Best of thoughtLEADERS 2016: A Basket of Kickass

Posted on December 21, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Entrepreneur, Innovation, Leadership, Sales, Social Media, Strategy

Mike Figliuolo TrophyIt’s time again for our annual year in review list of the BEST posts we’ve published over the last 12 months. Welcome to the 2016 edition of The Figgies (our EIGHTH YEAR of em!  Wow!) which are the awards we give ourselves for writing awesome blog content (here are the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions of those awards).

This is an annual event at the thoughtLEADERS Blog. This list is comprised of our most viewed, most forwarded, quirkiest, most provocative work. Enjoy. Share. We’ve loved writing them. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading them. I don’t ask a lot of you folks so I have two small requests as your holiday gift to me (you are getting me something, right?):

1. Invite all your coworkers, friends, and family to come check out the blog and become readers. The only way we all get better is by raising everyone’s game. I’m not asking a lot here. If you found this blog helpful at all this year, here’s your chance to return the favor for all our hard work. Just email folks and tell ’em to come take a look.

2. Pick up a copy of my books. They make great holiday gifts for the professionals in your life. The titles include:

One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful Personal Leadership. In the words of Roland Smith (former CEO of Wendy’s/Arby’s) “This book could change your life.” To get a sense for what the book is about, read this free ChangeThis Leadership Manifesto which is based on the book. If you like the manifesto, you’ll love the book.

Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results. “Finally, a leadership book that cuts through all of the noise. This book needs to be on every leader’s desk!” – Andrea Procaccino, Chief Learning Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

The Elegant Pitch: Create a Compelling Recommendation, Build Broad Support, and Get it Approved. If you’re looking to get to “yes” for your idea, this book will give you the method for doing so in an efficient and effective way.

Thanks for your incredible support in ’16 and best wishes for ’17! We hope to be a part of your future success!  Now on to the best of list!

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Balancing Current Performance with Future Growth

Posted on December 19, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy

Balance ScaleFinding a balance between current performance and future growth is a critical element of your strategy. Too much focus on either the present or the future can lead to disaster.

Today’s post is by Jeffrey Saltzman and Scott Brooks, co-authors of Creating the Vital Organization (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

What is the difference between companies that succeed and those that fail?

The answer lies at least partly in the concept of vitality. All organizations have daily operations that help create or deliver the goods and services that make up the core of their business – current performance. Yet no matter how strong or successful an organization may be at delivering their current performance, they run the risk of stagnation and even failure because eventually competitors, changing marketplace realities, or new technologies will render their current performance irrelevant or obsolete.

In order to stay competitive and relevant, an organization must constantly explore future potential opportunities and ideas. These efforts require investments of time, resources, and specifically money, yet despite all this, many of them will fail.

Nonetheless, it is critical that organizations work toward building new capabilities. Eventually, one of the future potential ideas will succeed, and will become current performance that helps support even more future potential exploration. In other words, it is a cycle of using current performance to support and fund future potential that will one day become the organization’s current performance.

We first came across this idea years ago when listening to a company’s CEO discuss how his company refreshed its products lines. After determining that the life span of their product was roughly five years, they realized that they needed to refresh 20% of their product-line annually to stay relevant and competitive. The concept of constant renewal stuck with us, and we started researching just how important renewal is to an organization’s success.

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How full is your “negotiating toolkit”?

Posted on December 15, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Leadership, Poll, Sales

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: How full is your “negotiating toolkit”?

– Very — I know many great negotiating techniques: 20%
– Kind of — I know a few core negotiating techniques: 42%
– Not very — I know one or two key negotiating techniques: 25%
– Not at all — My toolkit is virtually empty: 13%

Learn the Tools, Win the Deal. It’s surprising that 80% of respondents said they’re “kind of” or less on how full their negotiating toolkit is. The ability to negotiate is a huge determinant of your happiness and success. These skills aren’t only for Procurement people. Negotiating for a day off, a different role, compensation, promotions, and even where to eat lunch as a team can seriously impact how happy and successful you are. I strongly encourage you to fill your negotiating toolkit and learn as many negotiating techniques as you can. Doing so will make you more effective in many areas related to your success and job satisfaction.

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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3 Business Lessons from a Cracked Tooth

Posted on December 14, 2016 | 2 Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Entrepreneur, Leadership

Dental Implant XRayYou can learn business lessons anywhere if you look hard enough. A recent incident involving a cracked molar offers great lessons on planning, investing, and making long-term decisions.

After a couple of heart attacks, I’ve learned to eat a lot healthier. Finding snacks can be challenging though once you remove Doritos and Cheetos from the equation. A good substitute for me is now Harvest Snaps which are baked lentil pods. I highly recommend the tomato basil version.

Anyway, I was lentil snapping away the other day on some of the onion thyme ones. I bit down on a snap with my back left molar and heard a snap. Then the pain train came roaring through the station. The tooth had cracked all the way to the root. Of course this happens on a Friday at 7PM and the dentist doesn’t open until Monday morning. So I suffered through the weekend wondering what I’d be in for.

On Monday morning, Dr. Kubic saw me and put in a temporary filling to hold the tooth together. He told me it had cracked all the way down to the root. My options were having an extensive root canal, getting a crown, or getting a dental implant. With the root canal, he said it would be pretty invasive and he wasn’t optimistic about it holding up over the long term. With a crown, it would be more permanent but given it’s a molar with heavy grinding activity, it would need to be re-crowned down the road. The dental implant was the most permanent solution but also the most expensive, would take the longest, and was the most invasive. He referred me to Dr. Hinkle who had done an implant for me previously. By the way – if you live in Columbus, Ohio and need a dentist or oral surgeon, I highly recommend these guys.

Anyway… I went to see Dr. Hinkle and I walked him through my options, spouted off the pros and cons, and told him I had already made my decision. He looked at me pretty surprised and said “Seems like you’re all over this diagnosis and that all makes sense. Thanks for saving me the time of having to explain everything. And by the way – I agree with your recommendation.”

For me, the choice was clear.

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How to Quickly Evaluate Coaching Needs by Being BOSS

Posted on December 12, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Entrepreneur, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Sales

BOSS with Man Smoking PipeTo properly coach your people, you need to focus on behaviors, outlook, skills, and stature. In doing so, you’ll be able to quickly identify their coaching needs.

Today’s post is by Jonathan Whistman, author of The Sales Boss (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

A part of every leader’s job is to provide the coaching necessary to each of the individuals on the team. The challenge is that sometimes what we end up coaching on is the thing that happened the most recently, or the thing that most stands out and not the thing that would most impact the future results of the person. At other times, we might struggle with how to evaluate what the needs of our people are and what will be most helpful.

In my work with Sales Managers whose ability to coach salespeople is critical to the success I teach the acronym of BOSS as a way of thinking about the coaching needs and to quickly evaluate what might be most impactful for each individual. This method will also work as you evaluate the needs of your non-sales staff.

Let’s look at what each letter represents.


What are the behaviors of your team member? This is the WHAT they do not the HOW they do it. What are the critical behavior activities they need to be involved in for success? For a sales person it might include the number of calls, the contacts they make and the emails they send. It would also include things like eating, drinking and exercise. How organized are they? How well do they use resources available? Taking a close look at behaviors might provide an area rich for coaching. After all, it doesn’t matter how great someone is at something if they never actually do it.


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Have you ever faced a major ethical dilemma at work?

Posted on December 8, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Career, Communications, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: Have you ever faced a major ethical dilemma at work?

– Yes, and I navigated it well: 70%
– Yes, and I navigated it poorly: 12%
– No, but I feel prepared to deal with one: 16%
– No, and I feel unprepared to handle it: 12%

Difficult Ethical Dilemmas. Many of you have faced these challenges and and handled them well. For the 24% who didn’t or who don’t feel prepared, don’t be discouraged or intimidated. These situations can be overcome by executing a few key steps. Be right, seek counsel, document events, and keep good records. In doing those four things, you’ll have protected yourself in the process of making a difficult call. Failure to follow these steps likely results in an ugly situation.

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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The Value of Reflecting on Your Past

Posted on December 7, 2016 | 1 Comment
Categories: Communications, Leadership

Looking in Rearview MirrorAge and experience teach us lessons we wish we could teach our former selves. Even though we can’t affect the past, reflecting on those lessons and the lessons taught us by our best leaders can inform how we lead in the future.

There are so many things I wish I could tell “younger me.” I would avoid so many problems, capture so many opportunities, and generally be a better person. Oh well. Too bad, so sad. Not possible.

But before I skip off into my future, I’ve found it helpful to reflect on the lessons I would teach my past self and thought about how I can still apply those lessons to my future. Add to that thinking about the best leaders I’ve worked for and the guidance they would give me and there are a few great lessons I can apply to how I live my life and lead my team going forward.

Recently I had the opportunity to discuss these topics with Jamie Newman  at Your Best Manager. We got together on his podcast to discuss the impact my best leaders have had on me as well as lessons I wish I could teach my former self. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and hope you do too. I encourage you to embark on the same introspection and ask what you can learn and apply to your future.

Listen to the podcast here:

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Fishing For Job Descriptions

Posted on December 5, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Business Toolkit, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Training

Father and Son FishingWe often miss the mark when we write job descriptions. We’d be much better suited to understand the job vision before we list qualifications for a candidate.

Today’s post is by Bill Munn, author of Why Make Eagles Swim? (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Dave is thirty-eight and manages a team of HR professionals. But he still remembers a peaceful day over thirty years ago when his father took him fishing for the first time.

For two weeks, Dave and his father had talked about the day they had planned. Dave’s dad described all the details of the sport – how to choose a lure, cast, tie a fisherman’s knot, and so on. Dave never tired of these descriptive details, which began to define fishing in his mind.

When the day of the outing finally arrived, they stayed on the lake from morning to dusk, covering all Dad’s favorite spots. Dave got to practice everything he had learned on shore.

But in the end, they caught nothing.

Dave was crestfallen. But later, he forgot his disappointment in the face of a big shock.

“How was it?” Dave’s mom asked when they walked in the back door.

“Fabulous,” his dad replied.

What? Dave thought. How can he think that when we caught nothing?

Later that evening, Dave shared his confusion with his father. The man smiled.

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What’s the most important element of a great leadership conference?

Posted on December 1, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership, Poll, Training

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue LineOur reader poll today asks: What’s the most important element of a great leadership conference?

– Awesome speakers and topics: 62%
– Lots of vendors to interact with: 1%
– Great breakout sessions: 22%
– Social and networking activities: 13%
– Great venue and location: 2%
– Other aspects like cost and giveaways: 1%

Content is King. With time being so limited, it’s important to get the most out of learning events and conferences. Folks were pretty clear that the best conferences are about speakers and topics first and foremost. Breakout sessions were a distant second but still hold a draw. And of course, the ability to network with colleagues is important too. If you’re not focusing first on content above all other things, you might not be attending the best conferences out there. Check out the agendas and the speakers before writing a conference off because of cost. Clearly you get what you pay for.

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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What to Do When You Find Decision Making Challenging

Posted on November 30, 2016 | No Comments
Categories: Communications, Leadership

Railroad Track JunctionDecision making is one of the most important skills a leader needs to possess. A key determinant in how successful you are as a decision maker is your ability to communicate with and influence others.

There’s no getting around it that making decisions can be quite challenging – from mounds of data to review, inclusion of others (or not), knowing your audience, naysayers, fear of making the wrong decision, and fear of being called out on your decision. Need I say more?

Decision making can be difficult, yet every leader needs to develop their ability to do it wisely, efficiently and in a timely fashion.

I’ve worked hard to perfect the art of decision making. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to discuss the topic with Steve Caldwell at Manager Mojo. We got together on his podcast to discuss the critical areas you should consider for improving your decision making process. There is no perfect process, and usually there are no perfect decisions, but this podcast will help you get clear on making your process quicker and simpler.

Listen to the podcast here:

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