Koni Kim is an entrepreneur and the founder, president and CEO of the Koni Corporation, which creates custom textiles and designs for the hospitality industry. She has 30 years of experience in hospitality soft goods and has supplied the industry with major product innovations over the years. Kim is also a keynote panelist at the upcoming National Association of Women Business Owners 2011 Women’s Business Conference. I spoke with her about her path to success and her advice to women entrepreneurs.

What is your leadership philosophy?

A satisfied customer may like your products, but a loyal customer will buy from you again and again. Loyal customers tell business associates about you, which can start a cascade of success for a company. Our success is a result of the success of our customers. Our entire company philosophy and corporate culture has been developed around the premise of exceeding customer expectations, creating raving loyal fans of Koni Corporation. (read more…)

This Spotlight on Location Data blog series is brought to you by Esri, a leading provider of software that brings location intelligence to business decisions.

One of the most powerful uses of location data is its ability to inform far-reaching strategic decisions. One of the most forward-thinking issues businesses face is how to manage their risk. I interviewed Nigel Davis, executive director of product development at Willis Re, who was a speaker at this year’s Esri Business Summit, to learn more about how the insurance industry is putting location data and geographic information systems to work. The following is an edited transcript of our e-mail conversation.

How is Willis Re using GIS? What are some of the problems you’re trying to solve?

There are a wide range of GIS tools ranging from desktop analysis tools, server applications, mobile and Web browsers, 3D viewers and many more. At Willis, we use the whole spectrum of GIS capabilities because GIS is at the very heart of our work. (read more…)

This guest post is by Shelly Alcorn, CAE, an association-management consultant. Reach her on Twitter @shellyalcorn, on LinkedIn or at the Association Subculture Blog.

From their earliest days, not-for-profit trade and professional associations have been democratic institutions. One of the most important leadership skills required to serve as an effective volunteer is an understanding of how democratic processes work. Often we look to our public institutions as role models. Sometimes, the examples they set leave something to be desired.

Let’s talk about some best practices that successful association leaders can use to ensure their democracy remains healthy and viable:

  • Association leaders represent and serve the whole, not just a segment or region of the association. Often association leaders are elected by certain constituencies, geographic or otherwise. The fiduciary duty of loyalty dictates that any director on an association board must put the interests of the entire association first, above and beyond any constituent interest.
  • (read more…)

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 160,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each Tuesday in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How quickly does your organization react to challenges?

  • We see challenges as they get close, then we act reasonably quickly: 46%
  • We don’t see challenges until they become crises, then we react in emergency mode: 27%
  • We see challenges coming way in the future and plan for them long in advance: 19%
  • We don’t see challenges until it’s too late, then we go into damage control and recovery mode: 8%

As leaders, you are responsible for pulling up from your day-to-day operations and looking beyond the horizon. Based on the poll results, many of you are more in reactive mode than proactive. The 20% of you who see challenges way into the future are shaping the environment to which your competitors must react. (read more…)

Cindy Solomon is a nationally recognized speaker, consultant, executive coach and author of “The Courage Challenge Workbook.” She co-founded the Women’s Success Forum, the largest senior executive women’s event in the country. Solomon is a keynote speaker at the upcoming National Association of Women Business Owners 2011 Women’s Business Conference. I interviewed her about leadership, her business and the challenges facing women in the workplace today. An edited version of her answers follows.

What is your leadership philosophy?

I believe that great leadership creates great results … for customers, for investors and for employees. Having a quality product or service is a given these days. What really sets successful companies apart is the point when they decide to make developing their leaders one of their primary goals.

If you put a laser focus on creating a culture of honest, open, challenging and courageous leaders, you win in the marketplace. If you make it a priority to create a culture where employees have a meaningful role, are nurtured and challenged every day, and are provided with ongoing, clear and constructive positive feedback, you can create a company of powerful and resilient leaders. (read more…)