Become a Better Leader in Two Days

Posted on May 10, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy, Training, Upcoming Events

Executive Insight 16 by thoughtLEADERSYou can improve your leadership skills in two days and have a great time doing it. Learn tools and techniques related to leadership, strategy, communication, decision making, problem solving, storytelling, resilience, innovation, and more at Executive Insight 16.

Our firm rarely offers public sessions of our programs. Here’s an opportunity for you to attend one of those events. On November 10-11, we’re hosting Executive Insight 16 at the Waldorf Astoria in my original hometown of New York. We’re delivering 13 sessions on our most sought-after topics and you can be part of that session. Consider this your formal invitation to join us. Here are the details on the event:

Executive Insight 16

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Leadership, Listening, and Coffee

Posted on June 29, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership, Training

Cup of CoffeeLearning about leadership can be as easy as plugging in your earphones and sipping your coffee. Listen and learn some new perspectives on leadership, training, authenticity, and attracting talent.

I’m fortunate to run with an awesome crowd of interesting, entertaining leaders. Every once in a while I’m afforded the opportunity to speak live with them and record our discussions for public consumption.

The Leadership Podcast

I’ve had two great opportunities like that in the last few weeks. The first was a discussion with Jan Rutherford and Jim Vaselopulos of The Leadership Podcast. We discussed the Leadership Maxims approach, recruting and retaining great talent, and what authenticity really means. Grab your coffee and give it a listen. I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with these guys and we touched on some really powerful leadership topics.

I hope you enjoyed our conversation. Now go grab another cup of coffee (or in my case, green tea since my cardiologist said I had to cut out caffeine… he’s a meanie but I’m still alive…). One more podcast to go.

Coffee in the Clouds

The next conversation I had was with Tom Capone, CEO of the New York Distance Learning Association. Tom and I discussed what makes for great training, the biggest mistakes organizations make when it comes to training and development, and why we enjoy teaching the courses we teach.

Listen to our conversation by CLICKING HERE.

So there you go – a couple of great conversations with some really interesting leaders. I hope you enjoyed the perspectives! Please share them if you did and subscribe to their podcasts. They’re turning out some great stuff!

If you really want to further your learning, join us at Executive Insight 16 on November 10-11 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. It’s two days full of great learning and insights on leadership topics delivered by experienced executives on the thoughtLEADERS team. Learn more at

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

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Memory and the Power of Decision-Making

Posted on June 27, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Sales

MemoryThe way to stand out and get people to take action is to be memorable. People act on what they remember. Differentiating your business is the key to being remembered.

Today’s post is from Carmen Simon, author of Impossible to Ignore (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Would you tour a museum naked? You may consider it if you visit the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Tasmania, Australia.

MONA is an extremely innovative museum, increasing its financial viability each year and disturbing many conventions in the art world. While typical museums are above ground, this one is underground. While typical museums are easy to access, this one is on an isolated island, in a working-class district.

You don’t access MONA by ascending massive staircases or passing between marble columns. You enter it via a tennis court. Art exhibits conventionally have labels. MONA has none. There are no signs or directions, no logical route that visitors must take, and nothing is displayed across a timeline. The museum is a theater of curiosities, from a sculpture of a grossly fattened red Porsche, to rotting cow carcasses, to a library with blank books. Dark walls dominate with the intent to undermine the standard white gallery. An Australian magazine called MONA “a mash up between the lost city of Petra and a late night out in Berlin.” The museum’s daring themes of sex and death are in blunt contrast to the people of Hobart, Tasmania’s capital, who are modest and courteous. For an extra thrill, you can join the “naturist” tour in the buff after 9 p.m. The guards and guides will also be naked.

At some point, we all create something and hope that other people will act on it: read it, listen to it, like it, buy it, or recommend it to others. At some point, we want to influence people’s choices. But how do we get others to act in our favor in an age of increasing competition, complexity, and noise?

People act on what they remember. Not on what they forget.

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Have you ever had to deal with someone stealing credit for your work?

Posted on June 23, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur poll today asks: Have you ever had to deal with someone stealing credit for your work?

– Yes — someone has publicly taken credit for my work: 85%

– No — I’ve never had to deal with a credit thief: 15%

Confronting a Credit Thief. There are few things more frustrating than someone stealing credit for your work. Confronting that situation is dicey and uncomfortable. But you should absolutely say something. Start by assuming positive intent and a misunderstanding. If that doesn’t resolve things to your satisfaction, consider escalation approaches that are appropriate to the situation. Hopefully you can resolve the issue this time and prevent it from happening again in the future.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Eliminating BS is the Key to Authenticity

Posted on June 22, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

One Piece of Paper Cover - SmallBeing authentic means you have to abandon buzzwords and B.S. Sharing who you truly are is the best way to establish a connection and build trust with your team.

Today’s post is an excerpt from One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

The only way I know to roll back the tide of all the meaningless jargon in our world is to say what you really mean.

Words spoken from the heart and the gut are clear, concise, meaningful, and genuine. They help ground you and your team. They signal that you are willing to take a stand for something you believe in instead of watering down your beliefs with complicated words so you will not offend someone or so your simple thoughts will sound more important. It is imperative that you realize such approaches have exactly the opposite effect.

Using buzzwords makes you sound less intelligent. Filling your leadership philosophy with obscure or difficult to define concepts diminishes peoples’ trust in you. Both behaviors are counterproductive and hinder you from reaching your goal of becoming an authentic leader.

That is why you are here, isn’t it?

Allow me to share a story that demonstrates the trouble jargon-filled leadership philosophies can cause, as well as how an executive avoided such a trap.

I know several executives who were members of the same senior leadership team. After a reorganization, their new boss, Jared, worked hard to get the team to gel. After several months of effort, it simply was not happening. The team members were mistrustful both of Jared and of each other. Team meetings were painful and one-on-one sessions with Jared were even worse.

The team was quickly devolving into chaos. Jared decided he would break through the dysfunction by getting everyone on the team to know each other better as people and as leaders.

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8 Elements that Differentiate Your Business and Make it Stand Out

Posted on June 20, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Sales, Social Media

Stand OutDifferentiating your business and making it stand out isn’t about cosmetic external attributes. It’s about sharing the internal elements that make your business different.

Today’s post is from Winnie Brignac Hart, co-author of Stand Out (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Today, we’re bombarded with marketing messages from every side – the New York Times estimates over 5,000 messages every day. Marketers used to try to reach consumers at home watching TV or reading newspapers and magazines, but now advertisers reach consumers in real time, trying to catch their attention at every turn. It’s absolute sensory overload as companies press harder to make their brands stand out.

My sister, Lorrie, and I are identical twins. Because we are identical twins, we know a lot about the confusion and frustration that comes from a lack of clarity when things look the same. It has taught us a simple truth about differences.

We live in a world that appreciates and expects individual differences in appearance and behavior. So when we encounter two identical individuals, this experience challenges our beliefs about the way that the world works. Of course, identical twins are never exactly alike, and some differ in profound ways. Yet we can’t stop ourselves from comparing them and trying to find the differences that help us to tell them apart. By taking a closer look at twins, we can learn a great deal about the concept of differentiation. When I look at my twin, I can experience how others view me – and actually see myself from outside of myself.

I did not think about it much until I was almost 13. Around that time, I remember clearly that looking and being different from my twin sister was just about the most important thing in my world. I wanted to be seen as a separate and distinct person. I dressed as differently as I could. I cut my hair differently, I hung out with other people who were trying to be different, too – artists, musicians, and other experimental types who for one reason or another were trying to find their own identities. What I found was that most of what I did to be different was external. I was trading being part of one group (the twins) with being part of another, larger group (creative types).

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How frequently do you spend time writing?

Posted on June 16, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur poll today asks: How frequently do you spend time writing (blogs, journaling, articles, etc.)?

– Very — I write regularly every week: 16%
– Somewhat — I’ll write occasionally as the mood strikes: 21%
– Not at all — I’ll write only when absolutely necessary: 63%

Writing Makes You Better. Finding the time and a reason to write has many benefits – it makes you sharper, more articulate, helps you clarify your thoughts, and creates opportunities for you. It’s easy to rationalize you don’t have time or a reason to write. Reconsider that position and think through the many benefits of having a regular writing habit. Whether it’s journaling, blogging, white papers, or articles – writing will improve your skills and value to your company.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Managing Up is About Expectation Management

Posted on June 15, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Communications, Leadership

Eye Looking UpManaging up can be challenging. Failure to meet your boss’s informational needs can lead to bad decisions and frustrating interactions. Learn how to manage up more effectively.

Sometimes it’s harder to manage your boss than it is to manage your team. All senior stakeholders can prove challenging to keep control of. Fail to do so and they run off with harebrained ideas or half-baked truths that take you days to fix.

But if you invest the time and thought in managing up, you can turn your senior stakeholders into your greatest allies and one of the best assets on your team. It all boils down to expectations and managing them appropriately.

Your boss or senior stakeholder has a lot on their plate. They’re managing you and all your colleagues not to mention managing the stakeholders above them. When they’re pulled in a million different directions, they get precious little time to engage with the work you’re doing. When they do engage, they have limited opportunity to dig into the situation before offering their assistance. In their efforts to assist you, when they make decisions based on a cursory understanding of the situation, things are bound to go awry.

In the worst cases, they make decisions that run directly counter to what you want them to do. They send your team East when you should be heading West. Now your task is double – you have to convince them that going East is a bad idea – which is hard to do because they think it’s the right decision – and convince them you should be taking your team West. But before you go cursing them for wreaking such havoc, you must realize you’re to blame.

Managing up is all about expectation management.

Tell them how to help

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5 Keys to Peer Advantage and the Value of Learning How to Learn

Posted on June 13, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

The Power of PeersBuilding a network of peers who help you learn is a key to personal and career success. Surrounding yourself with others who push your thinking makes you a better leader.

Today’s post is from Leo Bottary, author of The Power of Peers (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Earlier this year, I addressed the graduates of Seton Hall University’s Master of Arts in Strategic Communication & Leadership (MASCL) program.  Using principles from The Power of Peers: How the Company You Keep Drives Leadership, Growth & Success, I presented a challenge to the group.  

As you know all too well, who you surround yourself with matters. In fact, it really matters. Whether you want to run a marathon, build a new company, or complete your Master’s degree, if you surround yourself with really good people who share your commitment and dedication to the goal at hand, you can accomplish anything! Today is a celebration of graduation, yet it’s also a time for us to consider what’s possible for your future.

So to that end, let me offer an assertion and propose a challenge. My assertion is that the most valuable learning you had in this program didn’t come from one of your instructor’s posts or lectures; it didn’t come from the writings of Kouzes & Posner or Peter Senge; in fact, it didn’t come from WHAT you learned at all – it came from HOW you learned – that’s the most enduring lesson.

You learned how to learn together. It’s quintessential peer advantage.  Think about it. Over time, facts can become irrelevant, theories outdated. Since we live in a world where we contemplate a future we barely can imagine, having the ability to work and learn with others is where the real enduring value lies.

As for the challenge, I ask that you challenge yourselves to create “learning teams” (if you will) in your lives and in your organizations, and employ the five factors that made your own learning team so successful.

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How rigorous are you about planning your time?

Posted on June 9, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Entrepreneur, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur poll today asks: How rigorous are you about planning your time?

– Very — I manage my calendar closely: 41%
– Somewhat — I plan my time when it’s required: 45%
– Not very — I don’t spend much effort planning my time: 11%
– Not at all — my schedule dictates how I spend my time: 3%

Your Most Precious Resource. Time is the one thing we can’t get back. Time spent planning your calendar can pay huge dividends. Perhaps one of the largest benefits of doing so is being more efficient and effective with the time you spend with the members of your team. Not all time is created equal. Once you start differentiating how you spend your time based on individual team member behaviors, you should see benefits in terms of improved performance. So take greater control over how you spend your time – it’s the best investment you can make every week.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Changing Behaviors is the Key to Achieving Your Goals

Posted on June 8, 2016 | 4 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Sales

Field Hockey GoalNo matter how SMART your goals are, if you don’t get people to change their behaviors, there’s no way you’ll ever achieve the goal. By clearly articulating what behaviors they need to change and explaining how those changes tie to goals, you’ll increase your chances of “making your numbers.”

The reason we set goals is to drive different outcomes. That means behaviors need to change. You need to know what the current behavior is, what the preferred behavior should be, and have the right incentives in place to make people change to that new behavior. You’d be remiss to set a goal and not tell people how they should behave differently in order to achieve it.

Explain which behaviors should change and how you’re going to monitor those changes. What new skills do you need your people to build? Do you need to train them, coach them, give them different resources? What new information or resources will they need to demonstrate these new behaviors? If you want to hit your goals, tell people what the new behaviors are that you expect. Setting a goal without telling giving your team members behavioral guidance is a recipe for failure. Make sure they know how they should change the way they work and reinforce those changes regularly.

There’s a consumer packaged goods company that had a large sales force. That sales force was previously given incentives based on the revenue they generated. The company was trying to grow which was their strategic imperative. Their original goal of driving revenue was tied to that strategic goal of growth.

All the salespeople had individual revenue goals for the year. The behaviors that led to was first, the salespeople discounted heavily to drive revenue and steal share from competitors. Sales people also chased small accounts because they were easier to sell to even if they were more costly to service. Lastly, salespeople sold any product in the portfolio just to make the sale, rather than focusing on the products that drove profits.

Over time the company changed its goals. Read More…

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