Five Tips for Improving Positive Thinking

Being positive can make you feel energized and take calculated risks. On the other hand, being negative slows productivity. Sure, it’s possible to learn to think more positively and approach tasks and setbacks with a brighter attitude. The trick is in how to change your mindset.

For years, many authors and speakers have emphasized the power of daily affirmations, or repetition of phrases such as “I am smart,” or maybe, “today is the first day of the rest of my life.” Although these steps work better than repeating negative thoughts internally or out loud, author David A. Fields, who wrote Guide to Winning Clients (Morgan James Publishing, 2017), says affirmations are a waste of time.

Fields gives two reasons why he believes the practice fails: Although a person might repeat positive affirmations, the affirmations only work if the individual truly believes in the positive message. Otherwise, it’s a regular opportunity to doubt oneself, and eventually introduce negative thoughts, the opposite of what the affirmation should accomplish. Secondly, always trying to quash negative feedback with positive affirmations can prevent learning from one’s mistakes, an essential success factor as leaders learn to persevere.


So, how can you or potential self-starters in your organization improve your positive thinking? Try these five tips from Success Factors Inc:

  1. Start with a vision. Instead of an affirmation, work on your vision. That is, consider your dreams and create a clear picture of what you want to achieve in life, or what a team can achieve at work. Ask as many detailed questions as necessary to get to the inner vision that works best for you and align it with the vision of your organization if you can. By building on this visual, positive start, you can more easily persevere during setbacks. Vision inspires possibilities!
  2. Use your vision and positive mindset to tackle issues head on. With a clear vision in mind, you can map out your plan for success and address decisions and issues with the positive image of where you’re headed. For example, if your vision is to be head of your department in five years, every major decision you make or action you take should support that vision. Having a vision might make you think twice before reacting negatively or ignoring a problem you must tackle.
  3. Deal with challenges by deciding what’s possible vs. what could go wrong. There are two ways to approach challenges and obstacles. One is to accept defeat, and the other is to list possibilities for making it better. And willingness to take calculated risks, another success factor, requires seeing possibility in a situation.
  4. Use constructive feedback. Spread your positive approach with those who can help you reach your vision. This works best when you provide constructive feedback that leads all your team in the same direction instead of criticizing out of frustration. Few people succeed with no help at all!
  5. Create a culture of positive thinking and success. The only way an organization can continue to succeed is with a culture that approaches the business, clients and setbacks positively. Leaders set the tone for the productivity of their workers by rewarding hard work and showing how it pays off, for instance. Culture plays a huge role in helping everyone on a team or in an organization work together toward a common vision. And if you’re the manager who sets the tone, you’re well on your way to personal success.

Give us a call at 425-485-3221 today to discuss how we can help with your positive mindset. We would love to help you!

Learn How to Roll with Rejection

By nature, successful self-starters receive much of their motivation from within, and typically have a refined inner vision. They’re positive people who take risks. Still, rejection can be a powerful force that can knock down the best of us, whether we’re rejected in personal matters or in the business world.

A few industries in particular expose hard workers to repeated rejection. Think of acting, the music business and authorship. But select people make it anyway, mostly because they persevere. In the business world, a positive approach helps managers and employees focus on the reason for the rejection or setback, which often has nothing to do with the individual’s skills or ideas, and certainly isn’t personal.

Rolling with rejection means realizing that having doors slammed in your face or receiving “no thank you” letters usually has more to do with timing, the business or the pure volume of requests (how many people do you know who bang away at the “perfect mystery novel” on weekends?)

Sure, there are times when you’re passed over for a promotion or to participate on a pet project. Look at these as learning opportunities and added incentive to succeed the next time. Those who persevere remain motivated, even learning from setbacks, and continue to step out on a limb. They say “yes” when those with fear hesitate or say, “no.”

And if you lead a team or own a business, you want to encourage perseverance when you spot the trait in a manager or frontline employee. People who show the quality of rolling with rejection can help your business succeed when inevitable factors such as new competition or changing supply and demand affect your product or service success.

You can assess your own and your employees’ tendency to roll with rejection through our self-assessment. We’ll also help you polish your perseverance or boost the skills in key players from your organization. Find out more about our Miller Success Factors Assessment  or give us a call at 425-485-3221

Engage Employees from the Inside Out

Unemployment is low, and in some industries, it’s tough to find workers with specialized skills and education. It can be even harder to retain top talent and those who show success factor traits. One way to keep valued employees engaged is to motivate them from the inside out, or by using intrinsic motivation.

In other words, perks like bonuses and salary increases can help retain employees, but it takes more to really engage them, keeping them interested, motivated and passionate about their jobs. Here are a few ways to keep valued workers engaged and on the road to personal – and therefore organizational – success:

Feed their knowledge. Many valued managers and workers want to learn — more about your company, industry or even how to manage. And with knowledge comes confidence and passion. In other words, if an employee shows interest in a product, project or developing a new skill, cultivating that interest can lead to renewed passion for their work and add to your team or company success. If you balk at the cost of reimbursing employees for tuition, sending them to appropriate conferences or providing training like our Fast Track to Success program, consider the cost of losing an employee. Aside from the expenses related to turnover, you lose intangible value, such as the passion and desire the employee demonstrated.

Empower them with responsibility. Your best employees want to feel like they are part of the success of your organization. They don’t want to feel like a powerless cog in the wheel, but instead want to help improve how the wheel turns! Empower employees to make some decisions without constant scrutiny, and they will reward you with an engaged passion for their work, resulting in new ideas and improved motivation and attitude.

Recognize achievement. You don’t need formal employee recognition programs to recognize small and large successes. Sometimes, just stopping by to tell an employee he or she did a great job on a recent task or project is all the motivation that employee needs to feel valued and stay engaged in their work. Often, by making a habit of telling people they are doing a good job (without going overboard and seeming insincere), managers can have the most dedicated and successful teams. You also can recognize employee efforts by telling others about their achievements or simply by pointing out to the employee how their decision/actions positively affected the company’s goals and bottom line.

Want to foster intrinsic motivation in your employees? We can help. Call us today 425-485-3221.


Manage with Passion, not Fear

Online searches reveal plenty of articles about dealing with difficult, mean or moody bosses. Have you ever wondered whether those in your charge have sought such advice? If there’s a chance, it’s time to take stock in your management style.

It’s possible that many people in management roles, whether for lack of maturity or personal experience, think that they should take a more authoritarian approach to dealing with others. There might be some truth to that, at least to the extent that a boss must make tough decisions and walk the fine line between upper management and front-line workforce.

But is it really necessary to adopt a persona that generates fear and loathing? I maintain a resounding “NO!” Fear certainly can motivate. Consider a health scare that pushes a person to lose weight or eat better, for example. But, like with dieting, the best approach is a long-term strategy. In the long run, do you want employees to worry every time they’re called into your office, talk about your meanness behind your back or simply move on to another workplace because they can’t handle your management style?

A boss who corrects through threats and intimidation doesn’t develop his or her employees, keep them engaged, or even keep them around. A bad mood can spread like wildfire in a department or company, affecting employee production, engagement and success. And remember, successful employees help managers reach their goals and appear successful as well. In a 2012 workplace survey from the American Psychological Association, about one fourth of workers cited problems with a supervisor as a contributor to stress, and 36 percent said they had uncertain or undefined job expectations.  Even worse, employees in fear-based workplaces worry about whether they’ll have a job next week; this kind of uncertainty does not lend itself to engagement or creativity in the workplace.

There’s no doubt that being a manager is stressful as well, and that some events and problems just cause bad moods. But every manager should recognize the role he or she plays in setting the tone. Those with passion and vision are more likely to see the need to minimize the trickling of negativity down the line of command and lift all employees up. It’s up to managers to help their team members understand the broader vision of the company, department or team and how the individual worker’s responsibilities relate to that vision.

Competent managers also instill passion and enthusiasm, especially by modeling passion and job commitment. You can start by simply smiling more and by taking time to be honest and open with employees, especially when correcting problems. Encourage employees to improve their performance without berating them. If you need help bringing more passion and less fear to your workplace, give Success Factors a call. We can help. Call us today (425-485-3221).


Follow this Japanese Proverb for Success

A clear vision of success is critical for any individual or company to succeed. It underlies purpose, strategy and values.

Executives, managers and individual employees need to be clear on the company vision and values, letting them guide decisions, engagement and consistent operations and priorities.

Most of all, a vision is more than some words on an internal memo or graphic. And this Japanese proverb sums up just how critical a vision is to success:

Vision without action is daydream

Action without vision is nightmare

Although this historical quotation speaks for itself, let’s break it down:

Any individual, team or organization can have a vision. But without a plan to reach the vision, and especially acting on the plan, the vision really is just a daydream, a wish. Successful self-starters put their vision to work. And the other big two success factors, passion and perseverance, help turn vision into action. For example, passion inspires, and having a passionate vision energizes. When employees share the passion for your work and vision, they remain more engaged and ultimately more successful. And it’s important to persevere when faced with obstacles or setbacks. Perseverance sets a person or team back on track.

Of course, what track do you jump back onto if you have no vision or direction?

Action without a vision leaves you rudderless, without direction. It’s like wandering in circles, with no end goal in site. You might have small successes, but likely will face more setbacks. Taking time to develop a vision statement paves the way for steady progress. A clear vision also provides a point at which leaders, managers and employees can refocus.

At Success Factors Inc., we help leaders and teams craft a vision for successful initiatives and develop a Success Strategy and Milestone Timeline, helping to maintain a vision for all actions and outline planned steps, or actions, to achieve the vision for an initiative.

Find out how you can create a passionate vision for project, individual or organization success from Success Factors Inc. And most importantly, let us help coach you and your team on the actions that bring your vision to life.

Learn more at ( or take action and call us today (425-485-3221).

Passion Fires Up Perseverance

An early season baseball game. A passionate objection, then an ejection. And ultimately, a win.

An April 16 baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers showed how passion can fire up perseverance in one’s self – or in an entire team.

Mariners manager Scott Servais was upset by a call (or more accurately, a call reversal) in the bottom of the sixth inning. Servais ran from the dugout and had a “few words” with officials, who tossed him from the game.

The coach’s actions might have been seen as extreme had things gone the other way and the Mariners had lost the game. But his show of passion and support for his team gave a boost to the players, helping them persevere and win the game. As outfielder Jarrod Dyson told the Seattle Times, “When skip got tossed, that fired everyone else up.”

In the business world, bosses can’t just storm into the board room when something happens that seems unfair to their staff team. But a little passion can go a long way. Employees are much more likely to trust, follow and engage with the passionate manager who has their backs. And sometimes, a little burst of passion fires you up as well. Here are a few ways that passion helps members of your organization at every level:

  • Executives: Passion creates a powerful sense of purpose and excitement, which can engage employees.
  • Managers: Demonstrates enthusiasm for organization vision, mission and values. Models commitment to the job and the team.
  • Employees: Demonstrates commitment to and engagement in employee accountabilities.

Keep your team fired up by channeling positive passion to help teams and individuals persevere through competition or setbacks. We can help. Learn more about our services, including our Fast Track to Success program, that can spot, foster and formalize passion in you, your managers and your employees. Call us today (425-485-3221).

Just Do It: Business Mantras

There’s more to the famous Nike tagline, “Just do it,” than encouraging people to pay for cool shoes. The phrase subtly hints at performing, persevering and following one’s vision, the Big Three Success Factors. And Ekaterina Walker says in this article from Forbes  that “Just Do It” also is one of the best business mantras she’s seen. Why? Because it speaks to the urgency of getting things done, being the best and the first.

Mantras are concise messages that a person can repeat internally to calm or motivate. Teams and other groups also have mantras, mottos or messages, that help them persevere, thrive and succeed. A mantra should be brief and create a positive visual or action. Well-crafted mantras can support or summarize a company mission and vision. Here are a few examples from sports and business:

  • Duke University basketball coach Mike Kryzewski (Coach K) has won five national championships with various teams and more than 1,000 total victories. He has an effective mantra called “next play” that lifts players following an error and maintains their focus on the next play to come. It can keep them from lingering too long on negative thoughts about what could have gone wrong and puts focus back on the present. Wouldn’t it be great if every business could adopt a “next play” philosophy? It’s OK for leaders and employees to evaluate mistakes and learn from them. But those mistakes shouldn’t guide everyday work – teams should focus on the present and future.
  • Apple’s mantra of “Think different” reinforces a culture focuses on creativity. Regardless of whether your business is in the tech sector, it never hurts to support and reward innovation, such as new ways to deliver products, filling gaps in customer needs or simply working more efficiently.
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson used his father’s past question regarding his NFL dreams of “Why not you?” to help motivate his team with “Why not us?” and Wilson helped lead the Seahawks in their 2014 Super Bowl win. Sure, we can’t credit the mantra for all of the team’s success, but it’s a great example of future vision. Further, it helps focus on actions to solve problems rather than complaining about a situation. (“Somebody has to take the lead on improving morale on the team. Why not me?”)
  • Google’s “Don’t be evil” mantra paints an excellent picture for staying on track and doing the right thing. Developed by engineer Amit Patel, the phrase has guided everything from keeping search engine results based on algorithms instead of sales to human resources department values.


Mantras don’t have to be catchy, but a catchy phrase might be easier to remember. Use brainstorming to develop your own company mantra. Chances are that your mantra is evident within your mission and vision or in recent strategy documents. Choose concise words that help employees focus and stay inspired. If you need help developing a personal or team mantra, contact Success Factors Inc. (  (425-485-3221).

A Baker’s Dozen Tips

A Baker’s Dozen Tips

The baker’s dozen, or adding a thirteenth baked good when a customer orders a dozen, might have originated as a way to avoid weight penalty for orders of bread loaves hundreds of years ago, but today it’s going above and beyond to please a customer. A bonus, if you will, rather than a hedge against penalty.

When hiring, grooming or promoting employees, you can spot those who go above and beyond, who always throw in the extra bagel when given an assignment. At Success Factors Inc, we also go the extra mile for customers, and today we offer our own baker’s dozen of tips for individual and organizational success!

Tips from Success Factors, Inc: A Baker’s Dozen

  1. Never put off until tomorrow… don’t procrastinate! Even small steps toward your vision help.
  2. . . . but be patient, persevering through setbacks.
  3. Update your mindset and behavior. Believe in your vision and see success in your future.
  4. Approach challenges with the certainty that success will overcome these or other challenges in the future.
  5. Take stock of challenges you’ve already overcome and incremental success.
  6. Be fearless and take risks.
  7. Seek advice and support from mentors and those you trust and admire.
  8. Keep yourself from getting in your own way. In other words, examine your beliefs, circumstances and confidence. Don’t be your own worst enemy!
  9. Remember only you are in control. You choose how to approach your vision and how to react to others or to problems along the way.
  10. When stalled, record the reasons. Then listen, learn and be amazed.
  11. Take it day by day.
  12. Celebrate achievements.
  13. Get help from a coach.

We’ve talked to so many successful professionals and can help guide your Fast Track to Success. Learn more about our baker’s dozen tips and how a Success Factors, Inc. coach or program can help you grow and achieve your success initiative. Call us today! (425-485-3221)

Breakthroughs Make, not Break, Your Business

Think about the business successes and self-starters foremost in your mind. How many successes resulted from just plugging along and even getting lucky, and how many occurred following a breakthrough?

 Let’s look at an example or two: Microsoft could have continued selling packaged Office software, along with the associated manufacturing, design and packaging costs involved. But instead, the company had (another) breakthrough: Office 365, a Cloud-based subscription for the company’s popular Office programs and tools. The company reported a 10 percent spike in revenue at the end of January, and Office 365 is a big chunk of the consumer and commercial earnings pie.
Microsoft might have “shaved off” costs and improved their product, but Dollar Shave Club used a subscription service to revolutionize a segment of the personal care business. Founder Michael Dubin is more than an innovator; his breakthrough idea solved a problem for men frustrated by making it easier, and affordable, to buy razor cartridges. He started the business from his home and by year three, had $65 million in revenue. A simple problem with a simple, but breakthrough solution.

Is your business, or some aspect of it, in need of a breakthrough? Are you out of ideas? But wait, do you have a team of managers and staff? Hmmm… maybe one of them has the sort of breakthrough idea or solution you need to reach the next level.
Here’s what you most likely need for that big breakthrough:
  • A willingness to take a risk. Individuals and companies that stand out do so because they risk going beyond the norm or relying on soft data (because hard data might not be there for a truly innovative idea). This also means taking a measured risk on the intellectual capital in your company – your people.
  • Expert help from innovative people who know your company, customers or industry. Sure, you have experts in product development or sales. But have you ever asked a salesperson to help drive product redesign? Have your product development people ever talked to a customer? Think outside the norms of departments, protocols and pecking orders.
  • A desire to change “business as usual.” Unless you’re willing to let go of some tradition or structure, you might not reach the breakthrough you’re looking for.
  • A culture that rewards innovation and breakthrough thinking. The only way intrapreneurs and truly creative employees can come up with the next breakthrough solution is if they are empowered to do so, whether formally or informally.
If you need help getting to a breakthrough, we can help. Learn more about our services, including our Fast Track to Success program that can help you and your team be more engaged and innovative. Or check out our turn-key Success Factors Program for coaches, facilitators and consultants who can guide you long term. This exciting program with powerful outcomes can be yours! Call us today (425-485-3221).

Five Ways To Engage Employees from Day One

Engaged employees are positive, energetic and passionate members of your team who help you grow your business. When employees are engaged, they tend to perform up to or above their skill levels and support your organization’s vision. Here are five ways to help ensure new employees are engaged from day one on the job:

1. Review and modify your orientation. Employees want information about benefits and policies. However, if your employee orientation is nothing but paperwork and a repetition of the information they can read in the employee manual, you’ll likely drain some of the excitement and passion the new hires woke up with on their first day. Instead, capture their passion by also including their role in your organization’s vision as soon as possible when they walk through the door.


Engage new employees by getting them involved right away. Help them see how every task they complete or decision they make contributes to the vision. And let them know that their work is valued in your corporate culture.

2. Place a focus on the on-boarding process. If you get new hires involved early in their probationary period, you develop positive skills and minimize negatives. New hires should feel welcome and appreciated. For example, if you hire an employee who helped organize the holiday party at his last job, introduce him to the leader of the holiday party team, even if he joins the company in May. Use on-boarding software programs to offer new hires a menu of choices, including the ability to choose teams or activities that interest them most.


3. Create and support a culture of engagement. Engaging new hires only works if your culture supports it. Otherwise, your new employees and their ideas or participation can get shot down. To create a culture of engagement, nurture relationships and communicate openly. Recognize and reward evidence of passion, perseverance and vision in employees and teams.


4. Follow through on statements and promises. Having an engaged culture with feedback and open communication helps ensure that you follow through on “promises” made to new hires. That includes practicing what you preach. In other words, if you say during orientation or on-boarding that managers follow up on suggestions, develop the time or structure to make sure it happens. Otherwise, new workers can become discouraged if their early enthusiasm hits a dead end.


5. Start giving feedback right away. To retain promising new hires, make sure they get feedback right away. Waiting until they’ve been there a year and then presenting a formal evaluation ties more to compensation than success. Try to ensure that feedback is constructive and positive, but honest. And provide more detail than “You’re doing fine.” Consider coaching  for new employees who show promise and evidence of success factors.

I would love to hear from you about your success in your company. Please call at 425-485-3221 or email Montoya at You could also contact me if there is a topic you would like to hear more about. We love new ideas!