Posts in Employment

When Do I Hire?

August 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Employment 0 thoughts on “When Do I Hire?”

When Do I Hire My First Employee (and for What?)

For lean startups, entrepreneurs tend to have one employee:


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Photo courtesy

Assuming your business grows and moves forward, there will come a time that you’ll need to hire someone else. It’s a big decision that you don’t want to rush into, resulting in a poor choice.

That said, wait too long, and you can seriously damage your business.

So the question is, when do you do that? And for what position exactly? Let’s start with that second question.

Who Should I Hire First?

Make no mistake, your initial employee is incredibly important. They will be the foundation for your company’s culture, and they will set the standard for future employees. The exact position you hire for will depend on what kind of company you’re running.

It may be for a role you’ve been doing a lot, but you know you’re not good at it. The position might be something you’ve been paying a contractor or a third party to do, but with the current level of demand, you’d save time and money by hiring the position.

The person you hire should share the values your company has. They need to be flexible and teachable, ready for change as it comes. Change is constant in the life of the startup. They should be stable, mentally and emotionally.

Whatever you’re hiring them fo, they should display more skill (or at least more potential) than you in that role.

You don’t want someone who’s the same as you or weaker than you. Instead, the employee and their position should complement you. Be the yin to your yang and all that jazz.

When Do You Hire Them?

There are signs that it’s time to hire someone. First and foremost, if you have more work than you can handle, now is the perfect time to hire.

Your first hire will likely put some strain on your financials. You need to make sure the path to growth is promising, should you hire someone. If they can help you earn more, then they should cover the cost soon enough.

Contractor or Employee?

If you’re unsure about bringing on a fulltime employee (you should know, there’s quite a bit of paperwork to be sorted), you can try bringing someone on as a fulltime contractor. From there, you can decide how well they fit, and whether you would like to make them an official part of the company or not.

Do What’s Best for the Company

When you’re running a business, especially one that’s experiencing growth and success, there will likely be pressure to give work to friends and family. You need to be cautious, especially when it comes to your first employee.

Ultimately, it’s about doing what’s best for your company. Your business doesn’t exist to give your sister’s son a job. It exists to fulfill a marketplace need. To do that well, you’ll need to hire the best person for the job.

What About the Next Employees?

Though the idea of having an office (whether physical or digital) filled with employees is enticing, you should never be in a rush to hire for the sake of hiring. And you should never bring on too many people at once.

Anytime you bring in someone new, there’s a period of transition that happens both for the company and the person. Let that play itself out before bringing on the next hire.

The company Basecamp (formally known as 37Signals) is known for the expression “hire when it hurts”. Simply put, do everything you can before hiring someone. Whether that’s working harder, shifting responsibilities, upgrading software, etc.

Then, when you’ve exhausted all other options, you can hire someone, whether it’s your first employee or your twentieth.

Want your business to grow so that you can bring on more employees? Check out Business is Art, on sale at Amazon now.

Play to Your Strengths

June 9th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Employment, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Play to Your Strengths”

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“Play to Your Strengths” originally appeared in my personal blog, #Significance, on August 14, 2015. I am repeating it here because it is relative to this week’s Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network. Episode #35 is entitled “Who Are You” and in it I describe a process for purposefully evolving. In that process I discuss the importance of identifying your blindspots, but that it is your strengths that will carry you through.

“When you do the things you are strongest in, life is like running down hill. When you do the things you are weakest in, life is constantly hard and unnecessarily tiresome.”

Words of wisdom from a gentleman giving a presentation I had the pleasure of sitting in on yesterday.  He is a Human Resources (HR) professional and was discussing how his company assesses the strengths of candidate new hires before the interview process begins. The process they follow yields a 92% accuracy rate in ensuring the new hire fits the job and the job fits the new hire.

One end result is that the company doesn’t have to continually rotate employees around and in and out to get the right person in the right place at the right time, but perhaps more importantly, it helps ensure the employees feel good and become more engaged in what they are doing.

As he spoke, it reminded of a time many years ago that I was hired for a position that I felt certain was necessary for advancement to the next level, my true objective. I didn’t want to do this current job, it was just a necessary evil means to an end.

Not long after starting the new job, a similar assessment to the one described in yesterday’s presentation was rolled out. The results came back saying that I was not a good fit for my current position.  My immediate reaction was of anger and fear. The new boss didn’t know me very well, so there was good reason to have concern that she might look at this and say “the new guy has to go before he screws things up.”

Indeed, she did lean that way, but fortunately for me her boss made sure we took time to move me into a more appropriate role. At the end of it all, I actually moved into something more fitting and enjoyable, did well in it, and set myself up for the next promotion, but not before a lot of unnecessary angst. Had the assessment been conducted prior to hire, all of that could have been avoided.

The HR representative providing the presentation yesterday was obviously excited about his work, and rightfully so. He isn’t just providing a service to the company, he is providing a service to the individuals – helping to ensure that they too make the right choices for themselves that will lead to their personal and professional success.

Helping people play to their strengths makes their life better. You can apply this to any aspect of life.

7 Memorial Day Inspired Links

May 29th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Employment, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 4 thoughts on “7 Memorial Day Inspired Links”

U.S. FlagMemorial Day – Each week I identify a different theme of the week and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme.

A Word on This Week’s Theme

Memorial Day is a day we set aside to remember those members of the U.S. armed forces who died in combat or in service. This week in my personal blog #Significance, I discussed the true meaning behind the holiday.

But as important as it is to remember the sacrifice of the dead, and that of their families and loved ones, it’s also important to remember the living who are currently serving or who have served.

So often, former military personnel are passed over for employment opportunities or have a hard time adjusting to private life. Business can be a key to helping these heroes out and they can be a key to business success.

This week’s theme is inspired by Memorial Day remembrances but focuses on how the world of business can be a place for former military members to thrive once their military career ends.

This Week’s Links

Inc. – This article at Inc. pays tribute to 5 veterans who became successful entrepreneurs post-service. An entrepreneurial path is often how veterans can find meaning in their professions.

Inc. – Some pretty interesting statistics are included in this Inc. article and accompanying infographic. Veteran-owned franchises have generated 815,000 jobs in the U.S. and veteran owned businesses generate $41 billion to the U.S. GDP. No doubt, veterans are a critical component to the economy and U.S. business in general.

Entrepreneur – Check out this inspirational piece on a former Navy SEAL who teaches us a lesson on how to turn failure into success. A key – focus on one thing.

Entrepreneur – One secret to “luck” is to listen for and be open to inspiration from wherever it may come. See here how this veteran found inspiration from tragedy. If he can overcome his experience, you can overcome yours.

Entrepreneur – Sometimes, veterans have a hard time adjusting to private life. This includes communication. Both the military and business worlds have their own languages and forms of communication. What works well in one environment can mean utter failure in the other. Sometimes, all it takes is learning to bridge the communication gap.

Entrepreneur – Smart business owners and companies know that veterans make a tremendous resource pool. This article at Entrepreneur discusses businesses that are looking to hire veterans.

Entrepreneur – And this company is creating incentives for veterans to become franchise owners. We owe our veterans so much. It’s nice to see so may U.S. companies recognizing the opportunity for payback.

5 Links on Economic Development

May 23rd, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Employment, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Uncategorized 14 thoughts on “5 Links on Economic Development”

DevelopmentEconomic Development – Each week I identify a different theme of the week and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme.

This week’s theme is “economic development.” I’m excited about the topic because my guest this week on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network is Steve Odland of the Committee for Economic Development in Washington DC. More to come on that.

The topic is also fresh on my mind because I just spent the better part of the last week and a half producing some on-line training videos that, if I did it right, will help entrepreneurs and organizational leaders to be more successful in business and to feel less over-whelmed and alone. More to come on that as well.

A Word On This Week’s Theme

I first became interested in economic development in the early 2000’s when it appeared to me our small town community was dying. So, I read books, I talked to people, I got involved. Thanks to many, many others who caught the same bug, things are looking up. New businesses are popping up here and there. Old businesses and historic buildings have a little bit of new life being breathed back in to them.

There is a long way to go but it is an exciting thing to watch and an honor to be part of the process in whatever small way I can be.

Sometimes I think government gets it right and sometimes wrong when it comes to economic development. I think the key is that we, the members of the public, have to make it work while the government supports and readies the environment. We can and should take advantage of any government programs out there that can stimulate economic development…but only if we the people actually make it work.

In the end, it comes down to a will to make it happen, good old fashioned hard work, great ideas, products and services, and a little bit of luck.

This Week’s Links

Entrepreneur – From Entrepreneur’s Small Business Encyclopedia comes this information on the Economic Development Agency. There are a lot of resources out there, many for free. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone when it comes to starting a business. Do your homework and utilize the help that is available to you.

Entrepreneur – I’ve quoted articles featuring former Small Business Administration Chief Karen Mills before. This piece, also from Entrepreneur, is a bit dated (2013) but is still relevant. In it, Mills discusses 3 keys to a better U.S. entrepreneur economy. One of the common threads – don’t go it alone.

Inc. – Just prior to writing this post, I wrote a post on my personal blog (entitled #Significance) that discusses graduation season and the millennials wearing caps and gowns this as we speak. So this article discussing millennials as the economic future seemed timely and appropriate. Millennials. They aren’t just for marketing any more.

Committee for Economic Development – Check out this report from the CED with respect to tackling economic inequality and boosting opportunity. I love this quote, “All suggested reforms – spanning health care to taxation to higher education – stem from our belief that the greatest potential to lessen inequality comes through creating equality of opportunity.”

TED – In his TED Talk, Timothy Bartik, th eauthor of Investing In Kids, makes the economic case for preschool and argues that the economic benefit of well educated kids goes beyond the altruistic. Seems elementary (pun intended).

Reducing the Cost of Lost Productivity

April 1st, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, Employment, Engagement, Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Reducing the Cost of Lost Productivity”
Back Pain

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How much does lost productivity cost you each year? On Segment #25 of Business is ART (“Get Off My Back”), my guest was Dr. Justin Vinson. We discussed various aspects of workplace health and the economics associated with it.

Sick Days Cost What?!

Sick days in the U.S. alone costs employers around $600 billion dollars annually just in compensation to the sick employees alone. That is nothing to say of the lost productivity and extra expense required to make-up for it, nor does it include the difficult to measure things such as customer service/satisfaction and lost opportunities.

How Many Get Lower Back Pain?!

According to Dr. Vinson, approximately 80% of Americans will experience low back pain at some point in their adult lives and low back pain is one of the leading causes of work disability and missed work. There is no statistical difference in the percentage of males versus the percentage of females who experience lower back pain, nor does it discriminate between blue-collar and white-collar workers. The odds are virtually the same.

Lower Back Pain Costs What?!

There is no winner in this equation. The employee misses out on lost wages and the employer misses out on productivity. Now compare the cost of missed work due to low back pain with the $600 billion mentioned previously. The number of hours of missed work amounts to 149 million days at a cost of $60 billion to $120 billion per year.

What Does It All Mean?

What does this mean for business owners and business or organizational leaders? It means there is tremendous economic reason to do what you can to minimize this risk of lower back pain caused by or in the workplace. Vinson says that information and education is the first most important step to being proactive.

He urges employers and workers to focus on things like:

  • Ergonomics
  • Posture
  • Proper lifting
  • Core strength

Another growing trend he discussed is that companies are now looking at representatives of the healthcare industry as consultants to their business. He also discussed the option for businesses to provide free services to employees such as massage and chiropractic therapy in a regular basis and that the savings realized from it can more than pay for it.

For example he quoted a study in which employees received a comprehensive, free, proactive, chiropractic, health and wellness education and services, resulting in a 90% reduction in workers comp premiums in 4 years.

Listen to the Business is ART podcast in full at

The data is out there. Now it’s up to you to do something with it.

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck

January 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Employment, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck”

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Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck originally appeared on an earlier version of the Business is ART web site, January 25, 2015. I was reminded of it last night sitting in as a guest on Dr. Jessica Cortez’ new show at – In Sickness and Health. Click here to listen on Soundcloud and scroll down to the show segment entitled “This isn’t Our First Rodeo.”

How many times have you asked why you should incentivize people to do their job when a paycheck should be incentive enough? Taking this attitude is a huge mistake, and here is why.

Most people desire to do a good job. Doing good, quality work produces an emotional response of feeling good, feeling valued, and feeling happy. It’s pride. People want to do good work. The employer, however, wants exceptional work, and often assumes everyone knows what that means.

The Incentive Chasm

From the start, this may create a huge chasm in expectations. What one might, legitimately, see as good work, may be seen by the employer as not good enough. So it is very important to formally set expectations in order to eliminate the chasm.

Define “good enough” in your organization and then stretch it a bit to say “but this is exceptional.” Then go on to say, “And this is what I expect of you.”

You are paying people a base wage or salary for the “good enough,” however that is defined.  The intent of the incentive is to get them go beyond “good enough” and achieve “exceptional.”

Define Expectations and Incentives

However you approach it, it is important that you formally define “good enough” and “exceptional”, and critical that you communicate what that means in terms of expectations and reward. Formally define the incentive and when it is earned, give it with pleasure.

Your risk of not doing so is losing employees who truly are exceptional or have the potential to be.

How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business

December 23rd, 2015 Posted by CEO, Delegate, Employment, Leadership, Manager, Relationships, Strategy 18 thoughts on “How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business”

pile of plastic toy menWhile you should rely heavily on strategic planning to get ahead in the business world, if you don’t have the right team in place to implement your business strategy, you are going to go nowhere quite fast.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a new business or have been in your industry for several years, hiring the right people can make a huge difference in your chances for success.

But how is this done?

Building the perfect team, like running a business, is just as much of an art as it is a science. And it’s something that a lot of people struggle with, even if they have been running a successful business for years.

This is because a lot of people don’t really understand what makes a good business team. Is it talent, creativity, or something else?

Hire Based on Your Needs

Every year, around the beginning of November, something quite amusing happens: the NFL trade deadline comes and goes.

It’s a time when most fans closely watch news outlets, looking to see who made what moves for which players. It’s also a time when you see diehard fans pulling their hair out because their favorite team’s general manager just traded away their best wide receiver for a couple of draft picks two years down the line.

But once the tears fade away, you can usually see why the trade was made.

Perhaps the receiver was struggling with an injury, or perhaps he was getting older, his contract was about to end or he was costing too much money.

Or maybe the team didn’t need him because they have several other receivers who are putting up great numbers.

The point is: the best hire is not always the best hire for you.

You have to identify what your team needs. You can’t just indiscriminately scoop up the most talented individuals in your industry. You have to focus on building a well-rounded team that can handle every situation.

Take a good hard look at your team. What type of person do you need based on your key performance indicators?

Remember, your main goal is to build a team, not a roster of talented individuals.

Hire Based on Culture

A good business culture makes a great business team.

While hiring based on qualifications is all well and good, you want to make sure to build a team that is passionate about your vision and the culture in which you want to build within your organization.

If you are looking to maintain a team-based environment where people bounce ideas off one another, you shouldn’t be looking to hire a person who prefers to work alone in the corner of the room.

The most important step in doing this is to clearly outline your business vision. If your employees don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish, they cannot help you get there.

Once everyone is one the same page as you, involve them in the hiring process. Let them sit in on interviews with potential employees and ask them for feedback on every candidate. You want to hire the most qualified candidate who also fits best with your team.

Remember, a team that is happy, works well together and is passionate about your vision is the most productive team.

Moving Forward

Once you have your team built, you want to make sure that they stay with you for the long run. Although this is another topic for another day, here are a few quick tips to keeping your team happy and productive:

  • Challenge them.
  • Reward them for their accomplishments
  • Listen to their wants and needs.
  • Give them the tools that they need to succeed.
  • Show them that you care.
  • Don’t just hire someone that can do the job today, hire someone that can change as the job changes.

While these tips can help you get started, so much goes into building and maintaining a great team that it would take an entire book to tell you everything there is to know. Thankfully, the Business is ART book is available for you to purchase (you’re welcome), and in the meantime, you can satiate your appetite for success by checking out our Freebies section of the website.

Three Pillars of Behavior

December 8th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Relationships, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Three Pillars of Behavior”
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Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

I refer to these as the three pillars of Behavior Management.  At work, if your Behavior Management strategy does not address all three of these pillars, there is an increased chance that you will not get the results you would like (or need) from your employees.

My opinion is that most people in the workforce want to do a good job that they can be proud of.  Most employers want exceptional performance from their employees.  If this is true, then already there is a chasm.  What is “good enough” in the employee’s mind may not be good enough in the employer’s mind.  So how do you bridge the gap?

Start by considering these three pillars.  What does the employee #desire? What gets the employee to feel a positive #emotion about the job and the company? And finally, what does the employee #know?  This goes beyond knowing the job and is a critical piece that should seem obvious, yet is often overlooked.

As an example, the employee desires to do good, quality work because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself, and that makes him/her feel happy (emotion).  But the employee “knows” there will be no recognition or reward from the employer beyond a paycheck.  What is the likelihood that employee will burnout and performance will suffer in the long run?

Two mistakes employers make in this regard are:

  1. A paycheck should be incentive enough to do a good job (see “chasm”).
  2. Incentive and reward beyond the regular paycheck means more money.

Neither are necessarily true, and there are all kinds of ways to address them, but that’s another topic for discussion. In the meantime, if you focus your Behavior Management strategy on these 3 pillars, you will be way ahead of the competition.

You Must be Crazy

December 7th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership 0 thoughts on “You Must be Crazy”

Do you have to be crazy to be an entrepreneur or a CEO (or other type of leader)? I mean, think about it. You’re putting yourself in a highly scrutinized spotlight. You’re putting your livelihood and assets on the line, putting relationships at risk, and probably spending a lot of money you don’t have just to get started.

Sounds crazy, right?

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Well, it turns out that there are some personality traits typically viewed as negatives that might actually help people to become entrepreneurs and leaders. Indeed, bi-polar disorder is often referred to as the CEO Disease because some of the very characteristics of bi-polar behavior are present in many of the world’s most successful CEOs, like Ted Turner and Steve Jobs.

A pet peeve of mine is that when someone is a little different or struggling, especially when they are kids, we rush to label or medicate them. Well-meaning people think they are doing the right thing, but what they could be doing is stifling that person’s ability to become the next great leader (or masking a “problem” instead of treating it, thereby creating larger and potentially dangerous circumstances).

The trick is recognizing, encouraging and even teaching leadership and entrepreneurial potential early, although it is never too late.

The “crazy entrepreneur” is the subject of the December 7 edition of  my weekly newsletter, The Weekly See 7.


November 16th, 2015 Posted by Business is ART, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Downtime”
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Photo courtesy

A few days ago I had a long awaited hip replacement surgery. During this coming week, I have some unavoidable work and will take care of it accordingly. Otherwise, to recuperate, I am taking some time off and taking advantage of the downtime.

That doesn’t mean pop as many pain pills as I can or binge watch several shows on Netflix. In fact, I’ve watched very little TV so far and as of Saturday I went cold turkey off of the prescription pain meds because I didn’t like how they made me feel. I’d rather have pain and keep my mental capacity than be comfortable but paranoid, itchy and talking gibberish.

But, I’m not judging at all. To each his own, and I mean that sincerely. It doesn’t matter how you define downtime or how you spend it. All that matters is that you define it and utilize it, whatever it means to you.

For me, it means finishing the script to a musical that I started writing several months ago – something I like to do as a creative hobby. I’ve had the music maybe 80% composed and the script drafted in my head for a long time. I just haven’t created the time to sit down and complete it all. When I commit myself to something like this, it’s an all-in moment and I become very immersed in it.

Some may see it as a lot of work, or a huge commitment of time. But for me, it is a necessary thing. That creative time is something I need. I crave it. Once I have come through it, I feel energized for a long time to follow.

My definition of downtime isn’t limited to creative writing. Sometimes, downtime is floating on a boat. Sometimes it’s sitting in the backyard with a cold drink. Sometimes it’s snuggling on the couch with my wife, Carol.

I have multiple definitions of downtime and utilize them accordingly. Some of them are productive in the sense that I am producing a tangible item, but all of them are productive in the sense that I am providing or giving something that I or someone else needs.

Downtime is the theme of the November 16 edition of The Weekly See 7 available now at the SeaSeven website. How do you spend your downtime?

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