Stay Strong, Stand True: EOers Walk for Charity
“Why? Are you crazy?”
That was the response I received when I asked my Forum mates if they wanted to enter an EO team into the Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker event. Oxfam Trailwalker is the world's greatest team challenge, and it's also one of the toughest. Being entrepreneurs and all, I figured we would more than be up for the challenge.
And what a challenge it was!
Oxfam Trailwalker events are held each year in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand, Hong Kong, United Kingdom, Japan and Belgium. For Australian participants, the goal was to get a team of four across 100km of Australian bush in less than 48 hours. What’s more, we had to raise at least US$1,000 for charity, which would be used to help fight global poverty and suffering.
I was keen to partake in this adventure, especially through my Forum. In my 10 years as a member, I've established numerous unique relationships, so it was great to leverage them for this event. What's more, the challenge of this event so perfectly fit the EO values of going boldly and once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I couldn’t resist. I saw this as a great opportunity to get the EO brand out there!
With that in mind, I proposed the challenge to my Forum group. Most of my peers responded in horror at the concept of walking 100kms; one member committed to the challenge on the spot and one showed mild interest. Despite the less-than-enthusiastic response from the other eight members, I didn’t give up. I was confident there were likeminded folks out there willing to adopt the challenge. Like with my Forum, I needed support.
This event is all about teamwork. You need to start together, go through each checkpoint together and finish together. And considering the intensity and pressure of the event, the challenge of staying united and strong as a team was enormous. With my EO peers in tow, we decided to trek under the name “Kia Kaha Tu Tika,” which means “Stay Strong, Stand True.”
Now, when you’ve walked for 20 hours, have 30kms more to go, have not slept and you are physically and emotionally exhausted, you are tested like no other situation. The event was very tough, but it was well worth it. We wound up crossing the finish line in 29 hours, 25 minutes 5 seconds. To put that in perspective, the fastest team time was 14 hours and 24 minutes. The slowest: 47 hours and 3 minutes. Not bad!
Significantly more pleasing was the amount of money we earned from sponsorship. We were the 28th top fundraiser for the event, raising an impressive US$14,070. That’s enough to establish a micro-credit system in Zimbabwe or provide clean water systems for three schools in Cambodia. All in all, 500 teams raked in US$3,097,832 in fundraising dollars!
The Sydney Oxfam Trailwalker event was my greatest challenge this year— physically, emotionally and spiritually. I discovered new strengths, new fears, new pain, and most importantly, new depths of EO friendship and support.
Making Your Company Values Come Alive
EO Minneapolis-St. Paul
When someone is called an “ACE” in my company, it’s more than just a fleeting comment or a gratuitous pat on the back. ACE is the acronym for our values: Attitude, Commitment and Excellence. It’s also the name of a program we’ve put in place to make those values come alive.
We were able to uncover, institute and leverage our company values by following the advice of business guru Jim Collins [who will be speaking at the 2009 EO Arizona University!]. Jim once described the following exercise as a way to discover company values:
As the leader of your business, ask all of your employees to pretend that Martians are coming to visit, and they want to learn all about your company. Here’s the trick: Employees can’t use words (unless they speak Martian!) to describe your company. Instead, they must point out three employees that the visitors will observe. These employees must be employees who best exemplify your company’s values. Once the employees have identified their three “company ambassadors,” ask them to use three words to describe why they picked those employees.
This self-discovery activity helped my company uncover our core values. After the exercise ended, we learned that our business centered around three principles: Attitude, Commitment and Excellence. Specifically, attitudes that inspire others and convey excitement about the company; a commitment to clients, one another and our community; and professional excellence.
We were gratified to learn that employees were nearly unanimous in their agreement with these values. However, getting clarity around the values was just the first step. In order for us to leverage our newfound knowledge, we had to the separate values into three operating principles.
In my company, there are three principles that, along with our values, guide our decisions. These are: (1) to dominant the local market by offering a unique combination of technical training and consulting; (2) to be exceptional by hiring great people and landing them great work; (3) and to be different in a way that matters to our customers.
Like anything we care about, we must continually reinforce our commitment to our principles. We do this with banners in the office and through frequent discussions of how our values have been demonstrated by various employees. By pointing out employees “living the values,” we are reinforcing the belief that our values are real and that they underline how we treat our customers and each other.
We’ve put tremendous energy into developing this program, and the results speak for themselves: revenues have since exceeded projections, we have seen an increase in satisfied customers and there has been minimal employee turnover. Defining and adopting our company values has been one of the best decisions I've ever made as an entrepreneur.
By letting my employees and customers know what we stand for, we will continue to reap greater rewards than we ever imagined possible.
The Focus Five
EO Kansas City
Like most entrepreneurs, I am lucky to have numerous mentors in my professional life. Although these mentors have positively influenced my decision-making and leadership development, one in particular has made a major impact on me.
Ironically, I may have never met this former Fortune 50 CEO in my normal business circles. But, thanks to the power of EO and an introduction by EO Kansas City member, Bill Brunkhardt, I was able to connect with a mentor who changed my perspective on business management.
One of the leadership philosophies I learned in my interactions with this mentor is The Focus Five, a management tool that all leaders can utilize to ensure that proper role focus is created within every team member. Its simplicity is what makes this tool so effective.
Here are some of the questions I extend to my staff when it comes time to educating them about their roles. I also ask myself these questions often, and I search for answers that will clarify my role in my businesses while helping me become a more effective leader.
Why am I here?
As an entrepreneur, I ask myself this quite often. But, in this case, I discovered the question should be asked of each employee. As a business leader, I need to communicate to my employees how his or her job helps achieve the overall purpose and mission of the company. Each team member must fully comprehend how his or her role contributes to attaining the team’s goals and objectives.
What is expected of me?
Every team member wants to understand precisely what is expected of them in his or her position within the company. I’ve discovered that the measures of an individual’s performance should be apparent, detailed and reasonable. Without a clear understanding of how to do the job, the team member will not only under-perform, but the team as a whole will suffer, ultimately leading to poor productivity and job dissatisfaction.
How am I doing, and how do I know it?
Everyone—from business owners to employees—needs acknowledgement for the work they do, and most want to know the truth about their job performance. I’ve found that feedback regarding an employee’s performance must be constructive with genuine recognition of outstanding achievements. Effective and frequent communication with team members can diminish stress and generate improvements in both quality and productivity.
If I fail, where do I go for help?
Many team members feel that if they make a mistake or do not agree with their superiors, they will lose their jobs or be demoted. They are afraid to ask for help or direction. A top priority of any leader is asking team members what they need, as well as encouraging open communication with the proper sources of support.
What’s in it for me?
I’ve attended several EO functions and talked at length with a variety of likeminded entrepreneurs. Over time, I’ve found that most successful business leaders find a way to tie a team member’s personal and professional goals to the objective of the team or company. In turn, this creates an environment where productivity can thrive. To be successful in my business, there must be a “win-win” attitude, and employees must feel that if they achieve the company goals, they will be rewarded appropriately.
How EO Made Me a Better Boss
I never attended a business class in my life. My lack of knowledge was hurting me: I was working brutally long hours and I had no idea how to take my company to the next level. Despite all of that, my company was still growing like a weed. Little did I know that joining EO and getting into a Forum would arm me with several practical, yet critical, principles that I could apply to my business.
I learned my first lesson at my first Forum meeting. Like many entrepreneurs, I was busy, arrived late and was fined US$50. A year and several fines later, it dawned on me that arriving on time wasn’t about avoiding the fine. It was about efficient meetings and mutual respect for my Forum members.
With that in mind, I promptly considered my company and how we had plenty of meetings—many of which I scheduled and was constantly late to. What kind of a message was that sending to my employees? I implemented a new rule at the office : Meetings start on time, end on time, required a printed agenda and everyone (including me!) must be on time. Not only was I early to every company meeting, but efficiency, productivity and mutual respect were all on the rise.
Next, I learned the conflict resolution process for Forums. My IT Director was always complaining to me about somebody, and I started to dread seeing him at my door. The next time he complained, I encouraged him to speak to the person he was having issues with and work it out. I had learned this in my Forum. This way he doesn’t have to come to me; instead, the two of them can work things out on their own.
The last lesson—and probably the most important one of all—was adopting Gestalt Language Protocol. Gestalt enables people to speak from personal experience rather than lecture about what “should” be done. When one of my employees came to me with a problem, I was able to draw on my own experience and encourage them to develop their own solutions, rather than just tell them what to do. This was a huge mind shift at my company. Over time, it led people to be independent thinkers and it gave me the freedom and flexibility to spend less time at the office.
Thanks to the lessons I learned in Forum, I finally had time to start working on my business instead of in my business. I spend less than 20 percent of my time at the office, and the company runs better without me. Today, I’m a better boss and entrepreneur!
Business with a Porpoise
By Floris Koumans
I was never what you would call a “main-stream” kid. After high school, when most of my friends enrolled directly into university, I decided to become a fisherman on a Greek island for a year. The goal was to spend some time away from my family, and quite honestly, figure out what to do with my life.
That year, while my friends were studying, I was sailing a little boat, trying to plan my future. After giving it a lot of thought, I decided to become an entrepreneur. I wanted to develop innovative products that would make the world a better place. Like all entrepreneurs, I wanted to make a difference in my community.
I got the idea when I was interacting with the dolphins that routinely swam by my boat. These gentle creatures of the sea were beautiful to look at, but they were also pesky— they would steal fish from my nets and rip the netting to shreds. They caused me a lot of trouble over time; however, the experience would define my calling as an entrepreneur.
That was more than 20 years ago. Today I head one of the most prominent innovation companies in The Netherlands. And though it’s been two decades since I sailed that boat, I find that the dolphins are still with me. After that journey of self-reflection, I came to learn that dolphins are in constant conflict with fishermen around the world. They cause massive damage to the catch and nets, and they can be a great burden on the income of hard-working men.
On the other hand, dolphins often die as unwanted by-catch. The casualties number in the hundreds of thousands per year, and some species are bordering on extinction. It saddened me to think that these wondrous creatures would die on their natural quest for food. With this knowledge, and the thought of helping these mammals survive at all costs, I leveraged my experience as an entrepreneur and gave back to the world.
In 1997, I started SaveWave, a project aimed at developing ultrasonic devices that are placed on fishing nets. These transmitters disturb the dolphin’s sonar system, keeping dolphins at a safe distance without harming them or the environment. My team dedicated itself to creating an innovative item that would avoid damage to fishermen’s catch and their nets, all while saving the lives of innumerable dolphins. It was an amazing experience that wasn’t without its lessons learned.
I believe that to develop a sustainable innovation in today’s business world, an entrepreneur needs to make sure that the knife cuts on both edges. In our case, when going from success to significance, we aimed to offer clear benefits for the people who use our item, as well as for the environment.
I also learned it’s crucial that a product offers direct economic advantages over existing alternatives, and that you should always expect the unexpected in life. It took me two decades to help the dolphins, but the feeling of contributing to their welfare in hopes of making a difference makes it all worthwhile.
EO Flies High with New Partner
We are pleased to announce that Continental Airlines is now an EO Global Events Partner. Continental is offering exclusive discounts, including up to 18 percent off the lowest published fares for all members traveling to EO events anywhere in the world.
In addition, Continental is offering members in the US three bonus points when they enroll their companies in the Continental RewardOne program. Details are available on the Partner Enrollment page on EOnetwork.
Do you have an airline contact in your region? Let Jade Boneff-Walsh know, and you may be eligible for a free University registration. Learn more about the Partnership Referral Program.
Learning in Paradise
For 21 years, the Entrepreneurs' Organization has been known for it's wide range of member tools and services. From Forum to Web casts, Octane to GLC, EO has provided members with numerous perks so that they may a) become better businesspeople, and b) enjoy the entrepreneurial journey.
And then there are our events, worldclass Universities and conferences held in exotic locations around the world. Each event is designed to educate members through diverse Learn-Arounds, unique Off-Site Activities and stellar Breakout Sessions. Not only do members get the chance to learn from likeminded entrepreneurs, industry experts and notable figures, but they also get to enjoy the tranquil surroundings of their setting.
And there's nothing more serene or inviting than the setting of EO's upcoming event.
Imagine palm trees dancing in a warm breeze, errant coconuts at your feet and turquoise water licking ivory shores. Now imagine you're networking with EO peers while learning in the comfort of a tropical paradise.
On 25-28 February 2009, you won't have to imagine anymore. EO and the Dominican Republic chapter proudly invite you to attend the 2009 EO Latin American/Caribbean Conference, a once-in-a-lifetime event held at the Paradisus Palma Real, an all-inclusive luxury resort in Punta Cana.
The theme of this event is "Create a World-Class Team." Not only will you learn how to become a better leader, but you will also get to work hands-on with industry experts. When you're not learning, you can experience the local culture, golf, windsurf or snorkel, among other elite activities.
Don't miss out on this exciting opportunity! Register for the 2009 EO LAC Conference today. If you have any questions, please contact the Events department.
Grow Your Business, Yourself through the EMP
Say goodbye to those self-help books and hello to a new era of learning: the EO/MIT Entrepreneurial Masters Program (EMP), an innovative learning opportunity brought to you by the world’s most elite business minds and growth experts.
Each year, EO brings together 60 entrepreneurs—each a founder or co-founder of a company that grosses more than US$1 million annually—for four days on a suburban campus of MIT. This three-year executive education program is designed to cover the six fundamental areas of business: management, finance, human resources, marketing and sales, operations and research and development.
EO is proud to bring you another year of high-caliber learning! Applications for the EMP Class of 2011 are now available. The EMP Class of 2011 will start “Year 1” on 17-21 June 2009 and conclude on 21 January 2009. Completed applications are due to EO by Friday, 6 March 2009 via e-mail, fax or regular mail.
Visit the official EMP Web site to learn more or download an application.
Regional and Multi-Chapter Events
The following announcements about upcoming regional and multi-chapter events are open to all EO members. Go beyond local and tap into the resources available to you outside your home chapter!
Event Title: YPO/WPO/YEO Hockey Event
Date(s): 16-17 January February - 1 March 2009
Location: The Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Description: For 20+ years, members of YPO, EO and WPO have been participating in The NHL Hockey Focus Forums. Founded by Alan Maislin in 1986, this Forum is not your “typical” YPO event. The group gets together three times a year to play among themselves in NHL arena’s all over North America. Typically, former NHL players will join in the fun as three games are played over the weekend. Full access to practices is given to our players and meetings with coaching staff is arranged, along with a chance to attend the NHL game being presented that weekend. This event is open to anyone who can skate, and children of all ages are welcome. It is garage hockey at its best. Winning tends to be the last thing on most players minds, as the weekend camaraderie that accompanies the hockey tournament overshadows the event. It’s all about having fun, playing hockey, creating memories and building friendships!
Fee: US$470 per player (includes one dinner, YPO jersey, game ticket); e-mail J.J. Maislin for fee details
Contact Information: To register, or for more information, please contact J.J. Maislin.
Event Title: Asia Bridge "Wild" Campus 2009
Date(s): 26 February - 1 March 2009
Location: Borneo, Indonesia
Description: This event will be held at one of the most unique locations in the world ... by the mighty Kinabatangan River in the heartland of Borneo! This will truly be a once-in-a-life time experience for those seeking knowledge, adventure and fun, EO style!
Fee: US$980 (includes a 4-day campus fee, speakers, all meals and a river safari!)
Contact Information: George Gan, firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please sign up early, as the event is expected to be sold out very soon!)
Event Title: 2009 EO Arizona University
Date(s): 25-29 March 2009
Location: Arizona, USA
Description: Announcing 2009's main event ... it's the EO Arizona University, where you'll experience plenty of blue skies and wild frontiers! This University will make you forget about the cold with warm weather and enough action to kick your adrenal glands into overdrive. For more information, visit the University's Web site. Register today!
Contact Information: EO Events , +1.703.519.6700, email@example.com
Event Title: Northeast Regional Learning Conference
Host Chapters: EO Albany, EO Boston, EO DC, EO Fairfield/Westchester, EO Hartford, EO New Jersey, EO New York City, EO Philadelphia, EO Western NY
Date(s): April 23rd thru April 25th, 2009
Location: Atlantic City, NJ
Description: This inaugural event brings together the nine chapters of the Northeast and Mid Atlantic areas for two days packed with learning, fun and bonding with peers in one of the East Coast’s best playgrounds, Atlantic City, NJ. Rumors are flying around about this event, can they all be true? You’ll have to be there to find out… Mark your calendar now! We welcome any fellow EO members to join us for this event – stay tuned for more information.
Contact Information: Steve Showalter, Northeast/Mid Atlantic Learning Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Event Title: 2009 EO Texas Round-Up – The Billionaire Boardroom
Host Chapters: EO Houston, EO Dallas, EO Austin, EO San Antonio
Date(s): 23-26 April 2009
Location: Houston, Texas
Description: Great vision precedes great achievement. The goal is to present to our members the strength of character, resolve, business acumen and vision required to achieve the highest levels in business. To that end EO Texas is planning an intensive weekend of speakers, breakout sessions and offsite events designed bring entrepreneurial vision into clear focus for each attendee. Starting with Best in Class accommodations, attendees will be treated to a truly lavish weekend. Attendees can expect to get face time with a number of Texas’ most prominent and successful businessmen sharing their insights and wisdom. Additionally, EO Houston will arrange behind the scenes look at some of our most prominent institutions; from The Houston Grand Opera and the 2006 Le Mans winning Risi Competizione Houston Ferrari Racing Team to the Houston Polo Club home of the USPA Silver Cup. Mark your calendar now! We welcome any fellow EO members to join us for this event – stay tuned for more information.
Contact Information: e-mail Shannon Shrader or call +1.281.829.3604
Event Title: The 3rd Annual EO Nebraska Berkshire Hathaway Event
Date(s): 30 April - 3 May, 2009
Location: Omaha, NE
Description: EO Nebraska is hosting our 3rd Annual Berkshire event which includes 3 days and nights of "Once in a Lifetime" experiences!
Fee: US$695 per person plus hotel and airfare. (Rate includes all transportation, meals, entrance to EO hosted events, and 1 Shareholders ticket to attend the meeting on Saturday May 2nd, along with Borsheims and Nebraska Furniture Mart events.)
Contact Information: Erin Kampschneider, email@example.com (Please sign up early, as the event is expected to be sold out) Event space is Limited! You do NOT need to own stock to attend this event.
If you have or know of an event you'd like to see included in this section, please e-mail Nicholas Thomas, Publications Manager.
Pay for Performance in a Goals Culture
The concept of “paying for performance" has been around a long time, but the results of implementing this strategy have varied. It's an easy concept to understand—pay people when they produce results!—but it's not as easy to implement.
While we did conduct them, performance reviews weren't a priority when I launched my company, and they still weren't when we were fueling our growth. At the start of this year, it became clear performance reviews were ineffective: The process was confusing to managers, resulting in delays or missed reviews, and the reviews provided little value to employees. Rather than taking old-fashioned, paper-based review processes and digitizing them, we wanted to efficiently link pay with individual goals and company alignment.
Pay for performance is a concept that's so straight-forward, it's easy to dump it into a business. However, I’ve learned that a hands-off approach contributes to the failure rate. Rather than throw this system into the performance structure at our company, we defined a framework that will take a number of quarters to fully implement. It will certainly need some refinement along the way, but it will ultimately provide employees with valuable and timely feedback while rewarding behavior with bonuses closer to the time they occur. Here's our plan:
- Company Alignment: In my experience, every company, large or small—and especially the truly entrepreneurial ones—needs to have all its people and processes driving in the same direction. This means making sure people are always aligned around common goals, not just when it's convenient. It also needs to happen at all levels in the company, from the most junior person to the executive team.
- Goals Culture: Once aligned, people need to be driving on a daily basis toward SMART goals, which cascade from each department and then, ultimately, are unified within the scheme of company goals. I’ve found that understanding the difference between “tasks” and “goals,” and boosting the ability for your staff to think in this way, is critical.
- Coaching and Career Development: While my company works toward clear goals together, the employees need to establish a vested interest in the process by integrating their personal goals with their goals as an employee. Career development is the missing link that provides personal direction and commitment to the goals of our organization.
With this framework in mind, a true pay-for-performance culture is theoretically attainable and sustainable. We are eager to apply this theory and see the results. Check back with me as my company goes through this process, learns the ins and outs, and implements a truly productive pay-for-performance structure!
Note: Looking for similar content? Check out David's blog!
EO Sydney Finance Chair Talks Economy
The old adage, “When it rains, it pours,” can certainly be attributed to the current state of the global economy. In the past year alone, the economy has propelled business owners and major industries into a tailspin of confusion, anxiety and fear. Across the EO membership, many are feeling the heat, while others are spreading the word and providing information about business survival during these tumultuous times.
One of those members promoting entrepreneurial survival is Lance Lai, the Chief Investment Advisor for ACE Capitol Trust, Managing Director of Accountancy Invest and EO Sydney’s Finance Chair. Intent on addressing the current state of the global economy, Lance recently participated in an on-air interview with “Money Makers,” a Sky Business television program highlighting Australian trends in business and finance. The episode in which Lance participated featured technical analysts, or “charters,” who got out in time before the market tanked, rallied and then tanked again.
During the interview, Lance described the recent history of the turbulent markets, the ups and downs of the finance industry, the bursting of the technology bubble and how terrorism plays a role in global economics, among other topics. Considered an industry expert, Lance gave a succinct economic overview of the past few years, as well as a glimpse into the future of the global economy and stock markets. He concluded by discussing his own experiences in the current market.
“MoneyMakers” is a daily broadcast co-hosted by leading experts in property, shares, personal finance and small business, and it offers information and advice straight from those in the know. From share trading to super strategies, the popular program showcases specialist presenters who teach viewers how to become Money Makers.
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