Looking Back on INBOUND16

Cold calling is dead.

It’s just that simple. We now live in a time where marketing no longer reaches out by annoyance but by content filled with rich stories, SEO, automation, analytics, and so many other intuitive methods. Generally anything besides making those awkward phone calls in hopes of securing a customer.


That’s the beauty of Inbound Marketing. The barriers have been taken down. The opportunity for creativity and passion to be instilled in the way we choose to represent our brand is endless. Inbound brings forth a new frontier where captivating attention–and day trading it–becomes the holy grail of our marketing efforts.20161108_175314

INBOUND16 brought together over 18,000 attendees who live and breathe in the world of marketing, sales, and CEO-land, as well as HubSpot customers and agencies who understand the mentality and passion behind inbound and organic reach. All of us scurrying from session to session, taking notes and absorbing as many thoughts and tactical tips as possible to bring back to our organizations.

A few INBOUNDers from our marketing department flew to Boston to be a part of the gathering and came back full of insight. Upon landing, these three scattered throughout the convention center to gain the best marketing knowledge in the industry.

In the three and a half days of attendance Cherie, Cody, and Mark witnessed powerful keynote presentations from marketing gurus such as Gary Vaynerchuck, the “eloquently” spoken founder of VaynerMedia and host of #AskGaryVee, as well as Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Founders of HubSpot. Celebrities filled the halls of INBOUND as well. Stories of the rise and grind were told by Anna Kendrick, Michael Strahan, and Serena Williams. Even Alec Baldwin graced INBOUND16 with his presence one morning! The passionate life-tales and insight didn’t end there. Hundreds of breakout sessions filled all 80 rooms of the Boston Convention center as well as both of their grand ballrooms.20161110_141831_001

To summarize INBOUND completely is almost impossible. To experience this wealth of powerful knowledge and standout mentors, as well as those sharing the field of inbound from around the globe together in one location is something you truly have to be there for.

To squeeze just a little bit of this experience out of the conference we asked our three in-house-INBOUND-incumbents what moments of enlightenment, insight, actionable tips, and fun they experienced individually.

Cherie – PR & Social Media Specialist, ABG Capital: “INBOUND16 was such an incredible experience that it’s difficult for me to pick just one takeaway as my favorite. The initial thought I have anytime I reflect on INBOUND(16) is how amazing it was to be among other people in my field who just “get it.” The fellow attendees understand how crucial it is for us marketers to do what we do for a business. They also understand that while we have the “fun” jobs of the company, what we do takes hard work, strategic planning, analyzation, concentration, and creativity.

I’m downright giddy at INBOUND listening to others in my field “talk shop.”  And while my focus at work is on PR and Social Media, I have the opportunity to attend sessions on design, video, content creation, and storytelling, which aids in rounding out my expertise. If you want to be at the top of the sales and marketing field, a trip to INBOUND is a must for getting there!”


Mark – Product Manager, InspiraFS:  The Session titled: ‘The Science of Selling: How to Sell the Way our Brains are Wired to be Influenced and Form Buying Decisions’ really stood out for me.

David Hoffeld, The Hoffeld Group stated “63% of the behaviors salespeople deploy decrease the likelihood of a sale.” SAD! As marketers, we should care deeply about how prospects’ brains react to sales strategies. At the end of the day we are trying to drive sales, just in a different environment. There’s no reason we shouldn’t incorporate the science of selling into our content.



Cody – Inbound Marketing Specialist, ABG Capital: INBOUND showed me that your story matters. Something that outbound, or “interruption marketing,” doesn’t necessarily embrace. Interruption marketing is simply the interruption of someone’s activity to grasp his attention…it’s an annoyance. We’ve all seen in it with spam, pop-ups, ugly banner ads, cold calling, and even TV.

In Gary Vaynerchuck’s keynote he explained that the television networks we know and love are becoming extinct. What’s replacing them? Intuitive social media platforms that tell stories. Our iPhones have become the basis of our entertainment. They’re our new television sets. They’re filled with the networks we know and love–Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram.

We follow brands and celebrities by choice. Not by interruption. We “tune-in” to their stories, latch onto their content, and implement their output into our daily lives. Not because we were caged into watching a 30 second spot in the middle of the Walking Dead because our On-Demand isn’t working–but because we as a society, we as a human race, place emotional ties into what we view and love–the quality of story-telling.


Tactical Advice You Can Use Today20161109_144812

As I said earlier, summing up the lessons learned from INBOUND in their entirety is nearly impossible. However, we can give you few actionable tips that can improve your website and your conversions today!



Here are some tips you can incorporate right now:

  • Remove your slider/carousel hero banner. These diminish CTR (Click Through Rate) and take away from your value proposition.
  • A value proposition–you should have one! Peep Laja with ConversionXL has one of the best articles on how to create a great value proposition. Read it and test yours starting today. If you find this hard, just pretend someone asked you what you do and how you’re different. Once you’ve compiled that, organize it into a value prop and get it up on your site.
  • Define your conversion funnel assumptions. When someone lands on your homepage, where would he or she logically go next? Make that next step easier. That’s conversion optimization in a nutshell, and you can try that for each page. Use any data you have, or start with assumptions and test, test, and test some more.
  • Optimize your blog. Aside from your homepage, your blog is probably the second highest visited part of your website. You’d be surprised how your blog is leaking opportunities to convert.
  • Testing…Testing…Testing! So how can you do that? Add Hotjar to your site today. This will show you heatmaps, user recordings, and more.

Start using these tips today! We’ll be sure to enlighten you with more after INBOUND17. Grab your tickets for next years INBOUND with your company; you never know, we might just happen to see you there!


Steps to Better Marketing Team Building

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships” is a quote famously given by the legend, Michael Jordan. A lot of people get confused when it comes to the topic of talent. Most think it’s all they need to succeed. In some cases, such as professional basketball, it’s a huge part. Some people are born with natural abilities that make up their talent; there’s definitely a big difference between an individual who is 6’8” and someone who is 5’4” when trying out for a basketball team. Who do you think is more likely to be the first round pick? I’ll admit, there is some flaw to that analogy. Work ethic, hustle, and mental capacity make up the difference whether it’s in the NBA or in your marketing department.


When building or refining your marketing team, it’s really all about filling in the gaps between talent, brains, and hustle. Which brings us to our first step in building the ultimate marketing team.

Step 1. Identify the gaps.

Let’s do a little audit with your current marketing team. Divide your employees into categories. The creative, the strategist, the analysts, and so on. Now identify the gaps. What are gaps exactly? Gaps are when your marketing team is missing or doesn’t have the right skill set to keep the cogs turning.

This inevitably means you need to grow your team and you’ve reached that “oh crap” phase.

The good news is that you’ve caught your dilemma and you’re taking the initiative to fix it. So good for you! You’ve now realized that there are blocks in your team that are preventing you from achieving your goals. Your talent gaps have led to performance gaps. The bad news is that performance gaps act as ceilings on your results.

What you shouldn’t do is go and hire 10 new people to fill these gaps. Schedule evaluations with your current team members to identify what’s working for them, what their passions are, and what you actually need. You’ll be surprised when you find that hidden pool of talent within your current team hasn’t surfaced until this point. Sometimes all it takes is being personal with your employees and showing them that your interest is to cultivate their passion.

Step 2. Be realistic.

If you had unlimited resources, you would create the perfect team in no time. The cost of the team would be unimportant. What you need to focus on is where you stand now, what resources you currently have available, and where it all exists in reality. Create a plan that outlines how you’re going to fill the remaining gaps. Minimize waste in your department to free up your budget and begin to position your team to scale.

Step 3. Worry about the gap, not the project.

Turnover isn’t a word that sits well with any business of any size. Sometimes it creates problems, but it’s exactly what you need to weed out the main gaps within your department. You can look at it one of two ways; you’ll have the waste of always looking for new talent, delays due to always trying to find that perfect talent, bringing people up to speed…OR you can look at it as a worthwhile investment in furthering your team’s strengths. Don’t hire contractors and agencies for what they can accomplish. Hire them for what they do best. There are agencies that can give you the world, but there are only few who can work with their passion. There are people who were made to do a few things really well; those people were designed to fill your gaps.

Now it’s time to begin again. Remember, a well-oiled marketing team is always going to be a work in progress and will be far from perfect.

Not everyone who starts with you will make it to the finish. Realizing that priorities and needs change in team members as well as the company, helps rationalize what could be a tough decision ahead.

Team building is a necessary part of business. Forming the right team is an art that few businesses have yet to master. Are you the next Picasso?

Humor Goes a Long Way With Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day! It’s a day of acting silly, sharing some laughs, and of course wearing the infamous red nose. Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day happens to be today–May 26, 2016. ‘Tis the moment to spread awareness and to support some really great causes.

Red Nose Day ABG CapitalThe campaign’s slogan says it all ­– “Laugh. Give. Save a kid.” According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, “More than 16 million children in the United States- 22 percent of all children- live in families with income below the federal poverty level. That’s just the U.S. alone; Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day contributions also help children in the poorest communities in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. All of the money raised supports projects that ensure kids are safe, healthy, and educated. Red Nose Day is a monolithic biennial event that has been very effective at using comedy to raise money. Since its inception in 1988, it has raised over $650 million, with $108 million being raised at its most recent event alone.

Red Nose Day at ABG CapitalWho’s involved? Some of the world’s top charitable organizations, that’s who! Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Covenant House, Feeding America, and The Global Fund are just a few of the organizations involved.

ABG Capital staff members raised awareness today by stopping by their local Walgreen’s and purchasing plenty of Red Noses for employees to wear around the office…and of course they had as much fun as they could while wearing them throughout the day!

Red Nose Day InspiraSo why is comedy the remedy for acquiring donors? The Comic Relief Foundation has tapped into a niche of the nonprofit world that really hasn’t been targeted before: humor. Laughing and being silly is working for the organization quite well. Everyone knows the old proverb “laughter is the best medicine”, but there’s a lot more power to humor than its medicinal qualities. Tickling people’s funny bones is also a great way to capture and maintain attention. Something Red Nose Day is accomplishing effectively, especially when partnering with a network as sizable as NBC.

Charitable organizations can use humor to help raise awareness, gain partners, and raise funding. Of course nonprofits should be mindful with regard to how they use humor; no one wants to be in the position of offending someone or making light of human suffering.

Comedy can be memorable and doing it the right way for the right reasons can indeed boost awareness and even more money. If it captures your attention, it’s already done its job.

Red Nose Day Cameron

Red Nose Day

Also, tune into NBC tonight at 9/8c for the Red Nose live TV special and have some laughs. Happiness goes a very long way, and could be the cure.

Are you participating in Red Nose Day? How so?

4 Keys to Success from the Gazelles Growth Summit

It’s that time of year again–time for the annual Gazelles Growth Summit! ABG Capital’s top dogs are fortunate enough to travel once again to this learning event in Atlanta to continue their growth and education in the world of leadership.

ABG Capital, along with hundreds of other business owners, will learn from CEOs of some of the world’s top companies to understand their habits, experiences and insights to craft an industry dominating strategy!

gazelles 1This year’s summit is focused on Verne Harnish’s book Scaling Up- Mastering the Rockefeller Habits 2.0. There will be a buffet of knowledgeable guest speakers presenting, including Jim Whitehurst, David Butler and Aubrey Daniels just to name a few. Also, team workshops that focus on the “Rockefeller Habits 2.0” in a day-long spirit of “how-to” interaction, collaboration and networking will be featured.gazelles 2

Today we’re going to dig right into the meat and potatoes of Scaling Up and showcase how ABG Capital practices the four main strategies found in the book on the day-to-day.

To summarize the book (which is almost sacrilegious to do), Harnish focuses on four keys to scaling your business. Keys that allow some companies to “make-it” and the rest to fall.

The keys are:

  1. Attract and keep the right people
  2. Create a truly differentiated strategy
  3. Drive flawless execution
  4. Have plenty of cash to weather the storms

The People

The book states that the job of the leaders is to make sure the right people are doing the right things.

Your values and culture should be so strong that they act like an immune system, forming a system of protection against those who may not align, all for the greater good and health of your organization.

At ABG Capital we invest in our employees. We cultivate them and promote their growth and success. We shape our employees into their roles and allow them embrace their passions. When everything aligns, it’s almost magical. It’s wonderful to see our teams share our C.O.R.E. Values, make them their own and embrace their responsibilities. Our organization exists almost as an accounting statement. Each produced effort has a column with numbers of the extraordinary people responsible. It only becomes problematic when those names in the column don’t align with the work and values presented.

Some companies may think turnover is a scary outcome within their business. It’s actually a good outcome. Only when you invest in your employees are they at the peak of strength. Why? You’re weeding out the B and C players that eventually become toxic to your A players–the players in which you invest.

The Strategy

Core values are the rules and boundaries that define our company’s culture and personality. They’re also the rules and boundaries that define our strategy. We developed a set of C.O.R.E. Values that have helped define our niche, simplify our execution and turn our revenue into profit. Our strategy is differentiated due to the fact that each of our portfolio companies has a Profit Per X. Meaning that our companies individually have one product, service, technology etc. that sets them apart from the rest.

gazelles 3

We each also have a BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), a long term goal that changes the nature of business. For example VoIP Innovations, one of ABG Capital’s portfolio companies, differentiates their X Factor, which is their BackOffice software that is unlike anything in the industry today. VoIP Innovations also has a BHAG of offering complete Choice, Automation and Control of their telecom services. Scaling Up teaches us that we need to sandbox our brand promises. Who are our customers? What are we really selling them? What are our three brand promises? And the most important; how do we measure?

The Execution

At ABG Capital we like to focus on three key components to steer our ship in the right direction: priority, data and rhythm. We pride ourselves in focusing on these three words in all that we do. What does that mean exactly? Well let’s break it down. Priority–when you come in to the office bright and early, just poured yourself a coffee and sat down at your desk, you should have a piece of work carried over from the previous work day that needs to be finished before your meeting. This task becomes your priority. Each business day should present a new priority; that one project, simple or complex that needs to be completed before moving on to anything else.

Collecting data requires us to have data. Key performance indicators (KPIs) must be identified, and effort needs to be expended to capture this information. ABG Capital’s KPIs vary between companies and KPIs enable us to measure how we are performing by revealing both areas in which we excel and those in which improvement is needed.

Rhythm is the heartbeat of your organization. Have a daily huddle. This 5-15 minute meeting should be implemented to discuss tactical issues and provide updates. Brief, daily meetings will help establish a rhythm, as can weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings. Meetings are useful for obtaining feedback, getting “real” information, reviewing KPIs and identifying problems that prevent things from running smoothly.

Meetings can even provide those all-too-rare opportunities to pat people on the back and “recharge their batteries.”

The Cash

In Scaling Up,  Harnish says to never blame the industry for your company’s financial situation. “Well, this is just the way it is in our industry,“ isn’t a phrase you’ll hear uttered from top executives. Could you imagine Warren Buffett or Mark Zuckerberg giving a shrug followed by these words? In fact, Harnish says there are only two time-frames that matter: 90 days, 10 years and nothing in between.

Your 90-day plan is data driven, and you’re focused on overcoming the choke point. This is your time to review a daily report of available cash and to note why it has changed in the last 24 hours. Recognizing these changes and following the efficiency and progress of your “rhythm” will promote huge growth in the next decade. So no more excuses–only improvements!

A Day of Food Bank Volunteering at ABG Capital

Chances are, when you were in college, you were involved in volunteer efforts in one way or another. During that time, you learned how rewarding it is to give back to your community, first hand. The feeling of being part of an organization that helps veterans and military families, feeds the hungry, cleans up and cares for the environment or cares for seniors can be a very fulfilling experience. You positively impacted your community, made new friends and gained a sense of purpose with the time you spent volunteering. However, after you graduated, got a full time job, got married and had kids, the hours in the day now rush past in a blur. Even though you would love to still have the time to dedicate to volunteerism, life’s other demands tend to take precedence.

Fortunately, here at ABG Capital, our leadership recognizes the time constraints of our busy lives and builds time to volunteer into our work/life balance by organizing opportunities to give back during the work day. Our latest volunteer event took place last week at the Greater Washington County Food Bank who has been providing groceries and nutritional information and education to food-insecure residents of Washington County for over 33 years! Recently, they’ve moved to a new facility which they hope will maximize their efforts to end hunger and with the anticipated opening of an on-site thrift store, allow them to provide gently used clothing and household items to the community.

Last Friday, we joined them to pack Senior Boxes which go out for delivery to area seniors in need. We packed over 500 boxes of food and had a really fun time working as a team and getting to know the folks who make the GWCFB run! Here are a few pictures of our event!



If you would like to contact the Greater Washington County Food Bank and offer your volunteer services, you can check out their Get Involved page on their website. Also, not only do we take part in giving back through initiatives like these, we also give back through the Tapolci Foundation. Giving feels good!

Problem Solvers: Customer Service Rules, Part II

Customers want friendliness. They want to be greeted by a smiling voice and a “Hey, how are you today?” They want empathy, as well. They want to hear you say that if you were in a similar situation, you would feel the same way. A fair resolution to their problem is what all customers are looking for. A customer might ask you for a full refund and a replacement product as a solution and that would certainly make the customer happy but it doesn’t serve your business’s bottom line. Declining to provide any type of accommodation would certainly protect your profit margins but would probably result in a very unhappy customer. Meeting somewhere in the middle will almost always satisfy the caller. Following tried and true customer service rules is the way to do it.

Customers appreciate it when they feel that you are participating in the resolution of the problem. Assuring them they you have the solution and explaining the steps you will take, along with the steps that they should take, will engage the customer to participate in a good outcome. If their problem cannot be fixed, customers need alternatives. Tell them what you can do, not what you can’t.

customer service

Above all, customers want information, not excuses. They called to find out why they experienced a problem and what needs to be done in order to fix it. Excuses are usually offered with the hope that the customer will understand and calm down, but excuses are not helpful. The customer didn’t call to find out who is to blame for their problem, they called to find a solution. Don’t offer excuses, offer help. Assure the customer in positive terms that you can and will help solve their problem.

Remaining in a positive frame of mind is so important when speaking to customers over the phone. You have to work harder because they can’t see your facial expression and you can’t see theirs. You have to listen to their voice and the information they’re giving you. A trick you’ve probably heard, but bears repeating, is that you should smile because customers can hear it in your voice!

The first thing you should do when you are faced with a caller that has a problem is apologize. The customer’s feelings are critical and a sincere apology for the fact that the customer has a problem with your company will go a long way, then, offer sympathy. Why sympathize when you’ve just apologized? Aren’t they almost the same? It is true that they are similar, but there is a very important difference. Apologizing says that you regret the problem occurred. Sympathizing tells the customer that you understand their feelings about it.

Put yourself in the customer’s place. How would you feel if this happened to you? Let the customer know this. Once you’ve soothed your caller’s feelings, accepted responsibility for the call. This is different than accepting responsibility for the problem. More often than not, you are not the one who caused their issue, but you are the one who answered the phone, and by doing so, you’ve already accepted responsibility for the call. End the phone call on a happy note and then go find a way to relieve any pent up stress or frustrating feelings that you may have. Take a brisk walk, make a cup of tea, eat a piece of candy but don’t keep the stress cooped up inside you. If you do, you risk the chance of losing your cool on the next customer, or worse, a coworker or your boss.

Continuing from our last post, here is our list of five remaining customer service rules to follow:

6. Don’t Leave Customers Hanging

  • All communications with customers need to be handled with urgency.
  • Research shows that 95% of dissatisfied customers will do business with a company again if their complaint is resolved on the spot.

7. Always Provide What You Promise

  • Failure to do this is a sure way to lose credibility with your customer.

8. Assume Customers are Telling the Truth

  • The majority of customers don’t like to complain; in fact, they’ll go out of their way to avoid it.

9. Focus on Keeping the Customer, Not on Being “Right”

  • Focus on the quality of the service you are providing rather than just moving the caller off of the line.
  • Research shows that is costs 6 times more to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.

10. Make It Easy

  • Make the customer’s job easy by doing your job well.

There you have it! If there was any doubt in your mind how to properly handle the customer service of your business, you should be all set now. If you missed Part One, go back for a refresher. Have you had the opportunity to problem solve for a customer? What did you do? How did you solve it? Tell us in the comments below!

Problem Solvers: Customer Service Rules, Part I

There is a quote by the CEO of LL Bean and it goes: “A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it’s just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never ending, unremitting, persevering, compassionate type of activity.” I really like this quote because I feel like by the time you get to the word “ongoing” in this sentence, you’ve already begun to feel the doldrums of what it can occasionally be like to work as a Customer Service Representative whose whole day is filled with solving other people’s problems and listening to their complaints. But when you reach the word “compassionate”, it brings you full circle back to the idea that at the heart of every Customer Service Call Center, lies a group of people whose sole purpose is to help you. Those people know there are certain customer service rules that should always be followed.

Recently, I conducted a general training overview for the Customer Service Representatives that work for the Portfolio Companies here at ABG Capital. They all do very different jobs, but their one common and most important attribute, is that they are here to help our customers solve problems. Everything they do, every single day, is directed with one objective in mind: pleasing the customer. Our customer is the one person in our company who has the power to fire everyone who works here, from the CEO on down the line, and he or she can do so simply by spending his or her money elsewhere. Most of the team members who attended the training agreed that it was helpful in refreshing some of the Customer Service skills they’d learned in the past. Many of them took away some new techniques on how to provide truly excellent Customer Service, going above and beyond what is expected, and even how to deal with the occasional difficult caller.

So how do you provide this excellent level of customer care? What do customers really desire? The answers are probably more straightforward than you think. Providing excellent customer service means providing a quality product while satisfying the needs and the wants of the customer. If you can manage to do these two things, you will have a repeat customer. Excellent service results in the continued success of your company, increased profits, higher job satisfaction, and even better teamwork. When your coworkers see you modeling a positive attitude and going above and beyond, it fosters the type of environment where everyone wants to contribute to a high level of service. Good service equals lasting relationships, average service can result in steady customer relationships that could be lost if something better comes along and poor service will almost always result in lost business.

customer service

Here is our list of five rules for providing excellent customer service:

1. Commit to Quality Service

  • Create a positive experience for the customer.
  • Go above and beyond customer expectations.

2. Know Your Products

  • Help win a customer’s trust and confidence.

3. Know Your Customers

  • Tailor your service approach to their needs.
  • Get to the root of customer dissatisfaction by talking to people and understanding complaints.

4. Treat People with Courtesy and Respect

  • Every contact with a customer leaves an impression.
  • Use phrases like “Sorry to keep you waiting,” “Thanks for your order,” “You’re welcome,” and “It’s been a pleasure helping you.”

5. Never Argue with a Customer

  • Be solution focused rather than problem focused.
  • Research shows that 7 out of 10 customers will do business with you again if you resolve a complaint in their favor.

We had some open discussion at the end of our training and heard some great customer service stories. Some stories were about really successful resolutions, some were so funny the whole room was laughing, and some delved into the harder to solve situations and what to do when you’re faced with an irate caller or a problem you can’t fix. As always, we love to hear from our readers, so if you have any customer care tips or a great customer service story, please leave us a comment. In our next blog post, we’ll continue with Part II and give you five more outstanding customer service rules!

The Most Important People You Need In The Workplace

“You’re only as good as your team.” A quote given by the nine time NBA All-Star Dominique Wilkins. A quote that may sound pretty straightforward and to the point on the surface is actually a lot more complex than you could imagine. Ask yourself, “How well am I performing?” Whether that question may be aimed towards your personal life in regards to your happiness, health, and family; or in your professional life in relation to your financial success or the overall strength of your company–it all comes down to whom is behind you. So, who are the most important people you need in the workplace?

People you need in the workplace

Who are the people in your life that are raising you up to become and maintain the happy, in shape, mother, father, or partner that you are? It’s important to not only understand the good standing you’re in; but who to thank for turning the often overlooked gears that made you this way.

Maybe you’re not the best you can be. Maybe your company is struggling with sales, keeping client relations strong, or forgetting its overall core values. Are you to blame? Partially, yes. It’s crucial to also realize that who you are made up of as a team often determines the success of the current moment you’re in now. So let’s dive right in and break down the most important qualities that you need in your workplace. We can uncover whether or not these qualities and skills are present, or need to be brought to your team immediately.


Believe it or not, your team’s commitment to the overall goal of your company is crucial. An employee committed to achieving his goals and objectives is something magical in and of itself. These team players should be especially valued when times are tough, and when they continue to strive for solutions and refrain from blaming others. A person who is committed to your bigger picture is, in this case, probably the most important person in your office no matter what other skills and strengths they may have.

The Extra Mile

In order to gain your confidence, employees must be willing to go above and beyond what is typically required of them on the job. Employees who take on projects that fall outside their normal responsibilities can expand their skill set and explore new avenues for professional growth. While someone may not always have the time to volunteer for an extra assignment, passing on every opportunity will prevent any particular person in your team from being viewed as a go-to person in the department, as well as a critical cog in your business’ well-oiled success machine.


In today’s workplace, communication is the skill of utmost importance. Your employees must have communication skills that allow them to proactively and effectively contribute their thoughts toward the overall proliferation of greatness within your company. An effective communicator leaves no room for error and can exhibit thoughts in a direct manner to make up the solid framework of your team.

Leadership and Creativity

Employees often work together on projects, so some employees must take on the leadership role to ensure deadlines are met, problems are addressed and all ideas are being considered. Meaning that leadership and creativity are also two very strongly needed qualities to have in your workplace. You as the employer often seek employees who have natural leadership skills. In addition, these employees must also have creativity skills so they can find and use solutions for potential problems on tasks, projects, or assignments.

Wear Multiple Hats

Who is the person in your office that shows an eager willingness to get done…well…whatever needs done? Having a person that doesn’t pump the brakes with what’s outside his job description is a huge asset. A person who wears multiple hats in the office is the reason you know if there are any loose ends; if there are, they will be covered.


When someone believes strongly in you, it makes a difference. You feel his support and you become more confident in yourself and your endeavors. When an employee believes strongly in your company’s mission, his job is no longer a job. It’s a calling. People work harder when they feel connected to and believe in your mission as a leader and the mission of the company. So why wouldn’t you include passionate people in your team?

Who are Your All-Stars?

Hopefully by taking a closer look within your company’s various teams you will find who shines the most and who could use some work. Maybe you’re missing an important quality/person all together who could bring that edge you’re looking for! Whichever the case, you now have a better understanding of the players on your team who are making your business the champion it is today.

Getting Your Core Values Off The Wall and Into The Office


If you were to walk into your company today, where would you find your corporate values? In the employee handbook? Hanging on a plaque in each room? Is your HR department protecting them? Regardless of where your core values may be found; they’re all empty promises if you as the business owner aren’t modeling them through daily office behaviors.

As a business owner, you’ll find yourself flip flopping in and out of other operating roles. Especially when pulling together your team to find out what your company stands for, besides the products/services it sells. In today’s post we’ll be taking a look at your core values, from the position of one question; Why? Why do we stand for these purposes and HOW do we make sure these purposes are off the wall and walking around the halls?

“Are our core values off the wall?” We all know what core values are. I discovered, in my college internship that core values aren’t as “ugly” or monotonous as my business planning classes made them out to be. Core values should be thought of with emotion. They should be a result of the cerebral planning process that is left out of the business plan. They should be looked at from within. It sounds a little silly, but really, look at your business as a whole in the mirror and tear yourself apart. What’s good about you, what isn’t? Core values are how your customers and the people you hire are connected. They’re why they buy from you instead of your competitors.

The process of developing a set of core values isn’t as intimidating as one may think. In fact, the building blocks for great core values can be broken down into three easy steps:

  1. Name the value: “Integrity is the essence of our success.”
  2. Describe the demonstrated behavior: “Our walk matches our talk. We make and keep commitments.”
  3. Measure how the leader demonstrates the value: Needs improvement–Delivery of commitments are inconsistent.

It’s unfortunate that part of the reason why businesses fail is because of their poorly executed core values. Internally and externally, if your partners in business don’t share the same purpose–and if they don’t share the same values–it will be difficult to make any progress.

The same goes towards your employees. These core values you have so proudly displayed on almost every wall need to keep your employees unified. If your employees don’t understand your values and purpose as a company; chaos could be the result.

Ask yourself why?  Why are you doing what you do in the first place? How are you doing what you are doing? Keeping that WHY at the center keeps the focus on those core values you set in place for your business.

Where are your core values being carried out?

Where are your core values being carried out?

Assembling a team of like-minded partners and employees that understand your WHY keeps those words you have plastered all over your office walls in the discussions where critical decision making takes place. As well as in the break room during lunch.

Make your core values a navigational practice for your business. Bringing in your WHY when hiring will assemble a team of like-minded employees. Hold your core values as a high priority during the interview process and watch reactions.

What about your preexisting employees? Employees can be looked at in two ways: Those who have high values and those who have low values. Those who have high values might need to be trained to have better performance. Those employees who have low values, even if they have high-performance, should be relieved from the company. They become toxic. This is where most companies go wrong–they base everything on performance and not the culture.

Without letting your employees know where you stand through your meetings and team-work events, your employees won’t know where you stand. So be straight with your values first and then measure performance.

So next time you walk into the office take a look around. Each day keep an eye on where your core values have bounced to next. You may be surprised, but you’ll certainly feel satisfied.

The Importance of a Morning Routine


Do you have a morning routine? I never gave much thought to it, but someone recently asked me about this subject and upon reflection, I definitely have one. I remember a time, not so long ago, when I decidedly did not have one and when I look back and compare those two phases of my life I started to realize just how much a simple routine has vastly improved the morning situation in my house. So today, I want to share with you a few things that I do every single morning that sets the tone for my day.

I’m not going to tell you that my tips are going to solve all of your daily struggles or make your mornings completely stress and hassle free for the entirety of your days on earth, but I guarantee that instituting only a few of the steps will make a big difference in getting your day going in the right direction.

Let me share with you what a morning without a routine probably looks like for most of those who don’t have one: At 6:00 a.m. your alarm goes off for the first time. Several snooze alarms later, it’s now 7:00 a.m. so you finally drag yourself into the shower. There’s no time to shave (dudes) or blow dry your hair (ladies), so it’s a ponytail and facial hair day for you.

By 7:30 a.m. you’re dressed, but there’s no time for breakfast so you run out the door and hit the drive-through for an overpriced bagel and coffee. You slide into your cube a couple minutes early and begin your day. Sure, you were a little rushed and your ponytail or facial hair situation would have been nice to remedy, but you’re not late for work, so it was a good morning, right? Well, not so fast.


Let’s take a look at where things started to go wrong. Hitting the snooze button can actually tank your productivity for the day. When you go back to sleep after your alarm goes off, you’re setting yourself up to feel less alert. The sleep you’re getting in between snooze alarms isn’t long enough to enter into a full sleep cycle. Plus it’s broken up and fragmented, so it’s very poor quality rest. That’s no way to start your day.

Next, you didn’t leave yourself enough time to get fully ready in the morning (we’re talking about the scruff and wet ponytail here). Showing up for work like this might seem like an inconsequential thing especially if your workplace doesn’t have a facial hair policy, but here’s the thing: What if the president of the board makes a surprise visit? Or your manager calls you into an emergency meeting? Or a potential client shows up for a meet & greet? Your lack of a put-together appearance makes you look like you might have some time-management issues and that’s never an impression you want to leave with any of the aforementioned folks.

Now let’s talk about your breakfast. An unnamed popular donut shop’s plain bagel with plain cream cheese has almost 500 calories and 9.5 grams of saturated fat. Most bagels are very low in fiber which means those starches quickly convert to sugar which is not a sustainable energy source. I think we can do better! Let’s talk about how.


Successful people have one thing in common. They love their mornings! Famous athletes, CEOs and leaders of nations all put a big focus on their morning routines. The main purpose of your morning routine is to set the tone of your day before anything else can happen that might derail you. Avoid your phone, the internet, and television first thing in the morning. Get up with your first alarm and follow this short checklist of things to include in your morning routine:

  • Hydrate – as soon as you sit up, reach for a nice, room temperature glass of water and hydrate your body which lost more than a pound of moisture during sleep.
  • Meditate – take 5 to 20 minutes to sit in a quiet spot that is not your bed and relax your mind. Focus on your breath and nothing else. Thoughts will pop up and challenge your quietness, but picture them floating away like clouds in the wind.
  • Exercise – 15 to 30 minutes of anything you like to do in the morning that will get your blood pumping. Turn on some music and dance, go for a run, put on a workout DVD or just take your dog for a walk.
  • Eat – A healthy breakfast with protein and whole grains is one of the most effective ways to leave your body energized until lunch and help maintain a healthy weight. Can you say “veggie omelet and whole grain toast”?
  • Set some goals – This is as easy as writing down what you want out of life. They can be material objects or things you want to learn or anything else that you want in your life for yourself or for others. Keep in mind these important tips when goal setting.
  • Personal Hygiene – Leave yourself enough time to take care of the basics. When you look your best, you feel your best. Taken as face value, you might assume this means if you have on a nice dress or if your hair looks great, this will help you act more confidently. I challenge you to ask yourself this question: “Which one comes first: feeling good or looking good?”

Pick two or three items from this list and try to implement them into your wake up routine. Design your mornings so that you’ll love them. If you already have a morning routine, tell us about your favorite healthy food, exercise or activity and why you find your morning routine helpful. Help us inspire others to get out of bed and hit the ground running!