What color is the water you swim in? You probably can’t know because you don’t see the water you swim in. From the outside of your fishbowl, – your customers, your advisors, your bankers, your competitors -they see the color of the water you swim in. It is a filter through which they see you.

Is the water polluted? Is it inviting? Is it old and needs to be changed? Does it look like the water in other fishbowls? Yes, it is all a matter of perception, so let me ask, when was the last time you asked your customers, vendors, advisors even team members how they perceived your organization as compared with peers?

It is a good time in the yearly cycle to do so. Assuming you already do surveys throughout the year, what is one to three questions you really want to know the answers to. Focus there. Maybe as a leader in the organization, you want to reach out personally to the decision makers in your top 3 customers or vendors and have lunch with them.

Get real information. Analyze the data you already have. Talk to your internal team. Be humble. And listen hard. How often do objections pop out of your mouth like bubbles out of a gold fish? Oops. Is  self justification going to shut down the communication? Get your marketing team involved and stay out of the way of their process. They are probably better at this than you are. Then listen hard. If you don’t learn anything that surprises you, you did not ask the right questions.

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