How rigorously do you manage your diet and exercise regimen?

Posted on February 2, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How rigorously do you manage your diet and exercise regimen?

– Very – I watch my diet closely and exercise regularly: 37%
– Somewhat – I generally eat well and exercise occasionally: 38%
– Not very – Sometimes I’ll watch what I eat and I rarely exercise: 21%
– Not at all – I don’t monitor my diet and I never exercise: 4%

Taking care of you. You can’t lead if you’re dead. The majority of you are putting in the effort required to take care of yourselves. If you’re not in that group, ask yourself why. Exercise and diet are critical elements of being able to lead well. It’s easy to make excuses like “I don’t have time” or “I’m traveling a lot” but you can overcome those objections by looking through a different lens. Leadership starts with leading yourself. Prioritize your time and energy. The benefits are a clearer head, better executive presence, higher energy, and a more satisfying life. What are you waiting for? Put down the cheeseburger and go for a walk. You’ll feel better after you do.

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

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

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4 Core Approaches to Growth that You Must Know

Posted on February 1, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Sales, Strategy

Young Plants Growing in SoilKnowing your growth strategy and understanding four key growth approaches – organic, acquisition, new products, and geographic expansion – will help you be more successful in achieving the growth you desire.

You have to ask yourself – how does your business grow? Is it geographic expansion? Are you selling new products? Are you selling the same products to new customers? Are you growing by acquisition and buying other businesses?

What’s your overall growth strategy? You need to be able to answer this question. Look at your historical growth and where it came from. That’s usually a pretty good indicator of how your organization is going to continue to grow from here. Pull out your strategic plan and look at your marketing plan to see where the future growth is expected. Assess whether or not that sales and marketing plan is aligned with where the future growth is supposed to come from.

Different Approaches to Growth

There are some very common methods for growing and they all have very different economic profiles.


One way you can grow is acquisition. The economics of conducting an acquisition are you spend a lot of money up front to buy another company or portion of another company. You’re buying a large piece of the market when you do so. The way you make acquisition economics work out is you reduce the costs of the combined entities by looking at synergies.

So, you bought another company. Congratulations! You have two HR departments now. You have two marketing departments. You have two Legal departments and two IT departments. You have two of everything! How do you consolidate those and reduce costs? That’s the first source of economic value in an acquisition.

The second source of acquisition value is all about growth. Now you have a new market you can enter if the acquired entity was in a different geography or targeted a different market segment. You can sell your existing products into that new market. You can sell the products you acquired into the existing markets you were in pre-acquisition. That’s how an acquisition is going to drive top-line growth.

Organic Growth

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How do We Communicate when We See the World so Differently?

Posted on January 30, 2017 | 2 Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Man and Woman Yelling at Each OtherCommunicating with others who don’t share our point of view can be challenging at best and volatile at worst. Fortunately there are some simple conversation guidelines that can help you navigate those uncomfortable and controversial conversations.

Today’s post is by Ann Van Eron, Ph.D., author of OASIS Conversations (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Having open-minded conversations with people who have different perspectives is critical skill for success. We need this skill more than ever after the division of the last election.

“I know why he voted for the opponent. He is prejudiced.”

“I can’t even speak to colleagues and family members anymore given their point of view. It’s maddening!”

It’s been quite a polarizing election season with a lot of accusations and negative name-calling. Political correctness and civility have been thrown out the window. People tell me how hard it is to speak to colleagues, neighbors and family members who advocated for a different political candidate. How can we be so polarized and see the world so differently?

It is human nature to be influenced by our experiences and background. None of us can see the full picture. We are likely to take one or two issues and choose to support or not support a candidate. Then we are sure others are wrong who do not agree. How can someone not be pro-life or pro-choice when it is so clear to us? It can be exasperating and we become emotional and clamp down even stronger on our view and discount others with differing views.

I see the same polarization in organizations. People from the regions don’t understand or relate to those in headquarters and vice verse. There is polarization across function (doctors vs. nurses, lawyers vs. marketers) and across locations, ethnicity and gender.

What can you do to relate more effectively?

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How much did your college experience contribute to your success?

Posted on January 26, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Career, Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How much did your college experience contribute to your success as a leader?

– Tremendously — I am forever indebted to my alma mater: 13%
– A lot — My college education has had a big impact on my career: 31%
– Somewhat — It’s contributed but only in certain areas: 28%
– Not much — My success doesn’t have a lot to do with my education: 22%
– Not at all — I didn’t attend college or it hasn’t contributed at all: 7%

Hail Alma Mater Dear. You get out of something what you put into it. If you feel you’re not getting a lot out of your college experience (as 50% of you indicate), perhaps you’re not taking advantage of all the assets available to you. Alumni networks, LinkedIn connections, alumni events, ongoing research, and volunteer opportunities abound. By taking a few simple actions to engage with your alma mater, you may be surprised by the new connections and opportunities that arise from doing so. In a networked world, the stronger your network, the stronger your career.

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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Why Pricing is the Biggest Lever You’re Not Pulling

Posted on January 25, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Sales, Strategy

Price TagPricing is a powerful lever but we don’t pull it often enough. Thinking through your price point as well as your pricing model can dramatically improve profitability.

Pricing is one of the most critical decisions an organization makes. A 1% difference on top-line price is worth a 10% profit increase on a business with a 10% gross margin. That’s huge! All too often we don’t think of pulling the pricing lever because it seems small. “Heck, it’s only 1% or 0.5%. Why bother?”

Why bother? I’ll tell you why to bother!

Pricing and Profits

By way of example, if you’re selling your product for $100, and you make $10 per unit, that’s a 10% margin. If you raise your price by 1%, and go from $100 to $101. That incremental dollar drops straight to the bottom line! Now you go from making $10 to $11. That’s a 10% improvement on the bottom for a 1% improvement on the top! Even with a 0.5% price increase you’re still increasing your profitability by 5%. Better yet – if you’re a publicly traded company, your stock price is based on a multiple of your earnings so that 5-10% profit improvement gets multiplied by your P/E ratio which boosts your stock price. Pricing just got compelling, didn’t it?

Pricing has a huge impact on your overall profitability. You need to understand how your product or service is priced. Is it a one-time fee? Is it a subscription model? Do you have a razor and blade model where you sell something really cheap, but the replacement parts are an ongoing stream of revenue? Do you sell accessories or extras with your core product? Do you offer additional services or warranties? Different prices for different customers and different markets and features are typical for most businesses. The better you understand your pricing model, the easier it is for you to increase prices without undercutting the volume of product you sell.

Cost-Plus versus Value-Based Pricing

Two common pricing approaches are cost-plus or value-based pricing. Depending on your industry, your product/service, and customer behavior, one of these models may be more appropriate than another. That said, just because you currently have one pricing model, that doesn’t mean you can’t change to another.

Let me explain the difference between a cost-plus pricing model and a value-based pricing model. Read More…

3 Things You Must Get Right if You Want Happier Customers

Posted on January 23, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Customer Service, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Sales

Finger Pressing Customer Loyalty ButtonCustomer loyalty takes just as much energy to build as new customer growth. Unfortunately companies spend too much time focusing on new customers and not taking care of the ones they already have.

Today’s post is by Noah Fleming, author of The Customer Loyalty Loop (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Most executives I talk to feel like they’re drowning in data and yet anyone and everyone within the organization is telling them they need more and more data! Do you ever feel overwhelmed with all the things you need to worry about, let alone the collection of “big data” with the belief that data might help you generate better customer relations, or a more loyal customer?

I’m going to let you in on a big secret. The companies and clients that I work with who are at the top of their games, or continuously increasing revenue are only really placing a concerted effort on three key areas. I’m going to warn you, there’s nothing ground-breaking here that you don’t already know, but how these companies are focusing on these areas might surprise you.

I’ll tell you until the cows come home that most organizations are too focused on the new customer at the expense of their existing customers, but I’m also a realist. The current customer is the beating heart of any great business, but you need new customers to grow. Anybody who tells you otherwise should be thrown from your office. Today we’re going to about new and existing customers.

The first area that these companies excel in is their uncanny ability to sell to their existing customers more often. I said sell, not just “market to,” and not just putting offers in front of them, but selling. You need the same level of gravitas and effort that is put towards new customer acquisition, applied to selling more to your existing customer base. That requires a customer retention process. Most businesses have a sales process but not a retention process. The best companies do.

I once heard an author and marketer say that all great sales and marketing is just about sharing your message over and over again. He might have been half right, once. A decade ago, maybe a quarter right. Now, it’s more like a tenth.

If you want to sell to your prospects and existing customers either the first time or the sixth time, then you need to get three things right. But you need to get them right, all the time and every time.


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How knowledgeable are you about global megatrends?

Posted on January 19, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll, Strategy

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How knowledgeable are you about global megatrends?

– Very — We monitor the pace of change, long-term, across all megatrends: 10%
– Somewhat — We stay informed only about megatrends we think directly affect our business: 40%
– Not very — Industry trends are our main focus: 29%
– Not at all — Too busy fighting fires to look beyond our business and the present: 10%
– What’s a megatrend?: 10%

The broader the better. While a slim majority of you are focused on trends beyond your own industry—such as global demographic, economic, political, environmental, societal, and technological trends—there is the possibility of missing out on key insights by being too selective. As this blog post points out, environmental disasters such as the recent earthquake in Japan can affect a wide range of U.S. companies and sectors. Engaging in broader scenario planning could make all the difference in securing a sustainable future for 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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Guidance for New Leaders Who Want to Lead the Thinking

Posted on January 18, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Career, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Young Woman Sitting and ThinkingNew leaders must step into the space of leading the thinking for their organization. Leave the day to day work to your team and look over the horizon to what’s coming at you next.

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Vera Ng’oma of ExcellicaGroup. Here’s the second part of our conversation on the power of personal leadership (you can read part 1 of our interview here). The conversation was based upon the methods I write about in One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Vera Ng’oma: What’s your assessment of the quality of leadership today and what advice would you give someone going into leadership for the first time?

Mike Figliuolo: I know the biggest challenge leaders face is the sheer velocity and volume of issues they’re dealing with at any given time. Resources are tight and they’re being asked to handle more responsibilities and make changes more quickly than ever before. The differentiator in terms of performance is the leader’s ability to see issues coming before they become big issues and their ability to delegate and develop their teams so they can handle the volume of work on their shoulders.

For new leaders, I encourage them to shut up and listen for a few months. Don’t change anything. Learn your business. Learn your people. Understand where you fit in that dynamic. It’s arrogant to think you can walk into a new team and start changing things on Day 1 because you know better than they do as far as what needs doing. Start out trusting their competence until proven otherwise. If you come in and start changing things without a full understanding of why things are the way they are, you’re going to cause unnecessary resistance and resentment. Invest some time in learning before acting.

VN: Are there some key characteristics that you believe every leader should have and what would be your top three?

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Face-to-Face With the Beast: Confronting Failure

Posted on January 16, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Career, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Napoleon StatueAll of us face the ‘beast’ of personal failure at some point in our careers. While failure hurts, there are lessons we can learn from our own mistakes.

Today’s post is by Susanna Quirke of Inspiring Interns.

It’s a common business cliché: every failure is another route to success. But how to confront that fiasco in the moment?

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 71% of businesses don’t survive their first ten years. For every start-up that folds, another entrepreneur is left fingering the dying ashes of their dreams. Furthermore, what about the everyman? When you’ve just missed your targets, or forfeited that promotion, it can be hard to look on the bright side. The demon of workplace failure is a ruthless one. For many people, it can be the end – of self-respect, if not their actual career.

Here are three reasons why you should look failure in the face and laugh.

Failure is Inevitable

“He that makes war without many mistakes has not made war very long.”

So, supposedly, said Napoleon Bonaparte. This great leader understood that the key to victory was not in a lack of defeat, but an ability to move past those suffered. And, at one point, he had the whole of Europe to show for it.

Failure in life is inevitable, as is loss in war. And, just as in war, a lost battle need not spell the end. To be a success in life, you must understand that failure is unavoidable – and, thus, something you must learn to accept.

Shalini Vadhera, a wildly successful American beauty entrepreneur, who got booted out of her own $21 million beauty brand, warns against associating oneself too closely with one’s career. That way, if things go south, you can have the presence of mind to keep things in perspective. This is not an end. In fact, if you play things right, it could represent a beginning – of a new chapter, a new direction. If you discovered a tree lying across your path, you wouldn’t give up on your journey, would you? You’d find a way around.

So don’t give up at the first sign of disaster. Often, it’s just your first test.

Failure Teaches You Things

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How often does your organization take big risks?

Posted on January 12, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How often does your organization take big risks?

– All the time — We make a lot of big bets: 10%
– Occasionally — We’ll take a big risk from time to times: 39%
– Rarely — We’re generally risk-averse: 40%
– Never — We’re extremely conservative: 11%

Even Odds. 50% are risk takers and 50% aren’t. If you’re making a lot of big bets, look back at your track record and see if they’ve paid off over the years. If you’re not making any bets at all, ask what’s holding your organization back from doing so. Conservatism can kill your business just as easily as excessive risk can. If you’re averse to risk, think about how to break big decisions down into smaller ones and make a higher number of less risky decisions. It’s an easy approach to overcoming your decision making fears. It’s a balance but taking no risk at all is perhaps the largest risk you can assume.

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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