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In this month’s issue of Smart Business Los Angeles, we learn about Tommy Skinner’s desire to transform the logistics industry. Here are some of his thoughts on how you find the people that can help you drive big changes. Tommy Skinner wants to build a business that transforms the way people think of logistics. To make that happen, he’s bringing people in to work for SHIFT Freight who don’t come from a logistics background. “We are hiring outside the industry,” says Skinner, who leads the company as vice president. “There hasn’t been anyone that we’ve hired on the merit of…
Have any of your employees tried to do a selfie in the office in response to the one Ellen DeGeneres took at the Academy Awards last month? It was one of those moments that seemingly everyone was talking about and trying to recreate in the days after the Oscars. It served as yet another reminder of the blazing speed with which information can travel in this day and age when it hits the right note. If only that new product your company has been working on for the past six weeks had the same ability to captivate the masses. Unfortunately,…
It’s easy to make the unfair assumption that if a business decides to file for a tax extension, the leaders have been spending the months leading up to the April 15 tax deadline procrastinating on their paperwork. But that’s not necessarily true. Rather than rushing to file in a hurry, a business tax extension is a major asset in a company’s corner as it means getting extra time to prepare and file properly. But what does being granted a tax extension for your business mean and what do you need to know when you decide to file for one? Get…
It would not be right to say that Tommy Skinner gets excited when his employees at SHIFT Freight are sad. But he does take a certain level of satisfaction when he witnesses how much his people care about their customers. And when the occasional problem occurs with moving a product from point A to point B, and Skinner sees how his employees feel about that problem having occurred, it does have a way of making him smile. “I think it voices the true care we have and the empathy we feel for our customers, their product and the general experience…
If you work for Avi Steinlauf at Edmunds.com, you can take as much vacation as you want. It may seem like a slacker’s dream come true, but Steinlauf says employees have embraced the move with just the right mix of appreciation and discipline. “It’s something we piloted in 2011 with a few work teams and we found out that we had higher quality, quicker throughput and far higher satisfaction on the part of our people,” says Steinlauf, CEO at the leading online source for automotive information. “We do company surveys on a yearly basis and the No. 1 thing people…
If you work for Avi Steinlauf at Edmunds.com, you can take as much vacation as you want. It may seem like a slacker’s dream come true, but Steinlauf says employees have embraced the move with just the right mix of appreciation and discipline. “It’s something we piloted in 2011 with a few work teams and we found out that we had higher quality, quicker throughput and far higher satisfaction on the part of our people,” says Steinlauf, CEO at the leading online source for automotive information. “We do company surveys on a yearly basis and the No. 1 thing people…
I was fortunate to meet the most influential person in my career right out of high school. This was the only time in my career where I was working for someone else and despite the fact that he had no formal education, he created one of the most successful independent record companies of all time — Ruthless Records. If it weren’t for Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, there wouldn’t be a Snoop Dogg, a Dr. Dre or even a Beats By Dre line of audio devices on the market. Wright taught me that the most important lesson of all is to listen…
Over the course of my career, I’ve been both the young entrepreneur and the seasoned leader. In both roles, I have discovered that the foundational tenets of a successful corporate culture remain constant. No matter the industry, the annual revenue or the number of employees, a truly great CEO will define and cultivate a strong corporate culture. In it, the company’s leadership participates from the floor rather than the fortress and the team is empowered and feels appreciated. Step down from the ivory tower Whether you’ve built your company from the ground up or you’re stepping into a leadership role…
We live in an era of decreasing trust in many organizations and institutions. Ongoing Gallup polls document the erosion of trust that people have in leaders of government, religion, military, health care and business. While fostering trust is always important, it takes on greater significance when the environment becomes unpredictable. In a predictable environment, people have one foot firmly planted in the system. So, even if leadership is lacking, they can at least count on the system. In an environment marked by transition, however, the stability of the system is taken away. Striving for grounding, people turn to the source…
Technology provides today’s business owner more ways to connect with customers than ever before. But with all those channels available, it’s more critical than ever that you know what you stand for as you seek to build connections with the people you want to buy your product. You are your own brand. What kind of brand do you want your business to be? Our company, kathy ireland Worldwide®, is greatly influenced by core values shared by every team member. We handle rejection with confidence. If people aren’t saying, “no” to you, you may not be taking on the real battles…
Interviewed by Dustin S. Klein Moctesuma Esparza grew up in movie theaters. As a chef, his father was off on Mondays and so that would be the day he and his son would take in a movie. Growing up in Los Angeles, there were plenty of beautiful theaters for Esparza and his father to visit. “I grew up with this extraordinary experience of how movies can transport you and open up worlds and how you can actually live in them for that time you’re in the theater,” Esparza says. “You’re on a ride and if the movie is really good,…
Business owners have formally sounded off on consumer review sites like Yelp — and it appears the vast majority are listening, but don’t take reviews as seriously as consumers do. That’s just one finding of a recent Woodbury University study that explores the power of the consumer, and consumers en masse, to affect business behavior. Sponsored by ReviewInc and led by Kristen Schiele, Ph.D., MBA, assistant professor in the Department of Marketing, School of Business, Woodbury University, the study found that nearly 75 percent of 261 businesses surveyed monitor customer satisfaction in some form. “When we began our research, I…
Business succession is the one thing many companies fail to address for fear of relinquishing control, a lack of time, the feeling that successors aren’t ready or other reasons. But, it’s never too early to start succession planning. “Statistically, roughly only 30 percent of family-owned businesses are effectively transferred to the second generation and just 10 percent make it to the third generation,” says Julianne Cruz, managing director of Advisory Services at CB&T Wealth Management. “There are myriad reasons for this, but one recurring issue is a lack of effective succession planning.” Smart Business spoke with Cruz about how to…
It’s been 34 years since the United States shocked the world and beat the Soviet Union in ice hockey at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. The “Miracle on Ice,” as it came to be known around the world, was completed two days later when Team USA beat Finland and captured the gold medal. Everyone on the team was praised for the achievement, and the victory still resonates as an example of what can be accomplished in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. But it might never have happened at all without the unwavering commitment from the team’s…
This is an important question when it comes to any opportunity in sales strategies: Is the deal worth winning? In the early days of a business, it may seem that any opportunity is worth pursuing. In the long run, that may have been true. While profit is the senior goal, so is credibility and having customers who can positively recommend your product or service. But before long, it becomes necessary to make sure opportunities are worth winning. The precision of that evaluation becomes more vital as a product or service becomes more complex, as there can be a number of…
At one time or another, we’ve all tried to find the secret to being happier at work. Even the most upbeat employees are going to have those times when they just don’t feel the same level of energy and passion about coming into the office each day. Last year, in an effort to boost the health of my staff at BNI’s headquarters in Upland, Calif., I stumbled across one of these secrets. I found that the secret to being happier at work is actually being healthier at work. Here are five ways to not only be healthier at the office,…
Few brands have forgotten about the waves created by the 2009 debut of “United Breaks Guitars.” The video was made by musician Dave Carroll who was upset about United Airlines breaking his guitar on a flight from Chicago to Omaha, Neb. When it went viral, it cost the airline countless customers. How many customers? The Huffington Post estimated through the 4 million users who viewed the video, that it was about $180 million worth, or 10 percent of their market cap. In response to the video, United apologized, complimented the song and even asked to use it for future internal…
There is a big difference between the Green Dot Corp. Steve Streit leads today and the one he thought he would be leading when the company launched in 1999. “We thought this was a card that kids would use to buy things online because their moms and dads would never let them use their own credit cards,” Streit says. “I thought I had invented what I called a credit card for kids. But everybody was buying them but kids.” When Streit learned that his prepaid debit cards were attractive to consumers who had bad credit and couldn’t get checking accounts…
Stefan Richter is not one to hold back when it comes to offering an opinion on just about anything. Take his view on the fame he has gained from being a contestant on the Bravo reality TV series, “Top Chef.” “It’s the same story every day,” Richter says. “It doesn’t change. They come in and they want to talk about ‘Top Chef.’ ‘Oh my God, Stefan, this episode was cool.’ People walk in all the time, and it’s the same story. For them, it’s the first time they have talked to me, but I’ve already told the same story 700…
John Ireland read the notice advertising for a newspaper carrier and just had to show it to his 11-year-old daughter, Kathy. He knew exactly what her reaction would be. “He kind of gently shoved this newspaper ad under my nose,” says Kathy, flashing back to one of the defining moments of her childhood. “The ad read, ‘Newspaper carrier wanted. Are you the boy for the job?’ Dad knew the kind of reaction that was going to get from me. I wrote to the paper and said, ‘I’m not the boy for the job. I’m the girl. I can do it…
Baby boomers are a big reason why the franchise industry is bouncing back, but their vast experience in the working world does not guarantee profitability. “They’ve totally changed what they are,” says Thomas Leaper, partner in-charge of the Franchise Services Group at RBZ, LLP. “The ones who are successful know what they don’t know.” The franchise model allows frustrated baby boomers — not yet ready to retire — the chance for a fresh start. But as they take on this new opportunity, it’s easy to lose sight of the financial details that are the lifeblood of any solid organization. “The…
We’re in the midst of a crisis of leadership — a situation that has weighed down economic development in the public and private sectors, says H. Eric Schockman, Ph.D., chair and associate professor at the Center for Leadership at Woodbury University, where he focuses on nurturing the next cadre of leaders coming up through the ranks. “We know that leaders aren’t born,” he says. “There’s an evolutionary process of skills, training and maturation that defines leadership development. There’s now a burgeoning demand for better skilled, analytically-trained people to move into positions of leadership.” Smart Business spoke with Schockman about the…
Investing some time and money when setting up a business can help you avoid more expensive problems down the line. “Clients will want to form a corporation in Nevada because someone told them there’s no tax there. But if they’re doing business in California or elsewhere, generally they have to qualify as a foreign corporation and pay taxes and regulatory fees when they could have just incorporated in California,” says Tim M. Agajanian, a partner at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley PC. “It’s important to know what your personal and business goals are and where the best location is for…
When California Pizza Kitchen head G.J. Hart arrived on the scene in 2011, he found a number of issues he wanted to address. One of the first items on his list was the structured approach his team took toward serving guests in the restaurants. CPK developed a series of steps for servers that started when they seated guests until it was time to deliver the check. It removed all the guesswork from being a server. But it also created a dining experience that lacked a personal touch. Hart discovered that guests typically received the same experience, whether they were a…
I went to a talk on corporate wellness the other day. The speaker was a physician who had led the corporate wellness efforts for a large company. The organization spent $150 million annually on health benefits for its employees. She asked for $400,000 to run a wellness program. The powers-that-be only asked about and challenged the $400,000. No one questioned the $150 million. Crazy, right? Welcome to my world. Most people in the room add the $400,000 to the $150 million and look at it as an expenditure of $150.4 million. That is the wrong math. The return on a…
In business, as in life, there are turning points. Sometimes they mean good days are ahead for your company. At other times, unfortunately, they represent the beginning of a more difficult stretch for you and your employees. As business owners, we have the responsibility to make these turns and convert the challenges into opportunities. When you take the attitude that there is no problem you cannot change and translate it into a chance to grow your business, you give your company a better chance to achieve success. See through the clouds Decisions need to be made and the ability to…
You’re reading this column because you view yourself as a leader, someone making a difference in the lives of others. Whether through business, family or community work, leaders have at least one thing in common — they are taking action on an idea or concept bigger than themselves. It’s something they believe is so important, they want to create it, share it and accomplish it with others. Since 1958, Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) has inspired young people to become catalysts for positive change in their home, school, workplace and community. As America’s foremost youth leadership organization, HOBY has a…
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