Beneath the Armor by Ole Carlson

June 23, 2020


  • “There are new frontiers for you to explore, markets to penetrate and a business that deserves your absolute utmost attention to meet the needs and demands of your employees, customers, family, and most importantly, yourself.” P. 19


Chapter 1 – Strategy One: Be Authentic, It’s Easier To Remember

  • “Some of the roles we play are consciously and deliberately scripted. Others are unconscious or bio-reactive responses automatically launched from deeply embedded silos in our psyche. The danger lies in the roles being inappropriate or implementing strategies that no longer serve us or others well.” P. 22
  • “Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.” P. 24
  • “Bring your best self forward and change what is not working.” P. 26
  • ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ P. 29
  • Are your actions and behaviors furthering the individual, group, or organization in a positive and constructive manner?” p. 30
  • “The business leader tribe is a multifaceted, differentiated, individualistic assortment of talents and characteristics. One thing I have noticed having worked with thousands of leaders of small to midsize business is that the blatantly successful ones are truly individualized, self-actualized human beings and are able to convey their individuality to the people that they influence, inspire, and transform.” P. 30
  • Give it up if it is not working.” P. 38
  • “Shakespeare said, ‘God has given us one face, yet we put on another.’ Resist the temptation. The more consistent and predictably authentic you are, the more you will influence your organization.” P. 39

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Be who you are and not who you think you should be.
  2. Bring your best self forward and change what is not working.
  3. Individualize and give permission for others to do the same.
  4. Update your “story”; your old one may be obsolete.

Robust actions to take:

  1. Write five adjectives/nouns that best describe the ideal CEO/leader
  2. Write five adjectives/nouns that best describe you (negative and positive) as a CEO/leader
  3. What are the similarities and what are the differences?
  4. If there are differences, what do you need to let go of and/or access to be in more alignment with the ideal CEO/leader?
  5. What are some of your behaviors that get in your way of leading your business?
  6. What price are you paying for continuing those behaviors?
  7. What are you willing to do about this?
  8. What is your greatest fear of revealing who you really are to others?
  9. What prices are you paying by withholding yourself?
  10. What is one action you can take to bring more of yourself to your employees and organization?
  11. What is your story?
  12. Is it still serving you well or is it worn out?
  13. If worn out, what is the story you would like others to tell about you?
  14. What is one action you can immediately take to move towards that story?


Chapter 2 – Strategy Two: Take Care of Yourself First, Then Others

  • “Do this. Journal your activities on any given business day and then review what you have logged. I will bet that you will be flabbergasted with the volume of activities that you have chosen to be involved with. Yes, I said chosen.” P. 43
  • “If you accumulate stress on a daily basis then it seems reasonable to discover appropriate means to release it at the same frequency.” P. 43
  • “If you do not take care of yourself, depleted and cheated is going to be your middle name. At the end of the day, you are going to feel physically and emotionally exhausted and, on some conscious or unconscious level, ripped off.” P. 46
  • “Reward yourself. You are so accustomed to taking care of others that you often exclude yourself.” P. 47
  • “never, never subordinate to their business anything that they believe is really important to them. Business is only one part of who we are.” P. 49
  • “People come and go in our lives, and when they go, they leave the best of themselves behind with us.” P. 51
  • Be honest with yourself. What are you doing about your relationships, your finances, your health, your spiritual life, your personal interests, your family and all those other facets of your existence that comprise your total life?” P. 52
  • “If you had more balance in your life I believe you could perform at a much higher level in your business. And if your business improves, you have more time and resources to broaden your experience of your life and around and around it goes. It does not have to be a paradox. Ease into it by starting to dilute your business activities and see yourself in a more holistic way.” P. 52
  • Michelangelo said, ‘The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” P. 55


Steps to be Successful in Business and Life

Step 1: You have great clarity about what you want to do in your life. Low-performance people use confusion as a strategy for staying stuck.

Step 2: You have the ability to sense the future and move toward your fresh pictures, thoughts, and emotions. Low-performance people focus on the past, allowing outdated pictures, thoughts, and emotions to determine their future.

Step 3: Your inner dialogue is positive about yourself and about life in general. Low-performance people have a negative inner dialogue about themselves and life.

Step 4: Your emotions are positive regarding your future and yourself. Low-performance people’s emotions are negative.

Step 5: You embrace a high degree of accountability and self-efficacy. Low-performance people embrace a high degree of subordination and helplessness.

Step 6: You are real about your life. Low-performance people are in denial and fantasy.

Step 7: You work diligently and with intelligence. You pay the price through sacrifice, delaying gratification, and doing whatever it morally takes to get the job done.

  • “We seldom are aware of when we are facilitating someone’s personal and professional transformation.” P. 58
  • “Do not settle. You are much more than what you are experiencing. Take it to the limit. Horizons are waiting to be sailed over.” P. 58

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Take the garbage out daily.
  2. Be selfish and avoid the “what if?”
  3. Master the balancing act
  4. Stretch and go beyond comfort

Robust actions to take:

  1. For one workweek journal all of the activities that you are involved in on a daily basis. Do not censor, and please include everything whether it seems stressful or not. Rate each activity on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the least stressful and 5 being the most stressful. Pay special attention to the 5’s. Identify what you are doing on a daily basis to relieve the stress, and if there is not an activity, choose one that allows you to drain the accumulated tension from your system.
  2. Write down what you have done for yourself in the last six months that was just for you. If the list is short or nonexistent, decide right now to declare something. Approach this activity as if it really mattered and with the same robust passion and interest that you do when taking care of others. This is a non-negotiable contract with you. Make a commitment to honor it no matter what.
  3. Declare one goal in each of the following categories that you will achieve in the next 12 months.
  • Financial:
    • Goal:
    • Obstacle:
    • First step
  • Spiritual:
    • Goal:
    • Obstacle:
    • First step:
  • Personal:
    • Goal:
    • Obstacle:
    • First step:
  • Health:
    • Goal:
    • Obstacle:
    • First step:
  • Relationships:
    • Goal:
    • Obstacle:
    • First step:
  1. Identify and commit to unreasonably reset yourself in all areas of your life. Examine where you have fallen asleep and give yourself a wake-up call. 911. You deserve it, the people in your life deserve it, and I guarantee that once you become fully awake again your life will dramatically change for the better.


Chapter 3 – Strategy Three: Lead the Organization, Let Others Manage It

  • “Your ‘job’ as the leader in your organization is to:
  • “There is an abundance of written and recorded material telling you how to become a better leader. Most of it is sound, expert advice. It is not like we are in a vacuum of information regarding the subject. Investigate what is out there. Select what works for you, and above all else, follow the proven advice and methods of your peers who appreciate and understand what it is like to be in your shoes.” P. 63
  • Albert Einstein said, ‘Only a life lived for others is worth living.’” P. 65
  • “Identify and focus on the top 20% of your people and devote 80% of your time and resources furthering them along.”
  • “Do not spend your valuable time trying to elevate those floundering around you and stuck ankle-deep in foul-smelling corporate sediment. Stay with your winners and demonstrate to them how to get to where you currently are and to where you are headed.” P. 66
  • “Rising stars want to learn and grow. It is their hunger and they are voracious consumers. Do not tell me you do not have the time or they would not be interested.” P. 67
  • “Use the ‘one-to-one’ to inspire your top performers to go far beyond where they currently are. Assist them in creating a vivid picture of their future self.” P. 68
  • “Engage in a continuous conversation relative to their career path. Explore areas that they need to develop, skills they need to acquire, behaviors that would benefit them as they move forward in their careers. Provide them opportunities to stretch beyond immediate comfort, make resources available that they may need, and above all, remain active in the conversation.” P. 68
  • “…we influence people through coaching, mentoring, and role modeling.” P. 68
  • “Conrad Hilton suggests that, ‘Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.’” P. 69
  • “as Confucius said, ‘I hear and forget. I see and remember. I do and I understand.’” P. 69
  • Mahatma Gandhi reminds us that, ‘A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.’” P. 69
  • “…the velocity of change in the business environment is accelerating at an unprecedented rate.” P. 70
  • General George S. Patton Jr. said, ‘A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution applied 10 minutes later.’” P. 70
  • “From, The Book of the Samurai by Hagakure comes this insight:
    • ‘In the words of the ancients, one should make his decisions within the space of seven breaths. Lord Takanoba said, ‘If discrimination is long, it will spoil.’ Lord Naoshige said, ‘When matters are done leisurely, seven out of ten will turn out badly. A warrior is a person who does things quickly.’ When your mind is going hither and thither, discrimination will never be bought to a conclusion. With an intense, fresh, and un-delaying spirit, one will make his judgment within the space of seven breaths. It is a matter of being determined and having the spirit to break through to the other side.’”
  •  “It has been my experience that when projects, goals, tasks, strategies, assignments go off course, slide to the ‘crisis stage’ or fail to reach completion, it is usually because the leader did not establish crystal-clear expectations with the people responsible for implementation.” P. 72
  • “Talented, highly motivated people want to work for a leader who is decisive, who takes action, and who has forward accelerating momentum.” P. 73
  • A vision is a significant goal that you want the organization to reach at some point in the future. I prefer that it be specific and singular in nature.” P. 73
  • Ralph Lauren believes that, ‘A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.’” P. 74
  • Joel A. Barker states, ‘Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.’” p. 74
  • “Make certain that your lyrics (words), dance (body language), and melody (tone) are in exact alignment with the message that you are attempting to convey to your implementers. Be accountable for your words, actions, and demeanor. They are yours. Keep your message simple. Keep the conversation focused. Be the broadcaster.” P. 75
  • “Most successful leaders are absolutely consistent and relentless in keeping their vision visible. Every encounter with their employees is an opportunity to embed their vision into the thinking and activities of the implementers.” P. 75
  • Elvis said, ‘Values are like fingerprints. Nobody’s are the same, but you leave ‘em all over everything you do.” P. 76
  • “Keep the principles few in number and high in impact. You are not in the behavior modification business.” P. 77
  • “The odds suggest that the past is the best predictor of the future.” P. 78
  • “When you witness the company values being lived by an employee or a group, make it visible. Call attention to it. Celebrate. Reinforce it. Broadcast the event to the rest of the organization.” P. 78
  • “Equally important is making visible in real time any violation of the principles. Turning your back on any erosion of what you hold as important diminishes what you believe in and says to the organization that these values and the implementation of them are arbitrary and optional.” P. 79
  • Roy Disney suggests, ‘It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.’” P. 79
  • Delegate… then get busy doing what you are being paid to do.” P. 79

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Inspire, influence, and transform your people.
  2. Set the corporate compass with your vision.
  3. Be decisive.
  4. Drive the business with your principles.
  5. Delegate, then get busy doing what you are paid to do.

Robust actions to take:

  1. Who in your organization do you need to spend more shoulder to shoulder time with developing their skills, behaviors, and leadership abilities?
  2. When are you going to start your monthly one-to-ones with your direct reports?
  3. Define your vision for your organization.
  4. What decisions are you procrastinating on making?
  5. What explicit principles do you want to make visible to your organization?
  6. What tasks and responsibilities are you willing to delegate to another person in the organization?


Chapter 4 – Strategy Four: Value Resiliency Over Brilliancy

  • “You are the shoulders that your company stands upon. You are the stuff that your company is made of. You are the person that others will turn to for guidance when the train has suddenly derailed. Unpleasant, unpredictable events are going to happen to you and your company in this post-modern business era. That is a given. Are you up to it?” p. 85
  • “You are not firewalled against misfortune. There are no moats between you and pending catastrophe.” P. 85
  • Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence states, ‘One source of a positive or negative outlook may well be an inborn temperament; some people by nature tend one way or the other. But, as we shall also see… temperament can be tempered by experience. Optimism and hope… like helplessness and despair… can be learned. Underlying both is an outlook psychologists call self-efficacy, the belief that one has mastery over the events of one’s life and can meet challenges as they come up.” P. 89
  • “Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura further states that, ‘People who have a sense of self-efficacy bounce back from failure; they approach things in terms of how to handle them rather than worrying about what can go wrong.” P. 89
  • “it does not matter if you were born with resilience or you acquired it while leaning back against the ropes doing your version of the Ali ‘rope-a-dope.’ If you want to be successful in leading a small to midsize business, it had better be a part of your repertoire. Got it?” p. 90
  • “Old Japanese proverb that stated, ‘Fall seven times, stand up eight.’” P. 92
  • “Like best-selling author, Robert Fulghum suggests, ‘If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is an inconvenience.’” P. 92
  • “You are going to make mistakes. That is a guaranteed reality. If you do not think you are going to blow it now and then, you are either an incredible genius immune to human frailties or in absolute denial. What if you are both? Resiliency is what is going to pull you through to the finish line. A little smarts also goes a long way.” P. 92
  • “Most successful leaders are able to:
    • Make their personal resiliency unmistakably visible.
    • Create a strong support group around them.
    • Be willing to do something different.
    • Throw intelligent and appropriate resources at the obstacle.” P. 93
  • “Organizations mirror the characteristics of the leader. So go you, so goes your business. I do not believe that opposites attract as much as I believe that people like to be around others just like them.” P. 93
  • “‘Resilient people… possess three characteristics; a staunch acceptance of reality, a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three.’” P. 94
  • “Resilient people do not do it all alone. They have figured out that they can only stretch themselves so far before they eventually unravel. When unexpected challenges knock on your door, call in the team and even the odds with whatever you are facing.” P. 96
  • “Dan’s method to overcome a setback:
    • Became absolutely real about the situation and recognized the immediate impact it had on his businesses cash flow and his personal net worth.
    • Got help and did not allow himself to be isolated in facing the difficulty.
    • Established an accountability relationship with his peers.
    • Kept respectful communication lines open to all concerned.
    • Personally, got involved and invested in solving the problem.
    • Kept it simple and focused on two primary objectives.
    • Called in some chits.
    • Did not burn bridges,
    • Tried something new.
    • Hung in there and stayed on the bus!” p. 100

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Get over whatever “it” is fast.
  2. Understand that resiliency is your differentiator. Leverage it.
  3. Download resilience into your organization.
  4. Make your personal resiliency unmistakably visible.
  5. Create a strong support group around you.
  6. Be willing to do something different.
  7. Throw intelligent and appropriate resources at the obstacle.

Robust actions to take:

  1. Currently what is the most challenging “it” in your business?
  2. What are you doing about it?
  3. If you were to create an advisory group, how would you use them?
  4. Who specifically would you choose?
  5. What is your plan to create resiliency in your company?


Chapter 5 – Strategy Five: It’s All About the People

  • “I am not telling you anything you do not know. It is just once in a while you suffer from an unanticipated acute amnesia attack and try to do what you do completely alone or with limited human resources, and then sit back in wonderment and disbelief observing that the project failed or imploded on the launch pad. It is good to have rocket scientists on your team during design, lift-off, orbit, and re-entry.” P. 104
  • “It is essential that your number one priority in your business be intentional and proactive:
  • “When I facilitate strategic planning sessions with companies, I insist that the number one priority be securing and retaining extraordinary talent.” P. 105
  • “Make your system dealing with talent highly visible, well thought out, thoroughly understood, and consistent in the organization.” P. 106
  • “People are not going to go away, so figure out how you can deliberately and strategically approach and maximize your return on this essential resource.” P. 106
  • “If you do not have an internal Human Resources function in your business then outsource it to a contract firm that specializes in all the extended and inclusive activities of a true professional in Human Resources. Do not drop it on your controllers or CFOs shoulders.” P.107
  • “Keep a talent file handy. Consistently fill that folder with the business cards and resumes of talented people who you and your employees encounter in your world.” p. 107
  • “You are the only person in your enterprise who will aggressively and deliberately hire someone better than you.” P. 108
  • “No one is deliberately going to create terminal obsolescence for him or herself. You need to be the lead dog. It is the best view.” P. 108
  • “Hire fast, fire even faster is now more appropriate. It is a prerequisite that you have a streamlined, well thought out procedure that accelerates the decision-making process regarding people coming and going.” P. 108
  • “You are not and never should be in the behavior modification business.” P. 109
  • “design and implement a consistent, repetitive, and effective, interviewing methodology. Invest in training your existing employees on how they can effectively and efficiently evaluate prospective candidates.” P. 109
  • “Be willing to open up your pocketbook a bit wider and deeper to pay for talent. Like everything else in life, you usually get what you pay for.” P. 110
  • “I question what keeps leaders from investing in people at the same scale and confidence that they invest intangible assets.” P. 111
  • “What prices are you paying for discounting the contribution of your people to your success?” p. 111
  • Winners currently view themselves as free agents, owners, and investors.” P. 112
  • “The loyalty relationship between employee and employer has diminished from both sides. Highly talented people are more mobile, more willing to seek and respond to opportunity, and more visible in the marketplace than ever before.” P. 112
  • “Your goal as employer is to assist your employees to become better all-around people not necessarily just better employees.” P. 112
  • “Enter into the conversation with your key people. Stay current with the folks who are making you successful. Do not be held hostage by them by trying to satisfy unreasonable and selfish demands but do determine what it will take the Velcro them to your organization for as long as possible.” P. 113
  • “You should never be surprised or caught off guard by the sudden and unexpected departure of one of your winners in you have engaged with them in a candid and ongoing developmental dialogue. Keep the conversation current.” P. 113
  • People are known by the company they keep, and companies are known by the people they keep. Who are you keeping that should not be? What is it costing you? How does this reflect on your business and you as a leader?” p. 113
  • “You must take every opportunity available to consistently upgrade the talent in your organization. Turn this seemingly stressful dismissal into a positive, proactive action and not a heavy negative burden.” P. 114
  • ‘” Value honesty over niceness.’ What is your niceness costing you and the organization?” p. 114
  • “Be compassionate when removing the deadwood but extricate it. You either directly or indirectly hired and/or inherited them at one time so you have direct accountability in this issue. You also played a cameo role in their lack of success in conscious and unconscious ways. Again, get over it, and please do not set them up for life with an overly generous severance package to soothe your guilt.” P. 117
  • “Your people will crawl across the world on razor blades if they sense that you really do care for them. They need to know and you need to make it explicit.” P. 118
  • Please make sure that you do the following:
    • Spend scheduled quality one-on-one time with your keepers.
    • Give them continual developmental feedback, not punitive.
    • Challenge them with interesting, stretching, assignments, and keep raising the bar.
    • Go out with them and pick up the tab.
    • Write them personal notes of congratulations. (not email)
    • Publicly and privately, acknowledge their outstanding performance.
    • Design a career path with them.
    • Coach, mentor, and role model.
    • Help them to align their goals with your business goals.
    • Criticize the performance, not the performer.
    • Follow-up with them on agreed-upon personal and professional outcomes.
    • Always be a trusted and enthusiastic advocate of their self-esteem.
    • Above all else, listen, listen, and listen.

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Understand that consistent, extraordinary results are created by extraordinary people.
  2. Make it the priority to proactively recruit, hire, train, and retain extraordinary talent.
  3. Get rid of deadwood now.
  4. “Show and tell” them that you care.

Robust actions to take:

  1. What are you going to do to raise the level of talent in your organization?
  2. What do you need to do to be more proactive in recruiting, hiring, training, and retaining extraordinary talent?
  3. What do you need to do to extricate the deadwood in your organization?
  4. What are you going to do to express the care that you have for your employees?


Chapter 6 – Strategy Six: Understanding Your Numbers is Not an Option

  • “…you must continually remind your employees, that the primary reason you are in business is to ethically and consistently make money. Lots of cash. Period. End of story! No other acceptable options come first.” P. 124
  • “Everything else in your business comes in second place except your principles for they determine the manner in which you ultimately secure your profits.” P. 124
  • “Gather, interpret, and understand what the numbers of your business are saying to you. They tend to shout loud and clear if you are listening and paying close attention. If you do not, you are surely lost and riding downhill rails to a very nasty train wreck with your net worth dangling from a narrow-gauge railroad trestle.” P. 125
  • “What are your fiscal goals? How are you going to measure them? What systems do you need to install and implement to reach the identified financial objectives? What are you doing to educate yourself and your employees on sound monetary management? What is your budgeting process? How do you communicate the financial health of the organization to your employees, your bank, the other share and stakeholders?” p. 125
  • “My most successful clients and TEC (Vistage) members were clear on the following:
    • What the organization needed to do relative to its continuous financial health.
    • What percentage growth rate they wanted to grow the business.
    • What the industry financial standards were and how they matched up with the company’s fiscal results.
    • What percentage of sales or actual dollars they established as goals for their various margin lines.
    • How much debt or cash was required to maintain or grow the business and at what interest rate.
    • How regularly and with what content did they want their financial reports to contain as they landed on their desks.
    • What they wanted to be defined in the budgets, how the process was implemented, and how people and departments were held accountable.
    • What they wanted the value of the company to be when it was time to take hard-earned chips off the table.” P. 126
  • What are your corporate equivalents of at bats, hits, runs, errors, strikeouts, and walks that tell the story about your day, week, month, and year at the office? Do you have a process that indicates to you in a timely and concise manner the financial health of your business, or do you have to sort through piles of convoluted and disorganized data from multiple sources to understand what is happening to your net worth, equity, and peace of mind? Are the financial indicators predictive or are you examining historic information that tells you about the past but fails to give you a future-oriented roadmap? Do you truly understand what you are tracking and what to do with the information once it is on your radar screen?” p. 128
  • “What financial data, in a flash, would reveal to you the macro picture regarding the true current and future financial health of your company? What information would allow you to sleep well that evening in your bamboo hut or motivate you to jump into a dugout canoe, paddle furiously to some appropriate destination to initiate immediate, corrective action?” p. 129
  • “Keep the following in mind when setting up your specific flash report items:
    • The items must be predictive, not solely historical.
    • The items must be easily understood and obtainable.
    • The items must be timely, scheduled, and relevant.
    • Keep the items few in number and high in impact.
    • Do not lock onto them forever. Your business may change and the information provided no longer reveals to you what you need to know.
    • Have others outside your business periodically and objectively review the information.
    • Act upon the data as needed.
    • That is enough, now go out to lunch.
  • “My most successful clients and TEC members demand that all of their financial reports be given to them on time and when they want them. They insist that the reports be accurate and inform them in customized detail relative to what they want and need to know. They make certain that the form in which the information reaches them is understandable by them and consistent with how they process information.” P. 134
  • “If you are going to make your numbers visible to your employee base, you must accompany the information with continuous, financial literacy training.” P. 135

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Make money and get everyone’s attention.
  2. Pound your financial stakes in terra firma.
  3. Create your box score.
  4. Do not fly blind.
  5. Insist upon financial literacy.

Robust actions to take:

  1. Identify your financial stakes for your organization.
  2. Determine the financial indicators in your corporate box score.
  3. Select the financial reports that you need. When do you need them? In what form? Who should provide them to you?
  4. State how you are going to communicate your financials to your organization. Identify what is going to be communicated.


Chapter 7 – Strategy Seven: Set Your Plan in Motion With One Hand on the Reverse Gear

  • “Leaders should undertake new business strategies only after their current choice has reached its logical and final conclusion.” P. 138
  • “Remember that the last nine words of any dying business is, ‘This is the way we have always done it.’ You must constantly examine, explore, and test what, how, and why you are doing what you are doing.” P. 139
  • “Strategic thinking and deliberate intelligent application primarily focuses on one of the six honest men, Mr. ‘How.’ When you think of strategy, think of ‘How am I going to accomplish something?’” p. 141
  • “Do you have among your employees a ‘Mr. Who’ that can intelligently, consistently, and effectively team with you to determine how you are going to strategically accelerate your organization toward your vision?” p. 141
  • “Mr. ‘When’ enters the scene as the immediate response to identified problems or the initiating of appropriate changes.” P. 141
  • “Mr. ‘What’ is simply the goals and the vision that you are driving the organization towards.” P. 141
  • “Mr. ‘Why’ is the justification of whatever you are implementing, the intention motivating you to accomplish something.” P. 141
  • “Mr. ‘Where’ is whatever market you are attempting to penetrate.” P. 141
  • “As a leader, you are obligated to pay special attention and continue to further develop your stars. Remember to spend 80% of your time developing your top 20%.” P. 142
  • “For those employees on the organization chart who show promise, untapped potential, and keen interest, provide them specific training, mentoring, coaching, role-modeling, and the occasional opportunity to participate strategically with you and the chosen stars.” P. 143
  • “For those that historically display limited ability and/or interest and are still patiently standing in line collecting your “company welfare check,” have HR escort them to the nearest exit and wish them and their new employer well.” P. 143
  • “The role of a strategic thinking management team and their designated leader is to intelligently strategize and implement the following four activities:
    • Continually evaluate the present and future needs of your customers.
    • Satisfy those needs profitably.
    • Continually monitor your competition.
    • Keep your competitive advantage appropriate.” P. 144
  • “I intentionally choose ‘needs’ not ‘wants.’ If you attempt to provide your customers with all that they want they will pick you clean and you will value-add yourself right out of a once-profitable business and wonder, in the name of a completely satisfied customer, what in the world just happened.” P. 144
  • “Occasionally, it is a good idea to actually ask your customer, ‘do you value all that we are providing, and is it helping you and your business be successful?” p. 145
  • “With limited resources, you are still able to collect data that when gathered and analyzed will provide you an educated peek into your customer’s future needs. Try the following:
    • Always debrief your salespeople when they come in from the cold. What did they learn about your customers?
    • Make CEO to CEO sales calls on your best customers and ask only questions that identify what the customer needs from you to make their business more profitable.
    • Check out your customer and competitor’s websites
    • Attend customer’s and your industry trade shows.
    • Gather all employees who interact with your customers and brainstorm new and innovative ways you can improve customer relationships.
    • Subscribe to and read your market publications looking for trends, etc.
    • Create a focus group with your best customers and ask them what they need from you.
    • Warehouse all this information, and with objective external input, analyze what the data is telling you.” P. 146
  • “One does not have to go too far back in history to see how quickly markets can change, needs are identified, strategies evolved, and new and existing customers are rapidly satisfied by ‘unusual suspects.’” P. 146
  • “You are now competing in a rapidly changing and evolving world. Your advantage is your nimbleness and your ability to act upon information quickly.” P. 148
  • “You cannot afford to be fiscally promiscuous by ignoring your own monetary needs in an effort to satisfy a demanding customer who will drop you like a lump of hot glowing coal the moment a competitor comes in with a lower price per unit.” P. 148
  • “There will be times when you are forced to sacrifice profits in the name of growing your business and investing for the future, but be prudent.” P. 149
  • “At times you need to muster up the courage and fire a customer because they are not always right and especially not always right for you.” P. 150
  • “Turn your marketing people into Chief Intelligence Officers. Copy what works for your competition and put your own spin on their process that fits with how you like to do business.” P. 150
  • “Your competitive advantage should inspire you and the organization to exceed all previous expectations. It should motivate customers to continue to do business with you. It should attract prospects to join you on your journey. It should be a beacon for talented people to climb on board. It should be a rail to ride to your explicit vision.” P. 152

Review: To be a successful and effective leader of a small to midsize business you must:

  1. Keep constant vigilance
  2. Hire and train strategic thinkers
  3. Satisfy those needs profitably
  4. Monitor your competition
  5. Keep your competitive advantage appropriate

Robust actions to take:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish in your business?
  2. Why are you trying to accomplish this?
  3. When do you want this completed?
  4. How are you going to do this?
  5. Where is this all going to take place?
  6. Who is going to do the work?
  7. Who is your most feared competitor?
  8. What is your competitive edge that defines why you are the first choice of customers?