Tag Archives: best practices

Creating a killer company culture

A great company culture is not something that can be created overnight. It takes months, even years for this to evolve and there are certain things that need to be in place for your company to thrive. One of the most important decisions to make is whether you want to be a boss or a leader. There is a huge difference between these two, and it is only leader-2206099_960_720possible to create an incredible company culture with one of them. Hopefully you know which direction to take, and that is why you are here. The simple thing to remember is a leader will create a killer company culture, whereas a boss will literally kill company culture. The choice is yours!

  1. Lead by example – Live everyday the way you want your employees to behave. You are the leader, which means you do things first, and your team will follow. Set the standard for your team, and then hold them accountable. If you are late for every meeting and continue to keep people waiting, you will be quite a hypocrite if you get mad when employees are late. If you act in this way, you will soon be seen as a boss instead of a leader, and your culture will begin to crumble.
  2. Hire smart – When you are adding to your team hire people according to their behavior rather than their skill set, whenever possible. There are obviously some vocations where you can’t follow this principle, such as within the medical world where you need to hire a surgeon who is qualified as a surgeon! However, there are many positions where the skill set can be trained, and the most important thing is to find people who easily slide into your company with minimal disruption.
  3. Understand your why – You and your team need a purpose for coming to work everyday. If you are just going through the motions, and have no true purpose, it’s going to be very difficult to motivate people to deliver what you are looking for. Understand your why and make sure this is something that is discussed during the hiring and onboarding processes. This is your company’s DNA and needs to be your north star in every decision that you make.
  4. Tell your story and continue to refer back to it – Your company might be 25 years old, but the new members of your team haven’t experienced the trials and tribulations that you have been through. They don’t understand the hurdles you have overcome, the economic downturns, the bankrupt clients, the successes, and the differences that your company has made over the years. Tell your story so that your entire team understand more about your history, and the path traveled thus far.
  5. Establish traditions – these are activities that will help to motivate your team and make them feel more like a family. Company-wide lunches are a great way to achieve this, as are social events, team-building activities, community outreach projects, 5k’s, marathons and other charity events.
  6. Document core values – Decide what matters to your company and what you want Conceptual core values integrity ethics circle concept word clouthe focus to be on. Document, share, and live by these values on a daily basis. Keep referring back to them and make every decision according to what is stated here.
  7. Recognize and reward – Let people know that you are proud of them for their achievements and reward them accordingly. Surprise thank you’s are always fun for everyone involved and require very little effort. How good would you feel if your boss swung by your desk, gave you $50, thanked you for your incredible effort over the past few weeks, and told you to take your spouse out to dinner? Wow your employees and show everyone that you appreciate what they are doing.
  8. Treat others how you would want to be treated – If someone is performing at an incredible level and continues to deliver exceptional results, reward them for it. If someone is struggling due to a death in the family, or a sick child is causing lack of sleep, be empathetic and go easier on them. Show them that you are a human being and truly care about your team.
  9. Stay out of the ivory tower – Get out and about and interact with your team. If you keep yourself locked up in your office and employees only see you when things are wrong, there will be a massive disconnect. Be present, interact with your team, get to know them, pick up trash, replace the printer toner, and show them that you are a team player. Everyone will benefit from it and the collaboration is guaranteed to improve when people feel the collectiveness.
  10. Develop your team – Show your team the paths that they can follow to work their way up in your business, and provide them with the tools and opportunities they need to succeed. Increase their hunger and show them what they are capable of. This is so much more enjoyable and rewarding than hiring external people, and will allow you to positively impact so many people’s lives.
  11. Get to know your teamYour staff don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Understand what matters to them, what makes them tick, and how you can help them realize their dreams.
  12. Catch your people doing the right thing – Far too often we try to catch people doing the wrong thing. This is such a negative way of living and isn’t enjoyable for anyone involved. Instead of searching and waiting for the bad, hunt for the good and celebrate when your team do the right thing. It’s a similar idea to when parents look at a child’s grade card and focus on the one C, instead of the four A’s that the student has achieved. Focus on and reward the things that you want your team to do, everyone will be so much happier.
  13. Smile – If you are following steps 1 through 12, this will happen naturally and you will live a full life.


Good luck!


Prioritizing tasks around the house

As a happily married father of 3 with a full time job, a small business, a home, 2 cars, and numerous bills to take care of, things are typically quite chaotic. I have a list of things that need to be done around the house, and as most people will understand, there is just no way of handling every single item on the to-do list.

The first thing that is done is deciding which of these truly need to be completed. There might be something that I would like to do, but it is not urgent and can be put on the backburner. There are other tasks that simply cannot be ignored. For example, winterizing the sprinklers in preparation for the harsh midwest temperatures. If this isn’t handled, then we will find ourselves with huge bills to repair our irrigation system in the spring, or we could just not repair it and let our grass and plants die when the summer heat hits. Either way, we will be paying for something.

The sprinklers are an item that I have no clue about, and to be honest, I have no interest sprinkler-1209900_960_720in figuring out what needs to be done. There is expensive equipment involved and there is a lot of risk that has to be mitigated. I do not have this mindset, or the time to mess around, so I trust a local landscaping company to take care of it for me.

Then there are other jobs that are easy to do, that need to be done, but just take up a lot of time that could be spent in other directions. If I have the option of paying a neighborhood middle-schooler $20 to collect all of my leaves, which allows me to spend an extra couple of hours with my family, it’s a no-brainer as far as I am concerned. Instead of washing my car by hand I would rather use that time to take a walk to the park with my family, and pay $8 at the local Green Lantern carwash for a great clean!

There are other tasks such as repairing the washing machine and tuning up my lawn-mower that can be achieved, and I have achieved, with the help of a YouTube video. calculator-385506_960_720Then there are those tasks that I just have to do such as paying bills, managing the family budget, and monitoring investment accounts that only I can do. I try to save these tasks for later in the day so that I don’t miss time with the boys, and it also bores me, so it helps me get to sleep quicker!

At the end of the day you have to decide what is important to you, and what your time is worth. I pay $8 for a car wash because I would rather spend that time playing with my two sons, or sitting on the patio drinking a glass of wine with my wife. I would rather pay someone to do the more complex jobs where I do not possess the required skillset nor am I prepared to take the risk associated with completing the task myself. However, I always mow our grass as I find it relaxing, it’s good exercise, and my two boys have toy lawnmowers and will be out in the yard with me throughout! Incorporating family into chores around the home is a great way to get things done, save money, and still spend time with loved ones!

What matters to you? What are some things that you will never complete yourself because you value your time too much, and what are some responsibilities that you have no interest in doing due to a lack of technical knowledge? What tasks do you actually enjoy and are you able to get your family involved in any of your regular chores?

Trade Shows – the good, the bad & the ugly

I recently attended the 2017 PRSM Mid-Year Conference in Indianapolis. The trade show PRSMwas over a 3 day period and there were a few things that caught my attention:

  1. False claims – Nearly every company used verbiage such as “the biggest”, “the leading”, “the most trusted”, “the most reliable” and of course “the best”.
  2. A lack of knowledgeable and passionate team members – Many of the booths were manned by salespeople, and some even had temporary workers who had just been brought into promote the company for the duration of the tradeshow. Although on the surface their performance was acceptable, they were found out when the tougher questions came out. We had the director of the department in question with us and this was hugely positive with great feedback received from many attendees about the knowledge and passion that she shared.
  3. Scanning your badge and collecting your contact details – many companies attend these events in an attempt to collect as many contacts as possible who they can then bug with marketing emails long after the show has ended. No effort is made to even make introductions and before you know it you find yourself being attacked by a badge scanning maniac.
  4. Receptions and happy hours – It’s always nice attending events such as this as they give you an opportunity to meet face to face with existing and potential clients, as well as meeting fellow trade professionals. It’s great to mingle and make introductions, and the food that is typically available isn’t too bad either!
  5. Education opportunities – These events are normally jam packed with hundreds of speakers-414562_960_720classes and workshops where you can learn about latest industry trends, new technologies, things that are in the pipeline and issues to be concerned about.
  6. Late starts/ missed seminars/ unmanned booths – This event was a little more challenging to evaluate attendance as the event was sandwiched in between the destructive hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, which prevented many people from making the trip to Indy. One thing that isn’t difficult to recognize is when groups of people arrive at the exhibit hall a couple of hours after everything started and spend most of their time sat down trying to drown themselves with black coffee. The biggest disappoint for me is when exhibitors just completely fail to turn up and leave their booths unmanned. This creates a very bad impression of the business in my opinion and definitely reduces the chance that I will work with them.
  7. Traffic Police – People stood out in the aisles essentially forcing you to move towards their booth where their colleague will go ahead and pounce on you. There are unfortunately many areas where companies will put the hard sale on you without even knowing what you are looking for. Again there is no attempt to find out what you need and provide potential solutions. They instead try to force their product/service down your throat.
  8. Awkward but useful – The most enjoyable, but slightly awkward, session is typically the buyer-supplier forums where both sides of the table get to drill each other with tough questions. These are very beneficial as both sides are typically closer in their opinions than many would think, and this leads to some great conversations.
  9. After the show is over – the follow up is crucial. I personally believe that the most important thing is to develop strong relationships and lay the foundation for more in depth conversations at a later date. The face to face time is a great opportunity to explore your counterparts problems and compile a way in which you can bring value to their business. I try to develop the relationship in person, and then talk more in depth in the follow up.
  10. Services vs. products – At most tradeshows there will be businesses selling both services and products. The challenge here is that many products can obviously be commoditized, but the same is not true for services, which is what my company provides. It makes the conversations a little more challenging to change your audience’s mindset, but this is something that we are expecting and have plenty of experience with!
  11. Useless junk – The marketing materials that people use to lure you into their booth vary substantially in quality and usefulness. The worst item that I saw at this show was a small booklet where you could store all of your online account details and pen-2532710_960_720passwords! This booklet was a godsend for identity thieves as there was room for the website, the username, associated email address, and of course the password! You can’t make these things up! I obviously did not take part in this offer and instead will continue to rely on my memory and the ability to make unlimited changes to my login details when I forget my credentials…. There were however some great takeaways available that I was able to load into bags and take home to my two sons. There were also some useful things for my wife and me including powerpacks, USB adapters, and of course THOUSANDS of pens!

Overall, this conference was a great experience and one where I gained some very useful information.  I learned a lot from other attendees, both what to do and what not to do and am truly looking forward to the next event!

What have you noticed about trade shows that you have found useful?  Is there anything that has worked especially well for you?  Please leave your ideas in the comments below, and as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!


Travel tips for professionals

In the modern world that we live in, it is often part and parcel of many positions to travel the country, and potentially internationally, for business meetings. I am lucky that my husband doesn’t have to travel too much, but when he does there are several things that he does to make the process as simple as possible.

  1. TSA pre-approval – It only costs $85 for 5 years and is so worth it!  Some benefits include skipping the security line, not being required to remove shoes at security, and leaving your electronics in your bag.  airport, amsterdam, arrival
  2. Frequent flyer miles – take advantage of these, whether though the airline or through a credit card.  United offers the added option of admission to the United Club Lounge, which offers free snacks and drinks and a much larger area to relax before a flight.  When we had a 12 hour layover in New Jersey with a one-year-old, the United Lounge was perfect.  There was even a room for families and children where we were able to lie him down for a nap!
  3. A powerpack that is always charged just in case – Some planes are equipped with sockets that you can charge your phone through but many are not.  Power packs are not too expensive and are life-savers when you cannot find a place to charge your phone.  Additionally, there are luggage companies now that offer mobile charging stations right in your suitcase.
  4. Eye drops – to combat the dryness of the air on the plane and the conditions within your hotel room.  This will help you look refreshed for those meetings that are scheduled right as you arrive in town.
  5. A quality carry-on bag – Find a bag that fits your needs and can also fit easily into the overhead storage compartment on the plane.  This saves time when you are checking in and also eliminates the chance of the bag being lost.
  6. Download music and movies on your phone –  This will provide some in-flight entertainment without having to pay for Wifi on the plane.
  7. Book a room that includes breakfast and has a mini-fridge inside the room – onbreakfast-hotel-1921530__340 his most recent trip, my husband stayed in a Holiday Inn and Suites and was able to collect extra food at breakfast that he could then eat when it was convenient for him without the need to go out to purchase food.
  8. Lyft/ Uber app downloaded on your phone – everything is done digitally and one of the great things is that if you leave something in the car, you can immediately contact your driver on their cell phone, which is not possible with the traditional cabs. (Bringing back terrible memories of the time I left an entire suitcase full of shoes in a London cab, never to be seen again!)
  9. Plenty of water throughout to stay hydrated – you often don’t realize how dehydrated you can get on a plane.  Drinking plenty of water will keep your energy levels up and your appearance looking somewhat normal!
  10. Expensify –  digital expense tracking to keep the CFO happy at all times!

Conference calls: Are they worth it?

If you ever find yourself on conference calls, I am sure you will be able to totally relate to the video below. This is a classic example of something that is seen as being important and necessary for a company to function, but something that has the chance to negatively impact all parties involved. When I watch this video I immediately get flashbacks to previous companies where conference calls were a frequent occurrence.

Anyone who has taken part in a conference call knows that this video is not just trying to be funny.  These things do actually occur, and at the end of the meeting you end up feeling like you have just wasted an hour of your work day that could have been spent in a much more useful manner.  Instead of spending your valuable time on conference calls such as this, here are some alternative ideas that could be very beneficial to your company!

  1. Video conferencing – Skype or other teleconferencing tools are a great solution as everyone can see each other, which will remove some of the difficulties shown in the video.
  2. In person meetings – when possible, meet in person.  If you have an hour or so drive, having one in-person meeting a month will accomplish much more than meeting four times a month over the phone in many situations.
  3. Smaller, more personalized calls – try having fewer people on the call.  Make sure you only have absolutely essential people involved, and avoid bringing those on the line that don’t have much to contribute.  If you only include two or three people, those people can in turn send out a summary of the meeting to those who weren’t involved.
  4. Collaborative work documents – Google Docs, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, etc. are all great options for collaborating through online documents rather than over the phone or even in person.  They give people a chance to really think about their responses as opposed to shouting out the first thing that comes in their mind.

The main thing that I would suggest is to be as efficient as possible and don’t just have meetings for the sake of having meetings. Have an agenda and objectives, and stick to the tasks at hand.  Also, stress to the members of the group the importance of timeliness.  Start the meeting on time, and if people are late do not go back and recap what you have already discussed.  This is especially frustrating for those of us who show up on time and have to listen to something two, or even three times!

Do you have any suggestions for alternatives to conference calls, or tips for making conference calls more effective?  If so, put them in the comments below!  And as always, Expect the Exceptional every day!


Tips for maintaining a clean home

Our third child is due in mid-November, and I have officially entered “nesting mode.” Image result for pregnant nesting With the other two, I was going strong up until right before they were born; I shampooed the carpets in the week before my second was born, and even attended a concert on the day of!  However, this one feels a little different and I am losing steam much more quickly.  Therefore, I felt it was important to start the cleaning early so I don’t have to worry about being unable to do it later on.  The problem with this is the chance of the house being destroyed between now and my due date, so I have to focus on maintenance, which is not my strong suit so I have come up with a few rules to follow to help me out.  If it isn’t yours either, maybe you will be able to use these tips as you are working to maintain a tidy home!

  1. Laundry – start a load every morning.  If you go to work and don’t want to leave wet clothes sitting in the wash all day, look for a delay start function on your washer and set it for about an hour before you get home.  Also, try to have a basket for each person, as well as towels so you can separate straight out of the dryer instead of creating an additional task for yourself.
  2. Batch toilets – I hate toilet brushes, and have gotten rid of all of ours.  Clorox wands have disposable brush heads with cleaner built inside.  This is a convenient and sanitary way to keep your toilets clean; however, it’s not as cost-effective as a reusable brush.  So to cut down on use, I try to clean all toilets at the same time and reuse the brush head a few times to get more out of each one.  Even if you use brushes, cleaning all toilets at the same time is a great way to stay on track and ensure that toilets are all clean.
  3. Have a drawer for all paperwork and bills so that things don’t get lost – having one specific drawer for these items keeps things organized and minimizes the chance that something will get lost or misplaced.
  4. Straighten up before bed – when I come down in the morning to a tidy house, I am much more likely to keep it that way throughout the day.  On the other hand, if I come down to a mess, it is likely to get worse before better.  This is certainly a mental thing on my part, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who experiences it!
  5. Break up tasks – instead of lying in bed thinking “tomorrow, I’m cleaning the whole house!” and then feeling like a failure the next night when you haven’t done much Broom, Ragpicker, Mop, Picker, Toilet, Cleaningat all, try breaking up your tasks each day.  For my “baby cleaning,” I set a seven day schedule for myself that covered all parts of my house, but was broken up enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  I found a few templates online, but in the end decided to come up with my own schedule, specific to my home and my preferences.  This was for a deep clean, but for maintenance purposes you can use the same list; you will just have less to do after the first time!
  6. Go digital with as many things as you possibly can – this is less about cleaning and more about being prepared, but setting things up online is a great way to stay on top of things and make sure you don’t get behind.  This includes utilizing auto-payments whenever you can, as well as automatic shipping on household items, such as toilet paper, diapers, laundry detergent, etc. to make sure you don’t run out.
  7. Remotes for lights – this saves both time and money and is something that we have found extremely useful.  I prefer lamps to overhead lighting, so I have a lot aroundLight, Lamp, Bedside Lamp, Illumination, Lampshade the house in various places.  We had some remotes for our Christmas lights and this year instead of packing them away, we have continued using them for the lights in our house.  When the sun goes down, I simply have to press a few buttons to turn the lights on, and at the end of the night do the same to turn them off.  Rather than walking around flipping a ton of switches multiple times a day, this simple tool saves so much time and also prevents leaving lamps on, leading to a spike in the electric bill.

Hopefully these tips help you as much as they have helped me!  Do you have anything else you like to do that I have forgotten?  Please put it in the comments below, and as usual, Expect the Exceptional in everything you do!


Dedication & diligence in the workplace

Dedicated employees are the driving force behind any successful company.  Dedication can be described as an “exceedingly strong feeling of support and loyalty for something or someone.”  When your employees are loyal to your business, it usually means that they love what they are doing and have a vested interest in the company doing well.

You can recognize a dedicated employee by noticing the first people to show up and woman on computer in bedthe last to leave at the end of the day.  These employees will typically continue working once they get home, as they experience great pleasure with the success of the company’s success, as well as their own.  These added hours are not put in due to a fear of losing their job, it is just that they truly enjoy what they are doing and have trouble putting their work away.


Here are 12 characteristics displayed by loyal employees who are described as being “dedicated”:

  • An infectious passion for work and belief in the company’s mission and vision
  • Steers clear of negativity and drama, instead focusing on positive ideas
  • A positive attitude in personal interactions with teammates and clients
  • Punctuality at all times for work, meetings and functions
  • High attendance and low absenteeism at work
  • Knows the history, mission, values and vision of the business
  • Frequently shares new ideas and ways in which the company can grow
  • Flexibility and excitement when it comes to change
  • Incredible work ethic
  • Always manages to get things done, regardless of obstacles they may face
  • Leaves work when the job is complete, not when the clock strikes 5pm
  • Continually looks for ways to improve individually so that they can contribute more


On the flip side, burnout is a common trait among employees who have been in their position for an extended period of time.  If you notice a high rate of turnover, it’s probably time to examine where the problem lies and make changes accordingly.  It could be a simple matter of employees being in the wrong position at your company and a few lateral changes may just do the trick.

It is possible to love the actual work that you are doing, but have major problems in your current work environment.  I was in a position previously that made me miserable.  I shed many tears and suffered major stress over finding a new job, if only for my sanity.  When my husband asked me what I would like to do, I realized that I really enjoyed the actual work I was doing; the problem was WHERE I worked and those that I worked with.  That was very eye-opening and led me to hasten my retreat so I could find something that made me happier.  As an employer, it’s important to ask yourself if you are creating a positive workplace environment that nurtures those who love what they are doing, and in turn leads to positive growth in your business.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this matter, so please share your comments below. What are some ways in which you research a company prior to joining to make sure that you have a strong chance of loving your job and sticking around for multiple years? As an employer, what do you do to create a positive environment that encourages people to stick around because they love their job? Where have you previously worked where you experienced burnout? Until next time, have a brilliant week and in everything that you do, Expect the Exceptional.


Source: http://www.clarkgaither.com/9-unmistakable-signs-of-employee-dedication-you-need-to-know/