Aligning the Herd One Gazelle at a Time

Aligning the Herd One Gazelle at a Time

“Goals without routines are wishes; routines without goals are aimless” is a quote taken from Scaling Up: The Rockefeller Habits 2.0 by Verne Harnish. This book has inspired a business and leadership event that ABG Capital has been fortunate enough to attend; the Gazelles ScaleUp Leadership Summit.

It’s been three months since eight of our leaders attended Gazelles 2016 ScaleUp Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. Seventeen dynamic speakers and authors captivated our team by sharing their wisdom, experience, and talent for success.  We gathered for discussions throughout the conference spending time reviewing notes, sharing ideas, and reflecting on strategies and initiatives that would best benefit our organization in the short term. Upon returning to the office, our leadership team agreed to meet once a week to hold ourselves accountable, narrow down our top take-ways, and decide on the one big rock or number one priority for the remainder of the year. Together we came to a similar conclusion of what that one big rock is and what we feel is needed to be even more successful, creating alignment through shared consciousness and empowered execution.

The first step in this process is to share the plan with each employee and identify opportunities for all employees at all levels in the organization to make decisions and solve problems by enabling rather than directing. This concept of engagement through empowerment leads to a “team of teams” approach to foster transparency and allow for stronger communication and understanding of the company’s strategic plan. The execution portion of ScalingUP pinpoints three critical components that must happen throughout the organization in every team; priority, data, and rhythm.



Promoting trust and purpose with and between teams will contribute to bottom-up results from daily interaction. Our company initiative for quarter three and four is to ensure that each team is meeting regularly to define its big rock for the week, month, and quarter.  We’ve been instrumental at achieving improved communications resulting in better efficiency and enhanced teamwork between departments.

Align Today is a tool we use to keep everyone in the loop by sharing a one page plan available for all to see, update, and work together toward aligning department initiatives with the company’s common goal or BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal). We recently outsourced Centric Performance to conduct employee surveys and management review meetings for selected teams to help identify each employee’s understanding of his or her role and how it contributes to the common goal of the company. Leadership is serving others and bringing out the best in people.  It’s important to rally the emotional connection and understand the importance of what each employee values to truly have an engaged staff who wants to develop individually and succeed as a team. Our plan is to involve the employees in designing a plan for their own critical numbers and KPIs to create buy in, appreciation, accountability, and involvement toward the common goal.

As you can see, the quote we began this with has a lot to do with the processes and tools we have injected into our environment. Routine matters. Let’s face it–if you’re moving without a routine, your priorities are most likely scattered and you have no analytical evidence to uphold any of your efforts. Even more important, your goal, or “big rock” that every employee and department should be focusing on as a priority, should be backed by rhythm. The rhythm within your day-to-day tactical progress is your routine–that “groove” or effortless pattern you get into when you master your priorities and data.

We realize that growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together in synchrony. If there’s one key we continually take away from the Gazelles it’s that our people are our rhythm. They are the force that continually pushes us toward success. If we cease to invest and cultivate in our employees, then there will be no perpetual development. All of our growth depends upon their activity within our organization. Activity that sprouts innovation.

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!

Just another Friday at ABG

Happy Friday! We’re hoping everyone had a fantastic week. We’ve been keeping busy here at ABG Capital with visitors and planning sessions and conferences all week. Let’s tell you a little more about all this.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, GlobalPOPs held their annual planning session in our new conference room and on Thursday and Friday VoIP Innovations held theirs.These sessions are designed to create a yearly and quarterly plan for the companies so they can stay ahead of their competition and continue pleasing their customers. Here are some pictures of the two planning sessions:

ABG Capital Annual Planning

The GlobalPOPs Team

ABG Capital Strategic Planning 2

The VoIP Innovations Team

On top of all the strategic planning that was going on this week, InspiraFS had a few visitors in the office this week too. They were just in time because our build-out project is almost complete! There are only a few small final touches that need to be finished up, include the wall designs that we have being printed right now. We’re looking forward to showing off the office in two weeks for the big unveiling at our Open House.

This week our HR Manager, Sharon Kolesar, spent a few days out of the office at the Pittsburgh Human Resources Associations (PHRA) 2013 Annual Conference and Exposition. This year was their 65th anniversary and they celebrated by hosting another fantastic HR convention. Some of the topics they covered were creating an inclusive culture, healthcare, decreasing stress, analytic tools that can help any HR professional, and even health and wellness topics.

The last thing we need to mention is that it’s that time of the year when our Executive Team will be heading out of the office for the second Gazelles summit of the year. The first summit they attended this year was in Orlando and focused on growing leadership within the organization. This summit is in Las Vegas and will be centered around growing the entire organization. The members of the Executive Team who will be attending are Jeff Tapolci, Jason Tapolci, Ron Eggert, Dan Ravenstahl, Sebastian Kiely, Pete Littlejohn, Nick Medina and Corey Potts. We can’t wait to see what this summit has in store for everyone at ABG Capital!

We hope you have a great weekend. 🙂