TIMONIUM, Md. — In 2013, The Distinctive Edge expanded into 5 new locations throughout the U.S. The Distinctive Edge also more than doubled our weekly revenue from this time last year. In addition to that,
The Distinctive Edge has created countless new positions in the workforce in the Baltimore area and across the country.

Let’s take a look at what 2013 looked like for The Distinctive Edge.

February:
– Our organization took home several awards for top performance
– The Distinctive Edge’s first charity event of the year for Operation Smile; Mud Football


April:
– The Distinctive Edge got a new space to accommodate our continued growth and expansion
June:
– Organizational weekend in Annapolis, Md. The trip included all of our managers and top performers to attend training sessions at the Westin, Annapolis, attend the nationals game, and dinner at McGarveys
downtown

- The Distinctive Edge also sponsored our 2nd charity event for Operation Smile, hosting a basketball tournament at Brick Bodies Fitness Center
July:
– President Eric Chapman was featured in Baltimore’s SmartCEO magazine
– The Distinctive Edge started the monthly featured employee blog for our top performers
August:
– Leadership Conferences in Pittsburgh, Phoenix, New Orleans, and Seattle
– Recruiters Kaitlyn and Pam take home Tiffany necklaces for outstanding performance
September:
– Lucas was promoted to Assistant Management
– Rest and Relax weekend at The Grand Resort in Phoenix, AZ.
October:
– The Distinctive Edge exceeds our $5,000 goal for Operation Smile with our final charity event for the year
November:
– Leadership conference in Baltimore, MD at the Hyatt Regency
December:
– The Distinctive Edge was named a Top Workplace by The Baltimore Sun for the 2nd year in a row

- President, Eric Chapman received a special leadership award from The Baltimore Sun
– Annual Holiday Party at CVP’s


About: The Distinctive Edge is a sales and marketing firm in the Baltimore area. As a leader in the industry, The Distinctive Edge continues to have high standards when it comes to customer acquisitions, retention, and brand management. Continually adapting to change and the economy, we find our clients customers that stick. The Distinctive Edge also gives back to the community. The biggest charity that they support is Operation Smile. Each $240 raised helps one child in need of the life changing surgery and to give them back their smile.
View online at www.thedistinctive.org

Press Release

IMG_20131205_182627_751  IMG_20131205_193332_213 IMG_20131205_183502_269

On Thursday, December 5th, 2 representatives and our HR manager attended the awards ceremony where The Baltimore Sun named The Distinctive Edge the No. 2 Top Company in Baltimore to work for 2013.  This is our 2nd year as a Top Workplace and we are excited to announce that this year, President Eric Chapman, also brought home a leadership in Small Business award as well.  What a great accomplishment!

Click here to check out the article in The Baltimore Sun

The Distinctive Edge strives to be the best company, not only for our employees, but in the community as well.  We take care of our customers and our neighborhood.  Our employees enjoy our laid back, yet professional, environment, while being able to do good in the area.  We support local small businesses and charities in the area.  Our largest contribution this year is for Operation Smile.  We have exceeded our $5,000 goal due to the time spent fundraising with our co-workers, friends, and family.

This award shows that our hard work and dedication to teamwork is paying off!  A great way to end 2013 and big things to come in 2014 as we plan to expand into multiple new cities across the country! IMG_20131205_193956_866IMG_20131205_194123_845

If you’re finding it more challenging than ever to juggle the demands of your job and the rest of your life, you’re not alone.  Everyone is looking for a work/life balance.

Many people are putting in extra hours, or using their smartphones to be on call when they’re not physically at work.

“A lot of people are having a more difficult time finding balance in their lives because there have been cutbacks or layoffs where they work. They’re afraid it may happen to them, so they’re putting in more hours,” says psychologist Robert Brooks, PhD, co-author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life.

“But even if you don’t have much control over the hours you have to work, you can ask yourself: In what other ways am I bringing greater enjoyment into my life?” Brooks says. “Focus your time and attention on things you can control.”

Here are five ways to bring a little more balance to your daily routine:

1. Build downtime into your schedule.

When you plan your week, make it a point to schedule time with your family and friends, and activities that help you recharge.

If a date night with your spouse or a softball game with friends is on your calendar, you’ll have something to look forward to and an extra incentive to manage your time well so you don’t have to cancel.

“It helps to be proactive about scheduling,” says Laura Stack, a productivity expert in Denver and author ofSuperCompetent: The Six Keys to Perform at Your Productive Best. “When I go out with my girlfriends, we all whip out our cell phones and put another girls’ night out on the calendar for 1 month later.”

Stack also plans an activity with her family, like going to a movie or the park, every Sunday afternoon. “We do this because if there’s nothing on the schedule, time tends to get frittered away and the weekend may end without us spending quality time together,” she says.

Michael Neithardt, an actor and television commercial producer in New York City, wakes up 3 hours before he has to leave for work so he can go for a run and spend some time with his wife and baby.

“A lot of my friends tend to wake up, shower, and go straight to work. And they often complain about having no time to do anything,” he says. “I find that if I can get those 3 hours in the morning, I have a more productive and peaceful workday. I can sure tell the difference when I don’t.”

2. Drop activities that sap your time or energy.

“Many people waste their time on activities or people that add no value — for example, spending too much time at work with a colleague who is constantly venting and gossiping,” says Marilyn Puder-York, PhD, a psychologist and executive coach in New York and Connecticut.

Her advice: Take stock of activities that don’t enhance your career or personal life, and minimize the time you spend on them.

You may even be able to leave work earlier if you make a conscious effort to limit the time you spend on the web and social media sites, making personal calls, or checking your bank balance. “We often get sucked into these habits that are making us much less efficient without realizing it,” Stack says.

3. Rethink your errands.

Consider whether you can outsource any of your time-consuming household chores or errands.

Could you order your groceries online and have them delivered? Hire a kid down the street to mow your lawn? Have your dry cleaning picked up and dropped off at your home or office? Order your stamps online so you don’t have to go to the post office? Even if you’re on a tight budget, you may discover that the time you’ll save will make it worth it.

Stack also suggests trading services with friends. Offer to do tasks that you enjoy or that you were planning to do anyway.

“You could exchange gardening services for babysitting services,” Stack says. “If you like to cook, you could prepare and freeze a couple of meals and give them to a friend in exchange for wrapping your holiday gifts.”

4. Get moving.

It’s hard to make time for exercise when you have a jam-packed schedule, but it may ultimately help you get more done by boosting your energy level and ability to concentrate.

“Research shows exercise can help you to be more alert,” Brooks says. “And I’ve noticed that when I don’t exercise because I’m trying to squeeze in another half hour of writing, I don’t feel as alert.”

Samantha Harris, a lawyer who works for a nonprofit organization in Philadelphia, goes to her gym 2 or 3 mornings a week before her family wakes up. “It’s been a real boost in terms of the way I feel for the rest of the day,” she says. “I feel like my head is clearer and I’ve had a little time to myself.”

5. Remember that a little relaxation goes a long way.

Don’t assume that you need to make big changes to bring more balance to your life. Brooks recommends setting realistic goals, like leaving the office earlier 1 night per week.

“Slowly build more activities into your schedule that are important to you,” he says. “Maybe you can start by spending an hour a week on your hobby of carpentry, or planning a weekend getaway with your spouse once a year.”

Even during a hectic day, you can take 10 or 15 minutes to do something that will recharge your batteries. “Take a bath, read a trashy novel, go for a walk, or listen to music,” Stack says. “You have to make a little time for the things that ignite your joy.”

The long and short of it – have a schedule and use it!  Be sure to plan out your downtime so it has a purpose and you are having fun!  Here at the Distinctive Edge, we believe in working hard and playing hard. We teach you how to plan and schedule and encourage family time.

http://www.thedistinctive.org

What a great article – thanks to: http://www.webmd.com/health-insurance/protect-health-13/balance-life?page=2

One thing I’ve learned from the great CEOs and senior leaders I get to work with is this: They learn and grow from every experience they have—good or bad.

I reached out to five senior leaders I respect to find out what they learned from their first jobs. Some fun stuff:

Scott O’Neil, CEO, Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils

I was digging pools in 1984 for Ted’s Pools. It was the summer I turned 14. It was my first real job. I was working 50 hours a week and getting paid—is there anything more real than that?

Lessons:

  1. There is no substitute for hard work. It matters and there isn’t a successful person I have met since who isn’t in the top one percent for work ethic and drive. They give more than an honest day’s work for their pay.
  2. Be proactive. It’s still true today. If you sit and wait you’ve already lost. If you do what your told, you are falling behind. Get up, take action, and move the business forward.
  3. Customers matter most. It’s tough to run a business without customers, but howmatters too. The best way to drive a business is to have your best customers drive it for you.

Kent Taylor, Founder and CEO, Texas Roadhouse

My first job was as a busboy at Captain’s Quarter’s, a seafood restaurant on the Ohio River in Louisville. I was 15, and it was my introduction to the foodservice industry. I’ve remained in foodservice for 42 years. The owner, Dottie Mahon, influenced me tremendously about how to create a company culture of caring.

Lessons:

  1. You positively impact your employees by treating them with respect.
  2. If you treat guests well, it will lead to return visits.
  3. The importance of clean restrooms (Captain’s Quarters had the cleanest bathrooms in the city)!

Doria Camaraza, Senior VP and General Manager, American Express World Service Center

My first real job was as advertising director of a small trade magazine, part of a national publishing company. I learned so much from my leader at the time.

Lessons:

  1. Be kind. Mom had already instilled that in us, but I was able to experience how in a work environment it goes a long way in getting things done.
  2. Count to 10. Taking the time to think something through, even if it’s just for 10 seconds, sometimes allows you to consider a colleague’s point of view, which can lead to a better conclusion.
  3. Ensure your words and actions are consistent. In other words, have integrity.

Mark Servodidio, Executive VP, Franchise and Corporate Services, Avis Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA)

My first real job was at the Bronx Psychiatric Center in New York. It was real because I lived away from home, got paid, and had to manage my budget. My role was to assist patients in assimilating back into society after transitioning from the main institution.

Lessons:

  1. Be personally responsible. Every decision has an implication, for instance if you aren’t on time for work, you let down people who are counting on you.
  2. Make informed decisions and stand by them. I needed to know whether a patient was ready for assimilation back to society or not. People may not be happy or agree with your decision, but if you have the facts and knowledge you need to stick with your decision.
  3. Little actions make a big difference. A note of encouragement, staying late to help a co-worker, offering a word of encouragement to a team member (or patient) who’s having a tough time. I remember having a patient ready for release but I wanted to make sure so I took him shopping for clothes and food to increase his chances of success. Your team members (or customers) remember the little things you do for them and it creates a loyalty that money cannot buy.

Bill Manning, President, Real Salt Lake (MLS Soccer Club)


My first real job was as a window cleaner in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan. An old soccer coach of mine was the supervisor. This was the mid ‘80s and we were getting paid $12.50 an hour, so for a summer job the pay was great.

Lessons:

  1. You’ve got to show up. Woody Allen said 80 percent of life is showing up. If you don’t, you don’t get paid. For a college kid to be in Manhattan at 5 a.m. every morning was not easy, so finding the commitment to sleep properly so I could function at work became a learning lesson. I’ve found during my career that you need to “put” yourself in positions to succeed.
  2. Be humble. Window cleaning is not exactly glamorous, especially in the heart of a white collar business area. For nearly everyone else at National Cleaning, this was their livelihood, and I was always impressed with the level of pride most took in their jobs. But I found we were not usually treated with respect from the people in the offices. I vowed I would never act “that way.” Nothing irks me more than when I see executives in powerful positions belittling others just because of their job function.
  3. Fit in. Here I was a young kid, hired directly by the supervisor. I remember my first month or so on the job most of the window cleaners were leery of me as if I was a spy. Having been a teammate in sports I understood this type of mentality and after time when they found out I wasn’t snitching or going back to the boss, I eventually earned their trust and acceptance. This made my experience there so much better. Just like those summers, the ability to work well across a company has served me well during my career.

These are some of my business heroes. I love what they’ve shared—from fitting in to treating customer and co-workers with respect to keeping the bathrooms clean. I’d love to hear what you learned from your first real job.

***

Photos from top: The PNG Scotts/Flickr, Matthew Staver/Bloomberg, John Moore/Getty Images, Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg, Gene Sweeney Jr via Getty Images Sport.
What a great article from Chester Elton:  http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131029195656-39785422-15-first-job-lessons-from-some-amazing-senior-leaders

We don’t know exactly when, but if there’s one universal truth, it’s that we will all at some stage run out of time. I believe that most of us need to stop and master happiness through time, so we can be fulfilled, productive and truly happy in the time we have left.

First, do you have a view of how many days you have left in your life?

Imagine you were a 30 year-old today, who’s going to be working for another 25 years and living to the age of 80.

You would have approximately 6,000 days left to make a real impact at work and just over 18,000 days left to live.

So big question for everyone: as you are set up today, do you believe are you mastering your happiness through time ?

For many of the CEOs and leaders I coach, they find it difficult to set their lives to be both successful and happy through time. Dr. Stephan Rechtschaffen writes of the general U.S. population:

“I would say that 95% of the stress in our lives relates to our feeling of time poverty.”

This results in many leaders constantly chasing: they find it hard to be fully present in what they’re doing right now, struggle to create enough time, and carry regrets about the sacrifices they’re making for their work, and the impact it’s having on their family. They often only wake up to this at the end of their career, or if they are removed from role.

Sometimes we forget that time doesn’t race away, but slowly lapses, second-by-second. It makes me wonder what life would be like if we had a permanent ticking clock display on our arms, like in the film ‘In Time’. In one of my favorite movies of recent years, Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried inhabit a world where humanity has been genetically engineered to be born with a digital clock, bearing 25 years’ worth of time, on their forearm. At the age of 25, a person stops aging, but their clock begins counting down; when it reaches zero, that person “times out” and dies. The only way to prevent this is buy or earn time, which has replaced money as the world’s global currency. Would it help us with our time poverty if we believed we had maybe only weeks to live, with life disappearing by the second? It may for some.

In an age of growing material abundance, are we in the West thinking about time all wrong? Dr. Larry Dossey argues, “Many illnesses – perhaps most – may be caused either wholly or in part by our misperception of time… I am convinced that we can destroy ourselves through the creation of illness by perceiving time in a linear, one-way flow.”

Are there any ways in which we can reverse – or at least halt – this relentless march towards our ultimate “time out”? Here are five steps to work through to help us master time and then appraise our happiness through time:

(1) Get In Time

The conventional approach to time management only helps us deal with what the ancient Greeks referred to as Chronos – the linear measure of change – or what we’d call clock time.

Most of what we read about time management is about setting priorities, tasks and goals. Conventional time management approaches usually boil down to a framework that helps us establish: what is best to do right now?

Psychotherapist Steve Randall Randall argues while, “Of course we will have some uncertainty and confusion unless we have determined our goals, prioritized the tasks necessary to reach our goals, and set up a schedule,” only thinking about time management in this way is insufficient.

That’s because the conventional approach fails to address Kairos – “spherical time, beingness time, the eternal moment, when we are in the rhythm of divine life force and higher consciousness”.

Managing Kairos goes to “inner time management”, where we should ask ourselves, “Am I timelessly involved in what I’m doing?” He believes that if we’re not totally involved, or if we feel time passing in a way that has even a slight bit of pressure or anxiety, there’s room for improvement in both our productivity and in our well-being.

As Eckhart Tolle, author of ‘The Power Of Now’ puts it, “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”

In addition to being fully present in time for some of us we are able to feel we can stop or change the flow of time.

We all occasionally “lose track of time” when we are “in the zone”. As we enter a state of peak performance, time seems to speed up or slow right down. American football player John Brodie brings this to life:

“Time seems to slow way down… It seems as if I had all the time in the world.. and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever.”

This is also a common experience in Tai Chi, where awareness of the passage of time completely stops.

If we are able to freeze “clock time” in this manner, then this buys us “time credits” that we can use to improve our productivity, health and happiness.

(2) Create And Protect Time

a. Buffer Time

One novel approach, recently advocated by Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, is “to periodically schedule nothing” by setting a “buffer” in your work day of between 90-120 minutes. He believes that proper strategic thinking requires “uninterrupted focus” and that, “it takes time. And that time will only be available if you carve it out for yourself.” But, “above all else, the most important reason to schedule buffers is to just catch your breath. There is no faster way to feel as though your day is not your own, and that you are no longer in control, than scheduling meetings back to back from the minute you arrive at the office until the moment you leave. I’ve felt the effects of this and seen it with colleagues. Not only is it not fun to feel this way, it’s not sustainable.”

b. Remove Sources Of Stress And Pressure

If 95% of stress is caused by time poverty, how can we avoid it and the potential illness it brings?

The key is to know our enemy. Here are some of the main sources of time pressure:

  • Struggling at work
  • Our partner or family relationships
  • Taking on too much in our lives
  • Feeling inadequate or not good enough
  • Lack of achievement and career progress
  • Disorganization and confusion about what to do
  • Worrying about financial limitations and health
  • Worrying about what others think rather than getting on with what we really want to be doing in life
  • Working on things that we don’t find meaningful or fulfilling
  • Procrastinating (see the next section)

It’s important to realize what are the core roots of stress that are causing the feeling of time poverty, and then find a new way of dealing with them or eliminating them altogether.

(3) Don’t Waste Time

a. Don’t Procrastinate

Should I or shouldn’t I? “Procrastination is the thief of time,” so goes the old proverb. Indecisiveness and failing to get started on or stuck in to a task that we know have to get done soon can seep into our consciousness. It can spoil our enjoyment of what are usually pleasurable moments, such as watching a favorite program on the TV, as we realize that they are essentially “delaying tactics.”

Steve Randall recounts that: “After my procrastination, the quality of my experience suffers. Watching the show is not as enjoyable as I’d hoped it would be, because awareness is divided between watching the show and being aware that I have to do my work. Time is passing relentlessly, and it feels like the future is closing in on me. I am watching TV here in the present, feeling anxious and guilty about a job waiting for me in the future. In addition, I have missed an opportunity, and feel less confident and capable as a result.”

He concludes that:

The pressure we feel is directly proportional to how much we’re resisting what we’re trying to get done.”

If you can, use such mental treats as TV as a reward once the task is finished, or as a meaningful break in the work once you have at least made a proper start. When you’re actually supposed to be working, try and avoid distractions and get into the habit of focusing on just one task at a time.

My earlier article, ‘Smartphone Addicted? Need Digital Rehab?’ contains a series of exercises on how diagnose and reduce digital distraction, which researchers at The University of Kentucky have found is a spiraling epidemic affecting up to 38% of the US population.

b. Before You Die Have No Regrets

While researching his book ‘The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die’, the author John Izzo asked 15,000 people to identify, “the one person they knew who had found happiness and meaning” in their lives. He then narrowed down the recommendations and found over 200 people aged 60-106 years-old who others looked up to as having found meaning in their life. From town barbers to Holocaust survivors, from aboriginal chiefs to CEOs, these people had over 18,000 years of life experience. This diverse group offered insights that Izzo boiled down to five secrets: one of the most surprising and important ones was to live with no regrets.

Izzo said that, “Failure it appears is not the regret that haunts most people; it is the choice not to risk failure at all… The happiest people had come to peace with their lives, whereas unhappy people dwelled on regret and missed opportunities.”

So into the hopper of potential choices for action go all the bold things that we may have been mulling over for years, like starting our own company, quitting our day job, pursuing a potential love interest, moving to a different country. And by following the second secret – to live in the moment as we look through time – we condition ourselves to look straight ahead rather than constantly peer into the rear-view mirror wondering what might have been.

(4) Spend Time Realizing Your Potential & The 10,000 Hour Rule

I believe that we are at our happiest and most productive when we spend our time as masters of what we are passionate about and love doing. And if you focus in enough on particular specialized activities, you may even become an expert…

In his book ‘Outliers’, Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field.

Writing about the 10,000 hour rule, The Wisdom Group says:

“The elite don’t just work harder than everybody else. At some point the elites fall in love with practice to the point where they want to do little else… The elites are in love with what they do, and at some point it no longer feels like work.”

And the time investment needed?

“If we are currently working in our target profession, 40 hours per week over five years would give us 10,000 hours.”

Lee Iacocca, legendary Chrysler CEO during the 1980s, summed it up nicely when he said:

If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.”

(5) Maximize The NPV Of Happiness

Many entrepreneurs and business leaders start to plan their year ahead driven by the needs of the business cycle and then try and fit personal time in around these work and travel demands. Subconsciously this already puts business value ahead of personal life value, meaning your ‘life enterprise’ is unlikely to get sufficient priority.

One phrase we often use in business is “net present value” or NPV. This is a tool for deciding which projects we should go ahead with and prioritize, based on the monetary value we expect them to generate over time.

What if, instead, we started to use NPV to evaluate which projects and activities will bring usmaximum happiness over time (rather than just maximum $$$)?

It’s key to think about what makes you happy and the experiences that give you happiness. What’s the combination of business and personal activities that will net you the maximum happiness over the short-, medium- and long-term?

Happiness is different for everybody, but it’s typically time with loved ones, family, friends, work and community.

EXERCISE: MAXIMIZE YOUR NPV OF HAPPINESS FOR THE YEAR AHEAD

As a practical experiment, see if you can turn the process the other way around:

  • First work out a happiness plan for the year ahead for you and your loved ones
  • Then try and match the business timetable to it
  • Build in time for planned leave, rest and recuperation for the period ahead
  • Conflicts of time will be there, but try to plan as far as ahead as possible to find a smart way to blend them together – so business trips have a holidays and life experiences element built into it shared with people you care about

Be clear and define the life of your dreams for the next 12 months:

Question Answer
1. What would be the main happiness milestones for your company and you personally?
2. What are the structures and routines that you must maintain to keep yourself fresh, focused and connected?
3. Describe your ideal relationship with your spouse and make 2-3 critical time commitments to them
4. What are your main personal growth goals and learning targets this year? (i.e. another language, a new hobby?)
5. What 2-3 changes can you make to your environment at work or at home that will make you happier?
6. What are the 2-3 items on your life “bucket list” that you can want to check off?
7. What activity would help you have a closer relationship with your children? What do they want to do with you?
8. What are the 1-2 things that you would like to do for your community? To give back?
9. What are the 1-2 things that you could do for yourself?

Over To You

So yes, life is finite. However, the good news is that, by applying the five steps above, we can master our happiness through time.

What a great article from Steve T.  –  CEO Xinfu, Host of BBC CEO Guru & Founder, WorldOfCEOs.com

Thanks for the fantastic tips!  http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131008124044-13518874-start-now-5-steps-to-master-time-happiness

Here at The Distinctive Edge, we pride ourselves in our ability to create leaders, not followers.  Below are a few things that leaders must learn to do!

You can get away with a lot and still make it in this world, but there are some corners you simply can’t cut.

Lead bike with followers

Business leaders don’t exist in a vacuum. Success is always relative to the competition. You may have a great product, service, concept, strategy, team, whatever, but if it doesn’t rise above your competitors in a way that’s meaningful to your customers, you will ultimately lose.

That’s rule number one in business: There are no absolutes; everything is relative to the competition.

You can get away with a lot and still make it in this world, but if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, executive, or business leader, there are certain things you simply must learn to do.

The first is to stay on top of the competition. Here are nine more. Try to cut corners if you like, but I’m telling you, it won’t work.

Learn from experience. Experience is the best teacher, hands down. Not just your own experience, but insights others share from theirs, as well. Former Intel chief Andy Grove was a mentor to Steve Jobs. Jobs, in turn, advised Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Experience is like an enormous cascading waterfall, an endless source of wisdom and knowledge.

Prioritize and delegate. According to VC Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, a CEO should focus on doing just three things and delegate the rest: “Set and communicate the overall vision and strategy of the company; recruit, hire and retain the best talent; and make sure there’s always enough cash in the bank.” Your three things will differ, but still, the fewer things you focus on, the better your chances of getting them done.

Act on smart decisions. This may sound simple, but strangely, it’s where even successful leaders are most likely to fall down. They get lazy, take shortcuts, listen to yes-men, fall for BS, overreact to a single data-point, or fail to act at all. It’s the single most preventable cause of leadership failure.

Engage key stakeholders. A CEO’s key stakeholders are customers, employees, and investors. Yours are probably different. No matter. You must engage them on a regular basis. Tell them what they need to know and give it to them straight. Ask leading questions and really listen to what they say. Motivate them. Yes, I know it isn’t easy to do all that, but that’s what it takes to be the boss.

Promote the winners and fire the losers. Every organization has employees you can’t afford to lose and those you can’t afford to keep. Learn to identify them. Promote and motivate the former and get rid of the latter. It’s called weeding and feeding. The result is a beautiful organization.

Pay attention to the numbers. If your customers love your products and services, your employees are effective and engaged, and you’re doing a good job running the business, it will show up in the numbers. Income statements and balance sheets provide key metrics on the health of your business, especially year-to-year comparisons.

Troubleshoot tough problems. Business life is full of really tough problems and difficult tradeoffs. There are product issues, technical issues, organizational issues, customer issues, the list goes on and on. You don’t have to be Socrates, but it helps if you’re a critical thinker who gets deductive reasoning.

Never give up; never surrender. Courage in the face of adversity, perseverance, stick-with-it-ness, these are qualities that every great leader I’ve ever known had. They never quit. Granted, there are times when they probably should have and didn’t, but on balance, they still came out ahead.

Negotiate effectively. I’ve heard loads of people say they hate to negotiate, but I’ve never heard a CEO say it. It’s one of the most fundamental aspects of business. Think of it as a challenging game of strategy. Personally, I find it to be surprisingly invigorating and fulfilling.

 

Thanks to Inc for a great article!

http://www.inc.com/steve-tobak/10-things-leaders-must-learn-to-do.html

Everyone talks about building a company culture, but where do you start?

The Distinctive Edge believes that a great company culture leads to a more productive employee.  It allows you to be creative, work in a team environment, and still get allow for the training that is necessary to be successful at your position.  Read below the article by Pete Flint on how a company culture is built!

Team Tetris at Trulia’s Halloween Party in 2012

What is Company Culture?

In his nineteenth century book “Primitive Culture,” English Anthropologist Edward B. Tylor described culture as “that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.”

Culture in the context of entrepreneurship isn’t necessarily as broad, but it has a profound effect on the success of a company. That’s because in the business world, culture can either be a powerful reason to join and then stay at a company, or it can become a barrier to achieving your goals.

You can change a company’s policies, strategy, or even business model in a relatively short amount of time, but culture is something that grows and changes much more slowly. It’s something that entrepreneurs need to pay special attention to.

Putting your thumb on the exact reasons for a specific company’s successful culture is challenging. But when you encounter a company with a great culture, you know it. A great company culture has many manifestations, whether it’s employees speaking glowingly about working there or putting in extra work because they believe in the company’s mission. I’ve heard feedback from employees that like the culture at Trulia and for them, it means work is no longer a four letter word, but a place they like going to every day.

Similarly, it’s clear when a company’s culture isn’t right.

Ultimately, each company needs to determine what will define its culture, based on its people and its purpose.

Building an enduring culture

Every company has a culture, but your goal as an entrepreneur is to nurture one that creates a sense of accomplishment and inclusion among employees, while providing some of the intangibles for company success.

To build a company from the ground up actually presents a unique opportunity to create an environment that will foster a strong, productive company culture. For a mature company, it’s often much more challenging because authentic company culture is not something that’s imposed on employees: culture is collaboration, not a mandate or policy. And the business world graveyard is full of companies that made decisions that didn’t connect with their company’s culture.

Of course, in order to have a successful culture you need commitment from management and other leaders throughout the company. And that’s where you come in. However, for a company’s culture to live and grow it needs to be rooted in people throughout the company, regardless of seniority.

When we started Trulia, we had a sense that much of a company’s culture comes from the first group of employees, which makes these people very important hires, because they set the path for the future.

We looked at building our culture much like constructing a house, starting with a solid foundation and then building upon it with people that would add to and improve the established foundation. As we were figuring out what culture to create, there were three important principles:

1) To create a culture that would strengthen the ability for the company to succeed. It’s after all why we are here.

2) To create a culture that we would personally like to work in. If the founders are not excited to be at work, then I wouldn’t expect anyone else to be.

3) To be remarkable. Because we know that talented individuals have a lot of options.

From these principles, we spent a significant amount of time formulating the cultural values and norms we wanted and were very deliberate in ensuring the way we worked and interacted conformed with these.

Our culture helped us to survive through the tough times of building the business through the market downtown in the late 2000s, and we’ve continued to grow since then. We are equally zealous today about adding people that will contribute not just their skills and experience, but will strengthen our culture.

 

Retention and recruiting through culture

Having the right company culture is tightly coupled with having happy, engaged employees. Common sense and countless research reports confirm that happy employees are more likely to stay at a company and are more productive. That’s why culture can be so powerful if a company gets it right. People want to be a part of something special and feel ownership of it.

At Trulia we take a “Pulse” survey every quarter and actually measure the happiness of employees and measure if we are being true to our cultural values. We have this data back to the early days of the company and we highly value it. A number of important changes have been made to make sure employees have a good experience at Trulia.

In marketing we preach about the power of word of mouth, and company culture is the perfect example of this phenomenon. There is no better way to get candidates in the door than to have your employees advocating for your company.

At Trulia we’re obsessed with maintaining the company culture we’ve worked so hard to create. Our culture is one of the major reasons for our success, and it helps us attract great employees, who then attract even more great employees.

Culture starts from day one, and my advice to you is that while a company’s culture needs to be authentic and organic, you have an opportunity to guide and nurture it. If you get it right, you can dramatically improve the company, from increasing general productivity to better recruiting and retention.

Thanks for a great article Pete Flint – http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130617145353-163104-secrets-to-successful-entrepreneurship-culture-starts-from-day-one

Pete Flint is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Trulia, a leading online real estate marketplace. Trulia simplifies the important process of finding a home for millions of consumers. Pete had the unique opportunity to be both the co-founder of the company and the CEO all the way through the company’s initial public offering in September of 2012, which gives him a unique perspective on both starting and scaling a successful venture. Early in his career, Pete was part of the original launch team for lastminute.com, Europe’s largest online travel company. While he served as head of interactive marketing and business development, he helped grow the company to more than 2,000 employees in 12 countries and $1 billion in annual transactions. Pete holds a Master’s degree in Physics from the University of Oxford and an M.B A. from Stanford University.