10 Qualities of Successful General Managers

General managers play an important role within an organization. Whereas a manager is typically responsible for one department, the general manager typically leads the strategic planning and direction of a company. It’s a critical role and one that requires a person with exceptional qualities. Here are ten of the qualities that all successful general managers share:

1. Optimism: A positive attitude is infectious in the same way that negativity can be contagious. Approaching each day, each employee, each challenge, and each project with optimism communicates a sense of confidence and dependability. Genuine optimism boosts morale and naturally leads to happier employees, increased productivity, lower turnover rates, a better product, and more satisfied customers.

2. Creativity: It is the indefinable quality of successful general managers and the spark that ignites their employees to do great things. Approaching business challenges in new and creative ways can lead to unimagined results that propel the company forward.

3. Conflict-resolution skills: As important as it is for general managers to be seen as part of the team, employees also look to them to resolve disputes quickly and fairly. An effective general manager can spot conflicts before they get out of hand and have the ability to resolve unforeseen conflicts as they arise.

4. Curiosity: Having a natural curiosity is another important quality of successful general managers. In addition to acquiring as much knowledge as possible about their industry and products/services, they ask their employees a lot of questions to see what makes them tick and how they can be better managers.

5. Action-oriented: Successful general managers think and react quickly to situations in the workplace. Being flexible and inclusive in decision-making demonstrates a respect for all opinions and decisive action inspires employees to get behind the desired goal.

6. Ability to remain calm: General managers face many different challenges and decisions on a daily basis. One of the fastest ways to lose the confidence and respect of employees is to have a quick temper and to make rash decisions without having all of the facts. Subordinates need to believe their leader has a plan-even in the direst of circumstances.

7. Ability to coach: The most successful general managers are also good coaches. They recognize and reinforce the talents of employees and, at the same time, observe areas of improvement which can be addressed in both informal and formal coaching sessions.

8. Listening skills: The importance of truly listening to employees is often overlooked. Being a good listener means taking the time to give employees their full attention, communicating their understanding of the situation and/or their needs, offering a possible solution, and encouraging continuous feedback.

9. Communication skills: Successful general managers have to wear many hats and effectively communicate with people in all areas of the organization, from their direct subordinates and bosses to front-line employees and clients.

10. Sense of humor: You can’t underestimate the importance of levity in the workplace. A good boss who is able to joke around with employees and generally create a fun atmosphere will help reduce stress, improve morale, and boost productivity.

Selecting the Right Product Or Service to Sell Online

Your selection of a product/service is of critical importance. The subsequent steps in your action plan will be determined by what you are selling. When looking around for products/services, think about the following:

Is there an existing demand for this?

In general, you should fit a product to an existing market & not try to create a market for a product. Although the odd freak product like the Pet Rock or Cabbage Patch Doll defies this rule, the majority of ventures which try to create a market for a product are dismal failures. In selecting your product, remember to give people what they want not what they need – people generally ignore what they really need because they are distracted by what they want. Successful products will generally fulfill one or many of people’s dominant desires:

• to be healthy
• to look better
• to attract the opposite sex
• to make money
• to escape physical pain
• to save money
• to feel safe
• to be self-confident
• to be successful
• to save time
• to have more leisure time

Sex, Health, Self-Improvement & Money are areas which tend to sell very well, but the competition is ferocious. If you want to crack these markets, don’t be discouraged by how many others are selling – they are selling because people are buying. Just do it better!

Online porn is probably the biggest seller on the net, but there are other less offensive ways to tap into the sex market. You can sell sexual self-help books (“How to Become a Better Lover”) or sexual products (specialty lingerie, sex toys, erotic fiction). Let your imagination flow. The point is that there is a huge demand for all things sex.

Health is another great market because so many of us are concerned with living healthier & longer. The diet craze is a multi-billion dollar industry. Fitness is also a money maker; just check out the late night infomercials. Herbals & vitamins are a huge market as well. Magnet therapy is a booming industry.

Self-improvement/motivation is another burgeoning market. These products are generally book or course based. Everything from “Unlocking Your Infinite Personal Potential” to “How to Give & Get the Most from your Relationships” exists. Don’t think self-improvement is big? Watch Oprah for a few days. Her show reaches millions daily & is completely focused on self-improvement. Every self-improvement author who appears on the show is guaranteed a best-seller. There is a shift going on in society which sees people looking for inward change. Now is a good time to be a supplier of such materials.

Money is huge as well. There are thousands of “how to make money” products which generally target the home-based business segment. Infomercials on get rich quick schemes are all over the dial on late night TV. These are big & most of them offer distributorship deals. Almost everyone’s ears will perk up if you tell them you have a way to increase their cash flow without a lot more work. That’s why these programs sell like hot cakes – we are all looking for the easiest way of the 30 year treadmill.

Products in high demand offer the buyer a quick & easy to implement solution to a problem. The following products are proven winners:

• kitchen products
• diet products
• exercise products
• pet products
• money-making systems
• cosmetics
• self-defense products
• home security products
• home remedy (herbal/vitamin) products

If you can sell consumable products that require regular replenishing, you will insure that most 1st time customers become lifetime buyers. But even these guidelines are a little meaningless because there is really no absolute way to know if a product idea is worth investigating without doing some legwork to test the demand for that product.

There is no absolute rule for what products sell – it’s an ever changing landscape, so the best approach is to learn a repeatable process for selecting what you can sell profitably.

A good approach to picking winning products is to 1st find a market, then identify products that satisfy the demand already present. If you get caught up in product selection without tying to an existing market, you are dead before you have begun…This is the critical mistake that most business start-ups make.

General Motors will Succeed – Here’s Why

Although General Motors saw a 2.5% slide in sales for the month of February, things are looking better for the automaker than they did just a couple of months ago. The biggest worry for General Motors in the 4th quarter of 2005 was the possible strike of Delphi workers. Delphi is General Motors’ largest parts supplier and a strike would cripple production and leave GM assembly lines at a stand still, almost certainly putting the worlds largest automaker into bankruptcy. However, as Delphi and the UAW continue to work toward a solution this seems far less likely than back in early December. General Motors has also made progress with the UAW in terms of health care and other legacy costs.

At a time when GM is aligning its production capacity with its market share, the General is investing more money into R&D. Clearly General Motors understands that the best long-term solution is to build great cars that people actually want to buy.

On the product front, the long anticipated Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon are selling extremely well. So well that General Motors is having a hard time keeping up with demand. This is a great sign for the new line of pick-up trucks GM plans to introduce later this year. Pontiac is riding high on strong Solstice sales, and Saturn is getting ready with a product offensive that should move the brand into a more up-scale position, while also attracting new buyers.

Of course some areas still need attention. GM is working to beef up its sedan offerings. The new Impala is a great start, though it lacks the design chutzpah that Detroit was once known for. The Cobalt and Pontiac Pursuit are a definite improvement over the Cavalier and Sunfire. However, the Cobalt and Pursuit benchmarked the previous generation Volkswagen Jetta which has been replaced with a more sophisticated offering.

This leaves the Cobalt and Pursuit a generation behind in terms of vehicle dynamics and engineering. You only need to look at the Honda Civic to realize that even small cars have to be smart and sophisticated. As Toyota prepares to introduce the next generation Camry with available hybrid technology, General Motors will have to invest significant resources to bring its hybrid program up to speed. Even without the hybrid option, the 2007 Camry looks like the 800 pound gorilla in the family sedan category. With the availability of a 3.5L V6 producing over 265hp, the Camry hopes to shed its image as a boring family sedan.

Buick is in serious trouble and GM knows it. Some inside the company want to “Oldsmobile” it. The brand shouldn’t be dropped. Get some of the guys and gals from Cadillac over to Buick ASAP. It’s a brand worth keeping but only if they go after a younger audience. Buick has lost its confidence and the only way they’ll get it back is by building a competent, exciting family sedan with rear wheel drive and a strong V6 or V8. The Chrysler 300C would have been a hell of a Buick. As for Saab, some say get rid of it. I say keep it. With sales growing on the back of the “born from Jets” ad campaign, Saab is ready for prime time. The Saab brand has a strong identity but it needs a strong line-up to get competitive. Stop offering hand-me-downs from other divisions and start investing some time and effort into the brand. With sales of Volvo surging over the last few years there is no reason why Saab can’t grow as well.

It’s time for General Motors to let the designers create cutting edge cars, and let the engineers develop industry leading technologies. All said and done I know General Motors has the talent and ability to design and build good products. Over the next 12-24 months I think we’ll see a company that has come back from the brink, becoming leaner and meaner, ready to take on the best automobile manufacturers from around the world. Good luck!

Dollar General: Coming to a Community Near You!

They started out as a small, family owned retailer and gradually began to spread beyond its small town roots to towns across America. Along the way they changed the company’s name and quickly became known for offering low prices on a wide variety of items. Consumers flock to them and they are opening more stores annually in the US than any other retailer. I’m talking about Wal-Mart, right? No, Dollar General! Let’s take a closer look at another one of America’s retail success stories, the Dollar General Corporation.

J.L. Turner was a man toughened by life’s difficulties who founded what was later to become Dollar General with his son, Cal. At the age of 11, his father died and young J.L. soon found himself out of school and working to support his family. By the age of 17 he was married and operating a bridle shop with his wife. Later, he opened a country store but had to give that business up when prices dropped along with his profits. Soon thereafter he began to work for a dry goods wholesaler and, later, he bought and liquated bankrupt general stores during the Great Depression.

By 1939, J.L. and Cal decided to plunk down $5,000 each to start J.L Turner and Sons Wholesale store in Kentucky. In 1955 a new idea was born – the dollar store – and all the stores in their growing fold soon were converted and the Dollar General name was born. The company went public in 1968 and today it operates over 7550 stores in 30 states with more than 700 added in 2004 alone.

So, what kind of items can you find at Dollar General? A good variety! The store reminds me of another retailer, now defunct — Woolworth’s — in that they carry a little bit of everything. Do you need greeting cards? Excellent quality cards are sold for the unheard of low price of 2 for $1. Seasonal items such as coolers, plastic benches, folding stools, flags, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, wind chimes, and more are on prominent display. Food items as well as personal care products are carried, many of which have the Dollar General name and have a pre-stamped price right on the product. No, they do not have a complete line of any product, just the bestsellers. Still, the variety is good.

Because Dollar General was founded exclusively as a dollar store, many of their items are still priced at a dollar or less. Fortunately, for consumers, they are not restricted by the ‘one dollar’ limit and other items of greater value are sold too. Do you need sunflower bird seed? $2 per bag. Do you want DG candy? 4 for $1. On a recent visit I made to my nearby Dollar General I noticed many summer items on display outside the store with discount labels of 30% featured. Thus, the $20 molded plastic bench – available in white or hunter green – was now reduced to $14. Although the chain prices their items competitively, marked down items are easily found and quickly snapped up. So, if you see an item reduced and you want it, you better snag it right away!

Dollar General clearly states on their website that they serve lower and lower-middle income customers. Thus, one of their strong sellers is the Dollar General private label found on many products throughout the store. The quality of these items can differ, however. For example, I purchased the DG version of a York Peppermint Patty and can emphatically tell you that York has no fear of DG overtaking them in this category! If it is price you want, then get the DG patty. If it is taste, consistency, and quality you desire, then get the York Peppermint Patty. The store sells both items.

As widespread as the company stores are, you cannot find them in twenty states — yet. All states on the east coast are served except for those in New England. Stores can be found in the upper Midwest and as far west as Wisconsin then down to Texas and over to Arizona. All of the northwest and California, Utah, and Wyoming fall outside of their current service area. Still, the company is able to saturate the market with over 900 stores in Texas alone.

Many small towns that would probably not be served by a larger retailer usually have a Dollar General store present. Thus, the corporation’s commitment to small towns remains important to them, something many of the larger retailers have forgotten about over time.

Do I recommend Dollar General? Yes, because I shop there. No, I don’t purchase many of their store labeled items for reasons mentioned earlier. Still, I like to shop at a store that is small enough to locate much of what I need quickly and at a good price while allowing me to leave without feeling overwhelmed. Apparently, most of their customers feel the same way.