How to Make Your Employees Smile

Paul Spiegelman
Paul Spiegelman

11/19/2010 – Paul Spiegelman –
Paul Spiegelman, the founder and CEO of Beryl, a call-center company in Bedford, Texas, has built a unique, people-centric culture, which he chronicled in the book, Why is Everyone Smiling? His next book, co-authored with Beryl employees, is titled Smile Guide: Employee Perspectives on Culture, Loyalty and Profit. Here, Spiegelman shares tips on how to keep your workers happy.

1. Give People a Voice
“Listen to what your employees say,” says Spiegelman. “And don’t just listen – implement the ideas that they have, and give them credit for those ideas. As entrepreneurs, we might in our gut know the right answers to certain questions, but it is often better to let workers tell you what the answers are and give them credit.” [Read more…]

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New Leaders: Find Your Poker Face or Perish

8/8/2010 – Shawn Graham –

For most of my adult life, I was incredibly easy to read. I wore my heart, and most of my facial expressions, on my sleeve. On occasion, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Other times, such as in my high school English class where the teacher threw note cards at me after I rolled my eyes, it was. Growing up I was never much of a card player so I didn’t have the chance to really develop and practice my poker face and that has, on more than one occasion, hampered my ability to successfully navigate organizational politics (or high school English classes). In speaking with other extroverts in leadership roles, those who struggle with filtering and/or masking their emotions and reactions often have a difficult time progressing through an organization. [Read more…]

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Sometimes Micromanaging Is Good–And Necessary

7/29/2010 – Christine M. Riordan –

Micromanage. A dreaded word. The dictionary defines it as “to direct or control in a detailed, often meddlesome manner.” Most popular management books call it something to avoid at all costs and give decisive tips on how not to do it.

As a professor of management, I often talk about empowering employees and avoiding micromanaging them. Sometimes very bad things happen when you micromanage your employees with too much attention to detail. [Read more…]

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The Five Basic Stories That Can Give Your Speeches Power

Success Speaking

5/12/2010 – Nick Morgan –
Tell one of these, and you’ll always succeed.

The culture we’re all immersed in together gives you a great gift as a presenter–a wealth of stories that already lie deep in any audience’s consciousness. Use these stories to give your speeches power and to connect immediately and deeply with your audience.

There are five of these basic stories: the quest, the stranger in a strange land, rags to riches, the love story and the tale of revenge. Each has its own structure and its own situations where it’s useful. [Read more…]

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How to Succeed in Business by Really Listening

5/4/2010 – George J. Dennis –
TV Ears device
My company, TV Ears, specializes in sound. We manufacture TV listening products that have helped more than one million people hear the television more clearly. The idea came about after I tried to find something for my dad that would help him hear the TV. Nothing helped, so I created TV Ears in 1998. My father taught me that hearing is a privilege, and listening should never be taken for granted.

While developing the company, I learned a lot about listening along the way and it’s become the cornerstone of my management philosophy. When seeking inspiration, I look to the people around me – both our employees as well as folks that I run into at my local coffee shop or restaurant. They all have ideas and insights and are more than willing to share them to those who are willing to take note. I would submit that an executive’s greatest asset in growing their business is their ability to listen; the absence of doing so is akin to living in a bubble, where reality becomes a precious and elusive commodity. I would highly recommend other executives do the same. Here are some ways I’ve found to make this part of my leadership style. [Read more…]

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Profit Over Principles

Townhall.com | by Cal Thomas | 3/2/2010
When Toyota President Akio Toyoda testified last week before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, an attitude was exposed that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) correctly characterized as fostering a “cutthroat corporate” environment that placed costs ahead of quality and safety. Such a priority would have been anathema to Toyoda’s grandfather, Kiichiro Toyoda, who founded the company and turned it into an automotive juggernaut thanks to a business philosophy created by an American named W. Edwards Deming.

Deming believed in a business model that puts product quality and company relationships between workers and management first, favoring continual and systematic improvements of staff and of work processes. His philosophy dominated Toyota for more than 50 years. Quality products followed. Profit was the inevitable result. [Read more…]

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Lessons From a Blue-Collar Millionaire

Inc.com | by Bo Burlingham | 2/1/2010
When Nick Sarillo launched his pizza business, he had one goal in mind: to create a corporate culture unlike any he had seen.

It’s Takeout Tuesday at Nick’s Pizza & Pub, and the air is thick with the smells of hot pizza crust, peppers, onions, and cheese. Eighteen young men and women — most of them high school age — form an assembly line between a row of worktables and a long bank of pizza ovens. The kids laugh and shout, even as they focus intently on their tasks.

Nick Sarillo, 47, stands halfway down the assembly line, holding a giant wooden pizza board. As the company’s founder and CEO, he doesn’t usually work the pizza line anymore. [Read more…]

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A Little Less Conversation

A Little Less Conversation
Inc.com | by Joel Spolsky | 2/1/2010
Have you ever invited employees to a meeting just so they wouldn’t feel left out? If so, you may be an overcommunicator.

When was the last time you scheduled a meeting and invited eight people instead of the three people who really needed to be there simply because you didn’t want anyone to feel left out?

When was the last time you sent a companywide e-mail that said something like, “Hey, attention coffee drinkers: If you finish the pot, make another!” even though there is actually only one person who violates this rule (and she’s your co-founder)? [Read more…]

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The Way I Work: Kathy Ireland

Inc.com | As told to Liz Welch | 12/1/2009

Former supermodel Kathy Ireland founded a little company to make products for “busy moms” like herself. Now, with revenue of $1.4 billion, she’s busier than ever.

When she was in her 20s and a model, Kathy Ireland says, her job description was “Shut up and pose.” So it irks her when anyone suggests that the 46-year-old CEO and chief designer of Kathy Ireland Worldwide is merely the face of her $1.4 billion business. Ireland, who launched the Los Angeles–based company in 1993 and is the majority shareholder, began by creating a line of socks and parlayed that into a large licensing deal with Kmart that lasted until 2003. Now she puts her stamp on more than 15,000 products — including scented candles, dining room sets, porcelain dishes, wood flooring, skin care products, and swimsuits. [Read more…]

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Focus Is The New Key To Work-Life Balance

Focus required for success and self-improvementForbes | by Joan Gurvis | Nov. 25, 2009

If having a balanced life was elusive in the fast-paced good times, it can seem impossible in the fast-paced tough times.

The pressures on leaders are huge. Distractions are everywhere. As work demands grow, our inclination is to continue to try to do more things more quickly, to fit everything in. We push ourselves, our co-workers and our employees to keep up the intense pace, but in so doing, we leave ourselves without adequate time to stop, reflect and focus. [Read more…]

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John Mackey of Whole Foods on Hiring Leaders

John Mackey of Whole Foods on Hiring LeadersInc.com | John Mackey Interview | July 2009

Q: What traits should I look for when hiring for a leadership position?

A: My philosophy about this has definitely evolved over the years. I understand people a lot better today than I did 30 years ago. Back then, I was more impressed with people who were very articulate. In many companies, the person who talks the best usually gets the job. I got snowed by a few of those people over the years. I still think communication is important, but I don’t think there’s always a correlation between being a great communicator and other virtues that make for a great leader. [Read more…]

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Warning Signs of Power Corruption in Organizations

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. – Lord Acton

Lord Acton’s dictum, made in 1887, clearly warns us that the practice of wielding power and influence can corrode the character of leaders. History is replete with examples of individuals who wielded unchecked power and eroded not only their own integrity, but also the ethical and moral foundations of the organizations they led and brought them to catastrophe and ruin. This danger is true of all organizations including businesses, religious institutions, and governments.

Here is the risk inherent in leadership: The greater the leader’s power, wealth, authority, and influence, the more likely the leader could succumb to ethical lapses and moral failings. The risk increases if the organization has a culture that lacks financial or managerial transparency and accountability, has insufficient checks and balances on executive power, and discourages criticism from subordinates or members. When a leader with a poorly developed ethical or moral sense ends up leading an organization with a culture that prevents ethical self-examination, a slow but perfect storm starts to form that demands compromise from all levels of leadership and eventually leads to catastrophic consequences. [Read more…]

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‘Atlas Shrugged’: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years

The Wall Street Journal | by Stephen Moore| January 9, 2009

Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read “Atlas Shrugged” a “virgin.” Being conversant in Ayn Rand’s classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only “Atlas” were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I’m confident that we’d get out of the current financial mess a lot faster. [Read more…]

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Managing for Long-Term Success and Profitability

Business Success and Profitability Long-TermGood management has nothing to do with short-term successes and the management elixirs that allegedly led to them. This seemingly banal insight results from a long-term, historical perspective like [Peter] Drucker’s. It cannot be achieved by judgments based on quarterly results, but rather emerges from a deeply rooted understanding of the durable, unclouded by short-term spectacular success stories. Not the momentary “how” is important, but rather the seminal “why.” (Herman Simon, Management Beyond the Day)

Despite well-established management principles that require a long-term perspective be used when evaluating all business decisions and the countless organizational failures and disasters that demonstrate the consequences of ignoring such strategic thinking, many corporations continue to repeat those same mistakes and seemingly fail to learn their lessons. This may be due to the pressures placed on companies to be “profitable” for the next quarter that motivate senior executives to quickly maximize share prices while ignoring the potential negative effects to the long-term profitability, value, and survivability of an organization. Another explanation for this dysfunctional approach may be the flawed compensation systems and executive contracts that reward management for short-sighted profitability decisions without demanding accountability for the long-term organizational profitability and taking into consideration the impact on the long-term value and competitive position of a company. [Read more…]

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Key Characteristics of Great Leaders – Part II

Great Leaders Integrity, Honesty, Humility, CourageIn this article I’m continuing with my review of the key characteristics of great leaders. Here are some additional qualities that embody superior leadership.

Great leaders surround themselves with greatness. They actively seek out the best possible people and hire them to fill all key positions within their organizations. Great leaders know that surrounding themselves with excellence is a direct reflection on their own character, abilities, and effectiveness as leaders. They understand that their own success and the success of their organizations depend mostly on hiring and promoting the best qualified, ethical, skilled, responsible, mature, and productive people and giving them the proper resources, authority, and freedom to do what’s needed for the long-term benefit of their companies. Great leaders do not feel threatened by anyone lower in the chain of command who’s smarter, better educated, more productive, or more popular than they are. They respect the greatness and unique abilities of the individuals they lead and encourage them to continually flourish and grow. [Read more…]

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Breaking Through

Inc.com | by Mike Hofman | January 2008
How companies just like yours mushroomed into powerhouses in their industries. A conversation with Keith R. McFarland.

How do you create a breakthrough company? Where do you start?
First, I’d say that it’s not about being in a hot, sexy market. It’s not about having the coolest, hippest product. We came up with an index of companies that grew to a certain level both in terms of their annual revenue and in terms of their financial performance, compared with the rest of their industry. [Read more…]

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Key Characteristics of Great Leaders – Part I

Great Leaders charactersticsWhat are some key characteristics of a great leader? While many books and countless articles have been written about this subject, we continue to witness a significant shortage of great leaders in many companies and institutions. Here are some essential traits and skills that great leaders must possess.

Great leaders are people persons. They must like being around people, be comfortable talking to and listening to people, and know how to relate to them. Great leaders must know how to communicate with their employees, speak their language, and not talk down to them. This is essential. Anyone who is not comfortable being around people, or exhibits anti-social or narcissistic behavior, should not lead or be in charge of anyone. Bullies, sycophants, and loners never make great leaders, regardless of their level of intelligence, education, and capability.
[Read more…]

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Truth in Organizations is Not a Matter of Opinion

Truth in Organizations, Truth in BusinessTelling the truth is too often overlooked in business. Truth is the catalyst that should inform all management decisions and actions. It’s the foundation on which trust and integrity rest. Truth is the critical prerequisite that enables management and employees to make ethical decisions in the day-to-day activities of an organization.

Now when I speak of “truth” I mean the objective reality of our lives that we can all categorically agree with. This includes facts and information that cannot be disputed and are universally true whether or not someone chooses to acknowledge them. Some examples include: two plus two always equals four, water is necessary to sustain life, man has landed on the moon, companies must be profitable to remain in business, in a vacuum light travels at precisely 186,282.397 miles per second, and only 0.037% of our atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide.
[Read more…]

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In Business, Ethics is Everyone’s Business

What happened to companies like Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, or even organizations like the Catholic Church where ethics collapsed and management behavior became criminal? Their leaders did not set out to break the law. So how did they end up disgraced, and some even behind bars? Many of these problems can be traced to a failure of ethical decision-making. Ethics acts as a “fail-safe” mechanism.

People can start out with good intentions and correct principles and then incrementally twist them to suit their own interests. This is especially true in larger companies where it is easier to distance oneself from the “faceless” corporation. That’s why people who otherwise abide by high ethical standards chose to act contrary to those beliefs, which leads to disastrous consequences for their organizations.

[Read more…]

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Something for Nothing – Book Review

The All-Consuming Desire that Turns the American Dream into a Social Nightmare.


Brian Tracy’s book, Something for Nothing, is an honest and critical look at many of the societal and cultural problems our society is facing. Tracy is
most concerned with the natural tendencies and drives of our human nature, how they have been misdirected and abused, and how, as a result, they have contributed to creating and perpetuating those social and cultural
problems. Driven by his desire to understand and explain human behavior, the author relies on his experiences and insights to present a comprehensive and clear picture of how humanity’s misguided approaches in actualizing our desires to get “something for nothing” have brought about many unintended and dreadful consequences to not only individuals themselves but our society in general. [Read more…]

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