I just returned from a magnificent conference in Miami with one of my mentors, Alan Weiss (pictured below). Every year he invites members from his 450+ person Million Dollar Consulting  community to a prestigious location for two days. We discuss the state of the consulting industry, expand our thinking on our practice potential, sharpen our saws, and commiserate on our respective businesses. His business wisdom and prognostications are worth the price of admission.
No matter what industry you serve, these insights apply. Consider incorporating them into your growth planning and marketing stance.
1. Think far beyond your ideal client and perfect market. You have the potential to build life-changing communities. "When I thought this was all about dollars and cents, I made money," says Weiss. "When I realized it was about value, I made a career. When I realized it was about my place in the world, I created communities." What level of a life and business are you creating?
2. Integrate your learning. Read with comprehension, speak with influence, listen with discernment, and write with expression. Your clients and employees need your help sifting through mountains of data and erroneous information on the web. Your ability to learn is directly related to your ability to integrate information from disparate places. As I watch the dolphins frolic at the Hawks Cay Resort in Florida and await their morning feeding, I see how well they use multiple senses (the sound of the trainer's voice, wind, water currents, and sonar) to thrive. Tell stories in your marketing communications instead of providing checklists, features, and functions.
Practicing integration has three components:
- Synthesis of data (incorporating ideas from multiple sources and teachers)
- Versatility (the ability to apply the learning across many things that you do)
- Prioritization (focusing on the most salient facts)
3. Dance with failure and ambiguity. The best and brightest leaders in your B2B industry make it look easy. Case in point: Alan launched his session on Wednesday morning, and the ambient techno music was distracting everyone. Instead of running off to ask the wait staff to turn it off, he started to dance. Everyone reveled in his resilience.
As you develop your marketing plan, accept the fact that it may not work. Build contingencies into the plan. Reward people who take risks and obsess over the broad market opportunity versus "who will take care of step #5?" While execution is essential, someone needs to shape and over-communicate the vision. You need your own Steve Jobs equivalent.
4. Get out of town. I am constantly amazed at what fresh ideas surface when I travel to unfamiliar places. Strolling through the minimalist, boldly appointed halls of the Delano Beach Hotel reminded me to think just as boldly about how I treat my clients and colleagues. I have often been afraid of losing a client if I told the whole truth. I have let passive-aggressive people make snide comments without consequences. Those days are behind me. Winston Churchill once said "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts."
It's time to turn up the heat on your growth plan. The fire starts from within. The sun gods will smile upon you when you do.
- The Four P's of Marketing Needs a Facelift 
- Marketing Planning 101: Three Tips to Stay Open for Business 
[Image: Flickr user Kay Gaensler ]