Leadership

Frenemies…and the Fine Art of Finding Your True Friends

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s sad but true. Many local business owners spend an incredible amount of time networking to meet people to build their brands.  It’s the Dale Carnegie “Like-Know-Trust” mantra.  You must get out and meet people before you’re ever going to sell them your product or service.  You need to […]

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s sad but true.

Many local business owners spend an incredible amount of time networking to meet people to build their brands.  It’s the Dale Carnegie “Like-Know-Trust” mantra.  You must get out and meet people before you’re ever going to sell them your product or service.  You need to connect.  It’s especially important if you run your own business. It has been true for the success of our video production company.

We have had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic business people in the Lehigh Valley.   Networking exposes you to wonderful people.  You’ll find yourself being pulled to some who really stand out. They are likely “your people” and will remain so. The cream always rises to the top!

However, there are a few that seem genuine who will surprise you (and train you to be a better B.S. detector as you grow your network).

I recently had the pleasure of being in the studio audience at a TV show taping, a networking opportunity with The Wisdom Coalition.  There were a few familiar faces in the room but many I’d never met.  It was a diverse, multi-cultural collection of businesswomen I was pleased to meet.  But it was one of the panelists who struck a nerve with every single one of us that day.

Caroline Adams Miller, a professional life coach, best-selling author, and speaker talked about how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people.  Friends who will support your long-term goals. Sound advice that can be a challenge for those looking for true friends in business.

When Miller brought up ‘frenemies,” the entire studio audience started nodding their head.  Have you heard of them?  A frenemy is someone that masquerades as a friend but deep down is an enemy.  Miller said, “Eighty-four percent of women today say they have ‘frenemies,’ and what I will tell you is that friends who are enemies will undermine our goals, our success and our well-being without us even knowing it is happening.

Clearly, each woman in the studio audience had at least one frenemy in their life, because that nodding continued. Maybe it was a “mean girl” in high school.   Perhaps a co-worker she met in the boardroom who wanted to be the shining star at a meeting.  Or the person who got the promotion she’d worked hard for.

As sad as it is, it’s not a women-only problem.  How many of you can relate to someone who seemed to be in your corner, who disappointed you with a surprisingly negative reaction to your business or personal success?  Maybe they’re silent.  Maybe they’re negative.  Maybe they’re openly envious. They don’t belong in your inner circle!

Miller says the true test of a friend is whether they celebrate your successes in a genuine way. Here’s a little checklist I came up with to help you decide:

  • Are they curious about your work?
  • Do they support your ideas?
  • Is your friend enthusiastic about your accomplishments?
  • Do they celebrate your wins?
  • Do they openly compliment your ideas in group situations?
  • Do they refer business to you?
  • Do they nominate you for awards or talk up your abilities?
  • How do you feel after you spend time with this friend? Happy?  Tense?  Angry?

If you’ve answered no to most of those questions, you’ve identified a frenemy.

Use the checklist to help detox your life and focus on building an inner circle of those that you can support and that can support you in return. Be the friend who makes introductions and lifts people up. Go to their events, follow them and support their social media posts. Be a connector and a supporter. Becoming a true friend in business is the best way to protect against frenemies.  When you surround yourself with the right people, you and your business will both benefit.

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Corporate Social Responsibility Matters for Your Small Business, Too

You may read about large corporations making substantial charitable contributions and wonder how small businesses can make a difference. Even though the budgets may be smaller, professional services companies and other small businesses can also benefit from a thoughtful and strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan. Remind me, what is CSR exactly? Corporate social responsibility […]

You may read about large corporations making substantial charitable contributions and wonder how small businesses can make a difference. Even though the budgets may be smaller, professional services companies and other small businesses can also benefit from a thoughtful and strategic corporate social responsibility (CSR) plan.

Remind me, what is CSR exactly?

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a business approach that contributes to sustainable development by delivering economic, social and environmental benefits for stakeholders (which could include employees, customers, the community at large, and others). It can entail activities like charitable giving, employee volunteer programs, environmental sustainability efforts, and ethical business practices. Your company may already be doing some or all of these, most likely in response to your employees’ requests, but it might not be terribly impactful or strategic (yet).

Why does it matter?

Research shows that people ranging from millennials to boomer’s care about a company’s CSR practices, both as consumers and employees. You may have earned a customer for life (or the opposite) because of something you might find completely arbitrary, like your charitable support of a cause that is important (or offensive) to them. To a customer, whether an individual consumer like a client or a corporate entity, your business values are sometimes the most important thing separating you from your competition. Engaged employees work harder and stay longer, and a commitment from leadership to reinforce ethical behavior and support the community where employees live, and work goes a long way.

But I’m already making charitable donations.

Supporting nonprofit organizations with charitable contributions or sponsorship dollars is good. But you may have noticed that the same organizations come back looking for support year after year, and you don’t know how they invested what you gave last year. To make more of an impact, some businesses are taking the next step toward forging community partnerships with organizations that align with their values. The first move might be to find out what your employees value and get them involved in making decisions about your company’s community activities. Tap your company’s “rising stars” and challenge them to lead this new initiative. Define what your corporate values are and find out what causes mean a lot to them and the rest of your team. Maybe marketing is part of it, or it could be all about employee engagement. The next step might be to encourage those employees to have a meeting with the leadership of an organization that aligns with your organization’s values and goals. They should learn more about the organization and find out what opportunities there might be to support the mission; it could mean event sponsorship, volunteer projects or strategic planning.

That sounds like it would take a lot of time away from my employees doing work.

Depending on the nature of your business, your employees could work on community activities during their lunch hour or before or after work. If you aren’t coordinating any activities yet, there are numerous activities that won’t cost money or take much time. Host a “jeans day” to raise money from employees who choose to dress casually and empower them to select an organization to receive funds. Encourage employees to volunteer during the annual United Way Day of Caring. Tap into community resources including Lehigh Valley Community Foundation and Volunteer Center to find out how other local businesses engage in philanthropy and volunteerism.

How much is this going to cost me?

I advise clients to start small and manageable. You can set a budget to give away grants, sponsor events or donate services and/or product in-kind, and your employees can raise funds, too. You can repurpose the items that still have a useful life but are no longer needed, like office furniture and supplies. If your current charitable giving is “a mile wide and an inch deep,” consider getting more regularly involved with one or just a few organizations. Developing a community partnership allows your employees to get to know the organization and its programs and mission well. Maybe a few of your employees will volunteer on committees of the board of directors and eventually one of them could serve as a volunteer board member. It could provide meaningful leadership development opportunities as well as a deeper relationship with the organization.

If your business is already supporting the community in many or all of these ways, give yourself a pat on the back. There is a lot of need in our community, and you’re already working toward making our community a better place. Don’t be shy about sharing that important work with your customers, your employees and the community at large. Your work could inspire other businesses to make an impact, too.

 

Megan Beste of Taggart Associates works with clients that want to make an impact in the Lehigh Valley by serving as a community relations liaison and corporate philanthropy consultant. For more information, contact her at megan@taggartassociates.com or 610-882-1571.

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Finding Your Passion

What’s your passion?  It seems to be a bit of an overused question. Discussed on every job interview, first date or college application. It’s all a bit cliché.  But maybe it seems cliché because we have never really focused on the question.  Have we ever given any real thought to the answer? In 2012 my […]

What’s your passion?  It seems to be a bit of an overused question. Discussed on every job interview, first date or college application. It’s all a bit cliché.  But maybe it seems cliché because we have never really focused on the question.  Have we ever given any real thought to the answer?

In 2012 my wife was diagnosed with colon cancer.  It was a shock.  We were relatively young (late 40’s…. that’s young…right?..right?).  We are not supposed to have to deal with this yet.  This is what our parents’ generation is supposed to be dealing with.   After getting her through the radiation, the surgery and the first round of chemo, we were finally able to spend some time at home as she recovered her strength. This recovery gave us a lot of time to talk, reflect and just catch up after years of running at the speed of life.

As we started settling into the reality that my wife was going to be fighting this disease for the long haul, we had a conversation about what we want out of life.  At the time I was a military aviator and was too often away from home.  Sure, like everyone, we always had discussions about our dreams after military retirement; travel, flying for the airlines, vacation houses, boats, motorcycles etc.  This time it was different.  We could clearly hear the clock ticking.  This time it was real. With our new found respect for the fragile and finite time that we have on this planet, we talked about what we really wanted out of life.  It gets to be about much more than motorcycles, vacation homes and the rest.  We decided to write down all of the things we thought it would take to make us exceptionally happy.  As we talked, I started writing the items down.

When the conversation was over, we had a list of five things.  That’s it.  Five things that we thought we needed to make us exceptionally and forever happy.

  1. Spend more time with friends and family – We had been living the military life for 25 years. Lots of missed birthdays, years spent away from the ones you love most.  That had to stop.  We knew I had to retire.
  2. Start a family business – Funny, when you are faced with recognizing how short of a time we have here you start focusing on a legacy. Why are we here and what are we going to leave behind? We wanted to start a business that my family could be involved in and continue to grow long after we are gone.
  3. Do something with agriculture – Our ancestors had all been farmers. We have always been attracted to the notion of getting back to farming in some way.
  4. Be home every night – We spent so many, too many, nights apart.
  5. HAVE FUN – I mean what is the sense if you are not going to have fun.

That was it! Five things. That is the list of everything important to us.

Armed with this new clarity, we set out to find an opportunity that would check off all the items of our newly formed list.  For the next several months we would keep our eyes peeled as we drove around the valley.  We looked at pick your own berry farms, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, vegetable gardening, wineries and more.  It was wineries that got us thinking about distilling.  Instead of growing grapes, we would grow grain and instead of making wine we could make whiskey!  We were on to something.  We started studying the industry, attending training at Michigan State and Cornell as well as an internship with Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane Washington.

As soon as I returned from that trip, I knew that distilling was the way that we could check off all the items on our list.  We put our house in the suburbs up for sale and immediately bought a farm.  We started working with a local farmer to help us grow the grains, and we broke ground on the distillery in June of 2015.  We opened our doors in January of 2016.  It has been the adventure of a lifetime.  We make less, and work harder now than we used to, and we wouldn’t trade it for anything.

People ask, “Did you always have a passion for distilling”? The answer is no.  I’m passionate about the items on our list.  Spending time and having fun with friends and family, agriculture, our family business.  That is what I am passionate about. The distillery is the vehicle that we use to check off all of those items.

So that is my passion.  The list of five simple things.  We have been fortunate enough to check them off, and we couldn’t be happier.  So, the next time someone asks you what you are passionate about what will you will you say?  What is on your list?  What is truly your passion?

P.S. My wife just celebrated the 6th anniversary of her cancer diagnosis.  She continues to battle hard every day like the champion that she is.  I’m so proud of the example she sets for our kids and me every day.  I love you, Jodi Butters. 8

 

www.eightoaksdistillers.com
FB and IG @eightoaksdistillers

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Valley Influencers – Mike Molewski

Seven years ago, I interviewed Mike about his evolution as a business and community leader here in the Lehigh Valley for an article I was writing.  We did the interview at his home which happens to have a beautiful wine cellar.  Mike generously opened a nice bottle of red, and as we conversed, I began […]

Seven years ago, I interviewed Mike about his evolution as a business and community leader here in the Lehigh Valley for an article I was writing.  We did the interview at his home which happens to have a beautiful wine cellar.  Mike generously opened a nice bottle of red, and as we conversed, I began to discover why Mike was one of the most influential people in the Lehigh Valley.  Fast forward seven years, I thought it would be interesting to see what Mike has accomplished and what he’s thinking about for the future.  Let me start off by saying Mike is a true visionary when it comes to making a plan and then executing it.  In May of this year, Mike relocated his practice to Allentown’s latest City Center building called Tower 6 overlooking Center Square and the PPL Center.

Walking off the elevator of the 9th floor I was immediately greeted by a beautiful glass entryway opening to the CAPTRUST reception desk where I was greeted with a friendly smile by Amy Molewski, Mike’s oldest daughter, and recent CAPTRUST hire, returning to the Lehigh Valley after 13 years in New York City.  His brand-new office space with floor to ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Valley was a very fitting place to sit back down with Mike and get caught up on how his leadership has progressed and moved him and those around him forward.  The only thing missing was the red wine, so I succumbed to another cup of coffee.

I had my notes from my previous article in front of me, and there were so many topics to pick back up on, so I started with CAPTRUST.  Mike explained that the financial services industry had changed dramatically in his 30-year career.  At age 23 he started his own practice, then created MFP Strategies in 2000, a firm he and his partners grew to $5 billion of assets under advisement, and then merged with CAPTRUST in 2016.  Since MFP was clearly successful, I asked what made him decide to act on the merger?  As Mike explained, it became clear to me that CAPTRUST provided Mike, his team, and their clients a better platform for growth.  Mike thinks, eats and breathes growth.  “Business leaders must create a plan for growth, without growth there are limited opportunities for our clients and teammates,” says Mike.  To attain bigger and better, Mike led his team to join CAPTRUST.  Now Mike and his partners Jim Edwards, Wes Schantz and Chris Butz, are Principals in the #1 Independent Registered Investment Advisor in the nation with over $270 billion in assets under advisement (as of March 31, 2018).  Quite an astounding accomplishment, so I wanted to dig further to understand what drove the merger and what’s next.

Mike shared with me that it wasn’t just being a large firm that was the main motivator, but more importantly, alignment for strategic growth.  He went on to explain to me that the opportunity with CAPTRUST had many significant benefits.  CAPTRUST is employee-owned with no outside ownership to drive decisions that conflict with the firm’s mission and core values.  In fact, their mission statement boils down to “enriching the lives of others.”  This encompasses clients, employees and the communities they serve.  To live out their mission statement, CAPTRUST has created an employee shareholder program where over half the 433 employees have ownership in the company.  “Financial advisors and other team members who become shareholders” Mike expressed, “feel more appreciated when they have long-term incentives tied to their efforts.”

Another benefit associated with the merger was the strong institutional business focus CAPTRUST had, which reinforced MFP’s institutional consulting business. CAPTRUST had the infrastructure in place with its size and scalability to provide support from its headquarters in Raleigh, NC that allow unhindered growth while simultaneously increasing their client-focused client-facing experience.  This strategic model allows CAPTRUST to serve over 5,000 institutional and private clients and 2.5 million participants in retirement plans.  “CAPTRUST has made sizable investments in people and technology to not only be a dominant player with institutional clients but also private wealth clients across all income and net worth levels.  As a firm we have clients in all 50 states and financial advisors in 36 locations across the country”, added Mike.

Entering into a merger is a daunting task, so I asked Mike how he lead his firm through such a risky proposition.  “As MFP considered the merger, both sides could have walked away at any time.   Instead, we started to think about where we could take this, and we did a lot of reverse due diligence,” Mike revealed.  They spent a lot of time with the CAPTRUST partners and management team.  Like any personal relationship, the more time spent together, the better you get to know the other person, or in this case, the entire leadership team.  I asked him what flushed out of the due diligence process that cleared the way forward.  Interestingly it came down to values and client advocacy.  Mike said, “We really liked the people and their culture.  They have solid values, and as we spent time with them, we got to see their good intentions and their actions.  CAPTRUST had a strong focus on their people, to help them succeed personally in their careers and aspirations.  And we loved their decision-making mantra—”just do the right thing.”  Mike was also personally motivated because this created an opportunity for him and his team to work with some of the top financial advisors in the US and CAPTRUST’s most successful clients across the county.   “I lead a team within CAPTRUST called the Strategic Advisor Group that is responsible for working nationally with many industry leading companies, their owners and executive teams, as well as families with substantial wealth, family offices, high net worth individuals and endowments and foundations, it’s an awesome opportunity” Mike noted.

Going from among the Top 50 Registered Investment Advisory firms in the United States (Registered REP Magazine, May 2013) to the #1 Registered Investment Advisory Firm in the United States (Financial Advisor Magazine, July 2017, based upon assets under advisement) is extremely impressive, so I inquired about what’s next.  Mike shared that CAPTRUST has a 10-year plan that is committed to growing the company by 4x.  They want to attain $1 trillion in assets with half of their growth planned through mergers and acquisitions and the other half through organic growth.  In 2017, CAPTRUST completed seven mergers and acquisitions, and they are targeting four in 2018.  “We expanded our Allentown offices and have the entire 9th floor here in Tower 6, and we are actively seeking M&A opportunities here in the Lehigh Valley,” he explained.  Mike continued, “The key driver for us is attracting financial advisors who have the similar clients, a great cultural fit, and exceptional talent.”

CAPTRUST was the first signed tenant in Tower 6, showing its commitment to being part of the renaissance of Allentown.   There is a strong employee trend desiring an urban setting, especially for millennials.  The restaurant life and PPL Center in Allentown is very robust and attractive for employees and clients.  “We received a very positive response from employees when the news was shared about our intention to move to center city Allentown, and those with some reservations were won over very quickly,” says Mike.   Mike smiled and expressed, “it feels good to be part of a growing business community.  Moving here accentuates our community involvement and being a part of Allentown’s rebirth.  There is a lot of energy in the city, and I believe the best is yet to come for Allentown.”

In our last meeting, we spent some time discussing Mike’s philanthropic works, so I was eager to get an update on this part of his world where he leverages his leadership talent and impressive business and social network.  Mike is the Foundation Chairman of Northampton Area Community College and the Co-Chair and Founder of the Lehigh Valley Food and Wine Festival which over its nine-year history has raised $2 million in scholarship awards for Northampton students.  Mike has also been very involved in the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, having served as Co-Chair of the Tocqueville Society for over eight years.  He has been a Board Member at King’s College for 15 years, his alma mater, and a role that is close to his hear.  King’s still has a large population of students who are first-generation college students, just like Mike.

I asked Mike about business trends within the financial services industry and how his firm was addressing them.  He informed me that they are witnessing strong interest from clients to move to larger firms who have specialized capabilities and cites cybersecurity safeguards as a current hot topic.  To meet this growing trend, they have implemented improvements in people and technology that help their clients, specifically in the area of wealth management, which gives clients better online access to their information, including portfolio performance and risk measures, strategic wealth planning, and full integration with insurance and estate planning.   “Smaller firms just don’t have the resources that clients now expect and demand,” Mike added.

As we were wrapping up, I asked him about his daughter Amy returning from New York City to join the firm.  He was very excited about having one of his children working in the business, and never thought it would happen.  What I didn’t know was that Amy isn’t the first family member in the business.   Jim Edwards is Mike’s younger brother, hired by Mike 18 years ago, and is a Principal at CAPTRUST working in the Allentown office.  We are witnessing a great family team making an impact here in the Valley and across the nation.

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Inovatin Doesn’t Need Permission

The average American spends approximately 43 years of his or her life working before retirement. So why would you go to work and do something without having the passion for it?  It’s important to find a way to spend your life doing something that matters to you. That’s where Mary Lengle comes in. Lengle grew […]

The average American spends approximately 43 years of his or her life working before retirement. So why would you go to work and do something without having the passion for it?  It’s important to find a way to spend your life doing something that matters to you.

That’s where Mary Lengle comes in. Lengle grew up in Bethlehem learning about the game of golf through a grandfather who instilled in her that golf is a game that brings people together. Lengle didn’t realize at the time what the impact of those talks would mean to her until many years later.

Early in her career, she worked at Rodale Inc. in the book division, working with the likes of Denise Austin, LL Cool J, and Morgan Freeman, helping them to promote their books. While she enjoyed the work, she knew deep down that if she were ever to find real satisfaction in her career, she would need to find a way to combine her love of golf and her storytelling ability.

“We spend so much of our lives waiting for permission. In school, you need permission from teachers, in the workplace you need permission from a boss before trying out a new idea, you just reach a point where you realize that you don’t need anyone’s permission anymore because it stifles your creativity and opportunities,” said Lengle, of New Tripoli.

In 2016, she was done asking for permission.

She knew it was time to finally combine those passions by teaming up with PGA professional and Lehigh Valley golf instructor Eric Cogorno to build his business beyond just individual coaching. “As I worked with Eric on my golf game, I was seeing how he collaborated with other students and what I saw was unique and special — especially his instruction with the junior golfers – “a level of expertise and passion on par with other talent and brands I’ve worked with in my PR and production career,” Lengle observed.

Lengle is working to become an ambassador for the game of golf by producing content that she hopes golfers of any age will find compelling and useful. It’s a simple premise, but it’s one that, for her, provides meaning and impact in her life. They don’t have a roadmap on how they’re going to get there, and they’re both OK with that.

“Eric and I believe in what we are doing, and we know that our initial concept may evolve, and that’s OK because that’s how you set the conditions to allow innovation to happen,” Lengle added.

Lengle and Cogorno are at that uncomfortable phase of their plan where you see most business leaders starting to get nervous because they want to see that quick return on the investment. Lengle is comfortable with being uncomfortable, and golf provides all the motivation she needs.

“Golf is a game where you must learn to detach from the outcome. You can’t focus on the past; you must stay present in the moment, and deal with the constantly changing variables that exist every time you step up to the tee,” Lengle said.

Not only is that great advice for golf, but it’s an excellent way to approach your life. Lengle can accept that not everyone will understand her and Eric’s mission. But what she does know is that when it comes to your business or personal life, if you’re going to take a risk where failure is possible, then you better be doing something you love, because that’s how you’ll ultimately succeed. ­

Mary and Eric have been using social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram & YouTube to film and upload content at a dizzying pace. They have seen their followers increase with constant growth in comments and interactions from golf enthusiasts across the globe.

Their work can be found at Eric Cogorno Golf.

 

Jason Wilson of Tri Outdoor, Inc.

& William Childs, Advertising & Marketing Consultant

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LVCPO on the Rise

The Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations (LVCPO) is a formally constituted nonprofit corporation with the following eleven professional corporations as members, represented by officers of their respective Boards of Directors: American Planning Association of Pennsylvania – Lehigh Valley/Berks Section Association of Fund Raising Professionals – Eastern – Pennsylvania Chapter Bar Association of Lehigh County […]

The Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations (LVCPO) is a formally constituted nonprofit corporation with the following eleven professional corporations as members, represented by officers of their respective Boards of Directors:

  • American Planning Association of Pennsylvania – Lehigh Valley/Berks Section
  • Association of Fund Raising Professionals – Eastern – Pennsylvania Chapter
  • Bar Association of Lehigh County (BALC)
  • Estate Planning Council of the Lehigh Valley (LVEPC)
  • Forum for Ethics in the Workplace – Salesian Center, DeSales University
  • Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors Association
  • National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors – Lehigh Valley Chapter (NAIFA-LV)
  • Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants of the Lehigh Valley (PICPA – LV)
  • Risk Management Association of the Lehigh Valley
  • Society of Professional Engineers of the Lehigh Valley (SPE-LV)
  • Exit Planning Institute, Lehigh Valley Chapter

How did this organization, LVCPO with over 6,000 professionals represented by the above organizations, come into being? The idea behind LVCPO emanated from a discussion between Dan LaBert, the then Executive Director of the BALC and Bob Rust, Lehigh Valley attorney of Rust Law, LLC and a member of BALC. Their idea was to form an organization that would encourage individuals from sister professions to interact with one another by attending programs held at the Barrister’s Club. These programs would feature presentations on current matters important to all the members of the member organizations and provide the opportunity to network and develop business opportunities at a social hour following each program.

Moreover, each session was to be private, thereby encouraging open and candid Q&A sessions with each speaker or panel of speakers.

An ad hoc organization was put in place with representatives of the BALC, LVEPC, NAIFA-LV, PICPA-LV and the SPE-LV forming an informal Board with Dan LaBert as the de facto Executive Director. For several years, LVCPO continued to operate in this fashion, hosting many successful programs and bringing together members to hear elected officials speak to important current topics and to mix and mingle.
In 2012, Ray Bridgeman was appointed Executive Director of the BALC and Director of the LVCPO. He not only picked up where Dan left off, he played a key role in taking LVCPO to a whole new level. Together with Bob Brown (current President of the LVCPO Board), they challenged the ad hoc governing board to incorporate LVCPO, establish a formal board with representatives from each member organization, and to charge each Board Director of the new board to aggressively seek greater participation in LVCPO programs by the members of their respective organization.

With this new vision, LVCPO put on amazing seminars with dynamic area leaders presenting, such as Don Cunningham (CEO-LVEDC), J.B. Reilly (CEO-City Center Investment Corp.) and Dr. Christopher Borick (Director of Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion). One of its principal goals was to provide networking opportunities between all its members, and this new plan has produced amazing signature events with hundreds in attendance, including high end car shows and beer and spirit tasting events from local companies, along with entertainment.
Formal incorporation ensued thereafter with a de jure Board made up of rotating Board members from the member organizations, three at large members and Ray Bridgeman as a permanent Board member and Treasurer. The first president of the newly constituted Board was Irv Keister (NAIFA-LV), followed by Rosemary Lamaestra (PICPA-LV), David Ellowitch (LVEPC) and Bob Rust (At large).

Under the leadership of lrv, Rose and David, the number of member organizations soon grew from four (4) to ten (10) organizations, thereby increasing exponentially the opportunities for interdisciplinary networking and business development between the members of the member organizations. Moreover, given the significant number of professionals present at each of LVCPO’s programs, the organization is able to draw top speakers willing to candidly address current “hot topics.”

While the LVCPO story is one of success, the authors recognize that the organization has just started to realize the tremendous potential for interdisciplinary discourse and business development that is “there for the taking” by the 6,000 plus individual professionals belonging to the LVCPO member organizations.

It is with this mind, that the authors strongly encourage those professionals who have yet to attend a LVCPO program to access LVCPO’s website to learn more about the organization and to identify the Board member of their member organization who is currently sitting on the LVCPO Board. Moreover, the authors welcome inquires (rbridgeman@lehighbar.org and rnrust@rustlawllc.com), as do the current President of the LVCPO Board, Bob Brown (bob.brown@lpl.com), current President Elect, Rick Roseberry (RRoseberry@maserconsulting.com) and current Secretary, Ron Semanick (ronjon369@rcn.com).

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How Leadership Changes Culture Part I

Twelve years after launching Walton’s culture change consulting services trademarked as the Culture Compass™, I am finally sitting down to write about six values I’ve learned that define whether an organization can improve their Culture or not. No surprise, but all six values rise and fall on leadership. Before I unpack the six values, let […]

Twelve years after launching Walton’s culture change consulting services trademarked as the Culture Compass™, I am finally sitting down to write about six values I’ve learned that define whether an organization can improve their Culture or not. No surprise, but all six values rise and fall on leadership.
Before I unpack the six values, let me paint the backdrop of how it all began. In 2006, one of my CEO clients in Sarasota, FL shared with me his annual employee engagement survey. Most Type A leaders are charming, demanding, and unlovable, but not Steve. He had a caring heart just below the surface of his Type A layer. Even in his frustration, he oozed care and concern for people. We sat in his office while he shared his most recent employee engagement survey, and because he cared so much, he was frustrated. He didn’t like the pre-formulated questions, and he didn’t know what to do with the report results. He was delivered a canned report with no clear direction. “David,” he asked, “can you build me an employee engagement survey that we can customize around the kind of culture I want to create?” Like all good consultants, I said, “probably, let me do a little research and get back to you.” After I flew home from my monthly trip to sunny Sarasota, I did as I said and began to research and evaluate his request. As I dug around the internet, three data points came to light.
The first data point revealed that most employee engagement surveys were un-customizable. Surveys were built for mass production, not carefully and strategically customized for unique cultures. Why should the 8-year old, first generation, 88-person software development company in San Diego expect to have the same desired culture as the 48-year old, 3rd generation, 268-person manufacturing company in Rochester, NY? To me, that made no sense for the client, but all the sense to the vendors who mass-produced their expertise to increase profit over quality. Their research determined that one of the most important questions that define a good corporate culture is “Do you have a best friend at work.” Really? How does that define one’s culture? I am quite blessed to have had many best friends over the years, but none of them worked with me. Whether my best friend worked in Chicago or with me in Allentown never impacted my like or dislike of corporate culture.
The second data point was that most employee engagement surveys and the firms that employed them were extremely heavy on reporting data overload, but weak on meaningful implementation. Before starting Walton Consulting, Inc. in 2001, I worked for a boutique strategy consulting firm out of Princeton, NJ that developed and delivered high-cost elaborate strategic plans. The client would outwardly applaud the mountain-sized strategic planning document full of analysis, logic, and recommendations. However, inside I am sure they were asking themselves, “what the hell do I do now, and why did I pay so much for something I don’t know what to do with…maybe I should hide it on the bookshelf and refer to it in ‘name’ whenever I want to drive a random point home to my employees.” It is the same way with employee engagement surveys. The client gets a pretty report, but without the creator of the report, the expert on the topic to help with implementation, the report becomes an article of affection or dissatisfaction (depending on the results of course). As with many consultants, the implementation phase becomes an afterthought, a monumental chore that gets swept under the carpet and ignored.
The third data point was an epiphany that corporate culture was the missing cog. At this juncture of Walton, I had been focused on delivering consulting services to CEOs and business owners to help them grow healthy organizations. I was already delivering strategic planning, sales and marketing strategy and leadership recruiting services, all of which helped grow organizations, but the culture cog was missing. As I pondered on the importance of corporate culture, I intuitively understood that the culture cog acted as a fuel valve that could either spur on growth or squelch it. I reflected on how much corporate culture was really the vineyard soil that determined the environment’s capability and capacity for growing good fruit and producing a rich yield.
Wow, I must build this tool for my client I thought. It is not only critical as a foundation for successful organizational growth, but it also fits neatly into my core service offerings focused on “healthy” growth. In 2006 I launched the Culture Compass™. Now, 12 years later, with over 3,000 employees surveyed, and a marketplace foaming at the mouth about culture with quotes like Peter Drucker’s, “Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast,” I am ready to share six values that leadership needs to employ if they plan on truly Changing Culture. Check back next issue where I will reveal what they are and why they are so important to growing a healthy organization.

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Healthy Culture: Is It Good for Business?

We’ve all had that friend who hated their job, seemingly stemming from a “bad boss” or recent change in corporate rules. The “job hate” rarely has to do with the actual work being done, but rather the environment in which the work is done. Many resources on the matter offer differing opinions on what makes a great culture. Articles relate healthy culture to “trust” […]

We’ve all had that friend who hated their job, seemingly stemming from a “bad boss” or recent change in corporate rules. The “job hate” rarely has to do with the actual work being done, but rather the environment in which the work is done. Many resources on the matter offer differing opinions on what makes a great culture. Articles relate healthy culture to “trust” while others state it’s all about the “hire” or who you have working for you. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, culture is defined as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” The organization and the employee must have a mutually beneficial relationship to be the most effective. It must be specific to the organization and the people within your organization.
A recent study done by gallup.com states that only 31.5% of U.S. employees are engaged with their current employer. An engaged employee is one who makes better decisions because there is a vested interest in the organization. He or she seeks to regularly improve their work and the work around them. Does your company culture engage your employees? Make an effort to understand your specific employee needs and implement those changes.
HindlePower in Easton, PA recently won The Morning Call’s Best Places to Work. Deborah Behler, the General Manager of HindlePower, states “trust and appreciate your employees, put them first, before all else”.  She goes on to say that “An employee who feels appreciated and valued is a vested an employee.  They will work very hard to be successful; a successful employee = a successful business”.  This kind of thinking works for the employees and the company. The company experiences minimal turnover, the national average being at 16.1% for Manufacturing & Distribution. HindlePower offers many employee benefits such as free daily lunches that are served by a private chef, a comprehensive profit sharing program, and a policy of no time clocks or set start time. The employees understand there is a big job to be done, and they do it. Bill Hindle, the owner of HindlePower, is commonly quoted as stating, “Take care of the employee, and the employee will take care of the work.” The organization is number one in the industry due to having the highest quality products and outstanding customer support.
There is not a one size fits all approach to improving organizational culture. Truly understanding both the needs of the company and the needs of the employee will move your organization in the right direction. An effective method of seeing where your company culture is going is to look around and talk to your employees. They will tell you everything you need to know.

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Creative Director Steve Vengrove Is the ‘Reel’ Deal

In fly-fishing, it’s incredibly challenging to land a fly in just the right location to entice a fish to strike. Steve Vengrove, who’s spent his career catching big ideas for some of the world’s largest brands as an Executive Creative Director/Board of Directors for Saatchi & Saatchi, understands this very well. “Fishing and idea generating […]

In fly-fishing, it’s incredibly challenging to land a fly in just the right location to entice a fish to strike. Steve Vengrove, who’s spent his career catching big ideas for some of the world’s largest brands as an Executive Creative Director/Board of Directors for Saatchi & Saatchi, understands this very well.
“Fishing and idea generating can sometimes be an elusive experience. You must be willing to invest the time because both are highly specialized activities that require large amounts of patience. They also happen to be the only two things I’m good at,” joked Vengrove.
Steve once responded to an ad for a copywriter posted for the agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample (DFS) by sending this risky response to their Creative Director, Jack Keil – “I would like to work for you because I believe that every ad agency should have a fly fisherman on its staff.” He sent no resume, included no samples of his work. The plan paid off. After an interview with John, he landed the job.
In 1986, Saatchi & Saatchi purchased DFS. Today, Saatchi is still one of the largest global communications agencies with over 140 offices in 76 countries and more than 6,500 workers around the world. Steve spent close to sixteen years working alongside some of the most prominent brands in the world, including Toyota, Proctor & Gamble, General Mills and Wendy’s.
Jack Smart, a Creative Director who worked with Steve at DFS and Saatchi, said this about working with him, “Steve always had a clown nose in his pocket and would put it on in a restaurant, his office or in a meeting. Working for Steve wasn’t work, it was clown noses, jokes, funny commercials and very happy, successful clients,” said Smart.
Steve’s Son, Tony, Founder & CEO of Miles Finch Innovation has fond memories of his Father’s unique approach to his work. “When I was a young teenager, he stormed into our family room one afternoon and asked me if I knew of any current songs about legs. I said, “She’s Got Legs” by ZZ Top. A few months later “She’s got Legg’s” was the new campaign for Legg’s pantyhose. Sparks of ideas inspired in the house seemed to have a magical way of making it onto television. I certainly learned from my father that creativity benefits from teamwork and not being afraid to ask questions.”
Steve understood how to navigate the waters of the agency world. “I was lucky in that I was able to surround myself with people who were better than me. That’s what made the difference. I always worked with really talented people. Many times I would come up with the initial idea, but I always counted on my team to find ways to make it better, and they would.”
Steve and his team were responsible for creating the wildly successful ‘Oh, what a feeling!’ Toyota automotive campaign featuring people jumping in slow motion over their excitement of owning a Toyota. Another successful campaign Steve had a hand in was ‘Cuckoo for Coco-Puffs.’ Featuring ‘Sonny’ the Cuckoo bird who goes crazy every time he tastes the chocolaty cereal.
Saatchi once had the opportunity to present to Wendy’s a new concept. The agency was in the process of acquiring the rights to the song ‘Georgia On My Mind,’ and after reworking some of the lyrics, Steve hired jazz musician Grady Tate to re-record the song as ‘Wendy’s On My Mind.’
“It was such a strong idea that I believe had they bought it, it would have sold them a lot of hamburgers,” said Vengrove. Even though this idea was ‘one that got away,’ Steve keeps it in perspective. He’s proud of the people he has mentored over the years, his lifelong agency friendships, and the work he did on behalf of Saatchi and DFS’ clients. Since retiring to Bethlehem, Steve no longer has to worry about catching his next big idea. He now pours his creative energy into getting the Saucon Creek trout to bite his hand tied flies.
He kept the ideas he caught while working for Saatchi. Now, he’s at peace with releasing what he catches.

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You’ve Got the Appointment… Now what?!

Last article we talked about what to do once you have their business card. Shooting them an email or a phone call, sending them a hand written note, and connecting with them on social media. Now if you did that correctly and made a real connection with a great first impression, you should have landed […]

Last article we talked about what to do once you have their business card. Shooting them an email or a phone call, sending them a hand written note, and connecting with them on social media. Now if you did that correctly and made a real connection with a great first impression, you should have landed your self a meeting, a coffee date, etc. Here are three things you can do to make this time matter.

1 DON’T SELL

Yes, you read that correctly.  You’re not going to sell you, your company, or products.  You want to build lots of trust and value with this person.  Now if they are a hot prospect and express interest in what you offer, then by all means sell. But, use this time to learn more about this person on a personal and professional. I like to create friendships and help people as much as I can.  As a result of this usually means business for you in the long run.

2 Ask LOTS of questions

If you meet at their office, request a tour to learn about them and their company.  People are proud of their jobs and usually, love to show it off.  As a side note, I love going to different businesses to learn and see what they do.  Especially if it’s manufacturing and distributing, I find that whole process fascinating. When you ask, dig deeper into questions and listen.  You will usually get more information and find out their real needs and wants. Which in the long run will help you see how you can serve them. Not just think of how you can help but also how you can connect them with people who can assist them too.

3 Send them business

Spending all that time with them, you should now know who they serve, who serves them, and who their competition is. Now that you know who their best type of client is, send them business!  We’re connected to so many people I’m sure you can send them a few referrals or some business who can buy what they sell.  Just something as simple as a an email connecting the two. The email should explain what each person does and why they would benefit from knowing each other.

That’s it, seems simple, doesn’t it.  That’s because it is.  Why don’t more people do this you ask? I think it’s because they are playing the short game and want the instant gratification instead of playing the long game.  Trying to build trust and value before going in for the sale. Remember it pays off to be more interested than interesting!

Find me on all social media platforms @DennyCorby and please come say “hello” at the next Network Magazine event.

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