Stanley Truskie, Ph.D., knows a thing or two about the importance of a well-balanced organizational culture.
General Electric Corp., IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Wal-Mart and Compaq are just a few of the high-profile companies using his L4 Strategy model, which is explained in his book, Leadership in High-Performance Organizational Cultures, published in 1999 by Quorum Books.
As president and CEO of Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Management Science and Development Inc., Truskie says he understands the fundamental philosophy behind successful businesses and the reasons why some businesses fail. It only seemed natural, then, to compile his years of experience, study and research into one comprehensive book that you, as a business leader, could use to improve your organizations financial and cultural bottom lines.
Among the key issues in Truskies book is the concept of leadership over management. According to Truskie, management is an outdated concept developed in the industrial age for masses of uneducated workers who needed to be controlled and told what to do. In todays highly educated information age, he stresses, companies need leaders, not managers, if they are to recruit and retain the best employees.
But perhaps the most important consideration, he says, is whether you are leading your organization down a path that not only creates efficiency and profits, but also a balanced culture that allows all employees to achieve their maximum potential. In this months One On One interview, Truskie shares his insight about the kind of leadership required to strike a balance in the workplace and how, ultimately, such balance leads to success.
SBN: Define successful leadership, as you see it.
Truskie: It is performing the two functions of leadership. First is establishing a clear, concise and compelling organizational direction what I call the three Cs of leadership. And second is achieving organizational effectiveness by having an integrated and balanced culture. Do those two things, and youll be successful.
What is a high-performance organizational culture?
Its the culture thats created within a company that allows employees to perform at their peak so they can help the company achieve its financial and corporate objectives. In the past, we knew there was a link between organization leaders and the culture they created, but we didnt know what kind of culture those leaders should be shaping. My book lays out an integrated, balanced culture model for business leaders to follow to achieve growth and better performance over time.
Explain your L4 Strategy.
There are four primary cultural patterns any leader should try to create within a culture, taken from four institutional groupings. They are cooperation, inspiration, achievement and consistency. Cooperation comes from family, and what are the positive elements from family? Caring, sharing, teamwork and eliminating politics, backstabbing and self-important behaviors. Social institutions, like the church, work to serve a higher purpose, and so should every business. Youre not in business just to make money; you need to be good community members, accept social responsibility. And when you show that kind of concern, you achieve the inspiration cultural pattern.
The positive elements of the scientific community give us the achievement cultural pattern. Always try to be the best you can be in your chosen field, the way scientists are always trying to be on the leading edge of discovery. Maintain superior quality and service, use intelligence and work toward improvement.
Finally, the institutions that get a bad rap are what give us the consistency cultural pattern military and police organizations. If you have a good product or service, you want to produce that product or service over and over. To do that, you need rules, policies and boundary systems. Managers and leaders need to keep this in mind and integrate these concepts in a balanced way.
How can business leaders apply this strategy to their own companies?
People who become leaders establish the tone of an organization, its culture from hiring people to policy strictness. Either you will establish the culture or it will establish itself. Culture is the norm of behavior in an organization what you should and shouldnt do. This often is taught by fellow employees and not written down. Management means to control, and people dont respond to this approach anymore, so throw the term away.
Establish a direction for your company, whether its a small grocer or bookstore or larger firm. Decide what your vision is. What do you want to do? Once you build this passion, then you have clear, concise and compelling direction. A lot of small business owners dont have this.
Once your vision is defined, written down and understood by employees, now you have to create a culture using the L4 model. Ask yourself these questions: I know where I want to go, but what are my core values? What does my company stand for? Treat employees as individuals, pay them a decent wage, train them well, include them in the process. You also need rules and dont settle for a mediocre performance.
But once you give this message to employees, youve got to live out what you say your culture is all about. Dont just put it in words because the first time you dont do it, youll lose integrity. The hardest thing to gain and the first thing to go is an employees trust. Integrity is an important part of leadership.
How can leaders help their companies become more effective and obtain long-term success?
Unity in direction. Sometimes Ill ask the top people at a company, Do you have a vision or mission? They all say yes, then I talk to them individually. Guess what? Nobody agrees. The first thing to talk about is your core mission. Why does the company exist?
Identify five to eight critical factors for success between now and next year. Everyones first answer is to make money. Of course everyone wants to make money, but thats not enough. These factors will vary from organization to organization, but every company can come up with five to eight critical success factors. This promotes accountability and commitment by all involved.
Identify a particular technique which readers can use now to start improving their organizational cultures and leadership.
Look at personal leadership, the way they handle their employees, and use that model. When talking to an employee, are you thinking of him or her as a team member, are you inspiring that person based on his or her abilities as an individual? Are you setting high standards for that person to achieve, and are rules in place for the person to follow?
Leadership is all about coaching around the four cultural patterns. Help employees succeed, treat people sincerely as individuals, and dont give any special treatment to one over another. There has been a fallacy going on for years that, once you find out what the culture of the industry is, you adapt to that culture and take off. Thats just wrong. You want to achieve an adaptive culture, one that can roll with industry changes.
Business owners need to avoid becoming unbalanced. We all have our preferences, but if too much emphasis is placed on any of the four cultural patterns, their business wont grow the way they want it to.
Amanda Lynch is a free-lance writer based in Pittsburgh
For a company to succeed, its leaders must stimulate creativity and make employees feel they aren't just another pair of hands.
Speaker and author Grace McGartland says she has the solution for executives who don't even know where to begin. She calls it "Thunderbolt Thinking."
It's a whole new system of thinking, not just a compilation of traditional tips and techniques, says McGartland, who speaks and lectures on this subject. Her book, "Thunderbolt Thinking: Electrifying Ideas for Building an Innovative Workplace," presents a five-step model for executives to learn how to think more effectively.
McGartland says she conceived of the new system while battling cancer 16 years ago. The crisis forced her to look at life much differently than she had before.
"I needed to have some fun, use the brain power of those around me and look at things differently," she says.
She played with toys, incorporated others' ideas into her own and began to welcome change. This led to the concept and the book -- and, McGartland says, to her success over the disease.
Her Thunderbolt Thinking clients, which use the thinking model to encourage innovation among employees, include AlliedSignal Aerospace, the American Cancer Society, PNC Bank, U.S. Steel and SmithKline Beecham, to name a few.
A corporate case study of SmithKline, for instance, showed that Thunderbolt Thinking provided the Consumer Division the necessary techniques to analyze major market trends, generate ideas, formulate an action plan for competition and move its product back on target.
McGartland is quick to point out that her book and the system it outlines is for business owners whose top priority is employee retention.
"The biggest issue in small-, big- and mid-sized businesses is the retention of people and recruiting," McGartland says.
Creative thinking, she says, can help retain people.
An innovation survey available at her Web site (www.thunderboltthinking.com), will assess your innovative leadership. Have you defined what innovation really means inside your organization? Is innovation just a gimmick to you, or is it an integral part of the company's success? Have you assessed how each team member is creative and how those strengths benefit the team and the organization?
SBN magazine recently caught up with McGartland, a Pittsburgh native, to talk about her book and her system for creative thinking. Here's what she had to say.
SBN: What is Thunderbolt Thinking?
McGartland: It is a process for thinking more effectively, being alert, aware and agile. It's about thinking on purpose -- with a purpose, a how-to system for thinking. This is a very experience-based model, not theoretical.
Explain your five-step model.
First, expand your perspective. Be deliberately prepared to welcome change and be willing to look at change as an opportunity. Second, ratchet up the brainpower. One technique to achieve this is to do reading outside your normal area of interest. If you are a journalist, read fiction; if you are a small business owner, read about big business; if you are a high school football coach, read about what coaches do in the NFL. Add new thoughts to your brain so your brain can output fresh ideas.
You can also establish a brain trust or "kitchen cabinet" of people you trust -- not a formal board, just advisers. They will challenge your thinking but support what you're trying to do as a business owner.
The third step is to turbocharge the environment, but do this in your own style. Small businesses can have freer atmospheres and work codes. Bring Play-Doh, bubbles, Legos or crayons to meetings to foster creative thinking. But when you bring in toys, these are tools to help transform people's ideas and thinking. Use pictures, symbols and drawings to help think through problems.
Fourth, you must master the conversation of possibility and the conversation of reality. Research says that 90 percent of the time, we tell ourselves negative things. You need to have the conversation of "what if" and explore possibilities first before having the conversation of reality.
Finally, you need to be a catalyst with spirit -- be willing to take action. The models are useful, the toys helpful, but your own creative spirit is where creativity and change comes from. You need to move on ideas or strategies.
We're trained to have the perfect plan, so no plan ever gets done. See opportunities and spark energy to create change.
Why use toys?
It's one of the techniques that combines creative and analytical skills.
Who benefits most from this type of creative thinking?
The individual person benefits above all. When the individual benefits, the company benefits. If many people are unhappy on the job, it will have a major impact on the company.
How can Thunderbolt Thinking improve small business leadership?
Small business leaders have a unique opportunity to employ these techniques due to their size and flexibility. We worked with one CEO of a small software development company who dressed like the Wizard of Oz and had all his employees tell the Wizard about the company's future, all in the context of Oz.
It showed he was vulnerable, and it infused the company with energy and creativity. Another CEO was developing an innovation camp and decided to do a Blair Witch knockoff video to kick it off. Leadership is about how you set the tone in your organization.
Why should business leaders consider trying this new approach to team thinking and problem solving?
When you can help an individual achieve professional goals and become a better person, you'll retain that person. The biggest issue in business is retention of people and recruiting. The challenge is knowing how to keep people feeling like they're contributing.
Using these tips and techniques, this system will help companies learn how to retain people. Amanda Lynch is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer.
When 12-year-old Henry John Heinz puttered in his backyard garden, he saw the future, and its name was ketchup.
How appropriate that children are his company's No. 1 target consumer. Added to the company's condiment offerings in 1876, Heinz ketchup has seen the kind of growth all small companies with big dreams imagine.
Under the leadership of William Johnson, the company's sixth CEO in its 128-year history, Heinz's earnings per share increased 11.5 percent in the first quarter of 2000 and ketchup sales were close to $593 million in the quarter ending Aug. 2. In a prepared statement, Johnson said this has been "the most innovative period in Heinz's recent history," a period which included the launch of Heinz EZ Squirt Ketchup.
Heinz was an innovator and believed that people and good quality are at the heart of any successful business -- a credo the company still follows today. Said Heinz.: "Quality is to a product what character is to a man."
Later Heinz CEOs applied this statement to environmental concerns, and in 1990, Heinz USA introduced the first fully recyclable ketchup bottle.
According to its Web site, Heinz will sell 650 million bottles of ketchup this year. Ketchup is consumed in 140 countries, and recent trends show consumption is growing, with Heinz's market share at an all-time high due in part to the new trap-cap and a new pricing strategy.
And with the recent acquisition of PT Heinz ABC (Indonesia), the world's largest soy sauce company and maker of an Asian ketchup, the popularity of Heinz ketchup is sure to continue, especially if Brendan Foley, Heinz general manager of ketchup, condiments and sauces, has anything to do with it.
With such popularity worldwide, why would Heinz tweak, let alone change, anything about its ketchup? Why would it mess with a branding success story more than a century old?
According to Foley, innovation, persistent attention to customer needs and supportive upper management are keys to growing any product or service. SBN recently caught up with him to discuss the importance of innovation when it comes to building and reinforcing your brand.
Here's what he said.
SBN: For a global company with a brand as popular and well known as Heinz ketchup, why is it important to continually change the packaging and create new interest in the product? Why not just rely on its long-standing popularity and the public's familiarity with the Heinz name?
Foley: Look at the environment we're in today. I'm not sure it really matters what brands you work on. When you try to grow, you continually have to innovate. Heinz stands for the definitive taste of ketchup, so we can't rest on our laurels. In the case of Heinz EZ Squirt, it's the perfect example of staying close to who our consumers are.
Our No. 1 customers are kids; they use a lot of ketchup. This doesn't mean changing the taste. It means addressing certain issues like the watery stuff that comes out of the bottle. It's a natural thing, but it's a real bummer when it drips onto your hamburger bun.
That's unacceptable if you're going to be the best ketchup. It's those little things that reinforce why we have a presence with consumers.
What's the story with the green ketchup?
Kids love this idea, and I bet it'll strike the curiosity of a few adults, too. We recognized that kids are our No. 1 consumer. When we looked for growth areas, we felt one promising area was to spend a lot of time researching kids in their homes -- in focus groups -- and find out what they like and don't like about ketchup.
We developed a package that allows kids to squirt ketchup exactly where they want. We designed the bottle to be easier to hold, and a special cap squirts ketchup out in a thinner stream. Kids understood that because fundamentally, ketchup provides for kids a lot of control.
Very few products allow kids to have control. They can decide, "I'm putting ketchup on my broccoli" and make the meal taste and look the way they want it to.
Kids told us to make it a different color, that it would enhance the experience of using ketchup. Color elevated overall what was great about ketchup in the first place. And with kids eating so much ketchup, we made mom feel better, too, by fortifying the product with vitamin C.
What is Heinz's general branding philosophy?
Understanding what it is about consumers that make them like the product. A brand like Heinz is very broad-shouldered; it stands for quality, fresh ingredients.
We've redefined at times but it's still mainly the same today. From a brand management standpoint, we value the Heinz name and take responsibility for the products. We have to grow and nurture them; it's a never-ending task. But consumers and retailers expect that from us.
This is not unusual behavior. From terrific ads, packaging innovation, going to squeeze bottles -- Heinz has always done this.
What lessons can businesses learn from this philosophy?
Know your customer better than anybody else. It doesn't matter if you're an international or local company. Forget the size of the business or how common the product.
Provide the best product or service, and don't stop there. Pay attention to detail; deliver on the customer's needs better than anybody else, and don't stop. Go for organic growth -- selling more cases now than you sold last year. It may seem simple, but it's true.
We're supported by the leadership of the company and encouraged and challenged to do more of this. How to reach: Heinz,www.heinz.com.
Amanda Lynch is a free-lance writer for SBN.
Remember when the fastest modem connection was 4,800 baud, most messages were faxed and only academic and government people used the Internet on a regular basis?
That was only 10 years ago, yet most of us can't imagine conducting business without the Internet, e-mail and 56K of transmission power or cable connections today.
Microsoft played an important and revolutionary role in changing the way people and businesses interact with the Internet. The company's original vision -- a vision it still maintains -- was "Information at your fingertips," allowing you to access any information whenever you wanted and from whatever device. Thanks to Microsoft's innovative spirit, change is under way once again.
Robert Herbold, chief operating officer and executive vice president of Microsoft Corp., recently shared the company's continued vision for the next-generation Internet with SBN. He was in Pittsburgh to address a Pittsburgh Technology Council-hosted audience about the issue.
Imagine changing a file on your pocket PC and having that file instantly available on your desktop without ever plugging one device into the other. Imagine inputting your data via handwriting, speech and vision technology without ever typing on a keyboard. The goals of these new applications are increased productivity, instant accessibility to your information and efficient functionality.
The new Microsoft .NET platform is expected to facilitate new experiences with integrated privacy and security capabilities, make computing and communicating easier and put you back in control.
FreeMarkets Inc., the leading B2B e-marketplace based in Pittsburgh, wants to marry the best thinking with the "best in breed" hardware and software, according to David Becker, president and CEO. This includes Microsoft's .NET platform, Windows 2000 Datacenter Server and Visual Studio developer tools.
"It's a much different ballgame now," Becker says. "We must handle growth, and that's hard without the right knowledge and partners."
In a move even Orson Welles never imagined, the .NET platform is expected to fundamentally change how computers interact with other high-tech devices, as well as how computers interact with people. For businesses of all sizes, this next generation Internet means unified browsing, coordinated communication, "a seamless mobile experience" and powerful information management.
Microsoft intends to unleash the "full potential of the Internet" and make the Web an environment all people can use and enjoy.
Here's what Herbold had to say about the future of the Internet and e-business.
SBN: What is the next-generation Internet?
Herbold: It's all about more interoperability between devices and applications with more natural language. We have a vision about empowering people with much friendlier user interfaces.
There has been a Web evolution over the past 20 years. First was the terminal mainframe, then the DOS-driven PC to a graphic interface that is Windows. Today, we have the second generation and the positives are that the Net really does represent global connectivity. We can pull organizations and processes together but we are at the early stages of this phenomenon.
One major weakness is that the Web is a read-only environment; there are too many islands, and it is difficult to navigate. Technology companies are giving this issue a lot of attention.
In your opinion, are growing companies prepared for the future?
Virtually all companies today are aware of the Web's enormous capability about global connectivity and are hustling to take advantage of opportunities to run more efficiently. It's a matter of sheer competitiveness to provide up-to-date information to customers. The Internet is a read-only environment, which is tough to bridge, and the overall strategy of Microsoft.Net intends to tackle those issues.
If you are writing an application that requires a bunch of financial indicators, you can go to the Web site where the information is and write it directly into the application. The end user doesn't know the application is pulling up-to-date information right off the Web. It's information when you want it.
People want synchronization, so servers need to be smarter. These technologies will now coordinate your cell phone with your pocket PC and with your desktop, and the server manages all of that.
How can smaller companies get prepared for e-business in the future?
From the standpoint of any industry you're in, you have competitors, and they will look at easier ways to pass information to suppliers and up-to-date information to customers. People today are jumping on these technologies.
Look at the '70s and '80s compared to today. This is an exciting time to be in this industry. We should all seize the moment.
In Pittsburgh, many companies still don't use the Internet at all, let alone for doing business. How will this harm their future success and profit potential?
Pittsburgh is quite typical. You find the full spectrum here, as in many communities. What's great about the free enterprise system is that it works. Companies looking to be more effective and spend less money can operate more efficiently. Virtually every company needs to investigate these things.
Any organization that isn't working at procurement is missing a bet. Look at FreeMarkets' cost advantage to customers -- over $1 billion. Other companies see that and say, 'Why aren't we getting our fair share of those savings?'
What are your prognostications on how this new way of doing e-business will affect growing companies?
It will enable companies to operate more effectively than before. It's so impressive that Alan Greenspan said to the Commerce Committee that the economic boom we are experiencing is because of information -- that technology is the cornerstone of the incredible profit improvements experienced by many companies in many industries.
Everybody needs to revisit their basic business design. These new products will have an impact on productivity. Amanda Lynch is a Pittsburgh-based free-lance writer.
Would you consider yourself suddenly inferior to your co-workers, your boss, your spouse, your friends? Of course not. Yet this perception of the disabled as inferior permeates business. And it's what keeps Joyce Bender on the phone and on the road, trying to change that misperception of people with disabilities.
Bender, a 2002 Pacesetter, recipient of the 1999 President's Award and one of Pennsylvania's 1998 50 Best Women in Business, wants regional CEOs and business owners to look at ability first.
"During the interview, if the (interviewer) is focused on the wheelchair vs. talent, that person probably won't be hired," Bender says, citing cost and insurance concerns as two big reasons, even though adaptive technology has come a long way and is more affordable than many companies realize.
She calls the misperception "an attitudinal barrier."
This passionate, assertive, expressive woman is president and CEO of three companies that specialize in helping qualified disabled IT professionals find competitive employment that allows for advancement and growth.
Bender loves snow skiing, gardening, reading, hiking and fly fishing and thinks technology has leveled the playing field for people with disabilities -- herself included. During a 1984 trip to the movies, she suffered a sudden grand mal seizure by the concession stand that resulted in a fractured skull, broken ear bones and, later, brain surgery. Years of "fainting spells" were misdiagnosed as flu symptoms until that date with her husband when the seizure triggered the correct diagnosis of epilepsy.
Bender Consulting employs disabled IT professionals for six to nine months while they work for a company such as Highmark. The company agrees to hire that person full-time after the trial period if his or her work is high quality. Bender's innovative work trial solution works for both the potential employee, who receives full paid benefits and a 401(k) plan through Bender Consulting, and for the company that gets a highly qualified employee whose dedication and strong work ethic proves itself over the trial period.
In a conference room displaying an inspirational poster of the 10th anniversary celebration of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act and magazines such as TEQ, Epilepsy USA and Computerworld, Bender talked about her passion.
How has your experience influenced you as a business owner?
In every way. It means everything. I take Dilantin now, an anticonvulsive medication, and I've only had three seizures in the last 16 years. (After the seizure at the theater), I went back to work two months later (at Bender & Associates, an executive search firm).
The Institute of Advanced Technology called, they had people with disabilities trained as computer programmers but no one would hire them. I believed if you could show people the ability, you could get people interested in hiring. Highmark was one of the first companies to partner with me.
I believe, because I know the talent. It's not their minds that are paralyzed. We are the only group that anyone can join at any time. If you're born Hispanic, you're not going to become white. But you can become disabled at any time.
We need more leaders, more CEOs that will say, "I believe in employing people with disabilities."
What is the most challenging obstacle you've had to overcome since starting Bender Consulting?
The attitudinal barrier. People think if you hire someone with a disability, you'll have a problem with production, and (employers) assume (disabled professionals) are inferior. I only hire people who are qualified to do the job, and don't market this as a charity or humanitarian issue.
I market this as a good business solution providing people with a great attitude who want to work. There is no pity factor here; we want to be productive and accountable people.
We have been successful because of my employees. Many have won awards and been promoted because of their dedication. The only requirement I have is that they have training in technology. They don't have to have work experience or a degree.
There are over 13 million Americans with disabilities who are unemployed, and that is what I'm trying to change. It's sometimes easier to get a check for charity than it is to get people on the payroll.
What changes do you see happening in the Pittsburgh IT field?
Assistive technology has opened doors to many people with disabilities, but we need to do more to make people and companies more educated that accommodations aren't that expensive -- $500 on average. There are tax incentives and money available for people who hire the disabled.
I want to see more people given competitive employment opportunities and more people in leadership positions so that regional boards and groups are more reflective of the entire population.
What are your goals for the company?
We want to be in every state and make Pittsburgh known as the employable city for people with disabilities. We also want to help Canadians with disabilities get work; they have no ADA. The Royal Bank of Canada is our current partner, and we have six people on site there.
What advice do you have for local CEOs and business leaders?
Look at the ability, not the disability. (We can change the attitude barrier) by getting people into the work force and seeing what great performers they are. Bayer is a good example. They are walking the talk by hiring people.
People with disabilities want the opportunity for freedom, they want to work. The only way to buy a car, get an apartment, have freedom in this country is to have competitive employment. The (disabled) person is so appreciative and so loyal, such high dedication. There is a labor problem because of the aging population, and here is a whole labor pool that is untapped. We have a long way to go yet.
Amanda Lynch is a Pittsburgh-based free-lance writer.
In a small, airy room with only two small lights and the bluish glow of TV editing screens and computers, a woman on a mission to teach kids about business works with one of her many editing team members to reduce one episode by four minutes.
From hosting a TV show and writing pop-ups to holding children's interest to editing and worrying about music, camera angles and show themes, Cindy Iannarelli -- known as Dr. Cindy to her students and fans -- carefully oversees her brainchild, "The Buzz with Dr. Cindy," a new TV show syndicated to the Starz/Encore network.
Far from being an abstract concept, the first 13 episodes each feature a different problem, like how to best deal with crabby customers, cash flow, organizing or advertising. And through role-playing games, field segments that focus on family businesses and interviews with real entrepreneurs, kids learn the best solutions.
"Research shows that kids in grades four through eight want to be rich, so we weave that theme through all the shows -- be smart and you can make money," Iannarelli says. "The challenge was taking what we do in the classroom to a new medium."
What she has been doing in the classroom throughout the region for many years (when she isn't consulting with family businesses) is host summer day-camps, called Camp Business Cents, and other educational programs designed to teach children of all ages about starting and running their own businesses. For almost as many years, she has been pursuing turning her program into an educational television series for kids.
The basic purpose of "The Buzz" is to teach children business sense, make them think about being productive and creative, show them how to work as a team and teach them that business is global and can offer the chance to travel around the world.
"With the amount of problems Americans have with credit cards and the hardships that come with a lack of financial knowledge, these kids will be more empowered," Iannarelli says. "We're solving the mystery. Most kids don't get this knowledge at home or in school."
Slated to begin airing in November or December, "The Buzz" also will be shown through Cable in the Classroom in more than 80,000 schools. Iannarelli is hoping to obtain a video distributor by October so libraries and video stores can carry the show as well.
Although her idea seems like a natural winner with great popular potential, Iannarelli says the reality of creating and selling a new TV show idea, while ultimately worth it, proved much more difficult than she'd anticipated. Iannarelli shared her thoughts on this process with SBN Magazine.
SBN: How much time and money have you personally invested?
Dr. Cindy Iannarelli: My research started in 1981, and with every step, I was getting more encouraged. I personally have invested close to $1 million, essentially everything I've made since 1981. My husband thought I was crazy, but I felt this is my life mission. I may go down with the ship, but I'm going to do it.
I made my living as a family business consultant to wealthy families, and I'm very grateful to all those families who hired and encouraged me.
When and how did the TV show idea happen?
Family businesses are the most enterprising -- that's what I did my [doctoral] dissertation on. I documented a brother and sister and what they were doing at age 5 and 6, age 8 and 10 and so on.
I developed a summer camp, "Business Cents," to teach young kids. I think I have a method to teach any child, from the wealthiest to the most disadvantaged kids.
I was lecturing at the Wharton Business School and mentioned that I wanted a TV show to reach more kids quicker. One student said, 'My dad can help, our family's in the TV business.'
It took five years to get the contract with Starz/Encore. They were the first ones to make an offer, but I said, 'Let's get the show off the ground.' I wanted 18 months, and they gave us nine. I can't remember anything since February.
Between February and June, I had over 100 meetings about money, averaging six a week. We started actual production on June 15 during the Arts Festival. People were telling me, 'It can't be done,' but I didn't believe them. But for a few entrepreneurs and their donations, this wouldn't have happened. It takes an entrepreneurial mindset to take a risk.
Now, we're taking the show to the International Television Convention in Cannes to try to sell it to other countries.
Discuss one obstacle you encountered and how you overcame it.
The biggest hurdle was finding a producer. We went through two producers in May and June. I realized this wasn't doable in their minds. I had the idea to be intimately involved with every aspect.
It was a clash of cultures, the business culture clashing with the creative culture. The way business people do business vs. the way creative people do business is so different. I didn't expect a traditional business approach to be so disagreeable to creative people. I had 15 'I quit' e-mails.
The team we ended up with worked extremely well. We had 35 people at one time in the studio, and they had no rehearsals. It says a lot for both sides. We adapted.
What are your hopes and goals for the show?
My goal is to have a daily show that can make a huge difference in the next generation's skill level. With entrepreneur training [like this], they'll be more likely to open their own business, work more productively for someone else and feel better overall about themselves just knowing they can do it.
I'd like to see ["The Buzz"] be an evergreen program -- that shows being produced today could be shown 10 years from now. We'll try to get a national kid-friendly sponsor, but the market will decide if the show succeeds.
We believe from early reactions that the show is positioned to succeed. Barcelona wants to start business centers that go beyond the camps. The TV show is the door opener. Once it's established, we can do more.
I also hope we can help the regional image. One foundation said this couldn't be done in Pittsburgh. I look at 'no' as a delayed 'yes'. It's been about 10 years since we've done TV, and people have forgotten the power of TV.
Some say, 'Why use TV to teach kids business?' I say, 'Why wouldn't you?' How to reach: Dr. Cindy Iannarelli, www.drcindy.com
Amanda Lynch is a Pittsburgh-based free-lance writer.
Between sips of soup and bites of salad and the restaurant's specialty sandwich, he talked about what's working in the region -- and what still needs work. Born and raised in Shreveport, La., Bryant arrived in Pittsburgh in June and the Seventh Street Grille was the first restaurant he wandered into.
Dressed in casual attire with a looser, more animated attitude than his usual buttoned-down approach, Bryant is a big believer in Pittsburgh's potential.
He draws an analogy between his experience with the restaurant and the region's opportunities for success. He says as long as local businesses continue offering the same high quality while introducing new products, there's no reason the region can't flourish.
"Pittsburgh is one of the best-kept secrets in the country," Bryant says. "We have a three- to five-year window [to make it work]. It's Pittsburgh's time and we need to take advantage of it."
Bryant has been visiting each of the 10 counties that make up the PRA and has experienced the differences that make the region distinctive. He considers these differences beneficial, but says the outside world has no idea of what's here.
"Pittsburgh's no longer a dirty steel city, but that's not the perception on the outside," Bryant says.
The executive director held a similar position in St. Louis for the past five years and says St. Louis and Pittsburgh are similar and face comparable challenges -- both have strong institutions of higher education and are transitioning from an industrial heritage while trying to encourage proactive leadership and build an information technology focus.
"Look at the growth of comparable cities, Cleveland, Indianapolis. Economic development challenges interest me, and you've really got something to work with here," Bryant says.
He sat down with SBN to field questions about the region and its potential.
SBN: What's the PRA's biggest challenge?
Bryant: It needs to position itself among its regional economic development partners as a neutral broker in an effort to be the source of external communication with this region, so that all regional partners feel equally represented by us. We need a more intraregional communication system, including meetings, conference calls, Web site.
We've started meeting on a regular basis, and attitudes are beginning to soften. We need trust that we're a neutral (entity). We have to be perceived (as) favoring everyone (all regions) equally.
What are Pittsburgh's greatest assets?
The cultural district, the airport, the educational institutions, diverse neighborhoods, a strong work ethic, a talented work force. Our diversity is a strength; we have options.
You have a good product to market. Today's tourist might have influence on next week's decision-maker. We're doing the right things. There's no lack of effort to make this a better place.
How is regionalism achievable in Western Pennsylvania?
What is regionalism? We've got to start with a common ground, a foundation of common goals. The key is to identify what it is that makes Beaver, Butler, Allegheny (and the other counties) a better place. And what is the best way to position those counties in our marketing material?
What does it take to make people work together and to have the same goals? To have some degree of agreement on how to accomplish those goals and how to cooperate and trust each other in that execution.? That's what it's going to take.
What obstacles does the region have to overcome?
People have to work together. This is not a cohesive region right now; we need to change the way we do business. And we need to increase the number of developable sites in the region. We have to be proactive.
Economic development doesn't just happen. The Waterfront, Northpointe and Southpointe didn't just happen. They were the result of the state and counties putting in millions of dollars just to get the sites ready.
The PRA won't be an answer to all Pittsburgh's problems. We are a resource for local businesses. Seventy percent of new jobs in this market will come from businesses that are already here.
We work with existing businesses that are considering expanding or laying off or moving to a bigger building. We ask what we can do to help.
How do you attract mid-sized companies looking to expand into a new market?
Bring them here and let them see Pittsburgh for themselves. Our goal is to make business decision-makers realize the Pittsburgh region is a viable location for their business.
We need to put more money into media relations vs. advertising. We need a concentrated marketing effort. The best PR is word-of-mouth; you'll try something new if your friend recommends it. We have to proactively get positive stories out there about Pittsburgh and aggressively (go after) relocation consultants.
We just want to get on the list. If they're considering a new location, we say, 'Just take a look at us.' If we're not on the list, we're not being considered. If we are on the list and not making the cut, we can figure out why.
We do direct mail, target and go after these companies to let them know we're open for business. Now is the time to get the country thinking about us.
It's hard not to smile in his presence because his enthusiasm is so contagious, and Krisby is the first to admit: "I've had people tell me I'm too high energy."
This abundance of energy may be th reason he's been able to turn motivation into a profitable one-man business called Success Solutions. With clients including Ashland Inc., Altmeyer Pre-Arrangement Center and Vector Security, Krisby conducts seminars focused on mind, body and spirit to teach determination, dedication, desire and attitude. His clients swear by the results and Krisby prides himself on being a different kind of motivational speaker.
Unlike other speakers, Krisby leads by example.
He is a competitive weight-lifter, and during his Wellness-Energy-Success seminars, he bench-presses 300 pounds three times in a row after leading his group through aerobics and free-weight training. As an ACE-certified instructor, Krisby started working out at age 14 and competing in the YMCA Weightlifting Championships at 17.
Krisby served in the Air Force, spending time in Southeast Asia, and upon his return to Ohio, got his first job, selling mortgages, and became manager after nine months. From 1980 to 1989, he was Executone Communication's general sales manager, gaining experience developing sales training and motivational techniques, which he would later use in his own business.
Three years ago, Krisby faced his biggest personal challenge when his wife, Kathy, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Instead of crumbling under the pressure and succumbing to emotion, he turned his energy and enthusiasm to the challenge and created a small pocket guide entitled "Success is as Simple" to sell at his seminars.
One dollar from each book sold is donated to an account in Kathy Krisby's name at the Susan G. Koman Foundation. Today, her cancer is in remission.
Good listening skills and the ability to deal with people are two keys to his success. Here, he shares his thoughts on success.
SBN: What motivates you?
Krisby: I came out of the womb motivated. Really, [it's] teaching people and creating ideas. I love to see people go outside the box. People get stuck in an everyday routine, keep their unhappiness to themselves, don't want to talk about it and do everything to hide it under the rug.
Just seeing how many people need direction -- a lot of people are so pessimistic. It's great to see people in my seminars understand that their problems aren't really that glaring. And my wife keeps me motivated, too.
What are the basic principles behind your Success Solutions seminars?
Educating, elevating and motivating people. I've attended thousands of seminars, and in 1989, I was a sales managing trainer with Digital and Analog Design in Columbus. In December 1999, I decided to move my family to Pittsburgh so my wife could be closer to her parents. I was financially in a position to open my own business and it's been a blast.
I have six solid clients in town and had seven speaking engagements in October alone.
Why use weight-lifting in your seminars?
It gives people lifestyle changes and more directional focus on changing habits. You know it takes 21 days to change a habit? Weight-lifting helps their focus and motivation. At the end of each seminar, I bench 300 pounds three times because people ask me to.
What are your biggest pet peeves?
'Excusitis' kills me -- that and 'blameitis.' People say they can't do something because it will upset their significant other, children or their lifestyle. You should always consult with your significant other before making a major lifestyle change, but don't blame others and use excuses to prevent action.
What has been your biggest business obstacle?
Establishing an identity in the Pittsburgh market. The way I did it was using my methodology by building networks. As soon as we moved here, I met all my neighbors and tried to build community togetherness. I found out many of my neighbors are golfers, so I created a community golf tournament at Diamond Run.
These networks helped me find clients. I only work in the tri-state area and don't spread myself too thin. It's imperative for every businessperson to understand how to build a powerful network.
What is your primary goal?
I want to touch as many people as possible with the Pocket Guide to generate $1 million for breast cancer research over the next 10 years. For more information on upcoming Success Solutions seminars, the Pocket Guide and other Krisby events, visit www.4successsolutions.com or call (800) 493-3557.
Amanda Lynch is a Pittsburgh-based freelance writer.