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 as occurred last year. The Vistage Confidence Index was 99.0 in the 2nd quarter of 2015, below the 1st quarter’s 105.8 and last year’s 101.0. The recent economic weakness was due to temporary factors, including a harsh winter, a port strike, and a surging dollar. Even though most CEOs anticipate continued economic growth, there is a widespread sense that the economy is still vulnerable.  The recent decision by the Fed to hold interest rates near zero also reflected that same potential vulnerability. As a result, firms anticipated slightly less growth in their sales revenues and profits, and planned on adding slightly fewer workers to their payrolls and marginally reducing...
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Laws Of Success: When Is It the CEO's Job To Create Drama?

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. Supporting Don’s message, an article in the September 30 issue of Science describes the efforts of two sociologists at the University of Vermont who tried to better understand the rise and fall of people's spirits. They studied the moods of 2.4 million people by analyzing the words they used in over 500 million tweets originating in 84 English-speaking countries over two years (February 2008 through January 2010). What they found was a daily cycle of positive and negative feelings that seemed to apply consistently across cultures, geographies, and time zones. Around the world, people's positive moods peaked in the morning (6-9 a.m.), dropped through the day until...
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Which False Business Gods Are You Worshipping?

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)? Are you only recognizing the “heroes” in your company, and ignoring those who help you avoid the storms altogether? This article by John Kay in the Financial Times, “No One Remembers a Cautious Captain of Industry,” explores our sometimes foolish preference for the heroic over the prudent and for the bold over the wise. Elisa K. Spain    ...
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Laws Of Success: Don’t Miss That Turn!

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: What must I do as a leader, investor, coach, ambassador, strategist, inventor or student to notice when it is my own limiting beliefs that determine the choices I make? I've been reading Steve Jobs’ biography, and was struck by the missed-opportunity stories of people who said no when Jobs asked for help early on. Ron Wayne brokered the deal between Jobs and Wozniak. Jobs was so grateful, he gave Ron 10% of the new company. Ron, having been involved in a previous business failure, got cold feet and sold his shares back to Jobs and Wozniak for $800. At the end of 2010 those shares would have been worth $2...
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Doodlers Unite: Do It Proudly!

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 presentation. Now I understand why. How much more effective could we all be if we made a conscious effort to doodle more? Or as Sunni suggests, what would happen if we, as leaders, encouraged doodling in our companies? Here’s a link to Sunni’s TED talk: Doodlers, unite! Elisa K. Spain            ...
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Sight Over Sound: When Face-To-Face Communication Improves Negotiation

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 parties have a history of negative interactions When the parties already know each other AND "have a history of cooperation" and positive interactions, face-to-face communication is not so important. In short, where there is trust, negotiating partners assume the best in each other. Let's start with this question: Why? We easily understand the need for direct, in-person communication in the first two circumstances. What we are likely to underestimate is the need for personal exchanges with people we know, but with whom we just don't have that storehouse of positive interactions. While the Kellogg team's research was specifically related to negotiation, my sense is that we can apply this insight to all...
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Weird Or Just Different? The Flip Side Of Your Business

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 your world upside down, even as a simple thought experiment, offer unexpected inspiration? You can watch Derek Sivers himself demonstrating the truth behind this old saying, here. The minds behind the book Blue Ocean Strategy, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, suggest we think about our businesses this way as well. For example, if you were in the restaurant business, try imagining what your business would become if you didn’t have menus? It’s not such a far-fetched idea: here in Chicago there is a highly successful restaurant called Next that doesn’t use menus — and sells tickets rather than making reservations! (I can hear the Zagat reviewers...
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11 Leadership Lessons Steve Jobs Taught Me

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 is a serial entrepreneur who blogs about business at Quick Sprout and is the co-founder of KISSmetrics. The views expressed are his own.) Steve Jobs will be remembered as one of the greatest visionaries ever. What he did for the technological as well as entrepreneurial world, will never be forgotten. Although I’m young and haven’t been following Jobs’ career as intently as others, he has taught me a lot about business in the last five years. Here are 11 things I’ll never forget that Steve Jobs taught me: People Matter, Not Features Everything Jobs built made life easier for you. It was rare to ever hear him babbling about features he created; instead,...
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Positioning For Results: How Will You Act When Other CEOs Lose Confidence?

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 International released the results of last month’s survey of U.S. small business CEOs. Not unexpectedly, CEOs foresee a continued slowdown in the pace of economic growth and, amid record-high economic uncertainty, anticipate weak economic conditions to persist during the year ahead. The Q3 Vistage CEO Confidence Index, which surveyed 1,710 US small business executives between September 8th and 19th, was set at 83.5—down from 92.9 in Q2 and substantially below the Q1 index of 105.2. In fact, the 20% decline over the past two quarters brought the Confidence Index to its lowest level in two years. University of Michigan’s Dr. Richard Curtin, who has directed the survey since 2003, noted,...
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Make Your Own Rules: Adapting Warren Buffett’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 their own lives and businesses. Below is the list. I encourage you to read it with the following five (OK, seven) questions in mind. What are my personal 10 rules of success? Is there something I would add to or remove from this list? So far this week, have I operated in accordance with my rules for success? Have I shared my rules for success with my team? If so, what has been the result? If not, what might be the result if I do? Have I paused lately to celebrate my successes? Warren Buffett’s 10 Rules for Success 1. Reinvest Your Profits. 
When you first make money, you may be tempted to spend...
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