Build a World Class Culture


Why World-Class Cultures Are Critical for Lasting Competitive Advantage.
Seems like “culture-building” is all the rave in organizations these days.
Not sure why it’s taken so long for organizations to re-consider the cultures they created. This is something anyone tasked with running a business, leading a team, or recruiting and retaining top talent deals with on a nearly constant basis…or SHOULD.
In my prior life in Corporate America I led many teams through significant transformation, and in my work as an organizational coach I have talked to thousands of business owners, partners, executives, leaders, and HR folks about their challenges building a place that rising stars would want to work at.
They are looking for a new breed of worker. They want (NEED, in fact) people who WANT to commit to them unconditionally, but won’t because of their flawed cultures.
They’re looking to recruit (and keep) people who exhibit exceptional characteristics including: strive to perform at the height of their abilities, share their employer’s ethics and values, are willing to take risks and embrace challenges, want to contribute to their organization’s risk, perform meaningful work, and care enough about that organization to do everything in their power for the organization to succeed.
But a major challenge organizations face that often prevents them from being able to recruit Superhero employees is an abject lack of empathy and caring. These organizations don’t respect their employees, they don’t invest in them with training and development, don’t offer coaching/mentoring programs, don’t believe in job rotations, offer little in the way of meaningful benefits, don’t believe in self-directed/managed teams, don’t strive to build trust, don’t subscribe to ethical behavior, nor do they have a moral compass (other than maximizing profits and reducing costs.)
Making matters even more complicated when it pertains to building a strong culture is, there are actually two types of culture. An organization’s FORMAL culture is entirely aspirational. It’s what the organization WANTS to be/become, or believes it is. That may have little or no basis in reality, when factoring considering its INFORMAL culture. The informal culture is how the organization feel like, and how it behaves when it thinks no one is watching.
Is it any wonder therefore that talented employees would not be caught dead committing to employers that only have to offer stifling, toxic, dead end cultures with no motivation, challenging work, shared sense of mission, teamwork and collaboration, advancement, causes they care passionately about?
Does this describe YOU…your employees…where you work?
If so, here’s why…according to a 2015 survey by the Human Capital Media Advisory Group:

  • Only 44% of HR practitioners admitted their organizations hire people who “fit” their culture.
  • Even though 70% of the survey’s respondents said their organizations wanted to build culture, missions and values only about a third said that culture was built into the work their employees perform.
  • Many companies (68%) said they seek to change their culture, in order to improve their employee engagement.
    THAT is why I created a webinar: “Build Your World-Class Culture…NOW!”
    To help you (and your organization) change your culture. Create a workplace where your people are engaged, collaborate willingly, don’t harbor resentment or have political agendas, and are striving constantly to achieve maximum productivity.
    Want to maximize your profits by driving revenue sky high while finding new creative ways to reduce costs?
    Then join me on Tuesday, February 14th from 12-1pm EST! During the webinar I’ll tell you how to:

  • Re-position your organization in the hearts and minds of others by revisiting your vision, mission, values.
  • Define the type of people you want to work with, including suppliers, contractors, vendors, the media…everyone!
  • Master your storytelling -tell what sets your organization apart. Engage others with your history, key achievements and most importantly…WHY you do what you do…your purpose!
  • Ethical organizations outperform their competitors!
  • Treat your employees like valued partners for optimal engagement and retention.
  • Implement Reward & Recognition, Coaching/Mentoring, Employee Idea, and Town Hall programs.
  • Intrinsic v.s Extrinsic motivation.
  • Define and RECRUIT the attributes of STAR performers.
    Not only is it FREE but as an extra incentive I’ll email you my e-book “Apply Innovation & Creativity in Your Organization” when you register.
    Sound like something you’d be interested in attending?
    If so, register here. Here’s to your success in 2017!
    Here’s to your continued success in 2017!

    – Ethan

  • Become the Transformational Leader You Always Aspired to.

    Why managing is damaging, and leadership is empowering.
    In response to the age old question: “Are great leaders born or made?”…the answer is an emphatic… “YES” to BOTH!
    While there are certain characteristics that all great leaders naturally possess (social engagement, extroversion, and one’s ability to communicate all come to mind) it IS possible to learn HOW to become a leader that others will willingly follow through times of chaos, hardship and danger.
    AND….they will follow a transformational leader WILLINGLY. Why? Because they trust you have their best interest at heart. They share their leader’s vision, values, and a strong driving commitment to change the order of things, and make the world a better place for future generations.
    Leaders are individuals that truly believe that a rising tide lifts all ships. They understand the value in, and desire to excel at, emotional intelligence and possess a strong moral compass and emotional quotient (EQ).
    EQ is a person’s ability to:
    Perceive emotions in themselves (emotional awareness)
    Regulate their own emotions (emotional management)
    Identify the emotions of others (social awareness)
    Nurture powerful relationships with others (social management)
    People often mistake effective leadership with management. Management as an organizational behavior is DETRIMENTAL to long term success. LEADERSHIP is critically important. Here’s a cheat sheet of the significant differences:
    Want to learn how you can become a leader that transforms the lives, careers, and performance of others?
    I invite you to attend my FREE webinar: “Become the transformational leader you always aspired to be.”
    As a result of attending this engaging, entertaining and informative talk you will learn how to:
    * Understand the key difference between leading and managing;
    * Identify your personal leadership “style” and how to play to your strengths;
    * Become Emotionally Intelligent in all your social and professional relationships for more meaningful connections;
    * Realize why trust, empathy and loyalty REALLY matter;
    * Discover what makes great leaders…well…GREAT!;
    * Apply immediately actionable strategies to become a leader by developing your very own leadership action plan.
    * And as my added THANKS, I will send you my presentation: “Build a world-class culture in your organization” when you register.
    The webinar is Tuesday, Jan. 24 1:00-1:45 pm EST.
    Register Here.
    “Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.” – St. Augustine
    Here’s to your success in 2017!

    – Ethan

    The Gig Economy and the Workers That Love/Hate It.

    PART 1 of 2.
    When I was in High School and College, I worked many temporary jobs through staffing agencies. Then early in my professional career, I worked as a recruiter for a national employment agency in Washington, DC.
    Throughout my career in Corporate America I worked with placement agencies and recruiters. Now as a career coach, I have spent the past 6 years working with thousands of job seekers.
    So I am extremely familiar with our 21st Century “Gig” economy, which is also referred to as the sharing, collaborative, peer-to-peer, on-demand, or gift economy. But what is the “gig” economy?
    Independent workers/freelancers select temporary jobs (projects) to work from anywhere, and employers get to select best workers for specific projects. To understand the transforming role of work in America, it will help to understand why our American workforce is becoming a truly alternative workforce and gig employment is growing exponentially?
    Financial pressure is being constantly exerted on organization to reduce costs (staff) and the entrance of the Millennial generation, will represent 4 of 5 workers by 2020. Companies realize significant headcount reductions by using freelancers by saving on office space, benefits, and employee training.
    Temporary positions are common and organizations contract with independent workers for short term engagement projects. Our economy is becoming project work driven to meet peak production periods. Workers must become mini-businesses to find work (clients.)
    The attraction of flexible work arrangements.
    The argument most often made for workers benefiting from the option of working gigs is as follows: you are afforded greater work-life balance as people can choose what they want to do, how long they choose to do it, and when/where they choose to work.
    But there are many drawbacks of committing to work on gigs in lieu of full-time employment. For starters, there is absolutely no economic security, no predictability to work or guarantee of employment, and no power of workers to receive a fair share of profit. A workforce with no safety net, assurances, or power when taken to the extreme.
    Key drivers fueling the gig economy growth.
    There are a number of factors that have driven the rise of the gig economy, namely:
    Post World War II Japanese kaizen, 6-Sigma, lean manufacturing driven by constant process improvement, automation, and…
    A commensurate American (car) manufacturing reaction to Japanese and German import threats leading to significant worker cost containment/reduction in the 1980s by leveraging employee outsourcing, off-shoring by sourcing cheaper labor from third world markets.
    The digital age has facilitated a mobile workforce. Smartphone and mobile technology, that enables workers to work from anywhere any time.
    A shifting cultural and business climate.
    Automation of work flow processes including robotics have led to a significant reduction in the requirement for actual employees.
    There’s an app for that: constant increases in technology solutions automate workflows, leading to a reduction in the need for workers.
    A proliferating independent workforce:
    From a JobVite annual survey, 19% of American adults who responded said they held gig-type jobs.
    Approximately 54 million Americans claimed to have participated in some type of independent work in 2015.
    1 in 3 Americans can be classified as a freelancer. Further, approximately 1 in 12 US households – 10 million people rely on independent work for more than half of their income.
    The proliferation in alternative work is not a strictly American phenomenon. Half of the UK’s working population will be self-employed in the next 5 years, and the European Union saw a 45% increase in the number of independent workers from 2012-2013.
    A study conducted by Intuit found that by 2020, 40% of American workers will be independent contractors.
    A poll by Time, Burston Marsteller, and the Aspen Institute found that 45 million Americans have offered goods and services in this new work model. More than 1/3 made 40% of their income in this new contract economy.
    To wit…sharing/gig economy firms are popping up everywhere. AirBNB, Uber, Lfyte, Fiverr, TaskRabbitt, Upwork, Zirtual, Parcel, Hello Alfred, Love Home Swap, Etsy, One Fine Stay, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk…gig economy players are everywhere.
    Part 2 to follow…

    – Ethan

    To Maximize Your Productivity STOP Multitasking.

    In these harrowing times with so many demands placed on us it can be near impossible to focus on the thing in front of you.  Achieving maximum performance seems so elusive.
    We all have so many demands placed on us between navigating work-life challenges, to doing the work of multiple people on the job, it’s a wonder we can ever accomplish anything.
    What often happens is we attempt to juggle multiple projects simultaneously as we attempt to become MULTITASKING experts as we fight a never-ending tide of distractions.
    Here’s a tip to increase your efficiency and maximize your performance and productivity.
    STOP TRYING TO MULTITASK!  It simply isn’t feasible despite our best intentions.
    Our brains are not hardwired to tackle multiple tasks simultaneously.

    The area of our brains that helps us to get work done and perform the act of multitasking is called the frontal lobe.  It enables us to perform “mental executive functions” or MEFs, for short.
    There are TWO key aspects of MEFs to understand:

    1. Goal Shifting – when we decide to perform one task instead of another; and
    2. Role Activation – every time we switch tasks, we have to change the rules required to perform the task as we move between tasks. When we bounce back and forth between work we have to also change back and forth the rules required to perform each task.

    When we focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task.

    From productivity research conducted into the act of switching between tasks, we know that multitasking can lead to a reduction in productivity by as much as 40%.
    In summary…the human brain simply isn’t built to multi-task.
    But in this day in age where we have so many simultaneous requirements placed on us, we simply may be forced to multi-task as a standard mandatory behavior in order to complete everything we need to get done.  If that is the situation you find yourself in, following are a few guidelines that you might be able to implement, in order to maximize your performance.

    1. Know your daily optimal performance peak times and minimize distractions and/or interruptions by establishing block out periods.

    Set out of office email messages even while you’re IN THE OFFICE.
    Use out of office messages that say you are IN THE OFFICE BUT UNDER DEADLINE and indicate when you will be available. To maximize your peak performance times, you can do so with out of office phone messages, as well.

    1. Discover the invaluable art and skill of DELEGATING. Some guidelines for delegating:
    • Ask yourself: “What’s the BEST use of my time?” Whatever you do that is not in your productivity wheelhouse MUST be delegated.
    • Stop refusing to delegate because it takes more time to explain the work involved then to do it yourself. This creates a vicious cycle of you not being able to get those recurring low value tasks off your plate.
    •  Can someone else do it better? You are not a TEN in everything. Choose who is best to delegate to.  That goes for the home as well as work.
    •  Do you have enough time to delegate? Remember, there are 168 hours of the week, when you start subtracting the sleep, cooking, shores, etc. that number dwindles quickly.
    •  Will this task recur again? If there is any way to plan for someone else taking ownership by all means delegate away.
    •  Is this a task that I should delegate?
    •  Avoid the boomerang (No “backsies”) Do not let people come back to you for excessive help in completing tasks.

    Check out this nice list of delegation tips.

    1. Become diligent in planning by using the PLAN – DO – REVIEW process. Set daily, weekly, quarterly and annual goals. At the end of every time period (day, week, month…etc.) revisit those goals and assess how you performed.  Following is a really useful daily workflow process. (Sourced from Martin Yate.)

    At the end of each and every day, review what you’ve accomplished:

    • What happened: a.m. and p.m.?
    • What went well? Do more of it.
    • What went wrong? How do I fix it?
    • What projects do I need to move forward tomorrow?
    • List all tomorrow’s activities and rank the importance of each one:

    – Must be completed by end of day;
    – Good to be completed by end of day; and
    – To be completed if there is spare time from A and B priorities.

    • Make a prioritized To Do list, with every activity rated A, B, or C.
    • Stick to your prioritized list as much as possible.


    1. Stay organized.  Fight the natural tendency of all things to gravitate towards DIS-order (it’s called ENTROPY.) Plan processes, automate workflows to in effect only touch a piece of paper once. Create files to “dump” papers, articles, forms into so you can go back and re-organize/sort later.  Once a month have a file purge party and throw away all files, papers, forms, not touched in the past 30 days.

    Here’s to your continued success in 2016!
    – Ethan

    Is Arrogance Limiting Your FULL Potential


    Do you suffer from “Arrogance?”  Is your arrogance hurting your career and/or your business?
    Arrogance is defined as:
    “…an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people. Showing an offensive attitude of superiority” (

    Arrogance entails propping yourself up – whether it’s through public displays or to yourself.  It often involves knocking others down, at the same time. It is generally defined as all of the following:
    The act or habit of making undue claims in an overbearing manner;
    That species of pride which consists in exorbitant claims of rank, dignity, estimation, or power, or which exalts the worth or importance of the person to an undue degree; and
    Proud contempt of others.
    Other names for arrogance are: egotism, conceit, grandiosity, and self-importance.  Ancient Greek literature refers to hubris, a form of arrogance in which a person thinks himself to be higher in status than other ordinary mortals. In other words, a god.  Such behavior typically can be traced back to an individual’s early childhood and the fear of their OWN vulnerability to negative perceptions that others have of them, such as:
    Being vulnerable to any kind of criticism or disapproval.
    Any perceived weakness, failing or imperfection is undesirable and unacceptable.
    If I show any of my real weaknesses, failings or imperfections, it could be disastrous.

    Hence, showing vulnerability in the eyes of others becomes unacceptable and frightening. The coping mechanism these individuals employ to manage their fear is tomanipulate others’ perceptions—to ensure that there is never anything for them to disapprove of or criticize.
    Perhaps you achieved a fair measure of success or were given a high ranking position, which led you to take on an inflated sense of yourself.  This likely has manifested itself in a heightened sense of your own self-importance which is the classic definition of arrogance.
    Following is a short list of questions you can and should ask yourself, to gauge the degree of hubris you possess.  You have to answer truthfully.

    1. Do you find yourself often dismissing the ideas of others off-hand and without consideration, because you think you are more experienced, seasoned, or possess a better insight or their insights cannot help you?
    2. Do you assume that your business cannot possibly lose market share from that upstart that lacks your size, resources, and time spent in business?
    3. Do you think your employees perform at high enough levels of productivity, and do not require additional training, motivation, rewards and recognition from you?
    4. Do you avoid soliciting ideas from your employees, friends, family, peers as a general practice?
    5. Are you confident you know everything there is to know about your business, the industry you compete in, your clients, vendors, and employees?  HINT: If you answered YES to this, drop your pen right now, because you ARE arrogant.  There simply is NO way we can know everything there is to know about ANYTHING.
    6. Would you ever consider hiring an outsider (a coach, mentor, consultant, adviser, confidant) to help you improve your professional acumen and business operations?
    7. When was the last time you said the words “I WAS WRONG” and… “I’M SORRY.”

    By answering multiple questions in the affirmative, you likely possess a degree of arrogance, which may pose a threat to your career, professional and business goals.
    Arrogance can have an extremely debilitating effect on those people that are incapable of seeing the value in others.  For starters, arrogance can lead to complacency.  Arrogance can lead to the false belief that one is capable of resolving all the challenges one encounters in these constantly changing times without assistance from others.
    Excessive pride can cause one to make careless and unnecessary mistakes due to a lack of wise judgement.  You may trust too much in your instincts and abilities, underestimate the situation or the capabilities of your competitors, overestimate the loyalty you have built with your clients, employees, vendors and other stakeholders.
    Arrogance can cloud your judgement and make you lose touch with reality, which will always lead to failure.

    Being arrogance can lead us not to seek out and heed the advice of others and to the extreme can and will serve to alienate the people you trust most and rely on.  Arrogance is a personality trait that is universally despised.
    If you ever find yourself exhibiting such behavior and truly wish to stop, here are a few suggestions I work with my clients to implement on a routine basis.

    1. Give meaningful compliments by citing specific accomplishments that others have achieved. Don’t say “You did great work.” That’s meaningless. Cite specific examples of the challenge they faced, the action(s) they took, and the results achieved.
    2. Learn to ask questions, then listen HARD!  Listening at 100% and being FULLY engaged is truly one of the hardest things to do but is so rewarding.
    3. Give credit to others, rather than taking it all for yourself.
    4. Admit when you’re wrong. It is NOT a sign of weakness, but rather of incredible strength.
    5. Laugh at yourself.  Don’t be so quick to take offense.

    Remember you have limitations, you’re not perfect so you can constantly learn from experiences AND OTHERS if only you open yourself up to the possibility of achieving true growth and becoming a better person.
    Remember above all else, that life is a journey and NOT a destination.
    Here’s to your continued success in 2016.
    Here’s to your continued success in 2016!

    – Ethan

    Driving Innovation Moonshots the Google Way

    On Tuesday, June 14th I attended a talk given by Chris Morgan and Samir Janjeva of Google at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce in New York City during its Marketing Week series of events entitled: “The Evolution of the Customer Journey.”

    Chris and Samir shared their insights into how Google constantly and with singular focus strives to find innovative solutions that deliver transformational solutions to the challenges facing its users.
    The moonshot approach Google employs is frankly one that EVERY organization should undertake, if they truly care about creating a world-class culture AND being servant masters that seek out brave new worlds.
    Here’s how this innovation-driven company-wide initiative works:
    Google strongly encourages each of its employees to take ONE day EVERY week (that’s 20% of ALL their time at Google) in the pursuit of innovative solutions that challenge/resolve the issues we face in today’s chaotic times.
    Google founded its Project X initiative in order to  formally allocate resources and business vision, mission and strategy towards that lofty goal.

    Check out this amazing TED talk by Astro Teller, the Head of “X” (formerly theGoogle X Project).  Moonshots address consumer huge problems and apply breakthrough technologies to deliver radical solutions such as: Google Glasses, self driving cars, Project Loon, etc.  For additional insights on how such an employee-driven innovation program actually works, go to

    The driving principle or ideology behind this approach is to always focus first on the user, and then secondarily profit as an outcome (desired solution), NOT your primary/singular goal.  Can YOUR organization make such a claim?  The true challenge from an organizational perspective is to attempt in everything you do to find a solution that has a 10 TIMES multiplier positive impact on humanity, not some relatively insignificant 10% incremental and temporary rise in (sales) performance.
    So, how is YOUR organization going to change the world?  Do you REALLY want to build a “world-class” culture?  Are you REALLY focused with a singular mission on unleashing your people’s untapped potential to solve the world’s problems? To start, begin with a passion for leading innovation by applying creative solutions to the challenges we face.
    Here’s to your continued success in 2016!

    – Ethan
    The Chazin Group, LLC