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Category: Making a New Start (Page 1 of 16)

5 Ways to Lead Change in a Change-Averse Environment

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Written by:  Jon Lokhorst (

Despite the constancy of change in today’s global marketplace, the environment for change in many organizations is unfriendly at best. Few organizations have the appetite for change found at Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other innovative firms. I work extensively with CPAs, CFOs, and other technical professionals; a group not known for its propensity to change.

As a leader, you recognize that when the pace of internal change lags the pace of change in the external environment . . . well, it’s not good news. But what do you do in a context that resists change? How can a leader initiate and navigate change in a change-averse industry or culture? Here are five approaches to overcome barriers to change in these situations.

Launch a “CEO for a Day” forum.
Host town meetings with workers from across all levels of your organization to ask what they would do differently if they were CEO for a day. Offer a structured brainstorming conversation that invites new ideas. Start with questions that generate ways to improve current practices. Then move to explore new opportunities.

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5 Tragic Losses Caused by ‘Someday Syndrome’

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‘Either get busy living or get busy dying.’


“You have Parkinson’s Disease,” said the doctor. It was September 22, 2011—the day before my 46th birthday. While not usually fatal, Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease. This means it inevitably worsens over time. There is no cure. I was suddenly facing the prospect of limited mobility as my future unfolded.

In the movie Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne says to his pal Red as they sit in the prison yard, “It comes down to one simple decision. Either get busy living or get busy dying.” My life had taken an unexpected and unpleasant turn, but it was not over.

I decided to get busy living.

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5 Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do on the Weekends

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How are you spending your Saturdays and Sundays? Here’s how to make sure you’re not wasting them.

If you’re like most people, you probably want to spend your Saturday and Sunday sleeping in, only to roll out of bed and onto the couch to veg out in front of a little mindless TV—but just until it’s time to change out of your sweats and into real clothes for dinner and a fun night of drinking. Right? Yeah, that’s most people, but not entrepreneurs.

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10 DIY Ways to Get More Visits to Your Website

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by Lisa Furgison,”

 Every business needs a website to survive, but is your website getting as many visitors as you’d like? It’s a rhetorical question, really. What business wouldn’t want to increase visits? After all, when potential customers visit your website, you can increase brand awareness, educate consumers and drive revenue.

However, you might be stumped on how to get more folks to visit your website. Not to worry. We’ve created this list of ten ways to increase visits. This list of actionable, do-it-yourself ideas is aimed at busy businesses just like yours.

1. Register your business with online directories

There are dozens of online directories that you can take advantage of. Think of them like electronic telephone books, but better. With online directories like YellowPages you can create a business profile, which includes a link to your website. Here’s an example.

There are several benefits to online directories like this. First, you can make them as detailed as you’d like. From business hours to a profile picture, you decide how much information to put in. Second, they’re free. Any opportunity to increase your audience through a free service is worth looking into.

Below you’ll find a list of the top five most popular business directories with links to get your profile started. You can also check out our post, The Top 20 Places Your Business Should Be Listed Online.

  • YellowPages
  • Google My Business
  • Bing Places for Business
  • Yahoo! Local Listing
  • Merchant Circle

Pro tip: For service-based businesses, Angie’s List is a great online directory. It has become the go-to spot for customers to find reliable service providers. Customers can rate your business and generate positive word of mouth.

If you need some help getting your business listed in directories, our sister company, Orange Soda offers a service called LocalSync to manage your business profiles across 40+ local directories, apps and mapping sites to make sure your local customers get the right information every time.

2. List your business website in your email signature

You’re constantly writing and sending emails, right? Well, every email you send is an opportunity to get your website out there. Make sure your business website is listed and “clickable” in your email signature. If you need help setting up a signature, just check out these support links below:

  • Outlook
  • Gmail
  • Yahoo!

3. Facebook ads

When it comes to social media advertising, you have a lot of options. However, one of the easiest ways to bump your website visits is through Facebook ads. When you set up an ad, Facebook asks you to pick an advertising goal. In this case, you can select ‘increasing website traffic’ as your objective.

Once your objective is set, you have several ad options. A lot of small businesses chose to set up an ad that appears in the News Feed. This ad typically offers a discount on a product or service, which gives customers enough incentive to click on the ad and land on your website to place an order.

4. Leverage your LinkedIn audience

Many businesses don’t have time to write and manage a blog. Instead, you can use your LinkedIn page as a mini blog. LinkedIn has a popular publishing feature that allows you to post articles right to your page. Your connections can see the post in their feeds.

Not sure what to write about? Share your thoughts on recent industry changes, write a post about a news story that involves your line of work or talk about a new tool that’s helped your business grow. You want to write something that’s thought-provoking, not promotional.

This idea is especially helpful for service-based businesses. When you’re selling a service, you want to show your authority in the niche.

Of course, to send visitors back to your website, you have to include links. Make sure you link several spots within your post to lead people to your site.

5. Be a resource for reporters

As a business owner, you have expertise in a certain field. Reporters are constantly looking for experts to help with stories. How do you connect with these reporters? Take a look at this website: Help A Reporter Out.

On this site you’ll find a list of stories that reporters need help with. When you find a story that’s in your wheelhouse, you can send the reporter an email through the platform. If the reporter likes your response, he or she will reach out to you and set up an interview. You’ll be quoted in a newspaper article or blog post, and a link to your website will be included in the article.

You need to set up an account, but you don’t have to pay to belong to it. It’s a great way to get free publicity for your business and drive traffic to your website.

Pro tip: MyLocalReporter is like Help a Reporter Out, but in reverse. Business owners can search for reporters that fit their niche and reach out to them. It puts business owners in control, rather than waiting for a reporter to post a query that fits.

For more tools to get free publicity for your business check out this post.

6. Set up an online store

Does your website serve as an informational placeholder? In other words, does it offer basic information about your business and product with minimal interactive features? If so, it might be time to upgrade. Many visitors expect a more interactive e-commerce experience. 

To get your website up to speed, check out Shopify. Using this do-it-yourself platform, you can create a website that has shopping features. You can set up a digital store, create an online shopping cart, enable credit card payments, collect taxes, set up shipping options and track your sales.

If you don’t want to do a complete website upgrade, you can start by adding a Buy Button to your current website. It’s a nice way to take Shopify for a test run.  

Pro tip: When you use Shopify, you’ll be able to collect email addresses at checkout. VerticalResponse is integrated with Shopify, so all of those new contacts will flow seamlessly into your VerticalResponse email account. You’ll be able to use these new contacts to encourage even more website visits.

7. Send visit-boosting emails

With so many websites out there, you need to remind your audience to visit yours. How? Email. Your email list is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have in your arsenal. By sending targeted messages to your customers or clients, you can funnel them to your website to schedule an appointment or make a purchase.

So, which emails offer the visitor influx you’re looking for? While every email has the potential to boost your visit numbers, here are three emails that we suggest sending:

  • Promotional email

Get your customers to visit your website by emailing a promotion or an incentive. If you sell a product, offer a discount or free shipping. If you don’t sell a product, you can still use promotional emails, you just have to be more creative. An insurance business can offer free consultations, a cleaning service can offer 10 percent off services, a software company can offer free demonstrations to any company that sets up an appointment, and a furnace repair company can offer homeowners a free energy audit. There are no limits to promotional ideas. Offer free webinars, small gifts or ebooks. 

  • Email invitation

Hosting an event? Send invitations via email. First, make sure you have a page dedicated to your upcoming event on your website. Make sure that page has all of the event details on it, including a way to RSVP for the event. Now, head over to your email account and prepare an invitation. The call to action in this email will take the reader right to your event page. In addition, the email should contain at least one link to your website’s main page.

  • Announcement emails

When you have a new product or service, share it with your email subscribers. Describe what’s new, how the item benefits them, the cost and how they can get it. Your call to action should direct customers to your website where they can sign up for the service or buy the new product.

Here’s an example of an email that Picjumbo sent out for a new product.

8. Invest in affordable marketing materials

Headed to a conference? Is your business exhibiting at a local trade show? Anytime you’re meeting-and-greeting people, you should be able to offer some sort of “takeaway.”

Of course, you have to be careful. You can spend a lot of money on business swag, so you’ll want to come up with a plan. Have something like a brochure or postcard. Offer an educational reference that allows customers to recall your business or service later on. We also suggest a trinket or fun giveaway. Whether you opt for branded pens or key chains, it’s up to you. VerticalResponse offers a wildly popular brand box with over 1400 promotional items. 

9. Go old school

Handing out marketing materials might seem a little old school, but there are plenty of offline ways to promote your business that you should consider. Here are a few ideas:

  • Put your website on your business card. Every time you hand out a business card, you’re introducing a prospective customer or client to your business. If they want to learn more later on, they’ll look to your business card to get more information.
  • Become a public speaker. Offer to speak at your local chamber of commerce meeting and be sure to include your website in your presentation.
  • Hang fliers in local establishments. Ready to launch a new product? Hosting an upcoming sale? Create a quick flier with tear-off website information and hang them at local hotspots like laundry mats and community centers.
  • Sponsor an event. When local charities are looking for sponsors, consider contributing. Look for possibilities where your name, logo and website are placed in front of an audience. For example, a local theater company could highlight your business and website in its programs.
  • Use your vehicle to advertise. Every business owner travels around town. Why not advertise while you’re headed to the bank or post office? Consider purchasing a sticker for your back window or a magnet for the side of your car that has your business name and website on it.

10. Try something out of the ordinary

When you’re trying to promote your website, it’s good to get creative. Here are a few out-of-the-box ideas to turn heads and drive website visits at the same time.

  • Chalk art advertising. Know an artist? Several brands have had success with chalk art advertising. When Planet of the Apes came out, Warner Brothers used these chalk drawings to promote word of mouth and website visits.
  • Flash mob. Ready to get your groove on? Try a flash mob to promote your website. What’s a flash mob? It’s a group of people who meet in a public place and break out into a choreographed dance. Leave your website address in chalk on the sidewalk behind you, or hand out fliers to the audience after.
  • Project your website on your building. Turn heads with a projection of your business name and website on your building. Projection advertising is a popular way to drum up attention, so why not give it a try for your business? You can go all out and hire a company to do something like this, or you can buy a small projector and project your website address in your window at night.

How do you get more visits to your website? Please add to our list in the comment section below.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

How Memorable is Your Handshake?

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By Martin Buckland, MB Speaks Author

Many secret societies and fraternities employ secret handshakes that convey membership in a special club. When it comes to career advancement, it’s no secret that first impressions count, and that a handshake is a major component of that first impression.

In Western culture, there are two appropriate times to shake another person’s hand: when introducing yourself to someone or saying hello, and when saying goodbye. So it’s really about first and last impressions.

When shaking a person’s hand, also look them in the eye at the same time, and of course, smile. While you don’t want to be aggressive or grab onto somebody for dear life, you do want to be the first to extend a hand. It is a gesture of warmth and connection, and tends to make a strong and lasting impression.

There is actually an art to a handshake, and plenty of ways to sabotage your career by getting it wrong. We’ve all probably come across the bone crushers, who try to mince every bone in your hand. And then there is the limpy fish and the power pumper.

You definitely don’t want to be remembered as the sweaty palm. If this tends to be an issue for you, always carry and use a handkerchief or tissue, and wash and dry your hands well before entering a meeting. For severe cases, you can use antiperspirant on your hands, or experiment with natural remedies.

If you’re on the receiving end of a bone crusher, sweaty palm or the like, never grimace or make a comment. Just be polite, patient and kind.

Whose hand are you shaking?

Be sensitive to your audience. If you’re shaking hands with an older person, you’ll tend to want to relax the shake. As well, be sensitive to cultural diversities. For example, in China people prefer a lighter handshake, but it typically lasts longer than a Western one.

A good handshake shows a confident attitude, so stand up tall, reach out your hand, and be memorable!


How to Get Management Experience When You’re not a Manager

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by Dan McCarthy, courtesy of

Help wanted: Manager. 5-10 years of experience required. Proven track record of effective management.

It’s hard to land a management position when you don’t have the title “manager” on your resume, or be able to provide specific examples of your management experience.

So what’s an aspiring manager to do without holding formal management positions? Plenty! If you are interested in becoming a manager, then here are 5 ways to get management experience without being a manager:

1. Lead a project. The skills required to be an effective project manager are very similar to the skills required to be an effective manager: planning, organizing, setting goals, managing budgets, leading people, and juggling multiple priorities. If you have never managed a project before, then start by volunteering for project teams. It doesn’t have to be a huge project – start small – perhaps volunteering to be a part of the office Thanksgiving food basket drive.  Hopefully, you’ll get to see what a good project manager does. Or, watch what an ineffective project manager does and do the opposite. Then, once you’ve established yourself as a dependable team member, step up and volunteer to lead a project.

Take a course in project management, read a good book on the topic, and interview successful project managers. You can even get certified as a project manager, but that may be overkill, unless you are planning to make a career out of project management.

2. Train, teach, coach, and mentor. A big part of being an effective manager is developing your team. In order to do that, a manager needs to know how to onboard and train new employees, coach experienced employees, and eventually mentor employees.

Of course, in order to be considered for an opportunity to train new employees, it’s a given that you’d need to be very good at your job, or whatever it is that you’re teaching. But beyond being good at something, it’s important to learn and practice the skills of training, coaching, and mentoring. The best way to learn is by doing! Volunteer to develop a training program; volunteer to mentor underprivileged kids or coach a sports team. Learn the art of coaching – learn to ask great questions.

3. Hone your interviewing skills. Many organizations use selection committees, hiring teams, or will involve others when interviewing job candidates. Again, volunteer for these opportunities. However, don’t just “wing it” when it’s your turn to interview a candidate. Develop a list of great interview questions, practice active listening and asking probing follow-up questions, and learn how to establish a rapport quickly. Being able to screen, interview, and select great employees is an essential management skill and can be learned and practiced! For more on how to interview, I’d highly recommend my colleague Alison Doyle’s Job Search site – it’s the best there is.

4. Learn to manage conflict, have a “crucial conversation”, and give feedback. Yes, dealing with those sticky “people issues” is the most challenging part of a manager’s job. We all face challenging people issues – with our co-workers, family members, and friends. Life is “target rich” when it comes to opportunities to resolve conflict. Learn to do it in a positive, constructive way. See:

How to Manage Workplace Conflict

A Proactive Approach to Tough Feedback

How to Hold a Difficult Conversation

I’d recommend reading the book Crucial Conversations and look for opportunities to practice and get good at it.

Being able to provide specific examples of when you were able to handle a conflict, provide difficult feedback, or address a sensitive issue will demonstrate that you have the willingness and capability to handle the “people” aspect of a management position. And believe me, there are plenty of experienced managers that won’t or can’t deal with people issues, so it really will set you apart.

5. Create and manage a budget. As a manager, I would love it if one of my employees volunteered to create and manage a budget for me! While some managers enjoy the number crunching aspect of management, it’s my least favorite part. If you’re good at Excel, you can learn to create and manage a budget. A good place to start is with your home budget.

If you can’t convince your boss to let go of the budgeting responsibility, you can still do what you can do learn finance, budgeting, and accounting. Take a course, learn to do a cost-benefit analysis and ROI, and learn to speak like a bean-counter. See A Finance and Accounting Glossary for the Non-Financial Manager.

There are a lot of more skills you can learn to prepare you to be a manager, including presentation skills, communication skills, leading change, and strategic thinking. However, it’s important to be able to talk about what you have done, not what you could do. The suggestions listed above will give you that practical management experience needed to help land your first management position.

Don’t Fall In Love

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article courtest of John Whitaker, fistful of talent contributor

You’ve heard the meme before, “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers…” right? Sure you have, we all have—it’s repeated more times than you can count. Two things about that:

  1. Bullsh-t
  2. What about good managers?

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term “good manager,” let me explain.

These are people who trust your abilities. They inspire you. You may feel a strange feeling of accountability, wanting to please him/her for reasons you cannot explain. You don’t work for them, you work with them (at least that’s what you think). You find yourself working harder, feeling better about it, and generally enjoying your professional life.  The sad thing is, until you’ve had a good boss, you may not even realize they exist. Kind of like the first unicorn you catch. When you find yourself working for one, it’s glorious.

Then… they leave.


Yup, good managers leave. Fact is, if they don’t leave after 5 or 6 years, they start to over-ripen and cease to be good managers. This is the irony… part of what truly quantifies a “good” manager is realizing when they have served their purpose, prepared their successor, and off they go to bigger and better ventures. Truly, these people are special leaders, and in today’s transitory job market, they are a hot commodity on the open market.

And we often stay at our companies because of them.

That’s right, it’s a total counter-reality to the “people leave managers, not companies” rhetoric. You can find any number of reports to tell you otherwise, but I’ve been in Human Resources for 20 years and can tell you I’ve yet to Exit Interview someone whose motivation for leaving a company was “my boss” unless said employee was describing a boss who was so unreasonable as to expect an acceptable performance level—one more reason not to take statistics at face value.

More often, I’ve seen the opposite: a good manager leaves, creating absolute heartbreak among his or her soon-to-be former team. It’s a dangerous dynamic when a team falls in love with the boss; it becomes an exercise in change management in addition to succession planning, and you use the same basic principles:

  • Act quickly
  • Communicate early and often
  • Identify potential retention losses
  • Establish new leadership quickly
  • Manage the people, not the process

You never forget your first boss-love. But be prepared for the inevitable… (*sniff*)

7 Ways to Negotiate Time Off Between Jobs

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By Carinn Jade, Daily Worth Contributor

Not So Fast

Jumping from one job to another can be a shock to the system. You’ll have new responsibilities to learn, new coworkers to meet, and a new office dynamic to navigate. Don’t underestimate the importance of this transition. Instead, consider how much time you can afford to take off between gigs and do what you can to maximize it.

Career experts suggest taking a minimum of one week. Even if you can’t afford to jet to a tropical island, your brain will need that time to neutralize the emotional charge (good or bad) from your previous place of business.

In addition to letting go of the old, you’ll want to be prepared for the new. Recent hires are under more scrutiny from their peers and bosses than company veterans. If you wrap up your old job on a Friday and start the new one on Monday, your first day at the office is going to feel like just another day in the grind. To put your best foot forward, the day you start should be one you greet with eager anticipation. That will be easier to do with some time off.

Now that you’re convinced of the benefits of taking time off between jobs (or if you’ve been reading so far saying “duh”), the question becomes how to get it. Here are seven strategies for negotiating some breathing room.

Make It Part of the Deal

When you are ready to accept the job, tack on a start date. As in: I’d love to accept this offer and begin working on X date. Pick one that’s as far out as you can swing, even if you don’t expect them to go for it. Putting a date that goes into the next month creates in their mind what negotiation experts call an anchoring effect. You will have locked in the starting point, and all subsequent suggestions will be based on that number. Even if they whittle down your initial request, you will have a cushion to guarantee you have meaningful time off.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

If you need time off, make it clear.

Many people are afraid to appear lazy or apathetic about the new job, but you can avoid that misconception by framing things in a positive light. Explain that you work very hard and will need a week or two off to recharge. Remind them how excited you are to join the team. If you have demonstrated your enthusiasm and work ethic otherwise, you should have no reservations about asking for some extra time before you start.

In a competitive market, your new boss might try to wear you down and ask you to begin ASAP despite your request. Stick to your guns by taking a step back and realizing the power you hold. This company chose you out of all the candidates it interviewed. They want you to start sooner because they believe you will be a valuable member of the team. You’ve got this in the bag, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.

Make and Honor a Prior Commitment

Before you even get that job offer, start putting your own offers on the table. Email your BFFs and find out who might be available for a girls’ trip in the next month. Or compare schedules with your significant other and brainstorm the romantic getaway you’ve been putting off. Pencil in something real and inform your new employer as soon as you get the offer. Explain that you have plans, but that you will be ready to start immediately upon your return.

It’s a rare occasion that you can offer the ones you love the undivided attention that comes from being completely unburdened with work. They deserve it. You can make it happen.

Demonstrate the Mutual Benefits

Taking time off between jobs is technically a vacation where your new employer won’t have to foot the bill or worry about coverage while you are out of the office. Experience has taught you how difficult it is to escape once you’ve been integrated as a member of the team, and there are numerous studies that show how important a break is to keeping your mojo.

When they push you to start sooner than you feel comfortable with, remind them this break could be a win-win.

Make It Up on the Backend

Two weeks is the customary notice period before you say farewell to your current employer; however, it’s negotiable. Before you even get that new job offer, start organizing your files and making lists of tasks that will need to be handed off. If you have given real thought to how long it will take you to train your interim replacement, you can have a clear plan to pass the baton before your employer is even aware that you’re leaving. When you give notice, show them that you are prepared to stay late and put in the extra hours to get everything done in five to seven business days.

Nab a Quick Vacation Early

Sometimes you can’t avoid starting work on a Monday after you’ve wrapped up on Friday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get time to decompress before your start or end date.

Some employers’ biggest concern will be having you train the replacement — which means they have to find one first. In this case, take time off immediately after giving notice. You’ll come back recharged and ready to train your newly found replacement.

Alternatively, if your new job insists you begin immediately, request a week off after six weeks. That way you’ll have settled into your new role, and you can use this pre-negotiated vacation to process and reflect on the recent changes in your career. In the event you can’t afford any gap in benefit coverage and pay, this situation may even work out even better.

When in Doubt, Start Midweek

You know how good a short week feels? The beauty of realizing the fourth work day is actually Friday? That’s the feeling you want to capture for your first week on the job: not being completely overwhelmed. The first week can be stressful and emotional, so don’t prolong it. Instead, ask to begin on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

The HR manager at my last job changed the official work policy after I made this unusual request. At first he didn’t get it, but then he realized how it benefited him too. Instead of having to rush in on a Monday morning to train someone on top of the tasks he left on his desk on Friday, he could handle the new intake on a less chaotic day. Another win-win.

Get Back On the Horse: Recovering After a Bad Decision

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By Laura Stack,

No matter where you stand in the company hierarchy, no matter how well you’ve done your due diligence, and no matter how careful you are before committing yourself to a course of action, sometimes you’re going to crash and burn. Bad decisions are inevitable, and they’re rarely obvious except in retrospect. I’ve taken speaking engagements that, looking back, I shouldn’t have agreed to accept. It was a bad decision, and I wish I hadn’t done it. But I learned a lot through the process.

Sure, you can minimize the occurrence and impact of mistakes, but short of hiding in your office and refusing to make any decisions at all, you’ll never be able to avoid them. Your leaders expect you to make decisions, often in the face of calculated risk—and there’s always, always an error rate. You make the best decision you can at the time with the information available to you.

Instead of worrying about that error rate, keep reminding yourself that your bad decisions aren’t likely to kill your career or ruin the company. When Western Union turned down a certain Mr. Bell’s telephone in the 1880s because they considered it an electrical toy, that was a terrible decision—but Western Union still exists. When Yahoo! executives brushed off a funding request from Sergey Brin and Larry Page, leading to the independent founding of the ridiculously profitable, that was another terrible decision…but Yahoo! is still alive and well.

Sometimes decisions go bad when something fails through no fault of your own. Recently, a friend of a friend sold a screenplay to a production company that was gung-ho about the project…until the founder unexpectedly passed away. Now the movie won’t be made. In some circumstances, it may simply be that of the thousands of possible decisions you can make on a particular issue, only a few can ever turn out to be good ones. Even so, if you learn from your failures, you’ll know—as Edison noted after over a thousand failed attempts to perfect the light bulb—what doesn’t work.


When a bad decision becomes obvious, you have two basic choices: either you can give up, in which case everyone involved loses, or you can get back on the horse and try again. The recovery process can be painful, especially when your bad decision has affected others people’s lives—and the higher you’ve climbed the workplace ladder, the more people you’ll hurt. So here’s what you do when things go wrong:

1. Accept responsibility. Forget the blame game. Mature professionals not only accept personal responsibility when things go wrong because they screwed up, they do so willingly, even eagerly. Even when you’re a team lead and you feel your people have let you down, the responsibility remains yours; they’re your team, after all. Closely examine what went wrong, deal with it, and learn from the experience.

2. Apologize and explain. Don’t make excuses; that’s just one way of shifting responsibility to someone or something else. Admit your mistake. Tell the people involved what went wrong, and genuinely apologize if warranted. Explain that you’re moving forward with what you’ve learned and plan to make it up to them. Be a class act, not a cringing excuse-maker, and people will definitely take notice…even if they have to be mad at you for a while first.

3. Take your lessons to heart. Once you’ve cleared away the rubble, be very careful in your next steps, and remember what went wrong in the past. This is especially important when faced with a similar situation. Next time, try something that seems more likely to work. It may also fail; but if it does, you now have two things you know don’t work in that situation. Ultimately, even a huge mistake can be a teaching moment; and though you might not see it now, it could end up being the greatest thing that ever happened to you. I know people who’ve made career-ending mistakes who are happier now than ever before.

4. Keep going. As jazz legend Miles Davis once said, if you hit a sour note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad. Make the best of a bad situation, and turn your decision into a minor mistake in the context of the whole. Take what you’ve learned and channel it into doing better, so the next note and the next are excellent; and before long, people will forget the sour one.

5. Focus on the now. Until we invent a working WABAC Machine, there’s no way we can go back and change the past. So move on. Don’t forget about your mistake or the resulting lessons, but don’t dwell on them either. You made an error; so what? Even if you lose your job or damage your career, all you can do is move on. Put your experience to work by being the best you can be within your field.

With Great Risk Comes Great Reward

The only people who make no bad decisions are those who make no decisions at all. They pay you to make decisions, and making decisions sometimes means taking risks. In such a case, all you can do is give the matter enough thought to minimize your risks, and move forward carefully with your eyes wide open. If you don’t take risks, you can’t get the rewards that come when those risks pan out.

If you want a risk-free life, too bad. There’s no such thing. So like a baby gooney bird, keep spreading your wings and trying to fly. If you fall down, just get up, dust yourself off, and get ready for your next attempt. Eventually, you’ll soar.


When Small Companies Get Big

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By Cheri Baker, The Enlightened Manager

“We used to feel like a family,” she said. “But now it’s all about business, and I’m not sure if I want to be here anymore.”

I was a newcomer to the company, in an HR role, and I thought that the employee sitting across from me was being a bit dramatic. From my perspective, the company was inefficient and behind-the-times, I was glad that the executive team was making changes.

She pointed to her white plastic name badge.

“You see this?”


“I was told that if I don’t wear my badge, I can be fired. How ridiculous is that? We all used to know each other. But now I get dinged if I forget a badge. This place used to be a family, and now we’re all about being a big business.”

Even though I didn’t share her feelings, hers were written plainly across her face. She felt betrayed, and it hurt.

Growth can Feel Like Loss

That exchange was over ten years ago, but I’ve seen this scene repeated. It’s what happens when you have a small company with lots of informality, and then that company has some success and gets bigger.

When a company is small, it’s pretty easy to keep track of everyone. You might even know the name of every single employee! You get a smile and a warm greeting when you enter any room. Like a family, a small business can be forgiving of everyone’s quirks. And also like a family, there is a certain set of rules that everyone understands without needing to write them down.

Then a company grows and suddenly those informal systems don’t work so well anymore. Those unwritten rules get forgotten or re-written as new people come on board. Problems occur as different parts of the company develop their own micro-cultures, and begin seeing an “us vs. them.” It can be tricky to get everyone on the same page about what is expected. When you walk into a room, half of the people in there might be strangers to you, and the smiles don’t come as quickly.

Because it’s difficult to keep large groups of people aligned to the same rules and same purpose, companies begin formalizing processes, policies, and creating standards of practice. This is good for consistency, but it can also make long term employees feel disrespected. They may feel hemmed in by rules they don’t agree with, and excluded from conversations and decisions they used to be a part of.

The woman I was talking to wasn’t angry about the name badge – she was angry about all that the name badge policy represented. The old company that she loved was gone, replaced with something bigger, sleeker, and somehow alien.

Can Big Organizations Be Like a Family?

I have clients who have been growing rapidly, and I know that they have valued employees who are feeling the pain of that transition. They feel betrayed that the small and friendly place where they put down roots has grown bigger and somehow colder. I’ve had managers at these companies ask with some bewilderment “how can we bring that feeling back?” And mixed in with the pride of organizational success is something a bit darker and harder to talk about – grief at what has been lost.

Perspective One: Big companies are inherently different. Accept it.

I could argue that a big company will never have “that family feeling” in the same way that a small company would. The sheer size of the workforce requires things like policies, rules, guidelines, and standardization – which inherently removes individual freedoms and creativity. Along with this, part of the warmth of a small company comes with knowing everyone. In a company of a certain size, you’ll never know everyone! This means that bigger companies are inherently less personal than small ones.

This perspective says that we should grieve what we have lost and then embrace the positive aspects of working for a larger business. More career opportunities and better resources, for example.

Perspective Two: The family is bigger now. It’s a adjustment.

I could also make a case for bigger companies still being like a family. Imagine yourself at a family reunion consisting of not only you, but your thousand closest relatives. No doubt you would feel closer to your immediate family, because you know them well. But you would also find kinship and delight in meeting your more distant relatives and getting to know them. If your family is like the trunk of a great tree, there is a grouping of people on every branch who know each other at a deeper level. But you are still family. You are free to share as much warmth and love as you have to give – while recognizing that there will be people in your circle of closeness, and others who are kin but less well known.

When Your “Small Company” Gets Big

If you are a leader in a company that is growing from small to big, there are things you can do to foster the warmth and closeness that your team may be missing.

1. Encourage Bonding at the Team Level. When your company was small, bonding probably happened automatically. In a big company, you will need to give your team opportunities to build camaraderie and friendship. Each team or department can form a group identity. “In Accounting, we believe that work should be fun.” “Our HR team runs a monthly book club – we’re a bunch of word nerds.”

2. Fight Against False Symbology. When people are grieving the old “small” organization, they will latch onto symbols that they feel show the company is worse. The project manager’s hatred of the name tag was an example. In that case, you could say “Name tags are important for our customers – the policy is to make sure that we all take that seriously. I think it’s important that we all take the time to get to know one another, we shouldn’t rely on name tags to know our coworkers!”

3. Emphasize Common Values. Your company mission and values can help to bond even the largest organization. Speak warmly about other teams as you see them “walking the talk”, and emphasize what you have in common. Use the language of “we” when communicating about other groups at your organization.

4. Work Cross-Functionally. Look for opportunities for your team to work on projects that span different teams. Safety and Wellness committees are common examples of this.

5. Hold “Skip Level” Meetings. If your management structure is getting deeper, hold “skip level” meetings to connect individuals with their manager’s manager. This can give team members access to decision makers and power players – something they may feel they are missing since the company grew. It can also improve the accuracy of feedback that top level managers are receiving.

When Small Companies Get Big

Can a small company that becomes big retain the warmth and closeness that they used to have? I think that the answer is “A large company can be warm and welcoming, but it won’t be exactly the same.”  All change comes with a measure of loss, after all. Our charge as leaders is to make sure the positives of growth outweigh the negatives, and to avoid fostering a culture where our valued people feel like cogs in an impersonal machine.

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