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Ken Keller: Did you and your company advance this year?

Brain food for business owners

Posted: December 4, 2010 11:09 p.m.
Updated: December 4, 2010 11:09 p.m.

One of the classic books on success is Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich.”

This best-seller was written based on primary research conducted by the author to determine how and why some individuals gain significant wealth while others flounder.

The original copyright of the book is 1937. The research was conducted during a time not dissimilar to present day, a time of economic uncertainty.

This book probably sits on the shelves in the offices of many business owners. Some owners have read “Think and Grow Rich” many times, some owners have read it once, some owners have skipped through it and some owners will get around to reading it one day.

It is a book worth reading, and re-reading on a regular basis; perhaps every couple of years.

One of the major principles highlighted is that successful individuals perform planning regularly in an organized fashion.

Under this heading, Hill suggests that owners conduct what he calls an “annual self-analysis.”

The objective of the exercise is to discover if a person is going ahead, standing still or going backward in life.

Quiet reflection is sometimes painful, but it often yields great insight and results. Here are 15 questions from “Think and
Grow Rich” that an owner would benefit from devoting some time this month to consider.

1. If I had been the purchaser of my own company’s goods and services this year, would I have been satisfied with what I received?
2. Have the purchasers of my company’s goods and services been satisfied with the purchases, and if not, why not?
3. In what ways has my company rendered more service and better service than what the customer has paid for?
4. Has my company delivered service to customers in the best possible quality of which it was capable, or could we improve any part of the service?
5. Has my company delivered the service to customers in the greatest possible quantity that we were capable?
6. Have I personally attained the goal I established as my own objective for the year? (This question is based on Hill’s research that suggests a person who desires success should have a definitive yearly objective to be attained as part of a major life objective).
7. Have I been persistent in following my plans through to completion?
8. Have I reached decisions promptly and definitely on all occasions?
9. Have my opinions and decisions been based upon guesswork or accuracy of analysis and thought?
10. Have I permitted the habit of procrastination to decrease my efficiency, and if so, in what ways?
11. How much time have I devoted to unprofitable efforts which I might have used to better advantage?
12. How may I re-budget my time and change my habits so I will be more efficient during the coming year?
13. Has the spirit of my conduct been harmonious and cooperative at all times?
14. Has my conduct toward my associates been such that it has induced them to respect me?
15. Have I been open-minded and tolerant in connection with all subjects?

Hill suggests that this analysis be performed in December of each year, so that any changes can be stated in the form of New Year’s resolutions.

The easiest way to tackle these questions is to address five at a time over a period of three days. Even the busiest owner can carve out some time to think through these questions.

To insure accuracy, Hill recommends that the answers be reviewed with someone who won’t allow the owner any wiggle room when answering.

The principles of success haven’t changed much in the decades since “Think and Grow Rich” was published. Answering 15 questions every December could very well make a significant difference in more than just the business and the owner; it could impact employees, vendors and clients as well.

Ken Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, helping top executives make better decisions through informed peer perspective, resulting in better top and bottom-line results. He can be reached at (661) 295-6892 or His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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