C-Suite Network™

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Are You Making Faulty Assumptions about Millennials?


One of my colleagues recently attended a panel discussion about millennials. A business professor and two millennial-aged entrepreneurs were on the panel. There were about 25 people in the audience.

“The conversation was pretty academic until the topic of sexism came up,” my colleague tells me. “At that point, three women in the audience began a heated discussion of how entrenched sexism is in their companies. One woman said that men’s ideas about marketing, product development, technology and more, were always valued more than women’s. Another said that she was having a hard time supervising millennial-age men, who did not take her seriously. There were more stories. The eye-opener for me was that these women were working for and with millennials. I thought that millennials were more enlightened.”

Questioning Our Assumptions

Did my colleague think that old-school sexism had disappeared in companies where millennials work and lead? Apparently, he did. I could accuse him of being naïve. But aren’t we all being naïve in some of the assumptions we make about millennials?

It is a topic that I plan to explore more, by asking questions like these . . .

  • Are millennials really more tech-savvy than members of other generations? When you sit in a meeting with a group of people from several generations, do you reflexively turn to millennials when issues of technology arise? Do you pay less attention to the views of other people in the room? If so, you could be overlooking the viewpoints of tech-savvy baby boomers and elders who might know just as much, or more, than the millennials in the room.
  • Do all millennials have less company loyalty than members of other age groups? Many people assume they aren’t as loyal as members of other cohorts are. But I have noticed that many factors (education, economic circumstances, and cultural or national background, to name a few) exert a big influence on individuals’ job loyalty. The year when someone was born is only one factor of many – and arguably not the greatest. Plus, I have noticed that millennials are often highly loyal when they understand what it takes to be valued and promoted in a company. If you provide each of them with an individual, understandable career plan, they will value your organization more.
  • Do millennial business owners practice more enlightened leadership than others? Like Barry, I think that a lot of people tend to assume that younger company owners have set aside negative leadership practices like sexism, prejudice against members of certain groups, favoritism, and even dishonesty. But as recent news stories have shown, that assumption is misleading. Millennials, just like members of other generations, can be good leaders – or bad.
  • Are millennials always good colleagues to other millennials? People who are older than they are – like me – tend to look at them and think, “They must all be getting along pretty well, they’re all about the same age.” How illogical is that? I have seen and heard about plenty of instances of millennials who steal other people’s ideas, play hard at office politics, and worse. Some people just behave that way at work. And then there is the fact that some millennials, just like everyone else, are prejudiced against members of certain ethnic and religious and racial groups, against members of the LBGTQ communities, against women, against men . . . you name it. Prejudice did not vanish the day the first millennial was born.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is a 35-year franchising veteran as both a franchisor and franchisee. He is CEO of Tortal Training, a leading training development company in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Principal and Founder of Ingage Consulting in Woburn, Massachusetts. Evan is the host of Training Unleashed and author of Ingaging Leadership. Evan speaks on Seeking Excellence, Better Together, Ingaging Leadership, and Attitude is Everything. Evan is an active member of the C-Suite Advisors Network. To hire Evan as a speaker, visit www.evanspeaksfranchising.com. Follow @ehackel.







Marketing Personal Development

Best Practices When Writing a Blog Post


When it comes to a blog (or blogging), you will hear the phrase “content is king” a lot. They are referring to the fact that people frequently search for content online. Thus, by having your own content online, they are suggesting that people would…

  • Find your content.
  • Consume your content.
  • Discover your business.

Google, of course, influences this because their search engine algorithms focus on content, and they give preference to people creating that content. In other words, they have an insatiable need for content. Without it, searching online wouldn’t be as fruitful.

Thus, content is king…

However, simply putting content into the digital landscape is not enough. In fact, it is a colossal waste of time without a strategy. In order to be discovered, the content must be structured so that the search engines, like Google, can recognize your content as valuable and serve it up to the people searching. This structuring is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

There are many parts to SEO, but in this article, I will focus on the blog post itself. These are best practices that must be followed consistently in order to increase the likelihood of your blogs being discovered online. So here they are…

Keyword or Key Phrase

You need to have a keyword or keyphrase chosen even before you write the blog. If you don’t do that, you’ll find yourself having to rewrite your blog post to meet the parameters of your keyword or key phrase.

That being a fact, I highly suggest that you first come up with the subject matter you want to write about. Then do your keyword research as the very next step. Once the keywords are decided on, you may write the blog entry with those keywords or phrases in mind.

When you write the article, the keyword or key phrase must be in the…

  • Title of the article.
  • Very first sentence.
  • Body of the article (2-5 times depending on the size of the article).
  • One or more of the subheadings.

Blog Subheadings

For ease of reading, break up the body of your blog content with subheadings. The idea is to give the reader breaks on the page. So it’s good to have a subheading for every 250 words.


Once again, it’s best to stay at a 4th-grade reading level and shorter sentences for the ease of reading. This one trips up many writers out there because they would prefer to write at a higher level to look smart. What they are missing is that to keep a reader engaged, writing on a lower reading level is a good idea.

There are exceptions to this rule. If you’re a scientist or a doctor, you will naturally have to write at a higher reading level. Forcing your writing to a lower reading level would only be allowing the ‘tail to wag the dog’ and come off inauthentic. Use your best judgment here. Know your audience.

Active Sentences

There are both active (i.e. ‘you will’) and passive (i.e. ‘you could’) types of sentences. Having your writing be far more active than passive will allow your written voice to be seen as having more confidence. That confidence will gain the trust of the reader.


Linking is an important part of blogging because that’s what ties content together online. Those ties help the Google algorithms recognize the content (if it’s structured correctly) as your web of content builds over time.

At a minimum, you will want to link to something internally (i.e., your own web page and/or an anchor post) and to something externally (referencing someone else’s content).


Always make sure to add a relevant image so that it breaks up the reading for the viewer. It’s also important to make sure you add the keyword or key phrase to the Alt-Text of the image. This is just another part of the keyword building blocks.


Lastly, you should always include a single call-to-action on each post so that people can continue down their digital journey with you.

As you can see, there’s way more to a blog post than people will let on. So the next time somebody wants to tell you “Content is King,” understand that there’s more to the story.

For a free digital assessment, head over to KakVarley.com

We’ll see you back here next time! Thanks so much, and have a great day!

Best Practices Biography and History Entrepreneurship Marketing Personal Development

The Rise and Fall of Book Publishing – The Untold Story of Amazon.com

The state of book publishing is complicated



The Rise of Book Publishing

The book industry hit a major milestone they never bothered mentioning to anyone.

Between 2012 to now, self-published book titles have grown 156%.


In a report published by Bowker.com in late 2018:

“Self-publishing grew at a rate of more than 28% in 2017 and is still climbing.

In 2018 alone, book titles grew from 786,935 to 1,009,188, surpassing the million mark for the first time in human history!”


Then why isn’t anyone celebrating?

It’s never been easier and more affordable to publish a book to share our knowledge with the world.

Mass printers can get book costs down to $1-$3 per book.

On-demand printers that most independent authors use can get costs around $6-$7 per book before adding the author markup.


This Is a Good Thing Right?

We have more legit subject experts than any time in human history.

This is the single greatest achievement in book publishing since Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1454, over 500 years ago!


The reason no one wants to talk about this is that there’s a dirty little secret in book publishing…



A majority of books don’t actually make any money.

Seriously, it’s true.

With the introduction of e-commerce, authors can no longer rely on traditional retail, especially with the demise of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

Publishers Weekly is an American trade magazine which has been providing industry insights to publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents since 1872.

The industry has been keeping the sales numbers close to their chest for awhile now…


Book Sales By The Numbers:

Recent reports indicate that the average independent or self-published author will sell less than 250 books.

The average published author will sell less than 2,000 books, and only 62 out of 1,000 book titles will sell over 5,000 copies in its lifetime.

And someone you’ve heard of took notice a few years back.


The Birth of Amazon

Very few people would have guessed the quiet introvert who worked at the local McDonalds in high school would one day become the world’s most successful and wealthiest man to walk the planet.

A guy who’s  personal net worth surpasses the GDP of over 125 countries.

The $126 billion dollar man by the name of Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1996 with the wild idea to sell books online.

Bezos started Amazon with the brand promise as “the world’s largest bookstore.”


In the Beginning it Was Just An Idea

Amazon started in 1994, when at the age of 30, Jeff quit a high paying job at a quantitative hedge fund company on Wall Street to pursue a life-long love of computers.

No one knew he would become one of the early pioneers of the internet.


At that time, Bezos and a handful of others were watching internet usage skyrocket at a rate of 2300%. He had to get involved.

Bezos relocated to Seattle with nothing other than an interest to start an online business.

In June of that same year, Jeff came up with arguably the lamest name for a business in the history of the human race, “Cadabra Inc.”

…Yes, like “Abracadabra.”

He then pivoted to “relentless” for about a day, until friends convinced him otherwise.


He ultimately landed on the name “Amazon” reportedly for two reasons:

  1. To suggest the immense scale he was hoping to eventually accomplish; “Earth’s Largest Bookstore” (which is what Amazon was in the very beginning)
  2. Back then, website listings were often alphabetical, so he wanted something that started with the letter “a,” which was a straight-up marketing strategy from the Yellow Pages era.


The Vision Grew and So Did Bezos’s Ambition

The vision for the company was to be the “largest bookstore in the world.”

Building an online bookstore wasn’t exactly a grand master chess decision. However, it made sense at the time because there were three million active book titles in circulation.


These numbers have only increased since.

Major bookstores could only hold a max of 150,000 titles in retail locations.

While that’s an impressively large volume to logistically support at retail level, there was still no way for most bookstores to profitably sell more books that were growing ever more niche in nature.










Thus, traditional bookstores couldn’t keep up with the large and growing circulation.

In addition, books were a relatively low price-point, the perfect combination for an e-commerce play. Therefore, the founding idea was a universal selection of books.

A literal “online library.” But the idea needed funding.


The Idea Needed Seed Funding

With the concept in place, Bezos raised seed capital to turn his idea into a working model.

Like everyone raising money does at first, he turned to friends and family to borrow money. The initial $250,000 investment from his parents to start Amazon.

When explaining the concept of his internet store to his father his dad asked Jeff, “What actually is the “internet?”

…Clearly, they were not betting on an ROI from the internet. They were betting on their son, Jeff, a powerful vote of confidence, in their willingness to invest in his judgment and ability to make something out of nothing.

Jeff raised another $1M from 20 additional initial investors who each contributed $50K for shared equity of 20% in the business.




Bezos Launched Amazon From His Garage

Well technically the garage part is in mostly a myth. But close enough, he launched from his new home in Bellevue, Washington.Fluid Concepts And Creative Analogies: Computer Models Of The Fundamental Mechanisms Of Thought: Hofstadter, Douglas R.: 9780465024759: Amazon.com: Books

In 1996, Amazon sold their first book and quite possibly the most boring name and niche book of all time.

It was E. Douglas Hofstadter’s, Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies, Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought,

…How’s that for a title?

Two months later, Jeff was selling books to all 50 states in the US and 45 countries worldwide with weekly sales up to $20,000.


Amazon Expanded Out of Book Sales

By October, that same year, he announced his decision to take the company public. Amazon swelled to 11 employees, and the company started expanding outside of book sales into music and videos.

Wondering what to sell next, the small team emailed 1,000 randomly selected customers for what they would like to see Amazon sell outside of books.

The results were interesting and surprised everyone working for the e-commerce startup.

What the customers wanted was the most randomness of anything happened to need or desire in that very moment including obscure things like windshield wiper blades.

That was the feedback the team needed. This was no longer a book play. This consumer feedback changed the world as we know it.

At that point, Bezos realized the true potential for Amazon.


From Selling Books to Selling…Anything They Wanted

They were going to fulfill and deliver every purchase of any product their customers wanted right to their front door, including front doors from door manufacturers.

The doors literally flooded opened with orders of the most common and most obtuse products. Amazon was in a dead sprint to connect their customers with EVERYTHING their shopping cart hearts desired.


When Amazon’s Success Threatened the Status Quo

The following year, in May of 1997, the company issued their first stock option valued at $18 per share. Today, the stock price is over $2,000 per share.

They were well on their way to becoming a major player.

However, business is business, and the excitement was met with resistance from the industry when Barnes & Noble sued the new company over their slogan claiming to be the “largest bookstore on the planet” when they didn’t in fact have a physical store.

Their case was that Amazon was not a bookstore rather they were a “book broker.”

While they were technically correct, Amazon is a broker, and Amazon eventually settled the claim out of court.

What the retailer, and others to this day, would soon come to learn, is that to us, the consumers, brick and mortar bookstores were also “just brokers.”


We’re All “Just Brokers” Now

At it turns out, people prefer to order products from the comfort of their own homes rather than venture out to do all the tedious brokering themselves for products in massive retail locations.

To think we should somehow value going into a retail store over having whatever we want delivered to our front door for FREE SHIPPING, is absolutely ridiculous.

Convenient e-commerce shopping and delivery has been the driving force behind why more than 9,300 retail stores closed their doors in 2019 and more since, as the retail apocalypse peaked.



In 1996, Amazon became a major threat to bookstores with $16 Million in sales.

Barnes and Noble took in $2 Billion that same year.

Today, Amazon controls half of the entire print book marketplace, while B&N has only one-fifth remaining. Amazon’s sales jumped to 84% for e-book sales, while B&N held at 2%. Amazon’s e-commerce revenue is around $1 Trillion in market cap while B&N has dropped to $475 Million, a .05% of Amazon’s revenue.


Today, people claim Amazon is the biggest threat to retailers

But in my humble opinion, retail disruption wasn’t Amazon’s fault. Amazon was simply the first company to offer the first online retail experience; and consumers have accepted the alternate shopping experience and prefer the convenience of it!

Amazon capitalized on the way people prefer to shop today.

The customer is not always right, but they have options for how they prefer to consume products now.

By 2010, Kindle sales exceeded print sales for the first time in the history of the company.


Amazon didn’t kill the book publishing industry!

The consumer did when we made a choice to add a premium on preferred digital consumption.

At the start, Amazon employed a handful of workers.

Growth accelerated at lightspeed with 30,000 employees in 2010, exceeding 750,000 employees today; not too shabby considering when he started, Bezos hoped that at one point, Amazon would be large enough to purchase a forklift for the warehouse.


In 2013, Amazon’s site went down for 45 minutes, and the company lost out on $5.7 million in revenue!

Since 2014, Cyber Monday has been the “online Black Friday” post-Thanksgiving holiday online shopping day. History was made, again. Analytics showed Amazon sold over 300 products per second on the first Cyber Monday.

Bezos can now afford to buy 105 million forklifts. Just saying…


Bezos made a fortune by building the most efficient platform of the era by focusing on one core principle…


“Give the customer what they want. The way they want it.”

This is the advice marketers should wisely and carefully consider.

People don’t buy most books because most people don’t want to consume them in the manner they are offered.

In today’s media world, when the consumer can consume limitless amounts of content on their own terms and devices, they have many other avenues for consuming the information they want.

Often times on platforms that make it easier to consume the information like YouTube and Podcasts.

For more information visit tylerhayzlett.com


Best Practices Culture Entrepreneurship Industries News and Politics Personal Development

Fight or Die. The Content Wars

Who will survive the content wars?


When was the last time you went online to look for a premium content subscription to pay for?

Not for at least 10 years for most people!

In order to get your business, publishers first have to create content you actual want before they can sell you anything whether via ads or god forbid an actual premium subscription.

For a long time this has been a problem plaguing publishers of all shapes and sizes.

Getting anyones attention these days is no joke.



The Content Dilemma

When everything consumers want or desire is now only a “google search” away, the battle for their attention has now become the war.

But up until recently the pawns of the war have been traditional media publishers. But that has changed forever.

For example, YouTube is now the second largest search engine with how-to videos.

Podcasts are now exploding in growth with over 900,000 podcasts delivering amazing insights on any topic.

Anyone with a blog is now a “media site.”

In other words, anyone can create and compete in the media game. And so everyone is.

If you have anything to sell. You’re now part of the content wars. Here’s why…


The Death of Traditional Media

When  digital content took over, consumers were no longer willing to pay a premium for content the way they did in the past…Why should they it’s free?

For the first time in history, publishers had to ask themselves; what the hell do we actually sell?

Content? That’s what they thought they sold. But the digital age proved that idea wrong.

Publishers of all types, from news to music, are less than pleased that consumers won’t pay a premium price for content anymore.

What they’re learning to understand now is that they never sold content. They just sold access to content, and the price consumers paid was dependent on the cost of the format.


The music sector sold records, then tapes, then CDs. Now, they sell the devices to streaming services.

Print publishers sell paper via magazines and books, the content of which, only determines how much paper they can sell off each author or issue.

Publishers simply sell paper in binding form.

Economically, the print media are in the business of marking up paper. Now, traditional publishers are realizing that they never really sold content. They just assumed that’s what the consumer was paying for.

Traditional publishers had a monopoly and ability to the access the information we wanted.

But now that access can be created by anyone who produces content. Traditional media is dead.


Music Platforms Don’t Actually Sell Music…

Building an audience in the digital age is about capturing the access point to where consumers consume content. That’s why traditional media can’t keep up.

It can’t move where consumers prefer to consume their information. Take music for example.

Napster (the original digital stream source for music), crashed the music party in 1999 and started giving music away for free.

They attracted the masses onto one platform (illegally) to consumer music the way they wanted it (free).

Then advertisers took note and copied the model, taking over the music industry by controlling the distribution (legally through royalties (that they were willing to pay for on behalf of the consumer).

Now the industry doesn’t care about making money selling music anymore. They pay to give it away instead.


Today, iTunes is the new version of the brick-and-mortar record stores of the past.

Apple promotes extremely discounted music to sell Apple’s lucrative products, such as phones, tablets, earbuds. Music is just he bait.

Think about it. How is it that music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora, whose sole business model is to make money from the streaming of music, DON’T ACTUALLY MAKE ANY MONEY selling music?

  • 80% of Pandora’s net revenue comes from the ads playing to people listening to free music.
  • Only 20% comes from users who pay for ad-free listening.

In turn, Pandora pays musicians ridiculously low royalties established in 2016 at $0.00176. For each single song played by a single artist for one million times, the artists grosses $1,760.00. This fee is treated, essentially, as Pandora’s marketing expense.


They Sell Ads. Content Is The Bait

The kicker? THEY DON’T EVEN SELL CONTENT! They provide access to it. They pay to give away content for free, in order to sell advertising.

Pandora hasn’t turned a profit since it started in 2000.

After 13 years and 96 million subscribers, Spotify finally reported a profit for the first time in 2019 of $107M. They plan to spend all of it and another $500M to acquire podcast networks to build the same model.

They’re not in the business providing music to customers as that would require consumers to actually pay them for that service.

They are advertising companies, which we allow to advertise to us, in exchange for listening to the music they purchase, just like advertising during television programming.


By now you’re wondering, what the hell’s your point?


The Rise of Content Marketing

In 1995, internet pioneer, Esther Dyson asked an important question about the burgeoning web.

“What new kinds of content-based value can be created on the internet?”
– Esther Dyson

More than 30 years ago, Dyson observed that as the internet would become more populated with various content, and that the content owner’s intellectual property would depreciate in value.

“The likely best defense for content providers,” she argued, “is to distribute intellectual property free in order to sell services and build relationships.”

What worked in the past, won’t keep working in the future.

In a world with unlimited competition for attention, we must find a way to deliver value to our customers before they ever pitch to sell because if we don’t, someone else will.

The modern era of marketing has been an entire shift from advertising benefits, to teaching what we know to help the most people.

Businesses today are treating their content as the carrot to capture people who may be interested in learning about their field and who may likely become customers.

The Rise of Value-Rich Content

Subject matter experts today are standing out by providing the most useful, easy to find content to create a community around the passion they share for their subject matter.

The term, “content marketing” isn’t new.

It was simply adopted by the marketing industry wishing to put a stake in the ground.

In 2007, the industry wanted to highlight the shift away from annoying traditional interruption advertising to a more mature discipline of differentiated value-oriented content creation that would help people not just sell people.



78% of CMOs believe custom content creation is the future of marketing in order to sell our products and services in today’s cutthroat digital battlefield.

It’s not surprising, given how it influences 61% of consumer’s buying behavior with a 6x higher conversion rate compared to marketing that does not include a digital content strategy.

Businesses today that produce the most relatable content WIN.


With Today’s High-Volume of Experts, You Can’t Move Up If You Don’t Stand Out in YOUR Field!

For more information visit tylerhayzlett.com

Growth Management Skills Women In Business

How To Embrace The Discomfort Of Learning

Don’t you wish learning was easy? Imagine speaking a new language fluently within weeks or becoming proficient on a musical instrument after a few lessons.

We all wish things came easily. The pain that comes with learning new skills isn’t something most of us enjoy, but it is necessary to get better at anything in life. I believe the discomfort that comes along with the unfamiliar is one reason we resist trying anything new.

It’s natural to want instant gratification. In my experience, we often desire immediate achievement so much that we typically choose short-term outcomes over making necessary efforts to create permanent change. But quickly does not always equal better. It is in the pain of discomfort that we grow.

One of the biggest issues I experience working with executives is their reluctance to embrace the pain of learning. They think the skills that brought them success are the only things required to remain successful. I disagree. Influence is essential to any leader’s success, and communication skills are essential to influence. Without a continual commitment to improve communication skills, influence won’t grow. Without influence, others won’t act upon what we have to say. When leaders lose influence, they are no longer successful or necessary in their role.

Whether you are trying to influence your team, a prospect or a board of directors, your ability to guide their actions rests on your ability to communicate skillfully. Improvement requires an ongoing commitment to the discomfort of learning.

Here’s how to overcome four common excuses people make to avoid the discomfort of learning:

1. ‘I feel awkward.’

When we learn new skills, we feel robotic and unnatural. What you’re learning isn’t a normal part of your typical behavior. It’s going to be uncomfortable, like when we are learning a new sport. In the beginning, we are clumsy and awkward. Our bodies hurt and our muscles ache. As time goes on, however, we conquer those early skills and become more proficient. We hurt less as everything becomes a natural reflex.

The same goes for improving communication skills. When we learn a new skill, incorporating it can often make our speech feel clumsy. We second-guess ourselves because nothing feels natural about the changes we make. Growth, however, resides on the other side. With practice, our skills become a permanent part of who we are and how we communicate. That’s when we become influential with our ideas, and our words are impactful.

2. ‘I don’t have time.’

Unlike learning a new sport, language, or instrument, improving communication skills doesn’t require additional time to practice. It’s a matter of merely incorporating what you’ve learned into conversations. Day-to-day conversations are less intimidating and offer more opportunities to improve your skills than a high-stakes situation.

 3. ‘I’m already an effective communicator.’

Just imagine if Michael Jordan used this same logic with his basketball skills. What if he looked at his coach and said, “I’m already the best basketball player of all time. I don’t need to get better.” The very best in arts, music, and sports know that with excellence comes a continual need for improvement. When we do the work and commit to practice, we see the most significant benefits.

Temporary stress and discomfort can help us reap the rewards of increased competence. Professional athletes and musicians spend hours each week practicing their skills. This doesn’t count the time they spend contemplating and preparing for their next goal. Imagine how influential you would become if you dedicated yourself in each conversation throughout the 40-hour workweek to improving your communication skills.

4. ‘It’s not getting easier.’

Learning a new skill forces us to evolve. As soon as it becomes natural in our daily behavior, it’s time to push harder and learn more. Practice pays off, but with practice comes more opportunity for improvement. Pain is an indication that you’re learning. The longer you feel it, the more you know it’s working.

Stop expecting to be an overnight success. You are trying to develop new habits and skills that force the mind to remap its way of thinking. This takes time, especially if you want permanent results.

There are no shortcuts in learning or skills improvement. A commitment to continual practice creates the momentum and habits necessary to get better. If you want to grow your influence and make an impact on others, you must do the work required to improve your communication skills.

Growth Leadership Personal Development

Can You Afford a Professional Coach?

Professional Coach

Can you afford a professional coach?’, is a good question. But the better question is, ‘How much are willing to spend on a lack of results?”

The classic HR joke goes as follows: 

The CEO and the head of HR have a conversation… “What’s the point of training our people?” The CEO asks. “They’ll just take what they learned and leave for another job.”

 “Maybe,” the HR person responds. “But what if we don’t train them—and they stay?”

Every company we know has someone who could benefit from a professional coach. Usually, a top performer that lacks the all-around tools that make their department or the company run smoothly. 


Maybe It’s You 

Evaluated your own all-around skills lately? When was the last time you got a promotion or a raise? Being the best at what you do will only get you so far. Even the most talented Academy Award® or Grammy Award® winner can get a reputation as being difficult to work with…and find themselves doing daytime quiz shows to pay their kids’ tuition. Maybe you should take a day this weekend and do an honest, face-to-face evaluation of yourself.


What’s the Cost To You and Your Company? 

How much is it costing you not to address the problem? If you’re that person we’re talking about, what’s the salary gap between what you earn now and what you could be earning if you were an all-around top performer and team player? Multiply those lost earnings by 20 years and we’re talking about the difference between a retirement villa in Spain or a cookie-cutter house in a Florida development. 


What’s Not Having a Professional Coach Costing Your Company?

What’s the quantifiable cost (medical, paid sick leave) of the stress a challenging top performer puts on other people in your organization? If you’re the CEO or that person’s C-Suite boss, how many sleepless nights did you have to try to decide whether to fire them or not? And what about the people you haven’t been able to recruit? How many other great hires have been warned not to work for that person or your company? What’s your company’s valuation number on Glassdoor? How many new clients did you lose because of that person’s insensitivity?


Download the Free Professional Coaching  Corporate Preview

Growth Personal Development

The Backbone of Leadership

Several years ago, I hosted a weekly radio show called “Lessons in Leadership.”  It was an interview format where I interviewed high-level leaders from many different industries and geographies.  One of my guests was Gus Lee, the author of Courage: The Backbone of Leadership.  Before writing the book, Gus spent decades in leadership roles, including as a young Army Officer during the Viet Nam war.

Courage in Leadership

One of my favorite quotes from Gus was, “A leader without courage is about as useful as a rowboat in a bullfight.”  Funny, and true in my experience.  Leaders, if they are effective, routinely do things that can be very uncomfortable.  Having tough conversations, confronting bad behavior, holding people accountable, challenging the status quo, choosing principle over short-term profit, and taking smart business risks with no guarantee of success.  One of the most important acts of courage is owning our own mistakes and failures.  Another radio show guest told me that one of the signs of a courageous leader is giving our teams the credit when things go well and taking the heat when they don’t.

Courage:  Hardwired or Developed?

One of my questions to Gus was, “Is courage hardwired or can we develop courage muscles?”  His unequivocal answer was, “Courage is 100% learned.”   Gus’ point of view tracked with my own experience as a young manager.  I was reluctant to have any challenging conversations.  I didn’t confront poor performance or bad behavior.  On one occasion, I failed to give a team member the feedback they needed to improve, and it became a real problem.  I was embarrassed.  My job was to help this team member be successful and I fell short.  After that, I made the commitment to give my team members the feedback they need and deserve.  In knew I had to develop some courage muscles.

Courageous Conversations

Over my career, I came to realize that most of the leadership situations that require courage is having tough conversations.  Having the tough conversations about issues that matter move things forward.  Avoiding these conversations almost always has a negative consequence.  The problem festers.  The wrong message is sent to all.  We lose respect.

Let me share an insight and a couple of tips that have helped me.

  • The insight is that the hardest part of having a tough, but necessary conversation is STARTING IT.
  • The first tip is to be very intentional about the conversation. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve.  Consider Susan Scott’s advice from “Fierce Conversations:”  Solve the problem and maintain the relationship.
  • The second tip is to prepare for opening the conversation and then –  get started. It will get easier once you get going.

Three Acts of Courage – a great place to start.

  1. Be Decisive. What decisions are you avoiding that you should be making?  Why are you holding back?  What is the cost of not deciding?
  2. Confront Reality. What are you pretending not to know?  Where are you looking the other way?
  3. Tackle your toughest challenge. What conversation am I dodging?  What is the impact of not having it?

Why Courage Matters

Organizations that don’t have a culture of candor don’t deal in reality.  Organizations that don’t take on the tough problems stay stuck.  Courage helps us move forward when things get tough.  Leaders who act with courage empower others to do the same.   Winston Churchill’s quote has always resonated with me.  “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the one that guarantees all others.”   True in life, true in leadership.


Dr. Mark Hinderliter works with clients to develop inspiring leaders and great workplaces.  His experience as a Senior Vice President for a billion-dollar global enterprise along with a PhD in Organization and Management are a unique fusion of real-world experience and academic credentials.

Mark is a Veteran-owned Business Owner and the host of the podcast, “Creating Great Workplaces.”

Subscribe here:  https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/creating-great-workplaces/

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