Stop The Vanilla Blog

Being Proactive to Thrive in Long-Term Recovery


The consensus from most company leaders and economists is that we have turned the corner and have begun a long-term economic recovery.   To maximize the performance of your organization during the recovery you must develop a proactive mindset. I advise my clients that as a company, you must take it to the market versus letting the market take it to you.

Companies that are positioning themselves for success are being proactive in these areas:

  1. Evaluate, upgrade and develop your talent – We have seen an incredible increase in talent management and development activity over the last year, especially in the sales field.  There are a lot of very talented people looking for companies that are proactive and successful despite difficult economic times.   Talented individuals want to be part of building something.  They want to be part of a company that is moving forward.
  2. Plan – Every company has limited human and financial resources.  It is more important than ever to focus those resources on the strategies and actions that are going to increase the top and bottom line. Clearly define what you want to accomplish working “on” your business this year.
  3. New Business Development Initiative – Increase new business by launching a proactive sales and marketing plan that is executed by a skill-set aligned sales team.  In other words, have “hunters” pursuing new business and “farmers” growing sales with current customers.
  4. Know your costs – Have your lead financial person facilitate a process to break down every expense on the income statement.  Identify costs that can be eliminated or do not add value.   Compare your costs and ratios against industry benchmarks.
  5. Know your customers – Increase retention by spending more time with your top customers.   It is critical that you illustrate the tangible value your company delivers to your customers through business reviews.  Look for opportunities to upsell additional products or services.  The easiest place to get more business is with your current customers.
  6. Create a culture of accountability and discipline – You will get more done with less if you create a culture where employees are comfortable with healthy conflict and accountability. It is essential to clearly communicate expectations to each employee and then consistently hold them accountable to achieving them.  The success of the organization accelerates as more people across the organization are working “on” the business and completing their action plans.

When you go back to work this week I would encourage you to be proactive in these areas in your company.  Assume 100% control of your own destiny.  Create a mindset that “YOU Are Your Own Economy.”   Focusing on these fundamentals will create revenue and profit opportunities for your organization during the recovery.  Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!

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Don’t Waste Your Time on Style Envy


We have all heard people be critical of themselves because they think they should be more outgoing or more organized, or one of many other traits that they admire in others. I hear comments like this frequently during team and individual development sessions that I lead with business leaders. We like to call this desire to be like others “style envy.”

It is possible to overcome your style in the short term but over the long term it is “natural” that you revert back to being yourself, or back to your natural style. After all, science proves to us that your behavioral style is developed and set by the time you are seven years old! Because of that scientific fact, attempting to change your style is a waste of your time and energy. So don’t waste time with style envy but embrace who you are! Focus on how you can use your natural style to live a rich, fulfilling life.

Here are three steps to help you move past style envy and enjoy life to its fullest by embracing your own behavioral style:

1) Understand it.

2) Own it.

3) Leverage it.

You must first understand your style before you can own it and leverage it. It is important to know that your natural behavioral style is created by factors you don’t control, such as genetics, your birth order and your parents’ nurturing style. Understanding your style in behavioral science terms often leads to breakthroughs. I get to see this happen often in development sessions. The person’s energy level moves to a new level once he understands himself better. He can now clearly see his path to greater success in both his professional and personal lives. The sooner you understand your behavioral style, the more success you are going to have throughout your life.

Now that you understand your style you must own it.   Owning your natural behavioral style is about accepting who you are – your strengths and weaknesses.   It’s not someone’s opinion, it is science so own it. Transparency is one of the greatest benefits of owning your style. I have found that transparency is a common quality of the most effective leaders with whom I have worked. Their transparency leads to a more transparent, coachable and high performance team.

Once you understand and own your natural behavioral style, you are ready to leverage it. Techniques to leverage your style include wrapping your natural style around one of your passions in your life. To love what you do and be the best at it. You can also leverage your style by creating a development plan that focuses on improving both your hard and soft skills. Once you understand your own behavioral style, you can build a team that brings strengths to the table that you don’t have. This will dramatically improve the effectiveness of your team.  People love to work with a leader that understands and appreciates where each team member brings the greatest value to the team.

I can tell you from personal experience that when I understood my natural behavioral style over 10 years ago it was the first day of the rest of my life.   Understanding and owning my behavioral style changed every relationship in my life. I have strategy and talent plans in place to leverage my natural style in my businesses and life.

An irony in life is that you did not create your style but you own it.   Think about your behavioral style. It is what makes you special and unique. Remember to understand it, own it, and then leverage it. It is essential to living the most fulfilling life, both at work and in your personal life.  Remember, Those Who Plan – PROFIT!

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Life Balance


One of the greatest single struggles for many business leaders, managers and employees is finding satisfactory balance in our lives.  It is a daily struggle for me.  It feels like I never really know if I have achieved balance, but I (and others … [Continue reading]

Accept the Responsibility to Shepherd Your Talent

Shepherd Your Talent

After 15 years in the strategy and talent management arena I am amazed by how much I continue to learn. I recently had a breakthrough regarding how we should look at talent during a conversation with one of my clients.   He was venting regarding some … [Continue reading]

Personal Accountability


I have to thank my parents, Don and Mary Jane, for so many things. But one of the most important lessons they taught me was personal accountability. You know – taking responsibility for your actions. It was one of those things that was not much fun … [Continue reading]

Does Your Last Name Guarantee You a Job?

Family Business

I am currently working with a family business that is transitioning from the third generation to the fourth generation.  The family strategy of the third generation was that any family member who wanted a job would have one.  This applied to blood … [Continue reading]

Prosperity for Generations to Come


There are always challenges when a company is on the door step of transferring from one generation to another.  Many companies often start with the legal side of the transfer but from my experience the first place to start is by gaining agreement … [Continue reading]

Changing the Business Landscape

Business Landscape

The worldwide recession that began in 2007 ended forever the days when businesses could prosper despite offering little than middle-of-the-pack products and services.  While nobody likes a recession, it’s also true that economic hard times create … [Continue reading]

Behavioral Science Grows Your Bottom Line

Mark Kaiser, President of Lindquist Machine Corporation, has become a firm believer in behavioral science. Mark is one of the most progressive users of behavioral tools with whom I have worked since SM Advisors developed its talent management process … [Continue reading]

Develop a Vision to Overcome Adversity

  “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” That quote from Jonathan Swift is applicable today because many of us need to focus on seeing beyond this recession that has taken hold of us. The future needs to become more visible as we … [Continue reading]