Leadership

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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The Laws of Leadership

Leadership And Success Every significant human accomplishment has been the result of one common ingredient: strong leadership. The value of leadership cannot be overstated, and it is as vitally important today as it has ever been in our nations, large corporations, small businesses, families, churches, and volunteer organizations. Strong Leadership is the key to success. […]

Leadership And Success

Every significant human accomplishment has been the result of one common ingredient: strong leadership. The value of leadership cannot be overstated, and it is as vitally important today as it has ever been in our nations, large corporations, small businesses, families, churches, and volunteer organizations. Strong Leadership is the key to success.
Many people believe that there is a “leadership gene” that some possess from birth, but the truth is that everybody has the potential to be a highly effective leader. Leadership is governed by a set of laws that everyone can learn and apply.

Why Is Leadership Important?

John Maxwell, the world’s #1 leadership authority, says that your level of effectiveness, and therefore your success, is determined by your leadership ability. If you have low leadership ability, you will experience little success. If your leadership ability is strong, you will enjoy greater success. It is The Law of the Lid.

One of my friends loves McDonald’s hamburgers. McDonald’s started in 1937 as a single restaurant owned by brothers Dick and Maurice McDonald. They became very successful when they discovered that streamlining their menu and implementing tight processes in the kitchen resulted in a quality product produced quickly and consistently. The fast-food industry was born.

However, the McDonalds failed miserably at franchising the restaurant. They had hit their Leadership Lid. It took Ray Kroc, a blender salesman, to successfully franchise the operation. Kroc’s Leadership Lid was much higher, and therefore he enjoyed much greater success.

What Is Leadership?

Margaret Thatcher said, “Being in power is like being a lady.  If you have to tell people you are, you’re not!”

Some believe that a person’s position in the corner office or the top position on the organizational chart makes them a leader. That is not true.

A person who has a position of leadership in an organization usually has leverage, and their team members must do what that person says if they want to keep their jobs. It is command and control, and that leverage is only in effect during business hours.

True leadership is influence, not leverage, and influence is enabled by adding value to people. True leaders have influence all of the time, including nights, holidays, and weekends. People follow true leaders because they want to, not because they have to. Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want.”

Increase Your Leadership Skills

Leadership is a learnable skill that evolves over time. You can’t read one book or attend one training program and become a great leader overnight.  It takes time, commitment, and continual investment into your leadership skills. If you make that investment, your leadership skills, and your success will increase.

Everything worth doing takes a process. Anyone that has learned to read, write, or play a musical instrument knows this.

When we see a world-class musician or athlete performing, we think, “They are so talented!” We tend to minimize the years of training and dedication that went into the short performance that we see on the world stage.

A woman sat in the audience and watched a master pianist play a concert. Afterwards, she spoke with the performer and said, “I’d give anything to play like you do.”

The pianist looked at her and said, “No you wouldn’t, or you already would have. You’d give anything except eight hours of practice every day for 20 years – anything but that!  If you gave what I have given, then you would play pretty much as well as I do. Maybe a little less, maybe a little better, but pretty much the same.”

A process takes time. Begin developing and enhancing your leadership skills now. Don’t wait for the next opportunity to present itself – by then it will be too late!

Start now and be ready. Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity.

Here are some good ways to get started:

  • Read and apply “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell
  • Join a Mastermind Group that focuses on Leadership
  • Hire a Leadership Coach.
  • Increase your success by investing in your leadership skills today. Your future self will thank you.

Michael Barrovecchio is President of CAPO Leadership Consulting and a Certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, and Speaker. He equips organizations with the Maxwell Method of Leadership, enabling business leaders and teams to perform at increased levels of effectiveness and influence. He can be reached at 732-713-1900 or Michael@CAPOLeadershipConsulting.com.

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What Direction Are You Taking Your Business?

For nearly two decades, I have had the privilege of working with corporations and small businesses on their legal needs, as well as experiencing my own entrepreneurial ventures.  As I journeyed down the path of capitalistic dreams and helped others pursue theirs, I saw many succeed, and many fail.  I often wondered what the difference […]

For nearly two decades, I have had the privilege of working with corporations and small businesses on their legal needs, as well as experiencing my own entrepreneurial ventures.  As I journeyed down the path of capitalistic dreams and helped others pursue theirs, I saw many succeed, and many fail.  I often wondered what the difference between the two extremes was?  It seemed like a very fine line.  On paper, everything was set up perfectly – the business plan, the work ethic, marketing, reserve capital, etc. Yet, over time, some businesses profit, while other failed drastically.
Many of us know that success at any organization starts with leadership.  But many business leaders fail to recognize that their very own projection of energy through the manifestation of their own thoughts could be the determining factor of becoming a millionaire or facing financial ruins.
In my new book to be released this Spring, “ Decide. Believe Change.”, I explore the concept of the two driving energy factors in this world – positive and negative. We as individuals have no choice but to gravitate to one of these forces.  We do, however, have a choice as to which.  Whether we decide to focus on negative or positive energy, it all stems from our focus on a belief we have, which leads to our decisions.
It’s certainly not easy having your own business and being a business leader.  To say all one has to do is focus on your goal, is an understatement and comical at best.  Yes, there is truth to this fact.  But how many times is it impossible to focus on your business goals when you have a minimal cash flow to pay your bills, employees who are not doing their job and giving you attitude, the customer who enjoys writing bad reviews online, or the Taxman knocking at your door?
While a business leader may start out with the positive outlook and energy to succeed, the daily grind and issues that try to prevent any individual from succeeding, sadly often drop an anchor in our progressive thought process.  This, in turn, leads to a focus on fear and doubt.  “What if I can’t make payroll this week?”, “If I fire a certain employee, a good number of customers are going to be mad.  Plus, will I find a replacement?”, or “I won’t be able to pay our primary vendor, so how can I continue ordering from them?”
The issues that lead to fear and doubt, certainly cannot be ignored, but as business leaders, we can not allow them to be our focus.  If we do, we will be projecting a manifestation of a world (our business) that will have these negative energies drawn to it.  This will ultimately lead to a downfall.  There will not be a drive to success in our corporate culture, but a lingering fear of what tomorrow brings.  If we can, however, register these negative factors in our minds as simply obstacles that will be addressed, and focus on the energy and positive excitement one had when their business venture was in its inception, we will find success one day closer and not further.  The negative obstacles will be conquered and not overcome us.
Negative factors will always be present.  That’s what balances out this world.  But remember, your thought process has a choice – either follow the negative that tries to take hold of you and your future to lead to self-destruction or foster the positive energies and the focus on successes of this world that you deserve.  Let the negatives simply be obstacles you will get around in order to meet your goal(s), and remain focused on the big picture of success that energized you on day one. So, you need to ask yourself – what direction are you leading your business?

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The Theory of 5

How Finding Mentors Will Improve Your Prosperity None of us live alone. We share this world with each other and, as a result, have an impact on each person we interact with, and they with us. We are a reflection of those around us. Look at your spouse, co-workers, relatives or friends you have had […]

How Finding Mentors Will Improve Your Prosperity

None of us live alone. We share this world with each other and, as a result, have an impact on each person we interact with, and they with us.

We are a reflection of those around us. Look at your spouse, co-workers, relatives or friends you have had since childhood. In most cases, your income, happiness, relationships, health, political views, and prosperity will be the average of these five people. Like a parent worried about the “bad influences” in their child’s group of friends, those around us will have an impact — either positive or negative — on our income, attitude, goals, and future.

This is a topic I’ve focused on for the past 30 years. In that time, I’ve developed what I call “The Theory of 5,” and this theory has shaped how I think and with whom I spend my time.
The Theory of 5 is based on the idea of finding mentors for different areas of your life, listening to their advice and asking them to guide and challenge you to walk the best path to your best self. Often, all it takes to gain the insight and attention of a mentor is just to ask for it. People are flattered to find someone admires them enough to ask for their counsel, and many times will agree to become a mentor to someone willing to learn and grow.

There are five areas I believe it’s particularly important to focus on and find mentors to guide us:

1 Business and Finance — No matter what job you have or field you work in, finding a mentor who can give you advice in your career and in handling money is vital. Unless they were born into money or a family business, almost everyone starts from the bottom. Those who have worked themselves into positions you admire faced similar challenges and obstacles you’ll face. Get their advice, listen to their stories and let them help you chart a course to the future you want for yourself.

2 Marriage — Most of us will marry a partner in our lifetime, but based on the 50 percent divorce rate in the United States, being an exceptional husband or wife doesn’t come easy for most. Find that exceptional couple who you’d like to emulate and ask them how they’ve made their relationship work through life’s challenges. It sometimes takes effort to stay together; learn how to put that energy to its best use.

3 Parenting — Raising a child is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs a person can have in their life. Find a parent you admire, someone you see doing a great job with their children. Tell them why you admire his or her accomplishments and ask them to share with you some of the lessons they’ve learned, mistakes they’ve made and how they’ve become the parent you admire.

4 Spirituality/Religion — Our spirituality is the lens through which we view the lessons the world wants to teach us and helps us make sense of them. Find a mentor who can walk with you through life’s inevitable ups and downs and provide counsel from their point of view. Their guidance can provide a valuable counterpoint to those with a strictly secular point of view.

5 Health and Fitness — No matter what kind of success you have in life, it means next to nothing without your health. Our bodies need care, maintenance, and good fuel to carry us through our days. Find a mentor who can not only model what a healthy, active lifestyle looks and feels like, but one who will also hold you accountable for your own habits and keep you focused on maintaining and improving your fitness.

One of the great joys in this life is that we don’t have to go it alone. No matter what area you’re focused on at any given moment, sharing, talking and getting advice will help you meet and overcome each challenge you face. It’s a much tougher, lonelier road when you go it alone — and that loneliness is completely unnecessary. Choose your five mentors wisely, surround yourself with high achievers and join their ranks.

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Innovation Will Not Grow in a Toxic Environment

Smart business owners today are always looking for new ways to attract top people to join their organizations. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have a creative, vibrant and empowering workplace environment and it all starts with attracting the best people to fit into that culture. As the workforce tightens and […]

Smart business owners today are always looking for new ways to attract top people to join their organizations. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to have a creative, vibrant and empowering workplace environment and it all starts with attracting the best people to fit into that culture. As the workforce tightens and competition for exceptional workers intensifies, finding those candidates can prove challenging.

Margo Trott Mukkulainen, a nationally recognized freelance writer, creative marketing consultant and editor of myHR Partner’s myHR Blog agrees, “Every new addition to your team creates a new dynamic that will impact your workforce. The right person can move your company forward in new ways. They can and should have a positive influence in a way that grows your business, or at the very least maintain your success.”

In my career, I have experienced both. I’ve worked in environments where a healthy life/work balance was encouraged by the leadership, the work was creative and meaningful, and the employees were invited to share their ideas openly. I have also worked in toxic environments, and they will sap your energy, drain your soul and make it difficult just to get through the day.

“I have seen time and time again how one or two bad hiring decisions can derail an entire workplace. I have also seen how a good hire can go bad quickly if the workplace was a toxic one. The best workplaces are innovative enough to evolve to meet the needs of the customers, the company, and the employees. Part of that “secret sauce” is knowing how critical the right hire is for every position—and knowing how to keep them happy within the organization.” Mukkulainen added.

Having even one toxic person poisoning the culture inside your company can prove costly. “The average cost-per-hire is $4,129, while the average time it takes to fill a given position is 42 days, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking Report. And the cost of making a bad hire can have on your company can be several tens of thousands of dollars.” Mukkulainen cautioned.

So, what does this all mean? Well, owners need to be open to set the conditions that create a culture where people openly share their ideas, are not afraid to take risks, respect each other’s contributions, and have autonomy to solve customer issues without involving management. If you’re lucky enough to work in that type of environment, you are more productive, will have lower stress levels and you will look forward to going to work every day.

Consider this, have you ever found yourself getting anxious on a Sunday evening because you have work the next day? That’s a dead giveaway that you should seek other employment.

“The best workplaces I have seen are innovative enough to evolve to meet the needs of the customers, the company, and the employees. Hiring someone who does not fit into your company culture can set up a climate of stress and distraction for everyone.” Mukkulainen warned.

“People are more interested than ever in company cultures and employer brands, even when they are not job hunting, which is why developing these is crucial to building a strong workforce. Hiring someone who does not fit into your company culture can set up a climate of stress and distraction for everyone. And your talent will flee if there’s too much negative drama.” Mukkulainen stressed. The best companies know this and work hard at retaining and evolving their workplace cultures. Don’t ever underestimate the power a good hire can have on your success. Give it the attention it deserves.

Margo has written extensively about many of these issues on myHR Blog, and you can find it here at… http://myhrpartnerinc.com/category/myhr-blog/

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Can Creativity Drive Revenue?

Whether it’s an idea for a new product or an innovative way to solve a business challenge, companies today should embrace creativity if they want to stay relevant in the marketplace. We are rapidly entering an era of creative intensification, and corporations that are unwilling to foster a creative environment will find it difficult to […]

Whether it’s an idea for a new product or an innovative way to solve a business challenge, companies today should embrace creativity if they want to stay relevant in the marketplace.

We are rapidly entering an era of creative intensification, and corporations that are unwilling to foster a creative environment will find it difficult to compete with those that do. So how does it work? How do you bring more creativity into a place of business? Can it be used to drive revenue?

Absolutely.

For starters, it’s about being willing to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable and are encouraged to share their thoughts openly. Leaders within the business must be prepared to listen to everyone’s ideas because the best leaders understand that innovation can come from anyone, regardless of their position in the company.

That’s what trips most people up. When leaders feel like all the ideas must come from them, they miss a tremendous opportunity to gain insight from the people who are in the best position to help the company grow — the employees.

For example, a two-year, in-house creativity course at General Electric resulted in a 60% increase in patentable concepts, while creativity-training participants at Pittsburgh Plate Glass showed a 300% increase in viable ideas compared with those who didn’t take the course. Those are significant increases and worthy of attention.

Linda Naiman, founder of Creativity at Work, said, “For innovation to truly flourish, organizations must create an environment that fosters creativity; bringing together multi-talented groups of people who work in close collaboration together — exchanging knowledge, ideas, and shaping the direction of the company’s future.”

But you must be willing to go all in. For creativity to truly deliver an ROI, everyone in the company must be on board. Check your ego at the door and embrace a culture where everyone can feel safe to voice their opinions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in a room and witnessed someone get destroyed because they had summoned the courage to speak up, only to be told by management, “Well, we’ve tried that already, and it didn’t work!”

That employee took a risk to offer a thought, only to be made to feel like their contribution was silly and unworthy of consideration. Creativity will not flourish in that type of toxic environment.

Too often, today’s risk-averse business conditions don’t support creative thought and ideation the way they should. Most are great at tracking production costs, profitability, taxes and payroll. Essential items that go into running a successful business. But, creativity doesn’t receive the same status and gets brushed aside.

Consider the recent survey on creativity by Adobe who surveyed business people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan. 80% of respondents felt that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth. 75% said they are constantly under pressure to be more creative at work. Therein lies the challenge. Creativity isn’t something that can be mandated. You can’t order employees to be more creative, then criticize them if positive results don’t immediately show up on your spreadsheets. Businesses that tap into the power of creativity stand a much better chance of developing new products, unlocking new markets and discovering new revenue streams. Focus on creating an environment for employees to grow and develop creatively, and support their efforts by allowing them to take risks.

Don’t stigmatize mistakes. Be willing to entertain different opinions. Have the courage to try new approaches. Embrace ambiguity. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Be open to hearing the things you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear. Do these things consistently, and you’ll see an impact.

Creativity is real, and it’s here to stay. Those companies who are brave enough to accept that fact can capitalize on creativity’s undeniable power and use it as a force for change and growth.

The good news is the future only comes one day at a time. The bad news is if you’re unwilling to bring creativity into your business, you won’t have much of a future to worry about.

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