Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Entrepreneur Grows Up To Be Kid Again

Posted: September 9, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, People, Startup

“My name is Dan Berger.” “My name is Dan Berger.” “My name is Dan Berger.”

jerry-malsh-2015When asked to tell his senior class at Denison University about himself, Dan Berger mimicked the format of “To Tell The Truth”, a popular TV game show of the 60’s, by standing up and sitting down three times … each time describing a different aspect of his life.

First, there was Dan Berger the serious student. Next, there was Dan Berger the not so serious guy who loved to drink beer and play his guitar. Finally, there was Dan Berger who today has honestly forgotten whatever the third aspect of his life actually had been back then.

Yet what Dan didnt say about himself that day actually said more about who he already had become.

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Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipRecently, I was thinking about the people who really made a difference in my life. A few mental pictures popped into my mind. As I remembered these individuals, one very important ingredient emerged – humility. All were individuals of the highest character. Their personal character was why I listened intently to and believed their message. As I matured, character was also the reason why I chose not to be mentored by certain people. It was difficult to embrace their message when I experienced their self-serving attitude in every situation. Their life motto was “my way is the right way.”

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An Entrepreneur As Catalyst

Posted: May 24, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, Ecosystem, Innovation, Leadership, People, Startup

jerry-malsh-2015By now you’ve probably heard about the young Seattle entrepreneur who recently raised the minimum wage for all 120 employees of his firm to $70,000 per year (phased in over the next three years) while lowering his own salary to $70,000 from its previous high of nearly $1million.

Why?

  1. Because he wanted to help the people who have helped him grow his business by making a positive, significant difference in their lives. Not just the difference between falling behind and catching up, but the difference between catching up and moving ahead.
  2. Because he knows how out of whack CEO-to-worker pay ratios have become. The ratio of CEO-to-worker pay has increased 1000% since 1950, according to data from Bloomberg.

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From Big Job to Your Own Job

Posted: May 10, 2015 by Mark Matthews in Culture, Leadership, Startup

MarkMatthews-Blog-badgeYou worked hard in your career. You put in the long hours, missed family events, changed cities, and made sacrifices so that you could move up the corporate ladder. And it worked. You took on roles of increasing responsibility and achieved a lofty position with a Fortune 500 firm.

Man, you were somebody who had it all. Then one day, it was all gone. Perhaps you got “downsized”. Perhaps you were tired of all the sacrifices and then decided to chuck it all and not “work for the man anymore”. OK, so now what?

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Accountability: The New Body Odor

Posted: April 26, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Culture, Leadership, Operations, People, Startup

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for Entrepreneurship

During my college days, I remember that hygiene often became an afterthought. Showering, washing clothes, having clean sheets and towels were not on the priority list. It just wasn’t that important to us. Rolling on the ban deodorant took care of everything. This one daily activity allowed us to attend classes without being repulsive. Working together was not inhibited by a foul, distracting odor. Our interests were not derailed by anything that distracted us or tempered our thoughts about the situation or individual. Ban deodorant always did its work.

In today’s business community, accountability seems to have become the new “body odor.” Whisper the word “accountability” and people run away and hide. Obviously, it isn’t the smell that turns people away – it is the personal commitment that is required. (more…)

Why I Hate Brainstorming

Posted: April 19, 2015 by Jim Friedman in Culture, People, Startup

JimFriedmanI hate to say hate, but … how else do you describe that nails-on-chalkboard spine shivering shrill chill reaction? I’ve stopped ignoring it. I vow to stand alone, if necessary, to right this creative wrong: I hate brainstorming.

It’s a daily occurrence. We have a problem to solve. The challenge has been identified. The project begins.

“Where do we start?” Someone always suggests brainstorming.

“Great, who has an idea?”

“How about this….” A couple of ideas are suggested… or, as is often the case, one idea is suggested.

“Good… let’s do that.”

Brainstorm completed. Meeting adjourned. Team moves forward ready to make an un-creative idea happen.

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jerry-malsh-2015It’s 6:00 AM and 7 below zero as my wife and I get into a cab headed for CVG on our way to some Southern warmth.   At least once every winter we stay at a Northern Kentucky hotel to avoid the ‘wintry mix’ of chaos guaranteed to occur the night before and the morning we’re scheduled to leave.

Our cab is a late-model Audi. Since we’ve both owned Audis for years, I’m already feeling comfortable as our driver asks us which airline we’re flying.

I notice his accent but can’t quite place it and ask him where he’s from.

Serbia.

Serbia. That bombshell of a word explodes in my mind, spewing out its shrapnel of hellacious images: Civil war, ethnic cleansing, mass graves and countless other unspeakable atrocities committed by man against his fellow man.

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Creating Value Out of an Internship

Posted: April 6, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Culture, People

bill-cunningham-sc“An apprenticeship is the most logical way to success. The only alternative is overnight stardom, but I can’t give you a formula for that.”            — Chet Atkins

Interns will begin to descend upon companies in just a few weeks and many companies are ready and many may not be. We just launched an organized internship program this year rather than have individual managers hire their own interns. First, we interviewed all of the managers who would have potential internship slots: Operations, Marketing, Quality Assurance, HR, Safety and Supply Chain. The intern program wants to achieve these three goals:

  1. Provide a meaningful work experience to give insight into our business and our industry so that the intern may decided to join us fulltime after graduation
  2. By providing a meaningful work experience, we hope to get value out of the internship by the work that gets completed, but also innovative ideas that will be generated by a fresh set of eyes on our business.
  3. Transform the interns into ambassadors for our company when they return to campus to recruit new management talent for the future. Because we are a B2B company, our profile is not on a lot of college student’s radars when they are looking for a career – yet we have many opportunities in marketing, supply chain and operations.

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To Struggle or Not to Struggle

Posted: February 22, 2015 by Tom Heuer in Culture, Leadership, People

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipDuring the first week of my entrepreneurial leadership classes at Miami, I introduce a definition of leadership – “Leadership is the art of convincing others to want to struggle for shared aspirations” (Kouzes and Posner).   My first question to the students always is “which words or phrases really pop out at you.”   Their response is almost always “struggle.” Why? From their perspective, a leader is a positive person and struggle is a very negative term. And so, this begins an interesting but intense discussion around the merits of “struggle” in one’s life.   Usually, I win the discussion because ultimately I refer to such admired leaders as Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln and point to how their struggles shaped their legacies.

Refer again to the “leadership” definition. Often glossed over in the definition are the two words preceding to struggle – to want. Leaders convince employees, peers, vendors, partners, etc. to want to struggle with them. Just envision the difference in the result when people want to struggle. The project or the work is completed with a sense of urgency moved by passion and desire for the outcome. Entrepreneurs generally know how to create this environment because their employees see them struggle every day to experience breakthrough in their business. Their daily example encourages the people to want to struggle for the start-up’s successful launch.

Conversely, corporations today have difficulty moving their employees to struggle for the enterprise. A 2013 Gallup poll found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. This means that only one in eight workers is committed to struggling in their job and for the enterprise. Why? Corporations have very few leaders to model the way. Without the leader igniting shared aspirations, employees will become frustrated and disillusioned in their work. The lack of effort shows up in their mediocre performance. They have no desire to struggle or deliver discretionary effort in their job and for their company. This will not be disrupted until bosses become leaders and motivate their people to extraordinary performance.

So, how can leaders gain a commitment from their employees and ultimately, develop an edge against their competition? Consider the following actions:

  • Learn how to inspire shared aspirations. Even, your top performers need to know what they are struggling for. If you fail to clarify the vision, your people will exit the boat and you will be left paddling by yourself. Find a way to get your team on the raft with their oars in the water.

 

  • Breakdown your organization into smaller, entrepreneurial units. Model the behaviors you expect so the business will excel. Work alongside your team. Encourage ideas from your people. And, of course, do something with the ideas.

 

  • Spend time watching other leaders work their magic. Focus on how they engage their people. Listen to how they communicate with them. Watch how they listen intently to what they are saying and provide a related response. View how they encourage them and reinforce their efforts. See how they treat their people with dignity and respect. And then sit back and watch how the team gladly struggles for shared aspirations.

 

Just be a LEADER and your people will want to struggle along with you.

 

 

Tips From A Conservative Entrepreneur

Posted: February 8, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

jerry-malsh-2015I was a late bloomer.

It took me 37 years to finally become an entrepreneur!

When I graduated from college in ’69 (that’s 1969, not 1869), there was a recession going on and the only place that offered me a job was Sears, Roebuck in Chicago … writing catalogue copy for the automotive department–specializing in mufflers, tailpipes and tires.

Pretty glamorous, eh?

About 4 months of that grind was all I could take, so every night I cut out pictures from magazines, pasted them on the cardboard backing from my laundered shirts and typed in my headlines and copy for what I thought would be good ads.

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