Another look at the 80/20 Rule.

I’ve sold things since I was a kid.  Lemonade, newspapers, my services as a lawn mowing entrepreneur, you name it….if it had value I turned it into cash. And, although I was in a town of 5,000 people, I was lucky enough to have a neighbor that was a local business owner.  Herschel took great pride in sharing his secrets of his success with me and although it probably didn’t seem like it at the time, I really was listening.

Looking back, I don’t really recall him using the term 80/20 Rule per se, but he did instill in me the basic premise that you need to take really good care of those that make up the bulk of your sales success.

Over the years, the Rule has become yet another overused and under-actioned buzz phrase bantered about by business coaches (including your’s truly, but I DO insist that it be used and taken very seriously).  While I don’t think about the actual term often, I do use it daily.  I also take keen notice of those who do not, which brings me to the subject of this Venomous Consulting Performance Blog.

There are two methods by which to increase sales.  Go deep or go wide.  Going deep simply means that you fish where there are fish.  You know your market, you have already sold them something and you keep mining that segment with offers of more, better, updated, etc. goods and services.  Going wide is a literal expansion of your client base.  Speaking to those to whom you’ve never communicated in hope of building a larger clientele.  The latter makes sense as it serves to replenish your base as it faces natural attrition.  But, doesn’t the former speak directly to the 80/20 Rule?  Doesn’t 80 percent of your success come from 20 percent of your customers?  Aren’t they your “frequent fliers”?  The answer is……Balance.  Your marketing is an expanse of shifting sand and if you are successful, you navigate with responsiveness rather than reaction. You see the sands moving before you get there.  You bob and weave, yet take the most direct line to riches.

Why this subject today?  Because I am experiencing one of the most blatant examples of what NOT to do as I sit here in a vacation condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.  You see, I “bit” and bought a timeshare about 20 years ago at a place in Mexico that I frequented for diving.  Long story short, it became a part of the Wyndham conglomerate.  So now, not only have I mentally amortized my initial outlay over a 20 year period but I am also slammed with ever-increasing “maintenance fees” that actually equal the cost of the timeshare.

Where is this going?  Remember, the 80/20 Rule in its purest form says that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clientele.

As a timeshare owner, you ARE that 20 percent.  You are the frequent fliers.  You are the users of the product and/or service.  That makes you the potential greatest marketing asset in the world to the company.  You can be a disciple. You are a living, breathing Yelp, Google, Expedia, TripAdvisor review.  After all, who doesn’t read reviews these days?

But rather than being treated as a VIP when you walk into a Wyndham property, you are subjected to treatment worse than if you simply showed up with a Priceline reservation. Again, owners have laid down a ton of money to have preferred access to a resort or line of resorts at which they are comfortable and happy.

At Wyndham resorts, timeshare OWNERS are met at the front desk with a cheerful, helpful representative who gets them a key, a smile and points them to Hell for your parking pass. Hell is the desk where they hold your parking pass hostage while putting on a full court press for you to submit to an ”informational breakfast” so they can “update you on all the great new things” at the resort and with the company.

OK, so not unlike 90% of people, I travel to get to one of these destinations.  Planes, trains and automobiles….packing, people, hunger, general grumpiness are all part of the process.  So, the ONLY thing I care about is getting my stuff to my room and putting my feet up while looking at the ocean.  The LAST think I want is to be sold something that I don’t care about.  Most certainly not NOW!  Leave me alone! And I am absolutely, positively not buying more timeshare points or weeks.  Not from you, not ever.

Let’s take a page from one of the world’s greatest marketing and imaging companies; The Walt Disney Company.  They have timeshares. But, I guarantee you that no one hammers you to go to an informational breakfast, cocktail event, whatever in an effort to sell you anything upon arrival.  It just won’t happen.  What they will do is welcome you, make you feel incredibly valued and assure that you are soon going to be enjoying the Happiest Place on Earth (a Disney mark so I’d better mention that).  Now in a couple of days, after being pampered and treated like you mean something to them, they will very likely slide into a gentle sales mode.  Not a bad thing because they’ve made you love it and you may even want more of a good thing.  That’s the selling deep part.  But, they always sell wide as well.  They want you to be that spokesperson for them.  They give YOU incentives to spread the gospel according to Mickey.

Have you identified your 20 percent?  If you haven’t, you must do so and should do it immediately.  Think of ways to reward them for no particular reason at all.  Surprise them with something to link your company to a good feeling.  Don’t ask for anything in return.  Just let them know you value them.  After you have built that relationship with them, feel free to reward them again for spreading the word about you to their friends and colleagues.  They are Google and Amazon reviews on steroids.  Nurture them and understand that it will be a constant flow of people in and out of that 20 percent level.

Consider how you can move your next 30 percent of your clientele into the top level.  Work that plan.  You’ll be rewarded by the results of some, disappointed at others.   Reap the benefits of the ones that move up and respectfully move the others down the totem pole so you have room for more.

The 80/20 Rule is nothing more than a reminder that business is a constantly moving, living thing. What are you going to do in the next 10 days to breathe some fresh life into your plan.

Oh, and thanks Herschel.  I really did hear you.




The View From Detroit (and why it matters NOW!)

Did you hear that?  It sounded like a sonic boom!  And the sky lit up!  Was it the meteor or was it the kick off of the North American International Auto Show?

Unlike other auto shows throughout the country and the year, the Detroit show is a full two weeks long because it is the showcase for the manufacturers to present their latest on the World’s Stage.  Week one of the event is dedicated primarily to the press.  From releases to sneak peeks to full-blown reveals, it is the time when the media gathers their facts, figures and high-rez assets and race to the Internet to be the first to publish.  It’s an exciting (and scary) time for auto dealers, supplying vendors, engineers and designers.

And CEOs.

It’s no secret that technology has presented us with transportation options that we couldn’t have dreamed of a mere decade ago.   Lightweight components, better crash protection, power-per-liter that is mind-numbing and all the while holding price points that are for lower than what the technology should garner. So, how will the OEMs align the cost of all this technology with pricing that is acceptable to the consumer as well as offer value to the company and its shareholders?

A few observations from week one of the show:


Trucks.  Trucks.  And more trucks.  New (or at least highly updated) offerings from General Motors and FCA (generally Dodge/Ram in this case),

Ford’s worst kept secret ever hits the stage in the form of the all new Ranger.  The Bronco is still on the horizon and when/if it arrives it will be based on the Ranger.  That should be interesting with all the push-back on EcoBoost technology by “purists”.  The rumblings of a “real” car, truck, SUV needing a ‘Murican V8 will continue.

In spite of the fact that these are the latest and greatest truck offerings in history, the Big 3 are already deeply discounting vehicles or financing or both.  What happened to the days of exciting, new cars and trucks driving consumers into showrooms with stars in their eyes and their wallets straining to burst open with cash?  Great for the potential consumer, not so great for everyone involved with selling cars for a living.

Electric Avenue.  In case you haven’t noticed, Elon Musk has set the automotive industry on its heels.  While the Model 3 is experiencing major teething problems, both on the manufacturing and consumer sides, it has put the other OEMs on notice that this technology is not only real, but it’s already here.  And if they’re not already deeply inside the circle, they’re playing catch up.  And if you think convention is balking at EcoBoost technology, just wait until Ford teases the rumored Mustang Hybrid.  There was quite the buzz this week about an electric or hybrid SUV adopting the Mach 1 moniker!  In any case, electric is here and it’s going to be put into overdrive in the next five years. That’s great news for new life in the industry, a hard pill to swallow by the masses and presents an entirely new set of challenges (read: OPPORTUNITIES!!) for the automotive aftermarket. Shameless plug time; If you’re in the automotive aftermarket and you haven’t thought much about how you’re going to capitalize on this quantum leap, we need to talk.  Venomous Consulting can help you navigate these new waters.  They’re vast and they hold many treasures.


From across the “pond”.

The truck-fest continues as does Mercedes-Benz’ model of blessed excess, the 2019 G-Class SUV.  From its size that allows it to stand toe-to-toe with a Hummer to the interior cavernous enough to hold a high school dance, M-B has taken this aging beast back to finishing school.  Since far more of these babies cruise suburban streets than do spend a minute offroad, the focus was on creature comforts like a video monitor the size of a small laptop.  Oh, and there’s a new droptop version (sort of) that looks from the side looks like a mutant Subaru Brat.

The 2019 Acura RDX offers a yet another ransom note of angles with a new front end, yet a smoother, more pleasing side view.  Loaded with high tech, it will no doubt be another top choice of the “you’ll never find me in a mini-van” crowd.  Connectivity is king as an Android-based system is on board. Has the Apple lost some of its luster these days?

The bulk of the other import offerings, at least thus far into the pre-stages of the show, are centered around sporty, edgy, high tech coupes.  Infiniti, Hyundai, BMW and more are sticking with the high zoot tactic, whether visually or virtually.  BMW touts its new Apple-based system as a multi-function gadget but the question is, will they force you into an annual Apple subscription to use all it’s capabilities?  We shall see.


We can’t help wondering if Ford took a page from the iPhone Book of Missteps when they introduced an iconic flashback (the Bullitt, complete with a showing of one of the long, lost Mustangs from the movie and Steve McQueen’s granddaughter piloting the newest incarnation).  Then, within 48 hours launched a CGI video of the Unicorn itself, the new Shelby GT500!  Just yesterday it was released that both sellers and suppliers have deep concerns about orders of the iPhone 8 and 8+ going into 2018.  Why?  Because no sooner did they release it than they unveiled the iPhone X!  It is the zenith of shoot your self in the foot marketing strategies.  So, could Ford perhaps given this some forethought?  The GT500 is an exercise on paper at this point.  In fact, rumors had it dead in the water as recently as a month ago.  But, a new deal with Shelby American allowed the marque breathing room, at least for another year.  While the excitement of 700+ horsepower, coupled with the promise of a corner-carving chassis is appealing (and it most certainly took the torch out of the hand of the Bullitt), the price of admission will likely separate the two quite nicely.  Estimates have the Bullitt in the 50k range and the GT500 north of 70k.  Makes sense as a loaded Mustang GT will sticker for $50,000 all day long.

On the polar opposite side of the Blue Oval, we congratulate Lincoln (yep, Lincoln) for scoring the North American Truck of the Year for 2018 with it’s all new Navigator urban assault vehicle.  It’s a whopper but it’s a beautiful one.

We’ll have more from the North American International Auto Show throughout the weekend.  The Black Tie sneak is tonight and we’ll have fun poking around with pinkies out.


I spent 20 years of my life in Chicago.  90% of it in the Loop.  It’s always fun to watch movies and tv shows being filmed there.  It’s just as much fun to watch them on the screen.  It was very cool to watch the Bullitt hauling down Lower Wacker and across the lower bridge levels over the Chicago River.  My office was literally blocks from there as was my residence.  I’ve driven or walked those routes hundreds of times so the Bullitt video gave me a double-shot of nostalgia. Just like McQueen….timeless cool.





To Tell The Truth (1956- )

It was a simple and innocent (enough) concept for a game show.  A panel of celebrities would question three contestants, all posing as the same person.  They were all “John Doe, a movie stuntman” or some other oddball vocation.  The battery of questions was designed so the panel members could figure out who was the “real John”. The winning contestant was the one that person who could fool the panel and keep them from guessing their true identity.  The show has been on and off the air for 60 years, with a variety of hosts including Alex Trebek, baseball legend Joe Garagiola, football great Lynn Swann, John O’Hurley (of multiple sitcom and dog show fame) and now Anthony Anderson.  That’s not the whole list!

Sadly, lying for fun and prizes sounds like an easy game to play, doesn’t it?  Is there a difference between a little white lie and any other manipulation of facts?

So, what it is that is compelling about getting away with something?  Does it give us a sense of one-upmanship?

A simple web search of a few key words produced a literal Psychology 101 in getting the best of someone else.  So, whether it’s “mean tweets”, twisting the facts to put ourselves in an elevated position (or to belittle someone else), delay a negative judgement toward us or just simply refusing to deal with reality, words matter.

I really can’t remember from whom I first heard this, but I know we hold to this tightly in our home; “If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said.” 

Another quick web search brought up Pinterest and there it was….our family’s “truth” right there, big and proud.

Think about the truth the next time you listen to or watch a newscast, read an article on your smartphone or simply overhear a conversation in a social setting.  What are the facts?  How can facts, when not presented with clarity, be misconstrued.

Be honest.  Be genuine.  Be yourself.

Words matter.


What do you think?



Taxman. Let’s just play the song and enjoy it rather than be in a hurry to file early!

Let me tell you how it will be
There’s one for you, nineteen for me
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
Should five per cent appear too small
Be thankful I don’t take it all
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah I’m the taxman
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.
Don’t ask me what I want it for
If you don’t want to pay some more
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
‘Cause I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman
And you’re working for no one but me.
Songwriters: George Harrison
Taxman lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
For those of you that own your own business, here’s a quick reminder:
Return​​​​​ ​Due Date
December 2017 (monthly and quarterly)​ January 22, 2018
Annual (calendar year 2017)​ February 5, 2018
January 2018 February 20, 2018
February 2018 March 20, 2018

So, unless you own a business and have to file quarterly, why be in a hurry?  The only reason is if you are entitled to a refund.  And the only reason you would ever have a refund would be if you overpaid and/or didn’t sufficiently prepare to best balance your income and expenses.

It’s interesting that most of us don’t think about what we could do better, smarter, more effectively until April 15th looms.  By that time we have already lost the first quarter of the year.  Plus, it will take you another 45-60 days to fully implement your “this year” strategies.

What should you do today, in mid-January?  Everything that you can!  MileIQ, Hours Tracker and Quick Books “Self-Employed” (if you are) for your smartphone.  Every receipt should go somewhere other than your console, wallet/purse or the trash.  Good habits only take 21 days to become ingrained in us according to the often cited studies of Dr. Maxwell Maltz (A plastic surgeon in the 50s, the good doctor found a pattern that it took an average of 21 days for patients to fully accept their cosmetic changes. Seriously, that’s where the 21 days originated.)

The fact is that it takes longer than that to develop good habits.  So, now, in January is the time to get to busy so you can benefit from your work most of the year.

Oh, and toward the end of this year….let’s say September…would be a great time to take stock in the present and develop some sound strategies and tactics for 2019!  It’ll be here before you know it and you’ll be fully prepared to make it your best!

What do you think?




Cold Enough For Ya? (And other silly things people say)

Call them “ice breakers”. Call them filler for an uncomfortable silence.  Call them silly….OK, call them stupid.

From Facebook-

He:  “What does BRB mean?”

She:  “Be Right Back”

He:  “OK, I’ll wait”

Patron to the bartender-

“I can’t taste the vodka in this drink..”

(Bartender) “Well, maybe you’re an alcoholic.  No bartender pours less than an ounce an a half of alcohol in a drink.  So, you might want to order a double next time.”

Kim Kardashian-

“I have this, like, sixth sense where I can smell if someone has a cavity.”

 So, I suppose that there’s something to be said for the proverbial adage “Silence is Golden.” 

Whether it’s leading a team, interviewing for a job or in negotiating a deal, Silence is POWER.

Credit: Dr. Alex Lickerman article “The Effective Use of Silence” in Psychology Today (December 11, 2009)

With the caveat that power can always be abused, the effective use of silence can bestow many gifts, chief among them:

  1. The ability to listen effectively. Few do it well. Most of us engage in listening only as a way of waiting until it’s our turn to speak. If you can’t resist thinking about what you want to say when listening, focus instead specifically on being silent. You’ll be surprised how much your ability to concentrate will improve. And if you can stop focusing on what you want to say when listening (don’t worry; it won’t go anywhere you can’t find it) and instead concentrate entirely on what’s being said to you, then silence won’t just bring you a new skill; it will bring you new knowledge. Remember that listening is far more powerful than speaking. You learn nothing by saying something (which by definition you already know). Besides, how often are we really able to influence another’s behavior or beliefs by what we say?
  2. A clear view into the hearts of others. Silence gets you out of the way and creates a space others will fill in with themselves. A person’s personality becomes apparent in mere hours to days. Assessing a person’s character, on the other hand, takes months to years. But people remain themselves at every moment. An offhand comment made when you first meet someone may, in retrospect, be obviously representative of a large character defect (or virtue). If you employ silence to listen carefully to not only what people say but how they say it, you’ll find they’ll give themselves away to you constantly and enable you to understand their character far sooner than you would be able to otherwise. Having had years of practice interacting with and observing nuances in our fellow human beings’ expression and tone has made our intuition far more accurate than we often believe. It only requires your silence to give full play to its power.
  3. Attractiveness. People want more than anything to be heard and understood and will find anyone who provides them that feeling powerfully charismatic.
  4. Self-control. Think how much more in control you’d not only appear but actually be if your first response upon hearing or seeing something that sparks a strong reaction in you wasn’t to lash out emotionally but instead to become–silent. Silence is a terrific substitute for self-control, not only creating its appearance, but over time and with practice its substance as well.
  5. Wisdom. When facing a new challenge, making silence your first response gives you a chance to reflect before you speak, increasing the likelihood that what you say and do will be on target, intelligent, and useful. Further, silent reflection promotes the appropriate use of what we call in medicine a “tincture of time.” If you resist the urge to leap into action at the first moment a problem arises, the problem often fixes itself. In medicine, as in life, sometimes the wisest action is none at all.

Prior to that conversation during my residency, I’d only thought about silence as something to be enjoyed in solitude and avoided in the presence of others. Now I think about it as a tool I can use to make myself more effective at my job and more understanding of others, and thereby more compassionate, wiser, and happier. Just think how the world would be different if we all spent more time listening. At the very least, it would be a whole lot quieter.

If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to explore Dr. Lickerman’s home page, Happiness in this World.



I Like Ike (look it up)

The 34th President of the United States was also a decorated military General. Dwight D. Eisenhower was known for having quite the way with words. He is often quoted and one that always comes to my mind is “In preparing for battle, I’ve always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.  

Truth was spoken.  A “plan” or a strategy is nothing more than a map in your hand.  Worthless unless you’re doing something with it.

“Planning”, on the other hand, requires thought and dedication to take action with those strategies.  If you’re planning, you’re part of the process and you have buy-in from the start.  Everyone knows the goals, the strategies used and the tactics implemented to carry out the actions needed for success.

Think about your business and your daily life.  Do you have a plan?  Great, but how is it being carried out?  Who’s in charge of what aspect and how will everyone know when the goal has been achieved?

Strategic Planning is one of our core competencies.  Call us at (352) 800-4407 and let’s talk about your plan.  Then let’s talk about how we can make things happen through professional and structured planning.

Oh, and you may wonder what made me think of “Ike” today.  Oddly enough, I was looking for a new “To-Do” app for my Android device.  I’ve used a few but frankly found them overly complex when they didn’t have to be (I suppose they’re doing what they can to justify the couple of bucks you’ll pay for a “Pro” version).  I found one called “IKE”.  I downloaded it, found it to be basic…simple…not over-baked and liked it.  I was a high-roller and ponied up the $1.99 for “Pro”.  As I went back to leave them a well-deserved review I read the product info.

You see, General Eisenhower used a simple priority matrix in order get his “to-do’s” done.  Well, it was actually author and motivator Steven Covey that called the Eisenhower method a “matrix” in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  Prioritizing tasks from the start is the foundation of “IKE”.  I like Ike.  You might like it, too.




Welcome to 2018 and Venomous Consulting, LLC

“How did that happen?”

We’ve all heard that line before.  We’ve all said it, too!  Whether it’s another birthday, a new year or kids suddenly leaving the nest, tempus fugit.  And, as time passes, it is prudent to take inventory of where we’ve been and use that knowledge to guide us through our future.

At Venomous Consulting, LLC we’ve seen countless examples of frustrated and anxious business owners and managers sitting around the table in December attempting to establish goals for the coming year.  The problems are:

  1.  They have sales data on which to reflect and examine the past 12 months, but they have no idea of WHY business was up or down.  What were the roadblocks or catalysts to the prior year’s productivity?
  2. They don’t know if their greatest issues are internal, external or a combination of both. You certainly don’t want to “fix” the wrong problem.
  3. How can they realistically create attainable goals for the next year without all of the information?  They can’t.  But, this happens more often than not and sets everyone on the team (and ownership or shareholders) up for failure.  Imagine planning for failure!

Rather than depending on the Magic 8 Ball or gut, the responsible and sensible approach is to truly take that inventory of where you’ve been, how you got there and what elements where in play along the way.  Only when you are armed with this critical information can you create a defined and attainable set of goals for your company’s future.

How do you solve this problem?

How would you do it for your company?  What tools would you use?