The Magic of a Well-Designed and Implemented Plan

As I set up for the Q4 planning session with my client and her team, there was something unusual in the air – a kind of buzz. Typically, when I work with them on their quarterly goals, the team meanders in. On this particular day, however, they were eager to get started. My client and her team had achieved EVERY SINGLE ONE of their quarterly goals for the first time in years. They’d knocked it out of the park and they couldn’t wait to share that with me!

You see, most times at these quarterly meetings, we’d go over what got accomplished (typically somewhere around 50%), what didn’t get accomplished, what didn’t work and what displaced their word. We’d clear the space and reset the energy. Then we’d discuss what to carry over into the next quarter and what else they wanted to achieve. You might be tempted to think that this is a slacker team but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a high-performing, world-class interior design firm of very talented people. 

At our last planning session, we did something very different. The team committed to taking on realistic goals in light of their workload and they self-selected teams using their Clifton’s StrengthsFinder results. They were intentional about forming teams with members that would complement one another’s natural talents and strengths. Then they went to work on the initial steps they needed to accomplish in the first week of the quarter and scheduled time to work together for 45 minutes each week on their goals. 

Teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity. (Gallup)

When I drilled down a bit deeper into what they believe had made them so successful, they said they operated above the line with ownership, accountability and responsibility and gave up blaming, excuses and denial. They had a display that showed the teams, the goals and where they were each week and at their weekly team meeting, they shared the status of each goal. In short, with the display and weekly communication, they kept the game alive over time. They had well-formed teams and they had realistic goals that they committed to and that were meaningful to them. The excitement in the room was palpable. Something had shifted for this team in a very positive direction! It was a proud moment for this owner and a proud moment for me as well. 

Employees whose managers involve them in goal setting are 3.6x more likely than other team members to be engaged at work. (Gallup)

There’s a lot we can all learn from the story of this interior design team! If you’re looking to transform your annual and quarterly planning process into one that really works and generate momentum in a more positive direction, schedule your complimentary business health check and be sure to check-out our team engagement services!


Taudrey and House of Lilac

div.speaker {font-style: italic;} div.transcript {margin-left: 20px; margin-bottom: 20px;}

Welcome to another session of Made in Miami where we’re interviewing entrepreneurs who are making it here in Miami.

In this session of Made in Miami you’re in for a very special treat. I had the opportunity to moderate Melanie Fernandez, of House of Lilacs, with her very good friend, Tiffany Dominguez of Taudrey, at the Coral Gables Chamber luncheon for Women’s Business Networking.

Take a listen and see why these two female entrepreneurs are making it big in Miami, going from their passion, to a paycheck, into profits. I’ll be back with you in a little bit.

We’re going to start off with, tell us a little bit about your past, like your world before going into business. And, Tiffany, if you would start that would be great.
Tiffany Dominguez

Sure. So, Hi everyone again.

First off, I have to say I’m so, so grateful to be here. This is such a cool opportunity. I’m really loving speaking in front of people lately. So, this is awesome, So thank you guys so much.

To tell you a little background, I am an alumni from UM, got a marketing bachelors and also a minor in PR, and I have always worked.

I come from a family of entrepreneurs, luckily. So, I’m wired that way, and I knew I always wanted to do something on my own, not knowing exactly what it was.

Let’s just get a business degree and work.

And, so I did some styling and makeup for a while, worked with some talent from Univision, worked in a public relations firm and worked with a similar association in Florida.

So I’ve always been like on the business side of fashion for a while, and I started Taudrey in 2009. At this time, I had already been working for a couple of years and I had a decision to make. Right?

So, everyone knows everything in 2009. I had a shift in my position in the current company that I was at and I was like, I don’t want to do that. Like, it sounds great. Awesome to have a steady paycheck. Okay that’s cool. If I’m going to do something I’m going to do it now, while I can, right.

This is pre-marriage, pre-babies and everything. And, at that time, jewelry had always been a hobby. It was in front of my face and I never put the two together. Hello, let’s do this, this could be the business that you do.

It was always my creative outlet. So, at that time, I opened. This is when Shopify, and Etsy, and all of that was very user friendly and I started a very simple, rinky-dink Web site, what I thought was awesome at the time.

And that’s how Taudrey was born. So, fast forward 10 years, just to tell you a little bit, because I know we’ll get into the nitty gritty, we now sell internationally.

I started stamping, stringing beads from my parents garage. I now have a team of seven. We’ve been featured on The Today Show. We have a huge project in the works, have an all female team. And, yea, we’ve grown very organically throughout the years. So. that’s a quick summary.

Jody Johnson

Brilliant. Melanie, Tell us a little bit about you.

Melanie Fernandez

So, I have a funny story. I’m a lawyer. I was a real estate lawyer for about three years until…

To be honest, people always ask me this question, at what point did you know that you wanted to leave? And I just knew I wanted to leave, quite frankly. It wasn’t for me anymore.

I was also working in an environment, with people that were not the best. And, I think that very much made it easy for me, I would say. But, I left.

At the point when I did leave, I had started House of Lilac. I knew that I wanted to immerse myself in something creative.

My husband had a job that he loved. And I thought it bizarre that people loved their jobs, I was like, you love yours, I have to do something about mine.

We had just got married and I started House of Lilac as a blog. I love writing. I’m a lawyer. So, I would write things. I would write on this blog and I would write about anything.

I was writing about weddings. I was writing about getting married.

And then I started doing a lot of research while I was still working and I came across these beautiful gift boxes that they were selling out of California, it was a very good, creative industry. They were selling these beautiful gift boxes that have all these small batch food, like Popcorn, but not like tacky, like cellophane. It was very nice. It was wooden gift boxes. They had flowers in them.

And, I remember looking at this, and as a lawyer, we do a lot of gifting. And I thought, well why doesn’t anyone do this here?

And that’s where sort of the light went off in my head. And I just started doing it.

I left my job. I was selling at the time that I left, so there was money coming in. And, I started House of Lilac. That was about five years ago now.

Right after that I had both of my kids, back to back. So it’s been a really crazy journey.

But along this, this whole time, about two years ago, I was only doing gift boxes, and I had a client come to me and ask me if I sent flowers, because I was sending gift boxes, right.

So I guess in her mind she’s like she could send flowers. And I looked at her and I said, No, I don’t do that, but, you know, I have these gift boxes and then people kept asking me, it was so strange. Someone else came and asked if I would do something, and she was, you’re good at this stuff. And I went, OK.

So I went and I had a relationship with a flower distributor and then I went back and I did even more research on this topic, because I’m not a trained florist, so it was a little bit intimidating for me.

But I, at that point, found this company in Australia that was doing these hand-held bouquets for 35 Australian dollars which was 40 dollars US dollars.

And I said well this is amazing, this is a low price point and I’m a millenial, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money when I send to someone maybe I can make this a thing. So I said, OK, I can do this for you. I can do a bouquet.

And it wasn’t that intimidating because it was just a bouquet, I didn’t have to go and sell things.

Well, fast forward, we are now a flower company. I’m a self-taught florist. I love it.

People always ask me about it, you know, if I have have this elaborate story with flowers? I don’t, but I do love them.

And, I have done enough research, and I’ve worked with so many flowers over the past three years that I can tell you I probably know every single one out there. If I don’t, please tell me, because I’d love to find it.

And so we’re a flower company in Miami-Dade. So, we’re all across Miami. And, we style very organic, we style very whimsical.

We’re known for our high-end flowers, so I source from California, Oregon, Dutch, Japan sometimes. The more novelty I can get, the more I love it. I think that’s what sets us apart.

Right now we’re very much immersed. I’m very active on social media, so if you ever follow me, we talk a lot on social media. And then, throughout this process because people loved hearing us, we started doing workshops at the shop, so you can come in, you can take a flower workshop. You can host your own private workshop, which is huge. And we just opened up our storefront. So…

Jody Johnson

Let me ask you a quick question, for both of you, how important is it to have a supportive spouse?

Tiffany Dominguez

I can say Taudrey wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Javier. He’s definitely my behind and secret weapon. He’s not here today because he’s out on a project. But he’s as much as a Taudrey Girl, if you will, as I am, because he’s in it.

And I think that is so important to have to be in mind, I think, in any career, whether you’re an entrepreneur or whether you’re still going for senior careers they have to be involved in it too. You have to have that support and it goes both ways. Right? I think that’s for whatever career you’re in. I think it’s for raising your children whatever it may be, you have to be on the same page and support each other. Its about that.

Melanie Fernandez

Well, so my company’s four years old, almost five, and I have a four year old and a three year old, so that should tell you how involved my spouse is. And, my mom works. He is, like, I’m not there, he’s there. You know we do have help, but my House of Lilac is probably as much my husband’s as it is mine. He never sends me flowers, obviously. Trust Me.

Jody Johnson

Tell em, they could send you jewelry.

OK, so I heard a little bit about how each of you took the leap into the business.

Tell me what was the biggest challenge, and how you overcame it in business? Melanie, go ahead, go first.

Melanie Fernandez

For me, my biggest challenge was probably… It has to do with expanding and hiring people. Delegating. I’m a very natural control…

You know, I’m an entrepreneur.

So, I started this business myself and one of the hardest parts was finding people to give tasks to, and trusting that they were going to do it 80 percent of what I would do it.

And, that’s probably the most difficult part, right? Because I do everything and I’m in everything, but I do it 150 percent because it’s mine. But, finding people that could at least do it at a percentage of what I can do it and do it well, was really hard for me to let go of, personally.

Tiffany Dominguez

I would say for me the challenges don’t stop. But, in a good way, I felt like what could be…

If you’re not growing and expanding and challenging yourself there’s not…

It’s Going to be constant but, at one point, what I thought was going to be really difficult – let’s say finally moving it, you know, I was starting in my parents garage, to doing it in my second bedroom by my apartment, to finally getting my own spot – at that time, I thought that was a challenge to overcome.

But, I think they’re going to keep happening at different levels. I think, you can’t let fear stop you right, because when you think, oh, when I have… and I’m sure, I know Melanie feels this way too, like when I had a team of X or when I get an assistant or when this happens then it will be easier but it’s not because that means you’re growing and now new challenges come in.

So I think it’s all about continuing to face that challenge and you continue to overcome the obstacles. And I think it’s nice to think like oh it wasn’t one particular thing and that’s is and then you’re coasting. You feel like it’s ongoing. So, I don’t know if I answered it, but that’s how I interpret it in response.

Jody Johnson

So tell us a little bit, like what’s the future? What are you building?

Tiffany Dominguez

Just recently, as I’m trying to gather my thoughts here, we’re really honing down on not just making jewelry and accessories.

I love to say anyone can make accessories. Right?

You can buy accessories and things from anywhere. We’re all about jewelry with meaning. So our pieces are personalized.

I have, for example, my daughter and husband’s initials on my wrist. I have my daughter’s birth details which – side story on this, my team made this bracelet for me has all of Siena’s details like height, weight, exact time she was born and they brought it to me to the hospital and I’m like This is amazing, I’ve never been gifted Taudrey – now, I know what it feels like and the joy that it can bring when you receive it.

So, everything tells a story and we’re really about uplifting our customers, celebrating all the different milestones. So we do coordinates to celebrate a degree. We’ve done the words fighter and survivor. We do jewelry for all of different occasions and all different milestones.

So what we’re really focusing on is our customer and creating this brand for the Taudrey Girl.

We’re well known, I mean we have so much to do obviously in South Florida, but we’re really focusing on a national level and focusing on different markets. So I’ve done a couple of different speaking engagements in different key cities.

We’re rolling out with some big national retailers, although we do direct to consumer.

And we’re just really focusing on empowering women and focusing on our brand and having that relationship with the customer.

We don’t want to be transactional right. We want to tell your stories we want you to cherish these different and important times in your life through our affordable jewelry. Because, that’s something else that’s very important to us.

Everything’s under the $100 mark.

We make everything ourselves. Which I think is both something that’s really cool and unique. We make everything right here at our showroom called The Jewelry Box.

We’re an all female team, so I love to say that we’re women behind the brand and there’s actual hands, nothing is machine made. So we’re…

I have Grace here from my team. That’s Momma Duke. I’m going to get all…

I express myself through emotion and my passion. Yea, I get all worked up. I get so excited! I have to like express myself through like emotion and tears, because that’s the way that I love.

And I think you’ll really see the passion behind what we do every day.

So we’re all like women really hammering. I mean you’ll hear us down the hall. Hammering and crafting and creating all these beautiful accessories for our customers and for our Taudrey Girls. So yeah, we’re really focusing on taking things to a national level.

Jody Johnson

That’s awesome. Melanie, what are you building and what’s the future of House of Lilac.

Melanie Fernandez

So when I founded the company, I always tell people I don’t do weddings.

I don’t flower weddings.

And the reason behind that is because the everyday means so much to me and sending flowers to people on an everyday basis is something I think a lot of people don’t focus on.

On that topic, we’ve recently… As I started sharing on Instagram and as I started talking to people and thoughout the evolution of my journey, I left my job, I had my kids, I started this business and been on a personal journey, in terms of, not being hard on myself.

Starting this business, hiring these women, just empowering women through the process.

So we recently created this membership program called Flower Club and it is very much based on encouraging women on a monthly basis every single month. They get a monthly intention in the mail that is going to ask them to get out of their comfort zone somehow and really made them feel 100 percent amazing in whatever stage of life they are in.

I think, for me, in my experience, most women are so hard on themselves. You know you’re either working, or your a mom, and then you’re trying to be all these things. You’re trying to host. You’re trying to be a good wife. Trying to be everything and you can’t.

But, you can feel 100 percent at what you’re doing at that moment, whatever season of life you are in.

So, my goal with this with the membership program, and we’re taking it national, is to encourage women to feel just amazing where they’re at.

And, there’s so many other perks that come with the program, obviously there’s flower perks, but we have a ton of amazing content. I spoke about us having content, but we have an amazing portal on Vimeo, that includes…

Everything is quick, because no one has time to do anything that’s longer than 15 minutes, trust me. So, it’s quick tips on making a quick cheeseboard if you’re going to have people over your house. Making a quick cake.

You’re not going to spend 2 hours on this, you probably don’t have time, you have other things going on.

So, our goal is to really just empower women to feel like they’re doing what they can, you know, to their capacity at that moment in time. And not be hard on themselves.

Jody Johnson

Tell us why you chose the name House of Lilac.

Melanie Fernandez

I don’t think I have a cute story about it, but…

Jody Johnson

Sure you do, I remember it.

Melanie Fernandez

I love Lilac, and you can’t have it in Miami, by the way, because it dies the moment it goes outside it. But I love Lilac and I liked the idea of a House of Chanel.

Jody Johnson

That’s what I’m talking about.

Melanie Fernandez

So, House of Lilac, it sounds sophisticated.

And, let me tell you something. I hadn’t started as a flower company and the company had the flower in it, but I started it just like a pretty, it was pretty and then it became a flower company.

Jody Johnson

The power of words, right? The power of words. Tell us how come you started Taudrey.

Tiffany Dominguez

So I couldn’t use my name Tiffany for a jewelry company! Obviously…

I’ve always been very much inspired by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. So I fused the two together and that’s where the T comes from for Tiffany and audrey from Audrey Hepburn.

Funny enough it started as T.Audrey, that was how the original logo was and just over the years people just started pronouncing it Taudrey, Taudrey, instead of T Audrey. So we dropped the period and merged the two together.

Jody Johnson

Well you probably heard the quote from the Dalai Lama that the world will be saved by the Western woman. And that’s well represented with the two of you.

So, thank you so much for being here and sharing your wisdom. Is there last words that you have to share on turning your passion into profit?

Tiffany Dominguez

Sure. So I recently spoke for another company and they asked me to leave everyone with a challenge, and I thought that was really cool.

So, I would love to do that for you guys too.

So, with the theme of making your passion your paycheck, how can you guys in the audience do that too? Right.

And this is again, how I say I am not a motivational speaker, I’m not anything, I do this for myself. So how can you guys in the audience make your passion your paycheck?

Is it taking the lead and finally doing what you want to do?

Is it taking a passion project at work and getting involved in a charity?

Is it saying forget corporate America, I want to create a blog and write a blog about it?

Like, whatever it is, what can you do to make your passion your paycheck and eventually turn it into profit?

Melanie Fernandez

Tiffany assigned me this, right now.

I’m going to tell you what our monthly intention is for September for our Flower Club because it’s so applicable.

So this month we’re getting uncomfortable. Which means that you need to pick something that makes you… That you’ve always wanted to do, but makes you really uncomfortable.

I’m not asking you to jump off a building by any means.

But I’m asking you to do something like maybe you’ve always wanted to public speak or get in front of people. Maybe that means that you’re going to take a class.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to run a marathon. I mean you got to execute, you’re just going into the gym three times a week.

So. I mean, for me, I have found that when I get out of my comfort zone, that’s where I’ve seen a lot of change happen and a lot of different, amazing things will start to sort of like start brewing. So that’s our challenge.

Jody Johnson

What’s your challenge?

Melanie Fernandez

Mine is on my faith with God, it’s upping my faith. I realize it’s different for some, everyone is different. I have someone who, Carmen, that works for me, hers is making eye contact with people, because it makes her uncomfortable.

Jody Johnson

I don’t know if you all caught this, did you see the two of them and how they collaborated in the moment. That’s the power of being in community.

And so I just want to thank both of you for being here and for sharing your journey and your insights and the power that you’re bringing to women and to our world.

Thank you very much.

I believe you can see from this interview how powerful it is that these two women are following their passion and absolutely making it in Miami.

If you enjoyed this video please like us, follow us and share it.

We’ll see you again very soon for another episode of Made in Miami.


How to Recession Proof Your Business

Recessions are cyclical and many experts are saying that in 2020 – election year – we’re heading into a recession. Just as many people, including our president, say the economy is strong…and it’s not.

It’s hard to tune out all the noise and know what to think. Most people were caught off guard during the last recession and some of the smartest guys on the planet lost their businesses.

Duke professor and economist, John Graham said in a recent interview, “CFOs are growing more certain of a 2020 recession because of the paralyzing consequences of economic and political uncertainty — including trade wars — on business. Faced with uncertainty, companies may pause by holding off on spending and hiring. That can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Regardless of what’s being said on either side, what you can do is prepare your business through careful planning to minimize the effects of a recession and to build on the inherent opportunities that arise in challenging times.

Dwight Eisenhower famously said, plans are useless, but planning is essential.  Over the weekend I did some digging into our financials and realized some things I wasn’t aware of. Typically, we business owners are happy when there’s money in the bank and the company is in the black which can lull us into stopping short of further analysis. 

Engaging in business planning forces us to confront every aspect of the business, what’s ahead and how we’re going to make that happen. We have to evaluate our market strategy in light of technology advances and disruption in every industry. From there we must determine our people strategy, succession planning and future team needs. Discern how we’ll measure our results against clearly defined targets. How we’ll fund growth and what our financial milestones including profit and cash need to be. 

Since history tends to repeat itself our best defense is an offensive approach through thoughtful planning. We can help and now is the perfect time. Call us today at 305-285-9264 for a complimentary strategy session and get started on your Action Plan today!


How To Be A Successful Entrepreneur

Hello. In today’s video I’m going to talk to you about how to be successful as an entrepreneur.

I’m Doug Barra and this is business success with Doug Barra.

So one of the things about creating success as an entrepreneur is to understand the entrepreneurial ladder. So what am I talking about with an entrepreneurial ladder? Well the entrepreneurial entrepreneurial ladder starts with, basically, as a student. A student is below the first rung, it’s where we all start. And the first couple of steps on the entrepreneurial ladder are actually dictated by society. We all start as students. We all start in school. And what’s the job of being in school? The job of being in school is to learn how to learn, it’s to learn problem solving skills.

Once we’ve gone through that stage then we go to the first rung of the ladder, which is an employee. We all get that first job. It might be a job where we go out and do odd jobs for others. I remember, for myself, my first job really was doing odd jobs for other people. And I actually enjoyed doing that. I learned lots. I mean I learned things that I’ll never use, but I learned them. And, I learned how to do lots of different things that have served me over the time. I mean I learned how to do things like put in sprinkler systems, polish floors, re-tar a driveway. I mean all these things that I would never actually use, but it did teach me how to be an employee, how to get the job done and that’s a lot about what we’re doing as an employee.

Now, a lot of times people think well I’ve been in business doing the same thing for 30 years, therefore I should be really good to go out in business for myself. Well unfortunately that’s not actually the case in the world of being an entrepreneur. In the world of being an entrepreneur that would be like having one year’s worth of experience 30 times! In the world of entrepreneur, when we’re an employee, we want to actually have as many kinds of positions as you possibly can.

I was a dishwasher. I was a a line cook. I sold greeting cards door to door. I’ve done a lot of different things before I went into being an entrepreneur.

Now, once we learn all of that, then we move up to being self-employed. Now self-employed is where you are the business. It is all about you. You do most if not all of the work.

All right. Even if you have people that are working for you you’re doing most of the work. If you are not there, the business stops. This is what it’s like to be a self-employed person. Now self-employed is critical because we learn how to be in business. We learn how to have a business. We learn how to take care of our customers. Unfortunately, it’s also the biggest struggling point of being an entrepreneur and learning the entrepreneurial ladder, because this is the point where you’re totally overwhelmed. You’re trying to make it all happen. And a lot of times, people from this place go: “Ah! I just can’t do this. I’m just going to go out and get a job.” Now, for some people that might be OK, maybe they prefer to be an employee. But, if you’re committed to being an entrepreneur, then this is the point where you start to learn how to delegate. This is the point where you start to learn how to go from that step of being Self-employed, to being the manager. Now you might have thought well wait a minute, I would go from self-employed to being a business owner. Well not really. And I’m not necessarily talking about being a manager in a business. Although you might get there that way. Right. Working for somebody else. But as a manager this is where you start to learn how to delegate properly. How to have people actually take over stuff for you and do it effectively. You need to learn delegation. You need to learn measuring, accountability, how to actually make it happen that once someone takes a task that that task gets done properly. OK, a lot of times lately I think we’ve collapsed leadership and management because they are not the same thing.

Management requires that you actually get people to produce results. All right. You could be a great leader but not a good manager. And there’s where the the problem lies. Because a lot of people skip over that manager place and they try to go straight to being a great leader. And yes being a great leader as a manager is useful. But you absolutely have to be able to do the management. You have to understand how to manage people.

Once you understand how to manage people then you can move into the business owner rung of the ladder. This is where you’re actually starting to work on the business, not just in the business. You’re not just managing people you’re leading them, you’re seeing the vision, you’re looking for where you’re going. You may even higher managers at this point to start to take care of managing your people. And this is where you truly have to have your vision, your mission. You truly have to understand where you’re going and inspiring your people on getting their.

Once we have that managed then we can think about moving up the entrepreneurial ladder. A lot of people think well if I’m a business owner I’m an entrepreneur. Well no! An entrepreneur has other kinds of ways that they’re bringing in income. They might have additional businesses. So you have to go from business owner to investor and an investor is someone who’s now starting to go outside of their business and invest in other ways of bringing in money. As an investor you’re now looking out there as to where. You can have your money work for you and you can start to invest in other businesses, in real estate, in stocks whatever it is that works for you to invest in. This is how you can start to expand that and start to take yourself to that investor level.

Only once you start to really have it working that not only do you have a or several businesses that are bringing you cash flow but you have investments that are simply making you money from your money. Then you can start to move into the entrepreneur level of the ladder. Now entrepreneur is where you actually have other people’s money working for you.

Now, I know this is the place where you start to go: “Oh man, that’s awesome! I would love to have other people’s money working for me.” But, keep in mind, unless you understand how to manage your own money, no one else is going to let you manage their money. And I don’t mean manage their money from the place of oh I’m a stockbroker. I mean manage their money in the sense that they’re going to invest in you, in what you’re going to create, because they know that you can create it. You’ve done it. They’ve seen it. You have a track record for making that happen. That’s when you truly get to the place where you’re making money with other people’s money.

And that is being an entrepreneur.

Thank you so much for listening. This is Doug Barra with ActionCOACH business coaching and I look forward to seeing you in my next video.


The First Step In Project Management

Hello followers. I am Amanda Noboa, your business coach with ActionCOACH Team Sage.

It is great to be back with our next episode of Think Big Stay Focused. In my next video series I will discuss six basic principles of project management.

My goal is to show you that you don’t have to be a certified project manager or a project management guru to implement these principles when launching a new initiative.

These six basic principles will be your roadmap to the desired outcome.

Principle number one: you have to create the vision and mission.

In order to successfully execute projects or initiatives you should always begin with the end in mind.

This is effectively accomplished by designing the vision and mission of the project so it is crystal clear to everyone involved.

When designing your project vision and mission you have to make sure you are concise, clear, future-oriented, challenging, abstract and inspiring.

So let’s recap the first of the six basic principles of project management is to create a vision and a mission for your project that will help clarify the expected outcome.

I’ll say good bye today with a great quote by Steve Jobs: “If you’re working on something exciting, that you care about, you don’t have to be pushed, the vision pulls you.”

Till next time.


9 Strategies to Help You Retain Key Employees

It is frustrating to lose hardworking, high-performing employees. It can leave employers blindsided and wondering what went wrong. The best way to retain your key employees is by understanding what they’re looking for in their jobs and in their work environment and by prioritizing the things that are important to them. 

Countless interviews with HR professionals show consistent findings. Nine important measures your small business can take to nurture your top talent include: 

  • Work/life balance: Satisfy your employees by accommodating their personal needs. Many employees appreciate the option to telecommute when they have a sick child or other urgent family matter to attend to. Big city employees may benefit from flexible commute hours to avoid rush hour traffic. Offering a fitness center pass is another way to show employees that you care about their overall wellbeing – not just their time in the office. 


  • Consistent workload: High-performing employees are easily overworked. Because they can be counted on to produce quality work in an efficient manner, managers often send them more tasks than they can comfortably manage during the workday. This easily leads to frustration and burnout. On the flipside, these same employees may start looking elsewhere if they feel like their skills are underutilized at their current job. 


  • Promotional opportunities/career pathing: While employees may be content for awhile in their current positions at their current pay scales, eventually most employees expect a raise and an opportunity to advance their careers. While it can be challenging for small businesses to outline a clear path for advancement, employees stay engaged within companies where they can identify internal opportunities that match their skill sets. 


  • Effective management: A lack of training in their positions or a fear of giving honest feedback are two main reasons managers fail to earn the respect of their teams. Invest in your managers with proper training that teaches effective interpersonal skills and conflict management and encourage your leaders to get to know each of their team members and their personal motivators. When managers earn the respect of their team members, these employees are motivated and loyal to their team and their company. 


  • Raises and recognition: Keep employees engaged and motivated by recognizing outstanding employees for their achievements. This can be in the form of verbal praise, an email you send out to everyone in the company highlighting their achievements, lunch on the company, a pay raise…Be sure your employees know that you value their hard work.


  • Attractive benefits: Just as important as an attractive salary, benefits say a lot about how much you value your employees and an employee that feels valued is more likely to stick around. Offering fully funded professional development opportunities, plentiful sick days and vacation time, generous maternity and paternity leave…These benefits are just a few great ways to invest in your employees. 


  • Trust and autonomy: No one wants management looking over their shoulder but this is especially true of high-performing employees. They have worked hard to earn your trust. Give them the autonomy they deserve. If you do, they will continue to deliver quality work and reward you with their loyalty.


  • Retaining other key employes: Like it or not, employee resignations can be contagious. Oftentimes when one good employee leaves, particularly one in a managerial position, team members will follow suit, often following that manager to the next company. Working hard to implement these steps to retain your key employees will help curb this trend. 


  • Aligned values: Ultimately, people want to work for a company that aligns with their core values, goals and objectives. When this is the case, employees tend to be more like-minded and develop an emotional connection with each other and with their jobs. 

Want help attracting AND retaining your top talent? We can help! Give us a call at 305. 285.9264.


Case Study: Continental Global Services

The Background

Chinedu Okoro started Continental Global Services in 2014 as a compliment to his father’s commercial janitorial service business. Consequently, his father was his largest client. His business was growing slowly and organically. When we first met Okoro, he had just completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and he’d learned a lot; however, implementing all the new information was a whole other matter. Okoro had two employees and was working days, nights and weekends trying to grow his client base and move away from dependency on his father’s business. He was working hard to fulfill orders, invoice, collect, purchase products and run the business, all the while seeking government contract certifications. Shortly after we met, his office admin assistant – pregnant in her third trimester with her first child – broke her foot. All the things she was responsible for then fell onto his plate as well. The way things were operating was simply not sustainable.

The Solution

We got clear on the processes for each of the different organizational functions and began systemizing the business. We set up financial tools to analyze the business and set profit margins and brought in professional help to get the books accurate, then outsourced the bookkeeping. We let go of a team member that wasn’t working out, or government contracting, we hired a new team member who was familiar with this type of business development and began training her to be an asset and free up Okoro’s time. We set sales targets and business goals and then we set up tools that allowed Okoro and his team to access company data remotely. Our coaching also provided a structure of accountability that helped move the business forward.

The Outcome

In December of 2018, Chinedu was called to Nigeria where his family was involved in a hotel development project. He remained in Nigeria until early June of this year. During his time in Nigeria, Chinedu ran his business remotely, growing revenue by 147.49% and gross profit by 107.42%! He attributes this success to the team and systems we put in place prior to his departure. Our actions granted him the freedom and flexibility to simultaneously pursue business endeavors in both countries and experience substantial growth.


Chinedu states, “Running a business is like having a child. If you let the child run wild, there’s chaos. Having a business coach is like the parent providing guidance – one who helps you by looking from the outside, one who is experienced at reducing the chaos. You stop running around doing this and that and formulate a clear vision and effective actions. Developing a clear vision and prioritizing what to do, when and how to do it, is the most valuable thing I’ve received from working with my ActionCOACH. Her guidance has been invaluable.”


Make Time for Your Mid-Year Course Correction

It’s hard to believe that summer is already here! The kids are out of school and vacation season is in full swing. For business owners and their teams, it’s time for the mid-year course correction. June and July are the ideal time to review all your dreams, goals, plans, strategies, learnings and assumptions. It’s the time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Based on your findings, you can make course corrections to ensure that you and your team accomplish your goals and stay on track with your dreams. If you set aside the time and put in the effort for this process, it can make a difference this year and in the years to come. Here are seven things to consider and possibly modify mid-year.

  1. Review your budget and forecast. Are you on track to achieve your projections? If you are ahead of budget, you must determine if sales will continue to exceed expectations. If you do exceed your sales targets, what will you do with the extra revenue? Is production on track? If you’re falling short of budget projections, can you honestly create the additional revenue to make up the difference? If not, how will you bring your costs down to remain profitable?
  2. Review all expense categories. Are all your expenses in line? Are the programs and processes you put in place achieving their targets? Are there any that are just not working? If so, what’s the cause? Does the program or process simply need more resources, time or attention or has it totally missed the mark? If there’s no chance it will be effective and profitable, stopping will free up resources for other programs that will give you a return on your investment. Has an unexpected opportunity come up? What will it take to make that work and keep the business financial goals in line? What have you learned?
  3. Analyze your cash flow. 
  4. Review all your product and/or service offerings.  Is there an offering that needs to be dropped? If an offering isn’t performing, what’s the source of that? Would more sales and marketing attention make a difference? Has your offering become irrelevant in the marketplace?
  5. Have you identified new opportunities? What resources will be required? What’s the timeframe? What benefit do you expect? Will additional funds be required? Where will this money come from?
  6. Take a look at your competitors. Where do you stand in relation to your competitors? What can you do to become more competitive? What sets your business apart from the competition? Are you living your brand promise?
  7. Evaluate your marketing programs. Review and assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Which programs and campaigns are working? Which ones aren’t? Is there sufficient time and money to be effective? Should you outsource implementation?
  8. Bonus question: What do you and your team need to learn to course-correct successfully?

When your review and analysis is complete, you will be in a position to make helpful mid-year course corrections. Doing this will limit the money you invest in unsuccessful efforts, help you keep your goals front and center, and allow you to build on accomplishments from the first half of the year.

You’re halfway through the year! It’s time to make those goals and dreams a reality! Please reach out to us and let us know how we can help!


How To Engage Your Team

A lot of people are asking me, “How do I engage my employees? What do I do? There’s so many things. I’m hearing all these conflicting ideas.”.

In this video, I’m going to tell you exactly how to engage your employees.

Hi, my name is Jody and welcome to another video. If you’re new to this please Subscribe and be sure you ring the bell so you don’t miss a thing.

Let’s start off with where employee engagement starts.

Now many people are going over there with them. They need to be engaged.

It’s not something you can put on their job description. Engagement actually starts with you and me as business leaders.

Many business leaders and managers are lacking in the skills that are required to engage and to manage and to lead their teams. They’re lacking in communication skills, problem solving skills, decision making skills, team building skills.

They’re missing in many of the skill sets that are required in order to be able to be effective in leading and managing people. Employee engagement isn’t a secret. It’s human interaction and it’s not easy.

Most of the time we’d rather get on with it than to have to slow down long enough to learn to think and to interact with our teams in effective ways. However, there’s a strong business case for why it matters.

You have to believe in it and you have to be willing as a leader to let your ego style, of command and control, go in order to be able to connect on an emotional plane with your employees.

Now when I say that I can hear, in the background, “Oh God, this soft stuff mushy I’m not interested. All I want is the results. Well guess what. In today’s day and age the only way you can get results is by being willing to get engaged with them because in the industrial age where we treated people more like parts of a machine you might have been able to be more forceful command and control.

But today, knowledge workers may have more knowledge about an area of say accounting, or marketing, than you do, and your success rides on their willingness to engage on your behalf.

So, how do we do this?

Engagement is about ownership. So, let me take you through an exercise. I’m going to give you a couple of math problems, and then I want you to tell me what’s the first thing you notice. OK.

Four plus five equals nine.

Twelve minus five equals six.

13 plus two equals 15.

So what’s the first thing you noticed?

That’s right. Twelve minus five doesn’t equal six, Jody, it’s seven. And that’s typically what we do as managers.

The first thing we do is, we notice what’s wrong, rather than two of those problems were actually right! And then, we go to the employee and we focus on what they didn’t do right rather than what they do do right, and then we wonder why they avoid us, why they don’t want to interact, why, the moment they see us coming, they put their heads down.

Because the environment isn’t safe.

So one of the first things there is to do is just just start looking for catching people doing things right. That’s number one.

Another thing you can do is you can ask, “What do my people need from me, in order to be able to do their best work?”.

Another question is, “What’s it like being led by me?”.

I can tell you, years ago, I wouldn’t want to have been led by me. That’s for sure! I’ve learned a lot in the last 14 years of having this business, but I can tell you in the beginning, when I was scared, and I was new, I probably wasn’t very easy to work for.

You could go and you could ask each of the individual people on your team: “What’s important to you?”; “What’s interesting to you?”; “Where do you want to make a contribution?”; and listen for their answers, so that you know maybe this person is looking for expanding their capacities or gaining mastery in an area in the business or maybe they’re interested in working in another area of the business.

But just listening is going to point you in the direction of ways that you can improve their experience of being on your team.

I’m going to share with you a couple of things that you can do, places to look, that would be almost like keys.

First of all, set clear goals and expectations. People always want to know where they stand and what’s expected of them. If they don’t have a job description with key performance indicators of how you’re going to measure them in terms of their performance that’s a really good starting place.

Secondly, train them. Only 5 percent of employees that were surveyed said that they’ve had any training in the last five years. 5 percent!

Communicate with them. How many team meetings do you actually run? Is it once a month, once a week, every day huddles? Is it a year ago? Team meetings really matter. People want to be abreast of what’s going on in your organization.

Coaching your team. This one actually demonstrates a 100 percent return on your investment in coaching your team, taking either your time or having an outside coach helping them to improve their productivity and performance.

The next one is leadership flexibility, being who’s needed for that employee. Everybody’s behavioral style, everybody’s motivator and everybody’s strengths and attributes are different.

So rookie leadership is, this is who I am, take it or leave it. Whereas mature leadership is who’s needed for this individual, and this individual, and this individual, and being able to modify our style to be a match for that person so that we can have the best rapport and the most effective way of interacting with them.

Be careful in the way that you recognize employees. Because a lot of times we reward our top performers, and what that does is it actually creates an environment where other people on a team feel like losers. So, really look at your recognition and rewards programs and make sure that they’re aligned with creating an environment where everyone is honored and valued.

Retention starts in the hiring process. The experience that people have when they come to interview for you, the way the job ad is written, when they walk into the office, how prepared are you for onboarding somebody, what’s their first six weeks like in your business. So, all the way from recruitment through onboarding and into the ongoing training and development, engagement starts way beyond where you might think, it starts starts all the way back at who’s going to be a good fit for our company.

And, lastly, there is honesty. Trust is the number one foundational aspect of engagement. The team doesn’t care if you make a mistake. They care how you handle something. So if you do make a mistake and you can honestly say hey, you know what, I behaved badly here, it’s not what I’m committed to, please forgive me. And then, you put in a practice to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They can respect that. They’ve got a lot of room for that. But when we pretend like we’re infallible, we erode trust. So, actually being willing to be honest, and authentic, goes a really long way on the emotional plane, which is what engagement is all about.

Employees, who carry their weight and act responsibly, lose respect for leaders that don’t hold everyone to the same standards, and when they lose respect, and when they lose their will to add that discretionary effort to do a job at that next level, then your zombie behavior starts to creep in and people just go through the motions.

Sometimes, we justify, as leaders, why we let this one off the hook and not the others, but that actually erodes the confidence, and the will, of our high performers.

So, if you want to have a highly engaged team, it’s important to recognize that the environment that pulls everybody up to high performing has to be managed by you, you the leader.

We need people who are ready to lead when we’re ready to stop leading. So, the development of your team is in your own best interests, aside from the business case, aside from the profitability growth, aside from outperforming your competition.

Actually engaged people, who are pulling learning toward them, who are pulling growth toward them, give you the freedom in your business to either focus on something else that you want to do, or going to the next level of expansion, or diversification.

But, unless they’re engaged, they’re not going to be there doing that kind of work that will free you up, when you’re ready to move back.

A few moments ago, I was mentioning about the math problems and the first thing that we notice is the one that was wrong, well Shawn Anchors got a great TED talk on happiness in the workplace. And, his research showed that when we create an environment where people feel safe and they’re happy that all the metrics in business actually increase.

And, rather than going into the 19 percent here, and 21 percent there, and 13 percent here, knowing that when you create an environment where people feel safe and they feel happy, it actually releases the endorphins in the brain that create greater levels of awareness, and focus ,and energy, to do better work, more productive work, more creative work.

And so, rather than going around and looking for what people are doing wrong and pointing out what they’ve done that they could do better actually going around and saying, “Hey, that’s awesome. Could you show me how you did that?” Or “Could you show so-and-so how to do this?”, and engaging them and what they’re doing right, will go a long way towards creating an environment where people feel engaged and want to contribute more.

Because I work with a lot of businesses, I know that from the old days, and there’s still remnants of it in many of us, myself included, where we find what’s wrong. If all you do, is stop that behavior and start catching people doing things right, you’re going to go a really, really long way on creating sustainable engagement with your team, and that doesn’t cost you anything.

A couple of years ago, I got certified in an engagement program called ‘Engage and Grow’, and the reason I chose to get certified in this particular program is that unlike many of the other engagement programs that are out there where we’re laying a program on a team, this particular program has a framework.

It’s a framework, but inside of it, while it’s guided, the actual content is created by the members that are in that group. And that leads to buy in, it leads to a public accountability – nobody ever wants to be the one who didn’t do what they said they were going to do. It also creates a relatedness. And there’s aspects of it that includes feedback.

Believe it, or not, as much as people say: “Oh My God! Feedback from my peers, I don’t want that!”, that routinely, around the world, is the aspect that people say they loved the most and it’s the one that, when the program is complete, they’re committed to continuing to do on their own.

Other tools for engagement include Gallup’s survey. Gallup has the 12 questions you’ve probably heard of these in the past. I’ll go through and read them to you in a moment.

But, the Gallup organization does a lot of work as it relates to engagement and they do it mainly through the StrengthsFinder assessment. So the StrengthsFinder is an assessment tool where they will give you your top five natural attributes that still have to be developed into a strength but that you’re born with. It’s like a natural wiring and they couple that with what are the things that they found have people follow a leader, and creates teams that have high, high levels of engagement.

The Gallup organization was study high performing people, and high performing teams and they were looking for what’s common. They figured if they could isolate what was common then everyone would have access to high performance. Well in their studies what they found was there was no single attribute that everyone shared in common like say discipline. What they did find was that people who were reliably able to deliver results were working to a natural talent that they had developed into a strength, and in the assessments they give you those, your top five. You can get all 34, but really the top five are most important.

You still have to develop a natural attribute into a strength. However, that’s where it’s easy, because you have a natural attribute. You still have to learn, but it’s easy to learn, it’s easy to develop.

While they were doing that work, they were also looking at what do our corporations, and our school systems, and organizations, focus on. And, I don’t know about you, but certainly for me and many people I speak to, they say well you’re really good at this, but you better work on this thing you’re not so good at, again going back to what we’re not so good at.

And that research showed that no matter how much time, attention, energy and money you throw at a non-talent it will only ever improve between 10 and 15 percent. So, what we do is, we create mediocre, miserable people trying to get better, working really hard to get better at, something they’re never going to get much better at.

But this is important because, engaged people are people who are working to something they enjoy doing, a place where they can experience mastery, a place where they have autonomy, so that they’re in an environment that allows them to be a contribution. People want to actually contribute, they want there to be purpose to what they’re doing, rather than pushing a boulder up a hill till you get to the top and it rolls back down again.

When people feel like they’re moving forward, they’re engaged. And, a way that you can have people on your team be engaged is to know their strengths, and to help them to work in an environment where they can develop those strengths.

So I’ve shared a lot of different things that you can do anywhere from looking at what are people doing right, to investing in StrengthsFinder, to looking at engagement programs like Engage And Grow, one I know and love, but there are others.

Perhaps, one thing that you might consider doing is choosing someone who’s going to be the engagement champion. Somebody who has the listening of other people on the team and who would be willing to be the person who keeps that conversation for engagement alive in your organization.

And then, talk with your team, see what it is that’s working and not working.

I’ve shared with you some simple things that you can do, some inexpensive or free things that you can do to begin engaging your team and you can go on up the up the ladder to all manner of levels.

All of the teams that I’ve worked with, that have invested in their teams, are getting astounding results because their team feels valued.

So, if all you do is make sure that they experience being valued, you’re going to go a long way on getting engagement in your company.

Great companies improve engagement by focusing on the culture. Ninety percent of the people in a great company say they believe in the purpose of that company. Sixty seven percent say it’s safe for me to speak up, it’s safe for me to challenge the status quo in my company, and they believe in real change because they’ve seen steps being taken that are producing results. It’s not a quick fix. It’s got to become part of your business strategy. Investing in the growth of your people. And that will give you the kind of engagement that will let your company soar.

We’ve gone through lots of ideas here. Take the ones that are simple for you to start with and then build on that. Start with finding what people are doing right. Find somebody who can be the champion. Do the team meetings. Start investing at higher and higher levels. And, as you do, you’re going to see astounding results in your company.

So thank you for watching this video. And before you leave please subscribe and ring the bell so that you don’t miss a thing.

Till next time.


How to Determine the Scope of a Project

In today’s episode I want to share the definition of the scope of a project in the business world.

The Scope is the part of project planning that involves determining and documenting a list of specific project goals, deliverables, features, functions, tasks, deadlines and, ultimately, the cost.

In other words it is what needs to be achieved and the work that must be done to successfully deliver a project.

I have a client that owns a very exotic flower shop. Their arrangements are sophisticated, unique and highly seasonal. The uniqueness of the business brings marketing challenges. Their strategies need to be changed and addressed on a monthly basis.

My client was experiencing some frustration because she felt the team was having the same conversations about marketing almost on a daily basis, thus affecting productivity.

We introduced to the team the most basic concept of project management: Before the beginning of each month, gather the team, determine and document who’s responsible for what, define your deliverables for the month broken down by weekly deadlines, assign a cost and time to each task, follow the plan and adjust as needed.

This small change in the way they run the business made an incredible contribution to the productivity and team engagement.

I now will leave you with a quote by International Project Management gurus Bentley and Borman, “A good plan can help with risk analysis, but you will never guarantee the smooth running of the project.”.

1 2 3 16