Helping Small Business Think Big

Thinking Out Loud


Are you struggling just to keep up? Join the club.

If you are a business owner or in middle management, one of the toughest problems you face is staying on top of the latest business changes. As time goes by, we are faced with more new ideas, systems, and products coming at us everyday. Just to stay up with it, every executive needs to spend more time reading; more time talking to employees; more time checking out the competition and if you do all that well, you don’t actually have time to do your real job. So, what can you do?

I’ve struggled with this too and over time I came up with the only solution that makes any sense. So, after trying it out in my own business life and seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I wrote a new business book called EXPRESS EXEC.

This is an unusual business book. I hate to read philosophical jibberish and page after page of examples of those who did it right and wrong. Everyone does that stuff and it gets old. So I wrote EXPRESS EXEC as a novel. That’s right – a short story. I gave my protagonist the unenviable job of having to turn around a company in six months and deal with monstrous amounts of change in a very short period. My story is heavy on dialogue so the reader can hear every painful conversation, every moment of anger from employees, and feel the angst, fear and lack of trust that each employee feels. I added some opposing forces and a few twists and turns because we always run into that in real life. So you get it in the story too – however, I think feeling it, and living it a bit, will help managers to understand better how to deal with it.

The book is done now and in final stages of being published. When I have links for it, I’ll let you know – but in the meanwhile, contact me if you have any stories of your own you want to share, or just want to talk about your own people-management issues.

UPDATE: Express Exec will be available on Amazon by mid-July 2018.

Follow up to the minimum wage discussion

I caught some flack for my stance on making a dramatic and swift change to the minimum wage. So I did something about it.

how-to-get-raiseI wrote a book entitled “How to Get a Raise! 7 Steps to a Higher Paycheck”.  The solution to the minimum wage issue is not to let government micromanage your life. It is to do it yourself. But I have come to the conclusion that many folks at the minimum wage level simply do now know what to do to escape it. My book simply discusses steps that employees can take (whether they are at minimum wage or not) to get a raise and increase their own pay.  The book is now available in eBook form on Amazon at :

Know someone who needs some help, point them in that direction. It is very inexpensive and I will be making it free at various intervals. This isn’t about making money. Just my small contribution to a solution.


No time to read? Watch videos on how to build Bonus Programs!

Most people agree that bonus plans are a good idea.  They agree with that until they have to design one.  Then it becomes a thankless job and one that very few people can competently complete.  For me, it was a necessity.  I absolutely needed every employee on the same page as I was. So I spent 25 years in trial and error until I figured out how to do it.  As most of you know, I wrote my first book in 2008 describing all the techniques I learned to design and initiate a bonus program that rewarded employees fairly AND returned an equal or greater value to the company.

Well, long story short, no one likes to read anymore.  So I summarized all the steps in a series of 14 videos explaining what to do and how to do it.  The last of those videos went out this week on YouTube.  I also added all of them to my website devoted to my videos on various business topics – mostly how to manage people effectively.

Here is the link to that website and specifically to the page that holds all of the Bonus Plan videos.  Don’t want to read?  Cool, now you don’t have to.  Watch 14 short videos and in less than an hour, you will be able to build bonus programs too.  Later, you can thank me for saving you  24 years, 364 days and 23 hours in the process.

Here is the link:


Motivation thru Fear

In the business news this week was a story about David Marcus, the President of PayPal.  Marcus used a tactic to “motivate the troops” that backfired on him.  It is amazing to see someone so high up the ladder make a predictable mistake like this.  He used FEAR as a motivator.  Usually fear does not work at all.  Sometimes it works in the short term but it never lasts.  Marcus threatened all his employees’ job security, suggesting they find a new job if they did not cooperate and use PayPal’s new mobile payment app more often.  the base of 2,000 workers rebelled and the story went viral.

My evil twin, Garth, who also believes in using fear as a motivator snuck into my studio and made a video about it.  Amazing!  Clearly Garth and I do not agree.  Check out the video here on my other site:








What?  You mean by paying less, right?   No, I mean paying more.  But paying it for different reasons.

One of the most successful steps I’ve ever taken was to spend years perfecting how you can design a bonus program and pay people properly for performance rather than promises.  When you carve out a portion of the employee’s pay, say ideally 20% , and earmark that for bonuses (in contrast to paying them everything just for showing up) you can create a full workforce of motivated and engaged employees.

So, how do you do that?  Well, my book, Bonus Your Way to Profits! explains that in detail and is available on Amazon today.  However, for those who are just interested in the concept, I have started a series of videos on YouTube where I proceed to destroy my own book sales by giving all the information away for free (Hmmmmm, maybe I should rethink this).

Anyway, if you would like to transform your workforce and build a more motivated and engaged group of employees, then build a bonus program for each of them that motivates them to do the right thing for the company out of enlightened self-interest.  Pay them part of their salary specifically for achieving goals that help your company improve its bottom line.  To explain how to do this, I am in the process of creating over a dozen short 4 minute videos that walk you through it, step by step.  To see the first, go here:

To see the rest, visit my website and click on the page that takes you to Bonus Programs.  All videos relating to that topic are right there in sequence, just waiting for you.  OK, no excuses left now.  Change your Corporate Culture overnight with pay-for-performance programs that really work!

$15 Minimum Wage: Panacea or False Promise?

Lately, in the Seattle area, there has been a great deal of discussion (and voting) about making a dramatic increase in the minimum wage level.  This is mostly due to numerous stories about single moms or people in dire straights who have found themselves in the position of having to attempt to raise a family on one minimum wage job.  Much of that has been brought on by the recession and more has occurred because forty and fiftysomething-folks have lost their regular jobs and have had to resort to underemployment.  As heartbreaking as these stories are, I don’t believe that the solution is to dramatically increase the minimum wage.  A friend of mine asked me my opinion of what would happen if the minimum wage was raised from the current $9.32/hr. to $15/hr.  Trying to summarize that quickly was a challenge so I am afraid I resorted to a 900 word answer.

Much of the problem with discussing the minimum wage issue is that those opposed are so afraid of appearing to be  greedy corporate profit-mongers that they just find it easier to go along with the $15 minimum wage raise.  So at the risk of appearing to put profits before people, I have to ask:  Does anyone really believe this is a remedy?

I’ve owned small businesses for 30+ years and let me tell you what will happen if Seattle passes a $15 minimum wage for specific industries or all industries in town: Businesses that are already struggling will just close their doors. Most others will decrease the size of their workforce and turn fulltime employees into part-time. New startups will open in the suburbs but not in Seattle. Nearly everyone will raise prices. Fast food entrees will rise $1 to $2 each. Restaurant prices will go through the roof. Retail products in stores that have a lot of employees on the floor (think big box stores) will raise prices across the board. If the wage increase is limited to fast food or some market segment, everyone else will still be affected. Employees at the normal minimum wage will leave those jobs to try to move into the higher paying minimum wage jobs. So the “unaffected” companies will have to raise pay rates and prices just to compete for workers. If small businesses are exempt, that will only be on paper. In the real world, no one will want to work for $9.50 per hour when they can get $15 at a bigger company so small companies will be forced to raise the starting pay to attract people. And raise their prices too. Many will close and very few new startups will occur.

Worse than all those things, in my opinion, is that many first time workers out of high school will be unable to find jobs. With fewer entry level openings, only experienced people will get the work leaving thousands of young people unemployed in the city. The minimum wage is supposed to be in place to make sure that the young, untrained first time employees get a reasonable pay level as they learn and gain valuable job experience. Frankly, and this sounds harsh, but it is true: Anyone working in the same job for minimum wage for five years or more has made the choice to not advance their own career. Raising a family at the minimum wage level is not possible because it wasn’t meant to be a long-term wage in the first place. It was meant to be a training wage that helps people break in, learn how to work and gain helpful experience so they can move on. Thus this hyper bump-up in pay benefits the long-term minimum wage workers but does nothing but damage to the aspirations of first-time employees. At an artificially inflated rate, only the best workers will keep jobs or get new ones. First time job seekers will be ignored.

If we could legislate our way out of economic inequities, I would be the first one in line supporting it. But artificially raising the minimum wage will not do that. When everyone at the lowest pay level is at $15, they will still be the proverbial “low man on the totem pole”. Fast food will cost more, rents will be higher because the market can support it, restaurant prices will shoot up to a point beyond reach for them, other retail products will cost more and it won’t be long before you hear the cry for a $20 minimum wage … as the new remedy. Relatively, everyone will be the same except that EVERYTHING will cost more – for EVERYONE. And as a sad side effect, those without jobs or with only part-time work, will be far worse off than they are now.

So what can you do if you are stuck in a low end job? What can a minimum wage employee do to change their prospects? First of all, you can quit thinking like a victim. You are not a pawn. You are not powerless. You can go to your boss and ask what you would have to do to earn a raise. He or she will tell you and then raise your game up and earn your raise. Some incredibly short-sighted organizations pay minimum wage only and do not give raises to entry level employees. If you work for one of those, spend your free time interviewing for a job at a company that does reward hard work with raises. Take control of your own fate. Make yourself more valuable to your current employer or your next one. Do NOT sit around waiting for government to rescue you.

Somehow over the years we have lost some of what makes America great. The spirit of individualism; the ability to face adversity and beat it down; the belief that we are the masters of our own fate. I have never seen a hard working employee that did not reap the benefits of that work. Either they earn more from the current employer or they gain the confidence and experience necessary to shape their own career and move on to a better opportunity. Don’t give up on yourself. You are the captain of your own ship. Steer it yourself. You are a free agent. Go after your own dream. Make yourself so valuable that your current employer will gladly pay you more or you will find someone who will. And remind yourself every day: This is America – we make our own chances here.

Grandma’s Business Lesson

When I was 11 years old, I learned my greatest business lesson and I believe I will remember it all my days.  I didn’t know what it was at the time and really didn’t understand it until I was in my thirties but it is a strong one and has colored my belief in how to manage people ever since. Check out online pokies Australia real money and win real big money!  I told the story of Grandma’s Lesson on one of my videos on the Flying Shorts Channel.  You can check it out here (and try to disregard the part where I get all choked up!)


Do you do the 1 thing that most successful CEO’s do?

Studies have shown that the top rated CEO’s in the country all seem to have one characteristic in common.  Do you have it?  Would it surprise you to find out it is so easy to do that I call it the Lazy Manager’s way to motivate employees.  It is easy to do but far too few managers do it.  And it is so important, I am doing a 5 part series on it.   Check it out here:



THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF THE ROOKIE MANAGER – and how to avoid them.

During my days  of managing people (including managing new supervisors) I have noticed many new managers shooting themselves in the foot by getting off to a terrible start.  Let’s face it, managing people is hard enough without ticking them off right from the get-go.  Too many rookie managers are un-coached and simply thrown into a job with the expectation that they were smart enough to get it so they must be smart enough to manage people.  Far too untrue.  Managing people often has very little to do with the previous success that resulted in their promotion.

Most rookie managers commit one, two or more of the following people management career killers that could have been avoided with a little more coaching.

  1. ASSUMING A FAULTY POSTURE – Managers often fall into the trap of trying too hard to play the authoritarian – from Day One.  Using the ‘My way or the highway’ approach or simply not admitting they do not know everything is a sure road to failure.  This is especially true of rookie managers who are young.  It is hard to look a veteran employee who is 20+ years your senior in the eye and tell them that you think they are doing something wrong.  So the natural defense mechanism is to just be a tough guy and not discuss it with the employee – just bitch at them and tell them what you think and then return to your office.  The harder way is to have an open and frank conversation with them that admits to them that you are not sure if they made an error or not.  That way displays some weakness and no rookie wants to show that.  But the fact is, it is better to be humble.  Ask for input.  Gain collaborative effort from all your people.   Find common ground and then hold it.   Make work a shared journey not your personal victory parade.
  2. DELEGATING IMPROPERLY – Overwhelmed rookie managers will frequently delegate key functions to people they assume will know how to do them.  Vet people first, select the right one, and then hold frequent update meetings to make sure they are on the right path.
  3. MICRO MANAGING – New managers usually have a driving desire to see everything done as they would do it.  Get over that fast.  Agree on how the end product should look and then let your employee run with it – but follow up often.
  4. FAILING TO LISTEN – Newbies will sometimes fall in love with their newfound authoritarian voice.  Listen twice as often as you talk.  Let your people be heard and don’t be afraid to follow their lead.
  5. POOR CRITICISM – When a mistake has been made, rookies tend to focus on who is at fault.  Instead, turn your focus to ‘how did this happen.’  Criticize faulty processes or communication failures rather than people.  When you can turn every failure into a teaching opportunity, you gain respect and authority.
  6. INCONSISTENCY – Ok, this is a tough one for every manager but new managers need to be particularly vigilant that they are not perceived to be having one set of rules for one person and a different for another.
  7. LACK OF RESPECT – for your employees.  Nothing will sabotage a rookie manager’s people management career faster than the perception that he or she believes they are superior to the rank and file workers.  Listening well, giving credit openly, praising good work and being a bit humble will make sure you do not have to face that problem.

If you are a rookie manager heading into your first command, mold yourself carefully and get off to a good start.  If you are the manager of a rookie manager, spend more time coaching and make sure they have a clear shot at success right out of the gate.

Catch someone doing something right!

One  of my favorite motivational techniques is catching someone doing something right.  I like this one because it is easy to do and creates smiles and its a very positive step toward creating the right work atmosphere for the employees.  I explain it in person much better than I can write about it.  Check out my latest Flying Shorts video: