This Question Can Save Your Business (and Life)

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We all know Toys “R” Us is shuttering operations after 70-years of making children smile. And history is littered with famous companies that suffered the same fate such as Blockbuster, Border Books, Sharper Image, and Tower Records to name a few.

What about the personal projects in your life that have also “shuttered operations”? Ever go through a divorce, bankruptcy, or realize that the house you bought is not worth as much as you paid for it? Although I never declared bankruptcy or made a poor real estate investment, I have gone through a divorce. It sucks.

As a business transformation keynote speaker and consultant, I work with successful, highly motivated professionals who make tough decisions daily. In my work, I often share with my audience common decision-making traps that we all fall into — especially when the pace is fast, the stakes are high, and the outcome unclear. More importantly, I teach clients solutions that help them make better decisions to transform their business, leadership, and life.

One decision-making solution is a question to ask yourself and your team when making a big decision. It is a “filter” — a filter to run your choices through to help you figure out the best option. It goes like this, "What would have to be true for this option to be the best choice?" Next, "If-Then" your answer to death. For example, "IF we hire this new VP of Sales, THEN it will cost us $XXX,XXX in salary and benefits.”

Answering this question helps you squash historical bias and assumptions that creep into your decision-making process. Especially when you REALLY want something to succeed, such as continuing to have iconic, yet costly, retail toy stores with declining in-store sales.

Take Action in 3 Simple Steps: (1) Pick one decision you are struggling with such as do I hire — or fire — this or that candidate, do I leave my job to accept this job offer or that one, do I finally get out of this horrible relationship? (2) Run your answer through the filter question, “What would have to be true for this option to be the best choice?” and “If-Then” it to death. (3) By this point, if the best decision is not viscerally apparent, get other trusted business and personal allies involved to help you make the right decision. Now, take 10-minutes to apply these three simple steps to that decision you have been putting off making. I promise you will sleep better tonight.

Imagine if Toys “R” Us answered this question at a board meeting or leadership retreat held over the past five to 10 years. Or if one motivated, hard-charging employee answered the question for them and forced Toys “R” Us leadership to pay attention. Perhaps our kids would still be smiling.

And interestingly enough, if you’ve been in a Barnes & Noble bookstore anytime within the past few years, you may have noticed more and more floor space being dedicated to selling toys. Books and toys being sold at big-box retail locations around the country with lots of overhead and declining in-store sales — what would have to be true for that to be a the best choice?? Good luck B&N…

If you get stuck answering this decision-making question, leave a comment below or hit me up on Twitter @mpveltri — I’ll get back to you right away. Likewise, you can learn more about how my decision-making methodology leads to a level of business and personal peak performance at