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).

What does Thanksgiving have to do with increasing your bottom line?

Occasionally I like to draw my readers’ attention to noteworthy articles that they may not have had the time to read. This is a precis of an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal on gratitude: Gratitude is Good for Business (11.24.18).

According to the author, Sam Walker, leaders who instill an ethos of gratitude within their companies tend to do better in terms of bottom line results. Walker used the first Thanksgiving as a “case study in how extraordinary leaders build happy, productive teams.”

As stated by Walker, much research on the happiness factor shows that cheerier workers score “higher on engagement, creativity, loyalty, and retention.” What more could you ask for?!

This conclusion goes hand-in-hand with studies around positive work environments that create in turn high performing teams which outperform others in revenue growth, “sometimes by a factor of two to one.”

Add to that my current research on positive thinking (one of our 9 Success Factors), which shows that positivity allows people to flourish rather than languish in negativity. Positive people create a positive environment which creates a great place to work which in turn creates an amazing culture which in turn creates bottom line profits.

Another interesting study that makes this point was done by KPMG. It found that leaders who shared the company’s vision and mission were viewed by 94% of their workforce as a great place to work. What struck me about this is that vision (another one of our 9 Success Factors) is really the key to so much in life in regards to upward motion, satisfaction, focus, accomplishment, and most importantly, success.

Want to learn more about our 9 Success Factors and how we use them to create high-performing employees and grow leaders? Contact us, we would love to talk to you about our exciting work!

Will You Disrupt for Success or Fall Behind?

You might have a negative reaction when you hear the words “disrupt” or “disruption.” We’re all taught to conform, and certainly to avoid interruptions or “upsetting the apple cart.”

Market disruption occurs when one individual or organization introduces an innovation that indeed upsets the apple cart. But that kind of upset is what drives innovation – new apple cart designs, new ways of keeping apples from spilling out onto the ground. In other words, disruption driven by innovation also drives success, but only for the disruptor and others willing to innovate!

A recent article in eCampus News argued that changes in higher education are not temporary or to be ignored. If anything, changes in education delivery driven by technology (and innovation!), along with customized learning, are leading the education industry into a state of broad disruption. Ignoring and bemoaning these kinds of changes could lead some institutions into declining enrollment and value. Those who acknowledge disruption – like it or not – are more likely to survive or thrive when disruption occurs.

In fact, disruption is so important in markets that CNBC publishes a list each spring of companies that stand out, the ones investors see promise in. Consider a few examples from the 2018 list:

  • Airbnb, which has completely altered how we book travel lodging.
  • 23andMe, the path to a genetics roadmap for individuals to learn ore about their personal genomes and researchers to gather treatment-changing data.
  • Rent the Runway, a way to expand your wardrobe by mail. Users can rent clothing for special occasions and then return it.
  • Pinterest for sharing ideas online, which is now 200 million active monthly members strong.

All these companies disrupted their markets with new ideas or new approaches to adding value to their customers. Why buy a $4,000 gown for your daughter’s wedding when you can rent the same gown for $200 and return it in a prepaid mailer?

Are you taking steps in your organization to innovate? Do you ask for and encourage the kind of thinking and approaches that disrupt the status quo and maybe an entire market? If not, it’s time to look forward and see the vision and possibilities of a future designed by you. That’s a lot better than looking at the backs of your competitors speeding away.

SuccessFactorInc.Net’s 9 Success Factors include two that lead to the sort of market disruption that propels you above the crowd: Risk-taking and creativity. They work hand in hand to bring forth innovation. That’s because you can have great ideas but be afraid to try them, or you can take risks without a creative plan to add value people need. Combine them for innovation and you’re golden.

The SuccessFactorsInc.Net program is a model in how to turn theoretical ideas into disruptors. We get you and your team there through a sequential, proven program. Get results and lead the way. Give us a call at 425-485-3221 or email

Combine Discipline and Creativity for Breakthrough Success

Football – a world of discipline, practice, and plenty of rules. But sometimes, a little improvisation helps a player break through – literally, as in a line of five strong and quick defenders — for long yardage or a touchdown.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is a proponent of creativity, or adding a little bit of art to the discipline of football plays. In a Seattle Times article , Carroll discussed how he lets many of his experienced players take some risks on the field. The article quoted Carroll from a recent podcast as saying: “Being able to take risks is what gives you the chance to do great things.” 

Of course, Carroll also emphasizes that players shouldn’t take every risk they consider. This is where discipline, experience and planning come into play. Sure, you can encourage your employees to “think outside the box” and be more creative in their daily problem-solving or approaches to complex projects. But you can’t let them simply jump from brainstorming to implementing their creative ideas.

Companies, teams and individuals who succeed take calculated risks that consider return on investment, for example. It’s up to the company’s leaders to recognize and encourage creativity in the right people, teams and situations. Carroll can’t let all of his players make instantaneous decisions on the field on every play. As the leader, he supports creative risk-taking when appropriate. And any business leader can do the same. Here’s how:

  1. Identify employees who have commitment and passion. These employees are likely to be more creative, as well as confident enough to take some risks.
  2. Place creativity in the context of solving a business problem. It’s great if employees have new ideas for the break room, but you want creative self-starters to apply those skills to increasing sales, decreasing complaints and of course, improving the bottom line.
  3. The Seahawks’ leadership and players know that solving a business problem with creative approaches requires a team approach. This means encouraging creativity without initiating a culture of “anything goes.” Everyone in the team should support risk-taking and creative approaches to problems.
  4. Come up with a plan. When you can help employees successfully combine discipline, experience and lessons from past mistakes, with their creativity, everyone wins. Although Seahawks players like Earl Thomas make some brilliant plays that go against the norm, they also make some mistakes. It took years for Thomas to develop the discipline and knowledge basis for his snap decisions. Leaders can improve the chance of success among employees by making sure creative ideas are more than ideas – that they come with a plan for success.
  5. Support and encourage activities that promote creativity, commitment, engagement and problem-solving on the job. Seahawks safety Thomas credits drumming as a youngster with his ability to break form. The music is more free flowing and rhythmic.

Learn more about how to spot and develop successful employees and encourage creativity for individual and organizational success at SuccessFactorsInc.Net. Our Fast Track to Success program walks employees through a proven assessment of their success factors, creating possibilities and committing to their vision and ideas. They’ll leave the program with a completed success initiative and the support of our own team of coaches! Give us a call to find out more!

Are you a ‘Mr. Earl’?

I shared the story and video of my high school experience with guidance counselor, ‘Mr. Earl’. And I know most people I speak with – successful or in need of some help from – have their own ‘Mr. Earl’ moments to share.

But what about the flip side of the coin? Are you a ‘Mr. Earl’? And if so, what can and should you do to help others achieve, especially if you supervise or manage employees or lead an organization?

Pros and Cons of ‘Mr. Earls’

I’m sure there are times and places for “honesty” and tough love. But is there ever a time when a supervisor, counselor or other influencer should tell a person he or she is stupid and will never make it at “fill in the blank”? Even if ‘Mr. Earl’ had been right about me, how could he have handled his concerns differently?

Why You Should Check Your Inner ‘Mr. Earl’

Most importantly, what sort of effect can ‘Mr. Earl’ moments from managers have on your company, including employee engagement, turnover and performance?

They say, people don’t quit companies, they quit their managers! In fact, a 2017 a Gallup poll reported that 75 percent of the reasons employees cited for quitting their jobs boiled down to factors their managers could influence. Examples are lack of promotional opportunities, lack of fit for the job, scheduling and inflexibility, and especially the management and general work environments.

What to do instead? Develop Potential and Foster Success!

You can address each of these reasons (above) and to keep your employees engaged and on the path to success. We can help! For example, why not help an employee whose skills or passion don’t quite line up with current job tasks and shift him/her to work that does match? Won’t this flexibility make for a stronger team?

Could you spend more of your time helping develop potential and less time looking for faults or criticizing performance? I’m not asking you to ignore problem behaviors or performance issues, but determine when it’s better to foster skills and talent than try to change a person entirely.

Finally, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and being critical of a person. If ‘Mr. Earl’ had told me he thought I should prepare more for college, he would have seemed a little more supportive, honest and less critical. Even better, he could have based his criticism on facts, such as: “You will have a hard time getting into your desired universities with your current GPA. You need to bring your grades up, or maybe consider community college as a stepping stone.” That might not have been what I wanted to hear, but advice based on reality rather than opinion is much more constructive.

As I said in my speech to University of Southern California women, ‘Mr. Earl’ served as a curious source of power for me. Sometimes, being told you can’t do something gives you more vision, more perseverance. Who’s to say, however, that I – or a fellow student – would have taken the criticism to heart, lost confidence and let it affect self-esteem? And do you want to take that chance with people who work for you, contribute to your department and company bottom line?

It can be too easy to personalize an employee’s shortcomings and voice frustration in a personal manner. Avoid your inner Mr. Earl by taking a step back and looking at the employee’s potential. What value does he or she bring to your team? Is this employee a star and possible self-starter?

Once you look for potential instead of faults, you can develop employees’ talents for the good of the individual and your organization. Learn more about how (425-485-3221)  can help you and your team focus on the passion, power and vision to succeed.

Can You Have One Success Factor Without the Other?


Our research on successful entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs led to hammering out 9 factors they had in common – factors that helped them succeed. And we found the Big Three Success Factors of Vision, Passion and Perseverance as the most critical to star achievers.

Over the years, we’ve helped CEOS, managers, frontline staff and entire teams assess and improve their success factors. And it’s been, well, successful. But let’s take it to the next level and consider how intertwined Vision, Passion and Perseverance are in attaining our goals and achieving the highest pinnacles of success in our personal and professional lives.

Let’s review each Big Three Success Factor:

Vision: All successful endeavors begin with a vision. It’s more than a goal or affirmation – having a Vision connects your dreams and desires with a clear picture of achievement. By asking detailed questions of you or a team, we help you align inner visions with the mission and goals of your organization. Vision inspires possibilities!

Passion: Everyone is passionate about something, whether it’s a hobby, fitness, family or loyalty to one’s organization. Having passion, or a powerful purpose, ignites energy and excitement. Passions typically match a person’s core values, which brings that sense of purpose to bear, and helps employees stay engaged in their work.

Perseverance: Few successful people ever tout their luck or “how easy it really was.” Most overcame adversity and setbacks. Those who have natural perseverance step around obstacles and find alternative ways to succeed. They move through excuses and roadblocks and keep plugging along.

How Vision, Passion and Perseverance Lead to Success

Any of the Big Three Success Factors contributes to success for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and we’ve interviewed and featured many leaders and start-up founders who stood above the crowd for their Vision, Passion or Perseverance.

But let’s look at some of the ways the Big Three Success Factors connect, and even rely on one another. First, Vision is the manifestation of a dream, an internal picture of how success looks. It’s likely a person’s inner vision is based on what he or she wants – success driven by a powerful purpose or core value. In other words, one’s Passion often factors into one’s Vision.

You can work with members of your team to create an organizational vision, but the company’s vision does not always address the inner vision of those who must carry it out. The inner vision is each individual’s clear picture of success. That often means helping individuals align their inner visions with that of the organization and seeing how well they fit. Your most engaged and successful intrapreneurs likely share core values and purposes with your company. Passion and Vision work together!

Passion, Vision and Perseverance work together! Find out how to bring the Big Three Success Factors together for a more engaged and effective team with Success Factors Inc.Net. Find out how at or call us at 425-485-3221.

Four Lessons From a High School Coach

Good coaches can cultivate winning teams, but they also can teach young men and women some life lessons.

I recently came across an article from the Wall Street Journal I had saved since 2011. It was a tribute to – and lessons from – the high school basketball coach of actor David Duchovny. In it, Duchovny personally explains how a high school coach taught him several life lessons and supported him. The support wasn’t coddling, but a refined combination of toughness, kindness and leading by example.

I’ve taken four key lessons from Duchovny’s story that apply to nearly any leader of a team, department or entire company:

  1. Although Duchovny’s coach telling the young man to cut his long hair so he could see seems tough, the coach talked to his players with a degree of respect. As Duchovny said, he never knew whether the coach liked him, but as a teen, the player was firmly aware that the coach saw potential in him. That led to more self-respect. As a manager, do you either bark orders to ensure your status as a leader or attempt behind-the-scenes manipulation to assert your ideas and rules to avoid confrontation? Neither leads to greater employee respect and engagement than direct discussions that show you respect the skills of your team members while knowing you must guide them.
  2. Duchovny said the coach’s approach made him care less about how many points he scored and more to contribute to every aspect of the game. He eventually learned what it was like to perform well for someone else, including for the good of the team. Business leaders can purposefully focus more on “the good of the team/vision/goal” and less on micromanaging or criticizing failure to “score a lot of points.” If you have an employee with big ideas and who cooperates with other members of the team, encourage that behavior. I’m not saying to overlook failed performance expectations, but keep the big picture in mind.
  3. Duchovny also referred to his Princeton coach, who drove his players to be the best they could be, regardless of whether they were at the top of conference standings. The players in turn felt the success that comes with individuals and a team’s feeling they performed at the top of their personal or group level. Sure, your organization wants to be the best, most successful, have the highest profit. But to get there, is it more realistic to drive employees to beat records or to meet realistic goals and strategies and help you reach your shared vision…
  4. After a devastating loss to a rival team, the high school coach came into the locker room. Instead of yelling or expressing disappointment, he simply expressed how much the loss hurt with a personal gesture. Duchovny said the gesture gave him and other players permission to care, and even cry. This was more a life lesson for a group of teenage boys than a coaching fundamental. This doesn’t mean leaders have to reveal personal feelings, but it helps to acknowledge how setbacks affect all involved. it’s yet another form or personal respect and an indirect encouragement to persevere.

When employers and leaders in an organization become coaches instead of referees, they help their team members learn while also supporting their efforts. Managing like a good coach can lead to more engaged workers and more successful teams. Learn more about how you can keep teams performing at their best and employees engaged in your vision from
SuccessFactorsInc.Net or by calling us at 425-485-3221.

Invest in Your Company

Investments are important news as we begin 2018 and continue to break records. I’ve got some ideas about how you can make your earnings grow more in the long term: Invest in your success by investing in yourself and your people.

There’s been no better time in recent years to set money aside to ensure your company’s long-term success. Investing in your vision, and especially your people, makes good business sense. Here are a few ways to invest in success in 2018:

Refine your vision. Is your company now ready to use some earnings for long-awaited expansion of space, product lines or other services? If so, you might need to take another look at your Vision and include key players. Remember, vision inspires possibilities!

Assess employee skills and success factors. Don’t wait for hard times to reassess your staffing or seek new talent to balance your team. This is the time to assess managers and other employees, especially those who show potential, to identify their key strengths. The Miller Success Factors Assessment helps employees and organizations better understand their strengths and talents in detail.

Establish trust and feedback. Mutual trust is critical within an organization. Employees need to trust managers, and leadership should trust employees to do their jobs. It helps when employees receive timely feedback about their performance and when they feel safe and comfortable giving feedback to improve the organization.

Pay for professional development. Once you identify employees with high potential for success, invest in them directly. Motivated self-starters often invest in themselves, but when their organization invests in them, it breeds increased loyalty. It’s worth your while to spend a little time and money to improve the desired skills of all individuals in your organization. It will really pay off to invest in star employees. We’ve found, for example, that participating in our Fast Track to Success! program reduces turnover by energizing and inspiring employees who want to stay and see your vision through.

When you invest in your vision and people, you lay the groundwork for a path to success. Let Success Factors Inc. help you invest in the future. Learn more about how we can make your investment in your organization pay off on our  website or by calling us at 425-485-3221.

Values Drive Success

The word “Values” has overlapping and yet distinctive meanings. On the one hand, your values represent importance or benefit of something, whether monetary or not. On the other hand, values are like moral codes, representing principles and standards on which a person might judge what’s important. Of course, the word “value” also can represent a monetary measure. Although the steps you take to identify and act on your core values can lead to monetary success or enhance  your value as a leader, you have to follow core values intrinsic in yourself or your company to get there.

Values guide personal and business ethics, but they also guide how a company sets it vision, mission, strategies and measures of success. How do leaders spot, incorporate and communicate personal and corporate values?

Core Values

Typically, a company’s values are derived from its founder. Changes in leadership or environment might adjust the values, but for the most part, original personal values form the basis for the entire company. Here are a few examples of values in lists for leading companies:

  • Coca-Cola: Integrity, be real.
  • Southwest Airlines: Persevere
  • Starbucks: Creating a culture of warmth and belonging where everyone is welcome.
  • Virgin Airlines: We think customer.
  • IKEA: Daring to be different.

Getting in touch with your own personal values helps you set and stick to a vision of success. And companies striving to set or revamp their missions always should incorporate values of key stakeholders. Finding your own values or those of your corporation boils down to determining what makes you demonstrate success without sacrificing principles, or finding both monetary success and maintaining loyal customers and workers. What brings you joy?

Values and Passion

Speaking of joy, values and passion are inter-related. If, for example, your values emphasize being a good steward of the Earth, you’re probably passionate about sustainability. Or maybe your values are influenced by your religion, and you’re passionate about helping others. No matter the specifics, passions you’ve discovered typically match your core values, and vice versa.

Values might drive your vision and strategies, but passion helps you meet your goals. It establishes and maintains the sense of purpose, and in turn, operating with passion can be listed as a key personal or organizational value.   In other words, one of your values is to love what you do.

Articulate Values and Vision

To ignite passion throughout a team or organization, company leaders must share the core values and vision with managers and individuals. Your most passionate employees will share those values and demonstrate enthusiasm for their jobs without thinking about it – they share the same values.

Most of all, leaders must be honest about their values and model them rather than simply printing them on a poster for the break room. Believe me, there is precedence for meaningless values. In this Harvard Business Review article, author Patrick M. Lencioni lists the corporate values of Enron, a huge energy company charged with committing one of the country’s biggest accounting frauds in history.

So, more than anything, values need to be honest. Living by them can mean some pain along the way. But with perseverance, those individuals and companies that follow their core values are more likely to reach – and especially maintain – success.

Learn how you can incorporate values into your own personal or organizational vision with Success Factors Inc.  Call us today (425-485-3221).


Seven Surefire Ways to Lose Your Best Workers

  1. Failing to recognize and reward. Employers don’t have to provide pizza every Friday to reward employees for doing their jobs; they get a paycheck for that. But failing to recognize and reward those extra efforts of teams and individuals is a surefire way to lead them out the door, or at least lose some of the drive and enthusiasm that produced their recent results. Rewards can range from simple expressions of appreciation from leaders to formal recognition programs. The point is to systematically encourage behavior and action you want repeated in this and other employees.
  2. Too much support for the status quo. Sometimes, those at the top begin to resist change. CEOs and other leaders often built companies from the ground up or brought them to the pinnacle of success. But owning the status quo too tightly and becoming stagnant in polices, innovation or employee development can cause some of your most successful self-starters to run for the hills, or at least a career ladder at your competitor.
  3. Playing the blame game. Often, stagnation comes from people pointing fingers rather than innovating. Blaming especially is a problem for managers who throw individuals or team members under the bus. The company culture should show that mistakes are correctable, and managers should be held accountable if they try to pin all issues on their workers.
  4. Being dishonest. Employees don’t want to work for people who lie, no matter the justification. Paternalistic organizations often treat employees as too delicate to know the truth, and they craft misleading communication. The employees you most want to engage and retain are the most likely to be turned off by dishonesty, especially if the lie gets them in hot water with customers or fellow workers.
  5. Failing to communicate. There’s lying, and then there’s not telling. A culture that wants to “protect” employees from bad news such as sinking profits does a disservice to workers and the company at large by withholding information employees might have a right to know. For example, individuals and the all-powerful rumor mill will create their own ideas about why hiring suddenly slows or benefits change.
  6. Micromanaging. Your top performers work hard because they’re driven by internal or external factors. The very people who perform best for your company are the ones most turned off by micromanagement. Second guessing decisions, reviewing everything an employee does, and setting policies that regulate every facet of their work might seem OK to leaders, who just want to make sure things run smoothly. But employees ultimately view these behaviors as lack of trust. You can hand out pizza and days off all you want, but workers who feel they are not trusted to do their jobs won’t feel their skills and commitment are appreciated on a day-to-day basis.
  7. Worrying about the wrong things. Sometimes, micromanaging stems from worry and a focus on trying to control everything that happens in a workplace. It’s impossible to control every behavior and action that takes place under your roof or brand. Employees need guidelines that pave the way, but top performers need some room to breathe. If you knee-jerk react to any employee problem with new rules confining everyone’s performance or contradicting company and employee values, you lose much more than you gain. Focus on what’s most important.


The best employees make your company even better. Engage and retain workers headed for success. We can help you identify and engage top performers with our Fast Track to Success program. Learn more here or by calling us at 425-485-3221.