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Employee Engagement is an Outcome, Not an Initiative

Employee Engagement

"I just wish my employees cared like I do - or some days even cared just a little bit!  I wished they used their brains and thought through their actions.  I wish they were truly engaged in their work instead of just collecting a paycheck." (And now every one of my clients will think I'm writing about them personally - this conversation has played out that often.) Employee engagement is the dream and passion of many a business leader. For a lucky few it is a realty, while for most it seems a far off … [Read more...]

Vision Statement Nirvana in Four Easy Steps

Vision Statement

Whether your business is a start-up or you've been at it for years, whether by intention or accident, there comes a moment when you long for greater clarity about what it is that you're striving toward. There comes a moment when you realize you're in search of a vision statement - the meaningful embodiment of everything you want your business to become and the benefits you want to see from it. Getting square on your Business Values is an absolute prerequisite for crafting a successful Vision Statement, … [Read more...]

Break All the Rules: Business Lessons from MasterChef


I have to admit I have this love/hate, moth-to-the flame relationship with reality TV: I resent that it's the nearly the only thing made any more, and yet I keep getting drawn back in. But what really fascinates me is when, like last night, an episode of MasterChef can serve as an advertisement for the importance of market research. If you didn't see it, the final challenge of the night pitted Red Team vs. Blue Team in true Gordon Ramsay style to cook the best hamburger for hungry truckers.  The truckers … [Read more...]

Six Ways to Improve Signal-to-Noise with Roundtables

Board Room

Our thirst for information is far outpacing our growth in need for money. If you’ve had business success, you already know access to information is critical, so this may not surprise you. But according to U.C. San Diego’s ongoing “How Much Information?” study, the average American’s daily consumption of data – things like phone calls, emails, videos, television shows, tweets, songs, even books, magazines, papers and the like – has ballooned to more than 34 gigabytes per day, up from a still staggering 10 … [Read more...]

How to Grow Your Business

Key Performance Indicators

We're drawing closer to fall which for my business tends to be a busy time - a time of renewal as business owners and managers get back from summer vacations... and begin looking forward to Christmas vacation. I really got stuck on the idea of touching the pulse of as many savvy people as I could to really find out what the top issues are right now. So last week, I did something that seemed logical at the time - I asked the folks on my list a very simple question: What's the biggest challenge you're facing … [Read more...]

Strategic Planning in a Challenging Year

Bald Eagle

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of being the facilitator for Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington (ABC) at their annual Leadership Planning Conference in Blaine, WA, overlooking both the Pacific Ocean and the border of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada. It was a spectacular location, complete with incredible wildlife like the eagle in the picture above. But it also focused the spotlight on the importance of a rigorous, regular strategic planning process for any serious … [Read more...]

Five Keys to Overcoming Management Overwork


There’s an especially strong theme coming from owners and their executives: the desire to invest smartly in improving business results. Actually, it’s stronger than that. It’s an awakening to the absolute fact that “business as normal” is simply not okay. It’s not okay to struggle and kick and scream and work hard and still produce… fill in the blank for yourself: the same old sales results, a lack of profit, not enough clients, insufficient productivity, a lack of satisfaction, or all of the above. While … [Read more...]

The Leadership Rabbit Hole

Rabbit Woman

Recently, I had the dubious honor to work with a senior executive who just doesn’t get it. Rodney was V.P. of Marketing for a leading manufacturer of networking technology.  (Or so we’ll say – substitute the leader, politician, or other important person of your choice.)  As such, it is Rodney’s job to create demand for his company’s products.  And yet after months of effort, demand had actually decreased, Rodney’s team became alienated, and the company’s performance suffered as a result of his work. Rodney … [Read more...]

Block and Tackle, But Know Your Goal

Goal Line

In a classic 1964 football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall recovered a fumble and made an impressive 66 yard return all the way to the end zone.  Unfortunately, it was the wrong end zone, resulting in Marshall handing a free score to his competition when he threw the ball out of bounds. In business, we’re often told that when times get tough it’s a mistake to over-think. That instead, we should just drive hard to get the ball and push down the field at all costs, but not do … [Read more...]

Sabotage Your Business in Ten Easy Steps


The nice thing about cars is they’re predictable. Every model has its own quirks that tend to act up like clockwork, and any mechanic worth his salt can tell you what to look for.  I remember my 1987 Honda Accord (an otherwise exceptional vehicle) had a body joint below each tail light that, as if on cue, rusted out… right along with every other 1987 Honda Accord in the exact same spot. It’s the same with businesses.  Businesses tend to have very common cracks and crevices that expand and contract as the … [Read more...]