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The Power of Clarity in Small Business Work Environments

Full disclosure, this is not an original idea of mine.

The credit goes to Ann Latham an internationally recognized
Expert in strategic clarity, Her website and brand is
Uncommon Clarity.

Ann’s book The Clarity Papers is a must-have for developing
clarity across every aspect of your organization.

It’s her work that has inspired me to bring clarity into my
work around communication, because clarity comes from
communication.

In the last email article I asked you to ponder two questions:

  • How is your work environment lacking in clarity?
  • What part of your company’s operations would benefit the
    most from greater clarity?

What answers come to mind?

Stephen M.R. Covey wrote a book, The Speed of Trust, in which
he points to his research on the importance of trust for moving
things forward.

My favorite quote from his book is “as trust goes down, speed
goes and costs go up,” and conversely, “ as trust goes up,
speed goes up and costs go down.”

The same can be said for clarity.

I’d argue that without clarity there can be no trust.

And, yet, as Latham’s work shows, organizational lack of clarity
is at epidemic proportions today.

Which means, the speed of getting things done is much slower
than it should be.

The 21st Century buzzword for this is friction.

Friction is a great term with regard to a lack of clarity in a work
environment.

Think about it.

What happens in your work environment when there is too much
friction?

Friction creates heat, doesn’t it?

Work environments that lack clarity are prone to heated
conversations, aren’t they?

Heated conversations caused by friction slow things down,
meaning its raising the costs of getting things done
(see Communication Cost Calculator in Article #2 in this series).

So, today’s tip for leading your championship work environment is…

Commit to Clarity.

That’s often easier said than done.

You see, The 7 Deadliest Workplace Communication SINs are
getting in the way.

(If you’re not familiar with The 7 Deadliest Workplace
Communication SINs
go here to download the guide now.)

The communication sins most impacting your company’s
lack of clarity:

  • A Lack of Specificity
  • A Lack of Desirable Behaviors
  • A Lack of Directness & Candor
  • A Lack of Focused Attention

The other three communication sins are peripherally involved, but
those four are your biggest culprits.

If you’d like to learn more about how The 7 Deadliest Workplace
Communication SINs
are impacting the lack of clarity in your
organization, and how you can reduce the friction in your work
environment I have a resource for you.

Go here to learn about how my FREE, no obligation Workplace
Communication Assessment
would benefit you and your company.

That’s all for now, next time you’ll learn about the core company
value of Responsiveness.

Stay tuned!

‘til then, Communicate With Power!

 

 

 


The Only 3 Values a Small Business Needs for Success

There are two types of values in all small businesses.

Professed values and perceived values.

Here’s the difference:

  • The professed values are those written on the walls.
  • Perceived values are what people experience in the halls.

When the two are in sync.  It’s magical!

Those are the type of work environments that I call “championship.”
Others might call them “high-performing.”

I’m confident you’ve worked in companies where the professed
values DID NOT match the perceived values.

I hope you’ve also had the opposite experience, too of working
in a championship work environment.

I’m less confident in the latter than the former.

There are an infinite number of potential corporate values so
I won’t bore you with them all here.

I’ll make it easy.

Your small business needs only three core values.

When your company integrates these three core values
nothing else will matter or need be done.

The three are:

  • Clarity
  • Responsiveness
  • Respect

The reason those three are all you need is that living by
those three will get you all you need for your company…

Greater positivity and productivity in the work environment,
which will lead to greater profitability for your company, see
diagram:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll leave it there for now and let you ponder those three fundamental
values and how they might make a difference in your company.

Here are two questions to ponder until next time:

  • How is your work environment lacking in those three values?
  • What part of your company’s operations would benefit the
    most from greater clarity, responsiveness, and respect?

Stay tuned!

Next time I’ll explain more about Clarity and how by raising
the standard for communication in your company’s work
environment will get you greater clarity.

I’ll also share some ideas on the many facets of your
business that will benefit from greater clarity.

Stay tuned!

‘til then, Communicate With Power!

 

 

 


The Hard Cost of the Poor & Ineffective “Soft Skill” of Communication for Small Business Workplaces

As I mentioned in my last article, there is a hard cost
to the “soft” skill of communication in the workplace.

All the problems small business owners struggle with
regarding employees stem directly from communication,
what too many people call a “soft” skill.

This soft skill causes real hard dollars and cents cost!

Are you tolerating the hard and soft costs of communication in
your workplace?

What are they and how can you calculate those costs so you
know where to look to raise the standards?

The soft costs lead to the hard costs.

The soft costs include:

  • Low employee morale
  • Low employee motivation
  • Low employee engagement
  • Passive-aggressive behavior
  • Employee conflict
  • Lack of follow-through on internal projects
  • Lack of responsiveness in customer service

The hard costs include:

  • All the wasted time each employee accumulates because
    of the soft costs
  • Loss of potential new customers
  • Lost of current customers who find other resources
  • Loss of opportunity for expanding existing customers
    beyond present levels


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


It’s impossible to calculate the hard costs of the bottom three
listed above unless you have a real anecdotal story of a
customer who went away.

A recent new client of mine just lost a $50,000 client. For some
companies that’s not a big deal. But, for a company generating
only $1.2 million in annual revenue, that’s significant.

We’re meeting in a few days to debrief the situation so they can
learn from it without blaming anyone or anyone losing their job.

But, for the first one on the list “all the wasted time each
employee accumulates because of the soft costs,” that is
easily calculated.

In my book A New Standard for Workplace Communication:
Overcoming The 7 Deadliest Communication SINs I’ve included
a Communication Cost Calculator worksheet you can use to
calculate the cost of lost productivity in your work environment due
to the soft costs caused by a low standard for communication.

If you’d like the worksheet that is included in the book, buy the book!

Just kidding! 😉

If you’d like it, simply email me at
Skip@WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com and put
“communication cost calculator” in the subject line.

It’s pretty easy, though, you can do it on a napkin, just do this:

  1. Estimate the number of hours you think the average employee
    wastes each day.
  2. Multiply that by the number of days they work each year.
  3. Multiply the sum of 1 & 2 by the number of employees at
    your company.
  4. Multiply the sum of that by the average employees’ hourly
    salary and benefits package.
  5. Whatever number you get after the calculation I would then
    add 50% because you’re probably underestimating.

The reason this is so important is because small business
owners, and others in their work environments, typically:

…take communication for granted, and think its just something
that has to be tolerated.

Don’t you think that’s sad?

I do!

Workplaces could be so much more positive, productive, and
profitable if there was a higher expectation for communication
in the small business work environment.

When the standard of communication is raised and people are
provided with guidance on how to communicate with higher-level
interpersonal communication skills results rise.

It impacts your work environment in three ways and in my next article
you’ll learn about those three contexts and how they impact.

Stay tuned!

‘til then, Communicate With Power!

P.S. – Remember, if you’d like a copy of the
Communication Cost Calculator that’s in my new book,
simply email me at Skip@WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com
with “communication cost calculator” in the subject line.


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


 


It’s Time for Small Business Leaders to Set a New Standard for Workplace Communication

When it comes to communication in the small business workplace, you need to
stop tolerating and start initiating.

What I mean by that is most small business owners are reactive
and on the defensive when dealing with how their employees behave
and perform on the job.

The more small businesses I become more intimately involved
with helping improve communication in their work environments
the more appalled I become at the low expectations business
owners have for communication at their companies.

Small business owners tolerate a lot.

What are you tolerating in your workplace?

What I mean by that is that you probably don’t realize
how low expectations for communication in a work environment
impact your employees and their ability to do the best
job they can.


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


It’s time to stop the insanity and get serious about communication
in the workplace, the good, the bad and the ugly.

First, there are three contexts of communication that impact your
small business, you must pay attention to:

  • IT Communication – are the hardware devices able to facilitate the flow of information effectively. Is the software 
compatible with the devices and whatever other software 
pieces that need to interact? Are the devices as up-to-date 
technologically as they need to be (you don’t need the 
latest and greatest but it should be relatively current.).
  • Process and Flow – does the company have a system for 
disseminating the right information to the right people at the 
right time so they can do the best job possible and put out the 
best impression for themselves and the company out to the
community?
  • Interpersonal communication – what is communication like 
between co-workers and colleagues in the workplace and
 between company leaders and managers and their direct
 reports? Is it positive and productive? Is it civil? 
Does it allow people to feel supported and respected, etc.?

Typically, my audiences tell me the context that causes the biggest
frustrations, challenges, and issues is interpersonal communication.

That context also seems to be where most small business
leaders struggle, too.

It’s the place where the low standards of expectations lie, and
where the tolerations of the impact are most felt.

This manifests in many ways, such as employee conflicts with the
manager or business owner expected to play “referee” to “make the
call” for one side or the other.

This is not where you should be because, you know, the person most
booed in an arena or stadium is the referee. You don’t want to be
booed in your own company.

I also frequently hear how passive-aggressive behavior is pervasive
today’s workplace.

Many small business leaders struggle with how to address it.

They wish they could get people to follow through and be responsive
to requests from their colleagues, co-workers, bosses, and customers.

What about you?

There is way too much chasing and waiting, waiting and chasing.

Communication comes with real costs to a business’ bottom line.

What do you notice regarding communication in your workplace?

If you were to set a new standard for communication in your
workplace, what areas would you choose?

My next article will discuss the real “hard” costs of tolerating a
low standard of communication in your workplace.

Stay tuned.

 

 


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


 


Don’t Blame Negative, Under-Performing Employees – 3 Reasons They Are Not at Fault

In a recent survey 44% of small business owners reported being unhappy with the performance of their employees.

To solve this type of problem, small business owners must first identify the cause and then create applicable solutions. There can be many reasons why employees under-perform and some leaders may point to poor attitudes, low motivation, low morale and individuals’ inability to work with others, or accept and adapt to change.

Although those reasons may be valid on the surface, there are always underlying issues that have led to the causes identified by the business leader.

The good news is that there are only two aspects to evaluate with under-performing employees. It’s either due to an individual’s:

  • ability, or
  • their attitude.

In either instance, the employee is not at fault.


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


There are three primary communication mistakes business leaders make that prevent employees from being engaged in their workplace and contributing at higher levels:

Business Leader Mistake #1 – Not Giving Employees a Reason to be Engaged, Motivated & Contribute

Many business leaders mistakenly believe that providing someone the privilege of a steady income and certain quality of life via a paycheck should be enough to create a motivated employee.

Yet, studies continue to show that salary and benefits, although important for providing base levels of motivation, is not enough to generate higher levels of engagement.

Many managers and leaders say they are frustrated with the feeling they have to continually find ways to light a fire under their people to get them to do what needs to be done. Instead they should be investing energy in connecting to their employees on a personal level to instead find ways to light a fire within them.

One extremely effective way to do this is to apply the Employee Engagement Equation.

The Employee Motivation Equation begins with creating an inspiring vision for the company that employees at all levels will be excited to contribute to. Daniel Pink, in his 2010 book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us identified “Purpose” as one of the key motivating components for a 21st Century workforce.

Business Leader Mistake #2 – Creating a De-Motivating Environment

In any new relationship there is always a honeymoon period where all the parties involved have good feelings about the possibilities moving forward. It’s the same when a new hire joins a company.

Unfortunately, a survey of about 1.2 million employees at mostly Fortune 1000 companies in the early part of this century conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, and revealed in 2005 that in 85% of companies, employee morale sharply declines after an employee’s first six months on the job, and continues to fade in ensuring years.

In a significant number of companies, as this Sirota research shows, something is occurring in these work environments that causes an enthusiastic and engaged employee to change their attitude.

Many factors can be attributed to this drop off, some of which include:

  • Poorly communicated job descriptions and responsibilities causing uncertain performance expectations for the individual,
  • Inequity in managers addressing inappropriate behaviors and poor performance of co-workers,
  • Managers that play favorites and communicate disrespectfully in the workplace,
  • Lack of positive feedback for contributions made

Business Leader Mistake #3 – Making a Wrong Hiring Choice

In the haste to fill positions, often those making the hiring decisions fail to invest enough time in making sure the new hire is a good fit for the position.

A “good fit’ includes assessing skills, knowledge, attitude, talent, and the education and experience a prospective team member will bring into the work environment. I call this the S.K.A.T.E. Hiring Profile (Skills, Knowledge, Attitude, Talent, & Education/Experience).

Additionally, sometimes due to unforeseen circumstances employees are asked to fill roles not originally intended, and for which their skills and talents are not the best fit.

In these situations, despite the employee’s best efforts he or she is unable to meet desired performance expectations, causing both the employee and the employer become disenchanted with the relationship. Yet, the onus must be on the employer to get it right when inviting someone into his or her work culture, and when asking a team member to take on additional work responsibilities.

What You Can Do

Before proclaiming employees are unmotivated, and/or unwilling, to perform to expectations and bring positive attitudes to the work environment start evaluating these three workforce mistakes from an organizational leadership and communication perspective to see where there is room for improvement.

Remember that it comes down to only two causes. It is either an ability problem or an attitude problem. too many times training and coaching are provided as solutions to an attitude problem, which is a huge waste of resources. As you might imagine, fixing an attitude problem is much different, and much harder, than an ability problem, in most cases.

Here are 3 steps to get you started:

  1. First step is to get clarity there.
  2. Second, once you make that decision, know that for whichever you choose, the foundational cause of that situation is some form of communication.
  3. Third, decide on the best way to approach the situation and the individual.


(If you’d like help distinguishing whether its an ability or attitude issue and the communication issues that may have caused it and how better communication can fix it – let’s have a conversation. To schedule a free, no obligation Workplace Communication Assessment Strategy Session, go here now)


 


Creating Championship Performance in the Business World

The spring is a great time to be a sports fan in the United States as:

  • March Madness crowns the annual collegiate basketball champion.
  • Professional basketball and hockey leagues start the most interesting segments of their seasons with their extensive 16 team playoff tournaments in the NBA and NHL.
  • All Major League Baseball teams are in first place as April’s Opening Day kicks off the quest to become this year’s World Series Champion.

As the focus moves towards crowing champions in professional sports its perfect time to look inside your small business work environment to assess if your team of employees is performing at a championship caliber.

For small business workplaces to generate championship caliber results there are of five traits the leader of those small businesses should expect from their employees and workplace teams, while also incorporating the same five traits within the overall context of the workplace culture and, most importantly, their own behavior.

Those five traits spell the word C.H.A.M.P.:

C = Commitment: It takes a deep commitment from every team member to consistently perform at the highest level every day to win a championship. Are the employees in your small business committed to achieving that level of success, and is an inspiring “championship game” vision in place to foster that commitment? (What is your small business’ World Series, Super Bowl or Stanley Cup?)

H = Humility: Humility is a trait that is often in short supply in small business work environments. Small business leaders must foster the trait of humility within their company’s culture, and lead with it themselves, so that team members are also open to feedback, always looking for ways to improve. Athletes know they have to get better on the path towards the championship as the competition continues to get tougher every step of the way.

A = Accountability: The only way championship caliber performance is created and maintained is through accountability. Individual team members must be open to being held accountable to their performance and the small business leader must create a culture of accountability with systems in place to make it work.

M = Motivated with High Morale: Championship caliber team members are motivated for all the right reasons that include both personal and team rewards and want to contribute to a high morale team. Championship small business owners understand that rewards for team success must be part of the incentive package for achieving results that take a cohesive group or team effort and have in place processes that maintain high levels of morale.

P = Proactive & Positive: Team members committed to contributing to a championship effort know they must be proactive in fulfilling their role because their role impacts all others on the team, and the group’s ability to achieve desired results. Because they understand that high morale is important, all team members show up with a positive mindset and approach that supports the team’s collective efforts.

Imagine if the employees in your small business brought the five traits of a championship team member to the work environment every day.

Make it an expectation of everyone on your staff, and commit to it yourself to be the role model, and you and your employees will achieve great things together.

If you’d like other tips to transform your company, including my latest white paper report The Missing Ingredient to Improving Employee Performance” go to www.ImproveEmployeePerformance.com

Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.

’til next time, Lead Like a C.H.A.MP.!

skip-weisman-signature-smaller


Business Lessons from This Week’s Championship Football Games

skip weisman championship ring representing championship small businessesAs a business leader there are many lessons to be learned from the failure of the Green Bay Packers to win their League Championship Game this past Sunday.

Football, and most sports, are perfect metaphors for business success and Sunday’s meltdown by the Packers offer a couple of lessons regarding the necessary combination of strategy, tactics and execution that create champions in athletics and in business:

#1) Strategy Never fails in the design:
The Packers seemed to have an adequate strategy to beat the Seahawks, anytime a team has a significant lead late in a game; it is obvious the initial strategy was correct.

#2) Tactics – Never fail until executed:
The tactics identified to be part of the “game plan” to move the strategy forward all seem great on paper, but until executed in the field of play against real competition, you’ll never know.

#3) Execution – Ultimately determines success:
At least 90% of the time execution determines success on the athletic field. The investment in scouting the opposition to know tendencies provides more than enough information to create a strategy with a tactical game plan to ensure success. The difference between winning and losing is in how each team executes at critical junctures in the game.

As you look to build your “championship” company or project team in 2015 here are three questions you should be asking:

  • Have you and your company/team leaders invested enough time to create a “championship strategy” you’re confident will get you where you want it to be? Hint: Winging it is not a strategy!
  • Have you and your company designed the tactical game plan that will allow you to move consistently towards your objectives. Do those tactics include consistent performance management processes to track progress and make course corrections?
  • Are you confident in your team members ability to effective execute the tactics on the “field of play” that are necessary to successfully fulfill the strategy?

Strategy, Tactics and Execution, all three components must come together at the right times to create a championship performance in business and in sports.

The Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots got all three right last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts didn’t.

Who will get all three right on Super Bowl Sunday?

Stay tuned!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


Never Thought I Could Do This (it’s all about “Level 1 Leadership Communication”)

SkipGuitarCalgaryStageA phone conversation last fall led to a huge, unexpected breakthrough for me.

It came from the emcee of a large event at which I was speaking.

She called calling to get information about me for her introduction and a little humorous post keynote banter.

Towards the end of our conversation she asked, “Skip, what is your secret talent?”

I let out a nervous laugh and replied, “I have no secret talent, my older brother got all the talent in my family.”

I proceeded to tell about how my infatuation with rock and roll superstar Bruce Springsteen led me to start guitar lessons six years ago.

To which she suggested, “so you can play and sing a song for us.”

“No, I couldn’t do that, it would cause mass evacuation of the venue,” I said.

“You could just strum a few chords, couldn’t you?”

I agreed to that.

Deep down I knew strumming a few chords wasn’t going to be enough.

I hung up the phone thinking, “what did I just get myself into?”

Immediately, I sent a text that read, “HELP!” to my guitar instructor, with whom I had not had a lesson in more than 15 months.

For the next six weeks we rehearsed the song closest to being ready for “prime time.”

Six weeks later, in front of an audience of 800, I delivered a 50-minute keynote address.

Despite the audience size I was completely comfortable doing that.

Not so much with the guitar and singing.

But, there I was, with a guitar wrapped around my neck telling the story about how I had come to put myself in this precarious position and being totally uncomfortable in that moment.

It was the most intense “comfort zone busting” experience I’ve had in a very, very long time.

When it was all over, I was energized and excited having done something in front of 800 people my wife thought I was crazy to do. (to view my performance, go here)

I felt this way despite nerves taking me seriously off key to open the song. Plus, losing my place glancing down at the lyrics in the monitor I didn’t need.

I am now working on refining that song and incorporating four others to prepare for performing at an open mic night somewhere locally.

Our comfort zones hold us back in ways we don’t even realize.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda is the lament of losers. It’s all about our Level 1 Leadership Communication (aka “self-communication).

What comfort zone do you need to bust through in 2015?

What comfort zones are you committed to busting through in 2015?

Leave a comment and commitment below.

’til next time, Communicate with Power!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results

 


“You’re So Easy To Dismiss…”

In an old Seinfeld sitcom episode, Jerry and George are having one of their discussions at the diner.

George makes a comment and Jerry puts him down.

George replies, “Don’t dismiss this. You’re very quick to dismiss.”

There is a lot of dismissing going on in the workplace today.

Just last week I was delivering my workshop on “The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication” and a director admitting to being dismissive of one of her direct reports.

It was during my segment on “Communication Sin #4, A Lack of  Respectful ReBUTals.”

She said, “I just did that earlier today.”

I asked her if she would tell us about it and she said,

“One of my people came to me with an idea and I thanked her for coming to me and then I said, ‘but, we can’t do that here, it won’t work.”

Ideas are the seeds of innovation.

Since the dawn of time innovation is what has brought us to the most exciting time in the history of the world.

Since the Industrial Revolution innovation has driven growth and success.

Without ideas organizations become stagnant.

Stagnancy leads to decline!

Decline leads to decay!

Decay leads to death!

Many organizational leaders allow ideas to be brought forth only from a precious few chosen people.

Those in the inner circle.

The best ideas come from the front line personnel who are in the trenches seeing first hand how things really work.

Yet, those are the ones who get dismissed most.

Once dismissed, rarely does that same person come back to try again.

Any ideas die with that individual.

They stop thinking, they stop trying, they start going through the motions.

“Leadership Communication Sin #4 – A Lack of Respectful ReBUTals” is the cause.

For once George Costanza was right, “Don’t dismiss, you’re very quick to dismiss!”

Many of us often are.

Please leave a comment.

’til next time make it a great weekend & Communicate With Power!

Skip

P.S.- To have 52 Power Words sent to you weekly for the next year, go to http://www.52PowerWords.com to subscribe today!


UnPower Communication Phrase #2 for you to STOP…

Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin turn over in their graves whenever this phrase is attributed to them.

Every day they must be spinning like a top.

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, is the definition of insanity.”

The problems I have with this statement are many but I’ll bore you with just a couple:

  1. There is no accurate attribution of this phrase to those two gentleman anyone can find. How did they get associated with it?
  2. Insanity is a much more serious mental health affliction and deserves a proper diagnosis and it is disingenuous, at best, to use it in this manner. It devalues the issue of mental health as a serious affliction.
  3. It is not 100% true. It is not true 100% of the time in all contexts, just like its sister phrase I wrote about last time.

Personally, if I do something over and over again, I better expect a different result.

Isn’t that what learning and practice is ALL about.

If I practice the guitar and play the same chord progression over and over, shouldn’t I get better and expect a different result?

If not, why bother practicing at all?

Same with athletes and cooks.

Same with math students.

Stop throwing around this phrase as gospel and start thinking for yourself.

Question this and other similar phrases thrown out as universal truths the next time you hear one, then send it to me to add to my “UnPower Communication Series.”

Please, leave a comment.

This phrase, and it’s sister phrase you’ll read about next time, is now part of my “UnPower Communication Series.”

If you have any words or phrases you detest and believe are “UnPower Communication” I want to hear about them.

Email me at Skip@WorkplaceCommunicationExpert.com and I’ll write about them, if appropriate.

’til next time make it a great day & Communicate With Power!

Best Regards,

Skip

P.S.- To triple your ability to communication with impact over the next year, get 52 Power Words sent to you, one per week for a year at  www.52PowerWords.com to subscribe today!


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