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Ducks in a Row: Jerks and “Culture Fit”

July 11th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/forsterfoto/168970168/Although both articles I refer to are aimed at startup founders, I believe they are applicable to bosses at any level and in any company.

First, no boss ever accomplished their goals by being a jerk.

As Bob Sutton explains in The Asshole Survival Guide, treating people like dirt hurts their focus and saps their motivation. (…)  In the podcast, Reid [Hoffman] describes his test of a great culture: Does every employee feel that they personally own the culture?

Most jerks point to Steve Jobs to justify their actions, but consider how much more he could have done if he had been a better leader/manager.

It’s hard to find any boss who doesn’t recognize that culture is the most critical element in a company’s success.

However, what “culture” is has been twisted and warped out of all recognition.

These days “cultural fit” is the excuse of choice to indulge whatever biases, prejudices, and bigotry moves the hiring boss.

So, what does cultural fit really mean?

To answer that you have to understand what culture really is.

Culture is a reflection of the values of the boss.

Values have nothing to do with perks, food, or office buildings and everything to do with attitudes such as fairness, merit, transparency, trust, etc.

The point of cultural fit is to hire people whose personal values are, at the least, synergistic with the cultural values of the company.


That means that if the boss is biased, bigoted or a jerk, they will hire people who have similar values.

Image credit: Matthias Forster

Reading To Grow

July 10th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

We’re halfway through the year, which makes it a good time to take a step back and objectively consider how well you are doing achieving your personal growth goals for 2017.

We, the authors of the following, all hope that the monthly Leadership Dev Carnival provides you with different perspectives, ideas approaches, and tools to move forward.

Here is July’s wisdom.

Anne Perschel of Germane Coaching and Consulting provided Leadership Manifesto – Why You Need One and How to Get Started. Anne writes, “Your leadership manifesto ensures you stay the course in challenging times and focus on what’s most important at all times.” Find Anne on Twitter at @bizshrink.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited provided Four Types of Virtual Assistance. Beth explains four different models of virtual assistant services and provides suggestions for finding a good VA fit. Find Beth on Twitter at @bethbeutler.

Bill Treasurer of Giant Leap Consulting provided How to Choose a Great Mentor. Bill recaps, “Having a good mentor can take you far in your leadership journey. Learn what traits to look for in a good mentor.” Find Bill on Twitter at @btreasurer.

Chris Edmonds of the Purposeful Culture Group contributed Culture Leadership Charge: Don’t Bump the Fishbowl. In this post, Chris introduces “three steps to serving, validating, and celebrating employees’ ideas and contributions every day.” Follow Chris on Twitter at @scedmonds.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership provided Leadership Tips from Mankind’s Best Friend, the Dog. Dan recaps, “This lighthearted guest post from Dr. Garry McDaniel gives us 7 leadership tips learned from mankind’s best friend, the dog!” Find Dan on Twitter at @greatleadership.

Dana Theus of InPower Coaching contributed How Long Should You Stay At Your Job?. Dana writes, “No matter how well matched you and your job are at first, every employer and every person reach a point where it’s time to reconsider or renegotiate you agreement in order to support your continued growth.” Find Dana on Twitter at @DanaTheus.

David Grossman of The Grossman Group shared The Four Fs of Feedback. David writes, “If you were to give yourself a grade for how effective you are at giving feedback, what grade would you choose? Many of the executives I work with are brutally honest and give themselves an F. Move from an F to an A with the Four Fs of Feedback” Discover David on Twitter at @thoughtpartner

Jane Perdue of The Jane Group provided How to develop deep diversity with 9 learning styles. Jane shares, “Insightful guest post from author and coach Kay Peterson that guides leaders in increasing diversity by leveraging nine ways that people learn. Processes shared give leaders and their entire team a model they can use to understand and appreciate everyone’s strengths and differences.” Find Jane on Twitter at @thehrgoddess.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center provided How to Recognize a Leader. Jesse summarizes, “How do you recognize a leader? Hint: It’s not because of their title.” Find Jesse on Twitter at @jesselynstoner.

Jim Taggart of Changing Winds provided Leading in a Virtualized World: 10 Traits of a Cyber Leader. In the post, Jim explains, “To be a true Cyber Leader requires a strong and sustained commitment. Technology is proving to be a powerful enabler to bringing people together from around the globe. While Cyber Leadership brings with it exciting opportunities for personal growth, it’s also accompanied by certain challenges.” Find Jim on Twitter at @72keys.

Joel Garfinkle of the Career Advancement Blog submitted Four Solutions if You’re Feeling Overworked and Underappreciated at Work. Joel shares: “If you’re feeling overworked and underappreciated at work, you’re not alone. It’s easy to begin to feel bitter and resentment toward your job. But, there are things you can do to change how you feel.” Discover Joel on Twitter at @JoelGarfinkle.

John Hunter of Curious Cat submitted Technological Innovation and Management. John recaps: “Technological innovation brings great opportunity for improving results and our quality of life.  But transforming potential benefits into real results comes with many challenges.” Discover John on Twitter at @ajohnhunter.

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference submitted The Need for More Sadness, Less Anger. Jon shares, “Anger rises, stifling collaboration. We need more sadness and less anger. From our sadness, we renew our focus on fulfillment rather than happiness.” Discover Jon on Twitter at @thindifference.

Jon Verbeck of  Jon Verbeck contributed Business Owner Mistake: The Basic Profit Model is Not Leveraged Link:. In this post, Jon shared how slight improvements over many transactions can have a huge impact. Follow Jon on Twitter at @jonverbeck1.

Julie Winkle-Giulioni of Julie Winkle-Giulioni provided The FUEL that Propels Today’s Organizatons. Julie recaps, “In today’s business environment, only the most energized organizations and individuals will be prepared to power forward toward that ever-moving finish line. And the key to high quality results is high-quality FUEL (in the form of feedback, an understanding what’s most important, and a culture of experimentation and learning).” Find Julie on Twitter at @julie_wg.

Karin Hurt of  Let’s Grow Leaders contributed Before You Forget, Stop and Do This Immediately. In this post, Karin explored this question: “Who consistently takes the time to sweat the small stuff so you don’t have to?”. Follow Karin on Twitter at @letsgrowleaders.

Ken Downer of  Rapid Start Leadership contributed Leader Isolation: 6 Ways to Conquer Loneliness at the Top. Ken summarizes, “The challenges and responsibilities of leadership can sometimes leave us feeling isolated and lonely.  But leading well doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit.  In fact the opposite is true – the higher you rise, the more important your connections become.  These six approaches to getting connected can help you find friends while improving your effectiveness as a leader.” Follow Ken on Twitter at @rapidstartldr.

Linda Fisher Thornton of Leading in Context  shared 4 Connected Trends Shaping the Future of Leadership. Linda recaps: “The greatest challenge leaders face is keeping up as the bar continues to be raised. Adaptability is no longer just a competitive advantage. It’s an ethical imperative” Find Linda on Twitter at @leadingincontxt.

Marcella Bremer of Leadership and Change Magazine provided How Do I Relate to Others? . Marcella recaps, “Martin Buber states there are two different ways of being in the world: the I-it or I-thou way. I-it means that I am a person – but I see other people as objects or means to my ends. I-thou means that I see you as a person, too. You are equal and I acknowledge your humanity. These two ways profoundly influence how you relate to others and, thus, the results you achieve. How do you relate to others?” Find Marcella on Twitter at @marcellabremer.

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services, LLC provided How to avoid starring in your own drama. Mary Jo recaps, “Leaders often create their own drama, and then take the starring role. Here are some ways to avoid getting caught up in your own drama.” Find Mary Jo on Twitter at @mjasmus.

Miki Saxon of MAPping Company Success contributed Ducks in a Row: Educating For The Future. Miki writes, “There is a sad result from the current intense focus on STEM curriculum, with enterprise pushing its own short-term hiring agenda, and media hype that a tech career is the be-all and end-all. The real role education must play in a future of unimaginable careers that AI can’t do ends up being ignored.” Discover Miki on Twitter at @optionsanity.

Michael Lee Stallard of the Connection Culture Group contributed 3 Practices to Improve the Contributions of Your Core Employees. He writes, “Core employees comprise the majority of the workforce, yet are often overlooked. Here are three ways to engage the group that is critical to every organization’s success. ” Discover him on Twitter at @michaelstallard.

Neal Burgis of Burgis Successful Solutions submitted Leaders Encouraging Creative Risks. Neal recaps, “How can a leader experiment and foster risk taking?The idea is not to run out and take any risk. Think about how you want to take the risk you need on a small scale first. Test it out before taking a bigger leap with a bigger risk.” Find Neal on Twitter at @exec_solutions.

Paula Kiger of Big Green Pen provided A Late Cleanup. Paula recaps, “Making a decision to stop procrastinating on a long-overdue ‘cleanup’ ended up providing a physical and mental lift.” Find Paula on Twitter at @biggreenpen.

Randy Conley of Leading With Trust shared We Don’t Have a Crisis of Trust – We Have a Crisis of Untrustworthy Leaders. Randy writes, “The statistics on the state of trust in our world are dismal. Yet Randy Conley believes the core issue isn’t with trust itself, but with untrustworthy leaders of our organizations. In his post, We Don’t Have a Crisis of Trust – We Have a Crisis of Untrustworthy Leaders, Randy shares the four characteristics that define trustworthy leaders.” Find Randy on Twitter at @randyconley.

Robyn McLeod of Chatsworth Consulting submitted Your Strengths Can Hurt You. In this post, Robyn shares four easy tips to avoid having your strengths turn into derailers. Discover Robyn on Twitter at @thoughtfulldrs.

Shelley Row of Shelley Row provided Perfect is Over-Rated. In the post, Shelley encourages leaders to stop fixating on what’s wrong in order to really appreciate the fact that the majority of things that are right. Find Shelley on Twitter at @shelleyrow.

Susan Mazza of Random Acts of Leadership provided The Secret to Getting What You Want. Susan explains, “There’s a saying that, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there. The same applies in life and business. Knowing what you want, and how to get it, is the key to being in the driver’s seat of your life, your career, and your business.” Follow Susan on Twitter at @susanmazza.

Tanveer Naseer of Tanveer Naseer provided How Failure Taught Me To Become A Better Listener. Tanveer says this post is the story of one leader’s failure reveals a powerful lesson on the importance of effective listening to leadership success. Follow Tanveer on Twitter at @tanveernaseer.

Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership provided Lessons From My Father’s Reading Plan. Wally recaps, “You’ll get more from your summer reading if you have a plan. Here’s how my father did his.” Find Wally on Twitter at @wallybock.

If The Shoe Fits: A Golden Product For A Golden Market

July 7th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mLooking for a product idea?

One that has a targeted market of 100 million, with proven disposable income?

Saturday Night Live has a suggestion, but, since Jeff Bezos is aging, Amazon will probably beat you to it.

Image credit: HikingArtist, video: SNL

Ryan’s Journal: Veteran Culture

July 6th, 2017 by Ryan Pew

Folks, I thought it fitting to have something veteran related as America just celebrated Independence Day. While the holiday itself is about the founding of the country, I think we can all agree that the actions of the men and women who fought helped secure the independence. 

My goal here is to not make this a political blog, but sometimes folks who I respect speak out and I like to highlight them. 

I had the privilege to read “Tribe” recently and found the book to share a perspective on PTSD and culture that I had not heard before.

I may have shared in the past, but when I was a younger man I served in The United States Marine Corps. In that capacity I lost several Marines while on patrol in Fallujah, Iraq and it’s still something I keep with me.

With that said, I am fortunate not to suffer any serious effects, physical or mental, but I found the book to be a breath of fresh air.

I say all of this to say that Junger is well respected in the community and a voice of reason.

Below my post Junger is quoted as stating the current divisive political environment is causing moral injury on the troops. Moral injury could be very true. In the current conflicts young men and women are thrust into confusing situations that have no clear objective.

 For us, we had to contend with the so called enemy, but also the locals; all while trying to explain that we were there to provide peace (while holding them to the gun).

It was confusing and as an introspective guy I had a hard time rationalizing what I was doing. My response was to just not consider the socio-political ramifications and focus on the day at hand. 

What Junger says though is true in my opinion. As politics have become more divisive, it is tough for the folks in harm’s way to truly believe in the cause. The homeland is secure and we fight most wars now for no clear reason. 

One takeaway from Junger’s book about PTSD I found can be applied by anyone.

He says we should embrace veterans, but not in such a way that you isolate them. Most veterans do not want adulation and praise, they just want mutual respect and the ability to remember, but not dwell. 

I have included the full text of his interview below

An award-winning journalist says people who claim Trump isn’t their president hurt US troops

Sebastian Junger has a message for lawmakers: the partisan warring of politicians in Washington DC is hurting the American military more than they realize.

“Unity is all soldiers have when they face the enemy, and you must do everything in your power to make sure that it is not taken away from them,” the noted war journalist and author, who has written and directed extensively on war, told members of the House Veterans Affairs Committee during a hearing on post-traumatic stress disorder on June 7.

Junger used the opportunity to rail against the toxic influence of partisan politics among the armed forces.

“When it became fashionable after the election for some of my fellow Democrats to declare that Donald Trump was not their president, they put all of our soldiers at risk of moral injury,” he told lawmakers. “In order for soldiers to avoid something called ‘moral injury,’ they have to believe they are fighting for a just cause. And that just cause can only reside in a nation that truly believes in itself as an enduring entity.”

The issue isn’t just about the unusual nature of the Trump presidency, or Democrats’ resistance to it. “When Donald Trump charged repeatedly that Barack Obama [ …] was not even an American citizen, he surely demoralized many soldiers who were fighting under orders from that White House,” he said.

Junger, whose career as a war reporter began covering the Kosovo genocide in the 1990s, most recently penned a book called         “Tribe” in which he wrote about the fractionalized America that troops face when they return home.

“For the sake of our military personnel, if not for the sake of our democracy, such statements should be quickly and forcefully repudiated by the offending political party,” Junger said.

“If that is not realistic, at least this committee — which is charged with overseeing the welfare of our servicemen and women — should issue a bipartisan statement rejecting such rhetorical attacks on our national unity.”

The military, which serves the president as its commander-in-chief, has become increasingly politicized in recent years.

The Center for New American Security reported a trend of more politicization of the military’s ranks by observing speeches given by retired generals at both Republican and Democratic national conventions in 2016.

What’s more, a study by the National Defense University found that more military personnel are sharing their political views on social media.

After surveying 500 West Point cadets and active duty officers, the report found that 75% of respondent said that they had seen their contemporaries shared political links on their personal social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In “Tribe,” Junger writes, “Soldiers all but ignore differences of race, religion and politics within their platoon.”

Read the original article on Task & Purpose.

Image credit: Sebastian Junger

Uber Suicide?

July 5th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeepersmedia/9698637692/Have you noticed that Uber-frenzy has eased off? It’s a nice change to see other lead stories taking its place.

The most valuable private company in the world is definitely at a crossroads.

There is one thing that’s definite and that is that without new leadership that can staunch the blizzard resignation at all levels, galvanize the troops, lead the change to a radically new culture, and keep all the wheels turning in sync Uber easily could fall from its vaunted position.

In short, the new CEO needs to be someone with a sterling reputation, a string of high profile successes, and a believable visionary who people will trust.

Is that how you would describe Marissa Mayer?

The last thing that Uber needs is someone who defends Kalanick and seems to excuse what happened.

“I count Travis as one of my friends. I think he’s a phenomenal leader — Uber is ridiculously interesting.”

Mayer, who may be campaigning for the Uber CEO role, added: “I just don’t think he knew. When your company scales that quickly, it’s hard.”

Mayer went on to say that Uber was going through the same kind of thing Google went through when Eric Schmidt was brought on as CEO to help founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

But Mayer is not Eric Schmidt; in fact, her two main qualifications seem to be being female and buddies with Arianna Huffington.

Of course, there’s a long way to go and a number of other names being bandied about.

If she is hired I’m sure the investors will be excited to watch Uber take the same path as Yahoo.

Image credit: Mike Mozart

Ducks in a Row: Filler Word Help

July 4th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

https://www.flickr.com/photos/44412176@N05/4197328040/Yesterday I cited John Mackey’s town hall speech as an example of poor communication, even at ­CEO level.

Saturday Business Insider was kind enough to post this video on how and why to stop using filler words, especially in a professional setting as you can clearly see in the transcript of Mackey’s speech.

Not motivated? Then focus on the fact that filler words make you sound dumb.

Image credit: gorfor  

Golden Oldies: Hiring Newbies

July 3rd, 2017 by Miki Saxon

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies are a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

I wrote this post four years ago; the problem wasn’t new then and its gotten progressively worse since.

People today, not just Millennials and not all Millenials, don’t communicate well. People at all ages and levels, including CEOs are poor commicators — and if you doubt that, take a look at Whole Foods CEO John Mackey’s speech at the town hall meeting after the Amazon acquisition. Written communications aren’t much of an improvement, even ignoring grammar and spelling errors, they often have little clarity, flow, or even coherence.

Texting has resulted in still worse writing, especially as people disperse with details like capital letters that can totally change the meaning.

“Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.”

And thanks to the overall focus on STEM education you can expect it to get even worse.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/evoo73/9140462500/Do you groan at the thought of having to hire and manage new-to-the-workforce people?

Do you wonder what’s wrong with today’s college graduates?

If so, remember two things.

  1. The problems are not a product of your imagination.
  2. You are not alone.

Multiple studies find the same problems I hear first-hand from managers.

“When it comes to the skills most needed by employers, job candidates are lacking most in written and oral communication skills, adaptability and managing multiple priorities, and making decisions and problem solving.”  –special report by The Chronicle of Higher Education and American Public Media’s Marketplace

“Problems with collaboration, interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.” –Mara Swan, the executive vice president of global strategy and talent at Manpower Group

What’s changed?

Helicopter parents, crowdsourced decisions, me/my world focus, and the constant noise that prevents thinking.

The result is that many new hires require remedial actions from already overloaded mangers that go well beyond the professional growth coaching that typifies the best managers.

Flickr image credit: evoo73

If The Shoe Fits: The Stupidity Of Always On

June 30th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here.

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mBack in the distant 1980s, when startups were valued for what they did, as opposed to the cash they raised, a founder made a casual comment that has stuck with me all these years.

He said, “There will be times when my team has to pull all-nighters, but if it happens often it is a failure of management to correctly schedule the work and set viable deadlines, as opposed to an unexpected emergency.”

Boy, has that changed. These days founders brag about their 80-120-always-on-hour-weeks and expect their team to do the same.

And they do.

It’s the new techie status symbol.

And not just in tech land.

The gig economy not only brags about it, they base their recruiting on it.

 “You eat a coffee for lunch,” the [Fiverr] ad proclaims. “You follow through on your follow through. Sleep deprivation is your drug of choice. You might be a doer.”

Doer? Or exploitee?

Or, more accurately, stupid, with a capital S.

“A culture of overwork is damaging because it turns brief binges of hard work into a long-term strategy, and, worse still, an expectation. When managers start measuring the worth of their employees according to how quickly they return emails at 3 a.m., that particular work culture is broken,” Adam Alter, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business, told Business Insider in an email. (He wrote a book about how technology keeps us “always on.”)

Stupid because 80-100+ hour weeks lowers creativity and productivity, while increasing coding and other errors. Not to mention lost sales and misunderstandings.

Founders take note. Not of me, but of the research, crunch the numbers, and analyze the data.

Then think twice, send your team home and go yourself and get some sleep.

Even Uber is planning on that.

“Uber is a data-driven company, and the data shows unequivocally that when you work longer, you are not working smarter,” Uber board member Arianna Huffington told the company’s employees during an all-hands meeting last week, according to leaked audio obtained by Yahoo.
Huffington also added that employees won’t have to be “always on” and responsive to whatever is going on at the office, no matter where they are. Because “when you’re always on you’re depleted, you are distracted,” and “not as creative” as you are when you’re well-rested, Huffington also said, channeling the thesis of her new pro-sleep startup Thrive.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Ryan’s Journal: Can Culture Be Flow?

June 29th, 2017 by Ryan Pew


If you’re reading this I am making the assumption that you’re a knowledge worker. You may be in an office, a coffee shop, or perhaps some hillside retreat. Regardless of where you may be you have work to do and it needs to be done in a timely manner. When I am truly engrossed in something that has all my attention I get a hit of dopamine that channels my energy. Some call this flow.

Your brain is being fully maximized, distractions fade away and creativity takes place. When I am in this state it feels like work takes less effort. I am satisfied with the results and I feel accomplished. Truth be told I wish I could achieve this state more often and for longer periods of time.

As I was thinking about the concept of flow I was thinking how it could be applied to culture. If we are looking at flow in a way that reduces effort and gets faster results than perhaps we can apply that principle to culture as well.

I read a quote from Steve Jobs where he said, no one individual accomplishes something great, a team does. As I thought on that it occurred to me that the culture of Apple must be one where the team comes first, rather than the individual.

In my mind that is culture at work.

Any new hire would quickly see that belief in action, mimic it, and before they knew it they would assimilate without any conscious thought. That’s not a bad thing, since our brains have so many other things to worry about.

I think the same could be said of the military. You read stories of folks who did heroic things and their reasoning was that they didn’t want to let their team down.  As a former Marine myself I can assure you that peer pressure is real and the last thing you want to do is let your buddies down. As a result you see some extraordinary actions on the part of service member, first responders and others. In my mind that is flow at work.

As always, though, we need to figure out how to iterate and expand our culture to a point where flow is achieved and it seems effortless.

I have found that surrounding yourself with folks that have passion for life, push themselves past their comfort zone, and care for others is a terrific foundation to achieve success.

Image credit: ReflectedSerendipity

Why Fake News Spreads

June 28th, 2017 by Miki Saxon

Fake news is on everybody’s mind these days.

Where does it come from?

How does it start?

Is it intentional? An accident? Honest error based on erroneous assumption?

A few days after Donald Trump was elected, 35-year-old Eric Tucker saw something suspicious: A cavalcade of large white buses stretched down main street near downtown Austin, Texas.

Tucker snapped a few photos and took to Twitter, posting the following message:

Tucker was wrong — a company called Tableau Software was actually holding a 13,000-person conference that day and had hired the buses.

OK, a wrong assumption by a social guy who had to tell his network.

But why didn’t the actual facts refute it when they were tweeted?

A new study published June 26 in the journal Nature looks into why fake posts like Tucker’s can go so viral.

Economists concluded that it comes down to two factors. First, each of us has limited attention. Second, at any given moment, we have access to a lot of information — arguably more than at any previous time in history. Together, that creates a scenario in which facts compete with falsehoods for finite mental space. Often, falsehoods win out.

Also, people consider the source of information more than the info itself. Trusted source = valid info.

The tweet was shared 350,000 times on Facebook and 16,000 and Trump added his two cents.

The corrected information was shared only 29 times.

Why didn’t Tucker tweet his network a correction when he it turned out to be false?

“I’m … a very busy businessman and I don’t have time to fact-check everything that I put out there, especially when I don’t think it’s going out there for wide consumption,”

In other words, he couldn’t be bothered.

Research and economists aside, Tucker provided the real key.

People aren’t bothered whether it’s true or not.

They just care that they get their 15 seconds of fame.

Image credit: Business Insider

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