Author: Bob Prosen
Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guest, Bob Prosen author of Kiss Theory Good Bye: Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results in Any Company. (Gold Pen Publishing). Bob's book has recently risen to the number one best selling business book on Amazon and number seven overall of fiction and non-fiction.
Good day Bob and thanks for participating in our interview.
Please tell our readers a little bit about your personal and professional background.
Hi Norm. It’s a pleasure speaking with you. I’m a native New Yorker and have lived in a number of cities throughout the United States. I received a BS in engineering from Texas Tech University and an MBA at Georgia State University. I also completed executive studies at Duke, The Wharton School and MIT.
Hobbies include time with family, traveling, music and auto racing. I spent 25 years in corporate America leading various size organizations. Some of the positions I held include Senior Vice President of SABRE, Vice President –Consulting at Hitachi Data Systems, Managing Partner – Professional Services at NCR, Chief Operating Officer of a publicly traded technology company and now am CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement. I’m an author, speaker and business educator specializing in leadership and tools that help companies rapidly increase performance and profit.
As there does not seem to be any authoritative standards that exist for business books, how do you know that a business book is up to par? How do you check out the authorial competence?
Norm, there are two categories of business books. The first category deals with concepts, ideas and theories. And the second deals with solutions, answers and results. Personally, I prefer the latter and rely heavily on the author’s proven track record, the caliber of testimonials and reviews from actual readers in the target audience. It’s also important that the author cite real instances of how and where the information was successfully used. Examples that include actual names of people and organizations add to the author’s credibility.
Why do you feel that Kiss Theory Good Bye: Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results in Any Company was an important book for you to write and for business people to read at this time? What are your hopes for this book?
Organizations are fraught with rationalization about why things don’t get done. In my career, I often witnessed how hard it was for business leaders not to become part of the problem themselves. And I knew there was a better way: screen out the noise and the BS. Talk to people about what you expect and how you’re going to hold them accountable. And remove the obstacles that stand in the way and reward your people.
All leaders really want more results and less talk. They want to consistently achieve their objectives, increase performance and profit, month after month, attract and retain top talent, and effectively handle performance issues. The value in being able to do all those things successfully, is that leaders will then spend less time reacting and more time planning and expanding their business. With good methods in place, leaders are empowered to be pro-active instead of always reactive. I wrote Kiss Theory Good Bye so business leaders in all sectors, would have easy to follow, step-by-step instructions they could implement immediately and reap remarkable results.
My hope, because of my own experience in leadership and the struggles inherent in leading, is that my book Kiss Theory Good Bye will end up worse for the wear, because it will always be utilized and relied often by seasoned managers and leaders. It is a wonderful thing to be able to pass on the lessons I learned in the form of actionable steps and tools so leaders will have a powerful system to achieve their greatest goals.
Leaders know what they want and have been searching for a different kind of business book. As a leader, I was constantly searching for more knowledge on what made companies successful. The journey for knowledge began with reading “Good to Great” that explained WHY some companies did well, then came “Execution” which told us WHAT some companies did well, and my book’s sole aim was to complete the journey and give leaders the only HOW-to map they needed to get the phenomenal results they desired from the companies they run.
My book was written with two simple principles in mind: First, I would replace theory with actionable tools, tactics and answers that get results. Second, that all of the information would be relevant and directly applicable to today’s and tomorrow’s business challenges without the need for translation.
What differentiates your book from others dealing with the same topic?
Other business books try to tell you ways to run your business better, faster, and for a greater profit. Kiss Theory Good Bye gives you step-by-step directions to make it happen. Kiss Theory Good Bye replaces management theory with battle proven tools and tactics to dramatically improve execution in any organization.
Do you find that more and more companies spend too much time on planning and not enough time on executing their plans? As a follow up, what is meant by “meeting mania?”
If only I had a nickel for every time I heard one of the following: “That’s not in the plan.” “We missed the plan and need a revised forecast.” “I’m updating the plan to incorporate the shortfall.” Sure, it seems easier to keep adjusting the plan until it matches the actual performance. But the most successful top performing organizations don’t do this. Instead, they always keep their focus on execution in order to achieve the original plan.
More shareholder value has been wiped out in the past five years as a result of strategic mismanagement and poor execution than was lost in all of the recent compliance scandals.
Booz Allen Hamilton
Market cap greater then $1B
360 companies that trailed the S&P 500 1999-2003
When companies don’t meet their proﬁt objectives quarter after quarter, all too often everyone eventually blames the plan. Leaders then blame the employees and downsize the company. It’s a vicious, disastrous, and expensive cycle.
In regard to “meeting mania”, it infects many organizations. The good news is that there’s a cure.
Meeting mania is actually a symptom of a bigger problem, aversion to risk. If a company is gridlocked in too many meetings, then someone in that company is afraid to make a decision. That someone is usually at the top, and, unfortunately, this behavior trickles all the way down through middle management to the line workers.
I tell people to treat every meeting just like any other investment, and ask yourself, what is the return? Gains in productivity alone are reason enough to put a halt to unnecessary meetings.
Another method outlined in the book is to simply reduce the number of people in every meeting by half. The only people who should attend are those directly involved in achieving the goal that is the subject of the meeting. Make sure the key players are there. Create a results-oriented agenda in advance. Capture action items in the meeting and assign due dates and ownership for each one.
The next time the team meets start with a review of the action items from the previous meeting and record how many times due dates change. You‘d be surprised at how well people get things done when their results are in plain view.
What is your idea of an effective business plan?
These are the key elements of an effective business plan:
§ A clearly defined strategy that’s easily understood by all employees, shareholders, and customers alike. For example – Disney: To make people happy
§ Your competitive advantage must be sustainable
§ Growth objectives must be obtainable
§ Having the right people in the right positions
§ Ensure all assumptions are valid and thoroughly debated
§ Identify key risks and what will be done if they materialize
§ Easily converted into operating plans so that budgets can be developed
When the business plan, the operating plan, and the budget come together, you know precisely what you want to accomplish, how you’re going to do it, who is responsible, what it’s going to cost, and how you’re going to meet your ﬁnancial and operating objectives.
People in general have an aversion to risk and change, why do you believe this is the case and how do you rectify this problem?
First and foremost, management must encourage calculated risk taking and truly demonstrate that people who take risks and occasionally miss the mark will live to try again. A culture of blame and fear can’t ﬂourish in that healthy environment.
It’s true we’re all creatures of habit and would much rather navigate familiar territory and clutch the belief that if we just keep doing what we’ve done that produced good results, those outcomes will continue in perpetuity. Of course, this feeling is ridiculous, because the world around us is in a state of constant flux.
So the pain of change must be perceived as less than the pain of maintaining the status quo. Until this condition is met, little will change.
There are two ways to rectify the problem. You can either increase the pain of the current environment or decrease the pain of change. I prefer the latter and specifically wrote Kiss Theory Good Bye to give people the tools and confidence they need to manage risk and improve outcomes. Courageous people equipped with the right tools can accomplish anything.
What do you believe are the principle elements that make a superior leader as opposed to a poor leader? Is there such a thing as a born leader?
Let’s start with a definition of leadership – The relentless pursuit of vision and results. Superior leaders know how to do both. The leaders job is to ensure every member of the team wins, and winning is defined as meeting the organization’s top objectives. I only wish someone would have explained this to me earlier in my career. The reason this is so powerful is due in part to the inherent quid pro quo.
Ultimately, business leaders are judged by one measure – their ability to continually meet or exceed the company’s operating and profitability objectives.
Certainly, some people are born leaders, yet we can all learn to be better leaders by selecting the best role models and surrounding ourselves with the right people. Here are the seven elements of superior leadership from my book.
- Inspire loyalty and trust
- Hire people smarter than you
- Foster a healthy corporate culture
- Master communications
- Recognize and reward excellence
- Be decisive
- Maintain a holistic view of the business
What prompted you to go from a salaried employee to becoming self-employed as CEO of the Prosen Center? What is the Prosen Center?
Norm, I’m very thankful for all of the wonderful experiences I had in corporate America. That said, I accomplished my goals and it was time to put my strongest talent to work – teaching business people how to execute. Years ago, when I was in grad school at Georgia State University, one of my professors said to the class, “There are two great things that can happen to you in life. The ﬁrst is to ﬁnd what it is you really love to do. The second is to have the courage to go and do it.” I’ve never forgotten that. And after the sale of our last company, I had the opportunity to do just that and it feels great!
The Prosen Center for Business Advancement is the nation’s only organization focused exclusively on teaching companies how to execute. Our programs are based on The Five Attribute of Highly Profitable Companies and are delivered in one of two ways.
One is through customized workshops designed for a company’s specific requirements and delivered at the business site and second, we also offer ongoing series of intensive, interactive workshops in which business leaders around the country learn how to immediately realize the profitable results of effective business execution.
And to underscore these one-of-a-kind learning experiences, we provide our clients a 125-page proprietary executive workbook that contains more than 30 tools used by the world’s most successful companies to execute and achieve unprecedented operational and financial results.
We also offer a variety of business products designed to help leaders accomplish their goals and present keynote speeches to organizations around the world.
Do you set yourself daily, weekly, yearly goals? If so, what are some of your goals?
Yes I do. I have a daily to do list and actually use one of the 30+ tools taught in our business execution course to keep up with my own action items. I also have yearly goals that include, spending more quality time with my family, delivering a certain number of keynote addresses and publishing a business effectiveness index that will allow companies to compare their ability to execute to other companies. Of course I also want to publish more articles and am starting a blog.
How have you used the Internet to boost your business career?
What an incredible tool! I don’t know what I’d do without it. I use the net for research, finding new clients, studying competitors and contacting book reviewers just to name a few. In fact, that’s the way we met!
Any unique ways you'll be marketing your book that is different from how others authors market their books of a similar nature?
Yes. We developed a proprietary email marketing strategy and technology platform that’s central to our marketing campaign. We also work closely with business bloggers and use state-of-art techniques such as animated PDF’s to get our message out. We’ve assembled one of the best team of experts all focused on making the bestseller list in the near future. The key thing about the bestseller list for us is that it really represents how many leaders we hope we are impacting with the book. It’s very exciting and I’ll let you know how we do.
What is next for Bob Prosen?
A lot of public speaking, training clients, promoting my book, developing the framework for my next book and somehow finding time for vacation!
Is there anything else you wish to add that we have not covered? Thanks. You did a great job!
Thanks once again and good luck with your book.
To learn more about Bob Prosen and the Prosen Center CLICK HERE