Category Archives: Consulting

WHY MILLENNIALS KEEP DUMPING YOU

An Open Letter to Management

by Lisa Earle McLeod

Attracting and keeping top millennial talent is a burning issue for leaders. Millennials are 35% of the workforce. By 2020 they’ll be 46% of the working population.

Some of our most successful clients — organizations like G Adventures, Google, and Hootsuite — are filled with millennials who are on fire for their jobs. Yet many organizations struggle to attract, and retain, top millennial talent.

One of us, Elizabeth, wrote this letter, to share insights about what top-performing millennials want and how leaders can ignite the “energy of a thousand suns.”

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An Open Letter to Management:

You hired us thinking this one might be different; this one might be in it for the long haul. We’re six months in, giving everything we have, then suddenly, we drop a bomb on you. We’re quitting.

We know the stereotypes. Millennials never settle down. We’re drowning in debt for useless degrees. We refuse to put our phone away. We are addicted to lattes even at the expense of our water bill. Our bosses are not wrong about these perceptions. But, pointing to our sometimes irresponsible spending and fear of interpersonal commitment isn’t going to solve your problem. You still need us. We’re the ones who’ve mastered social media, who have the energy of a thousand suns, and who will knock back 5-dollar macchiatos until the job is done perfectly.

I’ve worked in corporate America, administrative offices, advertising agencies, and restaurants. I’ve had bosses ranging from 24 to 64. I’ve had bosses I loved, and bosses I didn’t. I’ve seen my peers quit, and I’ve quit a few times myself. Here’s what’s really behind your millennials’ resignation letter:

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-1- You tolerate low-performance

It’s downright debilitating to a high achiever. I’m working my heart out and every time I look up Donna-Do-Nothing is contemplating how long is too long to take for lunch. I start wondering why leadership tolerates this.

Is that the standard here? No thanks.

Fact: Poor performers have a chilling effect on everyone.

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-2- ROI is not enough for me

I spent Sunday thinking about how I can make a difference to our customers. Now it’s Monday morning, what do I hear? Stock price. Billing. ROI. Suddenly, my Monday power playlist seems useless. I’m sitting in a conference room listening to you drag on about cash flow.

I was making more money bartending in college than I am at this entry-level job. You say I’ll get a raise in a year if the company hits a certain number? So what? I need something to care about today. Talk to me about how we make a difference, not your ROI report.

Fact: Organizations with a purpose bigger than money have a growth rate triple that of their competitors.

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-3- Culture is more than free Panera

Don’t confuse culture with collateral. Yes, I am a cash-strapped millennial who really appreciates free lunch. But I don’t wake up at 6AM every day to play foosball in the break room. I’m not inspired to be more innovative over a Bacon Turkey Bravo.

I need to be surrounded by people who are on fire for what we’re doing. I need a manager who is motivated to push boundaries and think differently. Working in a cool office is really awesome. So is free lunch. But a purposeful culture is more important.

Fact: A culture of purpose drives exponential sales growth

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-4- It’s ok to get personal

Treat me like a number? I’ll return the favor. This job will quickly become nothing more than my rent payment. I’ll start living for Friday and counting down the minutes until 5. After a few months of that, I’ll probably have a drunken epiphany and realize I want more out of my life than this.

Then I’ll prove your assumptions right. 8 months in, I’ll quit and leave. Or worse, I’ll quit and stay, just like Donna-Do-Nothing.

That’s not good for either of us. Here’s what you need to know:

I was raised to believe I could change the world. I’m desperate for you to show me that the work we do here matters, even just a little bit. I’ll make copies, I’ll fetch coffee, I’ll do the grunt work. But I’m not doing it to help you get a new Mercedes.

I’ll give you everything I’ve got, but I need to know it makes a difference to something bigger than your bottom line.

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Signed,

A Millennial

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The millennials are telling us what we already know in our hearts to be true. People want to make money; they also want to make a difference. Successful leaders put purpose before profit, and they wind up with teams who drive revenue through the roof.

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This article was co-written with Elizabeth McLeod, a millennial and cum laude graduate of Boston University, and daughter of Lisa Earle McLeod.

Lisa Earle McLeod is the creator of the popular business concept Noble Purpose and author of the bestselling books, SELLING WITH NOBLE PURPOSE and LEADING WITH NOBLE PURPOSE. Lisa is a sales leadership consultant and keynote speaker who helps organizations improve competitive differentiation and emotional engagement. www.mcleodandmore.com

This article previously appeared in Forbes

Image credit: Lisa Earle McLeod

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Also by Lisa Earle McLeod:

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. Please perform your own due diligence. It’s not our fault if you lose money.
.Copyright © 2017 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved
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THE SAY/DO RATIO

Jack 2by John Jonelis

You lose him. Jack Heyden was your father, your brother, maybe your son. A deep, intimate relationship. You know his profession—not the details, just what he did for a living. Normal so far. Then things start to turn.

His business colleagues invite the family here, and you all come, nerves raw from the shock that death brings. You arrive early, numb from the flurry of duties, people, and rituals that clutter such times and obediently take your seats in front, gazing about the room.

You have no idea what to expect.

 

A Place for Ideas

One thing’s certain—this doesn’t look like a place of business. The walls burst out with a massive and eclectic assortment of memorabilia. It’s visually overwhelming and you need just one place to anchor for the first time in days.

Perhaps you select a photograph, a poster, a toy on on a shelf, and focus on that. It makes you think. You wonder why Jack always spent his Saturday mornings here when the family wanted him at home.

20160726-Joe Levy - Flintmobile 500

The Flintmobile

The atmosphere is the genius of Joe Levy, one of Chicago’s prolific entrepreneurs and philanthropists, who started this group about 60 years ago. The assortment of unique items stretches from Joe’s early days—before they started naming streets and buildings after him. Business people meet in this hodgepodge every week, air opinions, ideas, and stimulate thought, and much of the collection speaks directly about luminaries in this group.

Joe Levy by Natan Mandell

Joe Levy

Before you fully collect yourself, over 30 professionals take seats facing you. This is the Levy Group, that boasts some of the most brilliant business thinkers in Chicago. Jack Heyden was their leader. Today, they’re here for Jack and for you. Unusual, right?

QUESTION: Is the way you conduct business meaningful to those left behind?

 

Who is Jack?

The moderator calls the meeting to order: “We lost a friend this week. Jack led this group for 20 years.” Many in the group sigh and nod and he turns to the family. “And maybe you didn’t know what’s special about this room that kept him coming back.”

The moderator singles out Jack’s son. “Why don’t you introduce the family? And then we’ll have Jack’s Saturday morning family introduce him to you.”

 

The Son

Your dad invited you to these meetings, so you’re the one member of the family with an understanding of what this means. Everyone in the room is with you in spirit as you halt for a painful moment, then begin to talk: “It’s easier to speak at a funeral than in front of you guys,” you say, choking back emotions. “He loved this so much.”

Then you indicate your family: “I’m looking forward to hearing afterwards what they thought this was really going to look like.” Everybody quietly laughs.

“Normally you guys start with introductions and an elevator pitch. Dad would always say, ‘I’m Jack Heyden and I help leaders win,’ and today, my best elevator pitch is—‘I’m just the son of Jack Heyden.’”

 

The Group

After the applause, the moderator calls on individuals via some hidden, efficient system, and they testify about Jack one by one:

  • “When I first came to this group, I looked around at these eclectic surroundings and said to myself, ‘Okay, there’s gonna be a lotta character in this group.’ One thing was magnetic—one of the big differentiators—it was Jack. He’s very to-the-point and structured and it was always very productively efficient, always in a good vein and in a good way. How impressed I was! That made me want to come back and give back. As you grow older there are two sets of people you meet at a very high level. Those that you admire for whatever reason, be it charm, achievement, financial success. But there are very few people you want to model. There’s something about this person—what they do, how they interact—I want to deconstruct it and figure out how I can absorb it into what I do, how I interact with people. Jack is one of the people about whom I’ve said, ‘I want to model this guy.’”
  • “In life, you meet a lot of people. When they say things, you think, ‘…Uh huh.’ But when Jack said it you really understood what he meant, then he showed you how to do it.”
  • “He always talked about the ‘Say/Do Ratio.’ Successful people have an incredible Say-Do Ratio. Don’t say things to your family, to your co-workers and clients and not follow through. If you say something, do it.”
  • “Whoever he was with, he gave 100% of his attention.”
  • “The first thing when I came to any meeting, he’d give me this big giant smile, whether it was last week or six months since I’d been here.”
  • “At an event, Jack asked me to introduce some of my friends because he wasn’t sure he’d know anyone. I figured, okay, he’s done so much for me and he’s bound to know someone. Pretty soon there’s a gathering at our table. It appears that Jack was the hub of a wheel—and some of the spokes didn’t know each other. So Jack spent the evening introducing me to all the spokes I didn’t know.”
  • “When I started coming, it was a low time in my business life. I’d say, ‘I’m a member of the CIO—‘Everybody I see I owe.’ And Jack was so welcoming. ‘I’m so happy to meet you. I’m so glad you’re here,’ and I’m looking over my shoulder like, ‘You’re talking to me?’”
  • “I grew up with giants in my industry. Since I’ve left, I’ve met a few people I consider giants. Jack was that leader. We all looked up to him.”
  • “Like all first companies, mine was a struggle. Jack said he’d come to my office and talk. He wound up interviewing all seven of my employees. He came back with this big document that showed, here’s the guy that does this and the gal that does that and here’s what needs to happen. He was spot-on. When he came to me for help on technology, we had that going. So we had a relationship.”
  • “When he put on his mentor’s hat, he’d say, ‘You got 10 minutes. Tell me why I should spend more time with you.’ He was trying to draw you out.”
  • “When I joined this group, I had a lot of patents. I mentioned to Jack that the odds of a little guy commercializing a patent are about 3%. Jack said, ‘Don’t think about the obstacles.’”
  • “I looked very hard for a word that encompasses what Jack was. The word I found is “Olympian.’ Jack was above the crowd. A wonderful thinker. Very important to me as I consulted with him many times. I can’t say enough about him. To me, he’s a towering presence.”
  • “I asked him to have breakfast and talk over a problem I had. His advice was really outside the box. I had not realized the wealth of experience he had—what you had to do next and how to deal with that—and I said, “Wow, this is good, Jack!”
  • “I’m very fortunate in my life to have great mentors at a very high level. Jack was of that calibre.”
  • “In a few days it will be the second anniversary of my wife’s sudden death. Jack sat in the back yard with me talking with me about the tree house, his problem with the landscapers, and he took me to a level of understanding that life goes on.”
  • “A man who was very giving. He helped people understand what they were and what they could do. Gregarious people can give cheer, but they don’t have that depth. And it’s that depth of character we all really embrace.”
  • “I had a great affection for Jack. I feel honored to be here.”
  • “I wanna make a difference. I think that’s what Jack looked forward to every day.”

The moderator stands to close the meeting. “We’re hearing stories about how giving and how public and how embracing he was. One of the things I found remarkable about Jack—he would not let us know how sick he really was.

It wasn’t an issue. He was gonna be here. He was here 4 weeks ago—strong, present. He was a very sick man at this particular point but he did not let it be known. Being for the other person is very, very powerful. And that’s what this group’s all about—giving and sharing.”

QUESTION: Is the way you treat people meaningful to those left behind?

 

 

Graphics courtesy Joe Levy, Nathan Mandell, and the Jack Heyden family.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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ORDINARY EXTRAORDINARY

Bator TInnovation in Offering the Ordinary in an Extraordinary Way

By Kenneth C. Bator, MBA

Let’s talk about a product that nobody wants to need. Can you transform the customer experience and make shopping for it enjoyable? Now that would be an innovation!

The product is DME. For those of you not in the healthcare industry or not familiar with the acronym, DME stands for durable medical equipment. Basically any piece of equipment used in the home to aid in a better quality of living qualifies as a DME. Common examples include wheelchairs, walkers, and crutches – none of which would be thought of as innovative.

Bator 3b

Let’s face it, for those that are unfortunate to have a need for DME, heading to a business that specializes in this area isn’t a highly anticipated event. Regardless of how friendly, accommodating, and empathetic the staff might be, it’s still akin to a “hosptalesque” experience. But then there’s Mobul, the home mobility stores in Southern California.

Bator 2b

Mobul’s innovation is in the how they display DME. Rather than feeling like your walking into an urgent care center, you’re greeted by people that are eager to serve, in a store that’s large and wisely laid out. The floor is set up in sections that mirror common rooms in the house such as the living room, bedroom, and kitchen. This allows people to, in essence, “test drive” the equipment in a similar environment to their homes. Customers also get a better sense of how the DME will look. A bathroom support bar affixed to a shower-like tile wall is a better visual than a product hanging on a hook in hard plastic.

Bator 1b

The beauty of Mobul is also in the alignment of the brand and culture – possibly achieved instinctively if not consciously:

  • The brand of a high-end store, or as CEO and founder Wayne Slavitt would say, “The Nordstrom of home mobility.”
  • The culture of delivering an experience that makes a DME customer comfortable when shopping for an item he or she would rather not need to buy.

The innovation came from anticipating and uncovering a need. To my knowledge, no one asked for a better floor plan in shopping for DME. The founders saw the opportunity and ran with it. Sometimes innovation simply comes from offering the ordinary in an extraordinary way.

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Kenneth Bator is president of BTC Small Business

www.btcinc.net

This article first appeared in News From Heartland

Copyright © 2016 Kenneth C. Bator

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2016 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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THINK FAST

Combat Brain Training T

Brain Tech – Part 3

Adapted from the Journal of the MIT Enterprise Forum – Chicago

John Jonelis

“I must’ve walked down that alley 100 times, but for some reason something told me I shouldn’t go down there.” But the Marine dismisses the thought and carries on with his mission. Next, he gets blown up.

The soldier’s intuition tells him to avoid the alley but his observation and cognition do not. Something is happening that he cannot account for. How can we fix this picture?

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The Speaker

Armed forces, professional athletics, and even business include crucial bursts of heightened stress and times of rapid change. Such times call for laser focus, situational awareness, and fast mental and physical reactions. We must process real-time data quickly.

New discoveries enable us to rev-up the processing power of our brains. Such training—recently used in the military—is now available to athletes, trading professionals, and business people.

The program is called PACEtmProgressively Accelerated Cognitive Exertion. Over 2,500 individuals, from Marine Snipers, Rangers, Recon and Special Operations Forces, Pilots, Professional Athletes, Business People, and sufferers from Brain Trauma have had their lives positively changed by this training. John Kennedy developed the program and claims that 100% of those have reported significant improvement in performance. A hundred percent!

John Kennedy

Mr. Kennedy’s comments are given before an audience of entrepreneurs, investors, and PhDs assembled at the MIT Enterprise Forum, Chicago.

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The Challenge

Kennedy tells of his call-to-action in 2006 when his brother came back from Iraq and said, “Those IEDs are killing us.”

So he went to IED training. IED survivors accompanied him the whole time, and that motivated him in a powerful way. Meanwhile, the Marines were independently looking for a solution to the problem.

“The Marines had already mapped-out processes,” he says. “The entire kill chain—all the way from motivation to boom. And the prevent chain. Very smart people were doing this. But for every innovation they designed to protect against explosives, the enemy found a way around it. That approach was too slow.”

Up to that point, decision-making science was based on what happened in the past. In a rapidly changing environment, there may not be enough time to think through all that information.

Recalling the story of the Marine in the alley, Kennedy postulates: “If a guy in the field can think better, maybe he can avoid the explosion.”

Combat Brain Training

Speeding up the Brain

What are the components of mental performance? Certainly, there’s learning and experience. According to Kennedy, Marines go through tons of training and over 900 learning objectives. But what is this phenomenon we call intuition? “It may simply be the act of processing information faster,” he says. “Everybody loves a faster computer. How can we do this for the brain?”

Physicists say it’s impossible for a Major League Baseball player to hit a fastball. Think of it: The bat swings at almost 100 mph. The ball comes at the batter at almost 100 mph. There’s no way that consciously, he can see the ball leave the pitcher’s hand and swing the bat in time to hit it. Yet batters DO hit fastballs with startling regularity. Coaches tell the batters, ‘Don’t think,’ because cognitive thought is too slow. When the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, the subconscious takes over.

According to Kennedy, neuroscientists call this a Zombie System. If you repeat an action over and over again, you get to the point where you react subconsciously. It becomes a habit. Subconscious processing is faster than conscious analysis. “Excellence is a habit,” he says. “Conscious thinking is too slow.”

So Kennedy set a goal: “To make the brain act on real-time data as quickly as on memory.”

The ultimate result is what he calls Cognitively Primed Anticipation. Instead of being overwhelmed, the brain becomes so fast that it’s waiting for information to come in. “We’re working more and more off the Zombie System in the subconscious,” he says. “Freeing cognitive functions to deal with change.”

The marine, going though that alley time after timenow his brain is ready to anticipate more information; he’s effectively using more real-time data. Maybe he notices there aren’t the usual kids in the road any more. The dogs are away. There’s more trash that could be hiding an IED. He’s not confused by his intuition any more—it’s become a cognitive tool for him.

More detail on Kennedy’s program coming in Part 4 of this series.

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GO TO PART 4 – THINK LIKE A ZOMBIE

GO TO PART 1 – WHAT MAKES INNOVATION

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Contacts

MITEF Chicagohttp://www.mitefchicago.org/T MITEF

John Kennedy – Combat Brain Training 

www.combatbraintraining.com

1022 Greenleaf, Evanston, IL 60202

847-791-19825  john@combatbraintraining.com

Photo credits – John Kennedy

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link. This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2014 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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TALENT HIDES

icstarg 10aTechBash – Part 1

By Loop Lonagan,

as told to John Jonelis –

 I feel the bite of Christmas in the air. It’s the season o’ giving. I’m here at TechBash coverin’ fer Da May Report but I never seen an event like this before. Right away, I get hit with pounding music, flashing lights and maybe a couple thousand er more people. Place is fulla bigshots.  So many C-level execs at one party—mosta them CIOs o’ big corporations. And the food and open flowing bar. I mean, this is a HUGE party that puts Dennis Koslowski and Tyco to shame—but this one’s legit. Lemme tell you about it:

icstarg 2b

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Talent Hides

You know where talent hides? In places where people got no hope. In the tough neighborhoods with lousy schools, worn-out housing, and alotta crime, gangs, ‘n’ drugs. Yeah, talent hides real good in them places ‘cause so many people don’t know they got potential.

A gal named Sandee Kastrul came across this idea:  There’s more talent here than in all o’ them comfy middle class suburbs or even at the universities. And there’s people here with a whole lot more inner strength than them soft-living places, too. We got lotsa neighborhoods like this right here in Chicago. Yeah, it’s still a city o’ neighborhoods—nothin’s changed much since the FIRST Mayor Daley.

What that means is there’s a huge population o’ smart people them big companies don’t know nothin’ about. And the companies wanna find out who them people are. They wanna do that in the worst way. That’s the genius o’ this thing. So Sandee co-founded i.c.stars to make it happen and throws dis big TechBash party every year along with alotta other events.

i.c.stars is a place where raw corporate greed and avarice can do some good in this rough old world. That’s right—this ain’t no charity organization—it’s an opportunity fer big business.  A company that wants in on this thing hasta participate and support i.c.stars if dey want a good outcome. And why not?

  • It’s better than outsourcing yer executive search, ‘cause you get to know the applicants up-close ‘n’ personal.
  • You get yer tech projects done cheap ‘cause them projects turn into curriculum fer the i.c.stars interns.
  • And that means the interns get paid t’ learn, so it’s a big opportunity fer them too. Thousands apply every year.

Big business knows a good deal when they see it and so do smart people looking fer a career. The whole idea’s brilliant! What we’re lookin’ at here is somethin’ that’s gonna grow into a self-sustaining social enterprise.  That’s like a gift to ever’body.  Hey—like I told ya, it’s Christmastime!

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Da Event

So all deeze huge companies come to this party fer what they want most—TALENT. That’s somethin’ that’s always hard t’ find.icstarg 9a And at dis TechBash event, Da Talent can talk one-on-one with Da Top Brass—if they can make themselves heard in all this hubbub. I’m talkin’ here about executives that most folks never even get to meet. Believe it er not, these C-levels bigshots even cough up their contact info and follow up with these interns personal-like.

i.c.stars stands for inner-city computer stars, and from the look of it, there’s lotsa them kinda folks here. All the interns and alums is wearin’ star-shaped badges that flash colored lights so it isn’t hard t’ spot ‘em.

QuasheI meet one intern that’s built like a football player in a good suit. Name of Quashe Granville [pronounced QUAH-SHAY] ‘n’ he’s got a voice dat rumbles like James Earl Jones. I’m expectin’ to hear somethin’ like “Luke, I am your father,” but he’s real professional. So I asks him, how does i.c.stars really work? Is it some kinda incubator?

“Yes. It’s not like a traditional college,” he says.  “You get the tools and everything you need but it’s largely self-taught. When it comes to computer languages—jQuery, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails—in order to learn those, it’s about what you put into it. You get out of it what you put in.”

Man, I love listenin’ to that huge voice.

icstarg 1b

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Who Gets In?

I run into Jerry Johnson, their Candidate Relations Manager, ‘n’ ask him how hard it is to get into dis program.

“It’s 20 out of 3000.”

That sends me reeling ‘n’ I almost spill my free scotch ‘n’ soda. A waiter comes by with a tray o’ food ‘n’ I wolf down some carbs ‘n’ protein. “Hey Jerry,” I say, “That’s a hellovalot tougher than getting into the U of C.” I say that while munching on somethin’ that tastes real good. I don’t know what I’m eatin’ but it’s great.  Summa them Hors d’oeuvres, I guess.

Quashe pipes in: “It might be hard, but out of those 3000 I can genuinely say 2600 eliminate themselves because they don’t want to go through the process. So then it’s Jerry’s job to sift through the other 400.”

So I ask: “The ones with enough hope dat you can make ‘em believe?”

Jerry comes right back: “The ones that have the fortitude to do what we ask them to do.”

“So whadaya look for in yer applicants?”

“Resiliency—that’s the best thing. Creative thinking. We have a lot of different logic puzzles. We have coding exercises if people have never done it. It’s all resiliency built.”

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Da Result

VeraI meet an alum named Vera Shabazz [pronounce SHUH-BAAZ] and what she says is somethin’ worth hearin’:

“Anything i.c.stars does, I’m behind 100%. Before them I lost my job and had no inkling of what I was going to do. Then I found i.c.stars. They pay you $150 a week just to come and learn.

“It’s not easy. This is a tough job and they treat it like a job. It is very, very tough. You have to go through a lot of training. At first I was afraid. I’d never done it before.”

I look her in the eye and decide this gal means what she says. So I put it to her, “Ain’t that an awful huge learning curve to overcome.”

“It was huge. It was HUGE. And to tell you I was afraid is an understatement. But my colleagues were so phenomenal. They helped to bring me through what I did not know and they erased all my fears.

“I didn’t know anything about technology. Now, I work with United’s 55,000 employees. Whenever something goes down, they call us. A ticket agent might say, ‘The computer isn’t working—the printer isn’t working—I’m getting an error message or I’m getting this or I’m getting that.’ With i.c.stars I learned how to drill down. How to ask, ‘What are you seeing? What is happening? What did it do first? What did you do first?’ And it calms them down that we know what we’re doing. They can help their passengers board their airplanes on time.

Whatever they call me with, I’m able to decipher and figure out what they need, all because of i.c.stars.

Now Vera’s givin’ back by supportin’ Virginias House. They help survivors of domestic violence.

Checkout dis great video on i.c.stars:

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GO TO PART 2 – GIVING BACK

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Contacts

i.c.starswww.icstars.org

Sandee Kastrul – sKastrul@icstars.org

Jerry Johnson – Jjohnson@icstars.org

Quashe’ E Granville – QuasheGranville@gmail.com

Vera Sabazz – vaShabazz@VirginiaHouseInc2.com

Vera’s outreach: Virginias House – http://VirginiasHouseInc2.com
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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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SHORT ON MARKETING

Compass 3 - John OrtbalWhere Tech Startups Come Up Short

.From the Journal of the Heartland Angels

By John Ortbal

Far too many start-ups in the technology sector launch a great product with distinct advantages over competitors but fail to gain a solid footing in their marketplace. One of the major reasons is lack of adequate investment in what I call a solid marketing infrastructure.

Establishing a solid marketing infrastructure gives the startup technology firm (software or hardware) the foundation from which to grow and expand. Without that foundation, it’s easy to become distracted in a scramble to ramp up sales—dispersing your resources and energy.

Compass 4 - John Ortbal

What does it take to build a solid marketing foundation? Here are some basic suggestions:

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Positioning

First and foremost is positioning. A start-up or early growth technology company has to stake a claim, define its positioning, and express it in an elevator pitch—the two or three sentence description that captures the who, what, where and most of all why your new company exists. What most start-ups don’t realize is that when you position yourself, you’ve repositioned everyone else, i.e. your competition. So there has to be a strong element of conflict in your positioning and maybe even a bit of controversy. Playing it safe just doesn’t cut it.

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Content

Content is king today as evidenced by the flood of buzz around “content marketing.” For technology start-ups and early growth companies, developing, organizing and sharing content is critical to grabbing and keeping anyone’s attention for long. There’s a reason that Google has recently urged companies to rely less on link building and more on building quality content.

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Design

How many people know that the now-famous TED conference was founded by a designer? In fact, how many people know that TED stands for Technology, Education and Design? I doubt there is a component of marketing infrastructure that’s less understood or undervalued. Without the creative genius of design, your content lacks drama and impact.

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Web Presence

While anyone can put up a web site these days, that’s the problem for many startups. Their web sites look arbitrary and boring. They lack the content and design that define any brand personality, which could set them apart from their competition. In other words, their web presence fails to fulfill the promise of their positioning. That’s a huge and costly disconnect for many start-ups.

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Public Relations

I lump the analyst and professional social media community under public relations. You must communicate your positioning. Flesh it out through a coordinated public relations effort that leverages ALL types of media. That means your positioning has to wear a lot of different outfits depending on which audience you’re trying to attract. Find a spokesperson who can play off your core value proposition with variety and variation using by-lined articles, blog posts, tweets and video interviews.

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Customer Community

This is obviously the toughest nut for startups to crack. If you had customers, you wouldn’t be a startup. Your initial customers are really your partners and should be treated as such. Promote them as much as your product and you’ll plant the seeds of a growing customer community that will yield results for years to come.

This article is adapted from the Journal of the Heartland Angels

Download NEWS FROM HEARTLAND (1.2 MB PDF)

Contacts

John Ortbal is President of Services Marketing Group http://servicesmarketinggroup.com/

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NEWS FROM HEARTLAND, The Journal of the Heartland Angels, is a quarterly newsletter published as an information service to its members.  Articles may be reproduced with attribution for educational purposes. Copyright © 2013 Heartland Angels –  John Jonelis, Editor – John@HeartlandAngels.com

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CAVEAT EMPTOR – This article is for educational purposes and is not investment advice.  All investment involves substantial risk.  Please do your due own diligence.  Contact Ron Kirschner – Ron@HeartlandAngels.com

For more information, go to:

www.HeartlandAngels.com

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Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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TEAM – A CASE STUDY

3vby Terry Flanagan

Your next opportunity may be right under your nose.  When people with common values and objectives—coachable individuals with unique expertise come together, they can deliver value in a very short timeframe.  

Eighteen months ago, four of us formed a new advisory firm, “ATVM – A Third View Medical.    The reasons we believed this was the right thing to do may have broad implications for other new and established companies.

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Common Values

At the early stages of a business, the team is certainly the most important element.  It can be argued that it’s ALWAYS the most important element.  Examine your team.  Ask yourself if the other founders share the same values: 

  • Trust and knowledge of one another
  • A high level of ethical competence
  • A strong work ethic
  • A high standard of performance
  • An unquestioned desire to deliver value to the client

You might identify other values than these, but it’s important that the ENTIRE TEAM hold them in common and hold them passionately.  Three of our partners knew each other from their association with IMC, the Institute of Management Consultants, so we had time to build relationships, observe, and be sure of one another.  

Ask yourself:  “Does my team share common values?  Am I sure?”  If the answer is YES, then you have a key element to a great organization.

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Common Goals

Does your team share common goals?  Our company is a consultancy.  Each of us is committed and determined to add value to clients in three fundamental ways:

  • By helping them grow revenue
  • By improving operating efficiency
  • By utilizing capital resources more effectively

Between us, there is no argument over these goals; we all share them in a profound way. 

Ask yourself:  “Can I honestly say that my entire team shares common goals?  Am I sure?”  If the answer is YES, you have another of the key elements to a great organization.

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TERRY FLANAGAN

Complimentary Skill Sets

Recently, one of my respected friends, Bill Burnett, challenged me rather directly.   He asked the reason the business was formed.  That may seem on the surface an innocuous question but knowing Bill, I appreciated the depth of  his challenge.  It made me pause. 

I reflected back on how one of our partners, Bill Pierrakeas, once asked if we had the right team assembled.  That question had caused us to come together in a serious way.  At that time, we identified three fundamentals that challenged the “why” of our existence.   In other words, what made us think that our TEAM offered something significant?   I believe these three questions are important to all companies. 

  • First:  Does the majority of the team have significant experience in the industry? 
  •  Second: Does each team member bring a distinct and unique skill set to the table that can be leveraged for the benefit of the organization as a whole?  
  • Third:  Are all the key roles filled? 

In our case the answer was, “Yes,” and, “Yes,” and unfortunately, “No.” 

  • YES—Three of us come with an experience in consultancy in the same industry – health care.  That puts us in a strong position to help those companies we intend to serve.  
  • YES—Each of us come with distinct and separate subject matter expertise.  That makes for a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  The members build on each other and the team can leverage its skills. 
  •  NO—After we identified the fundamentals, the partners realized very quickly that we lacked one ingredient crucial to our kind of organization—experience in transaction advisory.  In our case, two of us knew a person to fill that role—a person we could trust—one we had watched in action over time—a person that brought the same values to the table.  For us, it was an easy choice.  Fortunately, that person agreed to come onboard. 

Ask yourself:  “Can I honestly say that my team is strong in its industry?  Do the members offer complimentary skill sets?  Is the team complete?  Am I sure?”  If the answer is yes, then you have another of the key elements to a great organization.

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Getting Good Guidance

With a foundation of strong values, strong goals and complimentary skill sets, the real work of building the business began.  For the next four months, we met weekly to hone our value proposition and prepare for our announcement or coming out party.  

For that event, we gave each partner an assignment:  Bring industry practitioners to the table.  Yes, we set ourselves up to get shot down.  The night before the event, I recall a heightened sense of nervousness.  I now know how opening night jitters actually feel.  But we would not launch our venture without outside counsel and this posed the best opportunity to elicit passionate debate.

This particular play started off at a favorite restaurant and in an orderly manner.  Introductions.  Then a couple well-placed questions.  That opened up the conversation and from there it flowed freely.  You know you have a successful meeting when the wait staff tells you the restaurant is closing.  We knew we had something real!

Ask yourself: “Have I sought objective outside guidance?  Not friends, family, and fools, but really objective outside guidance?”  If the answer is yes, you have another of the key elements to a great organization.

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Lean on a Trade Group

Since that time, the partnership is formalized with an operating agreement and a value proposition that we constantly fine-tune. We show even more focus today than at the beginning.  We continue to make presentations to our peers.  They like what they see and willingly make introductions for us.  

In our case, the Institute of Management Consultants provided the opportunity for four professionals to share values, get to know one another, develop a high level of trust and a desire to build a business, and find the connections to make it a reality.  

Ask yourself:  “Is there a professional organization I can look to for such support?”  Seek it out.

I share this story so that others can see the same opportunity.  At the recent GROW Conference, many of the speakers made the same point:  

Aldonna Albers said, Opportunities are waiting for discovery.

Somers White said, Opportunities go to those who are prepared and are willing to make the effort to become very prepared.

Charlotte Roberts said, Business models are waiting to be discovered but you have to think that way to find them.  

And finally Rick Berrara said, It’s up to you to develop your overpromise and to execute your over-deliver.

Always, always over-deliver.   

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Links

ATVM – A Third View Medical

888-985-0006A Third View Logo

Terry@aThirdViewMedical.com

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IMC – Institute of Management Consultants 

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GROW Conference

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Photos courtesy  A Third View Medical.  Edited by John Jonelis.

Chicago Venture Magazine is a publication of Nathaniel Press www.ChicagoVentureMagazine.com Comments and re-posts in full or in part are welcomed and encouraged if accompanied by attribution and a web link . This is not investment advice. We do not guarantee accuracy. It’s not our fault if you lose money.

.Copyright © 2013 John Jonelis – All Rights Reserved

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