What Is Weakness?

Last week I wrote a blog entitled “What is Vulnerability,” in which I made an effort to describe the difference between showing vulnerability and showing weakness. A couple of readers wrote in taking issue with my description of showing weakness.  Here is what they wrote:  “I’m going to send this to my client who struggles […]

What Is Vulnerability?

I find that the topic of vulnerability comes up frequently in discussions amongst leaders with varying descriptions of what it means to “show vulnerability.” Here are some questions to expand the dialogue: Does vulnerability have to mean showing emotion? It’s OK for a woman to have tears and talk about feelings, but still not OK […]

Declare Your Independence

One of my favorite books and one I recommend to all my clients is Necessary Endings, by Henry Cloud.  In this book, Cloud uses a metaphor of rose bushes and compares them to our businesses, careers, and lives. He explains that a rose bush cannot support all the buds it creates. The beautiful ones only become […]

Leadership Quote: Were There None Who Were Discontented…

Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.  Florence Nightingale

Is It Capacity Or Is It Making Choices?

As an Executive Life Coach for CEOs, I’ve seen several common traits in those who have successfully grown their businesses. I’ve told stories in the past about the importance of having a vision, having the right people, and having strong execution. Another more subtle characteristic shared by successful leaders, they seem to have an incredible […]

Boundaries Do Have Consequences

As leaders in the 24×7 culture of the 21st century, we all must set boundaries. And they are different for each of us. Some of us like to stay at the office until the work for the day is complete and separate work time from family or playtime. Some of us want to be connected […]

Memorial Day Leadership Quote: A hero is someone…

“A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with freedom.” –– Bob Dylan

There is as much fun in getting there…

Occasionally there are small moments in life that leave a lasting impact. Years ago, I was sitting on a bench at the old Union Station. An old man sat down next to me, and we engaged in conversation. I asked him where he was headed, and he replied with glee, “San Francisco!” “Wow,” I said, […]

The Way

Most of us learned “the way” early in life. Some of us learned it from our parents, some from our teachers or other adult role models. The way we learned was the way they did it. We observed, or they told us, how to live our lives; and in what order to do things. Typically it went something […]

You Pivot™: You’d Look Great in a Mercedes

Jim started out living the American story. He grew up in a middle-class home in the suburbs, married his high-school sweetheart, went to business school, and got a job in corporate America.  When he started having children, four before he was 34, finances were tight. He was driving a used Dodge Omni, 30 miles each […]

Leadership Quote: Big things…

Big things often have small beginnings. Lawrence of Arabia  

What is Your Team’s Us of Identity?

In a recent conversation with a friend, he shared his experience as a member of two different peer advisor business groups. My friend was saying that the second group seemed to lack the intimacy of the first. When we dug deeper and explored the differences between the two, here is what we uncovered. The first […]

Glory Days, Don’t Let Them Pass You By…

Thank you, Bruce Springsteen, for this quote. It seems today that the chorus of “glory days” conversation has increased. Perhaps it is because of Covid-19, or larger than that, a longing for the perceived pace of the past? My response to this is, the glory days were only golden in retrospect. Every period has had […]

You Pivot™: That Which Does Not Kill Us…

Friedrich Nietzsche’s full quote from 1888, “Out of life’s school of war — What does not kill me makes me stronger.”  This quote came to mind as I was listening to Henry tell me his story. Perhaps it will resonate for you as well. Henry grew up in a middle-class home where his parents sacrificed […]

Leadership Quote: We can learn a lot from Crayons…

We could learn a lot from crayons; some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, while others bright, some have weird names, but they all have learned to live together in the same box. Robert Fulghum

Ending Is Beginning

A couple of weeks ago, I asked the question: How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go? I received so many responses that I was inspired to write this Part II. When a new client begins my You Pivot™ Program, I recommend a couple of books, one of which is Necessary Endings by Dr. Henry […]

The Secret of Life…

The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time There ain’t nothing to it Any fool can do it Nobody knows how we got to The top of the hill But since we’re on our way down We might as well enjoy the ride James Taylor As I reflect on James’ words, I am […]

YOU PIVOT™: Father Doesn’t Always Know Best

After conducting these interviews and writing these YOU PIVOT™ stories for nearly a year now, a common theme for the men I’ve interviewed is a choice to follow Dad’s career path. This choice has worked well for some, reference Flunking Retirement: Marsh’s story of following his dad into the military And for others, like Darnell, not so […]

Leadership Quote: The Trouble Is…

The Trouble Is, You Think You Have Time. Buddha

How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go?

Whether you are a business owner, a professional manager, an advisor, or anyone engaged in an enterprise for an extended time – how do you know when it is time to go? “Nothing is forever,” the saying goes, and yet sometimes, perhaps even frequently, we stay too long. We watch professional athletes stay past their […]

Who Knows What Is Good and What is Bad

A few months ago, I began a Mental Fitness Coach training program with Shirzad Chamine, founder of Positive Intelligence. I have found this program to have profound results, and I have integrated it into my YOU PIVOT™ coaching practice. A key tenet of the program is the concept of The Sage Perspective.   The Sage Perspective […]

YOU PIVOT™: Taking the Boat off the Dock

It’s an interesting coincidence that this month’s interview with Sheila followed last month’s with Marsh. They are both from the same generation, Sheila a bit younger at 75, and both followed similar, very intentional, highly accomplished corporate career paths. And yet, as a woman, perhaps because she is a woman, Sheila’s story and her transitions […]

Leadership Quote: We Will Open the Book…

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day Edith Lovejoy Pierce

YOU PIVOT™: Which Life -Career Version Are you In?

Careers, like software, require updates to keep them fresh.  Just as with software, Version 1.0, while it works, is just the beginning. For some, Version 1.0, is well thought out. These are the lucky ones. My husband, for example, knew when he was a child that he wanted to be an engineer. And, he did […]

Leadership Quote: This is not the end…

Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. Winston Churchill As we come to the end of this challenging year, Winston Churchill reminds us, there is light at the end of this seemingly endless dark tunnel. This pandemic has […]

YOU PIVOT™: Flunking Retirement

When I began this interview with Marsh, now 80, the first thing he said is “I flunked retirement twice.” We both agreed the word retirement doesn’t work anymore. Version 3.0 of ourselves, even version 4.0, is not about endings, it’s about beginnings. Discovering the content of the new beginning is both the hard part and […]

Leadership Quote: You’re in the left-hand seat…

You’re in the left-hand seat in the cockpit now. “Your role is different,” the board member told me. “As the leader, don’t tell people what to do—instead, tell them what to think about.” Gary Burnison

Thanks-Giving

For me, the Thanksgiving holiday is a time to pause and consider the gifts that life has given me and ask myself how and where I can pay those gifts forward.    More than any other year, 2020 is the year to pay it forward. More than any other disaster, the impact of COVID-19 has […]

The Unreliable Narrator: Part II – The Flip Side

Last week I featured the familiar unreliable narrator story, the one where we judge ourselves harshly and thus tell an unreliable story of our accomplishments. As I reflected on this story in conversations with readers, I was reminded of an unreliable narrator of a different sort that can be equally misleading. In this version, the […]

Are You An Unreliable Narrator?

Last week I wrote about the importance of telling your today story before answering the question, What is Your Tomorrow Story? One of the challenges I observe in my work as an executive life coach is we are often an unreliable narrator of our own story. Successful people tend to focus on what is next. They […]

YOU PIVOT™: What Is Your Tomorrow Story?

In my work with CEOs and senior executives in my YOU PIVOT™ Program, I ask them to begin by telling me the story of who they are today. Then, I ask them to consider and share what matters most to them. Only then, when they have clarity on their today story and what matters, I […]

Leadership Quote: The Most Difficult Thing …

The most difficult thing in the world is to know how to do a thing and to watch somebody else doing it wrong, without comment. T.H. White

Nobody Died

I have a new CEO client who used to be a trauma surgeon. We’ve had many conversations about the differences between leading an ER surgery team and leading a business. The other day, he said something that has stayed with me since, so I decided to write about it. Here’s what he said, ” while […]

Q3 2020 Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Confidence Rebounds

Signs of life in the economy and an increase of business activity has led to an increase in confidence of small and midsize business CEOs. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index rebounded to 82.8 Q3 2020; while not at peak recovery, this is just 2.6% below Q3 2019. While all factors that comprise the Index improved […]

YOU PIVOT™: Face Your Fear

Ryan started his career in his early twenties, working for his dad. And, as is often the case, this young firebrand felt he knew better how to run the business, dad disagreed. On one thing they did agree, it was best that he go to work somewhere else.  After two years of working for a […]

Leadership Quote: The Two Most Important Days…

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain

Happy New Year, L’Shana Tova

This past Friday night began the Days of Awe in the Jewish religion. Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the New Year in the Hebrew calendar, marks this period’s start; Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, marks the end. It’s a time for reflection, which I enjoy, even though I do not consider myself a religious […]

Rewarding Innovation: Because Great Ideas Don’t Imagine Themselves

An engineer friend of mine works for a large, highly innovative company. You know the type of company I’m talking about: the kind that introduces new products, offers unique services, and establishes effective processes with remarkable consistency. The type of company whose employees are told over and over again, “You’re so lucky!” Here’s the secret: […]

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Labor Day In A Pandemic

Labor Day has taken on new meaning in these times. In the early months of the pandemic, we celebrated the labor of our essential workers: food production and food service workers who make it possible for the rest of us to eat health-care workers who care for the sick sanitation workers who keep our communities […]

Leadership Quote: Only During Hard Times…

Only during hard times do people come to understand how difficult it is to be master of their feelings and thoughts. –     Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

The Gift of Feedback

Feedback is a gift. It is an opportunity for personal development and, ultimately, leadership development. And, it is hard; Very hard. I am not sure which is harder, giving feedback or accepting it. Recently I was with a small group of fellow coaches, several of us long-tenured, and we were discussing this very topic. We […]

Set Boundaries

As we come to realize that these “interesting times” are likely to be with us for some time, we are also beginning to accept that we must find ways to adapt. While the form that adapt and accept takes will be different for each of us, one thing is true for all of us; we must focus on what […]

Let It Rest

As leaders, most of us are action-oriented. Something crosses our desk, we deal with it. An issue comes up with a customer, a vendor, an employee, and we take action. And, sometimes, especially in these times, it’s best to let it rest. Most of us feel a lack of control over so many things today […]

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Leadership Quote: Life Doesn’t Get Easier

Life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient. Unknown

Stuck In The Middle

As time marches on in this COVID-19 world, life is becoming more challenging. While we are all becoming accustomed to the “protocol,” many, perhaps most, of us don’t want to become accustomed to “it.”  The masks, the temperature checks, the exposure questions, the monitoring, all of that seems almost ordinary by now.   And at the […]

Q2 2020 Vistage survey: CEO confidence plummets in pandemic-induced recession

While the full impact of the economic shutdown occurred in April and May, the latest Vistage CEO Confidence Index data still reveals the devastating effects of the pandemic on small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The Vistage CEO Confidence Index plummeted to 65.5 in Q2 2020; there have only been two other times in the history […]

Leadership Quote: The Wise Adapt Themselves…

“The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.” Chinese Proverb

YOU PIVOT™: Integrating Body & Soul In Three Acts

Listen to my recent appearance on the ‘On The Brink’ podcast here. You 3.0 has become a regular feature of this blog. This month, I interviewed Valencia; her story follows. When Valencia was a child, she had a dream that she would travel the world when she grew up and teach people the secrets of […]

It’s Not About Color, Or Is it?

I’ve spent a lot of time this past week talking about racism. The conversations began with wondering why, the murder of George Floyd last week sparked protests nationwide when the killing of Eric Garner, in 2014 did not. Then when the looting began, the conversation turned to one about fear. As a teenager in 1968, […]

Leadership Quote: You must never confuse…

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, James Stockdale

Leaders Are The Unsung Heroes

As chair of a CEO Peer Advisory Board, I am getting to see first hand the courage, dedication, and determination of leaders during this pandemic. I am humbled and inspired. Leaders of essential businesses all over the world are working hard to keep their employees safe while serving their customers at the same time. Not […]

Q1 2020 Vistage CEO Confidence Index

Rather than sharing the report itself this quarter, I thought it would be more useful to share Joe Galvin, Vistage Chief Research Officer, interpretation and perspective as follows. There will not be a “new normal” on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. When business activity picks up and the world begins to spin again, […]

Just For The Record

Just for the record, we introverts don’t like this any more than extroverts.  You are probably asking yourself, where is this coming from? I had a conversation last week with an extroverted friend of mine, during which he said: “I know you introverts are secretly loving this.”  People often have the belief that introverts aren’t […]

WE ARE NOT ALL IN THE SAME BOAT

A friend of mine shared this essay in his weekly letter. It resonated for me, so I am passing it on to you. I have heard that we are all in the same boat, but it’s not like that. We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.  Your ship could be […]

Leadership Quote: You May Not Always Have a Comfortable Life…

You may not always have a comfortable life, and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once. But, don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. Michelle Obama

YOU PIVOT™: A Man With A Plan

Listen to my recent appearance on the ‘On The Brink’ podcast here. You 3.0 has become a monthly feature of this blog. While most of us continue to shelter in place, I asked myself if I should pause these stories and decided they are as relevant now as ever. And, perhaps hearing others’ stories may […]

Gratitude For The Light

Dear Readers, As most of you know, I lead a CEO Advisory Board in affiliation with Vistage International. My clients meet monthly, and before each meeting, we share an update of our lives since we last met. Typically, we give a brief overview of significant events in our business and personal lives. With nothing typical at this […]

Work Remotely, Are You Kidding Me?

This week I am pleased to share this guest blog by Andrea Simon, Corporate Anthropologist. These times are presenting us with a new world where most of us are working remotely or, maybe, will be doing so shortly. The pandemic crisis is here, and the best solution is to separate us all. It is an […]

Leadership Quote: It is not turbulent times that kill us…

It is not turbulent times that kill us, it is dealing with turbulent times with the paradigms of the past that does us in. Unknown

It’s Tough To Be A Leader At A Time Like This

II received two wonderfully inspiring leadership notes last week, and I decided I couldn’t wait until Sunday to share them. Thank you, Joan and Ozzie, for reminding us of the responsibilities we have as leaders in difficult times and how hard it is. From, Joan Davison, a member of my Vistage Peer Advisory Board: 17 […]

Oops, I Was Thinking Out Loud

How often have we said this to ourselves and discovered unintended consequences? As leaders, we know that others are always watching what we do and listening and reacting to what we say. And, when we are with our office staff, in the factory or the field, most of us are conscious of what we say […]

YOU PIVOT™: Leaving Ownership, For Now

Listen to my recent appearance on the ‘On The Brink’ podcast here. As part of my continuing YOU PIVOT™ Series, I interviewed Ray to hear his story.   Ray started his career in the large-corporate world, added a couple of gigs with smaller companies, and after a dozen years of working for others, he founded a company […]

Leadership Quote: We Always Overestimate…

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Bill Gates

Introvert or Extrovert: Who Makes the Better Leader?

Extroversion is the dominant style in the United States. As a result, we sometimes confuse leadership with charisma. Yet, research shows that not only are 40%-50% of CEO’s introverts, some of the more “famous” CEOs are also introverts, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab and Steve Spielberg.  Amongst entrepreneurs, the numbers are higher. Why? […]

YOU PIVOT™: A Tale of Two Transitions

Listen to my recent appearance on the ‘On The Brink’ podcast here. As part of my continuing YOU PIVOT™ series, I interviewed Jake to hear his story of two life transitions and what he learned from each. The process of selling the business absorbed his full attention, but the afternoon after the close, Jake went […]

With Diversity, Comes Diversity

What does this statement even mean? Homogeneous groups have similar backgrounds, preferences and personality styles. Often homogeneous groups are homegrown with few additions from “outside.” Diverse groups, on the other hand, may differ in traditional ways, i.e., gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Members may also differ in terms of their personality styles and backgrounds. […]

Leadership Quote: Avoid Having Your Ego…

Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your postion falls, your ego goes with it. — Colin Powell

Q4 2019 Vistage CEO Confidence Index

Optimism Recovers MidYear Losses Confidence among CEOs in the Q4 2019 survey regained the losses in the prior two quarters to end the year at the same favorable level as at the beginning of 2019. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 91.5 in Q4 2019, up 7.7% from the prior quarter and nearly equal to […]

Gratitude for Clean Toilets that Flush

I spent most of December in Vietnam and Cambodia, an experience that had a profound impact I am still processing. We were fortunate to find a Hanoi based travel agent who created a truly local experience. While we stayed in fine hotels, most of which had all the features of western hotels, the rest of […]

Leadership Quote: Tomorrow is the first blank page…

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. Brad Paisley

Tuesday Is Giving Tuesday

Tuesday is Giving Tuesday, a special day to recognize the giving part of Thanks-Giving. It is a day dedicated to giving back. On Giving Tuesday, nonprofits, families, businesses, and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Many of you know about my passion for Cara Chicago a […]

Thanks-Giving

Thursday is Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. To celebrate the giving part, a delightful tradition, called Giving Tuesday, takes place on December 3rd. It is a day dedicated to giving back. […]

Leadership Quote: Life Is Never Fair…

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not. Oscar Wilde

YOU PIVOT™: When and Where Did You Begin?

Last month I wrote a blog entitled Which Career Version Are You In? I shared some of my thoughts about career patterns and a bit of my own story. Since then, I have heard from several of my readers and clients sharing their stories. Each story is a bit different, and yet, there are common themes. […]

Leadership Quote: You Don’t Build a Business…

You don’t build a business. You build people, and people build the business. Zig Ziglar

Q3 Vistage Confidence Index – Chicago

A couple of weeks ago Vistage published its National Confidence Index Results.  Below is a report comparing the Chicago area to the nation.  Not surprisingly, Chicago business leaders are a bit more pessimistic. And yet, a recent report from ITR Economics Housing: 6 Signs of a Better Year Ahead offers a contrarian point of view.  […]

Q3 2019 Vistage Confidence Index – CEO optimism falls to 8-year low

Overall confidence among CEOs of small and midsize businesses declined for the 7th consecutive quarter. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 85.0 in the 3rd quarter of 2019, down 3.8% from the prior quarter and 17.5% from last year’s 3rd quarter survey. While the overall decline points toward a slower pace of growth in the […]

Leadership Quote: The Challenge Is…

The challenge is in the decision. Once the decision is made, you are free. Unknown

The Challenge of Success

When does confidence become hubris? So much is written about the importance of confidence, and yet, there is a dark, ugly side too. We see it every day in the press – rock stars, sports stars, politicians and others, who have so much confidence that they begin to make choices out of hubris. Well, we […]

Everybody Needs A Coach

“Everybody needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you are CEO, a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player, we all need feedback”  so says Bill Gates & Eric Schmidt in this 1.25min TED Talk. Perhaps a bold statement.  And yet, doesn’t every professional athlete and every famous performer have one?  […]

Is it Time for a Different Approach to Strategic Planning?

This is the time of the year that most companies begin their strategic planning process. While it’s fun to host and participate in an off-site, the end result sadly is often put on a shelf until next year. Mostly the plan is a continuation of the last one, and mostly the plan calls for growth, usually […]

The Meaning of Labor Day

When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” (in the words of the AFL). We have come a long way since then. Today most employers focus on offering […]

Consensus Gives You Beige

When a leader asks for input and then makes a decision, the result is vivid color, i.e. a better decision. It is a better decision for several reasons. First and foremost, your team feels valued when they are asked to participate in the decision process. Second, there is value in the wisdom of crowds; many […]

Leadership Quote: Yesterday’s home runs…

“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” –Babe Ruth

Are You a Prey Dog?

I had an interesting conversation the other day with one of my clients. He was comparing drive in humans to the prey drive his dogs have. Not being a dog owner, I hadn’t heard this term before. He explained that prey drive is exactly what the words describe, a drive to go after prey. And, […]

Leadership Quote: The Problems of Victory…

“The problems of victory are more agreeable than those of defeat but no less difficult.” –Winston Churchill

Q2 2019 Vistage-Chicago Confidence Index – Chicago More Pessimistic

Chicago Area Survey Highlights are below. Click here for more detail by industry and for a comparison to 2018. Economy 17%of CEOs thought the national economy had improved in the past year (vs. 31% nationally) 10% of CEOs expect the economy to improve in the year ahead (vs. 13% nationally) Prospects 53% of CEOs expect […]

Friction

Friction slows things down and makes motion difficult — it’s basic physics. We also know less friction eases movement and increases speed. When things are faster and easier to use, commerce happens. And, when friction is present, movement slows or worse yet, simply stops. We see this all the time with technology adoption. Have you […]

Q2 2019 Vistage Confidence Index: Optimism Tumbles

Since 2003, the Vistage CEO Confidence Index has provided a quarterly comprehensive report of the opinions and projections of more than 1,400 CEOs of small- to mid-sized companies about the economy, their hiring and investment plans, and prospects for their revenues and profitability. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index has been a proven predictor of GDP, […]

Leadership Quote: In a Healthy Team…

“In a healthy team, conflict is frequent because candor is safe.” Margaret Heffernan

Is your company divided between the “creatives” versus the “practical” people?

Do you divide your team into “creatives” and ” practical” people? If so, are you missing out on the creative ideas of the other half? If you ask David Kelley, one of the founders of IDEO, and winner of countless innovation awards he will say yes. David maintains that human beings are naturally creative and […]

Trust Your Gut For the No

Often when we are buyers, we find someone or something we like and then work to find data (experience, accomplishments, etc.) to convince ourselves why this person or this product is something we should buy. When it comes to interviewing for key candidates, Vistage speaker, Barry Deutsch recommends we take a more structured approach to […]

That’s Not What I Meant

In my work as a leadership coach and peer advisory board chair, I am constantly reminded that despite the fact that we are all the same species, with many characteristics in common, we truly do see the world differently. We expect this to be so when we interact with people who speak a different language […]

Leadership Quote: There is nothing as poor….

This month’s leadership quote: “There is nothing as poor as the poverty of low expectations.” —George W. Bush

The Choice

  The Choice The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. When all that story’s finished, what’s the news? In luck or out the toil has left its mark: That old perplexity […]

Bridging the Communication Gap

When we think about communication, we tend to think in terms of what we say and how we say it.  While clearly the what and the how matter, equally important is our ability to bridge the gap, what psychologists have labeled psychological distance— gaps between ourselves and other people (social distance); the present and the future (temporal distance); […]

Leadership Quote: Jobs Will Always Outgrow People…

This month’s leadership quote: “Jobs always outgrow people. It’s not whether, it’s when.” –Jim Alampi Elisa K Spain Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here

Q1 2019 Vistage Confidence Index: Optimism Sinks Further

New data from Vistage finds that the economic confidence of CEOs from small and midsize businesses continues to fall. The Vistage National CEO Confidence Index measured 91.6, compared to 95.4 last quarter (Q4 2018) and 105.8 one year ago (Q1 2019). The decline in the index was largely driven by CEOs’ lower assessments of the recent growth […]

What’s Your Story?

Psychologists, anthropologists, everyone who studies the human brain, tells us we are hardwired to respond to stories. I recently watched two documentaries, both of which chronicled stories told by storytellers who were later indicted for fraud,  Billy McFarland, founder of Fyre Media, and creator of the Fyre Festival and Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranaos. Perhaps because […]

Leadership Quote: Almost Everything Will Work Again….

This month’s leadership quote: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… Including you.” —Anne Lamott Elisa K Spain Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here

Now That We Are Here

Business is good for most companies and has been for quite some time.  And yet, the economic signals are there; we are nearing the end (are perhaps at the end?) of this long economic recovery. Your industry may have more runway, or you may be in an industry that is a leading indicator. Regardless of your industry position, […]

Let Things Unfold At Their Own Pace

As leaders, most of us are action oriented. Something crosses our desk; we deal with it. An issue comes up with a customer, a vendor, an employee; we take action. And, sometimes, if we let things unfold at their own pace, we achieve a better result. What?? Isn’t that avoidance or procrastination or fear of confrontation or, […]

It’s All About Style

There are lots of tools available for assessing personality style, and each has its nuance. Stripping away the nuance, with few exceptions, the assessments produce a matrix of 4 primary personality styles. These styles result from an understanding of extroversion vs. introversion, the relationship of each to detail orientation; and then adding to this, a person’s proclivity to […]

Does It Really Matter?

I had a conversation with a friend the other day that left us both laughing.  The two of us have an affiliation with the same organization, and about a year ago, during another conversation, we were sharing our outrage about something.  When we talked the other day, we both remembered our outrage, but neither of us could […]

Leadership Quote: Only Those Who Will Risk Going Too Far…

This month’s leadership quote: “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” –T.S. Eliot Elisa K Spain Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner and want to learn more about my Vistage Group, click here

Can You Forgive Yourself for Not Being Beethoven?

In interviews with Rolling Stone and CBS last year, Billy Joel shares why he stopped writing songs. “I just wasn’t as good as I wanted to be. It was driving me crazy. And it was wrecking my personal life too, just not being able to be satisfied.” That frustration led to a bout of drinking, he […]

I Me Mine

This blog, by guest blogger, Greg Bustin, business advisor, author, and fellow Vistage chair, tells the poignant story of the Beatles breakup.  This story is a wonderful reminder of the importance of aligning our values and goals with our purpose, and most importantly our relationships.  And, it also reminds us that while values seldom change, goals […]

We Need Tools to Build

I’ve had more conversations about stress management in the last couple of weeks than ever. Is it perhaps the turmoil in the world? Turmoil in our government? Fears about a coming recession? Whatever the reason, what I do know is…. We acknowledge that we need tools to build a house or a car or any physical […]

Leadership Quote: A Pessimist Sees the Difficulty…

This month’s leadership quote: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” –Winston Churchill Elisa K Spain You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here.

CEO Optimism Sinks

Economic confidence among CEOs continued to decline according to the Q4 2018 survey. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 95.4 in Q4, down from 103.0 in Q3 and last year’s fifteen-year peak of 110.3. Confidence Index Highlights 44% of CEOs said the economy had recently improved, a 20 point drop from last quarter. 70% of […]

Ah the Wonder of a Child…

Ah, the wonder of a child. We hear all the time that all children are creative, all children are artists; and then something happens as adults and we self-select into those who are creative and artistic, and those who are not. I wonder how much of this is because as adults we are bound by […]

The Gift of a New Year

A new year, a new beginning.  An opportunity to choose.. What is important to me? What important thing have I been neglecting? Health perhaps? What am I willing to change, perhaps stop doing, so that what is important actually gets my attention? What actions am I willing to take to turn my resolutions into actions and my actions into habits that extend beyond […]

Leadership Quote: There are far, far better things ahead…

This month’s leadership quote: “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” –C.S. Lewis Elisa K Spain You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here.

Why Do We Make Mistakes?

To close out 2018, I’ve asked Dr. Andrea Simon, Vistage Speaker and corporate anthropologist, to write the following guest blog, “Why Do We Make Mistakes?” This blog seemed a fitting conclusion to my recent series on habits. We’ve all been told since childhood to learn from our mistakes. In this blog, Dr. Simon offers us her […]

Making the Visible, Invisible

I love dining out. I love live theatre and for me, restaurants are theaters. Like theatre, restaurants create a show for us to experience, including director, actors, staging and lighting. A couple of weeks ago I had dinner at a local restaurant that is part of a restaurant group. It was an experience in innovation and […]

The Challenge of Perception Habits

Recently, I wrote two blogs about habits. The first, here, was about decision fatigue and how activity habits simplify our lives by reducing the number of decisions we have to make. The second, here, was about the dark side of habits, how our response habits can cause us to treat situations that feel similar as the same, […]

Today Is Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back. On Giving Tuesday, nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Many of you know about my passion for Cara, a true social innovator that helps motivate men and women, affected by homelessness and poverty, reclaim their […]

Leadership Quote: Be Stubborn…

This month’s leadership quote: “Be stubborn about your goals, and flexible about your methods.” –Author Unknown Elisa K Spain You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here.

Thanks-Giving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. To celebrate the giving part, a delightful tradition, called Giving Tuesday, takes place on November 27th. It is a day dedicated to giving back. […]

Another Form of Diversification, Expectation Diversity

Last week I wrote about ego diversification. And it reminded me of another sort of diversification, that of diversity of expectations. Whether in a personal situation, or a business situation, expecting one person to fulfill all our needs is usually a recipe for disappointment. Most of us long ago realized that if we spend 100% of […]

Ego Diversification

What does it mean to diversify your ego? Does that even make sense? In the investment world, diversification is de rigueur. Anyone who works with an investment advisor has heard them talk about the benefits of holding a diversified portfolio. The reasons are pretty straightforward, asset classes typically move differently and when one class is underperforming, […]

The Dark Side of Habit

Last month, I wrote about the power of habit.  I recently had two experiences with people I know well that reminded me there is also a dark side to habit. The closer the relationship, the more we think we “know” a person, the more we form habits or patterns in those relationships. If they do X, we respond with […]

Leadership Quote: Business Opportunities are like buses…

This month’s leadership quote: “Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” –Richard Branson You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here.  

Q3 2018 Confidence Index: Optimism Dips

The Q3 Vistage CEO Confidence Index – Economic confidence among CEOs continues its slow decline, according to the Q3 2018 Vistage CEO Confidence Index. The survey of 1,484 leaders of small and midsize businesses shows confidence decreasing from the 14-year peak set in late 2017, following the passage of the tax cut legislation. The Vistage […]

The Second Arrow

Last week my Vistage CEO group had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Srikumar Rao who presented his Creativity and Personal Mastery Workshop. Dr. Rao has been one of the top-rated and popular professors at many top Business Schools – including Columbia, Kellogg, Berkeley, London Business School and Imperial College. The message in Dr. Rao’s presentation: we create our own happiness. […]

The Power of Habit, Avoiding Decision Fatigue

How many times during the day do we pause and ask ourselves what was I intending to accomplish today, how did I end up here? According to one study, the cause of this is decision fatigue. Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at […]

Leadership Quote: Today is only one day…

This month’s leadership quote: “Today, is only one day, in all the days that will ever be. But, what will happen in all the other days that ever come, can depend on what you do today.” –Ernest Hemingway   Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner, […]

Taxes, trade and tariffs translate to trouble

One of the top five concerns noted in Vistage’s recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is taxes, trade and tariffs. The new tax law has created as much uncertainty as opportunity for SMBs. Certain changes — such as the revised Section 179 deduction and 20% pass-through income deduction — are expected to benefit many companies. However, other […]

Cyberattacks are the Silent Killers of SMBs

One of the top five concerns noted in Vistage’s recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is cybersecurity. If you have employees, customers or financial data, you are a target for a cyberattack. Cyber criminals are aggressively targeting small and midsize businesses (SMBs), and cyberattacks are increasing in complexity, frequency and severity. For many SMBs, those attacks are […]

Talent shortage goes critical

One of the top 5 concerns noted in Vistage’s recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is talent shortages. The unemployment rate at 3.9% is near an 18 year low. Last week, the DOL announced the number of Americans applying for unemployment fell to a near 49 year low. By measure of most economists, we are at full employment; some say […]

Cost pressures broadening and growing stronger

The #1 concern noted in Vistage’s recent report Decision Factors H2 2018, is rising costs. As we near the end of the current economic cycle, for the first time, in a long time, in addition to a typical cyclical tightening, we are also experiencing inflation. Wages are rising, the Fed is raising short term rates, […]

Why Labor Day?

When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” (in the words of the AFL). We have come a long way since then. Today most employers focus on offering […]

Leadership Quote: I make more mistakes…

This month’s leadership quote: “I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent  most of them.” –Thomas A. Edison #leadership #Vistage You can read more of my blogs and leadership quotes here Are You a CEO or President of a Privately Held Business? If you are also a lifetime learner, and want […]

What Are CEO’s Most Concerned About Today?

Entering the second half of 2018, Vistage Research compiled a report summarizing the key concerns CEO’s face today. This report draws on data from the Vistage Q2 CEO Confidence Index report and a team of expert economists. Here are the five key areas of concern: Cost pressures broadening and growing stronger Talent shortage goes critical Taxes, trade […]

Radical Transparency

In publicly held companies, company performance and executive compensation is, just that, public. All shareholders receive both an annual report and a proxy statement and this information is contained within these documents. Additionally, it is a simple matter for a non-shareholder to obtain this information, sometimes with a simple web search, or at least with […]

Leadership Quote: Those Who Failed to Oppose Me…

This month’s leadership quote: “Those who failed to oppose me…who readily agreed with me and accepted all my views… were those who did me the most injury.” –Napoleon Bonaparte   Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

The Power of Not Knowing

Many of us as leaders, especially new leaders, feel we must have all the answers. Some even feel a sense of shame when asked a question, by a client or an employee, and they don’t have the answer. And, despite these feelings of inadequacy most of us have felt at one time or another, I […]

The Way

Most of us learned, “the way” early in life. Some of us learned it from our parents, some from our teachers or other adult role models. The way, we learned, was the way they did it. We observed or they told us, how to live our lives; and in what order to do things. Typically it went something like […]

Time to Make the Donuts

Dunkin’ Donuts ran this ad back in the 70’s and even those born since then, resonate with the concept “time to make the donuts”, as in, get up, get ready, get to work, do the work, go home, start again tomorrow. Whether working in the factory or working as an executive, it’s easy to fall […]

Begin At The Very Beginning

I am often in conversation with people I coach where the person is focused on action. I hear things like… I am experiencing turnover, what can I do to stop or reduce it? Not sure if my people feel valued or are contributing to their full potential? We have a diverse group, wondering how do […]

Leadership Quote: People Don’t Want to Hear Your Story…

This month’s leadership quote: “People don’t want to hear your story, they want to hear their story through you.” –Nicholas Tremulis My husband is a big fan of Nicholas Tremulis, a Chicago musician who plays a unique mix of rock, R&B, and pop. Earlier this year, we had the opportunity to see him live in […]

What If I Can’t Today?

We as leaders are told all the time that everyone is always watching us. A smile, a frown, silence, all are interpreted as “a sign”. And since most of us think in terms of impact on ourselves, our followers interpret these “signs” as a sign of something that impacts them. This of course frequently results […]

How Do You Know If Your Team Is Living Your Core Values?

These days, most companies have stated core values. Many CEOs intentionally initiate conversations within their companies to ensure these values are front and center in their dealings with customers and employees. When difficult decisions are before us, we often ask ourselves, “what is the right thing to do?”; “how does our value of x or y, apply […]

Here’s To The Crazy Ones…

As my regular readers know, I collect quotes, share them here and on my website. Typically I publish one quote a month, but this month you get a bonus quote. In the last few weeks, I have been writing about listening. The quote below from Steve Jobs is a wonderful reminder that ideas only come […]

Leadership Quote: The Best Way…

This month’s leadership quote: “The best way to keep a good employee is to fire a bad one.” –Bob Thomson   Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

It’s All About the Experience

My husband and I are both foodies; we love to cook and to experience food events. Recently, along with another couple, we signed up for an “underground dining experience”. We had attended one of these in the past with a young chef who was relatively new on the restaurant scene and had a wonderful time. […]

Vistage Confidence Index Chicago Update

As reported earlier in April, CEOs nationally continue to voice optimism about their future financial prospects and plan to increase their investments and expand their labor force. Although the Vistage CEO Confidence Index retreated from the decade high recorded at year-end 2017, it remains quite favorable. Here in Chicago, while CEO’s are still confident, expectations are […]

Planting The Seed

Today’s post is offered by guest blogger and fellow Vistage Chair, Steve Larrick.  As leaders, we develop our own styles, and ways of getting things done over our careers. What works against us at times is that early success in leading others and in getting things done convinces us that our ways and methods are […]

Leadership Quote: It Doesn’t Make Sense…

This month’s leadership quote: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” –Steve Jobs Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

Listen, Please

As leaders we are problem solvers. In fact, problem solving is a key strength required in a leader. And yet, sometimes, the best solution is to simply listen. When I first began working as a leadership coach, I believed that my role was always to motivate my client toward action. While I still believe action […]

Why Work with a Coach?

For CEOs, the answer to this question is usually easy, the personal and professional gains a CEO expects from coaching usually have a direct correlation with results in their business. For a senior executive, the question is more complex, because in addition to the relationship between the coach and the executive, there is the relationship between the executive […]

Q1 2018 Confidence Index: CEO Confidence Index Slips in 2018

The Q1 Vistage CEO Confidence Index – The confidence of CEOs from small and midsize businesses (SMBs) has slipped in the past quarter but remains high, according to new data from Vistage. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index measured 105.8 in Q1 2018. By comparison, the index was 110.3 last quarter (Q4 2017) and 106.8 one […]

Making the Most of Downtime

When was the last time you wasted time? When you were “wasting time,” did you feel joyful and creative, or — if you’re like me, did you feel even a tiny bit guilty for “being unproductive?” How much better might it have been, how much more would you have enjoyed your time — how much […]

Leadership Quote: Wisdom is Knowing…

This month’s leadership quote: “Wisdom is knowing the right path to take; integrity is taking it.” –M.H. McKee Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

The Life Changing Value of Choosing

Working with CEOs over the last dozen or so years, I observed several common traits in those who successfully grow their businesses. I have written in the past about the importance of having a vision, having the right people, and having strong execution. Another more subtle characteristic shared by successful leaders… They seem to have […]

The Gift of Feedback

Feedback is a gift. It is an opportunity for personal development and ultimately leadership development. And, it is hard; Very hard. Not sure which is harder, giving feedback or accepting it. Recently I was with a small group of Vistage Chairs, several of us long tenured, and we were discussing this very topic. In fact, […]

The Quality of Bending Easily Without Breaking

When I began this blog about flexibility, I googled the definition and the first definition that came up was this: the quality of bending easily without breaking.  Which begs the question, how can we as managers find a way to bend our expectations to accommodate different styles of work, without breaking our culture? It’s become a new […]

Leadership Quote: The Quality of a Person’s Life…

This month’s leadership quote: “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” –Vince Lombardi  Head Coach, 1959-1967 Green Bay Packers Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

Meditate On It

What Do You Do When You Get Stuck? We’ve all been there. Working on a project and we just can’t seem to get to completion. Or at least not to a completion we are satisfied with. The project could be something short term, an assignment for a client, writing the next blog, or it could be something […]

Which Kind of Leadership?

Some situations require a general to inspire us to “take the hill”. Some situations require someone from the group to lead, an informal leader. Some situations simply require wisdom; the wisdom of Socrates, to simply ask the right question. So easy to default to Option 1 and assume all situations require this. After all, so much of […]

Q4 2017 Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Surges to Decade Peak

The Q4 Vistage CEO Confidence Index was nearly equal to the second and third quarters of 2017, suggesting that optimism among small business CEOs has stabilized. Q4 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index highlights include: 66% of CEOs of CEOs said the economy had recently improved, a significant increase from last quarter’s52%. 45% of CEOs expect the economy […]

January Reflections Part II – Bold Subtraction

As January draws to a close, and we perhaps reflect on the goals we set, perhaps even create a new habit or two like Jerry Seinfeld (January Reflections Part I), is it also time to reflect on the nature of our goals? Most of us tend to think in terms of additions. What new thing do we […]

January Reflections Part I – A Temporal Moment

I just finished reading Dan Pink’s latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which likely explains why I am focused on the meaning of January.  January 1, no surprise, is a temporal moment and Dan’s research supports this. We make resolutions on January 1, and for those of us who belong to a […]

It’s All About The Ride

Occasionally there are small moments in life that leave a lasting impact. As I think about my intentions for the new year, I am reminded of one of those small incidents, years ago. I was sitting on a bench at the old Union Station. An old man sat down next to me and we engaged […]

Leadership Quote: Although No One Can Go Back…

This month’s leadership quote: “Although no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.” —Carl Brad Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

Thoughts for the Coming Year

As we begin to wind down our business lives for the holiday season and focus on next year, I am continuing a tradition I started 2 years ago, with a wish for peace and understanding between us during the holidays and into the new year. In this spirit, I am sharing a blog written by Linda […]

Year-End, A Time To Pause and Self-Affirm

For many of us, the end of the year is a time for self-reflection. We think about what we accomplished, and what we did not. And amongst the leaders I know, the tendency is to focus on what we missed, what can be better, what’s next? The notion that we can constantly make ourselves and […]

When Is It the CEO’s Job to Create Drama?

One of our Vistage speakers, Don Schmincke, is well known for “Discovering The Leader’s Code: Ancient Secrets For Executive Performance.” The primary message Don drives home is the importance of having a positive Leadership Saga – because, in the absence of drama created by the leader, your team will create their own. Supporting Don’s message, an article several years ago in Science […]

Today Is Giving Tuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back. On #GivingTuesday, nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Last year, many of you made #GivingTuesday an incredible success for Cara, a mission I am passionate about. What began as a humble effort four […]

Leadership Quote: If Your Actions Inspire Others…

This month’s leadership quote: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” —John Quincy Adams Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

Thanks-Giving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I love this holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds, affiliations or preferences. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. To celebrate the giving part, a delightful tradition, called #GivingTuesday, takes place on November 28th. Last year, many of you […]

Ego Diversification

What does it mean to diversify your ego? Does that even make sense? In the investment world, diversification is de rigueur. Anyone who works with an investment advisor has heard them talk about the benefits of holding a diversified portfolio. The reasons are pretty straightforward, asset classes typically move differently and when one class is underperforming, […]

Q3 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Results

The Q3 Vistage CEO Confidence Index was nearly equal to the second and third quarters of 2017, suggesting that optimism among small business CEOs has stabilized. Q2 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index highlights include: 52% of CEOs said the economy had recently improved, slightly below last quarter’s 55% but more than twice last year’s 25%. 32% of […]

Leadership Quote: The Concept of ‘Value Added’…

This month’s leadership quote: “The concept of  ‘value added’ will drive more companies bankrupt than any other.” —Sam Bowers What???, you say. Value added is how we differentiate; value added is how we compete; it’s how we win. Yes and.. How much is it costing to add that extra value? Are you giving away services that […]

Perspective

Last week I attended “Tribute to the Stars”, a Cara event celebrating students of achievement. The name Cara might be familiar to you, as each year on Giving Tuesday you hear from me asking you to join my match for this wonderful organization that supports people through the process of “getting their lives back”. Every time I […]

What Is Happening Out There?

Last week I talked about ITR‘s prediction of a slowdown beginning early 2018 resulting in a cyclical recession by February of 2019. As with every recession, Brian Beaulieu of ITR recommends that CEOs use the slowdown as an opportunity to invest in their businesses. Sound advice. And, what better way to determine where to make these investments than to […]

Change is Coming..

Vistage economist, Alan Beaulieu, CEO of ITR, issued a simple warning in recent days “It’s been a good year, but there is a change coming,” he said. “Things are going to slow down.” For those of us who follow ITR, we know the recession Beaulieu expects next year is one that he’s been forecasting for some time. To […]

Crawl? Walk? Run? Fly?

Hard to know when to walk, when to fly, when to run or even when to crawl. In this fast paced world we live in, our tendency is to default to run. And, my sense is, there is a place for each. The challenge is to let things unfold at their own pace. Here are some […]

What is a Big Deal to Some, Leaves Others Scratching Their Heads

In this increasingly sensitized world we live in, we find ourselves in a place of wondering. Wondering, how what we say will be interpreted. And on the receiving end, we may be offended by comments from others and wonder at a minimum, how could this person have been so insensitive. Layer on to this, differences in […]

Leadership Quote: You Need to Get to the Future…

This month’s leadership quote: “You need to get to the future, ahead of your customers, and be ready to greet them when they arrive.” —Mark Beniodd, CEO Salesforce.com   Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

Progress or Apocalypse?

Every generation has its world changing vs. world destroying technology. In the 1800’s, it was the train. People genuinely believed that going that quickly would kill you in gruesome ways, such as your body melting. In the 1960’s, we were told getting too close to a television or a microwave oven would give us cancer. More recently this […]

Is it Time for a Different Approach to Strategic Planning?

This is the time of the year that most companies begin their strategic planning process. While it’s fun to host and participate in an offsite, the end result sadly is often put on a shelf until next year. Mostly the plan is a continuation of the last one, and mostly the plan calls for growth, usually […]

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” (in the words of the AFL). We have come a long way since then. Today most employers focus on offering opportunities […]

Leadership Quote: You Never See A Conductor…

This month’s leadership quote: “You never see a conductor play an instrument.” —Larry Steinhauer The intended leadership lesson here is leaders need to do less and lead more. And, like everything else, it depends. Sometimes the exact right thing to do is back off and let other folks lead. And sometimes, the right thing to […]

With Diversity, Comes Diversity

What does this statement even mean? Diverse leadership teams are hard…they are harder to build, are unlikely to come to consensus and are more likely to have conflict. So, why bother? Because… they are harder to build, are unlikely to come to consensus and are more likely to have conflict, they make better decisions. Research […]

Q2 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Results

Q2 Confidence Index The Vistage Confidence Index was 103.1 in the second quarter, down from 106.9 in the 1st quarter but still well above last year’s 88.0. Q2 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index highlights include: 55% of CEOs reported that economy had recently improved, slightly below last quarter’s 59% but more than twice last year’s […]

What If We Meet Them Where They Are?

Most of the time, we have an agenda. Whether it is to close a deal, persuade our employees or our customers to “see the light” or simply to win. What if instead, we simply let things unfold at their own pace? What if instead, we seek to understand? What if instead, we invested in understanding […]

Leadership Quote: Great Leaders…

This month’s leadership quote: “Great leaders delegate success, not tasks.” —Anonymous Frequently the leaders I work with tell me they are willing to delegate, as long as they trust the person to whom they are delegating. Makes sense. And yet, what happens when the person they delegate to doesn’t deliver? For many leaders the answer is, […]

Q2 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Results: Strong and Steady

Q2 Confidence Index CEOs of small and mid-sized companies remain confident in the economy and their business prospects, according to the latest reading of the Vistage CEO Confidence Index. The index measured 106.9 in the first quarter of 2017, a slight increase from the 105.2 measured last quarter (Q4 2016) but well above the 91.4 […]

Who are the UNSUNG heroes working for you?

We worship winners—especially those who demonstrate leadership, confront a crisis and prevail. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the hero did not create the crisis in the first place. But what about those who keep crises from erupting at all? Who are the UNSUNG heroes working for you (and helping you avoid the ditch)? […]

What is Empathy Really?

The dictionary defines empathy quite simply: “It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.” And for most of us, this simple sentence describes one of life’s greatest challenges. We come at everything from our point of view. Our style combined with our backgrounds and experiences drive how we see things. A couple of weeks […]

Leadership Quote: Leaders Are Not Paid…

This month’s leadership quote: “Leaders are not paid to make the inevitable happen.” —Vince Langley Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

How Do You Know When to Go With the Flow?

Option 1 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to go with the flow and let things play out. Option 2 _ Sometimes, the best thing to do is to choose a desired outcome and lead others toward that outcome. How do you decide? In my experience, business owners have the tendency to choose Option […]

Not Asking Has a Price Tag

We Vistage chairs often talk about the importance of staying curious, of asking questions. Often as leaders we tell ourselves that the only “cost” of being directive vs. asking questions are soft costs. For example, we make assumptions that are wrong and have to start over when we learn we are headed in the wrong direction. […]

Quiet

Quiet time, a luxury or a necessity? Call it meditation or simply call it quiet time. Taking time to clear the mind, we are told by our spiritual leaders, is the secret to awareness and peace. For years, perhaps centuries, we humans go to mediation classes, yogis, ashrams, the Dalai Lama, etc. in search of The […]

Leadership Quote: Changing People….

This month’s leadership quote: “If you can’t change the people, change the people.” —Michael Canic     Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

What If That’s Not How I See it?

How often are we in situations where what we want and what others want are not aligned? We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and at the same time, they cause disagreement that perhaps wasn’t there to begin with. We assume a person attended or didn’t attend an […]

As We Search For What Matters, Must We Choose?

The Choice The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. When all that story’s finished, what’s the news? In luck or out the toil has left its mark: That old perplexity an […]

Care, Attention, Competency

Care, Attention and Competency (CAC), these are the watchwords of the client service model for one of my Vistage member’s business. This business is in the construction industry and as he explains, bottom line of what they deliver is service, not construction. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the progression (regression) from Better, […]

Leadership Quote: CEO’s Job…

This month’s leadership quote: “CEO’s job is to grow it, not run it.” —Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinkos Easy to say, hard to do. Whether owner or professional CEO, the temptation is to run it, to make the important decisions, because after all, we know what to do. People often say that Steve Jobs was in […]

Better, Faster, Cheaper

For many years, the adage was “do you want it right, on-time or cheap, pick two”. And then somewhere in the 80’s and 90’s, perhaps associated with the dot.com era, marginal costs moved close to zero in some industries. Because of this, we began to expect all three. In fact the new adage became “better, faster, […]

What Does “Implement Dictatorially” Mean?

A few weeks ago, I posted the following as the leadership quote for the month of March: “Decide democratically, implement dictatorially.” —Peter Schutz, CEO of Porsche 1981-1986 One of my readers replied with the following comment: “Schutz got the first part of that quote right. I however believe you implement collaboratively.” In our conversation that followed […]

And What About Our Own Resistance?

Whether leader or follower, we are all in the position of having change thrust upon us. Vistage Speaker, Mike Scott, responded to my March 19th blog (Is Resistance The Problem?), with the questions I asked, turned inward. Thank you Mike for this wonderful reminder of the responsibility we each have to notice our own resistance. HOW […]

Q1 2017 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Results: CEO Economic Confidence Reigns

Q1 2017 Confidence Index   A rebound in CEOs’ perceptions of economic growth combined with a more favorable outlook for the economy has created a new optimism. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 106.9 in the 1st quarter 2017 survey, slightly above the 105.2 in last quarter’s survey, and well above the 3rd quarter reading […]

Leadership Quote: Decide Democratically…

This month’s leadership quote: “Decide democratically, implement dictatorially.” —Peter Schutz, CEO of Porsche 1981-1986       Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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Is Resistance The Problem?

Leading change in an organization is full of challenges. Most of these challenges are associated with creating a vision, inspiring action, achieving buy-in, and sustaining the change. And sometimes, we don’t take the simple steps to achieve buy-in. Put simply, everyone hears through their own filter. Therefore the actions we see may not be the actions […]

Continuous Improvement

Last week I talked about ratings and how we seem to have lost the purpose. So if ratings have taken on a life of their own, what do we do instead to foster continuous improvement? In the manufacturing world there is the concept of Kaizen, brought to the U.S. by Edward Deming. It’s a simple concept […]

Is Everyone a 5 or a 10?

We seem to be in a place where everyone is rated, everything is surveyed and everyone expects a rating of 5 (or when a 10 point scale, a rating of 10). It began with the car dealer who tells us, “You will be getting a survey and if your rating will be anything less than […]

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Leadership Quote: If You Don’t Like How Things Are…

This month’s leadership quote: “If you don’t like how things are, change it! You’re not a tree.” –Jim Rohn Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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Vertical Silos vs. Multitasking

Lots has been written about the downside of multitasking. And research shows that when it comes to tasks, at least amongst pre-millennial generations, it doesn’t work. Working on more than one thing at a time, e.g. talking on the phone and filling out a form or writing a paper, doesn’t work. It actually takes longer […]

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How Do You Manage The Flow?

Sometimes the demands of one part of our life, work or family, consume us. Sometimes because of a crisis, sometimes because of a spike in workload or children’s sports or…, sometimes just because we become consumed. These days, mobile devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, our employees and coworkers. We are, as I heard […]

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But, Do They Really Like You?

Many years ago, Sally Field famously accepted her Oscar saying, “You like me,” she declared. “You really like me.” With the strong emphasis on the word really.  Turns out what she actually said was, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me.” We probably misremember or misheard the quote, because […]

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Leadership Quote: We Make A Living…

This month’s leadership quote: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” –Winston Churchill     Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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What Does It Mean To Be Present?

When we talk about being present in our Vistage meetings, the request is to turn off the outside world and be present with the conversation in the room. Many of our members have similar requests for meetings inside their companies. Some leaders even collect everyone’s mobile devices when they enter the room so that no one […]

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Q4 2016 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Results: CEO Optimism Surges

CEOs expressed record increases in optimism about economic prospects following the election. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index jumped to 105.2 in the Q4 survey, up from 91.4 in the 3rd quarter, and the second-largest increase since 2003. The expected upsurge in business prospects have given a new urgency to finding, hiring, training, and retaining employees. […]

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Perspective…

A couple of weeks ago, I had an experience that reminded me how true it is that we see the world through our own perspective. So much so that our experience, in the exact same situation as someone else, can be entirely different. And it’s not until we pause and sincerely try to see the world […]

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Leadership Quote: You Control Your Future…

This month’s leadership quote: “You control your future, your destiny. What you think about comes about. By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands – your own.” -Mark Victor Hansen If you haven’t tried […]

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Thoughts For The Coming Year

As I was pondering what to write as we close 2016, I visited my post from the close of 2015 and discovered, sadly, that the December 2015 blog could have been written today. With that in mind, I am reposting the same guest blog from my friend and fellow Vistage Chair, Larry Cassidy. For me, Larry’s commentary continues to […]

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In Your Effort To Please, Are You Giving Away The Store?

Much has been written about The Ritz Carlton Way. The takeaway I always hear is “empower your front line employees to deliver WOW experiences”. Today many other organizations follow this Ritz Carlton Way. The intent of this approach is to allow employees to resolve a customer situation and have the customer walk away so pleased that […]

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Are You Green & Growing?

The further along we get in our careers, the more we know and the more we are challenged to stay curious. Every now and then I meet a leader that knows it all. They have “the way” they do things that worked for them in the past and as leaders, they are certain it will work […]

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Today Is Giving Tuesday

Today is Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to giving back. On Giving Tuesday, nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Many of you know about my passion for CARA, a true social innovator that helps motivated men and women, affected by homelessness and poverty, […]

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Leadership Quote: Progress Lies Not In Enhancing What Is…

This month’s leadership quote: “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” –Khalil Gibran Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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Thanks-Giving

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. To celebrate the giving part, a delightful tradition, called Giving Tuesday, takes place on November 29th. It is a day dedicated to giving back. […]

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Remember That First Date?

In my practice as a Vistage chair, I often find myself noticing the similarities between business and dating. After all, dating is a “deal” of a sort, and there are “rules” and best practices we follow in an effort to get what we want, i.e. more dates, and in that special case, marriage. Like dating, […]

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Wait I Am An Entrepreneur, Not A CEO!

In my practice as a Vistage chair, I often hear entrepreneurs say, “I don’t want to lose the culture as I grow this company” or “We are like a family; I want to keep this feeling as we grow”. And yet as the company grows, the culture inevitably changes and the owner no longer knows […]

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The Unintended Consequences Of Mentorship

During my career I have been fortunate to be a mentor to several talented individuals, and to have had wonderful mentors myself. For me, there are few rewards in leadership that are as good as those that come from mentoring someone and watching them grow into successful leaders themselves. Similarly, I can attribute much of […]

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Leadership Quote: Strive Not To Be A Success

This month’s leadership quote: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” –Albert Einstein As a Vistage Chair for over 10 years, I have been fortunate to work with many successful people. And to a person, the most successful by their nature, follow Mr. Einstein’s advice. It is part of who we […]

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Time To Find Something New?

So many quotes, so many articles written about the value of sticking to something, the value of not giving up, the value of continuing to stay the course even in the face of adversity. But what about the flip side? What about the importance of recognizing when it is time to find something new? Time […]

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Do I Always Have To Negotiate?

This week’s blog post appears on Executive Street Blog. Please click this link to view it. Every now and then, I have a conversation with one of the leaders I work with who is frustrated with a lack of compliance and accountability in their company. The leader will say something like this: “I told them […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index Q3: Optimism Inches Upward

Following six consecutive quarterly declines in confidence, CEOs finally recorded a small uptick in how they viewed prospects for the domestic economy as well as their own firm’s prospects. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index stood at 91.4 in the 3rd quarter 2016 survey, up from the three year low of 88.0 in the 2nd quarter, […]

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Goal Time Again

Each year when the leaves begin to fall, it’s a reminder that we are entering the final quarter of the year. For me, it’s time to take stock of what has happened thus far this year, evaluate how we did against our plan and begin thinking about next year. The questions I ask are: What would […]

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Leadership Quote: Our Chief Want…

This month’s leadership quote: “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson Mr. Emerson sums up our job as a leader in this one sentence. If we find a way to be and do this one thing, the rest takes care of itself. Why Vistage […]

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Rewarding Innovation: Because Great Ideas Just Don’t Imagine Themselves

This week’s blog post appears on Executive Street Blog. Please click this link to view it. An engineer friend of mine works for a large, highly innovative company. You know the type of company I’m talking about: the kind that introduces new products, offers unique services, and establishes effective processes with remarkable consistency. The kind […]

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What Is Our Leadership Role In Service Recovery?

I recently had a small remodeling job in my home that, despite excellent intentions on the part of the provider, did not go well. This project failure got me thinking about service recovery and what exactly that means. I have also come to realize that the definition may be different, depending on whether you sit […]

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Of Course I Embrace Diversity

How often do we hear people say that they embrace diversity, and then behave another way? As Ralph Waldo Emerson was fond of saying, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say”. My sense is this happens because most of the time embracing diversity is easy. It’s not when folks are different from us […]

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Leadership Quote: The Single Biggest Problem…

This month’s leadership quote: “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” –George Bernard Shaw We discussed this quote in my Vistage groups this month, and of course each of us had a recent story to tell. What we discovered was for most of us, our failures to communicate […]

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Whose Responsibility Is It?

I am one of those people with what I call an ‘overdeveloped sense of responsibility’. And, I am working on this. What I have learned over the years is when “we” are responsible, rather than “I” am responsible, we all get to a better outcome. As part of my work as a Vistage Chair, I […]

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How To Recharge Yourself And Your Strategic Plan

What if we simply accept August as the time to recharge our batteries, then get a jump-start on strategic planning for next year?  This week’s blog post appears on Executive Street Blog. Please click this link to view it. To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred in late July, when Sirius appeared to rise […]

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Did I Delegate Or Did I Abdicate?

Most of us who have been in leadership roles for awhile understand the importance of delegating. It’s simply a matter of leverage; the more we delegate, the more gets done. And… sometimes we get confused. We think we are delegating, when in fact, we are abdicating. What’s the difference? Delegate: entrust (a task or responsibility) to […]

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Leadership Quote: Becoming A Leader…

This month’s leadership quote: “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple, and it is also that difficult.” –Warren Bennis The challenge of course is gaining this self-awareness. Identifying our genius Learning how we show up to others and the impact we have Learning when to lead from the front […]

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Healthy CEO, Healthy Business

I recently heard a CEO say, “when I am healthy, my business is healthy”.  I have been thinking about this CEO’s statement in the context of CEOs I have known or observed over the years. My reflective observation is, he is right; there is a strong correlation between the health of the leader and the […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index For Q2 2016: CEO Optimism In The Economy Declined Across The Board

Small business owners reveal that hiring and retaining talent is the most significant business challenge, according to a quarterly survey by Vistage Worldwide. Vistage, a global organization, which assembles and facilitates private advisory boards for CEOs, conducts a quarterly survey covering a variety of small business topics. More than one-third of the 1,300 respondents cite […]

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Perception ≠ Reality

This week’s blog post appears on Executive Street Blog. Please click this link to view it. We often hear the phrase perception is reality. In the physical world, we are told that we cannot perceive reality directly; perception is all we have. “If a tree falls in the woods…..” As leaders, we transfer this rule into behaviors, […]

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Declare Your Independence

I have been reading a book called Necessary Ending, by Henry Cloud. In it, he uses a metaphor of rose bushes and compares them to our businesses, our careers and our lives. He explains that a rose bush cannot support all the buds it creates. And the ones that are beautiful only become beautiful because of pruning. […]

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Leadership Quote: I Love Listening…

This month’s leadership quote: “I love listening. It’s one of the only spaces where you can be still, and moved, at the same time.” –Nayyirah Waheed Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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Is The Sky Blue?

In my work as a Vistage chair and leadership coach, I am constantly reminded that despite the fact that we are all the same species, with many characteristics in common, we truly do see the world differently. We expect this to be so, when we travel internationally or interact with people of differing ethnic, cultural […]

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Are You Willing To Wait For Transformation?

Change is hard; it taxes the soul of both leaders and followers. And, for many of us leading change, I wonder if this frustration sometimes leads to giving up or giving in too soon? Two years ago I began a transformation process with one of the peer groups I lead. The change was disruptive. Some […]

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How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go?

Whether you are a business owner, a professional manager, an advisor – or anyone who is engaged in an enterprise for an extended time – how do you know when it is time to go? “Nothing is forever”, the old saying goes, and yet sometimes, perhaps even frequently, we stay too long. We watch professional […]

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Leadership Quote: Be Decisive…

This month’s leadership quote: “Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” -Unknown   Why Vistage Works Elisa K. Spain

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Do Titles Matter?

If you ask most founders of privately held companies, their answer is, ‘titles don’t matter’. In their eyes, everyone simply needs to do what needs to be done to make the company and all of us successful. If you ask most professional managers, their answer is, ‘of course titles matter’. Titles tell the people in […]

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Boundaries Do Have Consequences

As leaders in the 24×7 culture of the 21st century, we all must set boundaries. And they are different for each of us. Some of us like to stay at the office until the work for the day is completed and separate work time from family or play time. Some of us like to be […]

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Alignment: What’s In It For Me?

By now, you may have heard about the Jet Blue experiment, the gist of which was… on a recent flight, they gave away a free ticket to anywhere Jet Blue flies, as along as everyone on the plane agreed on the destination. Frankly I was surprised to learn that the passengers all agreed and tickets were […]

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Leadership Quote: A Leader That Won’t Listen To Others…

This month’s leadership quote: “A leader that won’t listen to others will eventually be surrounded by people that have nothing to say.” -Andy Stanley When you ask most leaders if they listen, they will say yes. And yet, when you ask most employees if their boss listens, few say yes. Why is this? Here’s my […]

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Things I Learned From My Mother

Last week, after 95 years of life, my wise, beautiful mother died.  Her last years were difficult ones and at the beginning of those difficult times, 15 years ago, my dear friend for whom my mother was a mentor, encouraged me to write this. Reading this at this time is a wonderful reminder of the […]

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Take A Break And Grow Your Company

Sometimes when life feels overwhelming, our instinctive reaction is to work more. This is especially true when our personal lives are demanding more of our attention; we feel we have to make up for that time, so as not to fall behind. And, yet, I wonder if the counterintuitive response is to instead, take a break. […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Declines in Q1 2016 – At Lowest Level In 3 Years

CEOs expressed greater concerns about the outlook for the domestic economy but remained upbeat about their own firm’s prospects in the Q1 2016 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 92.3 in the 1st quarter 2016 survey, down from 95.5 in the 4th quarter, and significantly below last year’s 105.8. Despite […]

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Achieve No Goal Before It Is Time

Once well-known brand, Paul Masson wine, is best remembered for its 1970s marketing association with Orson Wells, who promised for Masson: “We will sell no wine before its time.” In this ad, Wells is discovered by the camera listening to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, “It took Beethoven four years to write that symphony” Wells says, “Some things […]

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Leadership Quote: Whatever Anybody Says Or Does…

This month’s leadership quote: “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed.” -Indra Nooyi, Chairman/CEO Pepsi   […]

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Let It Rest

As leaders, most of us are action oriented. Something crosses our desk, we deal with it. An issue comes up with a customer, a vendor, an employee, we take action. And, sometimes it’s best to simply let it rest. What?? Isn’t that avoidance or procrastination or fear of confrontation or, or, or? Sometimes action is needed, […]

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When Giving Feedback, Be Aware Of Your Executive Presence

Vistage speaker, Michael Allosso, visited both of my groups this week. His workshop, “You On Your Best Day“, is a wonderful experiential reminder of both what it means to have executive presence and when we have it, what it takes to use this presence effectively. Executive presence, as defined by the Center for Talent Innovation, is a combination […]

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Socrates Was So Wise

I have become convinced the Socratic Method is the secret to business success. In short, the answer is in the question. By asking better questions, we enable others to come to their own resolutions. Most of us in business are problem solvers, and often the answer to someone else’s problem or challenge seems obvious to us. […]

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Leadership Quote: Courage Is Not Limited To The Battlefield

This month’s leadership quote: “Courage is not limited to the battlefield. The real tests of courage are much quieter. They are the inner tests, like enduring pain when the room is empty or standing alone when you’re misunderstood.” -Charles Swindoll For me, the leadership lesson here is courage of our convictions. The courage to stand […]

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We Are Bound By What We Know

Ah, the wonder of a child. We hear all the time that all children are creative, all children are artists; and then something happens as adults and we self-select into those who are creative and artistic, and those who are not. I wonder how much of this is because as adults we are bound by […]

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Multitasking Isn’t All Bad

Multitasking might reduce productivity but it may also boost creativity. Research shows that at least at this stage of evolution, we humans are less productive when we multitask. Article after article reminds us we actually accomplish less multitasking than if we simply did one thing at a time and saw each task through to completion […]

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Ah, The Power Of Retrospection

As part of the big purge, I had a wonderful realization. Looking back, all that stuff that seemed so important, turns out… really isn’t. If only we, especially as leaders, could see this prospectively. And, we can. Once again, it is a matter of pausing. Simply stopping and asking the following questions: Does what I […]

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Leadership Quote: Humility Is Not Thinking Less Of Yourself…

    This month’s leadership quote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis Enough said. When we focus outwardly on others, especially our team and their success, we simply become more successful ourselves. I’ve watched this time and time again with the leaders I work with. Those who […]

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Is It Empty Or Filled With Possibilities?

  For the last month or so, my husband and I have been purging, shredding, scanning, throwing away, and donating stuff. We decided to welcome the new year with less. For me, less stuff opens up possibilities. Less stuff gives us the freedom to go where we want, if we want, now or in the future. […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Overall Optimism Slips In Q4 2015

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. A Look Back and 4 Musts for Business Leaders in 2016: CEOs expressed somewhat greater concerns about the outlook for the domestic economy but remained upbeat about their own firm’s prospects in the Q4 2015 Vistage CEO Confidence Index Survey. Overall, the data does not indicate that confidence […]

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It's That Time Again…

  What time? In business we call it goal setting time. In our personal lives we call them “new year’s resolutions”. Here’s how Webster’s defines each of these: Resolution: “to make a definite and serious decision to do something” Goal: “something that you are trying to do or achieve” Hmm, resolution sounds much more committed […]

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What Does All This Mean, What Will We Do, And How Will We Go About Doing It?

  I’ve decided to end the year with a guest blog from my friend and fellow Vistage Chair, Larry Cassidy. We’ve been having a discussion amongst us Vistage Chairs about the recent tragedies, hate crimes and terrorism and the related impact some members have begun to see in their companies. For me, Larry’s commentary expressed the challenge […]

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Are Your Expectations Too High Or Too Low?

  How do you know? Sometimes we set our sights too low and don’t achieve as much as we can. Sometimes we expect too much from ourselves and constantly feel as though we don’t measure up. Sometimes we expect too much from our team or our key vendors and they feel as though they can’t please […]

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Leadership Quote: We Should Try To Be The Parents Of Our Future…

  This month’s leadership quote: “We should try to be the parents of our future, rather than the offspring of our past.” -Miguel de Unamuno The best way I know to live Miguel’s quote is by being intentional. For some of us, it is setting goals and deciding what we want for the future. For […]

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Today is Giving Tuesday

  Today on Giving Tuesday nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. I also wanted to share…my matching gift opportunity. Many of you know about my passion for The CARA Program, a true social innovator.  I am proud to count Maria Kim, CEO as […]

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Thanks-Giving

  I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. We give thanks on Thanksgiving, go to the mall on Black Friday, and browse the web on Cyber Monday. Now, we have […]

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Right People At The Right Time…

  Most of the clients I have worked with over the years founded their businesses; same is true for the members of my Vistage CEO group. These folks often join Vistage because they want to grow and build a professionally managed business. They are grateful and loyal to the folks that helped them get started. […]

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As Time Goes By….

Lots of talk these days about the increasing role the millennials are playing in the workplace. At the same time, many boomers remain in the workforce. The result: younger people managing folks older than them. Millennials tell me they often feel uncomfortable in these situations. Today, I was talking with a young man taking over a […]

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As The Leaves Begin To Fall….

  Those of us in the northern climates are enjoying the annual fall display. For me, it is a reminder of the cyclicality of life and of business. Time to reflect on what has passed, celebrate our successes and remind ourselves that whatever may have been our failures, we get an opportunity in the new […]

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Tell Me A Story…

  We humans seem to learn best, relate best and connect best, with stories. As children we learn the culture and norms of our society from fairytales and fables told by our parents. In the beginning of communities and societies, we told stories to the members of our “tribes” to initiate them into the tribe. In […]

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Leadership Quote: Today You Will Get Something That Was Not Guaranteed…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Today you will get something that was not guaranteed. One more day. Out of which to create the ‘you’ that works for you. And to decide what that day will be, and who you will be. You can write one more blank check, and let others fill in the amount; […]

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How Do You Keep Your Mojo?

  Sometimes the demands of one part of our life, work or family, consume us. Sometimes because of a crisis, sometimes because of a spike in workload or children’s sports or…, sometimes just because we become consumed. These days, mobile devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, our employees and coworkers. We are, as I […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Optimism Tempered in Q3 2015

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. Vistage CEOs expressed somewhat greater concerns about the outlook for the domestic economy largely due to uncertainties about international conditions, volatile and declining stock prices and the much debated Fed liftoff in interest rates. Despite these concerns, CEOs continued to be more optimistic about prospects for their own […]

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The Gift Of Feedback

  Feedback is a gift. It is an opportunity for personal development and ultimately leadership development. And, it is hard; Very hard. Not sure which is harder, giving feedback or accepting it. Recently I was with a small group of Vistage Chairs, several of us long tenured, and we were discussing this very topic. In […]

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Leadership Quote: One Sees Great Things From The Valley…

  This month’s leadership quote: “One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” -Gilbert K. Chesterton Another way to say this, the higher we rise in an organization, the less we see. The challenge for leaders, therefore, is to spend time in the valley. Easy to say; harder to do. […]

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Better, Better, Maybe Not?

  The notion that we can constantly make ourselves and our companies better, in theory, is a great idea. But when does it become too much? For me, the best way to answer this question is to notice our strengths and work to enhance them. In my Vistage work and as a leadership coach, I […]

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How Does Your Company Handle Conflict?

  Which of these describes your culture: Conflict is out in the open; we respectfully disagree in meetings and discuss the issue until we reach resolution or acceptance Conflict is handled by the boss; we all agree in the meeting and then lobby our position to the boss afterwards and he or she resolves the conflict Conflict […]

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The Meaning Of Labor Day

  When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” (in the words of the AFL). We have come a long way since then. Today most employers focus on […]

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Leadership Quote: Discovery Is Seeing What Everybody Else Has Seen…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.” — Albert Szent-Györgyi Albert Szent-Györgyi lived from September 16, 1893 – October 22, 1986 and was a Hungarian physiologist. He won the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1937. He is credited with discovering vitamin C and […]

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What Exactly Is Vulnerability?

  I have received several comments about last week’s blog, so I thought I would continue the dialogue. Here are some of the questions: Does vulnerability have to mean showing emotion? It’s okay for a woman to have tears and talk about feelings, but still not okay for men? What’s the difference between showing vulnerability and showing […]

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Is There A Place For Vulnerability In Leadership?

  Over and over again, I have witnessed the power of vulnerability. A leader is up in front of the room and shows emotion, feels shame, and then discovers people are drawn to him or her instead. I have experienced the feeling myself, and I have been one of the people in the room, when […]

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Problem Solving Or Management?

  Continuing the theme of execution: As leaders and managers, we have been taught to find the root cause and fix the problem.  And, in my experience, some problems can’t be “solved” (and, hopefully, made to go away) – they must be managed and may require the leader’s repetitive attention and time. For me the […]

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The War For Talent (Or Is It A War ON Talent?)

  Two important statistics begin this discussion… Starting in 2016, more people will be leaving the workforce than entering it By 2020, 46% of all U.S. workers are predicted to be Gen Y Thus the foundation for the war for talent, or what my friends at large companies are calling, ‘the war on talent’, as […]

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Leadership Quote: The Rate Of Change…

  This month’s leadership quote: “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” -Jack Welch When things are going well, it’s easy to become complacent, even arrogant. We become married to a point of view. After all, we built our business based on these […]

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Vision Is Not Enough…

  Successful leaders have both vision and execution. Lots of people have great ideas, and in my experience, it’s execution that creates success.  Why ‘Big Picture Only’ Leaders Fail. And, what exactly defines execution? Last week, I began a conversation about one of the key components of execution – Capacity: Is It Capacity Or Is […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Concern Due To Economic Slowdown In Q2 2015

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs concerned by slowdown in economic growth. The 1,434 U.S. CEOs surveyed from June 8-17, 2015 in the Q2 2015 Vistage CEO Confidence Index expressed greater concern about the dismal pace of 1st quarter growth in the economy, and more importantly, did not anticipate the same strong rebound […]

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Is It Capacity Or Is It Making Choices?

  Working with CEOs over the last dozen or so years, I observed several common traits in those who successfully grow their businesses. I have written in the past about the importance of having a vision, having the right people, and having strong execution. Another more subtle characteristic shared by successful leaders… They seem to […]

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Leadership Quote: What Is Important Is Seldom Urgent…

  This month’s leadership quote: “What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.” -Dwight Eisenhower   Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and other great leaders, past and present, all had the same 24 hours in a day that we do. And, yet we yearn for more time. “If only […]

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Consensus Gives You Beige

  When a leader asks for input and then makes a decision, the result is vivid color, i.e. a better decision. It is a better decision for lots of reasons. First and foremost, your team feels valued when they are asked to participate in the decision process. Second, there is value in the wisdom of […]

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Oops, I Wish I Hadn't Said That, I Wish I Had Done This….

  Back in elementary school, when playing sports, we often were allowed a ‘do-over’. As we got older, coaches and teachers stopped allowing this. The ball had to be played where it was. I suspect the reason for this was to “prepare us for life”. And, so we learned, no ‘do-overs’, if I screwed up […]

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Who Gets To Decide?

  Just about every leadership book and every leadership speaker talks about the importance of allowing people to fail. The concept is: true delegation does not occur unless and until I allow people to make their own decisions, take their own risks and succeed or fail on their own. Easy to say, hard to do, […]

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Leadership Quote: Success Is Getting What You Want…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” -Dale Carnegie We can always count on Dale Carnegie to remind us, attitude is everything.  In his books and in this quote Dale reminds us…when we take the time to celebrate what is, in ourselves and others, happiness is the […]

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Is It Good Enough?

  How often do we notice something, point it out and then regret it later; wishing we had kept quiet?  How often do we wait for more information, or better information, and miss an opportunity? There is both a time factor and a human factor to achieving results. We often wait too long, strive for that final 5%, […]

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Are You Favoring The Heroic Over The Prudent?

  We worship winners – especially those who demonstrate leadership, confront a crisis and prevail. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the hero did not create the crisis in the first place. But what about those who keep crises from erupting at all? Who are the UNSUNG heroes working for you (and helping you […]

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Leadership Is Often About Being Uncomfortable

  What?? How can leadership be about being uncomfortable? Isn’t confidence a key characteristic of leadership? Yes and…. only a confident person is willing to sit with discomfort. One of my Vistage members reminded me of this last week. We were talking about some changes he is making in his organization, specifically around allowing others […]

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Entrepreneurial Success Is Not About Taking Risk

  There is a long held belief that successful entrepreneurs are high risk takers. In fact, the common lore says, “not only do they take more risks, they are successful because of it.” Over the last 15 years I have worked with over a hundred entrepreneurs, first as a business advisor and then as a […]

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Leadership Quote: If We Only Focus On Fixing What's Wrong…

  This month’s leadership quote: “If we only focus on fixing what’s wrong, we forget to notice and build what is good and strong.” -Rebecca Wilkinson So often in our quest to be better, both as people and in our companies, we forget this advice. No question, sometimes fixing is what is required, technology becomes […]

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Attitude Is What Matters (Even With The Economy)

  When I watched this Brian Westbury video, The Triple Mandate, I was struck by the fact that several years into the current recovery, many business owners and investors are still worried. Understandable. The Great Recession took its toll on both our economy and our psyche.  The memory, while distant, is still fresh. Yet, what struck me […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Optimism Among Small Firms At Highest Level In 3 Years In Q1 2015

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. Confidence among CEOs has remained higher for a longer period than at any other time in the past ten years, according to a survey of 1,541 small- to mid-sized business owners. The survey, which took place from March 9 to March 18, 2015, provides a clear snapshot of […]

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Words Matter Part II

  A few weeks ago, my post “Words Matter“, generated several responses. One reader reminded me, like with everything, there is another side. The side of being too politically correct. The place where we so carefully script our words that we lose any sense of real communication. What to do? On the one hand, increasingly we hear words […]

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Leadership Quote: Twenty Years From Now…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” -Mark Twain   Elisa K. Spain

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Good Intentions…

  One of the key things we learn in Vistage is the Socratic Method. Stay in a questioning mode and let people come to their own answers. Most humans want to make a difference, have an impact somehow on others. Sometimes when we want to be in service, it is so tempting to tell others […]

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Words Matter

  We live in an increasingly diverse world, and at the same time it seems we have become increasingly intolerant. The more you look for signs of both, the more you will find it. Some say we need to simply stop looking so hard; I say we need to start looking harder. Diversity is part of […]

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What Happens When Market Forces Intervene?

  Last week I wrote about healthy body, healthy mind = healthy business. One of my readers reminded me, there is a corollary. While, the CEO’s health can and does impact the business, what happens when the business faces market forces and impacts the health of the CEO? On the one hand, what happens when the […]

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Healthy Mind, Healthy Body = Healthy Business

  I recently heard a CEO say “when I am healthy, my business is healthy”. And then over the weekend, I watched this TED talk Why We All Need to Practice Emotional First Aid. I have been thinking about both the CEO’s statement and this TED talk in the context of CEOs I have known […]

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Leadership Quote: Compete With Things To Come…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Compete with things to come – not with things that were.” -Carlos Rizowy  So easy to look in the rear view mirror and ask ourselves, what’s coming? And, what Carlos reminds us is that what we see in the rear view mirror are only the things that are present now. […]

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The Power Of Shared History

  A couple of weeks ago I attended the Vistage Chair Conference and spent an evening with 9 senior women chairs. All of us were at the gathering at the invitation of one of the people present, i.e. we all knew at least one person and none of us knew everyone. We talked about a lot […]

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Can A Focus On Culture Produce Financial Results?

  In 2014, the theme for my Vistage groups was All That Matters is Culture. We talk about culture a lot in Vistage and we have several speakers that focus on this topic. Certainly we can all agree that focusing on culture creates a more consistent workplace. I say consistent, rather than harmonious, because as we learned […]

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What Are You Doing In The Shower?

  Strange question for a post about leadership, eh? Here’s why I ask…. Used to be, we got our best ideas in the shower. Today, most of us are on the run. So much so that instead of just taking a shower, we are busy planning what is next; thinking about what has to get […]

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Leadership Quote: Innovation Is Hard…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Innovation is hard because ‘solving a problem people didn’t know they had’ and ‘building something no one needs’ look identical at first.” -Aaron Levine Steve Jobs is noted for “solving a problem people didn’t know they had” time after time, first with the Mac, then ITunes, the IPhone, the IPad, etc. […]

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Is Coaching For Me Or For My Company?

  As a leadership coach, working with both CEOs and senior executives, I am sometimes faced with this question: Is leadership coaching for the individual or Are there specific results this individual is expected to produce for the company? For CEOs, the answer to this question is usually easy, the development a CEO gains from coaching usually has a direct […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Optimism At Highest Level In Ten Years in Q4 2014

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. Confidence among CEOs reached its highest level in ten years in the Q4 2014 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey. The gain in the closing quarter of 2014 was largely due to more favorable assessments of the current state of the economy as well as more favorable prospects for […]

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Who we are

Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and worldviews. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They’re not in your business, but they’re in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and on a […]

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Leadership Quote: Success Is All About Growing Others…

  December’s leadership quote: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” -Jack Welch While personal growth and development is lifelong, it is only through developing others that we achieve measurable results in our businesses. As a Vistage chair and leadership […]

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What we do

Through facilitated discussions, problems become perspectives. A definitive plan of action is determined. In subsequent meetings, progress is checked and accountability ensured. Vistage International’s Private Advisory boards include more than 18,000 CEO, business owner and executive members worldwide. Member companies are better run and grow their revenues, on average, at more than twice the percentage […]

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Our impact

VISTAGE WORKS Over 30% of Elisa’s Vistage member companies doubled in size within two years of joining. Several are members of the Inc. 5000, Crain’s Fast 50, and Crain’s Largest Privately Held. Since 1957, Vistage has been dedicated to improving business performance by fostering peer-to-peer interaction among business leaders.  Vistage member companies are better run […]

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Learn more

Why Join a Private Advisory Board Led by Elisa Spain? We look for interesting people with interesting businesses. Successful business owners and professional managers who want to become more successful. CEO members have in common a desire to build professionally managed businesses that operate independently.  Key Executive members represent the key leaders who CEOs have entrusted to […]

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Celebrate Your Gift

  Each year at this gift-giving time, I am reminded that we all have natural gifts. Our challenge is to notice our strengths and work to enhance them. In my Vistage work, and as a leadership coach,  I refer to this as discovering and working in our genius. While personal growth and development are part of living a full […]

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When The Obvious, Isn't Obvious…

  Simplify, simplify… These are the watch words of our world today. The more complex our society has become the more is written on the benefits of simplification. And, I have begun to wonder if the complexity of our society is also leading us to forget to look for simple solutions when things aren’t working right. The […]

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What If You Can't Change What Is?

  This blog is for those of us who seek to change injustice. What if we just found a workaround? Outrageous? Perhaps not. Some things that we perceive as wrong speak to the fabric of our soul, most of these fall into the category of social injustice. But, I am not talking about those issues. What I […]

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Today Is Giving Tuesday

  Today, on Giving Tuesday, nonprofits, families, businesses and students around the world come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. Here in Illinois, Donors Forum, led by Eric Weinheimer (former member and friend of Vistage), is coordinating this initiative. They have one bold goal: #ILGIVEBIG, $12 million raised by Illinois nonprofits […]

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Leadership Quote: Knowing Our Impact On Others

  This month’s leadership quote: “Of the many, many things about which we are unclear, or of which we are unaware, our impact upon others is at or near the top.” -Larry Cassidy, Vistage Master Chair Today’s blogpost is offered by guest blogger Larry Cassidy, fellow Vistage Master Chair and author of this month’s quote. Larry has […]

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Thanks-Giving

  I love Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite holiday because it is celebrated by all Americans, regardless of their backgrounds. While the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving is so meaningful, the “giving” part is equally so. We give thanks on Thanksgiving, go to the mall on Black Friday, and browse the web on Cyber Monday. Now, we have […]

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The Oft Unheralded Challenge Of Change

  Leading change in an organization is full of challenges. Most of these challenges are associated with creating a vision, inspiring action, achieving buy-in, and sustaining the change. John Kotter, noted for his work on this topic, offers an 8 step process that offers an excellent roadmap. I am noticing a 1/2 step challenge of […]

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Another View On Co-Accountability?

Last week, one of the members of my CEO group sent this Facebook post to the group. And, much like the comments on the actual post, there was a mix of “isn’t this cool?” to the cynical, “what if the person has never done anything positive?” The discussion caused me to pause. Vistage speaker, Michel Allosso, talks […]

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Can Co-Accountability Happen In Your Culture?

  In Vistage, and amongst leaders in general, we talk a lot about accountability. We use terms like “we need to hold them accountable”, or “we need to hold ourselves accountable”. One of our speakers, Balaji Krishnamurthy, often talks instead about co-accountability and how this practice is directly tied to producing results. The concept is […]

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Leadership Quote: Yesterday's Home Runs…

  This month’s leadership quote: “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games” -Babe Ruth Not only don’t yesterday’s home runs win today’s games, the way we got to yesterday’s home run may not work today. While the past can be our teacher, it can also delude us. When we have been successful in the past, we […]

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The Emperor's New Clothes

  I have come to realize, duh… that the fairy tales we read as children were intended to prepare us for our adult lives. (Robert Fulghum was right, All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten). A couple of weeks ago I wrote about The Other Side of Success, when confidence becomes hubris. […]

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SWOT And Risk Management

  Most every business at one time or another, most often annually, spends a bit of time on a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). This is simply good governance. And, as I discussed in a recent post, Are You Prepared to Govern in a Changing World?, successful companies focus externally on the O […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Optimism At A 2-Year High in Q3 2014

  The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. Confidence among CEOs reached its highest level in two years, finally achieving a lift-off from its favorable holding pattern in the last three quarters. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 103.4 in the 3rd quarter 2014 survey, up from 101.0 in the 2nd quarter and 97.8 in last […]

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Leadership Quote: Finding Your Peer Group

This month’s leadership quote: “Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and worldviews. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth.  They’re not in your business, but they’re in your shoes.  Finding a peer group and working with them, […]

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The Other Side Of Success

When does confidence become hubris? So much is written about the importance of confidence and yet, there is a dark ugly side too. We see it every day in the press – rock stars, sports stars, politicians and others, who have so much confidence that they begin to make choices out of hubris. Well, we […]

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What Happens When Steady-Growth Companies Stomp On The Gas Pedal?

When steady-growth companies decide to stomp on the gas pedal, especially with new leaders, it is convenient to assume the “old timers” are just fine and will take care of themselves while all else goes to growth. Be wary of unintended consequences… When a company is young – it is all about growth – and […]

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What Makes A Successful Business?

What makes a successful business? Is it vision; is it strategy, or ?? Geoff Smart and Randy Street, authors of the book Who, make a compelling case for the value of management talent as the #1 determinant of business success. In their interviews of 400 CEOs and business leaders, they found that 52% rated talent […]

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Leadership Quote: Success Or Significance?

This month’s leadership quote: “Success is when you add value to yourself.  Significance is when you add value to others” -John Maxwell I have heard it said, that the time to “give back” is in the later phase of our lives. This quote is a reminder that giving back is really a lifelong habit; a […]

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The Unrecognized Value of Operational Excellence

Strategy and sales are the key to success, right? Well, yes, and no. Yes, they are important and without execution and operational excellence, they don’t matter. As Thomas Edison said so well, vision w/o execution is hallucination.  So how do we get there? The DIME Method (Design, Implement, Monitor & Evaluate)  is a start. And, it’s […]

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Caution… You are Entering Your Comfort Zone

The difference between a good leader and a great leader is the ability to improvise and gently push people out of their comfort zone, so says Vistage Speaker Michael Allosso. In this TED talk, Charlie Todd helps us see the human connection that results from a shared experience — in this case, an absurd shared experience, one […]

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Are You Prepared To Govern In A Changing World?

Arguably the most important ingredient is good governance is having a vision and a strategic plan. I often notice that these plans are based primarily on what is within our control. In short, these plans often consider only internal factors, the SW of the traditional SWOT analysis, while ignoring the OT portion or external factors. […]

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If You Don't Watch the Numbers, You Don't Have Governance

Publicly held  U.S. company governance dictates the requirements for financial reporting and many of these companies give “guidance” as frequently as quarterly. While this approach is sometime criticized as being short-term focused, the important upside is all stakeholders know, at any given time, how the company is performing and can respond accordingly. Privately held companies, […]

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Leadership Quote: Vision Without Action

This month’s leadership quote: “Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” -Joel A. Barker When leaders focus solely on vision and strategy and not on action, put simply, nothing gets done. Successful leaders know that a vision is a destination that […]

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In Good Governance, When Does Culture Come Ahead Of Revenue?

A few weeks ago in my blog about Leading Isn’t Easy, I talked about the hard choices we sometimes must make as leaders. Especially those choices where neither outcome is a good one. As we continue this series on Governance Design, I am reminded of my 2014 theme for my Vistage groups, “All That Matters Is Culture”. For […]

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Is Governance Leadership?

This week begins a new series on the topic of governance in growing businesses. Governance is not a term typically used by business owners and business leaders. Rather, we hear this term most often in the context of corporate boards, both public and private. Yet, Wikipedia defines corporate governance as, “the system of structures, rights, […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index: Hiring Is A Top Concern in Q2 2014

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. The latest Vistage survey found that CEOs continued to feel confident about today’s economy, as the Vistage CEO Confidence Index was virtually unchanged from the levels recorded in the prior two quarters. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 101.0 in the 2nd quarter 2014 survey, nearly identical with the […]

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Leadership Quote: We Must Lose Sight Of The Shore…

  This month’s leadership quote: “We must lose sight of the shore,if we do in fact, hope to discover something new.“ -Gary Belmonti Today’s quote came from one of my Vistage CEO group founding members. We have been on a transformation journey in this group and Gary is a member of the guiding team. Our group launched […]

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Leading Isn't Easy

I can hear the response now, “Well of course it isn’t easy, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it”. Yes I know, and when those difficult moments arise, and we are in the midst of, “not easy”, this is an important reminder. Recently I was reminded of a personal leadership moment, several years […]

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Sometimes Things Are Not As They Appear

We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and keep us moving forward. Or so we think. We assume a person attended or didn’t attend an event because… We assume a person responded to us a certain way, because… We assume a person took an action or didn’t […]

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Crawl? Walk? Run? Fly?

Hard to know when to walk, when to fly, when to run or even when to crawl. In this fast paced world we live in, our tendency is to default to run. And, my sense is, there is a place for each. The challenge is to let things unfold at their own pace. Here are some […]

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Growth Doesn't Have To Be A Lonely Path…

  Join us on June 11th, to learn more… All the economists are reporting steady growth and I see it in my Vistage groups. For the first time, in a long time, members are focused on expansion. And, they are cautious, the Great Recession is still fresh in our collective memories. Here are some of the […]

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Leadership Quote: Tell Me And I'll Forget…

This month’s leadership quote: “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.“ -Chinese Proverb We are often reminded that the key to successful leadership is successful delegation. And yet, many of us struggle with making delegation stick. I hear responses, like It takes too long; I may as […]

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Hold The Advice…

When we discover something new, or see someone we know in pain, or struggling with a problem, we want to help, to solve the problem. And off we go, giving advice. And, more often than not, that advice is received with resistance. “How can that be?”, we ask, “I genuinely wanted to help, and I […]

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Here's To The Crazy Ones…

As my regular readers know, I collect quotes, share them here and on my website. Typically I publish one quote a month, but this month you get a bonus quote. The last few weeks I have been on the theme about leading change. The quote below from Steve Jobs is a wonderful reminder that ideas only […]

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The Other Side Of Change

  As leaders, we are frequently driving change. Lots has been written on how to do it effectively. Two weeks ago, I published a blog about the challenges and opportunities associated with changing, or bending an organization’s culture. And, while change can be good for an organization, tinkering sometimes may not. We all know the leader […]

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Leadership Quote: You Can Tell Whether A Person Is Clever…

This month’s leadership quote: “You can tell whether a person is clever by his/her answers. You can tell whether a person is wise by his/her questions.“ -Naguib Mahfouz In Vistage we chairs encourage our members to stay in a questioning mode. This is probably the most important ingredient in effectively getting to the resolution of […]

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Culture Doesn't Change, But It Can Bend

  It is often said that culture change is the most challenging change one can attempt in an organization. In fact, Edgar Papke, Vistage Speaker and author of True Alignment, says that culture can only change when you change the majority of the people at the same time. Hmm, does that mean if we aren’t willing to […]

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Ask, The Answer May Surprise You

Sometimes, in our zeal to anticipate our customers’ needs, we forget to ask what they prefer. The notion of anticipating customer needs has been around for some time. And… certainly it makes sense when it comes to product development. Steve Jobs was famous for anticipating customer needs; knowing that we often don’t know what we […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: Optimism Remains High In Q1 2014

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs in the latest Vistage survey maintained their economic optimism at the same high level as in late 2013, despite the negative impact from the harsh winter. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 101.3 in the 1st quarter 2014 survey, virtually identical to the 101.5 in the 4th quarter […]

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Leadership Quote: It Is Only As We Develop Others…

This month’s leadership quote: “It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed.” -Harvey S. Firestone As leaders, we truly have only one job: to develop others. The success of our organizations rests entirely in the hands of the people who build our products and deliver the service to our customers. So, we […]

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Did I Delegate Or Did I Abdicate?

  Here’s a simple test to know if you have delegated or abdicated. At what point in the process will I know if my expectations were met? Hmm… guess that means if my intention is to delegate, I must take the following 5 actions: Clearly outline my expectations Check-in to see if my expectations were […]

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What If Instead, We Gave Feedback?

In my last post, I compared business to dating. Continuing that theme… Another similarity is “absent information, we make stuff up.” In the dating world, if he doesn’t call, we assume all kinds of things. Similarly with a prospect, an employee, a customer, a new connection. And, most of the time when we don’t like […]

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When Was The Last Time You Went On A Date?

  You are probably wondering why I am asking this question and what dating possibly has to do with a leadership blog… Actually, this topic comes up frequently in my coaching sessions. Business it seems, is a lot like dating… So, here are some dating and business best practices I’ve learned along the way: Be […]

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All That Matters Is Culture

The theme in my Vistage CEO and Key Executive Groups for 2014 is “All That Matters is Culture”. Each meeting, the host shares a bit about how this applies in their company. Here are some of the comments I have heard so far… We have a “can-do culture”. When I interview prospective employees, I ask […]

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Leadership Quote: Be Like Water..

                This month’s leadership quote: “Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water.” -Bruce Lee When I read this quote at my Vistage Key Executive meeting this month, we had a lively conversation about “what does it mean to be like water?” Here is […]

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The Queen (Or King) Of Denial

There is a country music song entitled Cleopatra, Queen of Denial, recorded in 1993 by Pam Tillis. While the lyrics talk about a love relationship gone wrong (are there any country songs that don’t?), the title stayed with me because it reminds me sometimes of what I see in business. What I observe is that […]

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Laws Of Success: The Three Secrets…

Working with CEOs and senior executives as both a coach and advisory board chair, I have had the opportunity to observe both those that are successful and those with unrealized potential. While their businesses and their personality styles are all different, when I distill it down, those that succeed share the following three traits: Tenacity […]

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Delivery ALWAYS Matters…

When the stakes are high, we prepare. Whether it is a presentation to a large audience or a meeting with a key client or prospective client, we know we will be more successful if we prepare. What exactly does it mean “to prepare”? When aren’t the stakes high? When we focus on content and not […]

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Leadership Quote: We can't solve problems…

                     This month’s leadership quote: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” -Albert Einstein Typically when we discover a problem, we bring together the same team that was involved when we first launched the new product, new division, new whatever, that led to the problem […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: Optimism Reaches 2 Year High In Q4 2013

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs in the Q4 2013 Vistage CEO Confidence Index survey held more optimistic economic expectations than at any other time in nearly two years. The largest 4th quarter gains were in CEOs’ evaluations of the overall economy, although revenue and profit expectations posted healthy advances as well. The Vistage Confidence Index […]

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Why Now?

Continuing the beginning of year theme of strategic planning. The question is, why diversify my business now, when everything is going so well? Anyone who has hired an investment advisor knows, all of them advise first and foremost, to build a diversified portfolio. And, despite all the data supporting the long term benefit of diversification, […]

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How Do You Know When It Is Time To Go?

Whether you are a business owner, a professional manager, an advisor – or anyone who is engaged in an enterprise for an extended time – how do you know when it is time to go? “Nothing is forever”, the old saying goes, and yet sometimes, perhaps even frequently, we stay too long. We watch professional […]

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Leadership Quote: Leadership: The Art Of Getting Someone Else To Do Something…

This month’s leadership quote: “Leadership:  The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower As human beings, we tend to choose to lead or follow. The role we choose is function of both our style and our circumstance. Even those of us who […]

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Strategic Lessons From David & Goliath For 2014 Planning

As you put the final touches on your business plans for 2014, or for that matter, your personal plans, I suggest a read or a listen to Malcolm Gladwell’s Latest Book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants.  The book is not about how the weak rise up and triumph over the […]

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A Tribute To A Great Man, Who Also Was A Good Man

Those of you who know me have heard me talk about my Uncle Leon as a model for a life well-lived. He died this past week, at age 95+. I will be attending his funeral on the day this blog publishes. It seemed fitting to write this tribute to him on this day. Balaji Krishnamurthy, […]

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Leading What We Don't Understand

  I have hesitated to jump into the Obamacare website discussion, however it provides such a great leadership lesson that I feel I have to. The lesson is this, even when I don’t understand, when I am the leader, I must lead. Sounds obvious and yet, so often when it comes to technology and other […]

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Leadership Quote: If I Had Only One Hour To Save The World…

This month’s leadership quote: “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.” -Albert Einstein How often do we jump in and start solving things before we know what the problem is? When we process issues in Vistage, the […]

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What Are You Willing To Give Up?

What are you willing to give up to get what you want? This is a question I often ask my Vistage members and coaching clients. One of my favorite books on marketing, admittedly an old one, is The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries and Trout. For me, many of these 22 laws are […]

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Are There Subtitles In Your Conversations?

Ever wish your conversations had subtitles? How often do we begin what seems like a casual conversation, only to realize that something has happened. Emotion has entered and we are no longer talking about the subject at hand. Yet, we keep trying to talk about the casual subject while our thoughts wander to the meta […]

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It Only Takes A Moment…

Appreciation as a leadership action. As leaders, we focus on big things so naturally when it comes to appreciation, we think big; the sales contest, the celebration parties, etc. As humans, we most value specific appreciation that is directed just to us. And, most of us find it difficult to do this. We celebrate the […]

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Leadership Quote: Becoming A Leader, Becoming Yourself….

This month’s leadership quote: “Becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It is precisely that simple and it is also that difficult.” -Warren Bennis The challenge of course is gaining this self-awareness. Identifying our genius Learning how we show up to others and the impact we have Learning when to lead from the front […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Grows In Q3 2013

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs held more optimistic expectations for gains by their own firms in the Q3 2013 Vistage CEO Confidence Index, even though they held less favorable views about the overall economic environment. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 97.8 in the 3rd quarter 2013 survey, just above the 96.7 in […]

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Stay The Course…

Stay the course…. How often have we heard this phrase, and at same time, how often do we react to what is happening in the moment and as a result lose sight of where we were heading? Most of us want to be flexible and responsive to our constituencies be they employees, customers, shareholders, family […]

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Trust Your Gut For The No…

Often when we are buyers, we find someone or something we like and then work to find data (experience, accomplishments, etc.) to convince ourselves why this person or this product is something we should buy. When it comes to interviewing for key candidates, Vistage speakers, Barry Deutsch and Brad Remillard, recommend we take a more structured […]

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Leadership Quote: Create Goals, Not For What You'll Achieve…

This month’s leadership quote: “Create goals, not for what you’ll achieve, but for who you get to be in the process.” Occasionally, I hear from people who say, “I don’t have goals and frankly, I don’t see the point”. While setting achievement goals is somewhat personality driven, the value is there for all of us […]

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Go Ahead, Drop Some Balls…

Just the other day, I was meeting with an executive acquaintance of mine who had just received a significant promotion. While he is excited about his promotion, he is challenged with looking for his replacement in his previous position; and in the meantime was doing both jobs. When I asked him how it was going, […]

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When Making The Counter-Intuitive Choice…

I have often heard our Vistage economists, Brian & Alan Beaulieu say, “the time to invest is late recession, early recovery”. And it is one thing to say this in theory, and quite another to actually have the courage to do it. Not unlike the recommendation to buy more equities when the market is down. While we all […]

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Managing Business Assets W/ Portfolio Management Risk Practices

Businesses are assets, right? What might happen if we followed the risk management practices of portfolio management in running them? The “portfolio managers” of our business are our leadership team, our key executives.  Business owners have a risk tolerance that leads them to be more or less involved in activities in their businesses. What I […]

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Leadership Quote: Vision Without Execution…

This month’s leadership quote:   Vision without execution is hallucination.  — Thomas A. Edison When leaders focus solely on vision and strategy and not on execution, put simply, nothing gets done. Successful leaders know that a vision is a destination that their team can rally around. They also know that while the vision is their job, it is a […]

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Given The Opportunity, Create An Experience…

Earlier this week, I spent two days with one of Vistage’s top speakers, Tom Searcy. Tom’s workshop is about Hunting Big Sales; What to do to Filter and Win the Big Deals. Filter, as in, know which ones to pursue and then what to do to win. Our members take turns hosting meetings and the […]

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Oops, I Was Thinking Out Loud…

How often have we said this to ourselves and discovered unintended consequences. As leaders we know that others are always watching what we do and listening and reacting to what we say. And, when we are with the folks in the office, in the factory or in the field, most of us are conscious of […]

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Leadership Development: Not Just For Women

Leadership Development: Not Just for Women As part of our leadership development, my Vistage groups frequently select a book to read as a group. Recently, my Vistage Inside group chose the book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandburg.   On the day we discussed this book in my group, […]

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Leadership Quote: The Art Of Being Wise….

This month’s leadership quote:  The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook.  — William Jones How many times do we notice something, point it out and then regret it later, wishing we had kept quiet. In our quest for excellence, sometimes we forget that perfection and excellence are not the same. Excellence sometimes […]

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Last Of The Series – Leadership View #13: Balance Your Life

I began this series as a tribute to my friend, Marsh Carter, whose leadership has been an inspiration to me for at least 25 of the 45+ years covered in his View of Leadership. As I have written these blogs each week, using Marsh’s topic lines, it has been interesting to me how relevant Marsh’s […]

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Leadership View #12: Watch For (Perhaps Unintentional) Malicious Obedience…

Leadership View #12: Watch for (perhaps unintentional) malicious obedience… Early in my career, I learned this valuable lesson. I had the opportunity to lead a transition of a client reporting group from a fully manual process to a fully automated process. This area was the last functional area to be automated in this company (guess that […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Grows In Q2 2013

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs held optimistic views about the overall economy as well as for their own firms in the Q2 2013 Vistage CEO Confidence Index. While there was a slight shift in their assessments of the economy, how CEOs viewed prospects for their own firms have been remarkably stable since the start of the year. […]

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Leadership Quote: Leadership Is Not Magnetic Personality…

Once again, I am taking a brief pause from the Leadership View series for the monthly quote. The series will return next week with Leadership View #12. This month’s leadership quote:  Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that […]

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Leadership View #11: Hardest Task

Leadership View #11: Hardest task – changing your leadership and management styles as your company grows or you go up the ladder.  I often hear entrepreneurs say, “I don’t want to lose the culture as I grow this company” or “We are like a family, I want to keep this feeling as we grow”. And […]

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Leadership View #10: Take The High Risk…

Leadership View #10: Take the higher risk / higher reward job. Much like when choosing investments, the higher risk choices lead to higher returns. And much like with investments, intentionality is the key. If you truly want the higher reward (or greater leadership role) and are willing to take the risk to modify both your […]

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Leadership View #9: An Absolute Skill Of An Effective Leader…

Leadership View #9: An absolute skill of an effective leader is the ability to grow and adapt. So often we find that what has made us successful in the past, is not working for us today. From the entrepreneur who built a successful company what I hear is, “I got here because I know my […]

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Leadership View #8: Merging Two Organizations…

Leadership View #8: Merging two organizations gives a leader an opportunity to form a new culture / leadership team / operating style.  A common mistake is to adopt one or the other, thereby creating winners and losers.   This leadership view is actually a continuation of Leadership View #7 where I talked about getting buy-in during […]

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Leadership Quote: Most People Need Repetition

Once again, I am taking a brief pause from the Leadership Series for the monthly quote. The series will return next week with Leadership View #8. This month’s leadership quote:  Most people need repetition more than instruction. I had a clear reminder of the importance of repetition last month. One of my Vistage members noticed we […]

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Leadership View #7: When Merging Or Combining Two Organizations..

Leadership View #7: When merging or combining two organizations, it has been estimated that 60% of the people will be relatively indifferent, 20% will be strongly supportive, and 20% will be strongly non-supportive.  Focus on the 20% that are strongly supportive and converting the 60% who are neutral. It is so easy to be drawn […]

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Leadership View #6: Some Problems Can’t Be “Solved”

 Leadership View #6: Some problems can’t be “solved” (and, hopefully, made to go away) – they must be managed and may require the leader’s repetitive attention and time. As leaders and managers, we have been taught to find the root cause and fix the problem. This Leadership View seems to fly in the face of that. […]

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Leadership View #5: When Leading Change..

Leadership View #5: When leading change – get some early wins –this makes change irresistible to those that resist.  Getting these “early wins” may involve changing priorities or sequencing of events. How often do we begin an initiative by setting a goal with a date when everything will be complete? When starting a project we […]

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Leadership Quote: Our Job As Marketers And Leaders

Once again, I am taking a brief pause from the 45 Years of Leadership series for the monthly quote. The series will return next week with Marsh’s Leadership View #5. This month’s leadership quote:  Our job as marketers and leaders is to create vibrant pockets, not to hunt for mass. – Seth Godin  This quote comes from Seth’s Super […]

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45 Year Leadership View #4: A Leader Must Balance…

Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #4: A leader must balance between near-term and long-term leadership and management tasks.  Hmm.. last week’s leadership view involved balance and here we are with the same subject line again. It does seem that balance is a key challenge for every leader. Most leaders have a sense of urgency, entrepreneurs especially. […]

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45 Year Leadership View #3: A Leader Must Balance…

Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #3: A leader must balance accomplishing the organization’s mission with responsibility to followers. As Vistage speaker Rick Eigenbrod reminds us, the one thing all leaders have in common, followers. When we forget this is the most important characteristic of leadership, we look around and there is no one behind us. While the […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Grows In Q1 2013

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. More than 1,500 Vistage members surveyed in the Q1 2013 Vistage CEO Confidence Index reported an improved economy and brighter prospects for their own firms despite recent cutbacks in federal spending. Similarly, small business owners who took the March WSJ/Vistage Small Business CEO Survey reported growing strength in the […]

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45 Year Leadership View #2: Sometimes, The Most Effective Techniques…

Marsh Carter’s Leadership View #2: Sometimes, the most effective leadership techniques are the simplest. We often strive to find a method or a framework that we can employ to become more effective as leaders. Sometimes, as Marsh reminds us in his Leadership View #2, it’s the simple things. Sometimes, all we need to do as […]

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Leadership Quote: What You Do Speaks So Loudly…

As it is time for my monthly leadership quote, I am taking a brief pause from the 45 Years of Leadership series.  The series will return next week with Marsh’s Leadership View #2. This month’s leadership quote:  What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say – Ralph Waldo Emerson  We say we provide a […]

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A 45 Year View Of Leadership

This past Thursday was the first day of spring and while here in Chicago it still feels like winter, I did see a crocus today. Spring, for me, represents new beginnings. With that in mind, I am launching a 15 week series entitled “A 45 Year View of Leadership“, honoring my friend, Marshall Carter. Marsh […]

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Laws Of Success: Perfection Of The Life Or Perfection Of The Work?

The Choice The intellect of man is forced to choose Perfection of the life, or of the work, And if it take the second must refuse A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark. When all that story’s finished, what’s the news? In luck or out the toil has left its mark: That old perplexity an […]

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Diversity Or Integration, What's The Difference, Why Bother?

Lately I have had a number of conversations with the leaders I work with about the challenges of adding diversity to their organizations. Diversity comes in several flavors. There are the traditional forms of diversity – gender, race, ethnicity and sexual preference. It also comes when someone from the outside joins an existing culture. Some […]

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Disappearing Jobs, Does It Matter?

Last month I attended the Vistage International Conference during which Michael Milkin presented the Milkin Institute research on the changing U.S. demographics.  I was struck by the data change in the number of unskilled jobs. In 1950 there were 3 unskilled jobs for every 1 skilled job. Today, there are 4 unskilled jobs for every […]

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Leadership Quote: To Succeed, Jump As Quickly At Opportunities…

This month’s leadership quote:  To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions — Benjamin Franklin  Benjamin Franklin certainly modeled the prerequisite to living his quote, that is, to stay curious.  When we remain curious, we can see the opportunities and avoid jumping to possibly erroneous conclusions. His inventions were all a result of curiosity, trial […]

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Is It Possible To Be Too Lean?

When the “great recession” began, companies got lean and they went there quickly. This worked, for employers, owners and employees.  Now 3+ years into recovery, lean continues while sales have grown. The result is increased profits.  So….what’s the issue? I have been hearing a troubling refrain lately. I began hearing this from middle managers in […]

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Laws Of Success: Leadership Lessons From Grandma

Loved this leadership “poem” written by fellow Vistage chair, Greg Bustin‘s grandmother. She was the leader of her PTA and in going through his family records, Greg found this document that had been typed on his grandmother’s typewriter. For me she sums up the challenges of leadership rather well, “The Leader’s Easy Job” Her job is […]

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Laws Of Success: 80% Is Showing Up

“Eighty percent of success is showing up”, so says Woody Allen. Sometimes it’s hard to show up when: we would prefer to be someplace else we are tired, or not at our best we have been there before and got nothing out it it’s out of the way, and it’s snowing it was a long […]

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Leadership Quote: What We Do Today…

  This month’s leadership quote: What we do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all our tomorrows. — Alexandra Stoddard What if we each turned this into an “I” statement? What I do today, right now, will have an accumulated effect on all of my tomorrows… Here are my questions to consider: What can […]

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It’s A Dream Until You Write It Down

Today’s blog post is offered by guest blogger Rick Landuyt, Vistage member and CEO of RFIDeas, One of the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America.   It’s a dream until you write it down, then it becomes a goal. Stretch goals were explicitly designed to push people to think differently about the tasks at hand. Suppose your revenue […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: CEO Optimism Cools In Q4 2012

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. More than 1600 Vistage members surveyed in the Q4 Vistage CEO Confidence Index reported a continued slowdown in the pace of economic growth and anticipated overall economic conditions would remain subdued in the first half of 2013. On the other hand, optimism among small business owners who took the […]

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Do The Ends Justify The Means?

An age old question… I saw Lincoln, Steve Spielberg’s latest movie, and came away from it with some questions, from a leadership perspective. Abraham Lincoln is renowned as one of the greatest presidents and leaders in United States history. In this movie, Spielberg tells the story of Lincoln’s last days, the time in which he […]

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Celebrate Your Gift

At this gift-giving time of the year, I am reminded that we all have natural gifts. The notion that we can constantly make ourselves better, in theory, is a great idea. But when does it become too much? For me, the best way to answer this question is to notice our strengths and work to […]

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Do Titles Matter?

Last week I had the chance to listen to Vistage speaker and futurist David Houle. David talked about coming changes, many of which are driven not only by technology, but by Millennials entering the workforce. We are already seeing flattening organizations and a move away from hierarchy and titles and offices and cubicles and all the stuff […]

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A Timely Reminder Of Email Best Practices

I put this together some time ago. A compilation of things I have learned from experience and from others. The topic has come up a lot lately, so I thought I would share this with you. Professor Albert Mehrabian’s research into verbal communication is often quoted in this simplified form: Words – 7%,  Tone – […]

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The Answer Is In The Question…

One of the life lessons I have learned, since becoming a Vistage Chair six years ago, is the answer is in the question. By asking better questions, we enable others to come to their own resolutions. Most of us in business are problem solvers, and often the answer to someone else’s problem or challenge seems […]

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Leadership Quote: There Are Only Two Ways To Influence Human Behavior..

This month’s leadership quote: There are only two ways to influence human behavior, you can manipulate it or you can inspire it. Simon Sinek Simon Sinek is well known for his Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. If you haven’t seen it, it is worth the 18 minute investment. Bottom line, when you start with “Why”, […]

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The Elephant In The Room

The other day, I was asking for feedback from a team I was working with about the value of the program. One of the members came up to me afterwards and said, “please don’t take this personally” and gave me some additional feedback. My response was,” the elephant is in the room whether we talk […]

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First To Market Or First In The Mind?

Recently, during one of my Vistage Key Executive meetings, we were discussing the book Great by Choice by Jim Collins. During our discussion, one of the members raised the question, how important is it to be first to market? Or is it best to be a “fast follower”.  Jim Collins makes the case that the […]

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When Managing By The Numbers Is Not Enough

It’s all about profitability right? Certainly, we are all in business to make money. Even not-for-profits must have net income to continue to operate. And, is being in business for a purpose or a mission reserved only for not-for-profits? What about the professional managers running privately held businesses and leading large companies? What drives them? […]

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Leadership Quote: Those Who Win….

This month’s leadership quote: Sooner or later, those who win are those who think they can. — Dr. Paul Tournier Today’s blogpost  is offered by guest blogger Mary Lore, Vistage speaker and author of Managing Thought. Mary’s book and program are all about managing thought and getting the results we want. In my experience, a lot of leaders think “positive […]

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Great Leaders Shatter Expectations

Great leaders shatter expectations, so says Vistage speaker Michael Allosso. This is planning season for most companies. The time when leaders get together to begin strategic planning for 2013. What will you do in 2013 to shatter the expectations of your leadership team and your customers? Please share your thoughts/plans by commenting on this blog post. Elisa […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: Q3 Results Dip Once Again

The quarterly Vistage Confidence Index is now available. CEOs of small and medium businesses say their overall confidence is down due to a continued slowdown in economic growth and uncertainty over the future of U.S. politics.  This is according to the Vistage CEO Confidence Index, which indicated a drop of nearly three percentage points from […]

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Rush To The Urgent, Or Plan For 2013?

As we enter the fourth quarter of the year, are you still focused on 2012 or planning for 2013? At a recent meeting with a group of business leaders, all from the same company, we went around the table and asked “who is on plan or ahead of plan this year and who is not?” […]

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Leadership Quote: The Best Way To Predict The Future…

This month’s leadership quote: The best way to predict the future is to invent it — Peter Drucker. Love this quote on so many levels. First and foremost it speaks to the importance of having a vision. When I presented this quote at my Vistage CEO meeting this month, one of my “inventor” members, just smiled. For […]

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Getting It Done Or It's All About Execution.

One of my Vistage members asked me this question this week, “What is the common theme among the businesses you know that have grown significantly?” Or to ask the question another way, why is it that less than 1.5% of  U.S. companies are greater than $25mm in revenue and less than .27% are greater than […]

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Leadership Habit: What If I Can't Today?

We as leaders are told all the time that everyone is always watching us. A smile, a frown, silence, all are interpreted as “a sign”. And since most of us think in terms of impact on ourselves, our followers interpret these “signs” as a sign of something that impacts them. This of course frequently results […]

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Are You A Bad Boss? Are You Sure You Aren't?

Most of us think of a bad boss as one who explodes, intimidates and otherwise behaves badly. The reality is this type of bad boss represents less than 20% of the behavior that actually defines the worst bosses (based on research conducted by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman). For the full results of Zenger and Folkman’s findings, click […]

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Economic Uncertainty… What To Do, What To Do?

As summer winds down and attention focuses back on business, the subject on the minds of business people continues to be economic uncertainty. We lived in a world of prosperity for such a long time, prior to 2008, that many of us forgot that the economy moves in cycles. The Vistage economists, Brian and Alan […]

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Leadership Quote: We Cannot Become What We Need To Be…

This month’s leadership quote: We cannot become what we need to be, by remaining what we are – – Max Depree When faced with anything new that is significant in our business or our life… a new role, a new competitor, a new technology, most of us humans, first resist. And, it is what we do next […]

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When Is Followership Leadership?

Interesting that “followership” is a word we rarely hear. My spell checker didn’t even know the word. According to Webster the word wasn’t even used until 1928 while the word leadership has been in use since 1821. And yet, without followership, there is no leadership. As Vistage Speaker Rick Eigenbrod reminded us in his recent […]

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Coaching Companies To Greater Sales & Profits….And An Invitation

We hear a lot about sales strategy and sales management, as though it is something separate from business strategy.   Vistage Speaker Jack Daly encourages us to think of it this way, “a great place to work is a great place to buy”. If you are a CEO qualified for Vistage membership and would like to hear Jack’s […]

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What Is The Business Practice All Leaders Do And Everyone Says They Hate…

What is the business practice everyone does and everyone says they hate? MEETINGS! How often do we hear, I hate meetings? And yet, how do most leaders spend most of their time? In meetings. Most of us accept that, as leaders, we need meetings to communicate and get things done through other people. And yet, […]

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Leadership Quote: Giving People Permission To Fail…

This month’s leadership quote: Giving people permission to fail is more important than giving them the tools to succeed. In my experience as a leadership coach, many, if not most leaders, struggle with this one. We often know the answer and are quick to give it. Or, even step in when we see the situation “going south”. And, […]

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Is Your Leadership Team Your Co-Advisor Or ?

Businesses are assets, right? What might happen if we followed the best practices of investment management in running them? When we hire an advisor to manage our traditional portfolio of stocks and bonds, the first thing they want to know is the answer to the following  two questions: Will you delegate full responsibility for managing […]

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Consensus Equals Beige

When a leader asks for input and then makes a decision, the result is vivid color, i.e. a better decision. It is a better decision for lots of reasons. First and foremost, your team feels valued when they are asked to participate in the decision process. Second, there is value in the wisdom of crowds, […]

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Leadership Habit: Because That's The Way We've Always Done It….

Several years ago, I was working with a key executive who had been in his position for many years. We were discussing the way things were done in his department and every time I asked him the reason why they did something a particular way, his answer was “because that’s the way we’ve always done […]

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Vistage Confidence Index Results – CEO Confidence Dips

The quarterly Vistage CEO Confidence Index is now available  Here are some highlights: The  Confidence Index was 92.8 in the 2nd quarter 2012 survey, down from 105.1 in the 1st quarter of 2012, repeating the same pattern of decline recorded in the first half of 2011 (105.2 in the 1st quarter of 2011 to 92.9 […]

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Leading Change, When Is Enough, Enough?

Leaders drive change in their businesses for a variety of reasons; the two primary reasons are: When the leader sees opportunities the current structure does not support When industry changes threaten the current business model Both of these scenarios create a sense of urgency on the part of most leaders and much has been written […]

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Leadership Quote: I Am Part Of All Whom I Have Met….

This month’s leadership quote:  I am part of all whom I have met. – Alfred Lord Tennyson. One of the greatest lessons I have learned since becoming a Vistage Chair is this one. How many times do we as leaders say to ourselves,  “I am different, they are different, that is the reason we cannot communicate.” What if […]

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When Is It The Leader's Job To Build Creative Confidence?

Do you divide your team  into “creatives” and ” practical” people? If so, are you  missing out on the creative ideas of the other half? If you ask David Kelley, founder of IDEO, and winner of countless innovation awards including Fast Company’s Top 25 Most Innovative companies, he will say yes. David maintains that human […]

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Another View On Leadership, Is Boring Better??

When discussing the  characteristics of great leaders – words  like inspirational, charismatic, brilliant, innovative often come up. Boring, on the other hand, is not typically a descriptor of great leaders. Which is why when I saw this article by Joel Stein, entitled Boringness: The Secret to Great Leadership, I paused… While Joel writes a humor […]

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Does A Business Have To Grow?

This is a topic often discussed amongst my Vistage members. Some want to grow, others like the idea of maintaining a controllable size. There is no one-size-fits-all answer. What I do know is that businesses are organic, and therefore static is not sustainable. We’ve all seen businesses disappear over time when the owner was not […]

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Leadership Quote: The Key Is Not To Prioritize What Is On Your Schedule..

This month’s leadership quote:  The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. – Stephen Covey We often hear time management tips about taking time to plan your schedule. What we often hear is to prioritize what is on the schedule. What Stephen Covey reminds us with this quote, is to pause, choose our […]

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Glory Days: Don't Let Them Pass You By…

Thank you Bruce Springsteen for this quote.  It seems today that the chorus of “glory days” conversation has increased. Perhaps it is because we live in a world of constant change and there is a longing for a slower pace? My response to this is, the glory days were only golden in retrospect.  Every period of […]

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Why "Big Picture Only" Leaders Fail

As discussed in last week’s blog, there is a difference between management and leadership.  Leadership is “doing the right things” and focusing on the big picture certainly falls into this category. That said, when leaders focus solely on vision and strategy and not on execution, put simply, nothing gets done. Successful leaders know that they […]

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Leadership Vs. Management – Does It Matter?

Recently, one of my Vistage members asked the group this question: “What is the difference between leadership and management?” He heard a lot of responses and the one that said it best was this one… “Leadership is doing the right things, management is doing things right.”  from management guru Warren Bennis What does it mean to […]

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Leadership Quote: We Are What We Think…

This month’s leadership quote: We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.  – Dhammapada We hear quotes like this  from Vistage speakers, about the power of positivity, about trusting the universe and focusing on what we want to accomplish, about being mindful of […]

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Diverse Leadership Teams – Why Bother?

Diverse leadership teams are hard…they are harder to build, are unlikely to come to consensus and are more likely to have conflict. So, why bother?  Because… they are harder to build, are unlikely to come to consensus and are more likely to have conflict, they make better decisions. Research studies prove this out. Before we […]

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Laws Of Success: Discipline Is The Bridge… What If We Could Put It On Autopilot?

How many times during the day do we pause and remind ourselves of what the intention of the day was? What if instead, discipline became a habit? What would the impact be? When I read a recent post by Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything, I was reminded of this quote: “Discipline is […]

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What Makes For A "Best Place To Work"?

Last week,  Crain’s Chicago Business published their annual list of “Chicago’s Best Places To Work”. As I read through the  list, I was struck by the differences in the companies that made it to the top ten. The list included Fortune 500 companies, companies with less than 100 employees, technology companies, financial services companies, manufacturers, […]

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What Leadership Lessons Can We Learn As Undercover Bosses?

The popular TV series “Undercover Boss” has ignited conversation about the value of walking in our employees’ shoes – or perhaps they in ours.  It’s a rare company where you can accomplish this “undercover” and yet the opportunity is still there to learn from our employees who are on the line. In family-owned businesses it is […]

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Vistage Confidence Index: What Do Vistage CEOs Have To Say About The Economy?

The quarterly Vistage CEO Confidence Index is now available  Here are some highlights: The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 105.1 in the 1st quarter 2012 survey, up from 98.8 in Q4 and 83.5 in Q3 of last year. 75% of CEOs say their sales revenue will increase in the next 12 months. 60% of CEOs […]

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Leadership Quote: Those Who Failed To Oppose Me…

This month’s leadership quote:  “Those who failed to oppose me… who readily agreed with me and accepted all my views…were those who did me the most injury.”  -Napoleon Bonaparte As leaders,  how do we avoid the trap of responding only to those who agree with us? What do we do each day to encourage our […]

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The Introvert's Guide To Leadership (& The Extrovert's Guide To Leading Introverts)

Some say 40% -50% of the top large company CEO’s are introverts, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Charles Schwab and Steve Spielberg. Amongst entrepreneurs, the numbers are higher. Why? Because entrepreneurs frequently are the expert at their chosen business and experts most often are introverts. So what does this mean for those of us who […]

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Newspapers Are America's Fastest-Shrinking Industry

LinkedIn and the Council of Economic Advisors mapped the fastest-growing and fastest-shrinking industries since 2007, the year the Great Recession started. Renewables are at the top and newspapers are at the bottom. Here’s the story from Atlantic Magazine. The biggest losers are a combination of recession-bit industries — retail is down 15.5% and building materials is down […]

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Innovation Vs. Discipline Part 2: Kodak Vs. Fujifilm

Lots of press swirling around the impending bankruptcy of Kodak. While Kodak suffers, its long-time rival Fujifilm is doing rather well. Why? Is it innovation or is it discipline? (See March 4, 2011 Blog, post Which is the Winning Strategy? Innovation or Discipline for Part I) At one time, Kodak was one of the most innovative and disciplined companies […]

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Which Is The Winning Strategy? Innovation Or Discipline.

Lately it seems there is an abundance of books and articles advocating for one or the other.  Jeffrey A. Harris, in his new book Transformative Entrepreneurs,  advocates for innovation. He cites examples of Steve Jobs and Walt Disney and his findings are summarized in this recent Forbes article.  Jim Collins on the other hand, in his latest book, […]

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Leadership Quote: The Way You Do Anything…

This month’s leadership quote:  “The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.” Boaz Rauchwerger, Vistage speaker, attributes this quote to his Mom in his December 5, 2011 newsletter.  The point, she says, is to be excellent at everything. For me, as a leadership coach, this quote raises broader leadership questions: Is the […]

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The Leadership Value Of An Apology

Tom Searcy is a Vistage speaker who also writes for CBS MoneyWatch.  His recent blog titled “7 Tips on How to Apologize in the Business World” resonated for me, so I thought I would share them. Here are the tips: 1- Separate the apology and the explanation 2-Ask for the discussion, but don’t insist upon it 3- One-up the […]

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What Results When Leaders Ass-u-me?

We make assumptions daily, mostly about other people. These assumptions enable us to take shortcuts and keep us moving forward. Or so we think. We assume a person attended or didn’t attend an event because… We assume a person responded to us a certain way, because… We assume a person took an action or didn’t […]

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The Ever Elusive Search For Work-Life-Balance

For many of us, the holy grail of success is achieving “Work-Life- Balance”. It is a topic of frequent discussion at Vistage meetings and in my leadership coaching sessions. When I start with a new client, this topic is often on the list for discussion. And yet, despite all the discussions, books and articles, many […]

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The Test Of Time, Continuous Improvement

All of us who have been in business awhile have either led or experienced the “methodology dejour”. We get all excited about something new we learn about and suddenly it is time to reinvent our companies around this new idea. And, then a week, or a month, or even a few days later, we are on […]

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Laws Of Success: The Answers May Surprise You

I just finished reading Jim Collins’ new book, Great by Choice and as he says, the results may surprise you; they did me. Here’s the good news, if you, as CEO,  have ambition, creativity, vision, insight, a good strategy, are innovative, possess a willingness to take risk; in short, all the typical characteristics we attribute to leaders, you can become a […]

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Questions Of Culture – What Are Yours?

Despite the sticky unemployment numbers, businesses are hiring. See 9/20/11 Blog “The Economic Shift” for a discussion as to some reasons for this dichotomy. Now, back to the point of this post… I am seeing a lot of discussion about the questions to ask in an interview to learn the fit of a potential hire. Two of […]

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Personality Style Drives Choice

There has been a lot of research over the years about the concept of loss aversion.  This research tells us that we as humans are more likely to prefer choices that avoid a loss than those that achieve a gain. Turns out, research also indicates that our personality style drives our loss aversion behavior. As […]

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Vistage CEO Confidence Index Q42011 Results

After precipitous declines during the prior two quarters, CEO confidence bounced back at year’s end with the largest quarterly gain since the start of the recovery in 2009. The Vistage CEO Confidence Index was 98.8 in the 4th quarter 2011 survey, up from 83.5 in the 3rd quarter, and reaching the highest level since 105.2 […]

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Laws Of Success: It's All About The Ride

Years ago, I was sitting on a bench at Union station. An old man sat down next to me and we engaged  in conversation. I asked him where he was headed and he replied with glee, “San Francisco!” Wow, I said, that is a long way to go on the train. His reply: “There is […]

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Want Greater Success? Nurture Your Butterflies

Good leaders always strive to have butterflies in their stomach, says Kathleen L. Flanagan, president and chief executive of Abt Associates, a $450mm consultancy firm. When we are out of our comfort zone, we have the greatest opportunity for success. It’s when we become complacent and run on auto-pilot that we as leaders are most at […]

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Take A Pause And Avoid Missing Out-Of-Context Opportunities

I’m hoping everyone “pauses” long enough to read this piece… Because, on the surface, this story is about “pauses” in our life. Or is it really about the importance of context? It may be about both. Either way, as leaders, it is worth considering, as we rush through our lives, our product rollouts and our […]

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In The Search For Self-Improvement, Don’t Forget To Celebrate Your Genius

The notion that we can constantly make ourselves better, in theory, is a great idea. But when does it become too much? For me, the best way to answer this question is to notice our strengths and work to enhance them. In my Vistage work and as a leadership coach and advisor, I refer to […]

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The Shared Experience Of Absurdity

This week’s post is in honor of Michael Allosso, whose Vistage talk for CEOs and Key Executives is titled “You on Your Best Day.” Michael teaches us that the difference between a good leader and a great leader is the ability to improvise and gently push people out of their comfort zone. In this TED […]

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Laws Of Success: When Is It the CEO's Job To Create Drama?

Recently, one of our Vistage speakers, Don Schmincke, spoke to my CEO group on “Discovering The Leader’s Code:  Ancient Secrets For Executive Performance.” The primary message Don drives home is the importance of having a positive Leadership Saga – because, in the absence of drama created by the leader, your team will create their own. […]

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Which False Business Gods Are You Worshipping?

We worship winners—especially those who demonstrate leadership, confront a crisis and prevail. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as the hero did not create the crisis in the first place. But what about those who keep crises from erupting at all? Who are the UNSUNG heroes working for you (and helping you avoid the ditch)? […]

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Laws Of Success: Don’t Miss That Turn!

Too often, our beliefs and assumptions get in the way of spotting new opportunities—even opportunities of a lifetime. These filters, often based on life experiences, may have served us well in the past, but are they still useful in making today’s choices? As a leadership coach, the question I ask myself and others is this: […]

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Doodlers Unite: Do It Proudly!

While there have been many negative definitions of doodling throughout time, I am drawn to this positive definition offered by Sunni Brown in a recent TED talk. “To Doodle: to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think; a preemptive measure to stop you from losing focus.” I often find myself doodling when listening to a […]

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Sight Over Sound: When Face-To-Face Communication Improves Negotiation

Mode of communication matters! So say Kellogg School of Management professors Roderick Swaab, Adam D. Galinsky, Victoria Medvec and Daniel Diermeier. In research described in the article below, the Northwestern University team discovered, not surprisingly, that face-to-face communication is critical to negotiation in two circumstances. When two parties don’t know each other well When two […]

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Weird Or Just Different? The Flip Side Of Your Business

“There’s a flip side to everything,” the saying goes. Or, as Derek Sivers makes clear in his two-minute TED speech, “Whatever brilliant idea you have or hear, the opposite might also be true.” Take just two of your own minutes, and think about it: What is the flip side of your business? How can turning […]

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11 Leadership Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Me

As a leadership coach, I find that Jobs’ personality and work can teach us a great deal about leadership, goal setting, persistence, and starting with “Why?” Neil Patel captures the essence of Steve Jobs’ success in this recent post. What can each of us learn and apply from these 11 lessons? (EKS Note: Neil Patel […]

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Positioning For Results: How Will You Act When Other CEOs Lose Confidence?

It’s probably no surprise that the results of last week’s Q3 Vistage CEO survey show a steep drop in confidence among small business leadership. However, you may also have forgotten that during previous challenging business cycles—including the U.S. Great Depression in the 1930s—many companies prospered. What do you think made the difference? On Thursday, Vistage […]

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Make Your Own Rules: Adapting Warren Buffet’s “10 Rules for Success”

Make Your Own Rules: Adapting Warren Buffett’s “10 Rules For Success”

Warren Buffett’s 10 Rules for Success have become part of our lore. They first appeared as a list in a 2008 article in Parade Magazine and were based on an interview with Alice Schroder, author of Warren Buffett and the Business of Life. Buffett’s own story is inspiring, and his ten rules have helped many entrepreneurs take positive action in […]

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The Economic Shift: Un(der)employment, Technology And Opportunity

Last month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate for workers with college degrees was 4.4 percent. This statistic has been on my mind ever since. A significant percentage of college-educated workers are underemployed, and unskilled, uneducated workers are facing a shrinking pool of available jobs. […]

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Nothing Wasted: Making the Most of “Down” Time

Nothing Wasted: Making The Most Of “Down” Time

When I read this blogpost from Seth Godin today, it made me pause and think. And, as always, ask myself some questions. What if we followed his advice? What would be the outcome of creative contribution to our lives? When was the last time you wasted time? When you were “wasting time,” did you feel […]

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Precipitous, Wrong and Dangerous: What To Do When “Those Who Know Best,” Don’t

Precipitous, Wrong And Dangerous: What To Do When “Those Who Know Best,” Don’t

Bill Miller, Chairman, Chief Investment Officer and Portfolio Manager for Legg Mason shares his point of view on the recent S&P change in the U.S. credit rating: “The downgrading by Standard & Poor’s of the credit rating of the United States from AAA to AA+ on August 5th was precipitous, wrong, and dangerous. At best, S&P […]

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Inspiring Action, Achieving Results

                    As an award-winning Vistage CEO Chair, leadership coach and advisor, I have developed a straightforward practice theory: I hold up a mirror and help you identify and build upon your own strengths, values and goals. I inspire you to action so you can achieve the […]

Why Vistage

VISTAGE WORKS Your peer group are people with similar dreams, goals and worldviews. They are people who will push you in exchange for being pushed, who will raise the bar and tell you the truth. They’re not in your business, but they’re in your shoes. Finding a peer group and working with them, intentionally and […]

 

Are you ready to create your tomorrow story and cut your time to action to six months or less? If your answer is yes, there is no better time than now to contact me.

Elisa K. Spain, Executive Life Coach & Creator, You PivotTM program

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