The Real Facts About the Coffee Shop Effect

Myfavorite invention of all time is the one I can’t live without—my laptop. It’s not because of its powerful software or its ability to create content, but because of its flexibility. My laptop gives me

freedom. I can work in the office, from home, by the pool or at my local Starbucks. Changing my work location helps me with productivity when I get brain fog or writer’s block. In fact, I can often get more done in one hour at Starbuck’s than in an entire morning at the office. The question is, why? Freelance writer Kat Boogaard asked this question, too, in her recent blog.

1. Your brain loves novelty. Boogaard says that the human brain has been proven to constantly seek novelty, rather than the repetitive and mundane. It’s a classic case of “shiny object syndrome.” Whether or not you’re aware of it, you’re always keeping your eyes peeled for what’s new and exciting.

When you’re presented with something different, your brain releases dopamine. Known to many people as the feel-good brain chemical, dopamine was previously thought to be a reward in itself. Recent studies, however, have shown it’s more closely tied to motivation—meaning dopamine inspires you to seek out a reward, rather than acting as a reward itself.

So, by creating a fresh, new work environment, a la Starbucks, you are providing a blank canvas for your brain to get stimulated. By focusing on your to-do list in your new environment, you are exercising your brain’s neuroplasticity. So, what you see as being more efficient in a different location is your brain thinking about the tasks in a different light. By doing this, you are climbing out of the stale rut you were in before, activating your brain’s ability to think about things in a new way.

2. You easily fall victim to unproductive routiness. We all have routines in our lives, and sometimes these routines, or rituals, are comforting. However, sometimes these routines can become—well, so routine—that they are unproductive. That’s why, when you need to put something together for work, it’s easy to get distracted by the blackhole known as Facebook or Twitter, or another social media channel. Sometimes a different work environment helps to counteract these bad habits and get productive again.
Boogaard shares this quote from Ralph Ryback, M.D., in an article in Psychology Today. He says, “Environmental cues are essential when it comes to habit formation, in part because the brain is excellent at connecting an environment with a specific situation.”

Pay attention to what productivity boosters you enjoy most and think about how to incorporate them back at your desk.

3. You set intentions to get more done. Is it the actual change of environment that makes you more productive, or is it your intention to work better or smarter in the new environment? Boogaard says that it’s both of those things. Changing your work environment does indeed have an impact on your brain and your level of motivation. But, there’s a lot to be said for good intentions as well. It’s as if you’ve snapped your brain into saying, “I’m going to get through my list.” Intention can be a powerful tool.

As reported by the Harvard Business Review, William A. Tiller, a professor emeritus at Stanford University, is quoted from the book, Intention Experiment, by Lynne McTaggart, as saying, “For the last 400 years, an unstated assumption of science is that human intention cannot affect what we call physical reality. Our experimental research of the past decade shows that, for today’s world and under the right conditions, this assumption is no longer correct.”

In other words, your intention makes a difference. The next time you feel like you’re just barely slogging through your workload, consider heading to a new environment with the intention of getting things done. You’ll likely be surprised by how much it helps your productivity.

Source: Kat Boogaard is a freelance writer and blogger who finally gathered her courage, sprinted away from her cubicle, and started her own business. Now, she lends her voice to various brands and publications to help them craft content that engages their audience. Beyond that, she helps other hopeful freelancers figure out how to jump ship from their jobs and create their own heart-centered and hustle-filled businesses.

How To Respond Faster To Leads – And Why It Matters

What can you do in an hour? You can take lunch or connect with a friend over coffee. In about an hour you can get new glasses, get your oil changed or walk about 4,500 steps on the treadmill. It also takes the C

SI crew about an hour to solve a murder (including commercials, of course). An hour is also the maximum amount of time you should take to respond to an inbound lead. Why, specifically, an hour?

A study in Harvard Business Review analyzed 1.25 million leads across 29 business-to-consumer companies and 13 business-to-business companies. It found that companies that responded to inbound leads within one hour were seven times more likely to qualify the lead (have a meaningful conversation with a decision maker) than companies that responded within two hours. Plus, those that responded within one hour were 60 times more likely to qualify the lead than those who responded 24 hours or longer after receiving the lead.

In a recent article in Inc. magazine, Tommy Mello, the founder of A1 Garage Doors, shared four ways he makes sure his company responds to inbound leads within that critical first hour.

Review your org chart. It isn’t necessary for all employees to be focused on hyper response. Take a look at your organization and identify those who should be.

Make hyper-responsiveness a key metric that you measure. After you know who needs to respond quickly, put the expectations in place. Do they need to respond in five minutes or an hour? Make sure you have the tools and systems in place to track the time to respond and the results.

Provide a centralized customer relation

ship management system. Using a centralized CRM will allow your sales teams to have all the information they need in front of them and provide reminders for follow up. It also allows the company to see who the top performers are to benchmark and replicate their processes across the rest of the team.

Create an FAQ template. Responding quickly has the risk of responding poorly due to the time pressure. Having templates in places to help your employees respond to the most common types of inbound leads will help minimize missteps and keep the conversations on point.

Four Ways To Close Your Best Candidate

No matter how large and successful your business, you need to hire great talent to succeed. Getting that talent is 100 percent a sales process. Perhaps, the most critical stage of this process is extending a job offer to the prized candidate.

Once you’ve found the ideal candidate, follow these three proven steps from Patrick McHargue, director of talent at PromoPlacement, to successfully make the job offer and ensure it’s accepted.

1. Formalize Your Offer. The first step to extending a job offer is getting the offer down on paper in an organized and easy-to-comprehend way. Focus on the main points and make the offer clear and to the point. If you make it too complex, you’ll likely confuse the candidate.

The offer letter should be on your company letterhead and include the following:

  • An introduction that expresses your excitement and hopes for a long relationship
  • Title of the position being offered
  • Potential start date
  • Compensation/pay period
  • Overview of health insurance benefits
  • Number of sick, personal and vacation days
  • Space for the candidate to sign to confirm their acceptance of the offer

2. Sell The Opportunity. The recruiting and hiring process needs to be a marriage of your human resources and sales/marketing teams. In today’s highly competitive talent market, you need to sell the candidate on why he or she should join your company. Sell your company culture, your growth rate, opportunity for promotion and your company’s position in the market place. Sell whatever you must sell about your company and the opportunity. Make it compelling or you will lose your candidate.

3. Present Over The Phone. The single most important aspect of extending a job offer is how you present the offer to your candidate. There are several ways but by far the most effective method is to review the offer over the phone with your candidate. To do this, schedule an offer call with your candidate. Email the offer letter just before your call and read it over together on the phone.

This method is the strongest option for two reasons. First, it allows you to get the genuine first reaction of your candidate as he or she is seeing the offer for the first time. Second, it segues perfectly into a close.

4. Close! Offer your candidate the opportunity to join your team and close the deal. As you read over and review the offer letter with your candidate, clarify any questions that he or she may have. Then get the person on board by saying something like, “Would the second or the ninth be better for your first day with the team?”

Extending a job offer the right way is all about presenting your candidate with reasons to want to join your team. Follow these simple steps and your offers will be accepted far more often, and you’ll have a strong advantage over competitors in the talent war going on now in the promotional product industry.

Source: Patrick McHargue is the director of talent at PromoPlacement, an industry search and placement firm. He grew up in the promotional product industry, earned an MBA ininternational business, and managed a $35 million sales territory before focusing on the development of tools and services to benefit the promotional product industry.

How To Improve Your Luck At Work

It seems like some people have all the luck. Whatever type of business they get involved in is successful. Whatever decisions they make turn out to be the right ones. They appear to have the Midas touch. Now, we all know that’s not completely true, and in fact, luck has very little to do with it. In most cases, their success is driven by the way they work-for example, Elon Musk or Richard Branson.

Today, we share ways to work smarter and improve your luck in business with these principles from Marty Zwilling, founder and CEO of Startup Professionals.

1. Plan to deliver more than you commit. Make your habit one of under-promising and over-delivering. Always give more than you get.

2. Never seek excuses when things don’t work. Among the best of the best, good luck is an excuse for something they didn’t anticipate, and makes success appear to be random. Learn to accept responsibility for all actions and inactions, and never point the finger of blame at anyone or anything else.

3. Always treat failures as learning opportunities. There are no mistakes, only opportunities for improvement. Every good entrepreneur learns to pivot, and learn from that experience or failure.

4. Never give up until you achieve your dream. Many experts believe that the single biggest cause of startup failure is entrepreneurs simply giving up just prior to success. We’ve all heard the story of Thomas Edison who made his own luck by enduring more than a thousand failures before finding a light bulb filament that worked. He kept his energy focused and avoided naysayers.

5. Maintain self-confidence as well as respect for others. Confidence in yourself is key, but not to the extent of arrogance. The best entrepreneurs admit their own weaknesses, and build relationships and trust with people who can help them. The right relationships with the right people can be your greatest source of luck.

6. Be willing and able to work collaboratively. Products may be invented by a single person, but successful businesses require a team of people working together. That means everyone is willing to share what they know and share in successes.

7. Show up for more opportunities. When you are dealing with all the unknowns of new and untested business ventures, success follows the laws of probabilities. Many people set their scope of interest too narrowly, or look for “sure things” before they start a new venture.

Source: Marty Zwilling is the founder and CEO of Startup Professionals, a company that provides products and services to startup founders and small business owners. He has a 30-year track record of demonstrated results as an executive in general management, computer software development, product management and marketing, as well as in leading technical business transformations, conducting due diligence for investors, mentoring new technical executives, and overseeing business development, customer service and outsourcing both onshore and offshore.

Three Ways To Encourage Innovation

Where does innovation fit in your business? Regardless of size, innovation is important to enter new markets and grow the reach and market share of your business.

Innovation, however, can sound rather intimidating to some businesses, but it doesn’t have to be. According to workspace design company, Red Thread, there are simple things you can do today to encourage innovation among your employees.

1. 

Give Your Employees A Reason To Care. Employees with an emotional investment in your company and their jobs are the ones who are going to put in the most effort and produce the best work. If your employees are only at the office for the paycheck, their willingness to participate and innovate is going to be much lower. Encourage innovation by giving them a reason to care. This motivation can come in many forms such as incentives, raises, promotions and feedback for a job well done. When employees feel like they matter, they are more likely to be invested in the company and innovate on new projects.

2. Include Social Spaces In Your Office. Give your employees a physical space to be creative and innovative. Creating social areas or lounge-type spaces in your office is a great invitation for employees to relax, mingle and get the creative juices flowing. Studies show that taking small breaks throughout the workday can boost workers’ productivity and motivation, too. When employees have a space to take a break from their hectic workday, they can recharge and come back to their desk full of fresh ideas.

3. Collaboration Is Key. When it comes to innovating and generating new ideas, the more heads in the room the better. Collaboration allows for employees to put their best ideas together and generate truly innovative solutions. In order for employees to collaborate successfully, they need the technology, space and resources to do so. Equip work spaces with collaboration technology like smart boards and wireless connection to encourage innovation. Make sure you incorporate areas where employees can individually focus as well as collaborate in groups.

Source: Red Thread helps organizations and their partners to create work environments thatsupport productive, engaged employees. Through integrating furniture, architectural products and audiovisual technology, holistically designed spaces can dramatically impact your bottom line. Red Thread was established in 2012 when Office Environments of New England, BKM Total Office and Business Interiors joined forces as a regional enterprise. Red Thread serves as the authorized Steelcase dealer in New England.

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Three C’s To Hiring The Right Person

Have you ever led a team where everyone seems to gel together? You reach success with a highly effective team in both the work they produce and in the attitude of the team. But how do you bring about this type of teamwork?

It starts with hiring the right people. As a leader, one of the hardest jobs is to add high-quality people to your team.

The more homework you do on the front end of the selection process, the better chance you’ll have of finding the right fit, says Ron Edmondson, a church leader and pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. This homework requires that you look within yourself to see what you need most in another person.

Edmondson suggests the next time you have an open position, to consider these three C’s. Which of these types of people would be most helpful to you at this time in your leadership?

1. Someone Who Complements You. This person can do more of what you do. If you are strategic—they are strategic. If you are a relational leader—they will be more so. It could be there’s just not enough of you to go around, but you need more of what you bring to your organization. Edmondson explains that in his large and growing church, he did this by hiring another executive pastor, so the church now has two leaders—one that is relational and one that is strategic.

2. Someone Who Completes You. What are you missing that you simply can’t bring to the team? It could be a quality you are not wired to provide or you no longer have enough time to provide it. This person can fill in gaps you have in your leadership. And, we all have those gaps. Edmondson gives the example of when his church hired a senior adult pastor who was still in the prime of his career. This role was needed because the church had a large senior population and this person provided this demographic with someone they could trust and feel comfortable with; it filled a gap for the church. So where are the gaps or missing holes on your team? Consider, not the open position, but the talent and personality you need for your team.

3. Someone Who Competes With You. This type of person could be needed as you are looking to transition out as a leader or if your organization is large enough to be investing in the next generation of leaders. This is the person who eventually wants your job. They want to do what you do someday, perhaps even more than the position for which you are hiring them. And, if they are really good, they are going to, at times, appear to be in direct competition for yo

ur job. This type of person will push you to be a better leader, and will also serve as bench strength for your team.

Edmondson sums it up by explaining, “You have to decide what you want or need in the person you are hiring. This is beneficial for you and the person who will come to work with you. And, it can hopefully help you avoid making a mistake in hiring.”

Source: As pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky, a church leader and the planter of two churches, Ron Edmondson is passionate about planting churches, but also helping established churches thrive. His specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to his role as a pastor, he consults with church and ministry leaders.

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Sincere Questions That Cut Through Small Talk

One thing I know for sure about myself is this: I’m not great at small talk. I wasn’t born with the gift of gab. While I thrive on other people’s energy, I hate to come up with frivolous conversation starters. I’d much rather jump right into a meaningful dialogue than participate in idle chatter. This makes opportunities like networking events a bit intimidating. And I’m certain I’m not the only one with this aversion to small-talk.

Marcel Schwantes, principal and founder of Leadership From the Core, discovered that to be able to draw people in, he simply had to ask the right questions. Here, we’ll share some of Schwantes’ questions that drive interest and persuasion in a professional conversation. He points out that the first four questions are borrowed from business author David Burkus, which were shared in the Harvard Business Review.

1. What excites you right now? As Burkus explains, this question can go in many directions with a wide range of possible answers that may overlap into your personal life or work life, which will open the conversation further. And asking it allows for the other person to share something that he or she is passionate about.

2. What are you looking forward to? Like the last question, this one is more forward-looking, which, says Burkus, allows for the other person “to choose from a bigger set of possible answers.”

3. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you this year? It’s the same technique as the previous two, but this one goes back in time for the other person to reflect on something pivotal that may have changed the course of his or her life. It also opens up a wealth of answers to choose from, which may overlap into some of your own areas of interest for further discussion.

4. What’s the most important thing I should know about you? Because it can come across as a little direct, this is certainly not your first question, and it may not even be your third or fourth, but it “gives the broadest possible range from which they can choose,” says Burkus. Use it in context, listen for clues and wait for the right timing.

5. What’s your story? This is open-ended enough to trigger an intriguing story—a journey to a foreign country, meeting a famous person, getting funded for a startup, a special talent used for making the world a better place, etc. It’s a question that immediately draws in the other person and lets him or her speak from the heart.

6. What is one of your defining moments? This question invites the speaker to share on a deeper level, which builds momentum and rapport more quickly. Obviously, asking a few casual questions before it helps set the mood for hearing about a profound moment or transition in that person’s life.

7. Why did you choose your profession? This assumes that, at some point, you dropped the mandatory “What do you do?” question. As a follow-up, it’s a question that will reveal multiple layers of someone’s journey. It speaks to people’s values, what motivates them and whether their work is their calling. It may also trigger a different, more thought-provoking response: some people aren’t happy in their jobs. By asking, you may be in the position to assist or mentor a person through a career or job transition.

8. What are you currently reading? You may have the same authors and subjects in common, which will deepen your conversation. Also, use this question to ask for book recommendations. You may find the conversation going down the path of exploring mutual book ideas to solve a workplace issue or implement a new business strategy.

9. How can I be most helpful to you right now? To really add the most value to a conversation, once a level of comfort has been established, ask the other person how you can be most helpful to him or her, whether personally or professionally. You’ll be amazed how pleasantly surprised people will be by that thoughtful gesture, and how responsive they are in their answer. Your genuine willingness, no strings attached, to make yourself useful to others leads to more interesting, engaging and real conversations that may lead to future opportunities.

Whatever question you decide to use, the important thing is to always ask open-ended questions and to avoid work-related questions or business questions until much, much later in the conversation. You’ll be surprised by how seamless the transition will be to business, conducting a sales pitch or exploring partnerships once both parties know each other.

Source: Marcel Schwantes is an expert in developing exceptional servant leadership work cultures where employees, managers, executives and their businesses thrive. He is an entrepreneur, executive coach and adviser, and keynote speaker.

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Five Ways To Maintain Brand Value

When it comes to your business, do you know the value of your brand? In other words, what is the monetary impact of your brand to your bottom line? According to Forbes magazine, the values of some of the world’s top brands look like this: Apple, $104.3 billion; Microsoft, $56.7 billion; and Coca-Cola, $54.9 billion.

Your brand value is most likely not in the billions like these global companies, but nonetheless, it’s important to maintain your brand value. Here, we share five ways to retain your reputation, make the most of economic upswings and positively impact your bottom line from Mark Di Somma, a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project.

1. Be part of a rising category. If you have a brand in a rising product category, then you want to invest in building that brand interest. If you don’t have a brand in an up-and-coming category, then consider how you can get your brand in that space either through acquisition, a partnership or co-branding opportunity.

2. Tackle social issues. What are the reputational or social issues that your market segment faces? What impact could your brand have on a social issue? For example, product safety is closely tied to child safety. In the fast-food industry, those brands are being challenged by healthier brands, so they are having to step up with more health and nutrition programs.

3. Increase “share of life.” This phrase from Millward Brown refers to expanding your touchpoints and extending your ecosystem to reach customers in multiple ways and through multiple products and channels. Di Somma uses the example of Apple, a brand that affects lives every day through mobile phones, apps, iPads, point-of-purchase, music and entertainment. Amazon is another brand example of this with its easy, one-click shopping and relevant purchase recommendations. Nike, with its Nike+ Fuelband, has transformed itself from a mere apparel brand to a companion and coach for runners.

4. Be more convenient. One way brands like Apple and Amazon are successful is by creating seamless experiences. This is convenient for the consumer while also helping the brand control the consumer journey. Di Somma points out that digital media plays a key role with this, so think of ways you can develop digital touchpoints through your brand to keep the customer engaged and connected.

5. Beautify. Continue to review and adjust the design and style of your products and your advertising so that your brand feels “now.” This is hard, but not impossible, for brands with long lead times. It is also relative, and chances are your competitors face the same logistical issues that you do. By continually checking the appeal of what you offer, you can introduce your brand to new segments. Remember the slogan, “It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”? An updated car design led to a younger market for the car manufacturer.

Be a champion of your brand and try these tactics to continue to increase your brand value.

Source: Mark Di Somma is a partner and senior brand strategist at The Blake Project. For more than 20 years he has helped decision makers, brand owners and brand agencies define, articulate and elevate the value of their brands.

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Four Ways To Combat Lukewarm Leadership

In the backdrop of uncertainty, a mere spark of ambiguity or apathy by leadership can ignite the pervading fuel of resistance among the masses. Today, we will share four ways to combat lukewarm leadership from business coach and author Brian Braudis.

1. Set the tone: Begin with the energy and gusto you want to see in others. What you do as a leader has tremendous influence on those throughout your team and even your stakeholders. People respond to what you initiate. Demonstrate how much you are willing to give and show that you are duty-bound early and often. Make your messages steadfast. When people see and feel your energy, enthusiasm and promise they will not only buy in, they will help spread your all-in message.

2. Communicate: Communication is a standard by which leaders guide, direct, motivate and inspire action. Clear, confident, resonant communication will engender trust and gain followers. Here’s how:

  • Get specific: Simple and concise is more effective than complicated and confusing. Hit the high points in your speeches and save the granular details for in-person communications.
  • Get face to face: Aim for dialog rather than monologue. Employees and team members know the demands on leaders and managers. They know the value of authentic live contact and informal dialog where they can see and feel that their message is being received.
  • Demonstrate beyond words: What you do supersedes what you say. The proven formula for personal communication is 55 percent body language, 38 percent tone and seven percent communication through words. Body language and tone will validate everything that you say. Sending protocol out in a memo is not nearly as effective as walking around and informally sharing your thoughts and expressing yourself on the need for procedures.

3. Be the Island of commitment in a sea of uncertainty: Increased global influence, more demanding customers and disruptive new players are challenges to be surmounted. But to your team members the new economy means uncertainty. Uncertainty leads to anxiety that makes people susceptible to stress, and being less productive and more vulnerable to conflict. During times of upheaval we need leaders who

are anchored in commitment. They bring a calming presence and a higher perspective to the context of uncertainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty. But when leaders show resolute certainty in their commitment, team members take note and follow suit.

4. Show consistent enthusiasm: Leaders who show enthusiasm remove any hint of being lukewarm. People can visibly see and feel your passion, energy and commitment and they buy in. Your team wants to win and they want you to be successful. No one tries to be second best. Show consistent enthusiasm and your team reciprocate with buy in and enthusiasm of their own.

When savvy followers see and feel your energy, commitment and enthusiasm shining through the daily challenges and frustrations, there’s nothing lukewarm about that.

Source: Brian Braudis is a highly sought-after human potential expert, certified coach, speaker and author of High Impact Leadership: 10 Action Strategies for Your Ascent. He has also authored several audio programs from executive leadership development to stress management. Braudis believes “leadership” is a verb not a title. His passionate and inspiring presentations are based on the foundation that regardless of your position or role everyone is a leader.  Image courtesy of google image search.

Five Smarter Ways To Manage Others

Today, many employers say they’re having trouble retaining their younger employees—specifically, Millennials. At 82 million strong, Millennials are the workforce of the future. Studies have shown they want to work where they can make a difference and contribute to something bigger than themselves.

It’s imperative to realize that the people in your organization—especially young people—are the fuel to your long-term success, and the one person who affects that outcome more than any other is the frontline manager.

Today,we’re sharing five defined pillars of success for managers from business coach Jan Makala.

1. Engage employees with a compelling vision of what is expected, and provide the mission to achieve that vision. People respond when they are doing or contributing to something bigger than themselves. When national crises such as earthquakes or hurricanes occur, people are driven to volunteer not because they have to, but because they want to. As a manager, you need to create and share the vision and the culture that gives employees a reason to care, to show up and to do their jobs with a sense of purpose and excellence. Let them know that without them doing what they do, you wouldn’t achieve the results that you desire.

2. Make decisions based on productivity. By keeping your eye on the goal and having your people similarly focused, everyone will understand why certain decisions are made and can buy in. If disagreements occur, these discussions and opinions are welcomed because they are relevant to achieving a better outcome toward the end objective.

3. Motivate every team member to take action. People are more likely to take action if they know what is expected of them. When expectations are clearly defined, employees are less likely to disappoint their manager or their peers. Employees will work together without your direction or approval when they all know their roles and have bought into achieving the desired results. If your people don’t know what is expected, don’t be surprised by what you get

4. Have the assertiveness to drive outcomes. Are you more concerned with the process or the outcome? Managers are in place to strive for positive results. Employees may find ways to produce an outcome that the manager never thought of. Give employees the freedom to experiment and try new ways of doing things. Keep your team apprised of progress to keep them motivated If you neglect to provide appropriate feedback on your employees’ progress, you’ll immediate notice a decline in the contributions of team members. Remember, feedback is the breakfast of champions—be generous with your thoughts and expectations.

5. Create a culture that you want. Culture impacts every aspect of how you get things done, from hiring and developing the talents of the employees to customer service. Define your desired culture and then take it from words to actions. If you don’t like the culture you currently have or the results that you are currently obtaining, you are the only person who can change it. Your actions have to mirror what you desire. Do you allow negative behavior to go unchallenged? Realize negative behavior brings everyone down. Your employees are watching, and if they see you doing nothing, your lack of action will send a powerful message.

When employees believe that their manager truly cares about them as individuals, they will walk through fire for that manager. This connection gets to the heart of employee engagement.

Create an environment where people want to come to work, and your business will reap the rewards.

Source: Jan Makela is an executive coach, highly-sought after speaker, and best-selling author of Cracking the Code to Success and Be the Manager People Won’t Leave. Makela has a long and successful history of working with companies to ensure quality hiring and training practices. His specialty revolves around strength-based leadership development, with a particular focus on working with senior and mid-level executives, business owners and professionals.