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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Small Business and Innovation

Posted: May 17, 2015 by Chuck Matthews in Innovation, Startup

Dr. Chuck Matthews“There’s a way to do it better – find it.” – Thomas Edison

In recognition of National Small Business Week earlier in May, small business owners were celebrated for turning their innovative ideas and passion into successful business ventures. It is richly deserved recognition. In fact, research by the US Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy and others suggests small business owners outperform larger companies when it comes to driving innovation. Specifically, considering patent issuance as a measure of innovation, it is estimated that small businesses produce sixteen times more patents per employee than large firms. While small firms’ cumulative patents account for only eight percent of total patents granted, they contribute a fourth of the patents in the top 100.

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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. Read the rest of this entry »

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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What Great Companies Excel At

Posted: March 29, 2015 by Tim Metzner in Innovation, Leadership, Startup

Tim-MetznerWhile companies are incredibly diverse, it occurs to me that successful ones tend to have (at least) three things in common; clear vision, great culture and exceptional execution. I believe the more consistently a company excels in these areas, the more likely it is to become a lasting company that will thrive.

Vision

Your vision must be clear, focused, meaningful and well communicated to the team. Everyone from CEO to interns understand where the company is going and how they are to help.

Culture

Employees spend more time at work than they do with their families. People need to genuinely believe the company is working on things that matter, feel challenged and appreciated and enjoy the people they work with.

Execution Read the rest of this entry »

Create. Succeed. Rinse. Repeat.

Posted: March 22, 2015 by Jerry Malsh in Innovation, People

jerry-malsh-2015Before you break an arm patting yourself on the back for being an entrepreneur, consider these folks:

Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, Sir Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey,

Wayne Huizenga, Benjamin Franklin, Jerome Lemelson and Geroge Bernard Shaw.

They’re serial entrepreneurs.

A special breed of entrepreneur for whom creating, growing and sustaining just one business wasn’t enough. While you and I created, grew and sustained a single business, serial entrepreneurs created, grew and sustained an empire of businesses. Where we stopped, they started … with an extraordinary passion to achieve unlimited success in as many ventures as possible.

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Finding Money in Your Company

Posted: March 15, 2015 by Bill Cunningham in Manufacturing, Money, Operations, Planning

bill-cunningham-scOne of my business school professors quipped, “That business doesn’t have any problems that money won’t solve!” However, when you are that business and you need cash to stay in operation – it really isn’t that funny. Here are some tips to keep you going,

Start by looking for quarters in the sofa. When cleaning your house, and you lift up the cushions and find a few quarters – or when you reach in a pair of pants and find a five-spot, it gives you a great but short-lived feeling of wealth. The same can be true in your business if you look hard enough.

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