Posts in Engagement

Out of the Darkness – Suicide Prevention

September 28th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Engagement 0 thoughts on “Out of the Darkness – Suicide Prevention”

We are taking a break from typical business topics in this blog post and instead focusing on the subject of suicide, beginning with some alarming statistics. Here are some according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP):

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Each year, nearly 45,000 people die by suicide
  • For every suicide, 25 others attempt it
  • Suicide costs the U.S. $69 billion each year
  • The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
  • Firearms account for 51% of all suicides in 2016.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.

The AFSP also provides the following map, in which the darker shades indicate higher rates of suicide per state:

Get Involved

Two of the ways we can work to lower the rate of suicide is to better recognize the signs and create an environment in which it is OK for people to talk about their issues, worries, and feelings – without fear of stigma or retribution. The best way we can do that is through learning. The best way we can learn and support learning is by getting involved.

There are all kinds of options for doing so.

For example, we are participating as a family in an upcoming event called “Out of the Darkness Community Walks” which take place all over the country.

According to their website, the AFSP says, “When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

Thanks to Walkers and Donors like you, AFSP has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20% by 2025.”

Don’t Wait for Suicide to Impact You

If suicide has never impacted your life, we could not be more happy for you. Let’s keep it that way. Don’t wait until it does, and help the rest of us heal.

Get involved. Get educated. Get out of the darkness.

Do You Know How to Encourage the Heart?

March 29th, 2018 Posted by Blog Post, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Do You Know How to Encourage the Heart?”

On the Business is ART podcast this week at the TrueChat Network, guest Andrea Davis, co-founder and partner at Flashpoint Leadership Consulting, discussed “Leadership’s Impact on Employee Engagement.”

Among the items Andrea discussed was The Leadership Challenge by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner. First published in 1987 and now in its sixth edition, it has long been one of the gold standards in the study, discipline and art of leadership.

Indeed the book Business is ART and the subsequent business planning and strategic management software Plan Canvas have some of their roots in Kouzes’ and Posners’ 5 leadership practices.

5 Practices of Leaders

Those practices include:

  1. Model the way
  2. Inspire a shared vision
  3. Challenge the process
  4. Enable others to act
  5. Encourage the heart

Where Leadership Often Falls Short

Leaders, managers, supervisors and entrepreneurs often put their heads down and start making a mad dash forward, thinking the sprint will put them ahead of game. This mad dash makes it easy to forget any or all of the 5 practices of leaders, but the one that is often forgotten, even in the slow walk, is the fifth one – encourage the heart.

Yet, arguably, it is the most vital in creating a company culture / environment that creates and nurtures employee engagement. It is so much easier for an employee to be engaged in their work and in their employer’s business when their heart is encouraged.

What Does it Mean to Encourage the Heart?

“Encouraging the heart” goes beyond words.

Words like “you know I care about you, right?” and “you’re doing really great work” are important – vital. But they are perceived as insincere, empty, and even offensive when they are not backed by action, or worse, backed by action that is to the contrary.

As a leader, it isn’t good enough to say you aren’t good at this stuff. You have an obligation to get better at it.

Those who follow want more. They need more. You have to learn to encourage the heart, even if it is a difficult, unnatural thing for you to do. If not, you will lose them.

Consider These Options

If working on your ability to encourage from the heart is a priority, Plan Canvas has a number of options for you to consider. Here are two of them:

  • Register for Plan Canvas for Individuals at no cost to develop and continually work on a personal development plan. We do recommend you work with a coach on your personal plan.
  • Join others in our online, monthly mastermind / peer group where we tackle one another’s business and personal challenges while holding each other accountable to the actions we agree to take. In addition to the monthly online group meeting, it includes 1-to-1 consulting and a subscription to the Plan Canvas for SMB Contact us for a free initial consultation. $169/month.

And of course, if you are looking for much more comprehensive leadership consulting that includes all 5 practices identified in The Leadership Challenge and more, contact Andrea at Flashpoint Leadership Consulting.

Note: No one at Plan Canvas is a paid spokesperson for Flashpoint – we just think they are really good at what they do, and are happy to share their information.

10 Ways to Create Disengaged Employees

March 14th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “10 Ways to Create Disengaged Employees”

It’s easy to find advice on how to improve employee engagement, some good, some useless. Here are some ways to create DISENGAGED employees. Our advice? Don’t do the things listed here.

Employee Engagement Begins With You

March 7th, 2018 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Engagement 0 thoughts on “Employee Engagement Begins With You”

There is a lot of advice available to us on ways to improve employee engagement, but, the truth is, it begins with you. We often overlook that simple reality.

No matter where you are in your career, role, or position, while on the job, you are constantly on display. Your body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and the words you choose matter – and they impact others around you.

To better make the point, the following is an excerpt from the book Business is ART.

An Excerpt from Business is ART, Chapter Five

One day, I came into the office after having a significant disagreement with a family member. I reacted poorly to the emotion of hurt and anger that I was feeling and let the disagreement influence my workplace behavior.

When I got into the office, instead of greeting people in my usual friendly way, I entered the break room with a scowl on my face, not looking at or engaging with anyone. I simply poured a cup of coffee and hurried back to my desk.

Later, one of the most trusted members of my leadership team knocked on my door and suggested that we needed to talk in private.

He closed the door and asked in a very concerned tone, “Are we going to announce layoffs?”

The question stunned me. We were growing. We were profitable. We had a couple of small layoffs early on in our path to $50 million, but that was part of the plan. I didn’t know where the concern was coming from.

“No. Why?”

“There’s a rumor going around.”

“How did that get started?”

“Some employees were in the break room this morning and said you wouldn’t even look them in the eye, so they started speculating about what was wrong. Then they concluded you couldn’t look them in the eye because you are going to lay some of them off.”

I started the rumor. Not knowingly or intentionally, but because I was not paying attention to my own behavior.

You are constantly on display

Employee engagement begins with you. At work, you are constantly on display.

Before taking on any new initiatives to boost employee engagement, take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask, “How can modifying my own behavior make a change for the better?”

Your Irresistible Value

September 26th, 2017 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Engagement 0 thoughts on “Your Irresistible Value”
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On last week’s Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network, marketing and customer relationship expert Keri Vandongen (Earn Loyal Customers) was the guest. The episode was entitled “Defining Your Purpose”, but something like “Your Irresistible Value” may have been more appropriate.

Are you more engaged in your customers than they are in you?

Keri shared with listeners how when she used to provide counsel to clients, she may have felt a connection to them, but they weren’t necessarily feeling a connection to her in return.

So, in order to maintain enough clients to sustain her practice, she found herself doing more and more for less and less – until it dawned on her that this wasn’t a sustainable model. More importantly, she realized it wasn’t really what clients wanted either.

That’s when she began focusing on what it means to earn loyal and engaged customers.

Mandatory Simon Sinek

Keri’s journey included the mandatory stop in “Simon Sinek Land”, where we are encouraged to “start with why”. Why do you do what you do? Why should anyone care?

Coming to this core understanding is an important step, but Keri’s journey doesn’t end there. She takes it further, encouraging you to determine what your gift is. What is it about you that attracts customers to you? Keri calls this your irresistible value, or your “IV line.”

What is that special something that you have to offer? In previous posts, we talked about how your story is your brand DNA. Sharing your story can enhance customer experience but it isn’t necessarily your gift.

Don’t Just Say It

But it isn’t enough to say it – you have to show it. On the show, this was compared to walking around with freshly baked cookies, handing them out to people not because you want something in return, but just because you want them to enjoy a delicious cookie that you made from scratch. Their satisfaction is your satisfaction.

Starting with why, telling your story and understanding your gift are all part of the same package…that same core level of understanding not just who you are (or who your business is) but what makes it special, and why that is beneficial to the customer.

What is your gift? Keri provided listeners to the podcast with a link to a PDF document she put together that can help you get started. Click here to access it.

Why Business Cards Still Matter

March 2nd, 2017 Posted by Engagement 0 thoughts on “Why Business Cards Still Matter”

business cardThere was a time when having business cards meant you were “official”. Whether you ran your own business or you worked for another one, if you could pull a rectangular piece of paper out with your name, title, and company name, then you were somebody.

They didn’t even have to be fancy. Just some shade of white, maybe a slight texture, with black text (either raised or indented). Possibly a watermark.

Over the past decade or two, they rapidly evolved. Every business is trying to stand out amongst the Rolodexes of cards out there. Business cards started coming in every shape, color, and material you could imagine. But now that everyone has a phone on hand at all times, and every business has some degree of online presence, the question is asked time and again:

Are Business Cards Relevant?


They might not be what they once were, but a business card can serve a purpose for virtually any professional. Here’s why:

They Can Establish an Immediate Brand Impression

A good-looking business card is still a sign of legitimacy. Emphasis on the good. They don’t have to be fancy and complex, but if your business card has the quality of something you made in 10 minutes and printed off at home, it’s going to do more harm than anything else.

Say what you want, but looks matter in the business world. Unless you’re rich and famous. Then you can do mostly what you want.

For the rest of us, have a professional card designed. If you lack the creative abilities to design a good looking card and you don’t want to hire a professional to make one for you, you can find business card websites that give you templates to build off of.

People will Actually Remember You

If you tell a person your business name and/or website with the idea that they’ll check it out later, you’ll probably end up disappointed. People forget. Whether they can’t recall your name or forget to follow-up altogether, it doesn’t matter.

Even if they put your phone number in their phone right there, you could slip from their memory.

A business card, however, leaves something behind. If they put that away in their pocket, wallet, or folder, it will end up in their hands again.

Invest in Quality Cards

There are a lot of places you can buy business cards these days. Depending on where you buy and how much you’re willing to spend, the quality can vary greatly. While you don’t have to break the bank, our suggestion would be to invest in an above average quality.

Whether it’s choosing a thicker stock, adding a cut-out, or going for a fancier material like tin or plastic, buy a quality business card.

Even if you have a great design, it will look bad if it’s printed on cheap cards.

A quality card won’t just stand out. It might actually result in acquaintances showing it off to other people.

Don’t Hand Them Out for the Sake of Handing Them Out

Some people can burn through business cards fast. If you’re using a premium card, that can be expensive. That’s why you should only hand them out when you need to.

If you walk into a meeting with 10 people from the same place, you don’t have to give a business card to all of those people. They’ll probably just throw it away – especially if they already have all of your contact info.

Instead, use your business cards wisely, like the punctuation on a great interaction with someone you could benefit from knowing. Whether it’s a potential lead, someone you could collaborate with, or just a person who’s really connected, save your cards for those people.

Another idea is to have two sets of business cards – a standard card for normal use and a premium card for more important contacts.

The Shameless Plug

She doesn’t know I’m doing this, but for assistance with logo design and great quality business card production at competitive prices, contact my friend Mollie Smith at Olligraphics.

For more basic business principles and professional guidance, make sure to subscribe to future posts. Don’t worry, I won’t spam or sell your email. Click here to sign up.

How to Make Hiring and Getting Hired Easier

December 21st, 2016 Posted by Engagement 0 thoughts on “How to Make Hiring and Getting Hired Easier”

Hopeful to HiredLast week on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network, my guest was Adam Dince, author of Hopeful to Hired. Adam’s book is about how to go from being someone hoping to get a job to someone who has landed the job they want. It focuses on students and recent graduates but there are lessons to be learned for everyone, no matter the stage of their career.

Like many works that would go on to become books, or products not envisioned when a particular effort started (or faltered), Hopeful to Hired took roots as a passion project stemming from an MBA course assignment on which Adam was working, driving home two important points for all of us:

  • Inspiration may come from anywhere if we are open to it and listen for it.
  • Opportunity is all around us if we are open to it and willing to reach for it.

Want to get hired? Do these 3 things to stand out

Adam suggests 3 major to-do’s for anyone looking to start, continue or change their career paths:

  1. Build soft skills, like communication, listening – even politeness
  2. Build a professional network – this goes beyond things like LinkedIn and requires in-person networking, be it formally organized events or casual meetings over a cup of coffee
  3. Establish an online, personal brand – you don’t have to have gazillions of followers to have a personal brand, but all it takes is one prospective employer to read one highly questionable or offensive post to keep you from getting the job

Hiring managers also have to be more proactive

For me, one of the most revealing moments of the podcast was when we turned attention to hiring managers. In the past, applicants wrote letters, attached them to resumes and mailed them in via snail mail, all in a very personalized manner. It was time consuming and unforgiving. Today, it is a comparatively simple task to fill out several generic online applications a day without ever getting out of your pajamas.

Hiring managers are inundated with resumes, often all received in the same, online, standard form that the company has defined, making them less personal and difficult for one to stand out from another. HR and the hiring managers want to hire the best candidate for the job (and the future), but how can they when they aren’t even sure the best candidates have bubbled to the top – or even applied?

Just as candidates need to be more proactive in preparing for job placement, so too do hiring managers in their searches. They can’t sit around and wait for the best candidate to come through the door. They have to “get out there” and get to know the resource pool from which they will draw employees.

There are new challenges but just as many options to overcome them

It’s a new world out there, but there are a lot of things both candidate and the hiring manager can do in order to increase their odds of success.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here or through the TRUECHAT app (look for the episode entitled “Hopeful to Hired”). You can find Adam’s book by clicking here.

What is Your Call to Action?

December 9th, 2016 Posted by Engagement, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “What is Your Call to Action?”
Call to Action

Photo courtesy

What is your call to action? Any effective marketing material wants you to do something. It could be to go to a store or make a call, try a sample or any number of other things.

Whatever it is, there is a call to action.

A call to action is that main thing the potential customer is supposed to do.

As a Business, There is Something You Want Your Customers to Do

Okay, there’s a good chance you want your customers to do a lot of things – pay you for most of them. But where does the sales process start for your business?

Never assume a customer knows exactly what you want them to. Even if it seems obvious. The truth is, they’re waiting for you to tell them something. The question is are you telling them?

A Call to Action Should be Easy and (Preferably) Non-Committal

The life of the everyday consumer has never been easier than it is now. They can research, call, order, schedule, and more in seconds without having to go anywhere thanks to mobile technology. While this gives you more opportunities to reach them, it also makes it harder to get them to do something.

We don’t want to see modern society can get a little too comfortable on the couch (I am literally sitting on the couch as I write this). We can also be very busy, and/or distracted – perhaps more of the latter. If you want customers to do something, you need to make it as quick and easy as possible for them.

Options can help increase your chances for a connection.

Some people don’t like to call. They’d rather email or text. On the other hand, some do want to call. It’s generally best to make both available.

You should also make the call to action non-committal. Give away a free trial or sample or e-book or something to entice them without asking anything from them except an email or phone number. For now, you just want them to take that first step. To make that first interaction. That’s what the call to action is about.

It’s like a funnel.

A funnel is widest at the top, making it easy for everything to get in, driving it all to a specific spot.

Call to Actions in All You Do

In every meeting, email, marketing piece, webpage, etc. have a call to action. It doesn’t have to be the same call to action on each piece. You won’t always be targeting the same group of people, and you won’t always be conveying the same message.

Make sure the call to action makes sense for the audience it’s in front of.

Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time and losing out on business. And that should be the last thing you want to do.

Don’t Know Where to Begin?

If you’re not sure what you want your customers to be doing, you might need to solidify your vision. We can help with that. The first section of our Odds Makers course covers creating and nurturing the vision of your business.

From there, you’ll learn about strategic planning, forming KPIs, and more. These lessons are invaluable when it comes to targeting your audience.

Sign up today!

Would you Like to be a Guest Blogger?

November 27th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Engagement 0 thoughts on “Would you Like to be a Guest Blogger?”

ReadingWould you like to be a guest blogger?

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now – 2 blogs in fact. One of them is a personal blog entitled “#Significance.” The other is a business blog entitled “Business is ART.” Both are close to my heart, but it is past the time to invite others in to share a few things close to their heart, while sticking within the general subject matter of either blog.

#Significance is about a focus on significance versus success. When you focus on success, it is about you. When you focus on significance it is about others. Significance is about focusing on the success of others, and when you do, your own success naturally comes.

Business is ART is really about any business relevant subject that may be helpful to anyone that has a business interest, be it a career minded individual, a business owner, someone thinking about going in to business, or just people who enjoy the topic. So much of the time I find that business concepts can be applied to life as well, so in my mind, Business is ART is really for anyone.

How We Learn

In forming my thoughts and/or doing research for blog posts, I have learned a lot and it is my hope that others do as well. After all, that is really the purpose of a blog.

But after a couple of years, there is just one problem – it’s all from my perspective. When all we do is talk it’s pretty hard to listen, and that is what can make a blog go stale. We have to listen to truly learn.

That’s why I say it is past time to actively seek guest bloggers to both #Significance and Business is ART. I would truly like to listen to what you have to say.

You Talk, I Listen

So here is your shot!

Please contact me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or through my Contacts page and let’s get your guest post up on either or both of my blogs.

I am looking forward to hearing from you and what you have to say.

Should You Outsource?

November 17th, 2016 Posted by Engagement, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “Should You Outsource?”

which hat do you wear

If you outsource certain functions of your business, will you get what you want? Well that all depends. If you like to control everything, or are very particular, no you won’t. But if you are more inclined to think that as long as it gets done, you don’t really care how, yes you will.

Hopefully you sit somewhere in the middle. Maybe you are very particular, but because you have more important things to focus on, if an outsourced, non-core function isn’t completed exactly as you would do it, you can be satisfied.

2 Perspectives: The Buyer’s and the Provider’s

In this week’s Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network, our primary topic was Content Marketing, but we touched on outsourcing early in the program.

Two summary points to keep in mind:

  1. From an outsource buyer’s perspective, you want exactly what you want the way you want it.
  2. From an outsource provider’s perspective, you provide what they need, do what you can to provide what they want, but have to draw a line at some point.

Outsource Providers Have Limitations

Why is it important for the buyer to understand the limitations of the provider? Because there are two bottom line reasons outsourcing can make sense:

  1. The provider is an expert at what they do – moreso than you
  2. The provider’s service is THEIR business model – they know what can break it

A third bottom line reason that outsourcing makes sense is that as a small business, you simply can’t wear all of the hats required to run and grow your business. There aren’t enough hours in the day or room on your head. Nor is there enough capital for all of the equipment you may require to be 100% self-sufficient in literally everything your business needs to operate.

It May be Your Best Bet to Outsource

When this is the case, the smarter play, even if you are very particular, is to outsource certain non-core functions, accepting that it will not be done EXACTLY as you want, but if your provider is good, it will at least be what you need – so that you can focus on the more important stuff.

You can listen to the podcast entitled “Content Marketing – Does it Make a Difference?” by clicking here.

Planning in advance can help make the outsourcing decision for you. You can build a better strategic and business plan by following the process I describe in my book Business is ART available now at Amazon by clicking here or by completing my online training based on Business is ART by clicking here.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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