How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs

How the Mighty FallBy Jim Collins –
The author of Good to Great on how to spot the subtle signs that your successful company is actually on course to sputter—and how to reverse the slide before it’s too late.

I pondered and puzzled and finally settled upon the question: Is America renewing its greatness, or is America dangerously on the cusp of falling from great to good? While I intended the question to be rhetorical (I believe America carries a responsibility to continuously renew itself, and it has met that responsibility throughout its history), the West Point gathering nonetheless erupted into an intense debate. Half of the participants argued that America stands as strong as ever, while the other half contended that America teeters on the edge of decline.

History shows, repeatedly, that the mighty can fall. The Egyptian Old Kingdom, the Chou Dynasty, the Hittite Empire—all fell. Athens fell. Rome fell. Even Britain, which stood a century before as a global superpower, saw its position erode. Is that the U.S.’s fate? Or will America always find a way to meet Lincoln’s challenge to be the last best hope of Earth?

At a break, the chief executive of one of America’s most successful companies pulled me aside. “I’ve been thinking about your question in the context of my company all morning,” he said. “We’ve had tremendous success in recent years, and I worry about that. So what I want to know is: How would you know?” [Read more…]

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Nine Things Successful People Do Differently

Keys to Success by Heidi Grant Halvorson –
Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it. [Read more…]

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Five Things You Should Never Say While Negotiating

by Mike Hofman –
Every entrepreneur spends some time haggling, whether it is with customers, suppliers, investors, or would-be employees. Most business owners are street smart, and seem to naturally perform well in negotiations. You probably have a trick or two—some magic phrases to say, perhaps—that can help you gain the upperhand. But, often, the moment you get into trouble in a negotiation is when something careless just slips out. If you are new to negotiation, or feel it is an area where you can improve, check out these tips on precisely what not to say. [Read more…]

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Intel CEO Otellini on Successful Company Culture

Intel CEO Paul Otellini
Intel CEO Paul Otellini
by Rich Karlgaard –
(Note: Last week I sat down with Intel’s Paul Otellini to talk about technology in the 2-to-5-year future. Can Moore’s Law continue? What will smartphones, tablets and PCs look like in two years? I will publish our conversation in the March 14 issue of Forbes magazine. Meanwhile, enjoy Otellini’s riff on Intel’s amazing 43-year-old corporate culture. Steve Jobs may be the iconic entrepreneur/CEO of Silicon Valley, but Intel, I would argue, is the iconic culture.)

Name a Silicon Valley giant that has managed CEO succession well. HP hasn’t. Sun blew it. Advanced Micro Devices never adequately replaced Jerry Sanders. Apple dropped the baton repeatedly its first incarnation – Steve Jobs to John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio — and it’s too early to tell if Tim Cook can replace Jobs this time around. Larry Ellison still runs Oracle, and Cisco is only on its second CEO, John Chambers. Google has gone back to its founders, and Facebook is not even yet public.

Among large companies, only Intel has mastered CEO succession multiple times. [Read more…]

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8 Ways to Foster Innovation in Your Company

Foster Innovation

Creativity fosters innovation, but how can you ignite creative sparks within your organization? Inc.com compiled lessons on developing a vibrant research and development strategy.

To come up with their best new ideas, most companies turn to an inexpensive and efficient source of innovation: their own employees. How can you unleash the creative spirit lurking in your workforce? Here are eight of the best strategies we’ve uncovered in recent months.

1. Let Every Employee Play Designer.
Three years ago, the five-person research and development team at pet-accessory company West Paw Design had a case of collective writer’s block. A production manager named Seth Partain proposed holding a contest for the company’s three-dozen employees. Everyone from salespeople to seamstresses were encouraged to spend an afternoon designing and producing prototypes for new products. Following an end-of-day vote, a winner was crowned at an award ceremony. By making employees feel a part of the idea-creation process, West Paw Design set up a new pipeline of product development. [Read more…]

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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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Eight Ideas for Small Business Success

Privé Products 10/5/2010 – Drew Neisser –
How petite Privé Products succeeded where giant P&G couldn’t.

Before I could even get in my first question, my hands were already covered with a soft liquid that transformed into a foamy shampoo. An excited Jackie Applebaum, the CEO of, exclaimed that “this is an unbelievable shampoo and never before has this been done in a can.” And before my hands were dry, she had me trying a non-aerosol mousse from a tiny 2.5 ounce bottle that Applebaum noted was “also blowing out the door.” This emphasis on unique products was both refreshing and enlightening, setting up this 8-point guide for small business success.

1. Create unique products to take the challenge out of marketing
With sales expected to rise 30% in 2010, obviously Applebaum is not alone in her enthusiasm for Privé’s new products. “The assignment I gave the lab is that I don’t want ‘me too’ products,” offered Applebaum. “We now have cutting edge products with cutting edge delivery systems that the market is responding to,” she added. While many small businesses feel out gunned by their larger competitors R&D departments, Privé decided that having unique products that “marketed themselves” would be the only way they could cost-effectively build their company. [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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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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Knowing When to Fold ‘Em

Web Worker Daily | by Amber Riviere | Nov. 17, 2009

Our impulse is usually to try to do everything. Opportunities present themselves, and we think, “If I turn this away, I may not get another shot. What if there’s nothing else coming down the pike?”

Early on in our careers, especially, it’s tempting to want to take on every job, collaborate with every potential strategic alliance, and never turn down anyone for anything. Sometimes, though, the best option is in the not doing.

But, how do you know when is a good time to hold and when is a good time to fold? Here are a few clues. [Read more…]

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The Three Most Important Rules in Business

Most Important Rules Business SuccessFrom my years of experience working for different companies and teaching various graduate business courses, I developed three rules that management must practice in order to achieve long-term profitability and success. Follow these rules and a business can remain healthy and prosper. Ignore them and failure is virtually guaranteed in the long term.

Rule #1 – Always Meet and Exceed Customer Expectations.
Meeting and exceeding customer expectations is the most important but often overlooked rule of business. The only way a company stays in business is if the customer is satisfied with its product or service. This generates profit, builds long-term stability, and meets the challenge of competitors. Meeting expectations should be considered the baseline for company performance. Exceeding expectations should be the ultimate goal. [Read more…]

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Private Company Does in 3 Days What Government School Could Not Do in 12 Years

Sylvan Learning Center private company success by John Stossel –
With public schools spending more than $100,000 per student on K-12 education, you’d think they could teach students how to read and write.

South Carolina is one of many states to have trouble with this. It spends $9,000 per student per year, and its state school superintendent told me South Carolina has been “ranked as having some of the highest standards of learning in the entire country.” So let’s ask the infamous question, “Is our children learning?”

Dorian Cain told me he wants to learn to read. He’s 18 years old and in 12th grade, but when I asked him to read from a first-grade level book, he struggled with it.

“Did they try to teach you to read?” I asked him.

“From time to time.”[Read more…]

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