Archive: 2012


Just One More Call…

December 26th, 2012

This is the time of year that runs you ragged. We have frayed nerves, tired feet, pounding temples, and it seems like we beg for time off from work only to work harder at home to get ready for festive times with others. However, if you have sales responsibilities – and many of my readers do – then you know this is a time of procrastination. Year end planning. Cleaning out those old files. Getting that database in order, documenting all those meetings, updating all of those opportunities, etc., etc., etc.

If you are not careful you can fall victim and coast through the responsibilities. And that coasting really only hurts you. You think, “No one really will notice because the world is a little sleepy for a few weeks!” However, you have a choice. Work hard today or take the day off. Work hard or play hard. In my book, there is no middle ground. My favorite one liner here is, You cannot stand with one foot in the out house and one foot out of the outhouse! This simply does not work!

So my friends, I am letting you in on a little secret I was taught. It is not my original thinking, but I live it every single day. This is just about work ethic. Make one more call. Send one more email. Plan your day thoroughly. The difference between your success and the person next to you? Well, I just gave you the secret. It’s not updating databases. You must put the time in, know what you’re doing, and be good at what you do, of course.

I have had an ongoing standing bet with my company for years that the easiest appointment to set for new business is the appointment over the Holidays. If you get a decision maker on the phone, they are working for a reason. They are working on real problems, running real departments, buying real solutions from folks like you. But, they won’t if you spend the next two weeks cleaning out your desk. And they can’t if you are convinced that no one does business over the Holidays. Trust me, I will be in. Trust me, I will be making vendor decisions. Go make one more call. Send one more email. Make it count!

What My Dad Showed Me About the Holidays

December 19th, 2012

My dad is a little infamous for being grumpy around the holidays. The merrier those around him got, the harder and longer he would work. At the time, I didn’t quite understand why he worked Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, and…quite frankly almost all the days I saw the other dads take off. They might have been teachers or engineers or had what I considered ‘a normal job’.

You see, my dad was building something: a small company. During that time, some years were hard, maybe even lean or awful. Other years were good or maybe even superb years. But each year his company grew a little bit. He was always there looking over things, insisting that the newest employees or the rookie manager got the time off to spend with their family and friends. This is a Burkhardism to this day. I am not perfect with it, but I come back to it always and live by it. So if you need anything this holiday season, I will be around! I am thankful that my dad taught me this.  But this is about another holiday story…

Many years ago when I was a young boy, I went with my father to the local mall to volunteer and ring the bell for the Salvation Army. My father believes in service and encouraged us to give our time to the cause through his Rotary Club. All kinds of people donate money, but those with the least to give seem to give the most!  At some point throughout the day, a small girl walked by with her mother. The girl was visibly upset and crying loudly. You couldn’t help but overhear the entire conversation between the little girl and her mother. The girl had lost all of her Christmas shopping money, a prized twenty dollar bill, and her cries could be heard across the parking lot. This was quite distressing to the mother, who appeared to perhaps not to be in a place to replace it, and so she struggled to calm her daughter as she searched for the lost money amongst the bystanders.

What was so amazing to me, as I looked around was that everyone seemed to be watching all of this unfold, as if it was happening in super slow motion. No one was doing anything but watching. It was really quite moving. Yet, also quite painful. Then, we all watched as my dad walked up behind them, took a twenty dollar bill out of his pocket, crumpled it, and bent down behind the little girl. “Excuse me,” he said tapping her on the shoulder, “Here is your Christmas money!” It appeared as if he had just found and picked up the girl’s twenty dollar bill. The girl’s face lit up and she smiled, her crying subsiding completely. Her mother let out a big sigh of relief, look towards my dad and mouthed a quick “Thank you” before she and her daughter walked quickly into the mall.

If you know my dad today, then you know that that twenty dollar bill is not as important to him now as it was the day he helped that little girl. But what he taught me was that somebody always needs it more than you. What’s more, he taught me the value of giving. Before that moment, I had always thought that charitable actions were something people did because they had to, or because everyone else was doing it. After watching my dad, and his interactions with the girl and her mother, I realized that those who give to others do it simply because its the right thing to do.

From CBI Group, Placers, and Barton Career Advisors, we hope you will have peace, great thoughts, safety, and your health this Holiday Season!

2012 Happy Holidays Infographic

December 15th, 2012

CBI Group and friends would like to wish our three customers a happy holidays with this first annual, 2012 year in review, holiday infographic!


Introducing Your Culture to New Employees

December 12th, 2012

What do you say to new employees about your culture?

I hope it involves stories, fables, and anecdotes.  Stories stay in the mind long after the first day on the job. After all the introductions, product overviews, and orientation meetings, people remember the stories in the end. What’s more, the messages in the stories are what really stick. I have some favorite stories that I use to bring our cultural values to life. I’ll share one powerful story with you today.

I often start by saying that there will be No Strings here.  I am not a Puppet Master, and you are not a puppet. The strings are a metaphor for tangible tools that managers use to yank us around as employee puppets.  Strings are threats, one-time contests, or traditional leader behaviors that create the typical reward for the right kind of behavior.  This management style is not evil or wrong. This style is just not our culture. No Strings describes freedom of expression. No Strings  means that your motivation is within.  You’re responsible for your own career and development. You’re driven by our set of 20 Outside-In® values.  Your actions and behaviors are congruent with who you want to be and how you want to live your life.

All in all, No Strings is the difference between internal or intrinsic motivation (things like learning, challenging work, respect, fun, growth) and alignment or extrinsic motivation (money, title, power, benefits, company perks, or fancy trips).  Don’t get me wrong,  all of us are motivated to some degree by financial needs.  But, all things considered, they don’t stay that way for long . Given the choice, most of us will choose the learning and fun over some short term performance based threat or bonus to hit a production number.

So, if you’re a leader are you a Puppet Master? If you’re an employee, are you a puppet with strings?

What stories do you tell your employees in their first week? Share them, I dare you! I have told this story three times this week, and hundreds of times in my leadership career. I know that No Strings empowers and creates equality in our flat, ever evolving set of companies.

CBI Group President Talks Workforce Trends at Rotary Club of Wilmington

December 10th, 2012

Wilmington, DE — On November 29th, CBI Group President and CEO Chris Burkhard appeared as the keynote speaker at The Rotary Club of Wilmington. Burkhard emphasized the importance of the increasingly growing trend of short term employment – otherwise known as the contingent workforce – in his presentation, Revisiting the Business of the Wild, Wild West: A Presentation on Trends of the Contingent Workforce.

“I don’t have to tell [you] that running a company is very different today. The world is complex, change is constant, and competition is coming from everywhere. The pace of business is speeding up, too.”, explained Burkhard, “Work is being viewed as one big project today. It may even seem that everything has a time line or end date.”

Burkhard provided context and clarity to a typically complicated topic: the effects of the recent contingent workforce boom, and its impact on future employment. As our economy adapts to globalization and working in a fast-paced digital age, companies need workers who are flexible and who possess highly technical skill sets to complete projects on a timely basis. That is where the contingent workforce maintains its value – and its vitality.

To learn more about the contingent workforce trends (and what the Wild West has to do with it!) you can view the presentation here.

CBI Way: Enhance the Interview Experience

December 5th, 2012

CBI Way blog spot by Lisa Van Ess, Outside-In® Group Lead

Have you ever interviewed for a job, met with five people (four are late), one reads your resume in front of you, and – get this – all five ask the same exact questions circa the 1990’s? Wow! Everyone already knows your strengths and weaknesses! They even know why there is a three year break in work on your resume! You leave thinking, “Why did I bother coming in at all?!

Yes, I have had that interview, too.

One of the great things about CBI Group is that we view our candidates and our applicants as our customers. Therefore, we work to make sure the type of interview experience mentioned above does not happen within our conference room walls. So let me ask you this, as a recruiting professional, how often do you think of the hiring manager as the client? Candidates are probably viewed as inventory, right? Well, if they are, they shouldn’t be….

There is a lot of hype in the ATS community about the Applicant Experience. The movement considers everything from the time it takes to apply online for a position, to the number of times duplicate data entry is performed, to those horrible “Thanks but no thanks. Your resume is on file.” automated responses. So what if you are not the CTO and are dealing with some restrictions on the automated front? Let’s not forget good, old fashioned human touch. Let’s look at planning the interview process.

Here’s a simple and effective way to enhance your client’s and candidates’ interview experiences:

  1. Have an agenda. Make sure each interviewer has a subject to cover with the applicant.
  2. Provide sample questions to each interviewer. These sample questions should be different and unique. This ensures that the hiring decision is made from a fully informed, and well-rounded collection of  perspectives, covering all aspects of the job and cultural requirements.
  3. Leave time for questions.  Give the applicant time to ask questions and/or to wrap-up.
  4. Enclose a rating form for the interviewers. This will accelerate the speed of decision making. Speedy decision making makes applicants happy!
  5. Enclose an Interview Experience Form for the applicant to share with the interview team. (Uh oh! Peer pressure and a little friendly competition to consider!)

Taking one (or all) of these steps will markedly improve the applicant experience. While an interview does not guarantee that the applicant will get the offer – it may mean that they are not the “right person, right now”.  However, your candidate may very well become a paying customer, vendor, partner, or competitor in the future, so be sure to leave every applicant with a great experience.

The CBI Way blog series explores the technology tools used in Talent Acquisition. CBI Way is CBI Group’s recruiting approach and methodology – it’s how we do what we do! Check in with CBI Way for insights around workforce education and training, the latest trends in recruiting technology, and how to best utilize these tools towards improving your own recruiting practices.

What Lincoln Can Teach Us about Leadership

November 28th, 2012

Over the weekend, I took my wife to see Spielberg’s latest movie, Lincoln. The movie is an intimate look at the beloved American president, and also examines the efforts he took to pass the 13th Amendment while ending the Civil War. I am a real history buff and have read several of the books the movie script was based on, including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Most people know Abraham Lincoln through the legends that lend their mystique to his name. To many, he is simply the president that grew up in a log cabin, wrote the Gettysburg Address, and was assassinated at Ford’s Theater. This is how most of us contemplate our sixteenth president.

Not me. I am infatuated with Lincoln’s leadership qualities.  In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Bidwell says it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery of something.  We think that people are simply born with skills or greatness.  Well, I think it is fair to say you really get there by working harder at the skill than anyone else. Lincoln did this when it came to his people skills.  To me, Lincoln was a great leader for so many reasons.  Here are my specific observations from the movie:

Lincoln was masterful in bringing people with differing points-of-view together.  His cabinet was made up of political arch rivals and enemies (not all rewarded friends of the Republican Party).  Lincoln had influence.  Lincoln was a great listener.  Most importantly, Lincoln could persuade with words. In one scene, during a particularly heated cabinet debate about the terms of ending the War, he softened the room with the quote, “I could write shorter sermons but when I get started I’m too lazy to stop!”  He then went on to plead his case for sticking with the plan to abolish slavery by securing the votes for the 13th Amendment in the House of Representatives.

Lincoln led with passion and emotion.  You know he cared deeply for people.  And agonized over his very difficult and trying decisions.  Yet, he had such empathy and feeling. I sense that this is what people really loved him for. During his administration, Lincoln had a poignant political and social task on his hands…and he was forthright about his political intentions. He knew that the only way to solidify the abolition of slavery was to pass a government statute to abolish it. Simply ending the War would not guarantee slaves’ freedom. He needed the 13th Amendment.

Lincoln was an open and transparent leader. In the movie, as Lincoln pleads his case to his cabinet members, he is honest and frank with them. He addresses the use of the Emancipation Proclamation as nothing more than a war tactic. “The fate of human dignity [is] in our hands! Blood’s been spilt to afford us this moment!” he exclaims. At that moment, it’s no longer about passing the 13th Amendment for the sake of maintaining the Union’s power, its about the people the amendment will affect – and liberate. He was truly aware of the morality that was at stake and he had no qualms about showing it.

Lincoln could tell a story, but he could also practice brevity.  Lincoln understood that he could move people through words and through humor. He was a celebrated orator, and his Gettysburg Address is heralded as one of the most significant documents in American history. More so, Lincoln always enjoyed the company of the people he served.  He used stories and anecdotes consistently to prove his points and to pursue his agenda.  My favorite part of the movie is watching Lincoln give a speech at the dedication of a new government building in Washington DC. ” His “speech” is one sentence, and yet so powerful. And the people appreciated it!

Customers Aren’t Sold, They Buy!

November 21st, 2012

I am feeling giddy these days.  This is the time of year to count our blessings and to give thanks for all that we have around us.  I am blessed with friends and family, my health, and a company full of employees, partners, and customers that work together in relative harmony.  Business is good.  The harder we work, the luckier we get.  Now that the barn fell down we can see the moon. When I go slow I go fast.  These are all my favorite Burkhardisms that I use to explain our winning formula.  Regardless, we just try to get a little better as individuals, as teams, as functions, as departments, and across our three companies. Alas, this blog is about selling or as I would say, customer’s buying habits, so let’s get into it.

First off, I would like to address the behavior of those that sell and serve a customer base.  What is your language like as you talk sales in your company?  Do you “stalk” your targets?  Do you find an “angle” to create conversation?  Do you talk about your “pitch” or work on your “ four corner” or “Ben Franklin” close?   I would challenge our choice of words as sales people.  A mark of a successful salesperson is how they act when the customer is not watching!  We need to learn to be authentic, to rid ourselves of stereotypes, and bad one liners.  You know what I mean, too.  Reflect on your last sales meeting internally.  Just how much of  your conversation could a prospect or current customer listen too without making you cringe or be embarrassed.  I listen for inside-out behavior all the time.  That is a leader’s job.  Words matter.  Values matter.  How we act and behave inside our company is hard to hide once we enter our customers place of business.

Why do you ask those questions so early in the meeting?  Prospects hate you for it.  They don’t throw you out because they don’t know how to do it fast.  But they do wince on the inside when they hear them.  Those stupid, early qualifying questions leave their scars.  And you know that you know better.  But, you do it anyway.  You can’t help yourself.  This meeting was so hard to get.  You need to qualify to know how much time to invest in this relationship right?  You have a target to hit. Your so busy with activities.  And networking. And meetings.  You have forgotten something paramount to your success.  You may be likeable.  Your company may be impressive.  Your service might even be something that the prospect needs.

Salespeople are, in general, so shortsighted and have so much urgency, that they simply can’t slow down and think.  We are like three year old’s that want a cookie.  We can’t delay gratification to do things right.  DOING THINGS RIGHT means that you cannot ask any question of your prospect that is only in your best interest.  Try this Litmus test.  Think about why it is of value for your audience to answer your question.  My guess is this:  your question is a fine question.  The problem is when you choose to ask it.

Prospects want to buy, they do NOT want to be sold.

Our Team’s Thanksgiving Pies of Choice

November 20th, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dessert? We have a few family favorites that we’d like to share with you. Enjoy these pie recipes listed below. If you end up trying one for your Thanksgiving dinner, leave us a comment below to let us know how it tastes!  Have a happy and safe holiday with your family!

Chris’ Family Apple Pie
“Is any pie more sure to please, than this all-American favorite!?”

  • 8-inch Pie Dish
  • Pastry for 8-inch, two crust pie
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • 5 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare pastry. Stir together sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; mix with apples. Turn into pastry-lined pie pan; dot with butter. Cover with top crust which has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Cover edge with 2 to 3 inch strip of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil for last 15 minutes of baking.

Bake 40-50 minutes or until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust.

Lisa’s Caramel-Pecan Pumpkin Pie

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup half-and-half
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (9 inch) prepared pie shell
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 3 tablespoons butter

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Beat the eggs, pumpkin, and half-and-half together in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the sugar, flour, lemon zest, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice until evenly blended. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared pie shell. Cover the edges of the pie with aluminum foil strips to prevent burning.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the pecan caramel topping by mixing the brown sugar, pecans, and butter together in a bowl until evenly blended. Carefully spoon over the top of the pie. Continue baking the pie until the topping is golden and bubbly, and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

(recipe from Allrecipes.com)

Colleen’s Coconut Custard Pie

Colleen’s Coconut Custard Pie:

  • 1 ⅓ cups sugar
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 (14oz.) bag sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • ¼ cup evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 unbaked (9 inch) pie shells (if frozen use 9 in. deep dish pie shells)

Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350°
    2. In large bowl, cream the sugar and butter together for about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Fold coconut alternately with milk and evaporated milk. Add vanilla then flour.
    3. Pour into prepared pie crusts and bake for 20 minutes then increase heat to 400° and bake for another 20 minutes.
    4. Cool before serving

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving!

The Top 10 Signs that You Work in an Entrepreneurial-Minded Organization

November 14th, 2012

Ever thought about how entrepreneurial-minded your company was? Being entrepreneurial has nothing to do with the size of the organization or the industry you work in.  There are easy ways to know if your company is supportive of an entrepreneurial way of operating.  Does having an entrepreneurial mindset even matter? Oh, it does. We all like to work differently and have a comfort zone. Think about it. What is your entrepreneurial comfort zone? The following ten descriptions identify the components of an entrepreneurial-minded organization, do any of them sound familiar to you?

10.  You do not have a job description for your role.  Your job allows you the freedom to explore and and help others with business challenges.  Many entrepreneurial companies like Google allow one day a week to work on big or new ideas!  At my company, employees have the freedom to think and join projects of interest – no matter what their job “title” is.

9.  Your company allows you to give back in the community through volunteerism of your choice.  Entrepreneurial companies live, work, play, even worship in the markets they serve and they find a way to give back! Whether its participating in 5Ks, attending charity benefits, or holding donation drives, entrepreneurial-minded companies make sure that they play a part in community service.

8.  Your company has a supportive organizational structure and tries to cut the “red tape”.  Heavy structure and elaborate policies are designed to create order, however, they can really stifle entrepreneurial activity!

7. You have access to resources.  Sounds like an odd one for an entrepreneurial culture where boot-strapping reigns supreme, right?  But the right companies know that the proper access to the right tools, resources, and materials can inspire the spark of The Next Big Thing.  Or many, many little wins that make the company stronger!

6.  You are encouraged to take risks.  You feel like you won’t lose your job or be screamed at if you fail.  I like to say, Make all of the $9 dollar mistakes you can, limit the $999 ones.  But maybe I am wrong in the end.  Great entrepreneurial companies have leadership that tolerates failure and learns to thrive on change.

5.  Your ideas matter. Your company knows that you might be a little closer to the customer.  And that the issues and challenges you face might be hassles in your job, but, if solved might be the key to retaining customers or growing new ones! When it comes to new ideas, your opinion matters.

4.  Your company avoids the creation of individual department silos.  When business people work together across department, at all levels, and skills sets great things can happen.  “No Silos” means one general company goal.  Think Steve Jobs and Apple.  One measure, one report, one P and L for the whole business!

3.  Your company balances risk-taking and innovation with established routines,  specialization, and structure and systems that create perceived stability.  This is not easy.  Too much routine and structure stifles the entrepreneur.  Too much entrepreneurial influence ?  Well, in my opinion never a bad thing.  But, at some point all products and services start to peak in their relevance.  New ideas and companies that listen to their customers generate new revenue streams. (Shameless plug, frankly, as they need to be Outside-In®.)

2.  You are asked for your opinion.  An entrepreneurial company stays this way if it monitors itself.  The best way to monitor oneself is to ask employees how they are doing on creating an environment that encourages risk-taking and team work on to improve the business.

1.  Senior management is committed to innovation and change.  New ideas are encouraged.  Risk-taking is often rewarded, even if it bombs.  Most importantly, delegation and appropriate authority to pursue entrepreneurial ideas that better the business are handed out liberally!

Sound like your company? If so, leave a comment about your experiences. Is there anything – as an intrapreneur – that you would like to see happen at your company? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts!

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