Creating the culture you want has a cost

June 9, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Doing a culture shift to no compromise is not only a worthy undertaking; it’s a non-negotiable requirement for success in these economic times. No one knows this better than Bill Chrismer. He acquired the upscale chain of Gentlemen’s Quarters salons a few years ago. As with any acquisition, he not only purchased the brand name and assets – he acquired the culture of Gentlemen’s Quarters as well. Although there was nothing inherently wrong with the culture, Bill’s vision of what his company’s true potential was required that he lead it through a culture shift to no compromise.
I received the following email from Bill Chrismer. He so eloquently describes what few leaders realize when embarking on a culture from what is to what can be.
“The cost of building the culture you want is high. Tony Robbins says, “You get what you want by doing the things you don’t want to do.” You work through your leadership blockages. You step up and lead.
Yesterday we launched a nametag program and, after a thorough reengineering, re-launched daily Huddles and Scoreboards with no compromise as the mandate. All have been very successful. Many of the systems we’ve been compromising on are getting turned on. But it doesn’t stop simply by flipping on the switch. You have to keep at, time after time. Discipline, accountability and no compromise must prevail.
Rest assured, a culture shift to no compromise can lead to unpleasant things, like an incident that occurred today. During our daily huddle, we had a little outburst from a new employee. No compromise says that we cannot tolerate that kind of behavior. In the past we would have. I am committed to building and preserving our new culture – even though we may have lost a new employee today. I feel good about the changes, the new disciplines, and the new culture that we have been building.
Yes, the cost of building a new business culture is high. However, in the end, the company will appreciate in value because of the quality of construction.”
The lesson in Bill’s email is that all leaders need to be tenacious and courageous enough to see their culture shift through to completion. As Bill and many others have learned, not everyone wants to make the voyage with you. Some employees will quit, and most certainly, others will need to be let go simply because they were a bad fit to begin with.
In these crazy economic times, a culture shift to no compromise may be just what your company needs to survive and thrive. Just be sure you’re willing to go the distance before you hit the culture shift switch.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO, and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Doing a culture shift to no compromise is not only a worthy undertaking, it’s a non-negotiable requirement for success in these economic times. No one knows this better than Bill Chrismer. He acquired the upscale chain of Gentlemen’s Quarters salons a few years ago. As with any acquisition, he not only purchased the brand name and assets – he acquired the culture of Gentlemen’s Quarters as well. Although there was nothing inherently wrong with the culture, Bill’s vision of what his company’s true potential was required that he lead it through a culture shift to no compromise.... Read More

Doing a culture shift to no compromise is not only a worthy undertaking; it’s a non-negotiable requirement for success in these economic times. No one knows this better than Bill Chrismer. He acquired the upscale chain of Gentlemen’s Quarters salons a few years ago. As with any acquisition, he not only purchased the brand name and assets – he acquired the culture of Gentlemen’s Quarters as well. Although there was…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

The recession storm passes

June 1, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Like every major hurricane that slowly and methodically unleashes its devastation on everything in its path, the recession of 2008 and 2009 is beginning to blow itself out. We went through the fear of impending doom as the media frenzy sapped consumer confidence. We survived the eye of the storm as banking institutions were saved by government bailouts. And we realized the American economy would not collapse when mismanaged auto giants Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection.

Today, the recession skies are beginning to clear and the process of assessing the damage begins. Consumer confidence is rapidly making its comeback. Economists now project that the recession will be over by year’s end. Even though they warn that unemployment will remain near or at 10%, the rebuilding of our economy has begun – just like the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina.
In an odd way, it’s like people got tired of the recession and talking about it and decided it was time to move on. Even the news media is moving on to stir things up like the controversy of Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and North Korea’s moronic atomic tests, missile firings and threats of war. Storms pass and rebuilding begins. Forests burn and new life grows from the ashes. This recession is rapidly becoming part of history. We survived.
For all business leaders and politicians the question is, what was learned from this recession? What compromises occurred to assure that the recession would hit the economy hard? Was it profit over values, integrity and accountability? Was it laziness or avoiding the tough decisions that allow a business to run lean and mean even in good times? Was it resistance to change, or evolve and innovate? Was it allowing business cultures to remain contaminated with entitlement thinking and behavior?
Yes, this recession taught leaders what leadership is all about. Those no-compromise leaders that were playing the game of business hard and fast by the rules going into the recession will emerge relatively unscathed. Those that ignored some of the rules most likely took some hits and will take time to recover. For those that pranced into the recession undisciplined and avoiding accountability are either already out of business or their survival is doubtful – which in essence is what their compromising behaviors asked for.
Now we get to look to the future and dream again. We get to build on lessons learned. We get to grow stronger and more dynamic businesses because we must be prepared for that next storm that will surely come. No compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEOLike every major hurricane that slowly and methodically unleashes its devastation on everything in its path, the recession of 2008 and 2009 is beginning to blow itself out. We went through the fear of impending doom as the media frenzy sapped consumer confidence. We survived the eye of the storm as banking institutions were saved by government bailouts. And we realized the American economy would not collapse when mismanaged auto giants Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection.
Today, the recession skies are beginning to clear and the process of assessing the damage begins. Consumer confidence is rapidly making its comeback. Economists now project that the recession will be over by year’s end. Even though they warn that unemployment will remain near or at 10%, the rebuilding of our economy has begun – just like the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina.
In an odd way, it’s like people got tired of the recession and talking about it and decided it was time to move on. Even the news media is moving on to stir things up like the controversy of Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and North Korea’s moronic atomic tests, missile firings and threats of war. Storms pass and rebuilding begins. Forests burn and new life grows from the ashes. This recession is rapidly becoming part of history. We survived.
For all business leaders and politicians the question is, what was learned from this recession? What compromises occurred to assure that the recession would hit the economy hard? Was it profit over values, integrity and accountability? Was it laziness or avoiding the tough decisions that allow a business to run lean and mean even in good times? Was it resistance to change, or evolve and innovate? Was it allowing business cultures to remain contaminated with entitlement thinking and behavior?
Yes, this recession taught leaders what leadership is all about. Those no-compromise leaders that were playing the game of business hard and fast by the rules going into the recession will emerge relatively unscathed. Those that ignored some of the rules most likely took some hits and will take time to recover. For those that pranced into the recession undisciplined and avoiding accountability are either already out of business or their survival is doubtful – which in essence is what their compromising behaviors asked for.
Now we get to look to the future and dream again. We get to build on lessons learned. We get to grow stronger and more dynamic businesses because we must be prepared for that next storm that will surely come. No compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEOLike every major hurricane that slowly and methodically unleashes its devastation on everything in its path, the recession of 2008 and 2009 is beginning to blow itself out. We went through the fear of impending doom as the media frenzy sapped consumer confidence. We survived the eye of the storm as banking institutions were saved by government bailouts. And we realized the American economy would not collapse when mismanaged auto giants Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection.
Today, the recession skies are beginning to clear and the process of assessing the damage begins. Consumer confidence is rapidly making its comeback. Economists now project that the recession will be over by year’s end. Even though they warn that unemployment will remain near or at 10%, the rebuilding of our economy has begun – just like the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina.
In an odd way, it’s like people got tired of the recession and talking about it and decided it was time to move on. Even the news media is moving on to stir things up like the controversy of Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and North Korea’s moronic atomic tests, missile firings and threats of war. Storms pass and rebuilding begins. Forests burn and new life grows from the ashes. This recession is rapidly becoming part of history. We survived.
For all business leaders and politicians the question is, what was learned from this recession? What compromises occurred to assure that the recession would hit the economy hard? Was it profit over values, integrity and accountability? Was it laziness or avoiding the tough decisions that allow a business to run lean and mean even in good times? Was it resistance to change, or evolve and innovate? Was it allowing business cultures to remain contaminated with entitlement thinking and behavior?
Yes, this recession taught leaders what leadership is all about. Those no-compromise leaders that were playing the game of business hard and fast by the rules going into the recession will emerge relatively unscathed. Those that ignored some of the rules most likely took some hits and will take time to recover. For those that pranced into the recession undisciplined and avoiding accountability are either already out of business or their survival is doubtful – which in essence is what their compromising behaviors asked for.
Now we get to look to the future and dream again. We get to build on lessons learned. We get to grow stronger and more dynamic businesses because we must be prepared for that next storm that will surely come. No compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEOLike every major hurricane that slowly and methodically unleashes its devastation on everything in its path, the recession of 2008 and 2009 is beginning to blow itself out. We went through the fear of impending doom as the media frenzy sapped consumer confidence. We survived the eye of the storm as banking institutions were saved by government bailouts. And we realized the American economy would not collapse when mismanaged auto giants Chrysler and General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection.
Today, the recession skies are beginning to clear and the process of assessing the damage begins. Consumer confidence is rapidly making its comeback. Economists now project that the recession will be over by year’s end. Even though they warn that unemployment will remain near or at 10%, the rebuilding of our economy has begun – just like the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina.
In an odd way, it’s like people got tired of the recession and talking about it and decided it was time to move on. Even the news media is moving on to stir things up like the controversy of Obama’s pick of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and North Korea’s moronic atomic tests, missile firings and threats of war. Storms pass and rebuilding begins. Forests burn and new life grows from the ashes. This recession is rapidly becoming part of history. We survived.
For all business leaders and politicians the question is, what was learned from this recession? What compromises occurred to assure that the recession would hit the economy hard? Was it profit over values, integrity and accountability? Was it laziness or avoiding the tough decisions that allow a business to run lean and mean even in good times? Was it resistance to change, or evolve and innovate? Was it allowing business cultures to remain contaminated with entitlement thinking and behavior?
Yes, this recession taught leaders what leadership is all about. Those no-compromise leaders that were playing the game of business hard and fast by the rules going into the recession will emerge relatively unscathed. Those that ignored some of the rules most likely took some hits and will take time to recover. For those that pranced into the recession undisciplined and avoiding accountability are either already out of business or their survival is doubtful – which in essence is what their compromising behaviors asked for.
Now we get to look to the future and dream again. We get to build on lessons learned. We get to grow stronger and more dynamic businesses because we must be prepared for that next storm that will surely come. No compromise.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

Today, the recession skies are beginning to clear and the process of assessing the damage begins. Consumer confidence is rapidly making its comeback. Economists now project that the recession will be over by year’s end. Even though they warn that unemployment will remain near or at 10%, the rebuilding of our economy has begun – just like the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina. ... Read More

Like every major hurricane that slowly and methodically unleashes its devastation on everything in its path, the recession of 2008 and 2009 is beginning to blow itself out. We went through the fear of impending doom as the media frenzy sapped consumer confidence. We survived the eye of the storm as banking institutions were saved by government bailouts. And we realized the American economy would not collapse when mismanaged auto…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

When “not good enough” becomes the norm

May 28, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

Every business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”
What leader would want mediocrity as a goal? The sad truth is … many do – not by stated intent, but through their behavior and thinking. Addressing “not good enough” means taking action and holding everyone, including the leader, accountable for functioning as a world-class company. Complacency, procrastination and fear of rocking the boat set a high tolerance for “not good enough.” And just like failure to stick to a diet or fitness routine, “not good enough” becomes the norm. It becomes an accepted behavior pattern. And it kills companies.
If your business has the telltale signs that “not good enough” has become the norm, consider these no-compromise strategies to make “being the best” your company’s battle cry:
    *
      You must change first: Leaders set the behaviors, thinking, pace and rhythm of a company culture. Don’t expect others to lift up the company and rise to the challenge if you don’t change first. You need to set the example first. You must demonstrate your determination first. No more excuses. No more procrastination.
    *
      Identify what you’ve been tolerating or avoiding: Chances are it’s a rather short list that includes holding yourself and others accountable, lack of planning and communication. And don’t forget those infamous crucial conversations that are long overdue. You never rid your company of mediocrity by avoiding the tough conversations.
    *
      Cheerlead your “be-the-best” change initiative: You can’t change a lethargic culture with one grand announcement at a meeting. Change initiatives require an enormous flow of information and performance data. Daily huddles, victory rallies, one-on-one reviews, coaching and mentoring – all systems must be fully tuned and functioning.
    *
      Set a six-month Phase One target: Most culture shifts crash and burn in the first three to four months. By making the first six months your focus for pushing major change, you’ll be pushing your company through the hazardous “crash and burn” period. Phase Two will be the lock-in phase for new behaviors and higher levels of performance.
It’s so easy to become accustomed to mediocre performance because taking action requires you and your company to get “uncomfortable.” As the old saying goes, “no pain – no gain.” Be the best. NoEvery business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”

What leader would want mediocrity as a goal? The sad truth is … many do – not by stated intent, but through their behavior and thinking. Addressing “not good enough” means taking action and holding everyone, including the leader, accountable for functioning as a world-class company. Complacency, procrastination and fear of rocking the boat set a high tolerance for “not good enough.” And just like failure to stick to a diet or fitness routine, “not good enough” becomes the norm. It becomes an accepted behavior pattern. And it kills companies.

If your business has the telltale signs that “not good enough” has become the norm, consider these no-compromise strategies to make “being the best” your company’s battle cry:

    *
      You must change first: Leaders set the behaviors, thinking, pace and rhythm of a company culture. Don’t expect others to lift up the company and rise to the challenge if you don’t change first. You need to set the example first. You must demonstrate your determination first. No more excuses. No more procrastination.
    *
      Identify what you’ve been tolerating or avoiding: Chances are it’s a rather short list that includes holding yourself and others accountable, lack of planning and communication. And don’t forget those infamous crucial conversations that are long overdue. You never rid your company of mediocrity by avoiding the tough conversations.
    *
      Cheerlead your “be-the-best” change initiative: You can’t change a lethargic culture with one grand announcement at a meeting. Change initiatives require an enormous flow of information and performance data. Daily huddles, victory rallies, one-on-one reviews, coaching and mentoring – all systems must be fully tuned and functioning.
    *
      Set a six-month Phase One target: Most culture shifts crash and burn in the first three to four months. By making the first six months your focus for pushing major change, you’ll be pushing your company through the hazardous “crash and burn” period. Phase Two will be the lock-in phase for new behaviors and higher levels of performance.

It’s so easy to become accustomed to mediocre performance because taking action requires you and your company to get “uncomfortable.” As the old saying goes, “no pain – no gain.” Be the best. No compromise.”
 compromise.”

Every business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them, “You have accepted ‘not good enough” to become the norm in your company.” For some reason, this statement seems to hit the right chord. It’s like defining a company’s mission as “the relentless pursuit of mediocrity.”... Read More

Every business has imbedded patterns of behavior that interfere with performance, quality and growth. And yes, these patterns of behavior often cause the business to wander from one challenge or crisis to another. It’s when projects never get completed, goals are routinely missed and that grand vision of a world-class company slips quietly into an elusive dream. To help leaders understand why their businesses are stuck, I respectfully tell them,…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

Overcoming leadership stress

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | 1 Comment

Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your stress levels.

Stress can wear you down. Not only does it negatively impact your performance as a leader, it takes a toll on your attitude. It saps your ability to think positively. Most of all, it changes your demeanor in ways that you cannot hide from your leadership team, employees and customers. Simply put: if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to keep you positive and focused by keeping stress levels under control:
* Focus on the positive signs of recovery: Every recession has a recovery. It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom and doom of bad times. But this recession is already showing the telltale signs that it has bottomed out. Economists report that April showed a surge in consumer confidence. All it takes is a trickle of good economic news to begin pulling the recovery tide back in.
* Target the next 18 months: The heck with five-year plans – concentrate on where you want your company to be 18 months from now. Simply put: what do you want your company to look like on the other side of this recession? Set short-range goals and strategies to achieve them. You’ll be defining your stepping-stones to growth.
* Lighten up: There’s no better cure for stress than laughter and having some fun. Have a pizza party for lunch or company barbeque. Heck, dress up like a clown. Lead an impromptu company cheer. Take your leadership bowling or to a ball game. No contests here – we want everyone to be winners and laugh a bit.
* Get up and move that body: I go to spin class, lift weights and ride my road bike about 100+ a week. I feel great. It keeps my stress under control and that keeps everyone around me happy.
* Work with a coach: It’s well documented that the best leaders use a coach. A good business coach will keep you sharp, focused and hold you accountable for making progress. You’ll have a sounding board for your ideas and that ever-important outlet when you need to vent. If you don’t have a coach, call me.
* Take time to appreciate your achievements: If you’re in business today, you’re doing something right. Step back and personally acknowledge the things you did well and the things you did right. Don’t give energy to the bad decisions. Doing so fuels stress.
So there you have it. A rather simple collection of diverse no-compromise strategies to overcome the stress that comes with every leadership position. Like everything else, it takes work to keep stress at bay. So, what’s your company going to look like in 18 months?
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO
Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your stress levels.
Stress can wear you down. Not only does it negatively impact your performance as a leader, it takes a toll on your attitude. It saps your ability to think positively. Most of all, it changes your demeanor in ways that you cannot hide from your leadership team, employees and customers. Simply put: if you don’t manage stress, it will manage you. (more…)
Along with leading a company through these challenging economic times comes stress. Stress from driving sales. Stress from managing expenses. Stress from keeping employees motivated and productive – not getting caught up in the constant barrage of bad economic news. Stress from making more tough decisions and hoping they’re the right ones. Yes, leadership has its privileges, but leadership can also be a pressure cooker if you don’t manage your…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

The wonderful, whacky world of “pitching” the media

May 20, 2009 | By Neil Ducoff | No Comments

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media producers and editors over three days. (It’s Friday morning and I’ll be starting day two in about two hours.)
When I say, “pitch over 100 media producers and editors,” here’s what that looks like. Over the three days, there are five “meet the media” sessions each lasting a couple of hours. We get to pre-select which media producers and editors we want to meet with beginning with our number one pick. When a “meet the media” session begins, the authors enter a ballroom where each media is set up with a table and stool. We’re given schedules with our media picks and our numbered slot. When it’s our turn, we get our two and a half minutes to make our pitch, answer questions and, hopefully, get told we will be contacted or to follow up.
Here’s a sampling of the media I pitched on my first day: “The Today Show,” “ABC News,” “Fortune Small Business,” “Good Morning America,” “Now” on PBS, plus writers for Entrepreneur, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, business radio shows and more.
Now, I’ve gotten myself into some pretty interesting situations over my career, but doing the equivalent of speed dating with the major media sent my stress level soaring and my nerves in hyper drive. In fact, every author in the house fumbled through their first few pitches like kids auditioning for a part in the school play. But we all quickly calmed down and got into our groove.
There are two lessons I want to share from this experience. First, the only way we can grow and reach our full potential is to place ourselves in situations that make us stretch and challenge our abilities. This was one of those experiences that truly pushed me forward.
The second lesson is the hit list the media gave us for getting their attention. Here are the key points:
* Get to the point: The media receives thousands of email pitches a day. Picture yourself on deadline and your email box overflowing with mail. You blow through the list looking for nuggets of gold – with your finger on the “delete” button. Multi-paragraph pitches that ramble get deleted. The subject line is your story pitch line – make it sell your story. Keep your story pitch to one paragraph consisting of three or four sentences. No attachments of any kind if you want your email to make it past the spam filters.
* Be relevant to current events: The better you tie your pitch to current events the more likely your story will be noticed. The media game is all about getting a story that no one else has – getting the scoop. That sells advertising.
* Study the media you’re pitching: Every TV show, newspaper, radio and magazine has it’s own style. Study the media you’re pitching and try to match your pitch to their style of reporting. Remember, the producer or reporter has their finger on the delete button.
* Be persistent – but not annoying: None of the media really clarified what this means, but suffice it to say that if you’re emailing and calling a producer or reporter a lot, you’ll get tagged as spam or simply ignored. All gave examples of stories that were eventually done simply because the pitch hit at the right time. Use good judgment.
I attended the National Publicity Summit with my publisher. The first evening he warned me that I will likely meet authors “who speak to the dead.” Yeah, sure. First evening I met a criminal attorney that was a medium. Later, I met an author who said, “My book was written by my dead husband.” Who wants to listen to such stuff? Well, the next morning while watching “The Today Show,” they had a guest who talked to the dead relatives of four people from the audience.
Gotta go pitch “The Early Show” and Time magazine.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media producers and editors over three days. (It’s Friday morning and I’ll be starting day two in about two hours.)... Read More

As I write this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I’m in New York City attending the National Publicity Summit. This is a venue for authors to receive training on that most worthy of pursuits – getting press coverage in the media. The pre-event coaching concentrated on creating a two and a half minute media pitch. But the real focus of this Summit is to actually deliver your pitch to over 100 media…
Read More

Categories: Monday Morning Wake-Up

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