Back in 1983, when Jeff Katke founded Metagenics Inc., the visionary entrepreneur liked to call the shots.
“I’m a founder and an entrepreneur, so I tend to have a pretty intense style and focus,” he says.
A lot has changed in the past 25 years, though. For one thing, the manufacturer and distributor of medical foods and nutritional supplements now has 750 employees globally and reported 2007 revenue of $172 million. In the process, Katke, who serves as chairman and CEO, now aspires to have a much more collaborative process.
That transition hasn’t always been easy. Katke says that his intensity can occasionally get in the way of effective cooperation among his leadership team, so to quell these lapses, Katke engages in a daily affirmation process to stretch his comfort zone and stress positive thinking.
Smart Business spoke with Katke about how to meditate on improvement and how to show restraint in the board-room.
Think positive. I do a personal effectiveness meditation every morning, where I’ve written down a series of issues that I’m working on to improve, and I review those mentally in a sort of affirmation format to program my subconscious mind to work in harmony with my conscious mind to try to achieve those goals.
In essence, our subconscious mind operates or keeps our conscious mind operating in what’s called our comfort zone. We tend to want to stay in our comfort zone. So if you don’t decide to get out of your comfort zone, and if you don’t program your subconscious mind to be comfortable with a new goal that’s outside your comfort zone, your subconscious is always working on keeping you where you are.
By programming through affirmation what your goals are for improvement, you basically create a new comfort zone. For example, if my problem is that I get too intense with people and it frightens them and then they don’t feel comfortable communicating with me, I might have an affirmation that says, ‘I listen intently to other people, and I’m very sensitive to their feelings,’ so they feel that I listen to them.
I might use that as an affirmation, and then that affirmation will literally cause my subconscious mind to establish that as my comfort zone, and then when I have a tendency to go to that intense place and be very directive, my mind will say, ‘Well, just wait a minute now. Why don’t you let that person talk a little more, and why don’t you ask questions, and why don’t you be quiet for a little while [and] see if we can’t come up with a better solution?’
I have a whole list of these things. I refine them and write new ones, and I read them at morning and at night every day, and I meditate on them so that I get this feeling of what it would be like if that was actually the way it was.
Focus on the big picture. A vision has to be a bigger purpose than the immediate focus of the business.
For example, in my business, we R&D, manufacture and sell nutritional supplements and medical foods. We could be in the business of selling pills and powder for profit, but if you have a vision that is a bigger vision our vision is to improve health of people with chronic illness and help them improve their quality of life then when you’re making your product, your whole decision-making process is different.
If you’re making pills for profit, the quality of the product is important, but it’s not that important. As long as they’re popular and the public will buy them, they’re good enough. Whereas, if you’re focusing on an actual illness issue, you have to have the very best ingredients.
At the end of the day, in a capitalistic society, the company is paid for the value it provides. If you provide higher value, you should be able to be paid more for it. So it translates into improved sales growth and improved profitability.
Communicate your higher purpose. I take patient examples that we get of people who have had great results with our product and I continually tell the staff about these successes. I say to them, ‘I want you to remember that you were the one that helped this person get better, and you should take pride in that. Whatever your job is here, what it really is, is it’s improving people’s health. You should share in our joy for what we’re achieving and accomplishing because we’re affecting millions of people’s lives.’
People like a job that has more meaning than just the mundane work. It’s motivating for them. It makes them fired up. It makes them want to be better and want to improve.
Don’t dominate the conversation. When you’re getting into debates, if someone engages, it’s important that you allow the debate to play out and that you don’t just overpower the person and say, ‘I’m the CEO, and this is how we’re going to do it.’
Having said that, it’s not a democracy. After someone’s made their point, just say, ‘You know what? I’ve really heard what you said, and there are a lot of good points in what you’re doing and in what you’ve suggested, but I think for now, in this circumstance, we’re going to follow this course.’ There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you’ve given a person a chance to express themselves and you respect what they say.
HOW TO REACH: Metagenics Inc., (800) 692-9400 or www.metagenics.com