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The 20% Work For Me. I Make Sure Of It.

March 2, 2015

When Gallup polled US workers last year, they found that 80% of people don’t like their jobs, and what’s worse, 67% say they plan to leave their jobs within the next 12 months. Anecdotally, I know this is true. I hear my friends talk about how much they hate their jobs all the time. Doctors, lawyers, businessmen – the language they use to describe their work is negative, negative, negative. In some cases, they seem to take pride in how awful it is. They brag about the stress, the hours, the conflicts; and they count the days and years until they can stop working.

As a father, I’m worried that my children are hearing and believing these messages. I’m concerned that they believe that when they enter the work force it’s all stress and misery, buffered occasionally by happy hours, TGIF and a desperate hope that “one day I can retire.” Who is out there telling our kids, my kids, that work is rewarding, fulfilling, meaningful and important on numerous levels?

As a business owner, I know that if my team members are sitting at their desks thinking how much they hate their jobs and planning to leave soon, then clearly they aren’t help us to achieve our business goals.

But I’m convinced that it doesn’t have to be this way, and I’m committed to changing the conversation about work by changing the culture at work. I want to make sure that every member of my team feels valued and that their work is valuable. I find opportunities for every single person to have a voice in what we’re doing. And, I eliminate rules that see every individual as being the same and seek out ways to treat team members as individuals, understanding that not everyone is motivated in the same way and not everyone wants the same rewards. I institute rituals and traditions into our culture focused on five specific areas:

  1. Ignite Individual Growth
  2. Inspire Team Togetherness
  3. Build the Community Together
  4. Respect Family
  5. Support Meaningful Work

By doing these things, my team members are more fulfilled, more engaged, more focused and more intent on helping us be the best company we can be. They are the 20%, and that makes me happy.

How You Are You At Work?

February 20, 2015

There was a great quote in a Harvard Business Review article last year that said: “Most people at work… divert considerable energy every day to a second job that no one has hired them to do.” What they’re referring to is that most people come to the office each day feeling like they have to be a completely different person than who they really are.

In other words, that director of marketing or systems analyst or chief operating officer sitting over there is really just an actor playing that role.

Many of us have had this experience or have it every day, where we pull into the parking lot at work, turn off the car, look in the mirror, take a deep breath and leave our real selves in the car – our personality, hopes, dreams, passions, opinions – and slip into the role of who we think we’re supposed to be for the next 8 – 12 hours of the day. How exhausting!

In fact, HBR goes on to say that this role-playing vs. being a real person is one of the biggest obstacles to productivity in the US workplace. And no wonder, how can we be 100% focused on doing our jobs at a high level and helping our organizations pursue their business strategies when we’re busy trying to be someone we’re not?

But as leaders, there’s something we can do about this. We can consciously create a business environment or organizational culture that allows people to be who they are. We can encourage our team members to be themselves and to pursue the things they’re interested in. We can welcome real people instead of role players into our offices.

Now, just imagine how much better your organization could be if everyone on your team, including you, came to work as the most real and honest version of themselves there is. Don’t you think that would be an inspiring place to work?

Great Teams Change The World

February 19, 2015

Great teams think less about the competition and more about what’s possible with the talent and resources siting at the table and available through their network of friends and fans.

Great teams come to the table with courage, confidence and enthusiasm.

Great teams say things like “Let’s do this because it’s possible and it will change the world!” (And great leaders reply simply, “yes.”)

In my company, we are big fans of Little Bets (thanks Peter Sims!). That means that we are willing to try big ideas on a small scale and to explore ideas that can be done with the incredible talents and resources immediately available to us. Little Bets are easy to say yes to. We create these opportunities with big upside and little downside. They give team members a voice, ownership and the opportunity to stretch their wings. And if they don’t work, it’s no big loss, it was a little bet and we just move on to the next one. And if it does work, well, then we’re one step closer to changing the world.

Great teams change the world.

HAVE A MEANINGFUL DAY

May 28, 2013

I spend a lot of my time thinking and talking about branding and marketing strategies, which, inevitably has led to my thinking and talking a lot about leadership, which has, in turn, led to me thinking and talking about culture, which, in turn, has brought me to the subject of happiness and satisfaction.

Much of what I’ve been thinking about lately has to do with how people (clients and employees alike) are looking for more meaningfulness in their lives and their relationships. I believe, and research supports the idea, that employees want to feel like they’re appreciated for what they contribute to the organization work-wise and as human beings, and that the work they produce is valued and valuable. In fact, research tells us that these feelings may be more important than how much employees get paid in terms of fostering loyalty, dedication and commitment to their jobs. Not to mention productivity.

I’ve always been a big fan of TED, and recently, I came across the following video, in which Dan Ariely does an amazing job of explaining the importance of meaningfulness. If you’re looking for ways to forge a deeper connection with the various stakeholders in your life, take a look at this video, it will have you thinking differently about how to connect with and reward the important people in your life.

http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_what_makes_us_feel_good_about_our_work.html

Leadership is

May 17, 2013

I remember when I was in High School, I thought leaders were some special group that special people got invited to be a part of or voted into, like honor society or student council.

And then, when I was in college, I believed that leadership was a degree you earned, like an MBA or PhD.

And when I started my career, I thought ‘leader’ was a job title that would one day be printed on my business card, a synonym for director or vice president or CEO.

But today, after a lot of life experience, after having kids, and starting a business…after nurturing good employees and struggling with difficult ones…after dealing with tough clients and a tougher economy…and after sharing my stories and hearing those of a lot of other leaders, my view of what leadership is…is a whole lot different.

Today, I know that being a leader is not something I am just at my job or just with my family or just on the boards I choose to sit on.

Being a leader is not something you are Monday through Friday or 9 to 5. Being a leader is not something you are only when you’re around certain people in certain situations.

Being a leader is a choice we make, the way we choose to be every day. Every single day. In every interaction with the people in our lives, and even when no one is watching.

I think what I’ve really learned is that leadership isn’t a destination, but a journey. A journey of trying to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. A journey of awareness and thoughtfulness. A journey of setting goals and sharing vision. A journey in which we passionately pursue the things that interest us, passionately fight for the things that are important to us, and passionately work for the people and the organizations that need us.

Leadership is doing these things with humility and sincerity and in a way that invites other people to join us on our journey.

And leadership is about being thankful, truly thankful for those who support us, who inspire us, and encourage us.

WHY I WANT THIS WORLD TO BE A BETTER PLACE (Speech for National Volunteer Week at Orlando City Hall 4/10/13)

April 11, 2013

About a month ago, I gave a short talk at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. That day, I said that the reason I willingly and without hesitation give so much of my time to the Holocaust Center is that I truly believe that this organization is changing the world. I believe that the Holocaust Center, through its education programs, interfaith programs and anti-bullying programs is making the world we live in a better place. It’s as simple as that. But for me, I don’t just want this world to be a better place. I need this world to be a better place. Because frankly, I’m tired of explaining to my three kids why an event as horrific as the Holocaust took place just two generations ago. And I’m tired of explaining to them why genocide has continued to take place in Syria and Bosnia and Rwanda and way too many places around the world. And I’m tired of explaining to them why innocent people are killed in movie theaters and elementary schools here in America. And I’m tired of explaining why people on TV, people who are supposed to be our leaders and role models, speak with such hate-filled language and treat their colleagues with such disrespect. And I’m tired of explaining to them why kids in their own schools torment and bully other kids who seem to be different. And I’m really tired of telling them that it’s their responsibility to stand up for these kids…when standing up is so incredibly hard. So, I guess, while I’m incredibly flattered that Joanie invited me here today to remind everyone why it’s so important that we volunteer our time to the causes that are important to us in our community, I must admit that what fuels my fire, what drives me to volunteer is…a pretty selfish desire. I want the world to be different for my kids. For my grandkids. For all of my family’s future generations. It’s that simple. And I bet it’s that simple for you too.

Is sunshine still relevant?

February 5, 2013

I read two articles when I got to my office on this unusually cold Florida morning. The first was a list of the 50 best employers in America. The second was “Florida unveils new business logo.” What I learned from the first article is that Calgene, the number one employer in America, is located in the not-so-sunny-state of New Jersey. And from the second article, I learned that Florida’s new business tagline is “Florida. The Perfect Climate for Business.” Is our weather still the only thing we have to attract businesses to Florida? Despite the depth of research that the article says formed the foundation of our state’s new business identity, I have to say, we (and especially our state’s leaders and the agency that crafted this new business logo and tagline) are woefully out of touch with what progressive, competitive businesses are focussed on. The new logo, unveiled proudly by Governor Rick Scott, features a tie as the main icon. Yes, an orange neck tie is the symbol of business in Florida. In the 21st century. Meanwhile, the top 50 employers in America are surveying employees as to their “feelings of meaningfulness and satisfaction.” My own employees talk to me about the same things. What can I as an employer do to attract and motivate the best talent? It’s not about the climate, it’s about playing a role in the meaningfulness of their lives. It’s about culture and communication and listening to their needs. In return, they work. Very hard. To help our company and our clients succeed. If I were a business considering a move to a new state, an orange necktie and a tagline that reads “The perfect climate for business.” would seem antiquated, out of touch and antithetical to what it takes to build a motivated team and a successful business. To me, it’s no surprise that not a single one of those 50 best employers in America is based in Florida. We are focused on the wrong issues and sending the wrong message.