Execution Archives - Blog

Celebrating Life and Relationships with Neen James

What can I say?  Neen James rocks! The petite fireball lives up to her Attention Pays message, commanding a room of over 100 CEO’s and their teams last Friday at our 13th Annual Growth Strategies Breakfast at the Union League of Philadelphia. I loved welcoming her back for an “encore” performance. She was the Key…

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Three Execution “How To’s” to Help You Nail the Fundamentals

I’ve always loved the story about Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Packers, who would start off every football season with the now famous line, “Gentleman, this is a football.”

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A Tale of a Remarkable Scale Up Partnership

What does it take to have a great business partnership? There are certainly plenty of bad ones. I sat down with Darius Mirshahzadeh, CEO and Ali Vafai, President of The Money Source (TMS) to talk about what I’ve experienced as one of the most synergistic and well-oiled business partnerships I’ve known over the past two…

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17 Inspiring Quotes about Entrepreneurship, Life, and Leadership

I was invigorated and inspired by many of the thought-leaders, authors and business leaders that spoke before the over 800 person crowd, in Denver last week at the Gazelles’ Scaling Up Summit. But I was blown away by the workshop conducted by Jeff Hoffman for our Scaling Up Coaching Community. An accomplished entrepreneur and innovator…

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The Power of Perseverance: A behind the scenes look at Ron Jaworski Golf

Lots of words could describe Liz and Ron Jaworski.  Competitive, enthusiastic, passionate, committed to helping others, family-oriented, motivational.  But the word that comes to my mind is Perseverance. In an industry that is plagued with negative profitability and non-existent cash flow, has seen countless golf courses closed, is not just seasonal (their six golf course…

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3 Key Strategies to Reduce Distractions, Focus your Energy and Get Things Done

I’m surrounded by people who struggle with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). The men in my life – my husband of almost 26 years and my two grown sons, ages 23 and 20 – all have ADD to varying degrees. Each in his own way has had to work hard to prioritize, stay focused and not…

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How to be a Corporate Disrupter – and Win Big!

Shannon Susko, two time CEO, Scaling Up Coach, and best-selling author has never had a crystal ball. After starting her first company, Paradata, back in the mid-90’s, however, she and her team realized that they could really use one. “Paradata was born because we had raised $20M to expand in the Geographical Information Systems (GIS)…

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3 Follow-up Questions to be a Better Communicator

“Repetition doesn’t spoil the prayer” is one of my favorite quotes from the book, How Google Works. It’s from the chapter intriguingly entitled, ‘Communications – Be a Damn Good Router.’ Eric Schmidt and Jonathon Rosenberg go on to write – in one of the most compelling paragraphs in their book – “In most aspects of life,…

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How to Win the “Great Game” of Business

Mid-Atlantic Behavioral Health, a growing therapeutic firm in Delaware, is dedicated to supporting individuals, families, and groups to reach their fullest potential. And their team is committed to taking an active role in enhancing the quality of mental health care in their community. Enthusiastic students of Verne Harnish’s “Scaling Up” business operating system, Traci Bolander, the CEO,…

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Strategy to Exit: 7 Steps to Increase your Valuation and Improve your Business Too!

If you’re the owner of a privately-held company, eventually you’ll need to make a decision about the future of the company.  All things come to an end after all – including your role in your business. But have you decided what you will do? You’ve got three choices, says Rich Mander’s of Freescale Coaching, 

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6 Steps to Grow a More Profitable Company

Lernia Training Solutions was founded over fifteen years ago by Jill Huentelman, one of the most strategic and proactive business people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of working. The recipient of several fastest-growing company awards in the Greater Philadelphia region where their headquarters is located, the company now provides training and development services and…

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How to Carry on a Family Tradition – Di Bruno Bros. style

“The Future’s not a place we are going. It’s a place we are creating.” Bill Mignucci  Jr., CEO of Di Bruno Bros. Bill Mignucci Jr. had been planning to leave town and head to California after he graduated from Drexel University in 1990. That was before his grandparents, Danny and Mary Di Bruno sat him down at…

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7 Tips to make the 2nd Half a Success

What accomplishment are you most proud of as the first half of 2017 rapidly comes to a close? What’s your biggest challenge in the 2nd half?

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5 “Scaling Up” Lessons from the Trenches

Lisa Ridley did an amazing job at our 11th Annual Growth Strategies breakfast a week ago sharing her “Field Guide to Scaling Up” and giving our standing room only audience of CEO’s and their teams 5 critical things to consider and possibly implement as they look to grow their businesses successfully and stay “on plan” in 2017.

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3 Simple Questions for Success

One of the simple yet most profound tools that I learned in my tenure at Procter and Gamble almost 30 years ago was the Start, Stop, Continue model.  Or as I like to use it, the Continue, Stop and then Start model.

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4 Essential Tools for your “Execution Toolbox”

Great execution takes a lot of discipline but if you’ve got the right tool kit to leverage, getting things done – including your plan and your priorities – can be a lot less frustrating and significantly more rewarding.  Duct tape aside, here’s 4 essential tools to add to your kit.

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4 Reasons Why Your Employees aren’t Engaged

Why do businesses underperform? HINT: It’s not about having the right Strategy OR the right Plan. The secret, according to the study, lies in engagement and communication. And, even though the study was published almost a decade ago, the reality hasn’t changed very much, if at all.

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15 Lessons from a 4th Gen Entrepreneur

It’s Planning Season again… It’s time to pull your team together and celebrate your accomplishments, talk about what you want to continue to do AND what you need to stop doing.  (As Murray’s character discovered, you’ll keep stepping in the same pothole of ice-cold water if you don’t learn from your mistakes. :))

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10 Picks for late Summer Reading

There’s plenty of time for summer reading…almost half of August is left and of course Labor Day weekend – whatever these final weeks might hold in store for you.  If you haven’t had a chance to “catch up” on your pile of shame, I’ll add to your list with these 10 enlightening authors.  🙂  With…

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THE GREAT GAME of BUSINESS: Coming to Philadelphia

When I was a young engineer at Procter and Gamble, Jack Stack was already becoming a legend in the business world for what he was able to do with a traditional, blue-collar workforce.

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The Five Problems with Having a Conversation…

What’s wrong with having a conversation? 

For starters, conversations take place in real time and we can’t always control what we’re going to say.  Some can be difficult to have and can get loud and unpleasant.  Texts, emails, postings let us present the self as we want to be.  They allow us to delete and edit.  Our technology gives us control.

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7 Leadership Lessons from John Ratliff

Standing room only!  That’s how popular our 10th Annual Growth Strategies Breakfast was early this month. I’m sure it was because our speaker, John Ratliff, the Founder and former CEO of Appletree Answers has broad appeal to entrepreneurs and business leaders. He’s also refreshingly honest and transparent in sharing his own successes and mistakes as a CEO.

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4 Critical Factors to Be a Better Leader (TED Talk #7)

“When you teach people about how their brains work, they become more effective managers as well as leaders.”

So says Dr. David Rock, Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute and a frequent speaker on TED as well as Google Tech Talks on such topics as “How to be a Provocateur” and “The Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distractions, Regaining Focus and Working Smarter All Day”.

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Ten Years Later – a TED Talk to inspire

In 2003, Jessica Jackley heard a speech by Grameen Bank founder and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Muhammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh who had pioneered the idea of microcredit: loans offered to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.

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What REALLY Motivates Us to Work…TED Talk #5

As a teenager in Israel, Dan Ariely suffered life-threatening burns over 70% of his body when a magnesium flare, used to illuminate battlefields, exploded. While he was overcoming his injuries during an extremely long and painful recovery process, he began to ask questions – of himself as well as human behavior in general.

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You Can’t Be Good at Everything (“Talk” #4)

Not words that many of us want to hear – but seriously, if you’ve had enough life experience, you know that it’s true. And the ground-breaking research done over the past 40 years by the folks at Gallup backs it up.

As human beings (and managers) we each have talents, behaviors and thought processes that come to us easily, with little to no effort, what some would say are “second nature”. There are others, however, at which we will never excel, no matter how much we practice and work to improve.

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Tweak Your Style, Maximize Results

What really works if you want to communicate effectively?

It’s not necessarily what you would think, according to Adam Grant, our #3 TED Talk for our management video countdown.

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The Power of “Power Posing”

Amy Cuddy wasn’t supposed to become a successful scientist. In fact, she wasn’t even supposed to finish her undergraduate degree. Early in her college career, Cuddy suffered a severe head injury in a car accident, and doctors said she would struggle to fully regain her mental capacity and finish her undergraduate degree.

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5 Tips for Engaging and Retaining your Top Talent

You’ve just spent valuable time, energy and money over the last 90 days looking for the RIGHT Talent to fill a critical seat in your company – AND you’ve found an amazing A Player who fits the bill perfectly for what you need to grow the company.

But now that you’ve made a great hire, how do you keep them?  (HINT: It’s not about the money.)

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Is the “War for Talent” constraining your growth?

What do you do when you’re fighting from the trenches every day to find and attract the right people to your team? How are you competing with the “big guys” when it comes to offering the right opportunities to A players who can help you grow? More importantly, how do you find the time to FIND the right players and not WASTE your time with the wrong ones?

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A “Magic Wand” for building Accountability

Holding people accountable can be one of the most time-consuming and thankless jobs out there.  Maybe that’s why many leaders struggle to do it – or don’t do it as consistently and relentlessly as they should.  The payback isn’t always immediate or apparent, the conversations can be difficult and there’s way too many other priorities.

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Are you ready to take the LEAP?

It’s just as important to follow the money as follow your passion.  And, contrary to popular belief, you’re better off doing only a very few things that you do exceptionally well – and finding others to do the rest.

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Five “Must Reads” for 2015

My mother was a librarian.

That’s the “excuse” that I often give when my clients and other people in my circle accuse me of overloading them in the book recommendation department.

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No Fairy Godmothers – 3 Things every Leader needs to Know

How do YOU find and hire the right players for your company? That’s the question that was posed at a CEO Roundtable I attended a few weeks ago.  A challenging topic for sure. While hiring the right people can certainly difficult, especially for the small mid-market, there are methodologies and assessments out there (as well…

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3 Key Qualities of a Successful Leader

Vern Harnish once said “There are two qualities I have noticed in those who get where they want to go.  While intelligence, passion, and discipline are all useful qualities, success belongs to those who have these two attributes – an insatiable need to learn and an unquenchable penchant for action.

But there is one more missing quality that all leaders need to have – if they want to be successful.


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Calling all “time-starved” CEO’s and Executives….

With Quarter 4 of 2014 sneaking up on us, 2015 is just around the corner! I hope you hit all your goals for Q1 and Q2 and on your way to nailing your Rocks and achieving your key initiatives for 2014. And – if you want to get a head start on 2015 or if…

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6 Ways to just say “NO”

A good “test” of a great strategy is how often you say NO.  A really solid and well-thought out business strategy means that you’re saying NO more than you’re saying YES…to new opportunities, new people AND potential new clients.

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7 “Halftime” tips

Happy Summer!  For many of us (even the snow lovers) it definitely was a very long winter. But it’s time to take a step back from “the game”, get perspective on what’s been accomplished and plan to make the second half a game winner.

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4 Challenges and 4 “Tips” for 2014 – Part 2

So how can you stay on top of Sales and Management for 2014? (Challenges 3 and 4 cited on our Growth Strategies survey.)

If these are your challenges this year, read on here for 6 more tips and tools to help you!

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4 Challenges and 4 “Tips” for 2014 – Part 1

People, Money, Management and Sales…those were the top 4 challenges that small mid-market CEO’s cited as facing them in 2014 in our 8th Annual Growth Strategies Survey.

What’s more important is what these CEO’s are doing to overcome them.  And if they’re issues that are facing you, what are YOU doing?

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Four Reasons People Follow a Leader

Why do people follow? More importantly, why would people follow you? Anybody can be a leader. Really. From top-line CEO to front-line employee, anybody can be a leader in your organization. In fact, everyone in your organization should be a leader and should think like a CEO.  As authors, Tom Rath and Barry Conchie so eloquently write in Strengths Based…

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3 “How To’s” to Nail the Fundamentals

Why the fundamentals? Vince Lombardi, legendary coach of the Packers, was famous for saying at the start of every season, “Gentleman, this is a football.” Lombardi knew the power of fundamentals. Randy Pausch, the former Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon who passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2008, also spoke to the “basics” in…

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Are you a Lead Generator…or just “Taking Orders”?

Are you a Lead Generator … or just “Taking Orders”  Before you take a complete break for the holidays, make sure to plan some “think” time to clear your head and get ready for 2014.  Your Marketing and Sales plans are just the place to start.  Take our quick 5 question quiz to help prime the pump.  Guaranteed to give you some great ideas for leveraging your time and improving your top line in the weeks and months ahead!

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The 4th Essential Execution Tool

“A lot of you may love mankind, but you hate people.”

A good understanding of the “human factor” behind great execution however is what’s missing in many companies.  While the right tool kit can help make execution a lot less frustrating, as any good craftsman knows, you can’t just have the right tools for a job; you also need to know what material you’re working with.

And in the case of business, that means people…

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4 Essential “Tools” for your “Execution” toolbox

While duct tape may be the “survival tool” of choice for the guys from “Mythbusters” – unfortunately for most business leaders, duct tape won’t do it when it comes aligning your team and driving great Execution. Great execution certainly takes a lot of discipline but if you’ve got the right tool kit to leverage, it can be a lot less frustrating and significantly more rewarding.

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What’s your Forecast for 2014?

As 2014 approaches, I thought I’d share the following “forecast” about what the upcoming year could hold.

Dear Small and Mid-Market Executive –

The past few years have held their own share of challenges for companies of all sizes, but for you in the small and mid-market space they’ve been particularly stressful.

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A “cheat sheet” for “Navigating the Growth Curve”

Several years ago, James Fischer, had an ambitious goal. The co-Founder of the Origin Institutea research and consulting company out of Boulder, Colorado, wanted to understand and decipher the patterns, behaviors and the characteristics in entrepreneurial enterprises – and – develop best practices to better navigate the trials and tribulations of business growth.

Six years and over 700 CEO interviews later, Jim documented his findings in the book, “Navigating the Growth Curve: 9 Fundamentals that Build a Profit-driven, People-centered, Growth-smart Company”.

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A “Map App” for your business

Last week I spent five wonderful days touring the Douro Valley in Portugal with my husband, my sister and brother-in-law. The spa/ hotel where we stayed had terrific service and accommodations; we ate fabulous Portuguese food and took several day trips to the visit the local wineries that are ubiquitous in this part of the world.

The views were breathtakingly gorgeous as we wandered around impossibly high mountains in a tiny little Volvo, attempting to navigate unfamiliar roads in a foreign country.

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Four simple solutions if you’re “Stuck”…

“You don’t look like a chemical engineer,”another (male) chemical engineer said to me, upon being introduced as his new colleague, as if I was some strange aberration of the “species”.  (Twenty years later, I still get a laugh remembering his reaction.)

“What’s an engineer supposed to look like?”, I asked him with a smile.  It wasn’t the first time that I had heard that type of comment from a man upon introducing myself (certainly not the last) and why get angry when humor can often be the best response?

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Do you have a “tsunami” goal?

If a tsunami affected your business tomorrow, would you still stay on track with your plan?

A few years ago, that exact scenario happened to one of our clients, who was implementing the “Habits”.  Thanks to the Habits, the executive team had a plan, were aligned to their priorities, and had great meeting rhythms. The whole company remained focused, despite the turbulence and they still hit most of their goals for the year.

So what’s your “tsunami” goal? If your business was affected by a major crisis tomorrow, would you be able to stay focused on your goals and deal with the disaster too?

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Have you hit “the wall”? Or are you just running in place?

Someplace between $5M and $25M, most companies hit “the wall”, and executives feel like they’re running in place – no matter what they do to try and grow their businesses.

Not a straightforward or simple task as many of you know. Predicting, delegating and managing effectively take more than having the right talent.

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How to create a Culture of Accountability…

For the fourth year in a row, “Holding key people accountable” has been in the top 2 challenges that CEO’s have cited on our Growth Strategies Survey of small and mid-market businesses throughout the region.

When one CEO in the audience, somewhat perplexed asked, “Why does that keep coming up? Aren’t you helping them to do something about it?”  I was a bit stumped for a minute. The answer seemed obvious to me – but maybe not to him.

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How to Become an Exceptional Leader

Discovering your personal mission in life is not necessarily a straightforward journey (as I wrote last week) but it is certainly a worthwhile one.

Having a clear sense of what your mission is, and being able to communicate that sense of purpose to others is an essential part of exceptional leadership – and – the basis for gaining others’ commitment to follow you.

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How to become an exceptional Leader…part II

At a CEO dinner that I attended last night, Craig Burris, the President and Founder of SmartCEO magazine, asked me a thought-provoking question that led to an intriguing dinner conversation amongst our table members. “What is your personal mission?”, he enquired. And quickly followed that up with, “And what’s your vision for your company?”

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What are the obstacles to your success?

If achieving a desired future were easy, everyone would do it – quickly and easily. Even if your vision is clear and you can articulate a detailed destiny, there are always obstacles in the path.

In our experience, we find that obstacles come in three flavors…

Wondering what your obstacles are?  Click below read more!

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How to become an exceptional Leader…part I

with leading yourself.  I’m always telling the people I meet that I’m incredibly grateful for the time that I spent at Procter and Gamble early in my career.  Not only did I get an amazing opportunity to work for one of the most-admired companies but I also received at least a $250,000 education in leadership in the process (in 2012 P&G was ranked one of the best companies for developing leaders).

Click below to read more…

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Are you falling victim to Procrastination?

The election is next week. The holidays are close behind, and 2013 is just around the corner. And yet many companies still don’t have a formal strategic plan on the books OR a meeting scheduled to create a strategic plan and align their team.

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Who’s got the Penguin?

The Hill at Whitemarsh is a luxury Continuing Care Retirement Community located in Lafayette Hill, PA just outside of Philadelphia.  They pride themselves on being a Five Star organization when it comes to service which, with over 400 residents and almost 300 staff, takes a lot of work and commitment to maintain…and this year, a penguin. Judy McGruther, the CEO for the…

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