“Are you a tough boss?” asked an interviewer of John L. Weinberg, senior partner and de facto CEO of Goldman Sachs. A former Marine, Weinberg was a blunt-speaking, unabashed, and self-driven man who knew that most of Goldman’s employees sought to work as hard and as wisely as he himself did. During the period of his leadership, Goldman furthered and consolidated its rapid ascent as a global banking powerhouse.

Weinberg answered the question without hesitation. “Oh, tough is easy. Anyone can be tough.” What is really difficult, he explained, was getting a group of workers to perform to their absolute utmost and in coordination with one another. He was right, of course. The challenge facing Weinberg, and many managers, involves establishing an environment in which an already ambitious crew can deliver their best efforts and have those best efforts most advantageously applied. In my years at Goldman, that was our focus — seeking out the most able and appropriate resources within the firm to find solutions for clients and opportunities in the markets. (read more…)

Let’s talk taxes, and you needn’t flinch. The subject doesn’t have to be all bad news, and isn’t.

There were some changes for the 2014 tax year that you should be aware of as you undertake your small business’ tax prep, some of which may well be to your advantage.

Here’s the good news:

  • The Affordable Care Act and the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit. This credit is now available to you if have 25 or fewer full-time (or full-time equivalent) employees, pay an average wage of less than $50,000 and cover at least half the cost of your employees’ health insurance premiums.
  • Last year, the maximum credit was 35% of any premiums you paid; it’s now 50%. The IRS provides plenty of information on the particulars, and here’s more about the ACA and your business.
  • Another piece of good news: the standard business mileage rate changed in the 2014 tax year to 56 cents a mile.
  • (read more…)

CEO’s are normally quick to hop on ideas, products, services, etc., that can and do yield favorable economic results. Yet, despite encouraging statistics showing its beneficial bottom line impacts, there has been little movement in most organizations to include diversity and inclusion as a strategic business priority.

A Harvard Business Review analysis of top-performing CEOs found a mere 5% of CEO’s whose organizations excel at both year over year financial performance and social and environmental dimensions. Study authors note that performing well on both elements is a rare but possible achievement.

The type of diversity these organizations practice — transcending both visible (race, age, gender, etc.) and invisible (thinking styles, values, beliefs, etc.) differences in pursuit of inclusive excellence — is wicked hard work. Work that requires a healthy appetite for disrupting the status quo.

CEOs and academics offer valuable insights into areas where organizations must change if they are to gain the positive benefits of diversity. (read more…)

Positioning their properties for the future, hoteliers are focusing on the next generation of business travelers: millennials. This generation—a group born between 1980 and 2000 that numbers about 77 million—characterized by their devotion to technology expect hotels to provide unique experiences and environments, and cater to their desire for an on-demand lifestyle.

A recent SmartBrief webinar, “The Guest Experience: Top Trends to Look for in 2015,” presented by The Wall Street Journal, explored several hotel trends including how hotels are adapting to millennials’ needs. Hotel executives from leading brands as well as hospitality research and market experts who shared their insights into the financial health of the industry and trends in supply that will affect it in the next year.

The webinar drew an engaged audience who submitted dozens of questions for the panelists. In the interest of keeping the conversation going, we followed up on one particularly good question about hotels and millennials: “How much is the ‘focus on millennials’ really more of an overall cultural shift for travelers to seek more authentic, connected and social travel experiences? (read more…)

Succession_300This post is an excerpt from “Succession: Mastering the Make-Or-Break Process of Leadership Transition,” by Noel Tichy, in agreement with Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Copyright (c) Noel Tichy, 2014.

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In March 2014, James Hackett, who had served as CEO of office furniture manufacturer Steelcase for twenty years, turned over the leadership of the leading company in his industry to his successor, James Keane. Over the prior two decades, Hackett had spearheaded a fundamental transformation of his organization to make it much more than just an office furniture maker, but a full-fledged, highly innovative workplace design company that created total work environments, integrating furniture with high-tech applications, work space design and learning environments.

The company’s award-winning leadership development center, transformed from an old warehouse on the corporate campus, is a model for high-touch and high-tech learning environments that Jim Hackett consciously used as a critical component of his overarching strategy to construct a new creative culture at Steelcase. (read more…)