Multiplication by Subtraction

It could happen to you. A crucial member of your staff leaves. Now what? A Roundtable member was faced with that dilemma. Replacing the employee would have been the logical choice; it would have filled out the team and made customers feel better. It would have been business as usual. But this member had read the book Multiplication by Subtraction by Shannon

The Devil is in the Details and the Fine Print

How often do you come across an ad that seems too good to be true? The saying “the devil is in the details or the fine print” cautions us to be wary. When you open a bank account, log onto a website, sign up for a “free” app or a new cell phone, you agree to terms spelled out in the fine

Do You Pick Up Pennies

Walking across a parking lot last week I spied a penny on the ground. I picked it up. Picking coins up off the ground has been a long-standing habit for me. Money is money, whether it’s a penny, a quarter, or a dollar. Not everyone feels the same. Friends with me have said everything from “A penny is not worth the

Make Your “Vampire Decisions” Carefully!

Life is filled with decisions. Some small: what will I have for breakfast? Some more serious and long-term: Where should I invest for my future? Some decisions are profound and life changing such as getting married, having children, entering the military or changing careers. The decisions that change your life forever are called vampire decisions. In her book “Transformative Experience”  L. A. Paul

I’ve had a #!%’@%! day!

We have all had them – a day that starts bad and gets worse: The dog wouldn’t come in which made you late for work. In a hurry and fumbling for keys, you drop your phone on the driveway and crack the screen. Your boss/foreman/assistant looks like she’s in a sour mood as you walk by. Then lunch rolls around,

Six ways to attract “Cream of the Crop” Employees

A recurring topic in our CEO Roundtables is how to attract great employees. The labor pool has plenty of average candidates, but businesses who want the best must keep abreast of the latest hiring strategies. Brand your company as a great place to work. Your story is shared best by you and the people who work for you. Put video testimonials

How Will You Dent the Universe?

In high school I participated in speech competitions. One friend had a speech impediment which made it difficult to understand some of her words. I often wondered what made Carol brave enough at 16, to speak in front of an audience and panel of judges. At our class reunion last year, Carol shared that our English teacher, Mr. Meredith, tutored

Sacred Cows Make the Best Hamburger

On the Best Valley Dairy Farm, we milked Holsteins. We often had our “favorite” cows, but when the industry developed the capacity to measure the quantity and quality of each cow’s milk, we were shocked to realize our favorites were not necessarily the producers who kept our farm in business. Sadly, one of the few options was hamburger. According to

Is the Juice worth the Squeeze

I heard an interesting phrase last week: “The juice isn’t worth the squeeze.” It was in reference to deciding if making the effort to start a new project was wise. It caught my attention because it could be applied to many situations. We may have unlimited ideas, but not every great idea is worth our time and attention. Your work – Whether you own

Are you good or are you lucky?

Early in my career I worked for Arcon Construction. The owner, Dean Johnson, told me how he’d built the highway/heavy construction company from nothing to a multi-million-dollar business. Knowing little about entrepreneurship, I commented, “You sure were lucky.” Dean was offended and responded, “You know what luck is?  Luck is sweat applied to an opportunity.” I have never forgotten that lesson. Lucky people

Are you good at ignoring elephants?

I am often struck by comments people make when they miss an opportunity to speak up. “She knows I don’t like to reprimand people, so she pushes the rules a hair past the limit, knowing I won’t call her on it.” “Why does Harriet keep telling stories about people who’ve died from cancer.  It upsets me. Doesn’t she remember my

Where everybody knows your name

Boyceville, Wisconsin – my hometown. When my father was alive, I spent a weekend every month in Boyceville. Our Friday night ritual was to go for fish and chips at Buckshot’s Bar. We’d order while we watched people come in and greet each other by name. They would ask about the family, comment on the weather, and speculate on the

It’s all good.

It was late in the day; the store was packed.  All around me unhappy people were complaining about long lines and slow cashiers.  The young woman behind me had only two items and a little girl in her cart.  My cart was full, so I invited her to go ahead. “Thank you,” she smiled, “We don’t mind waiting; Emily and

Be Kind, Candid and Clear

Have you ever thought; “being in business would be so much more fun if I didn’t have to deal with people issues.” Suzanne has. She was referring to a long-term, valuable employee who took frequent smoke breaks, gossiped with other employees, and took two to four days off every month with little or no notice.  Time off is covered by the company’s

Does integrity matter?

A Roundtable member, Sarah, is growing her successful real estate business. She recently hired a new member for her team. John was intelligent, energetic, and hungry to be successful, all traits she was seeking. But to Sarah’s dismay, she just learned that John signed up with someone else, and to make matters worse, went behind her back attempting to recruit

Why do you want to boil the ocean?

Wally is smart, savvy, and like other Raven Roundtable members, enjoys sharing his hard-won wisdom. He purchased a small manufacturing plant, growing it into a $15 million company in 5 years. In a recent CEO Roundtable meeting, he listened as John shared his plans for transforming his company by bringing on a new and very different product line. Wally couldn’t

What bugs you?

A Roundtable member recently shared the “What Bugs You?” campaign she started in her company. The focus was to encourage employees to be honest regarding what bugged them about their workspace: were there changes that would enable them to work more efficiently? She was amazed at how engaged her employees were in the process. They peppered her with ideas on

Life Is Amazing; Why Aren’t You Happy?

We take for granted the advances that continue to make our lives easier: We eat foods grown around the world, talk to friends who are thousands of miles away, pay for lunch with a wave of our smart phones, and our cars can parallel park themselves. Pretty amazing!

So Many Good Ideas-How Do You Choose the Right One?

Sean and Dave are brothers and business partners. They’ve built their company by working hard, paying attention to the numbers, and listening to customers. Their business had been stable and successful for years. But changes in technology along with increasing competition have begun to threaten the status quo.

Avoid Hair On Fire

Avoid problems.

Rules of Life

My family attends a sweet little Methodist church in my hometown. I enjoy attending when I am visiting on a Sunday.

Having A Grease Gun That Doesn’t Work Is Worse Than…

My husband and I were chatting over dinner about what he’d accomplished that day. He commented, “Having a grease gun that doesn’t work is worse than having no grease gun at all.”

What’s Your Perspective?

What do you see when you look at your business: the same machines, the same equipment, the same people performing the same duties?

A Life Well Lived

How do you live to be almost 100?

Should You Always Keep Them Close?

Janelle, owner of a successful family business, was thrilled that her daughter Beth had joined the family business right out of college. Things were going well, and Janelle had visions of Beth eventually taking control of the business “when the time was right”.

Change One Thing

Sean, Bill, and Jared are neighbors: on the surface, they seem very much alike. Each is married, of average health, height, and body weight, and earning $75,000 a year. It’s their attitudes that set them apart.

Do You Need A Think Week?

Twice a year, for nearly two decades, Bill Gates has gone into seclusion for seven days to think about big problems. He contends some of his best work has come from these “Think Weeks”.

It’s Valentine’s Day

Balance is an important topic in my roundtables. Many business owners spend years building successful companies only to realize they have neglected the people they profess to love.

Your Amazing Brain

Your phenomenal brain is three pounds of remarkable matter; it’s capable of amazing feats.

Are You Hovering, Hovering, Hovering?

We’ve heard the term “helicopter parent,” a reference to moms and dads who constantly hover over their children, never giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions or mistakes, swooping in to save the day when things become the least bit challenging. 

What Inspires Loyalty?

Building loyalty requires creating value in the very fabric of your business – excellent products supported by dedicated, trustworthy, sincere team members.

Does Your Team Practice Diverse Thinking?

When we consider diversity in the workplace, we often react negatively, thinking of being required to hire xx% of employees representing different races and ethnic backgrounds.

This Is the Year to Stop

This is the time of year when we think of starting new things: the diet, the exercise program, or learning a new skill. But are there issues hovering from the past that need to be confronted?

Last Blog of 2022

In my last blog of 2022, I want to thank all the people who have touched my life in so many ways. Thank you for joining me here each Thursday. It’s gratifying to have the opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with you. The new year is just a few days away. Is it just me or did 2022 seem

Easy Buttons Are Hard To Come By

Some days, we would love to have an “easy” button. Remember the Staples commercial? All you had to do was push the big red button with the word “easy” on it and everything you wanted would magically appear.

When Did We Stop Using Magic Words?

We have all experienced long lines with stressed-out employees doing their utmost to serve every customer.

Are You an Encourager?

When my nephew Josh was 14, he loved digging into the statistics of different countries, their population, latitude and longitude, GDP, GNP, and the products they produced.

Is Your Company Evolving?

Growing up, I would beg to go with my dad to get his car serviced. The waiting room in the mechanic’s garage was filled with locals drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and exchanging gossip. Always prominent were the Snap-on Tool calendars.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Every day, we should be grateful for all the good things in our lives, big and small.

Get Off Your Butt and Get Busy!

Another year is almost over, with only seven weeks left (49 days – 1,176 hours – 70,560 minutes to be exact). Are you on track, feeling a sense of urgency, or does the thought panic you?

How Would You Like To Own This Business?

Phil’s boss finally asked him THE QUESTION.

Have You Watered Your Customers Lately?

A friend is engaged in a serious conversation with the United States Postal Service about why it is taking a package eight days to travel 400 miles.  To their credit, USPS is doing a commendable job of keeping her informed of their activity on her behalf. The product isn’t arriving any sooner, but the open communication does make it more

Use Your Words Wisely

You are a creature of excellence.

What Is Your USP?

Tennant has always had a reputation for producing top-quality products. They were loyal to their suppliers, paid within 15 days (with a discount), and were door openers for attracting other respected manufacturers.

Lost: One Man Cave & A Lifetime Of Memories

It’s the kind of news no wants to hear, especially when on vacation thousands of miles from home. My best friend and her family were in Mexico when they got the news her husband’s woodworking shop had burned to the ground. Worse yet, their much-loved pets perished in the blaze.

5 Lessons Larry Learned About Growing Too Fast

Larry had a nice business and made a good living. His employees appreciated their jobs and enjoyed working with him.

Plan, Prepare, Be Flexible!

We make lots of plans: daily plans, work plans, meal plans, business plans, and vacation plans. Over the years you’ve probably learned that life doesn’t always go as planned. Murphy sneaks in like a thief in the night and the best-laid plans are suddenly blown out of the water. Preparing for the unknowable future is crucial in a constantly changing

Start Every Day With A Gift To Yourself

I love listening to members present their MAPs.

13 Strategic Planning Questions

Strategic Plan! What are your thoughts when you hear those words? Do you roll your eyes? Do you dread the process? Do you know what to do with a strategic plan?

Moments of Magic

Every time a potential customer comes in contact with a product or service, there is an opportunity to create a MOMENT OF MAGIC. It’s the moment when every aspect of a transaction is simple, easy, and pure joy.

New Clothes. New Shoes. New Haircut.

What comes to mind when you think of fall? For me, it’s cool, crisp days, brilliantly colored leaves, and going back to school.

What’s On Your Stop Doing List?

What does your daily to-do list look like?  Are you working ON your business or are you mired down in make-work details that distract you from the tasks that help build a better business? Sometimes we don’t realize how much time we’re frittering away. We miss the forest for the trees.

When You’re Having A Bad Day

Bad days. Everyone has them.

Can You Afford to Ignore Customers?

Jim went shopping for a high-end, luxury car. He showed up at six dealerships in jeans, driving a compact rental. All sold expensive cars, yet only one showed genuine interest. The manager took all the time Jim needed, was highly knowledgeable, and even told him when he could come back to look at a soon-to-be-released new model.

I Can’t Fire Him!

At a recent Roundtable meeting, David shared his concern regarding an employee who was padding his timecard with overtime hours he wasn’t working. This wasn’t the first time Joe had been caught stealing; the last time it was for taking scrap material. Unfortunately, Joe is the only person who performs a complicated assembly process in the factory. So, David has

An Opportunity or A Vacation?

Jim spent the better part of a week in Las Vegas at the annual Furniture, Home Décor, and Gift Market. People from all over the world annually attend. Jim spent long days talking to exhibitors and negotiating prices on unique items to fill his store.

Who’s Your Number 2?

A couple of years ago a member came to a Raven roundtable with the following issue: “My Dad is dying from cancer, and I want to be with him. I don’t have anyone trained to run my company while I’m gone. What can I do?”

More Questions Than Answers

This is a blog with more questions than answers.

Have You Added Value Lately?

“Where’s the magic?  I’m not feeling it, are my customers? “

How You Manage Matters

My friend, Jean, is in the habit of taking an early morning run every Saturday. Until recently, she used to stop afterward for a leisurely cup of coffee at her neighborhood coffee shop.

Is ‘Good, Better, Best’ smart business?

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best. ~St. Jerome

Is A Cluttered Desk A Sign Of Creativity?

What are your thoughts when you see a messy desk? How about a tidy, organized desk? A University of Minnesota study indicates that people with messy desks are creative and full of new ideas. A clean desk, by contrast, suggests generosity and conventionality.

What do you want bad enough?

Remember a time when you worked really hard for something? Maybe it was winning a competition, acing a test, or getting selected for the lead in your class play. You poured countless hours into preparing for victory.

The power of relationships

The keynote speaker at our Raven Retreat was Chris Fitzgerald Sheriff of Barron County Wisconsin. His office was the center of operations during the search for Jayme Closs; the 13-year-old who was abducted from her home after her parents were fatally shot. Sheriff Fitzgerald told the gripping story which as everyone knows ended with Jayme breaking out and running for help after 88

NOVEMBER 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What is One Word You Would Choose to Define You in 2021?

What is one word you would choose to define you in 2021?    These are the words chosen by my members to define themselves in 2021. The road is easier together,

OCTOBER 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What’s the #1 thing you’ll focus on in your planning for 2021?

What’s the #1 thing you’ll focus on in your planning for 2021? Succession planning. We also need to figure out how to make our business more valuable. ************  Examine the different kinds of memberships and season passes to see if we need to raise prices. We will also look at family memberships; they are increasing. ************  Sales! ************ We’re going

SEPTEMBER 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What’s one thing you’ll stop doing when the pandemic is over?

What’s one thing you’ll stop doing when the pandemic is over? I’m going to stop worrying. I feel like worry has set in more and more, every day I battle it. I worry about the numbers. I want to re-evaluate my current situation all the time and be as realistic as I can be about what I can and can’t

AUGUST 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What’s one thing you’ve started doing during the pandemic that you’ll continue doing when things return to normal?

What’s one thing you’ve started doing during the pandemic that you’ll continue doing when things return to normal? 1. Customer touches, making a point to be more in contact with them.  We’ll keep that rolling.  We’re doing a better job of that during COVID than we did before.  It’s more of a relationship builder than just calling for the order.I’d

JULY 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: The best boss I ever worked for was so good because… How does that relate to how you manage people today?

The best boss I ever worked for was so good because …  How does that relate to how you manage people today? 1. I worked as a bar manager in college.  The owner was so good because he cared.  We had some great late-night conversations that went well into the wee hours of the morning.  He was interested and he

JUNE 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What’s your “get-pumped” song and who’s the artist??

What’s Your “Get-Pumped” Song and Who’s The Artist?? Aaron Copeland – Rodeo AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top  AC/DC – Thunderstruck Alan Parson’s Project – Eye in the sky  (1st 90 seconds)  Alicia Keys – Girl on Fire Alicia Keys – No One   Awolnation – SAIL  Billy Joel – Piano Man Colton Dixon – Through all of it David Guetta Ft.

MAY 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Call one customer before our May meeting and ask, “What is your biggest challenge today or what is your greatest unmet need?

Call one customer before our May meeting and ask, “What is your biggest challenge today or what is your greatest unmet need?” When talking to customers, I haven’t learned anything new, but it has been validating. Amazon makes it easy to return items, so when customers have issues they don’t understand, they just send the item back saying it didn’t.

APRIL 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: What outside the box idea could you invest in today that could start generating income within the next 60 days?

What outside the box idea could you invest in today that could start generating income within the next 60 days? I’m creative!  I can come up with a million of those outside of the box ideas!  Realistically I should be promoting my coaching services a lot right now.  I could have more webinars and live streaming Q & A’s that

MARCH 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: If there was a downturn in the economy, what 3 things in your business could be eliminated and your company would still run effectively?

If there was a downturn in the economy, what 3 things in your business could be eliminated and your company would still run effectively? I’ve started the process already. Walk-ins and phone calls have gone down dramatically.  No need for a receptionist, laid her off last Friday. Stopped all non-essential purchases. May need to cut back hours. Consider eliminating someone

FEBRUARY 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: Describe your most successful technique for getting customers.

Describe your most successful technique for getting customers. We used to do a lot of advertising.  Now we focus on social media.  I think it’s word of mouth and being consistent in the work we do.  We’ve worked a long time on the sympathy business – people who come in say they can always tell which flowers came from our

JANUARY 2020 ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF THE MONTH: If you had $1 million to take your business as far as you could go, what would you do with the capital?

The question this month: If you had $1 million to take your business as far as you could go, what would you do with the capital? I would split it – invest it in marketing and sales. I also would update the equipment and the employees.  See where it was needed the most, there are things that need to be

2019 Around the Table Summary Booklet

Each year I like to create a gift for my round table members. I take the answers to all of the year’s questions and have a book created. Here is 2019 Around The Table Questions and Answers. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2019 AROUND THE TABLE BOOKLET

December 2019 – Answer To The Question

 What Will You Congratulate Yourself For A Year From Now? Opening a second location for my new business. I will congratulate myself for huge progress in my wellness quest. For sticking to my personal and professional commitment to growth.

November 2019 – Answer to the Question

The question this month:  What are you doing in your company that will improve people and the planet for tomorrow? #1 Internally we’re doing a lot of things to grow people:

October 2019 Question of the Month-Top 3 Answers

“The time is ripe for ….?” Leaps forward.  We sit on a lot of ideas in business or personal life and we don’t do them.  We are going into the year 2020, which is really big.  This is about vision clarity.  There will be a big shift in society and how people view things.  There are changes coming.  It’s now

September 2019 Question of the Month – Top 3 Answers

Here are the top three answers from last month’s Around the Table question for September: “What are your customers forcing you to do that makes your company better?”

August 2019 Question of the Month – Top 3 Answers

Here are the top three answers from last month’s Around the Table question for August: “How often have members of your leadership team spoken to a customer in the last 90 days? For what reason?” 

July 2019 Question of the Month – Top 3 Answers

Here are the top three answers for July’s Around the Table Question of the Month: “Do you ever ask your vendors to participate in events at your company? In what ways?” 

June 2019 Question of the Month – Top 4 Answers

Here are the top 4 answers to June’s question, “What are some of the things you do (or can do) to engage the lowest paid employees in your company?” 

2018 Summary of Answers Booklet

Each year I like to create a gift for my round table members. I take the answers to all of the year’s questions and have a book created. Here is 2018 Around The Table Questions and Answers. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2018 AROUND THE TABLE BOOKLET

2017 Around the Table Summary Booklet

Each year I like to create a gift for my round table members. I take the answers to all of the year’s questions and have a book created. Here is 2017 Around The Table Questions and Answers. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2017 AROUND THE TABLE BOOKLET

2016 Around the Table Booklet

Each year I like to create a gift for my round table members. I take the answers to all of the year’s questions and have a book created. Here is 2016 Around The Table Questions and Answers. CLICK TO DOWNLOAD PDF OF 2016 AROUND THE TABLE BOOKLET

I anticipate getting some accountability from the group which will make me more productive and pro-active in getting accounts.

Owner, No Employees, 1 Year Member

It has certainly helped with focusing on strategic vision, if it helps in finding the better/best path/road to the end of the journey, that’s worth a lot in my book.

Owner, 75+ Employees, Less than a year Member

Listening and taking the advice of my peers in my roundtable helped me understand the profit margins on different services and better align my pricing!

Owner, Less than 10 Employees, 2 Year Member

The most valuable thing I get from my Raven Membership; First, the map process. Secondly, I appreciate having the ability to chat through the things I am contemplating.

CEO, 50+ Employees, 8 year Member

My Roundtable membership allows me time to get out of the office to plan and set goals.  Makes me be more accountable to the things I need to do and get done.

Owner, Less than 10 Employees, 5+ Year Member

I value getting together each month and the frankness of my peers.

Owner, 20+ Employees, 10+ year member

My Roundtable membership allows me to add value to my peers by providing guidance.

CEO, 50+ Employees, 3 year member

I value the candid opinions, suggestions, and viewpoints of other members; and the accountability piece of committing to action.

Perspective – sometimes, when one is in the thick of things, it’s difficult to see the obvious. Members help with thinking outside the box.

I received invaluable advice on how to appropriately handle a situation involving a worker and worker’s compensation litigation – obviously saving additional legal fees for consultation!

CEO/Owner, 50+ Employees, 10+ year member

The road is easier together.  It’s a valuable opportunity to speak to peers who have the same type skin in the game as the decisions and problems I face.  I have become a better leader which has indirectly benefited my business financially as well.

COO/Owner, 50+ Employees, 3 year member

Brainstorming with and the support of fellow women business owners has been the most valuable part of my Raven Mastermind membership.

Owner, No Employees, Less than a year Member

It’s very valuable to me to hear the other members experience and challenges that they are having in their own businesses.  It’s valuable “been there, done that” kind of advice I receive and nice to know I am not alone.  I have learned to delegate more and am becoming a more well rounded person.

Co-Owner, 100+ Employees, 2 year Member

My Raven Mastermind Group helps me set goals and work towards them and my peers in the group hold me accountable to those goals.  It’s gratifying to see measurable and noticeable improvement in myself, my business and the other members.

CEO, Less than 5 Employees, 2 Year Member