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Are You Sure You’re Always Serving the Best Interests of Your Customers?

How often do the best interests of your customers and clients conflict with the short-term financial goals of your business?

A re your sure everyone in your organization doing the right thing when no one’s looking?


You grabbed the last piece of cake before your sister could get it.

The principal called and said your daughter broke a toy because another girl got to it first.

Your son pushed a boy on the playground because that boy got the last place on the teeter-totter.

“You know better than that!”

Isn’t that what our mothers would have said … our fathers, too?

What made them think that we knew better than that?

Are you serving the best interests of your customers? Keep reading …


The Four Common Features of Equally Successful but Different Cultures

We’ve been exploring the impact of different cultures and how they affect our organizations.

W hat are the common threads shared by these radically different cultures that you can apply to make your company equally successful?

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“Lary, give this customer a call. We’ve just received an unauthorized return, and I want these shoes sent back. Funny how the green shoes they bought don’t fit and the red ones fit perfectly.”

It wasn’t uncommon for the Chairman of company North (remember, “N” for “Nasty”?) to stop by my office with a message like this. His remarks were actually a code:

“The red shoes sold well but the green ones the customer bought aren’t selling … so now they’re claiming they don’t fit so they can return them. We’ve had no other such complaints. Tell them we won’t accept them and ship them back.”

I made a note to contact the customer, figuring I’d call them after lunch when I would be more likely to catch them three time zones away. No e-mail back then.

Unexpectedly, the Chairman returned to my office 20 minutes later to ask,

“What did they say?”

The first few times this happened I asked,

“Who?” …

failing to make the connection he expected.

While I learned the nuances of merchandising economics with these examples, what I finally realized was that the Chairman expected me to drop everything and call them immediately.

He wasn’t happy,

“What else are you doing?”,

and after a few unpleasant encounters, I finally caught on.

Don’t miss the 4 Common Threads that bind successful companies


Can Radically Different Cultures Produce Equally Great Results?

There’s more emphasis every day on the value and influence of culture on business success.

W hat does it mean if your culture is dysfunctional and your employees think it’s a train wreck?


“He threw a lead crystal ashtray at his son’s head?“ I asked. ”Thank God he missed.”

“He threw his secretary’s typewriter through a second story window – it wasn’t open – into a parking lot full of cars below?”

These are just a few of the stories I heard after I joined the firm.

You do not lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ever feel like you were a galley slave?

In short order, I recognized that the company’s cultural ancestors probably included a toga-clad, sweat-drenched galleon driver pounding out a cadence of “ramming speed” with a wooden mallet.

Their cost-containment strategy was medieval.

Keep reading to capture some of the most important elements of a great culture


Lewis & Clark didn’t load the canoe with Mojitos!

Socrates said, “Know Thyself”, one of the most profound philosophies ever spoken about human behavior.

H ave you thought about what it might mean for your business?


The night sky is etched in vivid black and white tones, and in the back seat of a chauffeured car prowling the streets of Hoboken, N.J., a lawyer for a mob-connected union boss confronts his brother, Terry Malloy, about testifying against the mob in court.

Malloy, despondent over these threats, is stunned when his brother pulls a gun to emphasize his point. Their relationship had reached a nadir, and Malloy was distraught that his brother helped dismantle his fledgling boxing career.

In his dark lament, he delivers this memorable line:

“I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody … instead of a bum.” – Terry Malloy (played by Marlon Brando in the legendary movie, On the Waterfront)

What did Mom Say about Being Somebody?

Our moms also told us to “be somebody” – although our behavior at any particular moment may have altered her tone when she really meant …

  • “Be somebody better than you’re being right now”, or
  • “Get off the couch and quit loafing.”

What does it take to BE SOMEBODY?

Continue reading to see how to consider your brand identity …


This is How You Create a Lifelong Customer

In many instances, finding customers can be easier than keeping customers.

T here are a lot of things we can do to get them to show up. But, do we do everything to make sure they keep showing up?


You don’t have to look very far to find instances where customer service lands with a thud.

Restaurants are a pretty easy target

Restaurants may be one of the easiest targets since we’re in them all the time, so imagine my pleasant surprise to receive a Missed Opportunity check from a Grand Rapids, Michigan restaurant I visited while there to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.

The dish I ordered wasn’t quite up to par, a little dry compared to previous visits.

Keep reading to learn about how to turn the tables on Missed Opportunities


If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Not Paying Attention | What’s Destructive Enrichment?

Concepts about paranoia abound. Ask Andy Grove, Jim Collins, Muhtar Kent and me.

By any name, change is healthy, but it means you’ll have to dropkick some of the things you’re already doing … even if you’re in love with them.


A rose is a rose is a tulip? No, that’s not right. A rose is a rose is … well, by any other name, I think it’s still a rose. Right?

We’re pretty famous in this country for euphemisms, aren’t we, particularly for unwelcome issues.

Eternal rest.

Cement shoes.

Adult entertainment … I think you catch my drift.

How would you describe the Entrepreneurial Mentality?

There are also a lot of ways that the entrepreneurial mentality has been described.

We first read about “constructive paranoia,” a phrase popularized by Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel in his book, Only the Paranoid Survive.

It’s hard to argue with his mantra:

Keep reading to understand the concept of Destructive Enrichment


Why the Lack of Momentum is the Most Lethal Force in Your Business

An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Momentum is an incredibly powerful force in business as well as physics. These laws will help you energize your organization and get things done.

The Dynamics of Business Momentum

You don’t need to be a physics student

Most of us are familiar with the legend of Newton’s apple, which fell on his head and triggered his musings about the Universal Law of Gravitation. An unlikely but apocryphal story.

Fewer of us are physics students, and I’m pretty sure that few professors would whisper “physics” in the same sentence as “understanding” if they were considering my scientific proclivities. Nonetheless, I have come to learn that Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion have powerful siblings in the business world.

The Dynamics of Momentum is a powerful driver

Newton’s First Law of Motion focuses on the physics of movement, but the dynamics of “momentum” apply equally to people and organizations.

Learn how Newton’s First Law of Motion powerfully affects your business


Have You Created a Battle Plan – or is Hope your only Strategy?

Most of us weren’t around during World War II … but D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion of all time.

It involved over 250,000 troops and 15,000 ships landing along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast on June 6, 1944.


Accident? … or the result of rigorous strategic planning and project management?

Could this happen without planning?

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower, (Our 34th President)

Did General Eisenhower, the Allied Supreme Commander, lead this effort without any planning?

Of course not, and even if our business plans aren’t quite as extensive, we know (deep down, we know for sure) that we need some sort of an organized planning process to build a successful business.

We need to make sure that everyone’s headed in the same direction … that we don’t ignore the obstacles or overlook the great opportunities on the road ahead … or don’t squander valuable resources chasing rainbows.

Do I really have to plan to have a successful business?

I find myself using General Eisenhower’s phrase repeatedly for at least two reasons … first, because it’s absolutely true … and Keep Reading to learn the 4 reasons you Have to Plan


12 Holiday Morsels to Strengthen Your Business

Yes, the holidays are here and already the list of things to do continues to grow – completing the annual budget, planning parties, visiting with friends, figuring out what to get who for when … and so it goes.

Yet, my spirit remains strong, so I’ve prepared a menu of 12 holiday treats that I hope will slide down like Amaretto eggnog in front of a winter fire.

I’ve even scoured some of my earlier columns to find the most delectable morsels.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” — Yogi Berra

So, here’s a smorgasbord of lessons learned – a few appetizers, a choice of entrees, a little dessert – from executives of both extraordinary capability and numbing incompetence  — that should grace your executive table for 2015.

1.     It’s never about you.

It’s always about them. Customers, employees, suppliers … family, friends, colleagues.

Be clear about it and thrive.

Get it backwards?


2.     If you don’t think you’ll ever have a management succession problem, you already have one.

Keep reading. There are 12 days. Remember?


Does anyone know WHY you’re in business? Wanna tell ’em?

Simon Sinek is one of the speakers at Leadercast 2014 taking place on ONE DAY ONLY on Friday, May 9.

His TED talk, “How Leaders Inspire Action” is the 3rd most watched video on TED with over 16.5 million views. His latest book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, was just published.

Real Leaders Love this Message

I have shown this video to CEOs and business leaders over the last 3 years, and each of them has responded with great enthusiasm to what Simon calls the “world’s simplest idea”.

He uses what he calls the golden circle, which becomes a powerful model for how leaders inspire action when they ask the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

Don’t miss Leadercast 2014 ONLY on Friday, May 9

Take a look at this video and see if it doesn’t stir your imagination about what you can do to inspire action in your company.

It’s one more reason why you shouldn’t miss Leadercast – San Francisco Bay Area on May 9. The Early Bird Specials expire this Friday, April 18 … so make you sure you don’t miss the opportunity to attend this unique, exclusive and inspiring event.

Question: What will you take away from this video that you can put to work in your business?