Category: In the News

How Family Taught This CEO How To Be A Leader – Twice

Tasty Catering CEO Tom Walter learned about leadership from his father – and his children.

Tom Walter’s lessons on leadership started early. One of eleven children in a command-and-control run family, his father was an army sergeant in World War II. In the home, his father raised Tom and his siblings with the same intensity that he had run his army unit. He strictly regulated their behaviors and worked hard to instill a sense of responsibility in them.

Forbes Small Giants 2017: America’s Best Small Companies

This is our second annual list of Small Giants, 25 companies that value greatness over growth. They aren’t opposed to growth—just to growth at all costs. We picked 25 businesses that have sound models, strong balance sheets and steady profits—all privately owned and closely held. They contribute to their communities.

Small Giants Member, Be Found Online, Named #1 Best Place to Work

The 2016 Best Places to Work list is a joint effort of Advertising Age and Best Companies Group. The latter is dedicated to establishing programs to identify and recognize workplaces that nurture a superior level of employee satisfaction and engagement. Companies from across the United States participated in the two-part survey process to determine Ad Age’s Best Places to Work. Any agency, ad tech, media company or marketing division of a brand that’s been in business for more than one year with more than 15 full-time employees was eligible. Public, private, for-profit and not-for-profit businesses could all participate. The list was determined by feedback from two surveys. The first garnered information about employer offerings, and the second was an employee survey to measure the workplace experience. The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.

7 ‘Can’t Miss’ Conferences for Entrepreneurs in 2017

This is the third annual appearance of this column, which ranked as two of my most popular postings in 2016 and 2015.

Today I am providing my list of the top “hidden gem” networking and educational events in 2017 for entrepreneurs. I have made these picks with an eye toward high networking and learning benefits for entrepreneurs who are looking for great mentors, new funding and innovative ideas for PR.

The Future of Business Belongs To The ‘Small Giants’

It seems as though you can’t turn on the television or pick up a magazine without coming across a politician or pundit extolling the virtues of small business and the role it plays in the U.S. economy.

In fact, Forbes is currently on the lookout for some of these amazing “small giants.”  It’s easy to see why small business is such a popular topic of conversation. As of today there are about 30 million small businesses in the U.S., 6 million of which actually have employees. These businesses account for over 50% of total U.S. GDP and 75% of the net new jobs in the U.S.

We’re Looking For A Few Great Small Companies. Do You Know Any?

We all know that America is filled with good small companies, but how many deserve to be called “great”? By that, I mean the elite of the elite—the ones that everybody who knows the industry would agree set the standard for excellence in what they do. Their customers are raving fans. So are their employees, who proudly wear their company’s t-shirts and caps and can’t stop talking about what a great place to work it is. Some of these businesses have had such an impact locally that they’ve become synonymous with their communities. Zingerman’s and Ann Arbor, for example, are as closely linked as Wal-Mart and Bentonville. All have been recognized for the role they play in improving the quality of the lives of the people they come in contact with.

When To Double Down On Culture

I’m a culture evangelist.  Some might say that I “got religion” not so much because I chose it, but because I came to experience over time the impact that it had on my life and my business.  I simply took the lessons from my parents (always be kind; treat people with respect; never burn a bridge) and applied them to business.  I really didn’t know any different.

But at some point early on, I saw the light.  I witnessed how a values-driven approach to business wasn’t just the right thing to do, it created better results.  If we prioritized people over financials and even customers, they would work harder for us.  If we created a vision they connected with, showed them they were valued, cared about them individually and taught them the path to growth, they would fall on a sword for us in tougher times.  If we had their trust, they would delight our customers.

Values Don’t Matter Unless You’re Living Them

When we talk about company values, we’re often having the same conversation over and over again. We toss around words like community, respect, and integrity, and then we slide right back into our traditional habits and practices, not always in alignment with those words.  As leaders, we must challenge ourselves to dig deeper than simply identifying our business’s core values – we have to learn to live them.

Bob Ruffolo, CEO and founder of IMPACT, an inbound marketing agency in Connecticut with about 25 employees, is one leader who can tell you a thing or two about learning to put values before growth – how much it hurts when you get it wrong, and how good it feels for the entire team when you finally get it right.

Transitioning From Consultant To Business Owner

Ira Sharfin had been a successful, big time consultant for 16 years.  He was an expert at change management and even helped with the integration when mega-firms Coopers and Lybrand and Price Waterhouse merged in 1998. In 2005, he had the personal opportunity to buy a majority interest in Continental Office, a workplace solutions company based in Columbus Ohio that was already at $70 million in revenue, and primarily focused on furniture.

Ira was excited to move from advising companies to operating and owning one, and he was confident that he could simply apply all of the structure and processes he mastered while consulting to take Continental Office to the next level.

Redefining Leadership: How One Leader Changed His Ways

Behind every good company culture, there’s an even better leader. In my experience, a workplace takes on the personalities of their leaders, for better or for worse. In fact, an honest evaluation of your employees’ opinions will likely clarify the exact places where leadership and culture meet, or in some cases clash to create a disconnect – and that disconnect really matters. When employees are unhappy with leadership, productivity drops, turnover rates spike and bottom lines suffer.  This begs the question, why isn’t there more of a focus on people as the leading indicator of company success? Are we aware of how our employees perceive our leadership styles?

If Culture Pays, Why Don’t All Companies Emphasize It?

It seems everywhere we turn nowadays, we’re reading about company culture.  It’s the cool thing to talk about and a good way to recruit talent.  But does it really pay?  Is there a positive connection between culture and financial results?  And if so, why doesn’t everyone focus on it?

That last question is the most interesting to me, since after 30 years in business, I’ve seen increasing evidence of the ROI of culture, but marvel at how few leaders make it a priority.  I guess maybe it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

Building A Great Culture With Remote Teams

“I don’t look at the competition. Let them look at me.” -Jim Mullaney, CEO & Founder, Edoc Service, Inc.

What exactly does the competition see when they look at Edoc Service Inc.? Jim sits at the helm of a team that’s been 100% virtual for nearly 20 years. Long before working remotely was a popular option for employees, Jim founded Edoc on a virtual structure and built a great culture from the ground up. Today, Edoc is a profitable company with strong values, shared purpose, and a business model that they use to help other companies go virtual.

Q&A: Scaling Up Culture Change

When Paul Spiegelman created the job of chief culture officer at Stericycle three years ago, he was beginning a multiyear experiment. Could the corporate culture he had created and nurtured at his own company scale to fit a publicly traded company with a $12.5 billion market cap?

Mr. Spiegelman ran BerylHealth, a health care call-center company he founded, for 27 years. When he sold it in 2012 to Stericycle, a highly diversified health care services company, the more straightforward job of growing his call-center business within the larger parent did not interest him. But Stericycle’s culture was a blank slate, perfect for Mr. Spiegelman’s culture-building ambitions.

IQ interviewed Mr. Spiegelman—the author of three books about corporate culture—to find out what he has done, how he has done it and the results he has seen at Stericycle.

Small Giants Community Recap

Although there are literally thousands of business books published each year, only a selected few are destined to become “best sellers”.
The list of best-selling books used to be updated on a weekly basis,usually in respected periodicals such as the New York Times.  Today, however, this list is updated hourly by mega book retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Therefore the claim of “best seller” might mean that a particular book was highly ranked for only a very short amount of time (like 4 hours)…whereas true “best-sellers”, might actually have sustained sales for weeks, years or even decades.

Elgin bartender gets $1,500 tip

Nicole said she served two men, one a friend of hers and the other her friend’s boss. The boss, whom she’d never met before, paid their tab and that of a couple seated next to them, for a total $44, and added a $500 tip for Nicole.

“I thought it was a mistake, that it was $5. I said, ‘Whoa.’ I thanked him and said, ‘Are you sure?'” Nicole said. “But he said, ‘I know you work two jobs and you work hard.”

Then came the stunner.

Being An Entrepreneur Means Learning From Everything, Even Kids And Baby Ducks

This is a story about a duck.  We live on a few acres near Dallas Texas and a few months ago, one of our Golden Retrievers was outside and came running to the back door with a little “surprise” in her mouth.  It was a duckling that she stole from her family that was roaming the back of our property.

My 14-year-old daughter is a die-hard animal lover, so even though the duck didn’t even seem to be alive, she insisted we take it to the local animal hospital.  So I wrapped our little friend up in a towel and off we went.

How I Went From BlackBerry Addict To Mindfulness Maniac

When the first Blackberry came out, they had me at hello. I could quickly respond to emails by typing on this Qwerty keyboard. But what I loved most about the device was the little red light that would start flashing when I had a message.

I’ve always taken pride in being responsive to whoever is trying to reach me, personally or in business. I have high standards for customer service, and that starts with me.   I developed a reputation early on as someone that responded really quickly. This was all thanks to the red light.

Can We Transport Great Culture To Other Countries?

Daniel Rodrigues was in foreign territory – literally.   He was visiting the US as part of a contingent of Brazilian business people, interested in learning how to grow his linguistics and translation business back in Brazil.   What he saw at these companies was something he wasn’t used to seeing in his own country.  He visited companies who had very open and transparent cultures, with values statements lining the walls and employees talking about how the higher purpose of the company drove them to do great work.

Company Culture Is Not The Office Foosball Table

Quite often, we hear about great company cultures, but many of those times, we’re highlighting the wrong things.  Yes, it is cool to talk about free employee lunches at Google or paying employees to quit like at Zappos.  Yet culture is really about the environment we create that allow our employees to achieve their personal visions, not just the company version.  And as leaders, when we deliver on the promise that our company exists to enhance the lives of the people that work within it, the real magic unfolds.

The Top 14 Conferences for Entrepreneurs to Attend in 2016

Whether it’s meeting the next big client, forming a strong partnership, learning new skills, or getting good advice from a peer who’s been there before, the return on investment of attending the right events can be substantial.

When my co-founder and I started Influence & Co. four years ago, we didn’t know exactly where we were heading or what our future would look like. But we knew that with a few key opportunities and the right guidance, we had big things ahead of us.

Aside from the team we’ve brought on and the culture of our company that’s driven us forward, one of the biggest factors that’s really contributed to our ability to achieve success is attending the right conferences and industry events.