Putting the Pieces Together: Moments to Live For

28 08 2013

How many times have you cursed the silos in your organization? Do you wonder what keeps people from putting on their “best answer for the team” hats? Why do individual comp plans get in the way of creating excellent business for the long term?

I’d say we don’t spend enough time quilting.


Stay with me here. When you set out to make a unique and beautiful quilt, you start with a pile of fabrics—the raw material. You choose a range of colors and patterns that complement each other, and a few really unusual ones to provide punch.

That’s exactly the way we put together wonderful teams. The best ones are diverse and complementary with a few contrarians in the mix. Spectacular raw materials.

A smashing quilt has design. I am not talking about paint by numbers here, but you have to have some idea of the broad strokes. It’s like a business model. You wouldn’t want to try to lock down every detail, but you absolutely must have a grip on the essentials.

We take our raw material and our design and begin putting pieces in place. For a quilt, we’re often making blocks; in an organization, we’re establishing business units, policies, and processes. Each one takes advantage of some of our wonderful raw material and has its own internal beauty. It makes sense; it works.

This is where things get interesting, both for quilting and for organizations. Let me start with quilting. Picture yourself with a stack of 200 individual blocks, each one unique, painstakingly crafted, and beautiful in its own right. Your job is to arrange them in a way that makes an exquisite whole cloth. There is no blueprint. It’s time for synthesis. As a quilter, this is the moment I live for. No experience is more exhilarating and satisfying. The result is always—yes, always—better than I ever dreamed.

Now for organizations…  I believe that too often, we as leaders stop short. We gather the raw materials—our  amazing people. We craft the blocks—our business units and processes. But we fail to put the pieces together. We pretend the units will carry the business as separate silos—no whole cloth.  Perhaps even sadder, we miss the chance to experience, with our people, those moments of synthesis where we are, together, better than we ever dreamed.

Leaders who don’t stop short stick out like a sore thumb. Their organizations broadcast a categorically different feel, and, by the way, they perform at a level that seems near impossible. These leaders are among us, and if you ask yourself who they are, I’ll bet you can readily name them. If you’ve read this far, you are likely to be one of them.

I hope this makes you smile. I hope it serves as a gentle nudge to keep doing what you do so well. It matters.

This post was written by  Jane Linder, Managing Director, NWN Corporation


Put Your Business On The Eye-Cubed Super Highway.

21 08 2013

It’s no coincidence that super highways have many lanes allowing you and others to reach your destination simultaneously and in a timely fashion.   They facilitate the movement of millions rather than hundreds or thousands and allow for an efficient and effective commute.  You have few options since taking a back road hoping for the same speed and efficiency as the highway will bring you unacceptable results.

Super Highway


“The growth, evolution and sustainability of our businesses are limited only by our ability to create multiple ‘lanes’ over which to traverse.”


If you are the only individual in your organization capable of implementing an initiative or innovative idea, you will be limited to your skill level and the amount of output you can deliver on your own.  However, as you successfully develop leaders within your operation, and focus on the skills and experiences needed to implement high-level projects and/or initiatives, you will broaden your base of Eye-Cubed leaders within your midst.  Your corporate GPS will then rout your company onto the Eye-Cubed Super Highway.  As a result, you and your organization will be blessed with the ability to simultaneously move multiple key strategies forward successfully.


  • Avoid Too Much Too Soon: Take it slow and allow your “high potential” teammate to learn with small projects.  Their success gives you the confidence to put more on their plates.
  • Give Responsibility to 30 Year Olds:  Some of the greatest entrepreneurs (including Stanley Sussman, the entrepreneur who founded my company) built their businesses on the backs of 30-year olds.  Make sure the future is secure with the leadership that will bring your organization through the next generation.
  • Encourage Mentors To Emerge:  No man/woman is an island.  Mentors and coaches are invaluable in helping guide emerging as well as seasoned executives through the toughest moments.  We all need appropriate encouragement and guidance to build leadership skills.
  • Allow Education via Mistakes:  Set appropriate expectations along with an environment that eliminates the fear of failure.  We all have made mistakes.  Make sure the lessons are clear and everyone moves forward to becomes better Eye-Cubed Leaders.
  • Encourage Diversity Of Personality (See my post on this topic):  If you fill the executive table with like-minded leaders, you will limit your exposure to new ideas, different schools of thought and key perspectives.  Varied projects demand varied personalities.  Thus, your overall corporate success requires the necessary tolerance to appreciate diverse styles of excellence.

A one-man-show can only do so much.  Unfortunately, in addition, the pressure on that one thing is understandably multiplied and becomes intolerable.  Furthermore, it is difficult to prioritize all of your companies  opportunities down to a singular focus.  The opportunity cost associated with time is simply too great.

In contrast, imagine pursuing multiple unique initiatives simultaneously lead by different key executives that target:

  1. Sales Operations
  2. Social Media
  3. Collections/Payments
  4. Business Development/Acquisition
  5. New Channels of Business
  6. Innovations through technology

When your company is traveling down a multi-lane super highway with the requisite Eye-Cubed Leadership poised and ready to deliver results,  your company will enjoy an easy commute from today into tomorrow.

Innovation “SCREWED” The Wine Industry! What will it do to yours?

14 08 2013


The sun sets on a warm summer evening.  You slide the chilled bottle of Kim Crawford Souvignon Blanc out of the ice bucket.  The sound of the bottle against the ice and the water dripping from its sides fills your ears. With towel in hand, you wipe the excess condensation away, creating the most perfect, romantic moment.  And now for the big finish!  You lift the corkscrew and raise it to the mouth of the bottle.  You crave that sound of the initial release as the cork breaks free and offers you the delicious, crisp liquid within.

“WHAT?  NO CORK?  A SCREW CAP?  YIKES!  My moment is ruined.”

No way!  In fact, you are on your way to an incredible evening. What just happened?

You experienced innovation within the wine industry, a process that took 45 years to evolve.  The Stelvin Screw Cap, by Amcor,  was developed in the late 1960’s yet had not penetrated the wine industry until recently.  In fact, the adoption rate in New Zealand was at a mere 1% in 2001.  By 2004, 70% of the wine out of this area was sealed with the Stelvin Screw Cap.

There were two issues.

  1. There were practical issues regarding quality control and the impact screw caps have on the product.
  2. There were damaging consumer perceptions of screw caps and the negative impact they have on the experiential value of wine.


All concerns posed are real.  In order to move the innovation forward, testing must take place.  The supporters and detractors of the innovation must clear the air with regard to the facts.  In the end, if there remain concerns (real or perceived), those can be addressed and debated.  The less impact the innovation has on the original quality, the more likely it will be adopted.  Furthermore, there are many instances when the innovation improves the original quality of a product or process.  These facts must be explored and communicated throughout the industry.


What does the consumer think about the innovation?  Unfortunately, the answer to this question guides the impact the innovation will have on changing the industry.  Without consumer adoption, the market needs may be significantly limited.  The innovation may need a PR machine with the “right” supporters publicly pushing adoption.  Educating the public is also a strategic initiative.  By creating a wave of positive perception, the wave of demand will follow.  Breaking the perception barrier, if it is a factor, is clearly the key to success.

Eye-Cubed lessons abound within this story.

  • The atmosphere was ripe for inspiration
  • The industry had matured enough to be inspired for a change.
  • The issues “for” or “against” the innovation were addressed.
  • The plan to break the perception barrier was implemented.

Never pick a grape prematurely.  Never serve wine before its time.  And never underestimate the determination of an Eye-Cubed leader who has been inspired to innovate and brave enough to implement.

MARKET WATCH! The Best Investment Tip Available Today!

7 08 2013

Invest Short Term and Long Term In The Company of U!

Investment Tip

With all the external pressures grabbing at our time, it is never surprising that we neglect to invest time in ourselves.   I am not referring to meaningless ‘time’ that ultimately will be considered wasted.  I am specifically referring to intentionally maximizing the time you have to grow your most important asset, the asset you are 100% responsible for, The Company of U!

In the same fashion that we approach the challenges facing our industries and business, we need to relentlessly pursue personal change to overcome the struggles, challenges and issues specific to our own progress.   The commitment to The Company of U will reap the highest return.

  • Keep Investing in R&D

Never Stop Learning.  Challenge yourself with new courses and new skills.   Go out of the box.

  • Live Your Brand

Be true to yourself.   Live up to the reputation you have given yourself and do so throughout your day, every day.   Hold yourself accountable and recognize when you need to refocus and adjust.

  • Analyze Your Streams of Income

Manage your finances carefully and continually ask yourself:   “Am I satisfied with my balance sheet?”   Review revenue streams and expenses to keep The Company of U on solid ground.

  • Keep the President of U Healthy

When it comes to health, you can only control the things you can control.   And, the list includes eating, drinking, sleeping, exercising and getting checked-out!  The list might seem overpowering but Healthy Presidents need power.

  • Improve Communication

Miscommunications and misunderstandings cause stress.   Hone your skills.Think about what to say and how to say it to get the results you want.  Take responsibility for your words.

  • Enhance Collaboration

You can exponentially increase the value of The Company of U by developing a strong, dedicated team.  Create a positive environment to foster this synergy.

  • Plan to be Inspired

Give yourself the time and space to be inspired/  Test a variety of meditation and relaxation methods to free your mind of the ‘must dos’ and tap into your creative energies.

  •  Implement Change to the Company of U

Like every company in operation, you too need to evolve to remain relevant.  It takes many small steps consistently placed to effect change and see the desired results.   Make the journey worth it.

  •  Appreciate Your Past and Understand Where You Came From

You have a history that shaped you into the person you are today.  The Company of U cannot move forward without the past as a foundation upon which to stand and build.   You have accomplished incredible things to get where you are.  There are people in your life who have helped you achieve.   You have overcome obstacles and reached goals.   Never forget that as you break new barriers and push for greatness, you are your biggest asset!

There are many advisors looking to help folks invest their money.   They look for companies that have strong foundations with the greatest likelihood for sustained growth.  The greatest investment strategy that an Eye-Cubed leader can follow is simple.  Invest short term and long term in The Company of U!