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What’s the Worst that Can Happen?

Published on Jun 15 2017

When I was a manager and struggling with delegating tasks the question “What’s the worst that can happen?” became my mantra. If the worst that could happen didn’t include the end of the world, anyone being killed or maimed, or me losing my job I would usually go ahead and delegate the task. (By the way, most tasks pass this test.)

When I started my business, I let this question slide. After all, it was just me. I didn’t have any employees to trigger the question. Over time, however, I became aware of the fact that this question is also quite useful for small business owners.

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Reinstituting Values Based Leadership

Published on Jun 07 2017

We spend a great deal of time talking about the ideal situation – where the owner’s vision and values are built into the business from day one. But what do you do when a company has grown and has lost touch with their original values?

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What are KSAs? And why should I care?

Published on May 23 2017

Hi Karen:

We are in the process of restructuring and writing new job descriptions. Would you be able to provide any guidance in this area?  Especially regarding core competencies?  Thank you.

Linda, PA

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Small Biz is Different from Big Biz

Published on May 08 2017

Have you ever had that moment when you suddenly had a core belief proven to be accurate? Or perhaps found proof that it’s not only accurate but also more important than you realized?

I had one of those moments. While reading Corporate Lifecycles by Ichak Adizes, I had my belief that small businesses are different from larger organizations both confirmed and explained. I don’t want to bore you with all the geeky details (if you don’t think this is geeky I suggest you read the book or ask me more about it when you see me) so I will summarize it simply by stating:

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Written vs. Verbal Warnings

Published on Apr 25 2017


I found your last two newsletters on writing a written warning very helpful. Would you clarify when it’s appropriate to use a written warning vs. giving a verbal warning?

Paul, PA

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Hire the Smartest People You Can Find?

Published on Apr 18 2017

A popular concept in business literature is to surround yourself with the smartest people you can find. The corollary to this belief is to always hire the smartest people. This is an idea that I endorse– to a degree.

Following are three times when hiring the smartest person can create more problems than they solve.

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Make it Urgent!

Published on Apr 11 2017

I was once trapped in a room listening to a speaker talk about goal setting. You know the feeling, it’s a topic you’ve heard many times before and you are confident that there is nothing new you can learn. The best you can do is hope for an interesting presenter and sit in the back so you can check your email. Therefore, I was surprised when I experienced a big Aha! moment in the middle of the presentation.

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Lights, Camera, Action Plan!

Published on Apr 04 2017

During a follow up call with Marie, a Strategic Plan-tingWorkshop attendee, she mentioned that she was still working on her strategic priority for the quarter: updating her website. She was excited that she was making progress, but mentioned it wasn’t going as fast as she had indicated it should when she created her action plan for the task.

 I smiled in response to her remarks for two reasons.

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We Enrich People’s Lives Through Cheese

Published on Mar 28 2017

One of my favorite things to do when I go into the city is to visit Di Bruno Bros. I can’t count the number of times that I walked past their door without going in. Something would draw me to their door, I would peek through the window and I would see what I thought was a tiny center city Philadelphia grocery store. And then I would keep walking. After all, I took the train in and didn’t have a cooler. How was I going to take fresh foods home with me?

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Warning Memo Part 2

Published on Mar 21 2017


Would you please provide me with some tips for writing a written warning? I’ve found samples on-line but they don’t always fit my needs.

Jordan, PA

Dear Jordan,

As I mentioned last month, there are two elements to writing a good written warning: layout and content. This month I will concentrate on including effective content in your memo.

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Selective Stupidity and Stubbornness

Published on Mar 07 2017

Og Mandino says that one of the biggest determinants of success is persistence. Persistence is characterized by a willingness to keep putting in the time and keep trying. When you fail you get up and go again. Some days, this is harder than others.

I clearly remember one of those days. One of my clients was in the middle of a crisis that seriously endangered their ability to continue in business in the long run. I had nothing to do with how they arrived at this point; and I did not have the power to ensure that they could go on. It’s crushing and humbling, especially since I had invested myself in their business on an emotional level.

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Why it Pays to Hire Experts

Published on Feb 28 2017

I remember the day clearly. It was February 2011 and I had just finished adding a Google campaign that had 2 sub-campaigns and 4 different Google ads. Why do I remember it so clearly? Because it took only 35 minutes which is nothing short of a miracle. The last time I had set up a Google campaign it took me more than 3 hours to place just 2 ads.

What was different this time?
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Warning Memo Part 1

Published on Feb 21 2017


Would you please provide me with some tips for writing a written warning? I’ve found samples on-line but they don’t always fit my needs.

Jordan, PA

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Six Ways to Teach Ethics

Published on Feb 13 2017

If you don’t care whether your ethics training is resulting in any behavioral changes, please go ahead and lecture. If, however, you want your employees to be actively engaged in ethics training you might want to try something different.

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Be a Supercorp

Published on Feb 07 2017

Are you one of the many small business owners that resist creating policies and procedures? It’s understandable since almost everyone has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced the horrors of bureaucracy. In fact, a large percentage of small business owners vow that they will do it differently in their company.

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Strategy is Not Planning

Published on Jan 31 2017

“Strategy is not planning – it is the making of an integrated set of choices that collectively position the firm in its industry so as to create sustainable advantage relative to competition and deliver superior financial returns.” Roger Martin, Dean of Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto

Whew – what a mouth full. If you get this, I mean really get it down to your soul, then feel free to move on to another of our blog posts or click on the link and read Roger Martin’s full blog on the Harvard Business Review blogsite. If you have no idea what this means or are not sure, then keep reading because this is an important statement for small business owners to both understand and embody.

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Perfectionism Doesn't Rule

Published on Jan 24 2017


I enjoyed your newsletter on being a control freak*.  Would you consider doing one on perfectionists (of which I am one) and needing to let go of things at a certain point?

Barb, PA

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Legally Speaking Radio Interview

Published on Jan 17 2017

Do you also like to listen to business information? Karen Jett, RedKnight’s Internal Brand Specialist, was interviewed by Kirsten Balzer-Miniscalco of Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford on  the Legally Speaking show.

During the radio show, Kirsten and Karen chat about the importance of a company developing and using a brand definition. The brand is made up of 4 elements: the vision, mission, values, and company belief systems (referred to as operating guidelines during the interview).

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Appreciate the Good

Published on Jan 10 2017

Consultants, myself included, tend to ask potential clients “What’s not going well? Where are you feeling the pain?” We do this to help the potential client see their need for our services because we understand that a person is more likely to spend money to fix something that is broken and causing pain.

Today, I challenge you to answer a different question.

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Because We’ve Always Done it That Way

Published on Jan 03 2017

Many years ago I worked for a not-for-profit organization that had many inefficient processes. One of my responsibilities was to improve those processes and procedures so I spent a great deal of my time shadowing employees. As they performed their jobs, I kept asking: “Why do you do it that way?” and the answer I consistently received was: “Because we’ve always done it that way.”

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