Ronald Reagan was well known for not only his confidence but also his positive outlook and sense of humor. He had a way of never taking himself seriously and always found a way to find humor even during the direst times.

In fact, following the assassination attempt, he told his wife, “Honey, I forgot to duck.”

His constant positive outlook made him appealing to voters and is one of the reasons he continues to score high in polls ranking presidents.

Do we approach life and leadership the same way that Reagan did? Do we always take a positive outlook into the start of each day?

Some CEOs act as if being in charge makes them a victim and complain of the burden. Leadership is a privilege that all of us should learn to enjoy. We have to train ourselves to enjoy the process, not just the end result.

Let’s take some time to reflect on the victories, no matter how small, and celebrate them. Learn to reflect on the great clients we have and the great people who work for us instead of focusing on the one unhappy customer or an employee with a bad attitude. But most importantly, we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

Each day that passes is a day that we do not get back. We have to look at each day as a series of moments and find the happy things that put joy in our life.

These can be simple things — a funny comment from your child, something silly you heard on the radio or a bright, sunny day. When we start focusing on these small joys in life and start stringing them together, we’ll find that an entire day has become joyous. Enjoy the time you are in now and don’t spend so much time fretting about tomorrow. Be intentional: Start by writing down four little things a day at work that bring you joy on a daily basis and build from there. This can even be a conversation around the watercooler that makes you laugh. String together a few days like this, and we are well on our way to a more joyous life.

By developing this habit, we will be more inclined to treat people better, and they, in turn, will treat others better, which will increase the overall positive culture of our workforce. The work environment is a bigger factor in why employees leave than money is, so focusing on providing a more joyful environment will also help your business in the end.

Whether in business or in life, it all comes down to being joyful. Happiness is fleeting based on circumstances, but joy becomes permanent once we have cultivated it. Start by focusing on the little joys and build from there. Remember, people won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you treated them.

Fred Koury is president and CEO of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Published in Akron/Canton

According to The Business Dictionary, attitude is:  “A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual's choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards (together called stimuli).”

The words that jump out as important in this definition are:



  • Respond



  • Positively or negatively



  • Influences



  • Action



In light of this, we can say that when we respond to things with a positive attitude, that response influences positive action in us and others. We can also say that the opposite is true.

We could end this article right now by simply saying – As a leader, manager or executive in business; do the former and not the latter. But if you are like me, I bet that you could use some “how to” examples and tips.

Here they are, six tips for having a positive attitude in business:

1. Keep an open mind.  Always be open to the possibility that a life change you have refused to consider might be the key to transforming your life for the better.

This type of attitude impresses your colleagues. Why? Because most of them have been faced with the same challenge and chose to not change. Their attitude towards the change has been clouded with self-doubt and lack of courage.

When you are willing to keep an open mind, you are responding positively to the challenge of a life change that has the possibility of a great reward.

Be different than those around you. Be open.

2. Be proactive, not reactive.  A reactive individual is at the mercy of change. A proactive individual sees change as a part of the process and takes action to make the best of it.

Having a proactive attitude requires work. You must be able to think ahead and anticipate. It involves being involved.

In business (and life) you cannot simply sit back and let things just happen as they will.  In truth, you could, but that attitude is a negative response that influences negative action, namely, reaction.

Do a little mental work beforehand. Get in the game and be proactive.

3. Go with the flow.  Present an easy, casual and friendly attitude that shows your flexibility, yet at the same time portrays your persistence in the face of obstacles and adversity.

This is not the negative “sit back and let things happen” attitude described above. Persistence in the face of obstacles and adversity is what sets it apart.

Having an attitude that is easy and casual, without stepping outside the bounds of proper etiquette and being friendly, is some of the best advice I can give to leaders in business.

Be persistent while going with the flow.

4. Think big. If you think small, you will achieve something small. If you think big, then you are more likely to achieve a goal that is beyond your wildest dreams.

When we allow ourselves to have an attitude that pushes boundaries and explores possibilities, we draw in people who have the same attitude. In other words, by thinking big we find big thinkers.

Want to have a team full of big thinkers? Want to have meetings where ideas are shared and positive plans are made? Want to grow leaders out of your team and promote them to new heights in their career? It all starts with your big-thinking, boundary-pushing, dream-inspiring attitude.

Go ahead – think big.

5. Be persuasive, not manipulative. Use your persuasive talents to persuade others of your worth. Don’t use it to convince someone that others are worth less than you.

Have you ever had a manipulative boss?  Have you ever had a persuasive boss?

6. Enter action with boldness. When you do something, do it boldly and with confidence so that you make your mark. Wimping out is more likely to leave you stuck in the same old pattern and immune to positive change.

In the end it’s all about getting things done – with a positive attitude. As leaders, we need to be able to move and work with a certain sense of boldness. A boldness that inspires us and those around us to reach for new horizons in all we do.

It’s obvious, action is better than no action – but bold action that leaves a mark is what we should be doing in our life and business.

Do something and do it with a bold attitude.

Attitude really is everything in business. It is the force that empowers us to respond positively to the challenges we face on a daily basis. It allows us to enjoy what we do as we do it. It builds us and our teams.

DeLores Pressleymotivational speaker and personal power expert, is one of the most respected and sought-after experts on success, motivation, confidence and personal power. She is an international keynote speaker, author, life coach and the founder of the Born Successful Institute and DeLores Pressley Worldwide. She helps individuals utilize personal power, increase confidence and live a life of significance. Her story has been touted in The Washington Post, Black Enterprise, First for Women, Essence, New York Daily News, Ebony and Marie Claire. She is a frequent media guest and has been interviewed on every major network – ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX – including America’s top rated shows OPRAH and Entertainment Tonight.

She is the author of “Oh Yes You Can,” “Clean Out the Closet of Your Life” and “Believe in the Power of You.” To book her as a speaker or coach, contact her office at 330.649.9809 or via email or visit her website at

Published in Columnist
Tuesday, 31 January 2012 19:00

The positives and negatives of jealousy

At first blush, it might seem a bit perverse that jealousy can be a good thing, a motivator and a catalyst for change. However, like very rich food, ingested in moderation it can be quite good, while overindulgence can bring on a world-class case of heartburn and indigestion.

Like it or not, in life and in business jealousy is always lurking in the shadows. When it rears its ugly head and is not properly controlled in your organization, it can precipitate a problem, do irreparable harm and become a major distraction in the workplace. It also stifles productivity, turning otherwise earnest and collaborative employees into a bunch of rumor mongering, whispering backbiters.

Conversely, a small dose of good or “productive” jealousy can spur others on to new heights. A leader’s job is to recognize the point when good turns to bad and to learn how to manage jealousy. This involves encouraging it (read that as creating competition) but also putting one’s foot down with a loud thud to get everyone’s attention and stopping the bad jealousy in its tracks when it begins leading to potential negative and divisive behaviors.

One of the many challenges of running a business is acknowledging that not everyone is equal, not everyone is motivated by the same factors. Varying attitudes and personalities can challenge the people skills of even the most effective leader. The infamous Rodney King who was at the epicenter of the disastrous 1992 Los Angeles riots asked the rhetorical question in a nationally televised appeal for peace: “Why can’t we just all get along?” The reality was and is, “Rodney, we probably can’t, no matter how hard everyone tries.” The sobering fact is that anytime there are two or more people together in a room the risk of disagreement and unbridled rivalry emerges and troubles can ignite, many times for inexplicable reasons unknown even to the participants. This is when management has to manage.

Good jealousy is easy to understand and an aware leader knows how to use it effectively. Example: Someone on the team has a unique idea or does something out of the ordinary, which benefits the greater good. The accomplishment is rightly recognized and celebrated by management. There are always people, however, who on the surface join in praising the effort but deep down inside are envious of the other person’s accomplishment. You can read the negative expression on their faces like a bad poker player who’s bluffing and everyone knows it. Enter the smart boss who helps the seeming ingrate understand that he or she can also receive comparable accolades when warranted. The boss then directs the uninspired employee’s envy (jealousy) effectively toward a positive goal, subtly or not so subtly, illuminating a path for the glory seeker to follow to reach a mutually agreed upon outcome.

Bad jealousy, on the flip side, can be like a forest fire that starts quickly and jumps around erratically, destroying anything and everything in its path. The only way to handle this type of negative behavior, which turns cohorts against one other, is with an iron fist and a candid, behind-closed-doors meeting. Typically, this requires identifying the “ring leader” — and there always is one — and then having the boss engage in a very one-sided conversation with that employee to make it clear that this behavior stops when the perpetrator opens the door and exits.

Many times, once unmasked, the naysayers recognize that they’ll be under constant scrutiny and become instant cheerleaders for what was accomplished by the other colleague primarily to defuse any future damage in the eyes of the senior management. Good leadership is about steering the ship, managing behaviors, maintaining a constant vigil, watching for warning signs, and then reacting appropriately without hesitation. In the case of bad jealousy, speed counts, as measured in hours, not days or weeks, in stemming the spread of rumors and innuendos.

There is a delicate balance needed to keep a team on track and productive. However, knowing the difference between good jealousy and bad can keep the organization moving forward. We all know not everyone is created equal, and that means different people must be managed differently to accomplish goals and keep the employees and the company off jagged and potentially painful rocks.

Michael Feuer co-founded OfficeMax in 1988, starting with one store and $20,000 of his own money. During a 16-year span, Feuer, as CEO, grew the company to almost 1,000 stores worldwide with annual sales of approximately $5 billion before selling this retail giant for almost $1.5 billion in December 2003. In 2010, Feuer launched another retail concept, Max-Wellness, a first of its kind chain featuring more than 7,000 products for head-to-toe care. Feuer serves on a number of corporate and philanthropic boards and is a frequent speaker on business, marketing and building entrepreneurial enterprises. Reach him with comments at

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Published in Akron/Canton
Friday, 05 August 2011 11:54

Passion sells for Tony Little

Think back to when you were a child. When you talked about the future, you probably declared: “When I grow up, I’m going to be a fireman!” Or maybe it was an astronaut, doctor, explorer or possibly a singer, veterinarian or ballplayer. Whatever our ambitions were, we passionately proclaimed our grand aspirations for these careers, not because they were merely jobs but because to us, they sounded fun.

Of course, time passes and a terrible thing happened to many (but not all) of us — we grew up. In time, imagination and youthful exuberance were replaced by controlled behavior and managed expectations, so much the better for functioning in adult society and living a professional life. We may not have realized it while it was occurring, but in doing so, many of us put aside our passion and enthusiasm, as well.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famed 19th century poet and philosopher wrote, “Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is due to the triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it.” Roll that around in your mind for a few moments and contemplate how profound yet simple that statement is. Add to that another well-known saying — “enthusiasm is contagious” — and the result is the recipe for greatness.

Most successful businesspeople share a common trait. They love what they do. They have succeeded in taking the same mindset they had as children and applying it to their work. Furthermore, their highest goals are almost always about something more than monetary pursuits. Consider for a moment some of the greatest human endeavors — walking on the moon, climbing the highest mountains, exploring the ocean, finding cures for deadly diseases, even pursuing Olympic medals and sports championships. For those who pursue these extremely lofty goals, the challenge — and the satisfaction — comes from wanting to be the best. They are fueled by a fire that burns from within. By retaining their childlike spirit and passion, these people confront seemingly daunting challenges not with dread but with tremendous enthusiasm combined with a deep sense of purpose.

Of course, not every successful person is necessarily a great leader. The best leaders aren’t just passionate themselves; they are also able to impart their enthusiasm to others. By nature, most people are resistant to changes in the status quo. But a true leader, infused with an individual sense of deep passion, can actually generate a wave of energy to those around them.

Our history books are filled with the names of legendary leaders from all walks of life — sports figures, statesmen, military figures, as well as those from the business world. What elevated them from the rest of the pack was their ability to spread their vision and motivate others to believe in whatever cause they were working toward. More than just selling them on an idea, their deep-seated passion sparked the same feelings inside their followers, making them feel personally inspired to aim toward the same goal. This personal engagement was then passed along to the next person and the next after that. Soon enough, with critical mass achieved, the white-hot flame of belief and passion gave rise to monumental achievements — world record sports performances, decisive military victories and breakthroughs in business.

By recapturing the ambition and enthusiasm we had as children and translating that into our professional goals of today, we can bring new vision and purpose to those goals — not just for ourselves but for our employees, customers and communities. Emerson was right. The bottom line is: With enthusiasm, you truly can attain greatness and change the world.

Tony Little is founder, president and CEO of Health International Corp. Known as “America’s personal trainer,” he has been a television icon for more than 20 years. After overcoming a car accident that nearly took his life, Little learned how to turn adversity into victory. Known for his wild enthusiasm, Little is responsible for revolutionizing direct response marketing and television home shopping. Today, his company has sold more than $3 billion of product. Contact Little via his website,, or by e-mail at

Published in Florida