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Knowing Why/When To Quit

Monday, March 20th, 2017


Occasionally I share stuff I receive from clients and sometimes from readers, as I’m doing today. I ask if I can share it and usually the response is ‘yes’, with the caveat that I change enough to ensure that nobody will recognize the writer.

I think “Caz’s” situation and its outcome are very applicable right now. I hear from a lot of you, all asking how to know when to “pull the plug.”

As always, I’m available by phone or email if you want/need to hash things out; contact info in the right-hand frame.

Hi Miki,

It’s been awhile and a lot has happened, with both family — the adoption went through and I’m a new dad! — and I’ve got a new job.

As you know, I’ve been getting more and more concerned about my future at “Locus Systems.”

You also know I’m extremely culture sensitive and the culture has been changing quite a bit, moving more and more towards a fear-based approach.

In addition, we launched a new product about 2 years ago and landed a total of maybe 20 customers.

While the product itself worked and there is a real need, the market just didn’t respond.

This in turn led to our CEO, who owns the company, to push the sales teams harder. In the end he said the failure was on the individual sales teams, not the product.

I have a strong business background and know that for no discernible reason good products sometimes just don’t find the market demand expected.

This whole ordeal has led to a lot of resentment on the part of the sales teams and management.

Some of our best team members started leaving; I’m talking about people who sell $4MM plus a year, so great salespeople.

Each time someone left the CEO would make it a point to remind everyone that that person lacked the vision and we were better off without them.

Give me a break!

On a personal level commissions started being delayed. We always waited 2 months or so for our commission, but it was creeping into a 3-4 month time frame, sometimes longer.

All this led me to a realization that I was probably on a sinking ship. I don’t mind struggling, and you know I’m a fighter, but when the CEO and management are essentially belittling employees and putting all failures on them it’s time to go. 

So I started looking.

I found a great opportunity with “Jasper, Inc.,” another young software company that’s growing organically and has what seems like a terrific culture — all the good stuff you’ve written about (why I started reading you in the first place).

I found the opportunity locally, but the company doesn’t care where I live. That means we aren’t restricted to one town. I always wanted to be able to choose where I live and not have my job dictate that to me.

Although I just started, I’m really enjoying it. The opportunity came as a bit by surprise, but quite frankly, the conditions, benefits and pay are all superior to what I had. 

I’d like to stay in touch. This role will give me more financial freedom then I have had in the past and that may come in handy down the road ;-)


Image credit j. botter

Quotable Quotes: In Honor of Super Bowl XLIV

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

who-datToday is Super Bowl XLIV, so I thought it only appropriate to offer up some quotes relevant to more than just football—in other words, super quotes.

As you know, sports are often a metaphor for business and other parts of life.

I agree with Knute Rockne’s comment that “one man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it,” only I’d apply it to “leadership.”

Jock Sutherland said, Speed is not your fastest, but your slowest man. No back can run faster than his interference.” This harks back to the weakest link theory and is true in business and in life.

Darrell Royal’s words are as true for entrepreneurs and they are for any sport, The only place you can win a football game is on the field, the only place you can lose it is in your hearts.”

I thought it would be nice to end on a lighter vein.

Small errors can make your team focus too much on the words and not enough on their meaning as Bill Peterson should have realized when, while giving a pep talk, he said, “Men, I want you just thinking of one word all season. One word and one word only: Super Bowl.”

Then there are the questions asked in all seriousness, only to bring forth hilarious laughter or shocked silence; as these two examples show.

Before Super Bowl XVIII, Julie Brown asked Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, “What are you going to wear in the game on Sunday?”

Then there was the reporter who didn’t just put his foot in his mouth, but his entire leg when he asked

Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams, “How long have you been a black quarterback?” (Super Bowl XXII)

Sadly, while the questions were preserved, the responses were not.

Finally, there is Duane Thomas’ question, the one could have been asked every year for the last 44, “If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

Only one thing left to say—GO SAINTS!

Image credit: scott*eric on flickr

If You Want To Lead The Ball Starts In Your Court

Friday, October 9th, 2009

When you’re the leader, the person out front, you need to motivate and to achieve a commitment from your people you need more than a vision—your people need to know that they matter and that you believe in them. And they need to know before the fact—you can’t wait until they prove themselves by their actions. You need to trust them before they will trust you; the ball always starts in your court.

The US Navel Academy prides itself on teaching leadership, but the students you’ll see in this video haven’t realized yet that what they learn in class needs to permeate their MAP, their entire life and every thing they do to be truly authentic.

Watch the video and think about what kind of reception Kings Firecracker should have received based on the first paragraph.


Your comments—priceless

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Image credit: CesarGastelum on YouTube

What Every Manager Needs To Do

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

If you are a manager, from team leader to CEO, you need an elevator pitch if you plan on succeeding.

No, not one that sums up your skills and value, but one for your team.

Like any good elevator pitch, it should be short—a narrative to which people can relate describing the mission and a compelling one-sentence reason to commit.

And make no mistake; you will need to continue crafting them as the team’s mission changes to reflect evolving company goals.

Image credit: le on flickr

Creating A Happy Workforce

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Yesterday I said that creating a happy, i.e., productive, innovative, caring, workforce, was 80% MAP and 20% money-based employee support initiatives.

Everyone who writes or talks about management, or is interviewed as a role model, says the same thing in a variety of ways.

It boils down to what people want

  • respect;
  • honesty;
  • shared commitment;
  • clear communications as to where the company is going, how it’s going to get there, what’s expected of them and how it all fits together;
  • an ethical culture; and
  • authenticity throughout.

No details, they’re available in dozens of places, including this blog, along with plenty of how-to’s.

Now, let’s say that you’ve done your best to implement what you’ve learned (at whatever level you are), but you’re not getting the expected results. Productivity is still elusive, your people seem apathetic and you have more turnover than is healthy.

What’s wrong? What are you missing?

The answer is most likely deep within your MAP.

As you’ve read over and over, the key to all this is authenticity—translated that means you believe what you’re saying.

But having worked through this with hundreds of managers over the years I can say that frequently one or more of the “required” attitudes weren’t synergistic with their MAP.

They used the right words, even thought the right thoughts, but deep down they didn’t really believe—and their people knew it. Not ‘knew it’ as conscious thought, but knew it as a gut feeling; knew it because every time their manager said one particular thing they found themselves mentally squirming and didn’t know why.

What they did know was that it made them uncomfortable and worried them. The discomfort sat in the back of their mind nibbling away and their productivity went down, which made them still more uncomfortable and created fertile ground for any opportunity that came along.

The solution to this is simple, but very uncomfortable since it requires you to turn you eye inwards to find the offending MAP and then do what it takes to change it.

Now to the 20% that requires money.

Employee support usually falls in four categories.


When budgets are tight, new technology may be unavailable, but that’s just one piece of supporting your people and you can often work around at lest part of it. Brainstorm with your people and find solutions within the parameters with which you have to work.


Training can be done if you get everybody involved. Here are four things to do within your organization that cost little to nothing.

  • Build a useful library, both hard copy and online, that includes classic and current information and runs the gamut from traditional to controversial to off-the-wall. Encourage your people to read up on subjects that interest them, whether or not it directly applies to their expertise.
  • Choose “topics of the month” based on both need and interest, and then encourage free-wheeling discussions on a regular basis.
  • Adapt scheduling so people can start to use, and become proficient in, the new skills about which they are reading and talking.
  • Support brown-bag classes (better yet, buy lunch if you can) in which they can teach their skills to others. Add cross-working assignments whenever possible to ensure cross-training.

Career opportunities

Providing career opportunities is easier than you think—and also more difficult. It requires you to do everything in your power to help your people acquire the skills necessary for them to take the next step in their chosen career path—that’s the easy part.

The difficult part is doing it even though you know that the person will leave, whether your group or the company, in order to take that step.


The tighter the economy the more difficult it becomes to provide financial rewards—or so it seems. Overcoming this challenge goes back to authenticity and honesty.

You start by explaining clearly exactly what your financial constraints are, both yours as a manager and the company’s. Your people aren’t stupid, they’ll know if what you say is true. In the thousands of people I’ve talked with over my 25 years as a recruiter I never found one that didn’t have a pretty good idea of what was going on in their company.

Once that’s done, get creative. Ask your people for ideas and involve them in finding creative ways to provide incentives with what you do have to spend—just don’t do anything that isn’t synergistic with your MAP.

Doing all this is the best gift you can give your people—and yourself.

If you’d like to talk more about it feel free to call me at 866.265.7267—no charge, no joke.

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