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Entries in Executive Insights (25)


The Results Are In: Business Performance Predictions for 2015

In December, we asked about your business performance predictions for the new year, and according to the results of our poll, there’s a lot of optimism surrounding 2015.

Of those who participated in the poll, 46% expect to see exponential business growth this year, while 31% expect their business performance to remain steady, but unchanged from 2014. And, 17% of respondents said they believe they would see a decrease in business volume, which is up from last year.

Another 6% of respondents selected the “Other” option and submitted their own predictions, including:

  • Uncertain, but hopeful
  • Will experience additional growth, but only in some areas of business
  • Soft economy ups and downs throughout the year, but no substantial growth

Year-over-year results
This is the third year we’ve asked this same question, and the overall trend has been more or less positive, with a most notable decrease in the number of respondents who expect to see a slowdown in business performance from year to year.

Business Performance Predictions for 2014:

  • Expect to see exponential growth – 50%
  • Expect to remain steady, but unchanged – 43%
  • Expect to see a decrease in business activity – 7%

Business Performance Predictions for 2013:

  • Expect to see exponential growth – 43%
  • Expect to remain steady, but unchanged – 31%
  • Expect to see a decrease in business activity – 26%

Significant obstacles to success are looming
While the overall trend for the past few years has been positive, there are many challenges that businesses are being forced to address that have the potential to derail the forward momentum.

Bersin by Deloitte, a business services and research company, recently released their “Predictions for 2015” report that hits on many of the key trends that have been making a significant impact on business, and will likely become even more significant in the year ahead.

A few key insights from the report include:

1. Employee engagement and retention issues will continue to be a major challenge

“Low engagement today is a significant business risk. In today’s transparent job market, employment brand and employee engagement have become synonymous. If people are unhappy at work, then they are likely telling others—making it harder to hire good people. So, a focus on engagement is a high priority everywhere.”

2. Workers are overwhelmed, and it’s time to take more significant steps to address it

“Deloitte’s global human capital trends research shows that more than two-thirds of all organizations believe that their employees are “overwhelmed” with too much information, too many projects, too many meetings and phone calls, and an always-on 24×7 work environment.”

3. Skilled workers are at a premium, and will continue to be a major driver of competition

“Almost every research study we perform (and most of the ones we read) talks about the scarcity of critical skills in the workforce—this problem never seems to go away. As technology and business trends evolve, professionals at all levels have to continuously reskill themselves to stay current and relevant.”

You can download Bersin by Deloitte’s full “Predictions for 2015” report here.

What are your predictions for the new year? What are the biggest obstacles standing in your way? Let us know in the comments section below.

Refresh Leadership is brought to you by Express Employment Professionals.
by  on January 15, 2015 in Executive InsightsSurveys, Polls, and Infographics 


Self-Sabotage: 3 Ways We Get in Our Own Way

There are plenty of things that make your role as leader difficult – troublesome employees, small budgets, technology problems, demanding customers. But, if you’re having problems within your company and you’re having trouble pin-pointing the cause, there might be one other place you should look. Try taking a good look in the mirror, because sometimes the problem is actually you.

Nothing is more damaging, or frustrating, than when you get in your own way. So check out these three forms of self-sabotage and make sure you aren’t behind your workplace woes.

Avoiding Taking Responsibility
Admitting you were wrong, taking responsibility, and apologizing is hard for anyone to do, and it can be especially difficult for leaders because there often people who look to them for guidance. Your reputation is a valuable asset.  Not taking responsibility for your own actions is one of the biggest forms of self-sabotage and could have a significant impact on how you are viewed as a leader.

In an article in Forbes, contributing author Erika Anderson explains, “Apologizing freely requires a good deal of courage. It’s not comfortable for any of us to admit an error, or to acknowledge that something we’ve done has caused others harm or inconvenience.” However the consequences of being courageous and honest are actually usually positive. “When someone truly apologizes, we know he or she is putting honesty and honor above personal comfort or self-protection.  It’s inspiring, and it feels brave.” And generally employees, customers, and the public respond quite well to brave, inspirational leaders.

Not Standing Up
Similarly, leaders who fail to stand up for what’s right, best for their team, or in the best interests of the business are severely damaging their reputation and influence. Most leaders have others, who are higher up, that they have to answer to, from top executives to share holders. And that can often place you in uncomfortable positions.

But, the reality is that, as another Forbes article reveals, Leaders that don’t stand up for what they believe in are difficult to respect and trust. Too many leaders today battle the gulf between assimilation and authenticity.” That, in turn, causes more problems as “it becomes a challenge (for others) to trust their judgment, self-confidence, self-awareness and overall capabilities.”

Giving Advice Too Quickly
Another type of self-sabotage that is easy to slip into is spoon-feeding your employees. In an article forInc. magazine, Jay Steinfeld, founder and CEO of and advocate for amazing (and profitable) company culture, explains “many bosses do more harm than good by not encouraging a culture where employees self-evaluate and think for themselves. When employees need help, rather than just give them the answer, it’s better to ask them to propose solutions. Then try to understand how they came up with those proposals.”

Whether giving advice too quickly stems from a sincere desire to help others or a need to control, it’s doing more harm than good. You’re not only sabotaging your own efforts and leadership position, you’re also sabotaging your employees’ and company’s future growth and performance. Successful businesses need workers who can think for themselves, and employees can’t gain that ability until they’re allowed the opportunity to do their own thinking.

You’ve worked hard to get where you’re at today, so don’t let your own actions sabotage your career. Take an honest look at yourself and see if you are getting in your way. All that might be needed to get you back on track is some slight attitude and behavior changes.

How have you self-sabotaged your career? What behaviors from leaders often seem to be counter-productive? Share your experiences with us below.


5 Tips for Discovering Your Company’s Next Big Innovative Idea

If you’re not constantly innovating and staying on the cutting edge of your industry, the competition will very quickly pass you by. In today’s highly competitive business environment, staying ahead of consumers’ changing tastes is the key to building and maintaining a successful company. But, what happens when you hit a roadblock and the new ideas seem to stop coming? It may be time to change the way you’re seeking out that next big innovation.

Flip the Flops
In 1968, a 3M Company scientist had been working on developing a super-strong adhesive, but due to miscalculations along the way, he inadvertently created a reusable, pressure sensitive adhesive. The new “low-tack” adhesive formula really didn’t have much value until 1974 when another 3M colleague had the idea to use it to anchor a bookmark in his choir hymnal, and at that moment the idea for Post-It Notes was born.

  • The Lesson: When one project falls flat, don’t immediately write it off as a flop and move on to the next thing. Take a closer look from a different angle. You may find an even bigger idea waiting to be discovered.

Think About What’s Missing
Friends since childhood, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield decided to open an ice cream shop together in a renovated gas station in Burlington, VT, for two main reasons: it was a fun college town and, more importantly, it didn’t already have an ice cream shop. Their venture was a resounding success, which led to more locations, more flavors, and eventually the Ben & Jerry’s brand we all know and love today.

  • The Lesson: Instead of thinking about what you have, focus on what’s missing. Sometimes big ideas are hiding in the voids. Who knows if Ben and Jerry would have been as successful had they started in a saturated ice cream market?

Embrace the Absurd
When looking for your “game changer,” don’t be afraid to embrace the absurd, because you never know what may strike a chord with your audience. Think about all the products that have been hocked on late-night infomercials throughout the years – the SnuggieDogglesBig Mouth Billy Bass, the Pocket Fisherman. They were all seemingly ridiculous ideas that ended up making millions. In fact, the Snuggie has brought in more than $500 million in sales since its debut.

  • The Lesson: Don’t dismiss a silly idea simply because it sounds too weird to work. That may very well end up being exactly why it works.

Make It Easier
More than 50 years ago, a Minnesota turkey farmer visited his local welding and repair shop looking for a faster, easier way to clean out his pole barns. The resulting machine became the predecessor to the modern Bobcat skid-steer loader. Today, Bobcat Company is the leader in the compact equipment industry and a mainstay of construction sites around the world.

  • The Lesson: Even if it’s not broken, you can still try to fix it. Think about the things you already do every day, and ask yourself if there’s a better way.

Don’t Throw Out the Trash
Today, we know Mattel as one the biggest toymakers in the world, responsible for iconic brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, but did you know they got their start making picture frames in 1945? It wasn’t until one of the founders started making dollhouse furniture with the leftover frame scraps that their focus shifted to toys.

  • The Lesson: We’ve all heard the old idiom “waste not, want not.” Even if you already have a successful product or service, there may be a big idea you’ve overlooked among the scraps.

How do you generate big ideas for your company? What are some ways you inspire your employees to think outside the box? Let us know in the comments section below.


Seed of Leadership

Once upon a time, there was an elderly, benevolent king who had served and led his people well for many years.  As all good leaders do, the king was aware of his own mortality and was planning for the day he stepped down from the throne. As this king had no heir, the law of the land called for him to appoint the next king.

When he knew the time was right, he called all of the elders and servants of the castle to the throne room and told them, “One year from today, I will end my reign as your king, and on that day I will appoint the new ruler of our land.”

Gasps of surprise and murmurs of speculation could be heard throughout the throne room. The king waited until he had regained everyone’s attention and stated, “I am giving each of you one seed to plant and care for over the next year. One year from today, each of you will reconvene here in the throne room to show what harvest you have gleaned from the seed I am giving to you this day.”

Each of the elders, in turn, took a seed from the sack that the king held before him. Then the servants came forward, and each received their seed. Among the last of the servants to approach the throne was a young footman named Phillip. He bowed respectfully, took a seed from the bag held by his king, and rapidly left the throne room. 

Phillip rushed home to his humble cottage that he shared with his young wife. Phillip showed his wife the seed he had received and told her of the king’s plan to select the next ruler. Phillip cleaned their best clay pot, filled it with the most fertile soil he could find, and lovingly planted the seed he had been given. Over the next weeks and months, Phillip and his wife lovingly watered and fertilized the seed, but alas, nothing seemed to be growing in the pot.

While performing his duties in the castle, Phillip heard the other servants and elders bragging and boasting of the voluminous, colorful plants they were cultivating. Phillip and his wife were dejected, but they meticulously cared for the seed in the pot for the rest of the year. 

On the appointed day, all of the king’s elders and servants reconvened in the throne room to present their plants to the king and await his decision as to who would be his successor. The king commented on the lavish and healthy plants everyone had grown, and when it was Phillip’s turn to come forward, he was embarrassed to set before the king an empty pot. The other servants and elders laughed and jeered at Phillip’s obvious failure.

The king stood and raised his hands for silence, then announced, “I am pleased to turn my throne and the leadership of our land over to my honorable and dedicated servant, Phillip.”

Everyone gathered in the throne room stood in stunned silence until the king explained, “One year ago, I gave each of you a seed. All of the seeds had been boiled. They were dead and unable to produce any of the plants you have presented here today. Phillip deserves your allegiance and your honor as he has demonstrated the first and most important element of leadership: that of honesty and integrity.”

As you go through your day today, plant honesty, and you will live happily ever after.

Today’s the day! 

Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK  74145-9082; by email at; or on Facebook at


Peak Performer’s Life: Featuring Walter Bond

Coming soon!

Walter Bond is a dynamic and entertaining speaker. We’re excited about this partnership and look forward to bringing you Bond’s motivational messages each week starting Thursday September 11th.

About Walter Bond
For nearly two decades, Walter Bond has been the premiere expert on peak performance. Walter’s mastery in two different global industries has made him an authority on peak performance. Walter has delivered his entertaining and dynamic message to companies and associations throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Europe. Clients include Accenture, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, The Dwyer Group, Allianz, Amway, GNC, Hilton, Medtronic, UPS Store, Radio Shack, Red Robin, and many national associations.

Walter’s passion for personal development has been anchored by his professional basketball career. Although a reserve throughout his college basketball career at the University of Minnesota, Bond miraculously enjoyed an eight year career while spending time as a shooting guard for teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Detroit Pistons. This is where he learned peak performance truths that he has also applied to a wildly successful speaking career.

Bond’s college basketball career did not say NBA at all. Only hard work, dedication, and commitment got him there. That mentality is what he wants to share with you. Whether it’s a new product launch, hitting sales goals, or gelling as a team, Bond is passionate about sharing his 31 Truths to Boost Peak Performance.

In 2013, Walter appeared as the host of The Food Network’s show, Giving You the Business. Walter was chosen over numerous candidates because of his infectious personality and franchise business experience. Episodes featured restaurants such as Saladworks, Famous Familia, Toppers, and Jersey Mike’s.

For more information about Walter Bond, visit