Posts in CEO

7 Links on Mastermind Groups

May 16th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Entrepreneur, Leadership 1 thought on “7 Links on Mastermind Groups”

MastermindMastermind – Each week I identify a different theme of the week and provide you with content, some original and some from external sources, around that theme.

This week’s theme is “mastermind.” I’ve become a big fan of the mastermind over the years. There are groups for pay and volunteer groups. There are industry specific and those that specifically do not allow more than 1 member from any particular industry.

Regardless, there are certain aspects and characteristics of masterminds that you want to look for when you consider joining or creating a mastermind group. Chief among them – accountability, confidentiality and a willingness to share.

A Word On This Week’s Theme

A few years ago, I became enamored with the idea of the mastermind (peer group). I first caught the bug through an association with a leading international company whose business model is dependent on the establishment and on-going facilitation of mastermind groups.

There are some wonderful, dedicated and talented people from this business but ultimately it wasn’t for me because of some fundamental differences on a couple of items. So after taking a break and re-thinking how would I run a mastermind group if I were defining it myself, I created my own version of one with a different target membership and some important distinctions between what I would provide as an individual, independent mastermind coach and what some of the leading national and international organizations offer.

The resulting reward has been high, not just for me, but for the members of the group – each of whom will tell you they save time and make better decisions as a result of their participation in the group. I leave our meetings feeling like something I am doing is truly making a difference in people’s lives.

Unfortunately, too many people have had too many bad experiences with mastermind groups, slick sales people trying to get them to join, and no to low value added in exchange for their time and money.

That’s really sad because there are affordable and effective groups out there, and I’d encourage everyone to give it one more shot…but do so armed with a little more information.

I am a firm believer in masterminds done effectively and affordably. The mastermind is this week’s theme. Below are links to several articles and videos you should take a look at before checking in to a mastermind group.

This Week’s Links

Inc. – 3 Essentials for a Successful Mastermind. So you are thinking about joining or starting a mastermind group? Make sure that it minimally includes the three essentials discussed in this article from Inc.

EntrepreneurA No-BS Framework for having an Effective Mastermind. A mastermind group does not have to regularly meet in person and can consist of members from a geographically disperse area. This article is geared more toward that type of mastermind.

Inc. – 8 Steps to Mastermind Effectively Inside Your Company. A common myth is that a mastermind group must be a group you join external to your company, but you can also effectively run masterminds within your company. But the dynamics are a little different.

Entrepreneur5 Secrets to Creating a Successful Mastermind Event. I’ll admit up front that I a not a fan of big events labeled as mastermind groups led by a guru on a particular matter. The bigger the group, the more likely you will spend time listening to speakers and worst of all, the less time you will spend working on each others issues. But if you must have a big event or are thinking about attending one make sure the event follows these rules of thumb.

EntrepreneurAre Masterminds a Scam? The previous piece from Entrepreneur is a perfect lead-in to this one discussing some of the elements that can make a mastermind a scam at worst and a waste of time and money at best. Do your homework and look for the characteristics of a successful mastermind.

EnergesseWhy the World Needs a Business Mastermind for Health Leaders. This piece is actually a marketing piece, and not a disguised one. But it raises some good points and inadvertently some bad. On the bad – it’s generally not a good idea to have a mastermind group of people from the same industry because there is too much room for group-think and there is risk of the perception of collusion. On the good side, it might be a good idea to have your HR/Benefits lead get in to a mastermind group with the same from other industries/non-competitors to help each other establish best practices.

TEDThe Future of Business is the “Mesh” – Entrepreneur Lisa Gansky discusses how business is increasingly enabled by sharing – which includes peer-to-peer sharing.

The Secret to a Great Elevator Pitch

March 16th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, CEO, Engagement, Leadership 0 thoughts on “The Secret to a Great Elevator Pitch”
elevator pitch face

Photo courtesy of

An elevator pitch is a very succinct means of stating what you are all about. The concept is that if you had just a few seconds to make your case to a stranger in an elevator before the doors open, what would you say and how would you say it? It is commonly referred to as a “sales pitch” but more and more, people are catching on to the sentiment that the best sales pitch is no pitch at all.

So, as stated, I think of it as a succinct means of stating what you are all about, rather than a succinct sales pitch. Meanwhile, several books, articles and TED Talks have become very popular, encouraging us to emphasize “why” rather than “what.”

For example, Simon Sinek’s TED Talk “How Great Leaders Inspire” urges us to communicate our ideas, goods and services by starting with why anyone should care, how it satisfies the “why”, and finally what “it” is, rather than the reverse order we commonly see.

His New York Times best selling book Start with Why explores this concept further.

Creating a succinct message can be far more difficult than creating a lengthy one. There are many schools of thought on the subject but here is one more that I stumbled upon in my own work. Just as the best sales pitch is no pitch at all, the best way to write an elevator pitch may be to not write one…at least not directly.

Here is a process to explain what I mean.

Step 1 – Write a vision statement

Your vision statement should be simple. A sentence or two that looks in to the future and defines what it is you see. There is no right or wrong because it is your vision. There is “more effective”, but there is no “wrong.”

Amazon’s vision statement is often used as a good example and is as follows – “Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.”

My own vision statement is – The vision for Business is ART is that small to medium sized businesses (SMB) are dramatically more successful – improving their odds by at least 30 to 50 percent.

Step 2 – Write a mission statement

There is a difference between a mission statement and a vision statement. The vision statement is what you see in an ideal world, sometime out in the future. The mission statement is what you do. Not why you do it. What you do.

As an example, my mission statement is – To provide entrepreneurs, businesses and organizational leaders with the easy to use tools that they need.

Step 3 – Write a Purpose Statement

Now write your purpose statement. Your purpose is different than your mission. Purpose is the emotional hook. It’s why you follow your mission. I know, I know. Simon says, “Start with Why,” and here I am including it as Step 3, but stay with me for a minute.

My purpose statement is – To help others to feel less overwhelmed, get organized and focus.

Step 4 – Write the Elevator Pitch

Now you have everything you need to write your elevator pitch and it becomes a very easy task because all you need to do is mash together the vision, mission and purpose statements you just wrote. The difference? We’re going to start with why.

In other words, we will create the elevator pitch from the purpose, mission and vision statements in that order.

In my case, that becomes:

“I help entrepreneurs and small to medium sized business and organizational leaders to feel less overwhelmed and be dramatically more successful.

By providing simple to use tools, information and the experience they need to get organized and focused, Business is ART can help them increase their odds by 30 to 50 percent or more.”

Why, How, What

Now, using Sinek’s approach, let’s break it down:

  1. Why? You are overwhelmed and would like to be more successful (purpose).
  2. How? With simple to use tools (mission).
  3. What? Business is ART (vision).

Hopefully the response is, “Gee, I DO feel overwhelmed and alone at times. And I do want to be more successful. 30% to 50% you say? Tell me more.”

4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success

February 25th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, CEO, Entrepreneur, Goal, Leadership, Owner, Social Media, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “4 Tools to Make Your Business a Success”

Business is ARTToo many young business leaders charge headstrong into the foray of their industry only to realize that they bit off more than they can chew. When it comes to starting a business and making it a success, you have to be prepared to take on anything that the business world will throw at you.

And that can often be a lot.

Between the competition, the costs and the unexpected bumps you are going to hit along the way, getting your company off the ground is never a straight shot from point A to point B. Instead, it is a winding road that will lead you all over the place. There will be days when you surge forward, days when you are left at a standstill and days that set you back more than you’d like to admit.

Nevertheless, you need to keep pushing forward with your business vision.

Tools that Build Success

Sounds easy, right? You’ve got your vision, you’ve got your business plan and you’ve even got a team in place to help you build it.

For some, this is all that is necessary. They have a lot of luck and their business just seems to take flight out of nowhere But these lucky first-timers are few and far between. Most people have to work very hard at building their business, and they often need a lot of help along the way.

You need more than a business plan to reach your definition of success. You also need tools to help you with everything from planning to your day-to-day operations. Even if you know exactly where you are going, you still need a means by which to get there.

Free Resources to Help You Out

There are quite a few free business tools out there that can help your business out. Some of the best that you can use are:

  • Google Apps: It’s like having Microsoft Word and Excel for free on your work computer. Plus, it is easy to share documents with your co-workers and clients.
  • Dropbox: A must have for businesses that need free cloud storage space. You can get 2GB of space for free, with paid plans upping your storage capacity.
  • LinkedIn: If you want your business to be taken seriously, you have to have a customer-facing image that is impressive and professional.
  • A Strategic Plan: What is your company’s vision and goals? It is essential for business owners to know where they want to go, but it is even more important to know how to get there. We have a free “One Page Strategic Plan” in our “Freebies” section that you can download to help get you there.

Learn as Much as You Can

The Business is ART book talks about not only having a plan, but always being prepared to revise that plan as the circumstances around you change. To do this, you have to learn all that goes into business planning, execution and more. The book, and our software subscription that is set to release soon, are two great tools that you can use to help you achieve success.


January 25th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Strategy, Vision 0 thoughts on “Rebranding”
rebranding infographic

Courtesy Wheelhouse Advisors

Rebranding and branding have been on my mind a lot lately. With a book, an online radio show, some new services and a lot more definition around what I do as a consultant, it’s a valid concern. I started independent consulting as SeaSeven LLC and used an online service to generate a logo, just to get something up and running without a lot of investment.

The Questions

A few months ago, I removed that logo from my website and any new marketing materials. Instead, the website now reads “Jon Umstead – doing business as SeaSeven LLC.” Is there any point continuing that practice of identifying myself? I’ll maintain the LLC for legal and contract purposes, potentially with a name change, but do I need to advertise it?

And what about the software I plan to release this year? It’s based off of the process and templates defined in Business is ART, but is it the Business is ART Software, BIA Software, or does it get a name all to itself unrelated to the title of the book that gave birth to it?

Seems Like All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

So many considerations when it comes to branding and rebranding, and I am certainly not alone. Almost all of the members of the CEO/Business Owner mastermind group I facilitate are at least giving it thought. Every day you read about another well known brand going through a rebranding effort, including complete name changes.

Just as the continual changes in everything that surrounds us drives us to require a constantly evolving strategic plan, it also drives us to continually ask “Do I have the right brand strategy?”

Do you?

How to Take Your Business Vision from Initial Ideas to Success

January 13th, 2016 Posted by Business Plan, CEO, Entrepreneur, Goal, Inspiration, Objective, Vision 0 thoughts on “How to Take Your Business Vision from Initial Ideas to Success”
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Paying Homage to a Visionary

Earlier this week, music icon David Bowie died. The news and social media have rightfully been running all kinds of stories and tributes to him, and he was indeed influential in my life as well. Beginning in high school, I sang in bands but it wasn’t until a few years later I came in to my own as a vocalist. I distinctly remember it was in the middle of our cover of Bowie’s “Suffragette City”.

I was wearing these ridiculous all chrome glasses. Even the lenses were chrome so no one could see my eyes. We’re doing the song and I feel someone removing them from my face. That’s when I realized I’d had my eyes closed and was no longer seeing the crowd. I was just completely in to the song. I had zero thought nor care as to whether anyone was enjoying it or not. It simply didn’t matter because I was completely immersed in it…until that fan took off my glasses and momentarily brought me back to Earth.

It forever changed how I approached things. Fully immersing myself, not caring about what critics had to say.

People often mistook Bowie’s eyes for being of two different colors, but actually, they were the same color. One eye, however, was permanently dilated due to an injury from a punch to the face when he was a kid. This made it appear that his eyes were of two different colors, but it was just an optical illusion (every pun intended). Bowie actually used this distinct look to his advantage, recognizing that it gave him a certain visual mystique.

I think of it as giving him a unique view as a visionary, because whether you like his music and art or not, he was undeniably a visionary.

That’s a long lead in to this blog, but it felt right to pay some homage to one of the great artists of our time. Now let’s get down to the business of YOUR vision.

A Vision without a Plan

A company with a vision but no identifiable business plan is like a classic car without an engine. Sure, it’s beautiful to look at and sit in, and you can even imagine how fast it will go while racing down the highway, but once you turn that key to start the ignition, you’ll find that you are going nowhere pretty fast.

Without the building blocks to make it move, a car is really just a pretty hunk of metal.

This is how a lot of businesses start out: a vision is created, goals are set and the company decides on how to define success in their industry. This is a great start, but once the initial planning is over, too many businesses fail within the first few years. This is because defining success and formulating a plan to achieve that success are two very different things.

Make a Vision, Then Make a Business Plan

Your vision is what you want to achieve in your industry. Do you want to focus on innovation, customer service or quality products? Ask yourself how you want your company to be defined in the industry and what you want to do for your clients? This is your vision.

Your business plan is how you intend to achieve this vision.

Every company needs direction. Even the most talented team of experts needs direction, and you are just the person to lead that team.

Create a Strategic Plan

One of the things that the Business is ART book talks about is the one page strategic plan. This is a simple way to articulate and define the business objectives that you need to meet in order to achieve your vision.

Don’t know how to create a one page strategic plan? You’re in luck, there is a downloadable version of the template located in the “Freebies” section of this website. You can use this to plan, organize and track the progress that you are making on your business objectives.

Speaking of Tracking

How do you know if you are on the right path to achieving your vision? You track your performance results, of course.

Every business leader knows the benefits of tracking the company’s performance metrics. Without this crucial step in the process, you will never know in what areas you need to improve and where you should be staying the course.

The Next Steps

Achieving a vision is not a straight path, but a winding journey with many twists and turns. You have to be able to learn your industry and what it takes to run your business successfully. These lessons can be learned over time, and many of them are contained within the Business is ART book.

For more information, or to download the free templates, go to the Resources section of the website.

Leadership Legacy

January 10th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships, Significance 0 thoughts on “Leadership Legacy”
Leadership Legacy

Leaders Have Vision

This week in my personal blog – #Significance – I discuss three local men who did very well in life, but still made it a priority to give back to their community, each one leaving a legacy for generations to come.

EMBA Assignment

It reminds me of a passage from Business is ART in which I discuss an assignment we received as part of our Executive MBA course curriculum. This particular assignment was for each of the 50 members of our cohort to stand up in front of the others and give a 5-minute presentation entitled “My Leadership Legacy.”

The presentations ran from very funny to deeply moving, but in every case, we came to understand each other on a much greater level than we had the rest of the entire time we were in the program together.

Applying What We Learned

It was such a powerful experience that I brought the exercise back to my business and asked each of the approximately 40 leaders that reported to me to complete the same assignment.

When all was said and done, the same results experienced in the EMBA program occurred – each leader left feeling more connected to one another than before.

But this time, as each leader stood up and presented the leadership legacy statement to the rest of us, I took notes. Later, I went back through the notes and noticed distinct trends, so consolidated them into a series of 11 leadership legacy statements. These statements were subsequently presented back to the team. We then printed and farmed the statements and hung them on the office walls to remind ourselves that this is who we are.

Here are the 11 statements we developed from our exercise, but I highly recommend you come up with your own, whether it’s just you or your collective team that does it. You’ll get to know yourself and others like you never have before.

Be open. Be honest. Have fun! 

Our Leadership Legacy Statements

  1. As a leader, it is my responsibility to own and communicate a vision
  2. As a leader, my actions speak louder than my words
  3. As a leader, I am empathetic to others
  4. As a leader, I instill trust
  5. As a leader, I teach others
  6. As a leader, I am flexible
  7. As a leader, I never stop learning
  8. As a leader, I contribute to the growth of others
  9. As a leader, I recognize the strengths of others
  10. As a leader, I create and promote teamwork
  11. As a leader, I celebrate our success

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck

January 5th, 2016 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Employment, Engagement, Inspiration, Leadership, Owner, Relationships 0 thoughts on “Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck”

Photo courtesy of

Incentive Doesn’t Equal Paycheck originally appeared on an earlier version of the Business is ART web site, January 25, 2015. I was reminded of it last night sitting in as a guest on Dr. Jessica Cortez’ new show at – In Sickness and Health. Click here to listen on Soundcloud and scroll down to the show segment entitled “This isn’t Our First Rodeo.”

How many times have you asked why you should incentivize people to do their job when a paycheck should be incentive enough? Taking this attitude is a huge mistake, and here is why.

Most people desire to do a good job. Doing good, quality work produces an emotional response of feeling good, feeling valued, and feeling happy. It’s pride. People want to do good work. The employer, however, wants exceptional work, and often assumes everyone knows what that means.

The Incentive Chasm

From the start, this may create a huge chasm in expectations. What one might, legitimately, see as good work, may be seen by the employer as not good enough. So it is very important to formally set expectations in order to eliminate the chasm.

Define “good enough” in your organization and then stretch it a bit to say “but this is exceptional.” Then go on to say, “And this is what I expect of you.”

You are paying people a base wage or salary for the “good enough,” however that is defined.  The intent of the incentive is to get them go beyond “good enough” and achieve “exceptional.”

Define Expectations and Incentives

However you approach it, it is important that you formally define “good enough” and “exceptional”, and critical that you communicate what that means in terms of expectations and reward. Formally define the incentive and when it is earned, give it with pleasure.

Your risk of not doing so is losing employees who truly are exceptional or have the potential to be.

How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business

December 23rd, 2015 Posted by CEO, Delegate, Employment, Leadership, Manager, Relationships, Strategy 18 thoughts on “How to Build the Perfect Team for Your Business”

pile of plastic toy menWhile you should rely heavily on strategic planning to get ahead in the business world, if you don’t have the right team in place to implement your business strategy, you are going to go nowhere quite fast.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re starting a new business or have been in your industry for several years, hiring the right people can make a huge difference in your chances for success.

But how is this done?

Building the perfect team, like running a business, is just as much of an art as it is a science. And it’s something that a lot of people struggle with, even if they have been running a successful business for years.

This is because a lot of people don’t really understand what makes a good business team. Is it talent, creativity, or something else?

Hire Based on Your Needs

Every year, around the beginning of November, something quite amusing happens: the NFL trade deadline comes and goes.

It’s a time when most fans closely watch news outlets, looking to see who made what moves for which players. It’s also a time when you see diehard fans pulling their hair out because their favorite team’s general manager just traded away their best wide receiver for a couple of draft picks two years down the line.

But once the tears fade away, you can usually see why the trade was made.

Perhaps the receiver was struggling with an injury, or perhaps he was getting older, his contract was about to end or he was costing too much money.

Or maybe the team didn’t need him because they have several other receivers who are putting up great numbers.

The point is: the best hire is not always the best hire for you.

You have to identify what your team needs. You can’t just indiscriminately scoop up the most talented individuals in your industry. You have to focus on building a well-rounded team that can handle every situation.

Take a good hard look at your team. What type of person do you need based on your key performance indicators?

Remember, your main goal is to build a team, not a roster of talented individuals.

Hire Based on Culture

A good business culture makes a great business team.

While hiring based on qualifications is all well and good, you want to make sure to build a team that is passionate about your vision and the culture in which you want to build within your organization.

If you are looking to maintain a team-based environment where people bounce ideas off one another, you shouldn’t be looking to hire a person who prefers to work alone in the corner of the room.

The most important step in doing this is to clearly outline your business vision. If your employees don’t understand what you are trying to accomplish, they cannot help you get there.

Once everyone is one the same page as you, involve them in the hiring process. Let them sit in on interviews with potential employees and ask them for feedback on every candidate. You want to hire the most qualified candidate who also fits best with your team.

Remember, a team that is happy, works well together and is passionate about your vision is the most productive team.

Moving Forward

Once you have your team built, you want to make sure that they stay with you for the long run. Although this is another topic for another day, here are a few quick tips to keeping your team happy and productive:

  • Challenge them.
  • Reward them for their accomplishments
  • Listen to their wants and needs.
  • Give them the tools that they need to succeed.
  • Show them that you care.
  • Don’t just hire someone that can do the job today, hire someone that can change as the job changes.

While these tips can help you get started, so much goes into building and maintaining a great team that it would take an entire book to tell you everything there is to know. Thankfully, the Business is ART book is available for you to purchase (you’re welcome), and in the meantime, you can satiate your appetite for success by checking out our Freebies section of the website.

As a leader you are always on display

December 21st, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Manager, Owner, Relationships, Significance 0 thoughts on “As a leader you are always on display”
Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

Portions of this post appear in the book Business is ART. The post in its entirety previously appeared at the former Business is ART Blog site on November 4, 2014. I was recently reminded of it from a post by fellow consultant and blogger Matt Monge (@MattMonge) of The MojoCompany and thought it bears repeating.

As a leader, you are on display at all times.  How you behave sets the tone for your business or organization. This goes for general behavior as well as momentary behavior.

Always be cognizant of how others are reading you; because they are.  Every second of every workday, your employees (and clients) are reading you.

One morning, after having had a significant disagreement with someone in my personal life, I let that disagreement influence my workplace behavior.

When I got to the office, instead of the usual, “Good morning.  How are you?” type of greeting to which people had become accustomed from me, I entered the break room with a scowl on my face.  I didn’t look at or engage with anyone. I simply poured a cup of coffee and hurried back to my desk.

Later, one of the most trusted members of my leadership team, and someone I am proud to still call a friend, knocked on my door and suggested that we needed to talk in private.

He closed the door and asked in a very concerned tone, “Are we going to announce layoffs?”

The question stunned me. We were growing. We were profitable. I didn’t know where this was coming from.

“No.  Why?”

“There’s a rumor going around.”

“How did THAT get started?”

“Some employees were in the break room this morning and said you wouldn’t even look them in the eyes, so, they started speculating on what was wrong.  Then they concluded you couldn’t look them in the eyes because you are going to lay some of them off.”

I started the rumor.  I did.  Not knowingly or intentionally, but, because I was not paying attention, it led employees to speculate as to what was causing my “unnatural” behavior, and they “naturally” concluded I was about to chop some heads…probably starting with anyone lounging about the break room!

The good news was, we dramatically cut back on the cost of coffee that day. The bad news was, we lost a lot of productivity due to gossip and worry.  Worse, I lost at least some degree of the faith and trust of some of my employees.

That is a very, very hard thing to win back.  Who knows how long after I tried to assure everyone that cuts were not on the horizon had they assumed I was not being honest with them?

It was probably a long time.

Three Pillars of Behavior

December 8th, 2015 Posted by Behavior, Business is ART, CEO, Delegate, Employment, Engagement, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Relationships, Strategy 0 thoughts on “Three Pillars of Behavior”
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Plato said, “Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.”

I refer to these as the three pillars of Behavior Management.  At work, if your Behavior Management strategy does not address all three of these pillars, there is an increased chance that you will not get the results you would like (or need) from your employees.

My opinion is that most people in the workforce want to do a good job that they can be proud of.  Most employers want exceptional performance from their employees.  If this is true, then already there is a chasm.  What is “good enough” in the employee’s mind may not be good enough in the employer’s mind.  So how do you bridge the gap?

Start by considering these three pillars.  What does the employee #desire? What gets the employee to feel a positive #emotion about the job and the company? And finally, what does the employee #know?  This goes beyond knowing the job and is a critical piece that should seem obvious, yet is often overlooked.

As an example, the employee desires to do good, quality work because it makes him/her feel good about him/herself, and that makes him/her feel happy (emotion).  But the employee “knows” there will be no recognition or reward from the employer beyond a paycheck.  What is the likelihood that employee will burnout and performance will suffer in the long run?

Two mistakes employers make in this regard are:

  1. A paycheck should be incentive enough to do a good job (see “chasm”).
  2. Incentive and reward beyond the regular paycheck means more money.

Neither are necessarily true, and there are all kinds of ways to address them, but that’s another topic for discussion. In the meantime, if you focus your Behavior Management strategy on these 3 pillars, you will be way ahead of the competition.

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