Brand versus marketing

Pre-P.S. It’s Alyssa stepping in for Brent this week. 

Why do people buy from your company?

The simple answer is trust. People buy from you because they trust you (or your product) to solve a problem they have. Similarly, people work for you because they trust that you’ll provide an environment that allows them to put their skills to work in a meaningful way and get paid to do so.

Therefore, the primary goal of your organization is to ensure that people know, like, and trust you.

Defining Trust
At the core, trust is a perception. People choose whether or not to trust your organization based on their perception of their interactions with you.

Defining Brand 
Many people hear the words “brand” or “branding” and they instantly snap to thinking about the company’s logo, colors, and allowed fonts. But those things are just the surface. They’re the tip of the brand iceberg and only encompass a small fraction of what makes a brand.

A simple and encompassing definition of brand is this, your brand is what people perceive about your company.

Organizations that are intentional about their brand, meaning they cultivate it strategically rather than letting it be a byproduct of daily business, have a steady pulse on how the organization is perceived--both internally and externally.

When branding is done properly, it transforms the company from a commodity to an experience. 

Remember this if nothing else from today’s post:

Your brand strategy and marketing strategy are individual and distinct pieces of your business strategy. You need both to drive successful growth.

The Brand Iceberg

Brand iceberg metaphor

Your brand encompasses elements above and below the surface. Your visual identity, (your logo, fonts, colors) make up the top of the iceberg--the part that you can see above the water. The other pieces of your brand strategy--your core values, your mission, your ideal customers, your vision--make up the foundation hiding underneath the water.

What about marketing strategy?
Marketing is how people find you, it’s the flag on top of the iceberg that draws people to you.

You need both sets of activities to maximize your reach and revenue.

Here’s Why…
Brand building and marketing initiatives serve very distinct goals.

Brand building:

  • Creates brand equity
  • Influences future sales
  • Has broad messaging and reach
  • Takes a long-term approach
  • Focuses on emotional priming

Whereas sales activation:

  • Exploits brand equity
  • Generates present sales
  • Is tightly targeted
  • Takes a short-term approach
  • Focuses on targeted and persuasive messages

When translated to the impact on your bottom line, here’s what happens…

media in focus image brand versus marketing ROI
From Media in Focus: Marketing Effectiveness in the Digital Era

When you focus on sales activation alone, you end up with routine sales upticks caused by each marketing campaign, launch of a new product, or another trigger event that spikes urgency. There’s no guarantee that you have a rising baseline, and success is tied to the effectiveness of the campaign and the cost to acquire customers.

When you incorporate brand building you steadily increase the baseline for long-term sales growth.

Are you valuing both? 

According to Peter Field and Les Binet in The Long and the Short of It, “On average, effectiveness seems to be optimized when around 60% of the communications budget is devoted to brand building, and around 40% to activation.”

Marketing is a short-term sprint each time you’re launching or doing a major push to generate leads, increase your pipeline, and close deals in the near future.

Your brand-building activities are a cumulative endeavor that pays dividends over time--in how you keep your top-performers around, attract the right type of customers, develop loyalty, and prime people to be ready to buy.

But what if I’m not in the marketing department? 
Internal brand-building efforts are just as important as external brand-building efforts. How your employees perceive the brand greatly influences how they’ll represent the company to clients and to people outside of work. Your culture is a big piece of the brand puzzle, so ensuring there’s internal alignment around core values, strategic initiatives, the company mission, and vision is crucial.

Questions to ask yourself about brand based on your role:

If you’re an executive: 

  • Are you supporting your marketing department’s ability to pursue brand building activities outside of key launch campaigns?
  • Are you routinely communicating your vision and values to your people?
  • Are you making brand development a strategic priority?

If you’re a part of the leadership team:

  • You help build the brand on a daily basis by how you interact with your teams. Do you take the time to help people see how their contributions are impacting the greater mission of the organization?

If you’re a team member:

  • How do you represent the brand to potential clients, customers, or at networking events? How about to your family?
  • Do you feel you have a strong grasp of your company’s point of view? What questions do you need to ask to feel more confident in the mission of the company?

If you’re in marketing: 

  • Are you budgeting for both brand-building activities and sales activation?
  • Are you developing a content strategy that routinely focuses on adding value?
  • Do you prioritize thought leadership and help communicate the company’s values?

In order for organizations to leave a lasting legacy, they have to least a lasting impact. Understanding the difference between your brand-building efforts and your marketing efforts allows you to create lasting impact while also focusing on present sales.

How do you think about brand within your organization? I'd love to start a conversation in the comments.

The Fine Line Between Order and Chaos

How much change is too much change? It’s a question I’m asked on a regular basis.

How much change is too little change? It’s a question I’ve never been asked in nearly 20 years as an advisor to the leaders of privately-held companies.

Understanding how much change your company can absorb exists in the relationship between requirements, capacity and speed.

  • Requirement - The level and pace of change needed for your company to adapt, evolve and exist into the future.
  • Capacity - The understanding of how well you’ve developed and conditioned people in your company to handle and manage specific amounts change.
  • Speed - The pace at which change must occur in order to maximize opportunity in relation to performance and profitability.

While there’s a fine line between order and chaos, change must occur for growth to occur. If you expect your company to thrive into the future, you need to be highly intentional at evolving the load limit of your leaders. Behaviorally, people are unique and each of them responds to change differently. You can, however, increase the required capacity and speed by which your team deals with and processes change effectively.

Awareness Drives Understanding

I drive a Ram 3500 Laramie. There’s no doubt that it’s a big, bold and powerful truck, and yet it has limits. These limits are designed to protect the truck and allow it to maximize its performance. Example - before towing anything with my truck, the manufacturer recommended that I drive 1,000 miles. Why? Because towing puts the truck under load and in order to maximize performance, the truck needed to have some miles on it before that happened.

There’s no mathematical equation or crystal ball to define whether there’s too little change or too much change occurring in your organization. Leadership awareness is what drives this understanding. You must be directly connected to the people and culture of your company to understand specific load limits. Do you recognize these within your company?

Agents of Change

You’ve got to understand with relentless awareness who will do what when it comes to engaging the requirement, speed and capacity of change. Here are five questions to ask yourself regarding leaders and their load capacity.

  1. Who consistently steps in, steps up and demonstrates an ability to handle change?
  2. Who’s long on talk and short on action?
  3. Who needs time to think and process?
  4. Who will follow direction regarding change and spell out the rules related to change?
  5. Who thinks, acts, executes and owns change proactively?

Advancing the Load Limit

If you’re looking to understand real chaos, it can be found through leaders who have never been tested - leaders who have a philosophical understanding of the difficulty and challenge of change but have never had to fight the battle of change day-in and day-out.

Advancing the load limit of a leader begins by providing exposure to situations and scenarios that cause them to discover capacity that they didn’t even know they had. Difficult? Likely! Great! Dive in! This is where the skills of planning, critical thinking, action orientation and measurement are discovered and developed.

Order is maintained through change when someone demonstrates their awareness and experience in leadership. By the way, this doesn’t mean they have to have all the answers.

Chaos is the result when you don’t condition people to expand their critical thinking, confront change proactively and don’t require them to expand their decision-making ability.

An investment in someone who consistently relies on other people to do their thinking for them is a waste.


Your engine warning light serves a purpose even though at first look you may view it as an inconvenience. That light is designed to bring awareness. It exists to help you identify an issue before it becomes something much worse.

There’s an engine warning light in your company. It’s what identifies the people in key positions who don’t recognize the requirement, capacity or speed at which change is occurring and must occur- the people you keep propping up in the hope that they will eventually get it.

WARNING: They won’t. What’s your engine warning light?

Your Success Depends On Getting Out of Your Own Way

Can you identify a time when you were a roadblock to your own success?

Maybe you overthought something when you should have taken action. Maybe you weren’t receptive to a new/different idea because it challenged your norm or what you knew. Maybe you focused so much on others that you didn’t focus on yourself. Did you miss the forest for the trees?  Maybe you lacked an awareness. Whatever the case, it's time to get out of your own way.

I know a promising young entrepreneur. He’s extremely bright and talented. He connects and communicates with confidence, but he has one problem... He’s standing in his own way. He’s so focused on his own path and methods that he overlooks, or fails to consider, who his clients are and what they’re striving to achieve. He doesn’t take the time to self-reflect and gain the awareness of his own roadblocks.

Like so many of us, he doesn’t need more lessons, he simply needs to get out of his own way.

Assessment, Awareness and Advancement

The starting point of my work with people and companies is assessment. Most often, that involves an owner/exec/manager/leader completing an actual assessment. The assessment offers value and objectivity in understanding personal strengths and limitations. Quite simply, these are the two factors of awareness that either accelerate advancement or become potential roadblocks to success. These roadblocks are the things that stop or slow you from getting what you want.

What To Do With a Roadblock?

When we face roadblocks, the best option is to deal with them so they don’t stall progress.

Waze, the mapping app, has two primary objectives. The first is to provide the most efficient route to get you where you’re going and the second is to keep you moving. How does Waze accomplish this? Aside from a whole lot of technology, the app integrates user feedback and reporting on what’s going on in real time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than being stalled and feeling like you’re going nowhere. In that moment, Waze doesn’t give users lessons on how to drive, it helps them navigate the best course of action in dealing with the situation and current conditions. Waze relies on a community of users that help each other navigate the potential roadblocks that will be confronted along a chosen route of travel.

Your Community of Users

Like Waze Users (a.k.a. - Wazers) you can learn from your own community of connections. (a.k.a. - Mentors) Effective mentors don’t give you lessons on how to lead, they offer you awareness and guidance based on their real-life experiences. You get to choose the best course of action in dealing with current conditions and situations. Mentors help you develop an awareness of your strengths and limitations. They help you get out of your own way.

Five Ways Effective Mentors Help You Get Out of Your Own Way:

  1. They ask you the questions that make you think, reflect and increase your self-awareness. Ultimately, the questions they ask are helping define a course of action that helps you achieve what you want.
  2. They focus on you. They don’t focus on their achievements or accomplishments. Your successful outcome is the measure of their success and a failure is shared.
  3. Their influence takes a work with approach. They’re willing to be vulnerable and experiences are shared in a way that forms a relatable connection.
  4. They will challenge you to maximize your capacity and often times see things in you that you don’t see in yourself.
  5. They’re relentlessly objective with you and you being comfortable with every idea isn’t their primary objective. Your evolution and advancement is their “why.”


How do you deal with roadblocks in your awareness, understanding or career? Let me encourage you to get out of your own way.


P.S. Do you have a mentor who had a positive impact on your life? Share about them in the comments.

Complacency Will Kill Your Career

Have you ever thought one thing in your brain and stopped it from exiting your mouth? Do you have situations or circumstances that trigger this mental battle for you? The conflict between knowing what you want to say and valuing what’s appropriate to say. The struggle is real.

The Filter in Your Head 

This is what stops you from saying something even though you were thinking it. Behaviorally, the filter is known as emotional intelligence, reaction index control or empathy. No matter what you call it, it’s the relationship between knowing when and how to deliver a message in a way that’s constructive versus destructive. Developmental ahead of judgemental.


And for all of the filters that we use to help us not offend others, there are times we simply need to say what needs to be said. Dispense with the filtering in favor of increasing someone’s awareness about their cluelessness because that will give them the best opportunity for success.

Self-awareness is a gift that has the potential to benefit someone for a lifetime.

Stop Being the Victim

Complacency is driven by a lack of awareness of deficiencies. Mediocrity is the result of existing with or tolerating low quality, value or ability. There’s a direct relationship between complacency and mediocrity. Which came first the chicken or the egg?

While I’m appreciative of friends with filters and their ability to soften the blow; I’m truly appreciative of friends who will tell me what I need to hear rather than what I want to hear. These are people who are unwilling, and unable, to let me be the victim because they know the truly negative outcomes of this mentality.

While some are content in mediocrity, they wonder in amazement why coworkers who they’re competing against for promotions and pay raises are breaking through barriers and advancing their careers. Think about how many people look at what others have with little to no awareness of the effort that was required and expect to receive the same outcome apart from the work.

That being said, here’s a bit of unfiltered feedback that needs to be heard as a part of the development track for people who are the victim of their own complacency:

Complacency will kill your career. The sooner you recognize that the complacency you’re not confronting is driven by your tolerance of mediocrity and lack of awareness, the sooner you’ll be on the path to truly definable growth both personally and professionally. You’re not the victim. Stop playing the victim. You own you, so start defining you differently.  Better yet, start defining you so others don’t.

Definition and Accomplishment

The good news is there are many solutions to existing with complacency, and it starts with knowing what you want to achieve and pushing past self-imposed boundaries.

  • Knowing what you want in the long-term and creating short-term goals that will turn that vision into your reality is key. This starts with having a specific plan for each day. Create a mental or written checklist of what you’ll accomplish that day, and don’t settle for less. Better yet, don’t settle for only accomplishing those items. Overwhelming? Start with a list of three items that have to be accomplished every day. No compromise. These are the “must achieves”.
  • Surround yourself with people who don’t accept mediocrity from themselves and certainly won’t accept it from you. Who you hang out with defines a portion of who you become. Ask your coworkers, friends, and family to hold you accountable to your goals. Identify and connect with a mentor of excellence. Someone who’s succeeding in a way you admire and engage them in a conversation of awareness. Rather than resenting someone for their accomplishments, be receptive to the methods, habits and qualities that have led to their victories.

“It is remarkable how much mediocrity we live with, surrounding ourselves with daily reminders that the average is acceptable. Our world suffers from terminal mediocrity. Take a moment to assess all the things around you that encourage you to remain average. These things keep you powerless, unable to go beyond the limits that you have arbitrarily set for yourself. Take your first steps towards mastery by removing everything in your environment the represents mediocrity, removing your arbitrary limits. Try surrounding yourself with friends that expect more of you than you do. Didn't some of your best teachers, your coaches, your parents expect more of you?”

An excerpt from Mastery by Stewart Emery

Final Thoughts

If you know someone who gets out of bed to do something poorly, consider the positive impact on their life if you helped them understand the value of getting out of bed to do it well. After all, the cure for cluelessness can be found in awareness.

Don’t ever let complacency kill your career. The only person you’ll have to blame will be you.


Come on… give me your comments. Agree or disagree? Jump into the conversation. What do you think?

Every Person in Your Organization Must Understand This One Principle

Every person in your organization must understand this one principle - what they do in their role contributes to the profitability of your company. Profitability isn’t simply a goal to be achieved, it’s the outcome of the work your people do every day:

How they serve your customers.
How they think about the problems that have to be solved.
How they pay attention to detail.
How they lead and follow.

It’s the direct result of your commitment to them and their commitment to you.

Reality Check

You can make a profit and still not maximize profitability. That’s because profit is an absolute number - revenue minus expenses. While profitability is a relative number - a percentage that expresses the ratio between profit and revenue.

If profit measures how much money a company is earning, profitability measures the impact of your people on your business.

When two companies make the same profit and one is significantly more profitable, go straight to the people as the reason why.

The How

Simon Sinek wrote a great book titled Start With Why. If you haven’t read it, let me encourage you to do so.  Interestingly enough the subtitle of the book is even more intriguing to me: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. Did you catch that? For all of the emphasis on why, when it comes to maximizing profitability through people, the most important word is HOW.

How does every person in your organization contribute to the profitability of your company in their role? That’s a statement first and a question second by design.

It’s the responsibility of leaders to consistently and relentlessly communicate how what people do, day in and day out, directly contributes to the profitability of their company.

When people are developed with the awareness of their impact, they have a lens through which to consider their actions, choices and decisions.

When this occurs, they have the ability to affect outcomes. Why? Because they can then answer the question of how on their own.

Have the Conversation

Clarity comes from understanding. Defining someone’s contribution to success allows them to be sure that what they do matters. If you can’t, don’t or won’t establish the how, you’re likely left with an assumption.

Do you really want to treat profitability as an assumption? Do you want to assume that people know the impact of their choices, decisions and actions or would you rather know with certainty?

Clarity is the result of communication.

It’s concerning to me how often really strong leaders are simply willing to assume that communication about profitability is occurring. Have the conversation with people. Engage them in awareness and understanding. Pose the scenarios and require them to think it through and work it through.

People drive the performance of a company. From the entry-level to the C-Suite. If you disagree, then I’m going to ask you why that person has a job in your company. We all benefit when we’re challenged to think about how what we do contributes to the profitability of our company.

To begin the conversation just ask someone what they did really well today or how they could have done better today. The question leads to awareness which gives you insight and that insight allows you to make better choices and decisions to achieve better outcomes through people.


Make a point over the next week to ask several of your employees, team members or associates how they contribute to the profitability of your company in their role. Do they have the answer? Do you see their awareness, or lack of awareness, reflected in their choices, decisions and problem-solving ability?

Have you made a conscious effort to consistently communicate how individual roles contribute to profitability? Have you created a culture in which your people can answer that question independently?

Final Thought

As a leader, never forget that every area of your business, including profitability, is about one thing.


Here’s to communication, clarity and results,


P.S. Let me know your thoughts on this week's blog in the comments.

The Growth of a Business Requires Constant Refinement

Thinking Differently About Growth

The growth of a business is fueled by the growth of people. Both are based on constant refinement and evolution. Small changes, or those of a bigger variety, should drive improvement and clarification as things move from simple to more complex.

If you’re growing and advancing, you’re consistently making refinements in your approach. 

The Morph

In the nearly two decades since I started Perpetual Development, my commitment to the growth and development of people, and the companies that they’re a part of has never changed. I know the following to be true: When you help people maximize and achieve their potential, they will do the same exact thing for you.

With this commitment in mind, when changes or refinements are required within my company they get made. I’ve never been afraid of morphing--the transformation that allows us to evolve, grow and achieve our potential.

The Growth Exchange

I learned a long time ago to never fall so in love with a method that it blinded me. Doing so would keep me from the objective of better serving our clients and achieving better outcomes.

If you invest in people, they will invest in you. Their growth is my growth. Your expansion is my expansion. It’s a growth exchange. The challenges of your growth are the challenges of my growth. Personally and professionally this has been proven to me over and over again.

And it all comes down to awareness.

It’s about:

  • recognizing strengths, shortcomings, failures, and successes.
  • reflecting and recognizing changes in direction and strategy
  • thinking bigger and beyond boundaries.


Our growth is a series of exchanges connected to the growth of others.

Our Maturity

The full breadth of our development, individually or organizationally, is truly perpetual. As I have evolved, so has the company. And as Perpetual Development has evolved so has the relationship and work we share with our family of clients.

Interestingly...most of our morphs have come as a result of people whose intention was helping me maximize my potential--growth exchange in action.

Last week I discussed the evolution taking place at Perpetual Development and how time away, intentional planning, and a willingness to go beyond boundaries has led to an evolved mission here at PDI.

It’s also what led to the new look and feel of We’ve made it more clear, concise, and user-friendly so that there’s no question what we’re up to. And as always, I welcome your feedback. Thanks for being a part of this journey with us.

Here’s to continual evolution,


Clinging Tightly to the Past Can Limit Your Future Growth

A big thank you to each of the guest writers who contributed to the Thoughtwave Blog in the month of June. Each of them brought their own unique perspective to their topic and to their writing.

For me, the month of June was about stepping back from my writing to consider the WHY behind my writing. When you clearly understand why you’re doing something, there’s a higher level of connection to what you do and what you produce as an output. My writing break gave me that exact perspective.

What is Evolution?

This isn’t about asking and answering that question on a grand scale, so let’s look at it on a more practical level.

Have you ever experienced a breakthrough or had a breakout moment? A time when you really had to push beyond boundaries to get to something that brought you to another level?

If you have, then you can fully appreciate the clarity, focus and purpose that’s achieved as an outcome and the kind of results that are both possible and attainable.

Evolution is a process of change and continuous growth in a defined direction. It’s about moving from a simple level to a more complex level and valuing the progression as a part of achieving better results. It’s about our development.

Look and Laugh

During my break, I took the time to read some of my early articles and posts. I looked at them and laughed. My actual thought was, “Why in the world would anyone read these?”

The reason I asked the question is because I was looking at my writing through a different lens. My writing has evolved… thankfully. What it was then, isn’t what it is now. I expect more of myself and you should expect more of me as a part of the Thoughtwave Community.

My writing is better because of inputs and coaching from people who were willing to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear, and they did/do so with an invested intent and purpose. These are people that I value. These are the people that have given me the ability to visually see my own evolution. I know that because I can look back at where this began and smile in considering where the company is now. I know that because of the investment they’ve made in my growth.


There’s no space for mediocrity when you’ve seen and experienced what growth and evolution produce.

Clinging Tightly

We all know people who cling so tightly to the past that they can’t see the need for growth into the future. They fail to evolve because they choose not to evolve. They hold on because they’re unwilling to let go.

For me, this viewpoint is suffocating because it stops evolution and growth in their tracks. It denies the future of opportunity and values something simple because of the work something more complex would require.

It’s not uncommon to see entrepreneurs who started a company cling too tightly to the past and fail to evolve as their industry, business, customers, opportunities and the world advance.

Meaningful Evolutions

Forward-thinking leaders foster growth and evolution as a requirement within their companies and among their people.

They see a direct connection between how their company brand evolves in relationship with their customers, clients, vendors, and industry. Growth-oriented leaders look to provoke connection through image and emotion in the customers’ minds while valuing the core elements of their unique identity.

This deliberate and purposeful progression is based on understanding what people want, need and desire from their company.

We’ve Come Full Circle

Perpetual Development, as the name might imply, is about continually evolving. We’ve seen so many changes over the last 20 years that it’s good to pause, consider and reflect.

In the last two years alone, we’ve started Thoughtwave, expanded and increased our social media presence, said goodbye to some and hello to many. While change is often necessary, evolution is impactful. The difference between change and evolution is that evolution must include development and/or advancement.

If, as I said earlier, clinging tightly to the past suffocates me, the continual advancement of Perpetual Development excites and frees me to consider all of the future evolutions that are possible.

Now Is The Time

It’s time for an evolution at Perpetual Development - One that remains true to the core of our identity but better reflects where we see ourselves heading into the future. One that values knowing both who we want to attract as a part of our community and who we don't.

The clarity of an evolution isn’t discovered in an arrogant view. It’s discovered in a purposeful view. 

To that end, we’re moving forward with purpose and on purpose. We’re headed in a forward direction and with greater clarity.

Final Thought

We’re glad you’re a part of our community, appreciate your readership and value your evolution.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

P.S. View our updated Mission, Vision, and How statements below (click to enlarge) and let me know your thoughts in the comments.


PDI Mission


(click to enlarge)

Don't Let Trends Lead You Astray

In 1984 parachute pants were “in style.” I was in college and owned a pair of those trendy tight-fitting pants. I wore them twice and never wore them again. Ripstop nylon wasn’t exactly a breathable fabric and the teal color certainly stood out in a crowd. Looking back, I laugh and know that’s a trend I would have been best to ignore. Those pants were designed for somebody, but certainly not for the 6-foot-tall, 200-pound version of me.

There’s No Magic Pill

When you follow trends, especially in business, you may gain short-term progression or attention, with the trade-off being the loss of long-term focus connected to your goals, objectives, vision or identity.

The phrase “there’s no magic pill” exists to remind us that consistency beats trends regularly.

Want to lose weight? Consistency. Want to improve your physical ability? Consistency. Want to expand your book of business? Consistency. Want to build wealth through investing? Consistency. Want to reduce or eliminate debt? Consistency. Want to develop people to think differently? Consistency. Want to improve at something? Consistency. Want to grow a company? Consistency.

Consistency isn’t trendy… it’s consistent. It offers stability apart from variation or contradiction.

The Critical Question

There are a lot of things that chasing trends can cause you to do. Some of them good and some not so good. Here’s a critical question to ask yourself.

What does establishing consistent performance require me to do individually and/or organizationally?

Consistency doesn’t require you to forego an awareness and connectivity to trends. Chasing trends may, however, cause you to forego consistency in your sales performance, leadership or business evolution.

It’s a Matter of Discipline

In a practical sense, defying trends is about two things:

  1. Definition - Knowing who you want to be as a professional and/or what you want your company to be in the marketplace.
  2. Discipline -   Working consistently and relentlessly toward the definition of your identity versus letting a trend take you somewhere else, in an alternate direction or someplace you were never intended to go.


You Do You is a trendy phrase/idea being featured in a variety of commercials and on billboards across the country. While it’s trendy, it’s also a great call for clarity about people being the people they want to be in the world. Here are a couple of connected thoughtstarters that will help you move beyond being trendy.

  • Before you can do you, you must first define who you want to be as a person. This is about understanding your identity.
  • In order for you to do you, you must consistently and relentlessly work with the awareness of knowing who you are as a person, leader, friend and more.

Think about it for a while.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.


P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Activating Your Awareness to Advance

Thanksgiving week is my favorite week of the year. While a time to give thanks isn’t limited to a day or a week, this series of days seems to call for more reflection and thought about what I am truly thankful for in my life.

Aside from that, this week also serves up the biggest rivalry in college football as the Michigan Wolverines battle the Ohio State Buckeyes. For the Buckeye Fans in our Thoughtwave Community, of which there are many, I offer my respect for your impressive domination of my beloved Wolverines over the last 13 years.

As I reflect, one of the things that I’m most thankful for are the numerous people who I’ve had the opportunity to challenge and support in their growth and development. It’s truly humbling to consider the privilege of helping people think beyond boundaries and maximize their potential and capacity as they define their evolution both personally and professionally. People and companies across this country have been, and continue to be, impacted as a result of your leadership.

The Core of Purpose and Growth

People just like you are at the core of my purpose. Whether you are the family in family business, an existing leader in a family-owned, privately-held company, an emerging leader in your company or someone who wants to define their identity; I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with people just like you. Mediocre doesn’t much enjoy hanging out with me and I’m thankful for that as well.

You are someone who wants to grow both personally and professionally. Someone who isn’t comfortable with the status quo when you know more is possible. You continually pursue development because you recognize that true development is never-ending. You challenge me to bring my best to the table. You are a diverse group in thought, gender, age, background, ethnicity and that makes you seriously interesting.

The Awareness of Where You Want to Go and Grow

Could you be the next… (fill in the position name of your choice)? This is a question I ask regularly to help people vision/see something that they may never have considered. This is about setting your sites on something that allows you to maximize your influence and your potential. This is about thinking beyond the boundaries of your own definition. This isn’t about false hope or positional delusion. This is about where you want to grow.

Many of you ask me about how you can continue to advance your career. My response is consistent. “Start thinking at the position/place you see yourself headed toward while appreciating and valuing where you find yourself now.” Maximizing you and your opportunities comes with the awareness that you shouldn’t look past the experiences of your present as a key factor of success in your future. Those experiences may only come around once so be thankful for them and gain advantage from them. Just because you didn’t think/see yourself in a particular position doesn’t mean you shouldn’t engage the opportunity.

When you activate your awareness, mindset and thinking at a different level you’re demonstrating your capacity to advance. The alternative is to sit around and wait for someone to notify you of the required activation. This demonstrates something far different.


You can be more and you can achieve more if you’re willing to ask yourself and others you respect, what you need to start doing now to facilitate individual growth. Do nothing and you can expect the predictable return of nothing.

When I think back on the past year, I’m thankful for many things. The positives, the negatives, the experiences and the lessons. Some of these experiences and lessons were planned, some were definitely not planned. They were all meaningful as a part of my growth and never-ending development. My hope is that you will reflect and feel the same way.

The development and growth of people is serious business and one of the most important things we can do to improve and advance the leadership of others, the performance of companies and the legacy of families in business.

My hope for you this week is that you would be thankful for the people in your life as I am thankful for you.

Go Blue!

P.S. Want to jumpstart your 2019 growth? Join the #ThoughtstarterChallenge

The Experience-Based PhD

Experience matters. When you practically engage with your experiences, you're a part of the best classroom available.

The connection between our experiences and our education is undeniable. The definition of education addresses developing the powers of reasoning and judgement and preparing oneself.

While the classroom may serve as an incubator, offering a controlled environment; experiences serve as the development environment of limitless possibilities.

Education and experience aren’t mutually exclusive. They work best when they work in concert with each other. To gain an education without experience is like claiming an idea as theory. The difference? Experience and theory offer testing, proof or validation as the common connectors.

The Experience-Based PhD

Recognized as one of the most coveted achievements in the academic world, the PhD is typically the highest level academic degree a person can receive.

Over the course of the last 20 years, I have watched many of my clients earn their PhDs in business, leadership, management, conflict resolution, family dynamics, organizational development and any other number of specialized topics. Uniquely - they didn’t enroll in programs offered by universities, their institution of higher learning was, and is, the workplace.

Unlike traditional PhDs, the experience-based PhD has no completion or graduation date. The thesis or dissertation isn’t the crowning achievement. The cycle of education through experience is never-ending and the classroom ever-expanding. In this practical pursuit, success is demonstrated in transitioning the family business from one generation to the next. It’s recognized in navigating through a challenging situation and coming through on the other side. It’s achieved because of a leader’s determination to make decisions and control what they can control.

The Faculty

Many of you reading right now are the professors of your industry or business. You’ve earned that title because you are the names and faces behind the PhD of Experience. Your accountability to the future of business is represented in the leaders that you’re engaging and developing as well as the mindsets you’re multiplying.

Many of you reading right now are the future professors of experience. The classrooms and situations that will allow you to earn that title have yet to be defined and your curriculum will become known to you through the circumstances and moments you confront going forward. Your accountability to the future of business is to recognize those opportunities and learn as much as you can and then, like the greats before you, multiply the legacy of experience based leadership.


Thoughtstarters, like experiences, exist to help you think beyond boundaries. Are you ready to go beyond boundaries in 2019? If so, let me encourage you to get ready for the new year by participating in the Thoughtstarter Challenge.

15 days, 3 weeks, 15 questions to help you think intentionally about the year ahead.

Sign-up today. The challenge begins November 26th.

Until next time,


P.S. Thoughts? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.