Leadership

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Women and Imposter Syndrome

It can creep up unsuspected like a distant ache in your gut, like dread in the face of an insurmountable obstacle, or like the paralysis of doing everything except the one thing you know you were meant to do. Imposter Syndrome. That sense that you are not up to the task, that they promoted the […]

It can creep up unsuspected like a distant ache in your gut, like dread in the face of an insurmountable obstacle, or like the paralysis of doing everything except the one thing you know you were meant to do.

Imposter Syndrome. That sense that you are not up to the task, that they promoted the wrong person and will soon discover their error.  Or, if you are self-employed, the struggle to put a dollar amount on your time and convince potential clients you are worth it.  The pain of “marketing” one’s services while inhabiting the same body that was once a child: the one who skinned her knees, and who cried when she couldn’t break open the piñata at her own birthday party.  Now, she is a Human Resources Director, a Family Therapist, a Department Manager.  And you know that girl is still in there somewhere.

In addition to seeing our own past or present weaknesses, many of us fear seeming disingenuous offering our services to people within our network with whom we have collaborated in the past.  We do not want a friend or former colleague to feel used, or like we are selling to them.  To flip our mindset to see that we offer something that will benefit them far beyond the dollar cost, we need to realize the value of what we bring.  This is easily done intellectually, but to bring that knowledge to the heart often requires time in conversation with a neutral party who is trained to help you change the underlying beliefs that feed the mindset.

While Imposter Syndrome is not unique to women, we seem to experience it more.  In London, England when I was first promoted to HR Director, I called my mom stateside to tell her the news.  Her first comment was, “Do you think you can do it?”  I was bilingual, well-educated, experienced, and living in my third European country of residence.  But her question threw me off balance for a split-second as I wondered how to answer.

When I relayed this story over the years to other female friends, they identified with the feeling and shared similar tales of their own.  In some cases, our beloved mothers unwittingly transferred their self-doubt onto us.  Many of us did not realize this had happened until our 30s or 40s, when we got a renewed energy for stepping into our bigness.

One of the barriers to self-actualizing in this way is concealing our vulnerabilities.  Sometimes when we try to explore how we might step outside our comfort zone or reach for the stars, we mention it to the wrong person, who shoots us down in the blink of an eye.  They speak out of their own narrow view of self, lumbering you with their own set of perceived limitations, their own shoulds, musts, and can’ts.  The result is that we clam up, unable to state out loud the thing that holds us back.  Yet, saying it out loud and looking it full in the face may be the key to disarming it.

Another dynamic that may leave women bewildered is that many (not all of course) are big enough people to see and praise others’ giftedness.  We are confident enough to see our own strengths and those of our colleagues, and to see the value of collaborating.  This ability is one of the hallmarks of an excellent, mature leader.  However, in an ego-driven or male-dominated work environment, the person who does this may be left doubting herself as she celebrates others’ expertise and no one returns the favor.  In fact, as she applauds her male colleagues’ gifts, everyone else is doing the same, and hers may remain unseen.  This reinforces her nagging suspicion that she is an imposter and unworthy of her position.

My response to this is not, as you might expect, for women to band together and support each other, giving each other a leg up whenever possible.  This is no bad thing, but I would suggest instead that male and female leaders actively work together to dissolve the unconscious divide between men and women; that we seek the person underneath the gender.  This is becoming particularly important in an age when socially, and especially amongst millennials and Generation Y, gender roles and even gender itself has become a blurred line or a point somewhere on a spectrum rather than the traditional cut and dried definitions of male and female.

To find courage to navigate leading in a changing world, a coach who helps you see new possibilities and open your eyes to perspectives you would not have found alone can be an enormous asset.  Some coaches function as advisers, mentors, or consultants.  I believe to get beyond Imposter Syndrome and make the kind of self-discoveries that will help you improve your mindset and make good decisions, you need a non-judgmental thought partner who asks questions that help you see what lies beneath the issue for you so you can design your own actions.  My advice would always be limited by the fact that I am not you.  That is why I help you better understand what you know about yourself and the situation, to enable you to design your own action steps.  The actions you design yourself are far more motivating to you because they are authentically yours.

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This Word Unleashes Change & Innovation

Have you ever worked for a boss who always said no? If you have, my first guess is it was a frustrating experience. My second guess is you don’t hold said boss in high regard as a leader. I’ve always been amazed at the number of well-known axioms espousing the benefits of learning to use […]

Have you ever worked for a boss who always said no? If you have, my first guess is it was a frustrating experience. My second guess is you don’t hold said boss in high regard as a leader. I’ve always been amazed at the number of well-known axioms espousing the benefits of learning to use the word “no” with greater frequency. In fact, there are some very bright people who believe you simply cannot become a good leader without developing a mastery for using the word no – I couldn’t disagree more. I’ve never been a big fan of telling people no, but I’m a huge proponent of the advantages of helping people learn how to get to a yes. Smart leadership creates an environment where yes is not viewed as a weakness, but as an opportunity.

While inherently obvious, it should not go unnoticed that the use of the word no is 100% negative. The word no ends discussions, stifles creativity, kills innovation, impedes learning, and gates initiative. Put simply, the word no advances nothing, grows nothing, builds nothing and incentivizes nothing. No is not all it’s cracked-up to be. Smart leaders create and foster a culture of “yes” rather than use “no” as a tactical weapon just because they can.

Unless accompanied by a tremendous amount of reasoned dialog, the use of “no” is rarely informative, much less instructive. Most leaders simply don’t take the time to have the needed conversation surrounding a no. Moreover, when those conversations do occur they tend to be focused on admonishment rather than teachable moments. Teaching someone how to get to a yes is one of the most valuable things a leader can do. It was Sir Richard Branson who said: “I have enjoyed life a lot more by saying yes than by saying no.” Saying yes is both valuable and fun, so why not learn how to help people to a yes?

As a leader you should challenge, probe, assess, validate, and even confront on a regular basis. By all means ask people to justify their logic. It’s perfectly okay to ask “Why should I say yes to this?” and it’s even more okay to expect a good answer. Make sure however that when you send a person back to the drawing board it’s a teaching exercise and not a death sentence.

By helping people refine their thinking you’re in essence clarifying your expectations, developing them in the process, and advancing the ball at the same time – this is simply good leadership. Where leadership is concerned, a slow “yes” is often more instructive, and ultimately much more productive than a fast “no.” When you’re tempted to give a no as your answer, stop and ask some of the following questions first – you’ll be glad you did:

Before I give you an answer, I’d like to know more about your thought process here. Can you tell me more about how you arrived at this point?

Let’s peel back the layers on this issue a bit – can you help me better understand your logic on this?

That’s an interesting idea – who else is onboard with this?

I’m not sure I understand how this aligns with our current direction. How does this add value to our core mission?

Help me connect the dots on this one – why will this take us where we want to go?

Have you identified all the risks here, and what are your contingency plans should things not progress as expected?

What’s the downside should we not move forward with this?

Ask yourself this question – If as a leader you find yourself always saying no, what does that tell you about your leadership ability? It means your vision is not understood, your team is not aligned, and your talent is not performing up to par. It means you’re not teaching, mentoring, communicating, or leading. The perception that strong leaders say no and weak leaders say yes is simply flawed thinking. Leaders need to communicate trust in their team – they need to create an environment where people are not afraid to seek opportunity, to pursue innovation, or to change their mind. A constant stream of “no’s” is not a positive sign, it’s a warning sign that needs to be heeded.

I have found that the most common reasons people tend to cite in support of using no are as follows:

Excuse: It helps to keep them from wasting time – Reality: For a leader to believe their time is somehow more important than other’s time is usually not correct and is often the height of arrogance.

Excuse: It somehow manages risk – Reality: A quick no often keeps opportunities hidden, creates information deficits, and causes blind spots – all of which actually increase the potential for risk.

Excuse: It builds character – Reality: While its true adversity builds character, so does empathy and understanding. Life brings about enough adversity on its own – leaders who manufacture it as a teaching method have missed the point.

Excuse: It helps them focus by not biting off more than they can chew –Reality: if your only way to prioritize is by saying no, then you are missing out on a lot of what life has to offer. Rather than prioritize by exclusion, use systems, processes, etc., to prioritize by inclusion.

While saying no might be more convenient, the aforementioned agendas are better accomplished with clear communication, effective collaboration, and prudent resourcing – not by saying no. Great leaders help people get to a yes – in other words, they teach them how not to receive a no. Rather than just kill something with a quick no, a good leader uses every adverse scenario as a development opportunity to help people advance their critical thinking and decisioning skills. The word yes is a catalyst – it begins rather than ends. It inspires rather than demoralizes, and it communicates trust rather than doubt.

In the link to the following video, Google’s Eric Schmidt shares his reasoning for creating a culture of yes. Schmidt stresses the importance of not creating a negative culture, but instead, fostering a scalable culture which focuses on optimism and not pessimism. I have always believed if you want to bring out the best in people, give them the opportunity to succeed – the best way to do this is to begin with the assumption they won’t fail. If you’ve hired smart people, trust they’ll do the right thing rather than fear they’ll do the wrong thing.

While I understand that there are times when using no may be your only option, those times should be the exception and not the rule. It’s also important to note that the use of “yes” and “no” are neither universally right or wrong, but there is much greater upside to enabling a yes. Think of it like this: Yes paves the path toward the future, while no affirms the status quo. Bottom line: Yes is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of intelligent leadership. Next time you’re tempted to say no, do yourself a big favor and find a way to work around the obstacle and toward a yes.


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Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Board of Directors.  Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, he is recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on leadership.  He is the bestselling author of Hacking Leadership and Leadership Matters, and a Forbes leadership columnist.

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Companies Use New Office Space in Downtown Allentown for Recruitment and Growth

Today’s businesses, large and small, are focused on attracting and retaining talent. As a result, human resource professionals need to be actively involved in the decision-making around their companies’ facility expansions and relocations, according to a recent study by Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. While much has been made of Fortune 500 company ADP moving […]

Today’s businesses, large and small, are focused on attracting and retaining talent. As a result, human resource professionals need to be actively involved in the decision-making around their companies’ facility expansions and relocations, according to a recent study by Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

While much has been made of Fortune 500 company ADP moving 1,600 employees to the new Five City Center office tower in downtown Allentown this summer, the strong demand for office space of all sizes in the revitalized city serves to illustrate companies’ use of new, urban real estate for recruitment and growth.

By 2020, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be from the Millennial Generation, whose members want to live and work in vibrant downtown environments, as seen in the state’s larger cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Businesses are paying attention to that trend and discovering how leasing new office space in downtown Allentown can help them recruit millennials.

At a symposium on opportunity zones held in downtown Allentown last year, Tom Murphy, a senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, said, “For the first time in history we’re seeing jobs move to where people are, rather than vice versa. For companies, it’s all about being where talent wants to be. Tech giants, startups, Fortune 500 firms, small businesses…”

Chris Reber, Market Executive at Merrill Lynch’s downtown Allentown office in Tower 6, says, “For Merrill Lynch and companies like it, locating our offices in an energized city environment with walk-to-work opportunities like downtown Allentown is critical to attracting and retaining talented employees and expanding our business.”

Smart companies are also realizing the many benefits of leasing the new; Class A space downtown Allentown has to offer. Only 10 percent of the Lehigh Valley’s office inventory is less than a decade old, with most of it being more than 30 years old. With today’s trend of open and flexible office space that promotes collaboration, the larger floorplates of new office buildings surpass the divided ones of older buildings. In today’s quickly changing market, flexibility in both office space and lease terms, as well as a happier and more productive workforce, ultimately help businesses grow.

Companies are beginning to realize they are losing money by staying in employee-unfriendly, inefficient office space. Unhappy and unproductive employees lead to higher turnover and increased recruitment costs, and costs to operate inefficient space are higher, reducing the overall efficiency of their business. Fortunately, there is plenty of room to add new, open office space in downtown Allentown, but if developers don’t supply it, it will hurt the Lehigh Valley office market overall.

Another trend among downtown Allentown businesses is the desire to network with other companies within the central business district. Companies, like people, want to be connected and to grow through those connections.

Kerry Kulp, a Network Systems Consultant and Partner at Velaspan in Three City Center, says, “We moved to downtown Allentown with expansion in mind because of the great location and opportunities to collaborate with other downtown companies. As a direct result of our location, we have built relationships that have led to additional business, requiring us to recruit and expand our workforce.”

Attracting and retaining a young, educated workforce; designing new, open office space from scratch; and collaborating with dozens of companies within walking distance are all goals that can be met in downtown Allentown’s reenergized office community.

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Get DISC-Connected

How would your leadership impact change if you knew exactly how to connect with your team? What would happen if your company phone directory included each person’s communication style? How would your sales team perform if they understood their own selling style and could discern the buying style of your customers? The Maxwell DISC Method […]

How would your leadership impact change if you knew exactly how to connect with your team?

What would happen if your company phone directory included each person’s communication style?

How would your sales team perform if they understood their own selling style and could discern the buying style of your customers?

The Maxwell DISC Method empowers you to do all of this and more.

What is Disc?

In 1928, Dr. William Marston authored his DISC theory, which says that each of us is a unique combination of four primary personality styles: Dominant, Influencing, Steady, and Compliant.

A person’s style is determined by the survey answers that he or she provides. While each of us is a combination of all four styles, we usually have one that is stronger than the others.

Let’s take a look at the four primary types.

D – Dominant

The Dominant or D-type personality is outgoing and task-oriented. They seek control and make quick decisions. D-types are very direct and focus on results.

I – Influencing

The Influencing or I-type personality is outgoing and people-oriented. They persuade others with words and are often the life of the party. I-types are spontaneous, friendly, and love the spotlight.

S – Steady

The Steady or S-type personality is reserved and people-oriented. They make great team players and consistently follow through on tasks. S-types are motivated by loyalty and acceptance.

C – Compliant

The Compliant or C-type personality is reserved and task-oriented. They are on time, very analytical, and rely on facts. C-types are planners who take great pride in their accuracy.

DISC-Connecting

According to the Harvard Business Review, “The number one criteria for advancement and promotion for professionals is an ability to communicate effectively.”

That means connecting!

Connecting increases your influence in every situation, according to John C. Maxwell, the world’s leading authority on Leadership.

Connecting increases Leadership impact.

Connecting increases Teamwork impact.

Connecting increases Sales impact.

Connecting increases Relationship impact.

Connecting increases Empowerment impact.

DISC gives us the knowledge that helps us to connect with each other on a deeper level. It allows us to engage each team member the way THEY need to be engaged.

It helps us value them.

Putting DISC to Work

At CAPO Leadership Consulting, we fundamentally believe that there is immense power in understanding yourself. We also believe that teams perform much more efficiently, effectively, and with less conflict when they truly understand each other.

Using the Maxwell DISC Method, we have seen teams achieve more with greater accuracy as they increase their understanding of themselves and their teammates in areas that include:

Communication Style, including Communication Dos and Don’ts

Behavioral Style, including Motivation, Ideal Environment, and Primary Fear

Strengths as indicated using PowerDISC™

Work Style and how to leverage this in a team environment

The Number One Mistake

The number one mistake that we have seen organizations make when using any personality profile system is to fail to act on the resulting information in a meaningful way. The information is held within HR and management and is never leveraged to provide real value to the business.

Take Action

We believe that DISC information must be used to empower your leadership and your entire team.

At CAPO, we put action to DISC by providing the following:

DISC Overview for your team

DISC Survey for each team member (15 minutes to complete online)

Individualized DISC Report for each team member

Action Plan for each team member based on DISC Report

DISC Team Communication Workshop with your entire team, focusing on communication, collaboration, and execution while honoring the strengths and style of each teammate.

Coaching with the leadership and the team to ensure that this new information is applied and leveraged to positively impact the business.

Don’t miss the opportunity to bring this powerful tool to your most valuable asset – your people.

About the Author

Michael Barrovecchio believes that everyone is “Born Brilliant”, possessing everything they need to be truly successful. Michael coaches Business Leaders, Executives, and their Teams to become aware of their Brilliance and engage it to live and lead with authenticity and balance. Michael is President of CAPO Leadership Consulting, an Executive Director with The John Maxwell Team, and a Certified DISC Behavioral Consultant. He can be reached at 732-713-1900 or Michael@CAPOLeadershipConsulting.com.

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Every Great Leader Has This Quality – Do You?

Courage is a trait possessed by all great leaders. So much so, that leadership absent courage is nothing short of a farce. Let me be very clear – I’m not advocating for bravado, arrogance, or an overabundance of hubris, but rather the courage necessary to stay the course and to do the right things. I believe […]

Courage is a trait possessed by all great leaders. So much so, that leadership absent courage is nothing short of a farce. Let me be very clear – I’m not advocating for bravado, arrogance, or an overabundance of hubris, but rather the courage necessary to stay the course and to do the right things. I believe it was Aristotle who referred to courage as the first virtue, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. Many leaders think they have courage – few actually do.

Standing behind decisions everyone supports doesn’t particularly require a lot of chutzpa. On the other hand, standing behind what one believes is the right decision in the face of tremendous controversy is the stuff great leaders are made of. Courage enables leaders to break from the norm, to work in collaboration not isolation, challenge the status quo, seek new opportunities, cut your losses, make the tough decision, listen rather than speak, admit your faults, forgive the faults of others, not allow failure to dampen your spirit, stand for those not capable of standing for themselves, and to remain true to your core values. You can do none of these things without courage. Courage is having the strength of conviction to do the right thing when it would just be easier to do things right.

The best thing about courage is that a lack thereof can be overcome. Courage is teachable and therefore it is learnable – proof of this can be found in every instance of overcoming a fear. Courage should not be defined as the absence of fear – that’s ignorance. Courage is finding the strength to move ahead in the presence of fear. In short, courage isn’t a skill, it is a decision. Here’s the thing – we’ll all be remembered for the decisions we make or don’t make, and the courage we display, or that we fail to exercise. Will you pursue courage or will you just continue with your routine of doing nothing more than what’s expected of you. Real leadership is about more than checking off boxes.

There are great rewards for those who choose the path of courage. Courage will give you the confidence and humility to accept courage in others rather than stifle it. Courageous leaders invite others to challenge their thinking and encourage (no pun intended) dissenting opinion. Leaders who consistently demonstrate courage will stand apart from the masses, and earn the trust and loyalty of those whom they lead. As a general rule, most people can be characterized by their courage or their lack thereof:

  • In the corporate world those who demonstrate courage stand apart as innovators and opinion leaders, those who display a lack of courage are viewed as ”yes men” who are the politically correct defenders of status quo.
  • In the military great courage is often referred to as heroism, while a lack of courage will brand you a coward.
  • On the stage of world affairs those who display courage are statesmen, and those who don’t are politicians.
  • In relationships courage will show you to be a trusted friend, whereas the absence of courage will reveal you as a gossip, adversary, or even enemy.

Each day brings with it a new set of challenges, and the best any of us can hope for is that we will have the courage and character to stand behind our personal beliefs and convictions regardless of public opinion or outcome. Courage will make you faithful, where a lack thereof will cause you to be fearful. Whether you look back on your personal experience or a greater historical reference, you’ll find it is always better to stand for courage than regret failing to do so. Leadership always begins with one courageous act – making a decision. Will you decide to be courageous?


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Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Board of Directors.  Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, he is recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on leadership.  He is the bestselling author of Hacking Leadership and Leadership Matters, and a Forbes leadership columnist.

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Maximizing ROI from your recruiting process.

Approximately 70% of companies in the Life Sciences industry utilize a recruiting/staffing service provider to increase their network of qualified professionals and leaders. Why? There is a war for talent.  GTS Scientific was founded to provide a recruiting service for highly regarded life science organizations in need of an efficient screening and selection process.  As […]

Approximately 70% of companies in the Life Sciences industry utilize a recruiting/staffing service provider to increase their network of qualified professionals and leaders. Why? There is a war for talent.  GTS Scientific was founded to provide a recruiting service for highly regarded life science organizations in need of an efficient screening and selection process.  As a service provider, direct communication with the decision maker generates all the difference in the hiring process.

A talent acquisition strategy that aligns the interest of the end user, with that of the recruiting fulfillment team is preferable. On average, this 30-minute time investment at the beginning of the search process saves days, weeks and even months of time saved at the end of the search. ROI in this process is achieved through clear communication and most importantly a Decision Maker Intake Call (DMIC).

The most important aspect of the DMIC is the information that isn’t apparent on most job boards.  Many of these job descriptions provide an ample number of “requirements.”  The intake call requires the decision maker to select at most five of those requirements versus the 15-20 seen on formal job descriptions.  Which new hire do you remember having 20 of 20 requirements “necessary” for the role?  As talent acquisition advisors, it’s our obligation to consult the hiring manager on realistic expectations from the labor market.

The DMIC also provides detail on the organization’s market position: Are they a small, medium, or large-sized company?  How are they funded?  What does career advancement look like for an interested candidate after 12 to 24 months in the role?  These factors often determine whether the qualified candidate would be interested in the company and more importantly the long-term opportunity.

Even great operating companies often substitute the DMIC between their internal hiring manager and their recruiting service with less helpful techniques. These substitutions are paper job descriptions (often dated), or a requisition call with their internal human resources or talent acquisition representative; who at times doesn’t weigh in on the final hiring decision and often does not conduct the final interview. Each of these scenarios put the service provider in an adverse situation, left to interpret the decision maker’s request via a paper trail, or word of mouth.

Additional expectations are set during the DMIC regarding the interview process.  Most recruiters have spoken with hiring managers who would like to “interview 5-10 good candidates in order to make a decision”.  As talent acquisition advisors our role is to consult with the decision maker advising a reasonable number of candidates that are available and interested in the company and career opportunity. Hiring managers miss out on talent by extending the interview process and waiting for comparison candidates.  Four qualified candidates, at most, is what we advise for technical skill sets.  For the most niche skill sets the number of qualified candidates can be as few as one or two.  In the current labor market, qualified candidates will accept competing offers if the decision maker hesitates and wants to conduct comparison interviews.

In 2018, GTS Scientific was five times more likely to fill a hiring manager or decision makers requisition in the first 45 days when a DMIC took place. Furthermore, GTS averaged three candidates to interview for every offer accepted – 3:1 interview to offer ratio versus 5:1 interview to offer ratio – for requirements lacking a DMIC.

A 30-minute time allocation by the decision maker with their service provider before the recruiting process begins is rewarded with great service and the proper candidates.  Assuming the average interview takes 30 minutes and three managers will interview each candidate, the DMIC saves clients 2½ hours per position on unnecessary interviews alone. Providing data and analytics to a decision maker is the best way to show the operational excellence the intake call provides.

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It’s time to restore funding to PA’s tech-based job-creation engine

Launched more than 35 years ago, Ben Franklin Technology Partners was ahead of its time. In 1983, with steel and other industries in decline, unemployment was high, and Pennsylvania’s economy was reeling. The state needed a bridge between its struggling heavy manufacturing economy and the technology-based economy that would carry it forward. Enter Ben Franklin. […]

Launched more than 35 years ago, Ben Franklin Technology Partners was ahead of its time. In 1983, with steel and other industries in decline, unemployment was high, and Pennsylvania’s economy was reeling. The state needed a bridge between its struggling heavy manufacturing economy and the technology-based economy that would carry it forward. Enter Ben Franklin.

By every measure, the plan worked. The statewide initiative accelerated the development of technology-based industries by investing in start-ups and funding innovation in established manufacturers. Serving all 67 Pennsylvania counties through four regionally-based centers, including the northeastern center located in Ben Franklin TechVentures in Bethlehem, Ben Franklin became one of the most widely known and emulated technology-based economic development programs in the nation.

Since its inception, Ben Franklin has invested in more than 4,500 technology-based companies and boosted the state’s economy by more than $25 billion, helping to generate 148,000 jobs through investments in client firms and spinoff companies in Pennsylvania.

However, all of this success is at risk. This recognized international gold standard in tech-based economic development is starved for financial support.

Since 2007-08, state funding for Ben Franklin has dropped approximately 50 percent, from $28 million to $14.5 million per year. Pennsylvania’s current budget draft for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, would keep funding at the reduced level, which is about half of the amount that it has received over most of its history. Because of diminished funding, Ben Franklin has already been unable to invest in some deserving companies and has seriously short-funded others.

Ben Franklin significantly increases the success rate of the highest-potential early-stage technology firms. It also supports established manufacturers by leveraging technological innovation in Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities to implement product and process improvements that allow clients to be more globally competitive. Ben Franklin identifies and evaluates investment opportunities, selects the most promising ones, and provides companies with crucial resources as they strive to succeed in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Clients come from a variety of industries — from computer software, hardware, and telecommunications, to robotics and industrial machinery manufacturing, to life sciences, including pharmaceutical, biotech, instrumentation, and medical devices. Clients are technology-intensive, investing in research and development, intellectual property, and capital equipment, and creating highly paid sustainable Pennsylvania jobs.

Ben Franklin invests more than money alone. It surrounds clients with internal and external experts in accounting and finance, marketing, intellectual property protection, supply chain management, and other disciplines. Ben Franklin’s “secret sauce” is providing high-value, enterprise-wide support, often working with clients for many years. The process is labor intensive, customized, and has been developed over three and a half decades of experience.

The formula works. According to an in-depth analysis by two nonpartisan research organizations, The Pennsylvania Economy League and KLIOS Consulting, Ben Franklin helped to create 11,407 high-paying jobs, generated $386 million in tax receipts for the state, and boosted the commonwealth’s economy by $4.1 billion between 2012 and 2016.

Among the reasons for the large impact on the state’s GSP is that these jobs are in industries that pay annual salaries of $79,364 per year, or 52 percent higher than the average private nonfarm salary in Pennsylvania.

Every dollar invested by the state into Ben Franklin generates $3.90 in additional state taxes, the analysis found. Pennsylvania received a total of $386 million in additional state tax receipts as a result of Ben Franklin investments in clients.

Other states recognize Ben Franklin as a smart investment, which is why so many have launched their own high-tech economic development programs. In fact, a recent analysis of state funding support for technology-led economic development programs in 13 comparable and competitive states found that Pennsylvania’s per capita spending of $1.37 was second to lowest. The average state spending per capita in that study was $5.67, more than four times Pennsylvania’s level. Neighboring states like Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio all surpass Pennsylvania in funding.

Innovation is the key to long-term economic prosperity. States that harness innovation, and the companies associated with it, are capturing a disproportionate share of economic growth.

Less funding for Ben Franklin Technology Partners means lost opportunities, and fewer highly paid, sustainable jobs — now and in the future. It’s time to restore state funding to Pennsylvania’s technology-based job-creation engine. What’s lost by underfunding Ben Franklin is lost forever.

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The 4Cs of Building Trust

Trust is a fun word for organizations to throw around. They use it as part of branding with customers. They build employee cultures around it. They attribute it to the ability for someone to lead. Trust is a vital ingredient for sustainable success. But where does it come from? 1. Trust must be built. Sometimes […]

Trust is a fun word for organizations to throw around. They use it as part of branding with customers. They build employee cultures around it. They attribute it to the ability for someone to lead. Trust is a vital ingredient for sustainable success. But where does it come from?

1. Trust must be built. Sometimes you’ll hear phrases “I have asked for their trust” or “I’ve decided to trust him for now.” This can imply that trust is a decision or choice. But these phrases are almost always a one-time offer after trust has already been breached and are also limited in their scope.

Trust can be lost through an action or decision but must be built up over time across a series of actions. If you already have an established culture of trust, that will certainly reduce the friction of making your strategy work. Do not ask for people’s trust; instead, take deliberate actions to build it. The next four items cover care, communication, competence, and consistency as ingredients for trust.

2. Demonstration of care. If people do not believe that you care about them, their outcomes, or their circumstances, it is very difficult to build trust. This is usually considered from an ethical perspective, meaning that people’s ethics dictate that individuals and organizations should care about one another. But care does not just have to ethical, as long as it is genuine, it can be functional or operational as well.

Let’s start with a definition of the duty of care, a legal term used to describe situations where people must, legally speaking, care. This essentially means that you have taken care in situations that could do harm to others. You may think that “taking care” and “caring” are fundamentally different, but to the recipient, the experience is identical. The point is, whether your motivation is ethical or functional, the perspective of care will give people certain experiences, and those experiences will lead to impressions, and those impressions will build trust. Said another way, your actions speak louder than your intentions.

3. Communication provides context. People will draw conclusions based on their experiences whether you want them to or not. The question is, do they have all the information needed to draw an accurate conclusion. If you do not communicate effectively and thoroughly, those information gaps will be filled in with rumor, doubt, and fear.

Part of building trust through communication includes feedback behind bad news. Whether it is an evaluation or a rejection of an idea, people need to hear the “why” behind those decisions. They may not like the decision, but if you effectively communicate, then they can at least trust that you did not withhold information. It is quite possible, and frankly important, to be able to trust someone even if you don’t agree with them.

4. Competency delivers on the promise. This goes both ways. When a leader promises something, people must believe that the leader is competent enough to deliver on that promise. If it sounds good, but a leader cannot deliver the result, then what will someone expect the next time?

This also works in the other direction. For a leader to empower their team, then they must assume a competence to deliver on what they were empowered to do. If an individual or team is not competent to deliver what is expected, then the leader’s behaviors will reflect that, and trust will deteriorate.

Overall, there are two systematic actions that help. First, the continuous development of people to build competence. Second, making competency transparent. Knowing that there are gaps and that we understand them, and that we are making efforts to close them, builds the trust of competence.

5. Be consistent. The final factor is that all of the above must be done with consistency. If, for example, you demonstrate care sometimes, and disregard it other times, then all of your good intentions will be for naught. Just like product brands, trust is built through consistency fulfilling your promise.

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How Smart Leaders Unlock Hidden Value

Leaders who fail to unlock hidden value in their business are ceding opportunity to others. If you’re a leader who’s been anesthetized by the routine you have a huge problem – you are not leading. Leadership is a game for the mentally agile, not the brain dead. Sound harsh? It’s meant to. While most of the world has […]

Leaders who fail to unlock hidden value in their business are ceding opportunity to others. If you’re a leader who’s been anesthetized by the routine you have a huge problem – you are not leading. Leadership is a game for the mentally agile, not the brain dead. Sound harsh? It’s meant to. While most of the world has succumbed to a static life imprisoned by the limitations of their own mind, real leaders are always looking beyond what is, thinking about the possibilities of what if, and acting to ensure what’s next.

What if? What if you could reinvent your business? What if you could change the perception of your brand? What if you could break from the status quo? What if you could attract better talent? What if you could reenergize your corporate culture? What if you could make the changes you know you need to make? What if? To the one, great leaders aggressively pursue what if – do you?

I’ve always said status quo is mediocrity’s best friend. While static thinking is the best short cut to obsolescence you’ll ever find, why would you want to travel that path? The sad thing is, I observe many more people willing to travel a path of ruin than I do people willing to change their thinking. While companies destined to fail reward average thinking, successful companies reward the bold thinking revealed through the microscope of what if?

Much has been written about the power of creative thinking, ideation, disruptive innovation, etc., but little has been written on how to successfully implement these processes. If you’ve ever wondered how to find those “ah-ha” moments, they all begin through observations inspired by asking what if? Just because what I’m espousing today is simple doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. While many so-called business gurus sell profit through complexity, the reality is leaders rarely profit from complexity – real profit is found in the pure elegance of simplicity.

Change doesn’t need to be complex. In fact, what’s more simple than using the filter of what if? It doesn’t require any special skills or ability, just the willingness to look beyond what presently exists. Let me be as clear as I can – there is simply no reason to continue to do things that make no sense. Ask yourself this question, when was the last time you did something for the first time? Leadership and herd mentality should have nothing to do with one another. If you want to become a better leader stop doing things the way they’ve always been done – don’t copy create.

What if Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t ask what if search could be more simple and relevant? What if Steve Jobs failed to ask what if you combined technology and design to create the ultimate customer experience? What if Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos didn’t ask what if about almost everything? Real leaders are open to the possibility that most things not only can, but should be improved upon. They understand it’s the ability to innovate and change which creates competitive advantage, adds value, and ensures sustainability.

The process of unleashing what if begins with not painting yourself into corners. Perhaps the single greatest barrier impeding the transition from what is to what if is allowing yourself to fall into the trap of either/or thinking. The best leaders realize there’s rarely a good reason to juxtapose one option against another. This is simply a false paradigm created by intellectually dishonest rationalizations. The sole use of A/B frameworks as a decision-making model unnecessarily limit opportunity by impeding creative thought and innovation. The job of a leader is to create, expand and preserve options – not limit them.

Utilizing what if thinking allows you to maximize the present while securing the future. The best leaders know how to attain desired outcomes while remaining discovery driven. It’s clearly important to achieve short-term hurdles, but not at the expense of long-term sustainability. Smart leaders understand the present is simply a springboard to the future. Absent an aggressive forward leaning bias, short-term wins will represent little more than pyrrhic victories as the innovators, the what if thinkers, pass you by.

My recommendation is a simple one – not only do I suggest you put everything you do through a “what if audit,” but ask your team to do the same thing. Question: What if you challenged everything, slaughtered a few sacred cows, and stopped holding false truths as real? Answer: creativity would be inspired, innovation would occur, and things would change for the better. Remember, conventional wisdom usually isn’t.


 

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Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Board of Directors.  Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, he is recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on leadership.  He is the bestselling author of Hacking Leadership and Leadership Matters, and a Forbes leadership columnist.

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Teach Me to Fish – The importance of mentoring in the growth of your business

You came up with a great idea. You built your business. You hired the right team. Now what? You build them up. Every. Single. Day. Hire for Attitude: Hire people who work hard, are passionate about the field, and are genuinely interested, personable and kind. Find the characteristics you cannot teach and then focus on […]

You came up with a great idea. You built your business. You hired the right team. Now what? You build them up. Every. Single. Day.

Hire for Attitude:
Hire people who work hard, are passionate about the field, and are genuinely interested, personable and kind. Find the characteristics you cannot teach and then focus on teaching the skills needed to do the job.  Of course, do not ignore the technical skills required, but do not overlook someone awesome because they haven’t learned one particular computer program yet. Helping someone grow into their potential is an extremely rewarding experience that motivates an entire team!

 

Offer Training:
Onboarding, a new team member, is vitally important to the success they find in your organization. Taking the time to train each person in his or her respective roles properly can take a lot of time, but you get back what you put in. Invest up front by making yourself available for questions and feedback. Schedule meetings for the one week, one month, three month and six-month marks. Be open to suggestions and make improvements where needed.  Consider online courses and training options to help your team improve their skills. This will also let them know you value them and support their professional endeavors.

 

Manage Up:
Encourage team members to support one another. Set reasonable expectations that allow everyone to understand their job as well as the responsibilities they have to the team at large. Set up regular team meetings that create accountability. Start meetings with positive feedback and give each person the chance to share a victory they had recently. Build from there, review challenges as a group, and problem solve together. Then trust them to get the job done!

 

Give Feedback:
Running a business can often be challenging and requires everyone to be on the same path. It also requires a certain amount of risk-taking and experimentation. Sometimes new ideas work and sometimes they don’t. Do not be afraid to honestly address concerns, issues, and mistakes as they happen. Focus on what is working first and then move into what needs to change and why. Explain the bigger picture and help create the vision for all team members to follow and help support. Empower them to help advance the mission of the company and grow as people in the process.

 

Walk the Talk:
Be willing to set the example. Your team will look to you to set the tone of the company. The way you conduct yourself both inside and outside of the office will be the primary example of how your team should behave. If you make a mistake, admit it openly and explain how you rectified it. Allow them to see your weaknesses and how you are also growing and learning from them. Be an example of a humble lifelong learner who strives to be better every day.

 

Get Involved:
Motivate everyone on your staff to get involved in the community. It’s amazing what can happen when you give back. Volunteering allows people to use their strengths to “do good” outside of the workplace. This builds confidence and boosts morale across the team.  It also fosters networking opportunities, hones professional skills, and allows a deeper understanding of the world around us.

 

Have Fun:
Take the time to get out of the office and do something fun together! Plan a group activity that encourages teamwork, laughter, and relaxation. Enjoy the environment around you and take a break from the intensity of a normal workday. Give your team a say in the plans and allow them to take the lead and plan the day. This builds important career skills and provides a positive feeling for everyone!

 

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