Small business advice Archives - Blog

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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A 3 Step Cure for “Customer Amnesia”

“I continue to be struck by how few leaders make it a strategic priority to talk to their customers.”  Dave Power, President and CEO and author of “The Curve Ahead”   When was the last time you sat down, had an open and frank discussion with a customer, and asked how things were going and…

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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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What’s your biggest Challenge? It’s People – again!

Last month we shared the results from our 12th Annual Growth Strategies survey and no surprise, when we asked CEO’s about their biggest challenge for growth, the answer was People. Attracting and retaining talent, being a better Coach and Manager and creating an engaged and aligned workforce were all cited as major stumbling blocks to…

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12 Quotable Million $$$ Quotes from Howard Shore

“Howard was AWESOME! And right on point!” “The workshop and the message were outstanding, informative, and very pertinent. And I enjoyed meeting the CEO Think Tank® community too!”  “I really enjoyed listening to Howard and only wish I had known him years ago…he could have saved me millions!” Howard Shore delivered an insightful and amazing keynote…

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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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Four Cash Flow Factors to Keep Top of Mind in 2018

The New Year is here! As the first Quarter kicks off, I thought I’d share the following “forecast” about what the upcoming year could hold. Dear Small and Mid-Market Executive – Every year holds its own share of challenges for companies of all sizes, but for those of you in the small and mid-market space…

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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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4 Reasons People Follow

Why do people follow? More importantly, why would people follow you? With the end of the first half of the year looming, if you haven’t asked yourself this question recently, it’s a good time to do so as you work on refining your plans. Great leadership involves many factors but one of the most important,…

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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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How to Fly a Horse – or the “Secret” History of Creation

Creative genius is a myth.  And great flashes of inspiration are never the work of just one person, even if one person gets all the credit.

So argues author Kevin Ashton, technology pioneer and entrepreneur in his best-selling book, “How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery”.

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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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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 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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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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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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Five Failures or Five Reminders?

Take this short quiz  (courtesy of the speakers at the Fortune Leadership Summit in Orlando a week ago) and see!

 

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A 3 Step Cure for “Customer Amnesia”

Dave Power, of Power Strategy, a former CEO and private equity guy, loves to talk about Top Line Growth – and how to get more. Some of you may remember Dave from when he came to Philly last year to talk at our Growth Strategies Summit.  He’s passionate about the subject of beating the “S” curve and I’ve learned a lot from him about staying on top of your market and NOT resting on your laurels.

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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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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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Why Follow a Path if You Don’t Know the Destination?

As we head into the last quarter of 2012, the subject of strategic planning should be on the top of your list.  In my travels, however, I’ve found that there are 3 categories companies fall into when it comes to Strategic Planning.

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Cash is Queen…

People are the life blood of a business – but getting them engaged and committed can seem like a daunting task at times…

  1. What are you doing to foster engagement in your company?
  2. How are you getting people on the same page and pulling in the same direction?
  3. How much time do you spend reinforcing what’s important AND what are the consequences of not performing?

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Before the year gets away from you…

Summer’s winding down…at least in the northern hemisphere…and I’m starting to hear talks of annual planning for 2013 – along with lots of“strategic thinking” and “what if” conversations. Of course, there’s always the critical prioritization question given all of the things you could be doing…

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What’s your Number?

Ed Sullivan, four-time entrepreneur and currently CEO of G2Link, has a track record with companies that might turn a few of you green with envy.     And, while he is highly creative, he is also extremely disciplined when it comes to running his businesses. At a recent lunch with him and a couple of my clients, Ed…

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And the Survey Says…

Well the results are in from our Sixth Annual Growth Strategies surveyof the CEO’s of small and mid-market companies in the Greater Philly region and for those of you who haven’t seen the results yet, they’re very encouraging. Some of the key highlights… Businesses that survived the downmarket are now investing and growing Finding, developing and keeping good people…

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So what about those “practical” examples?

As I shared with you last week, the companies that are successful at long-term growth are the ones that find a new “S” curve for their business, according to Dave Power of Power Strategy, the speaker at our upcoming Growth Strategies Breakfast next Friday, the 16th.  Whether it’s a new product, a new way of doing things, a new…

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So what can Dave Power teach you…?

So why am I bringing Dave to Philly?  And more importantly – what can he teach you about dealing with the challenges of growth? Dave Power has spent his career helping growth companies to grow…and helping them do what they don’t want to always do – acknowledge that today’s success doesn’t insure any success going forward, unless you’re willing and…

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How are you “Turning up the Heat” this year?

We’re two weeks into the Second Quarter of 2012…What are you doing to “turn up the heat”? Are you working on GREAT Execution – incorporating the rhythm of daily huddles and weekly tacticals to stay on top of your game and your plan? Is your focus TopGrading your Talent – defining and filling the right “strategic” position in your company which will…

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2012 is Right Around the Corner…

What can you learn from other CEO’s mistakes? One of the biggest “lessons learned” in the stories that I’ve been sharing with you the past few months is making darn sure that your company has a clear Strategy – what it is and sometimes more importantly – what it isn’t. The CEO’s that I spoke with also consistently emphasized how critical…

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Sometimes Life catches Up with You…

In what will continue to be challenging economic times, how do you grow and sustain your company? Strategy and People That’s the message that came through loud and clear two weeks ago at the Fortune Growth Summit in Phoenix.  My biggest takeway? The companies that will weather the storm in the next few years will do so…

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Save the “Ides of May”…and still looking for your votes!

I’m headed off this weekend to Tucson, Arizona for the Fortune Gazelles Growth conference.  It promises to be a great event with a number of thought—provoking speakers including Dan Pink, author of “The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” and the CEO and Founder of Go Daddy, Bob Parsons. As always, I’ll be blogging about my biggest learnings so stay tuned! BUT…

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Two exciting “launches” to announce…and a REMINDER…

Along with our upcoming Rockefeller Habits workshop on December 8th – for more information or to sign up click here – and our first ROARingvideo workshop on November 2nd… I’m pleased to announce the launch of Ballantree Consulting’s new website… www.BallantreeConsulting.com and our new Habits video! Would love to hear your reviews and comments! (And vote for your favorite character on the video…

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What did the recession teach you?

“[As an entrepreneur], you should be terrified of your success.”  Jim Collins Celebrating their 10th Anniversary this year, CBI Group has had their share of successes and some struggles too.  They’re back on an upward trajectory, but like many businesses, the recession hit them (and their industry – human resource consulting, staffing and recruiting) hard. Chris Burkhard, the CEO…

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Coming this Fall…and Congrats to our Inc 5000 Winners!

Whether you’re working to align your team for profitable growth in 2012 or positioning your company for success on the web, we’ve got two great opportunities for you this Fall!  (And some congratulations to offer as well!) FIRST – Plan on joining us on Thursday, December 8th for our One Day “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” Four Decisions Executive workshop in Princeton, NJ and come…

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We can’t change the past…

Wil Reynolds has made mistakes – like every business person whom I’ve met. But he’s also learned from them – and created a profitable and highly successful Internet Marketing company in the process. Seer Interactive was started by Wil almost a decade ago, in 2002. The company is now a national leader among SEO companies, has a…

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Jim Collins: “It Really Matters that You Have Core Values”.

“One of the crucial findings from Built To Last research…was that a key underlying factor that allows a company to go from Good to Great…and stay there (not just get there)…is that they have an underlying set of Core Values that DO NOT change.”  Jim Collins A few weeks ago I wrote about  Performance Controls‘ focus on strengthening their Core…

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Why should you care about Core Values?

From its inception nearly 30 years ago PERFORMANCE CONTROLS, INC.® (PCI), has had the same mission: To design, manufacture, sell, and service high bandwidth, low noise electronics for precision applications  in the medical, government, and industrial markets. Perry Walraven has been the CEO for the past eight years and has seen the company grow 300% in that time,…

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The mistakes CEO’s make…

A few months back (April to be precise), the Harvard Business Review did an entire issue on Failures. Appropriately named, the “FAILURE” issue : How to Understand it, Learn from it, and Recover from it – the issue featured all sorts of articles about learning from failure, recovering from failure and even the need to study success – which…

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Before you completely settle into the summer…what do you need to “tweak”?

NOW is a great time to take a “time out”, schedule some “think time” for yourself (even if it’s only an hour or two), reflect on your year-to-date performance and consider these 5 Must Do’s – my Takeaways from the Fortune Leadership Conference. How are you doing with your goals and plans?  Did you get everything…

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The odds are not in your favor…but things may be looking up!

Only 4 out of 10 businesses will make it to $1Million.  And only 4% of those businesses will make it to $10Million.  The numbers decline from there. The odds are not in your favor as an entrepreneur and as a CEO trying to grow – and there are lots of ways that you can fail. …

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Off to Houston…and Three More Reasons (Hint: Opportunities) to subscribe…

The Fortune Leadership Summit takes place this week in Houston, Texas…with a great line up of speakers and opportunities for “enlightened executives” to grow themselves, as well as their businesses. Access to “thought-provoking” leaders is just one of the other reasons that I appreciate the “Habits” and Verne Harnish’s work. So – in honor of the summit, and our upcoming Four Decisions Executive Workshop on May…

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

I’ve spent the last six months or so telling stories about leaders who have achieved success by implementing the Rockefeller Habitsand the Four Decisions in their companies.  There’s tens of thousands of them BTW – world-wide. Given our upcoming Rockefeller Habits Four Decisions Executive Workshop (Link does not work) on May 18th in Philadelphia – an amazing bargain for those of you ready to get serious…

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How do you create and sustain a Great Strategy…?

Over 50% of the small business CEO’s that we surveyed in our most recent Growth Strategies Survey have used the “opportunity” posed by the aftermath of the recession to re-evaluate their strategies and their business models – not a surprising finding I imagine for many of you. Many CEO’s also shared that they now recognize…

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Leadership, Execution and the Power of Two “Simple” Tools

“Our vision has always been good, our strategy has always been solid but execution – that’s where we sometimes fall short….I’m still learning, but I do know that I’m not good at execution.  I’m a good visionary but execution has been our challenge for a long time.” So says Nissen Isakov, Founder and President of LCR Electronics,…

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What’s one of the biggest mistakes that a CEO can make…

So what’s one of the biggest mistakes that a CEO can make when he or she decides to expand overseas? “Not spending enough time – yourself – ‘in country’.” That’s a key insight of Lucinda Holt’s after spending time with over thirty other executives and leaders from around the world and traveling overseas as part of a year-long Eisenhower Fellowship….

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Before you get your first cup of coffee tomorrow morning…

Take advantage of these three opportunities to grow yourself and your team in the next few months…. On Wednesday, March 30th spend two hours at The Rockefeller Habits — Four Decisions Breakfast Briefing (Link does not work) — atValley Green Bank at their new offices at 2000 Market Street in Center City Philadelphia. Find out the Four Key Decisions every CEO and business owner needs…

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“So what is an Eisenhower Fellowship and why did you apply?”

According to their website, “Eisenhower Fellowships engage emerging leaders from around the world to enhance their professional capabilities, broaden their contacts, deepen their perspectives, and unite them in a diverse, global community – a network where dialogue, understanding, and collaboration lead to a more prosperous, just, and peaceful world.” Lucinda hadn’t heard about the program until…

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Every great poem contains a line from another…

Lucinda Holt has led a number of successful companies as CEO over the past decade.  She’s also won numerous awards including E&Y’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in Philadelphia. But it’s one of her most recent experiences – being one of the emerging leaders selected to participate in an Eisenhower Fellowship last year – which really inspired and engaged her.  And…

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Four strategies to make it through tough times…and three “must do’s” for 2011…

Diane Connor is a fierce competitor – although you may not realize that when you first meet her.  She’s warm and outgoing and thoughtful – and always willing to lend an ear and share her perspective.  But – she’s also a dedicated and avid runner who competes actively around the region, most recently in the Philadelphia Marathon this last November. It’s…

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