaries and communicating them with empathy and kindness creates clarity, safety, security, and order,” she says. “A good leader sets a clear framework for everyone in order to set his or her entire team up for success.”

3. Not speaking your mind

“Holding back from saying your truth not only creates festering and negative emotions inside the withholder, but also deteriorates relationships and weakens the health of your organization over time,” Brügmann says. This is why unlearning this behavior, and understanding that it benefits no one, is crucial.

It’s not necessarily easy, she adds. “It takes courage and the willingness to learn new assertive communication skills, as well as relational management skills,” she says. “Leaders who do learn these things are exceptionally successful at driving their organizations forward.”

4. Avoiding failure

This is the surest way to kill success, Brügmann says. “Many people have a desire for success and fulfilling their dreams but an unwillingness to fail–or rather a desire to avoid experiencing the painful feelings that can accompany perceived failure,” she says.

Getting over this resistance to failure means moving away from the notion that you are a bad person if you aren’t able to create the successful company you envisioned. “Instead, it’s better to think of failure as the procrastinating behavior that fear holds us in when we never take the chance to live our dreams,” Brügmann says. “Real failure is not taking our inner yearnings seriously enough to try creating them for ourselves.”

5. Letting fear hold you back

“Fear is a natural human emotion, and we all experience it,” Brügmann says. The difference between people who take control of their lives and those who don’t is that the former have learned to cope with and take control of certain fears–which takes a lot of inner work. “It requires self-awareness, willpower, perseverance, resiliency, and a large dose of courage,” she adds. “Entrepreneurial pursuits are not for the faint of heart.”

6. Negative thinking

“When something bad happens and we attribute negative meaning to it about ourselves, we may be heading for a downward spiral,” Brügmann warns. “That’s something we most definitely want to unlearn.”

The solution is to take control of our own thought patterns, she says. For example, no one likes to hear no from a potential client or investor. However, if it does happen, it doesn’t mean that your project is bad or that your idea isn’t a good one.

“It probably has nothing to do with you as a person,” Brügmann says. “Don’t overanalyze it. Don’t make it mean anything positive or negative about you.” No one client or potential investor is the single key to happiness forever, she adds–there’s always someone else to pitch. “Think about what your next move will be to achieve your goal,” she says.

7. Getting really, really busy

“Unfortunately, it’s a common modern-day myth that being busy or having a packed schedule is equivalent to being a person of importance,” Brügmann says. “Gaining self-value and worth solely on the basis of being busy is a dangerous and self-sabotaging behavior that leads to, if anything, a deeper disconnect from your passion, purpose, and true fulfillment.”

Too often, she adds, people start unlearning this behavior only after a major stressor, or perhaps after someone they love leaves them. “Learning to slow way down can be very difficult for some people, especially those who live in overdrive,” she says. “Focusing on stillness, silence, and solitude, however, can be the doorway toward a deeper connection with self. It’s also called getting off the hamster wheel.”

8. Looking for your power outside yourself

“At the center of the storm is calm. Find your steady and centered place within yourself, and stay here as much as possible,” Brügmann advises. That calm place will give you self-confidence and allow you to stay committed to your long-term goals in spite of the short-term ups and downs of business and life.

“If your well-being, peace, and happiness depend on external factors, your level of stress will be too high to successfully stay on the entrepreneurial path for very long,” she predicts. Instead, she recommends trying to stay somewhat detached from external events. “You’ll be able to make better decisions for a larger good,” she says, “instead of just relieving short-term stress or fear.”
To your success,
Michael Stelter
P.S. To take a Test Drive on our system visit  We created the ABC GrowthAcademy System™ with the perfect combination of online resources, tools and support to get you out of any financial distress you’re presently experiencing… help you get laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities… and help you develop and then apply the fundamentals that build multimillion dollar businesses. click here to see for yourself.
If you would like learn more about how you can learn what you need to STOP doing to grow your business, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

Why The Biggest Issue In Learning Something New is Un-Learning

Pre-Employment Screening and assessmentEver since the publication of Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, 25 years ago, companies have sought to become “learning organizations” that continually transform themselves. In our era of digital disruption, this goal is more important than ever. But even the best companies still struggle to make real progress in this area.
This is a great article from the Harvard Business Review. Some important insights when taking an honest look at your organization.
One problem is that they’ve been focused on the wrong thing. The problem isn’t learning: it’s unlearning. In every aspect of business, we are operating with mental models that have grown outdated or obsolete, from strategy to marketing to organization to leadership. To embrace the new logic of value creation, we have to unlearn the old one.

Unlearning is not about forgetting. It’s about the ability to choose an alternative mental model or paradigm. When we learn, we add new skills or knowledge to what we already know. When we unlearn, we step outside the mental model in order to choose a different one.

As an example, last summer I rented a car to travel around Great Britain. I had never driven this kind of car before, so I had to learn the placement of the various controls. I also had to learn how to drive on the left side of the road. All of that was relatively easy. The hard part was unlearning how to drive on the right. I had to keep telling myself to “stay left.” It’s the reason crosswalks in London have reminders for pedestrians to “look right.” It’s not easy to unlearn the mental habits that no longer serve us.

The same thing happens in business. Many of the paradigms we learned in school and built our careers on are either incomplete or ineffective.

In strategy, an entire generation grew up with Michael Porter’s five forces. In this model, competitive advantage is achieved by driving costs down, driving prices up, locking in customers, and locking out competitors and entrants. In Porter’s view, “the essence of strategy is that you must set limits on what you’re trying to accomplish.”

But in a networked economy, the nature of strategy, value creation, and competitive advantage change from incremental to exponential. Companies like Google, Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook focus on how to remove limits rather than set them. They look beyond controlling the pipe that delivers a product and instead build platforms that enable others to create value. They look to create network effects through ecosystems of customers, suppliers, and partners.

The Porter model of strategy isn’t obsolete. But it is decidedly incomplete. It takes unlearning to see the model as only one possibility rather than canonical truth. As the saying goes, “The map is not the territory.”

In the field of marketing, our thinking is permeated by the mental model of mass communication. The world has become many-to-many, but we still operate with a one-to-many mindset. Everything is linear and transactional. We segment into discrete buckets even though people are multidimensional. We treat customers as consumers even when they want to be cocreators. We target buyers and run campaigns that push messages through channels even though real engagement increasingly happens through shared experiences. We move people through a pipeline that goes in one direction even though the customer journey is nonlinear.

We need to unlearn the push model of marketing and explore alternative models. For example, instead of using relationships to drive transactions, we could be building brand orbits and embedding transactions in relationships. Instead of customers being consumers, we could have relationships with them in a variety of roles and social facets. Beyond delivering a value proposition, we could be fulfilling a shared purpose.

In the area of organizational design, we are seeing an evolution from formal hierarchies to fluid networks. But this requires a substantial amount of unlearning. Our instincts are to think of an organization as an org chart. We automatically escalate decisions to the boss. I often hear executives talk about being “more networked,” but what they really mean is collaborating across the silos. To truly become a networked organization, you need decision principles that create both alignment and autonomy. But this requires unlearning in the areas of management, leadership, and governance.

The process of unlearning has three parts.

  • First, you have to recognize that the old mental model is no longer relevant or effective. This is a challenge because we are usually unconscious of our mental models. They are the proverbial water to the fish. In addition, we might be afraid to admit that the existing model is growing outdated. We have built our reputations and careers on the mastery of these old models. Letting go can seem like starting over and losing our status, authority, or sense of self.
  • Second, you need to find or create a new model that can better achieve your goals. At first, you will probably see this new model through the lens of the old. Many companies are ineffective in their use of social media because they still think of it as a channel for distributing a message. They haven’t made the mental shift from one-to-many to many-to-many. Social is best thought of as a context rather than a channel.
  • Third, you need to ingrain the new mental habits. This process is no different from creating a new behavioral habit, like your diet or golf swing. The tendency will be to fall back into the old way of thinking and therefore the old way of doing. It’s useful to create triggers that alert you to which model you are working from. For example, when you are talking about your customers, catch yourself when you call them “consumers” — this corresponds to a transactional mindset. Find a word that reflects a more collaborative relationship. The shift in language helps to reinforce the shift in mindset.
The good news is that practicing unlearning will make it easier and quicker to make the shifts as your brain adapts. (It’s a process called neuroplasticity.) You can see this process at work in an experiment by Destin Sandler and his “backwards bicycle.” Toward the end of the video you can see the unlearning process at work. One thing to look for is how the process itself is exponential. One moment he can’t ride the bike, and then the next moment he can. So as you begin unlearning, be patient with yourself — it’s not a linear process. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” In this time of transformative change, we need to be conscious of our mental models and ambidextrous in our thinking. Sometimes the incremental models of barriers to entry, linear campaigns, and hierarchical controls will be the right ones. But we need to unlearn these models and replace them with exponential models based on network effects, brand orbits, and distributed networks. The place to start is by unlearning how we think about learning.
If you would like learn more about how you can get adapt these strategies in your business call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

Customer Focused Organizational Chart For High Performing Companies

org chartThe flat organization is a concept in managing and motivating employees that has gotten a lot of interest. Instead of a traditional hierarchy with many layers of management, many companies are looking to create a more egalitarian structure. Flattening the hierarchy can allow employees from all levels of the organization to enjoy a work environment with greater freedom and creativity, and — hopefully — achieve higher levels of productivity.

A flat organizational chart does not mean lack of Leadership – on the contrary, it requires high levels of internal communication, focused interaction and a common thread of serving the customer… whether that is the external customer or the internal customer

A recent article in Slate describes what is happening at a few companies that are taking the flat organization concept to the extreme. The idea is called the “self-managed organization,” and it involves no managers. That’s right — no bosses. Employees in a self-managed organization all work as independent contractors, project managers and collaborators. Instead of reporting to managers, self-managed employees report to each other.

One example of a self-managed company is Morning Star, the world’s largest tomato processor with 400 full-time employees and $700 million in annual revenue. Employees there are all equals — there are no job titles and no higher ups. Instead, all employees work according to contractual agreements called Colleague Letters of Understanding (CLOUs) that outline the expectations and responsibilities for each worker.

A self-managed company structure is radically different from how most companies do things, but it comes with some unique benefits:

Better Efficiency

Self-managed companies can improve productivity because they enable faster innovation. Instead of asking their boss and their boss’s boss for permission to try something new or solve a problem in a new way, in a self-managed organization workers can simply consult a peer and get to work.

More Employee Autonomy

At self-managed companies like Morning Star, employees have a significant amount of freedom to decide how they work – and which projects to prioritize. Instead of taking orders from a higher-ranking boss, employees must gain consensus among their work teams.

For example, instead of having pay raises approved by bosses, employee compensation is handled by a review panel of coworkers. This fosters empowerment and initiative, as instead of waiting for a boss to give them direction, workers constantly evaluate their options and collaborate with the larger team to decide on which projects are most important.

Greater Adaptability

Because employees at self-managed organizations create their own sense of leadership and teamwork, there is often more flexibility and adaptability within the company. Instead of having designated departments for each business function, employees can be quickly reassigned to new projects that arise. Ideally, the self-managed organization might make it easier for companies to respond quickly to opportunities or deploy employees for new roles, regardless of the traditional idea of job titles or hierarchies.

Is a self-managed organization right for your business? Even if that’s too extreme an option, the idea of moving toward a flatter organization with more fluid job roles is worth considering. More companies are expecting employees to serve in a variety of capacities, manage numerous projects and contribute to multiple teams. The self-managed organization might not become commonplace anytime soon, but many companies can learn from, and hopefully capitalize on, some of the ways in which flatter organizations motivate employees and enhance productivity.

If you would like learn more about how you can get help to look at your business so that you can start creating a flat organization that is focused on customer satisfaction, call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

Writing An Effective Business Plan That Works For You

So you have a small business idea that just might be your ticket out of your 9 to 5. What’s the next step?

Business Strategic Planning

Expert opinion varies somewhat on the subject, but most agree a plan of some kind is in order.

“It’s really important for businesses to have a plan so they have a roadmap for their business,” said Carol Roth, entrepreneur, CNBC contributor and author of The Entrepreneur Equation. “It’s difficult to figure out where you want to go if you haven’t figured out the best way to get there and haven’t planned it out.”

Roth suggests that your business plan should be a living, breathing document that’s adjusted over time as the circumstances of your small business change. She recommends evaluating and tweaking your business plan twice a year. “If you do it the right way, it really should be a roadmap for you to figure out where you want to take your business and have very concrete milestones that have timeframes associated with them,” Roth said.

She emphasizes that the plan doesn’t have to be pretty if you’re not using it to obtain funding. It just has to be a functional guide that works for you.

A key area to focus on while drafting your plan is revenue projections. “You do want to go in-depth to give yourself very concrete plans,” Roth said. “Really analyze where most of your revenue is coming from, making sure you spend most of your time on things that create the revenue rather than wasting a lot of time on things that aren’t producing revenue.”

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be intimidating, thanks to software. Roth and Ivana Taylor, publisher of DIY Marketers, recommend the business planning tools available through Palo Alto Software. Taylor has found the Live Plan version especially helpful, which she says is very cost effective. “The reason I love it is it is more or less done for you—it connects to your QuickBooks and syncs up all kinds of information. It guides you through the process. You don’t have to think too much, you just have to answer the questions.”

One of the important benefits associated with going through the rigor of writing a business plan is that the process itself reveals weak points in your plan. Heed the red flags—if your plan isn’t feasible, you may need to abandon it, Roth said. “I see business plans from entrepreneurs all the time, where they’re giving up a nice salary and then when they look at their business plan, say year five, they see that their profits are going to be $20,000. That trade doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

In addition to financials, Roth also advises to pay close attention to how much time you allow to reach certain goals and objectives. “The good news is that entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic, and the bad news is that entrepreneurs tend to be optimistic. They forget that everything is probably going to take three times as long,” she said.

For assistance crafting business plan strategy, ABC can help  a variety of tools where you can get low cost insights and ideas  from successful coaches.   The information may be basic, but if you don’t have a plan, any information can be helpful.  Also, use resources around you like your business banker, community chamber of commerce, local business coaches / consultants and your accountant can be valuable assets while strategic planning.  Finding resources that have experience in your industry or service area can also be very beneficial.

Even if you’ve been owning and operating a small business for several years, it’s not too late to write a business plan. It could still prove useful—especially if you want to grow, improve your profit margins, eliminate waste, identify new opportunities and more.  Finding employees that will help the business grow and expand your capacity to deliver high quality service should be a key component to your plan

“You’re working with empirical data, not hopes and wishes, and you’re going to get better results,” Roth said. “You already know what’s happening in your business. Then it’s looking at where it is you want to take it next.”

If you would like learn more about how you can get help writing an effective and useful business plan call Coach Michael Stelter at Advanced Business Coaching, Inc. (262) 293.3166.

Case Study: Start Up Funeral Home Takes 18% Market Share


Funeral Provider

Business To Consumer


Client Situation – AT A GLANCE


Find a niche and serve it extremely well … the clients will come


  • New provider of funeral services to a market that had the highest concentration of funeral providers per-capita in Wisconsin.
  • Limited working capital
  • Consumer education of the benefits of alternative funeral services


  • Solid 10-year business plan with realistic projections for growth and market share penetration.
  • Business planning included an exit plan for the owners after 5 years in business.
  • Weekly measures of KPI’s
  • Alternative guerrilla marketing strategies to reach their target market
  • Multiple product and service offerings to generate value-add service to prospective client base


  • Investors were secured to allow for additional cash flow needs
  • Non-traditional marketing methods focused on relationship-building strategies with prospective clients and strategic partners.
  • Annual growth rates ranged from 23%- 57%
  • After just 3 years in business, 18% of the funerals conducted were performed by this provider.


Less than 4% of business that started 5 years ago are doing business today. Those numbers reduce to 1% when you look back 10 years. Those numbers are not encouraging, but entrepreneurs are willing to face the challenges in hopes of overcoming the odds to achieve success.

Funeral Service is a business that most people don’t know, or understand, but is one of those things you don’t think about until you need. Understanding the business model and being very clear on the products and services needed by your target market were the keys to success for these Start Up business owners. After meeting the owners and investors, we conducted an in-depth Evaluation / Alignment with the team members, vendors and suppliers. From those meetings, we were able to create a clear picture of their desired results.

When Advanced Business Coaching was introduced to the owners, we generated a 10 year (long-term plan) , a 36 month Road Map with success metrics and milestones and a 1-year action plan that would be visited monthly to ensure the Road Map would be followed. Quarterly meetings were held with investors and team to ensure that transparency of all ac- counting and activities was achieved. Immediate focus was placed on dividing roles and responsibilities of the principles of the business. The Organizational Chart for High Performing Companies was used to establish balanced growth and accountability. Empowerment measures were put in place to allow for key decisions to be made with- out unnecessary meetings.

The needs and wants of the Baby-Boomer demographic was a key component to the establishment of the marketing programs being developed. Focus groups and over 100 interviews were conducted. From this information, a plan was developed to deliver ‘education-based’ presentations to all interested parties. By diverting marketing/advertising dollars from traditional ‘image advertising’ to more direct-response approaches, the client was able to spend 50% less than industry averages and produce 3 times the results.

The first 24 months was time to develop systems and processes to maintain contact with prospective clients. Innovative marketing strategies and educational seminars were implemented to encourage regular contact between prospects and business owners. Strategic partner relationships were formed to find additional connections with their target market. After 5 years in business, market share is currently 18% and growing. What will happen in the future is still being determined, but growth rates continue and families happily call when the need arises

To take a Test Drive on our system visit

To your success,

Michael Stelter

P.S. Please remember that at any time you feel ready and qualified to move forward and acquire the professional help that can enable you to build the business of your dreams, just click here and check out our ABC E-Learning Marketing System™. It’s helping small business owners just like you get the answers and the help they need to build the business they have always wanted.

We created the ABC E-Learning Marketing System™ with the perfect combination of online resources, tools and support to get you out of any financial distress you’re presently experiencing… help you get laser-focused on your highest income-producing activities… and help you develop and then apply the fundamentals that build multimillion dollar businesses. click here to see for yourself.