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Business Makeover Consultants Blog


Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Fortune 500, Goals, Leadership.

A Tribute to Fred DeLuca, an Amazing Entrepreneur

Fred Deluca

By Steve Gandara

The world lost one of its greatest entrepreneurs this past week. Fred DeLuca, Co-Founder of the Subway Empire passed on September 14th after his battle with Leukemia. The 17-year-old student who opened a “healthy-fare” sandwich shop in Bridgeport, Connecticut, grew the now global chain to over 44,000 locations in 110 countries.

After more than three decades of coaching leaders and doing radio interviews, I’ve gotten to meet a few people who really impact you because they stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Fred was one of these amazing business leaders. I’ll never forget my anticipation waiting to have dinner with this billionaire entrepreneur at one of his favorite restaurants in Milford, Connecticut, Subway’s hometown. He was running late due to a meeting delay. Just as I was about to call his assistant to see if I missed the time, Fred himself calls me on my mobile. Apologetically, he let me know that he was running late but that he’d be there soon. My anticipation had me expecting a sparkling black limo or town car driving up with a guy in a cashmere overcoat and meticulously hand-tailored suit. Man was I surprised when this humble guy drives himself up in a well-worn Acura or Lexus (I was so amazed, I didn’t even discern which it was). No cashmere overcoat or expensive handmade suit, just slacks and a sweater.

Fred’s persona was the same as his vehicle, humble, not flashy but high quality and extremely solid. Even though at the time he was fighting for his life, you would never have known it. Fred-DeLuca-co-founder-of-SubwayI’ll always remember the sparkle in his eyes and the aura of energy that radiated from his humble grin. His demeanor was much the same. The guy actually listened more than he talked and listened in a manner that made you feel how much he truly cared, not just about what you had to say, but who you were.

Over the months that followed before his passing, we had the opportunity to chat a number of times, share a good book and communicate back and forth about a high performance culture project we were working on for the company’s IT Division. Knowing what a busy life Fred had with business as well as his medical procedures, I would text him milestones on the project from time to time not really expecting to hear back.

Sometimes, as much as two or three weeks would go by and then from out of nowhere would come a reply text message from Fred acknowledging what I’d sent him earlier that I’d already forgotten about. Whether it was a short “Thanks Steve,” or something longer, it was apparent that he never forgot you and truly cared about his relationship with you. The world’s economy will truly miss this amazing entrepreneur as will those who knew and loved him.

A few months after our dinner together we were chatting on the phone about his vision for the culture that he wanted to develop and sustain in his IT Division. I was amazed at both the depth of his responses as well as the simplicity of them. Here’s the 5 high performance behaviors for entrepreneurial leaders that Fred taught me, and my understanding of them:

1. Everyone in charge knows their mission.

Every successful enterprise has a clearly defined mission statement. How many actually live it? How many have it so clearly understood (not just communicated) that every single team member knows the part that they play and embrace it. Fred was as big on mission as he was about the business of growing his global company to the next level. He knew the importance of making sure that every single team member knew the part that they played and embraced it. He was all about the business of making that happen before he passed on.

2. They are enthusiastic about setting big goals.

Fred DeLuca wrote the book on setting bold goals without having any idea of how he would ever achieve them. That’s right, this role model entrepreneur didn’t believe in setting realistic goals like we have so often been taught. I’ll never forget his stories about setting goals to have 5,000 and 10,000 stores when Subway was so small most of his team couldn’t even imagine growing from 200 to 1,000 stores. But Fred could. He became famous for not just having these bold goals printed on the napkins at Subway but blowing through them. At the time, most thought this practice was weird or eccentric. Today’s brightest neuroscientists have proven that the human brain is most creative, receptive and effective when it’s focused on exciting stimulation through seemingly impossible goals. While Fred did earn a degree in psychology from the University of Bridgeport in 1971 and an honorary doctorate in 2002, he was a truly a business guy and not a psychologist. Yet this business guy had a deep understanding of the concept of neuroplasticity long before research had proven it.

3. They are open to creative thinking on how to hit those goals.

Score one more brilliant concept for this amazing entrepreneur. Recently, neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson's groundbreaking research on Tibetan Buddhist monks at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found that years of meditative practice can dramatically increase neuroplasticity -- the brain's ability to use new experiences or environments to create structural changes. While I’m not sure if Dr. Davidson had even completed his undergraduate work in 1974 when Fred started practicing this concept, Fred’s vision for 5,000 stores and then 10,000 was about stimulating creative thinking with his team. This creative thinking awakened amazing innovative and creative strategies. The history of Subway has proven that Fred somehow knew and practiced this.

4. They encourage everyone to work toward these goals and give realistic progress assessments making course corrections when necessary.

So now we see where the “realistic” comes into play: not in setting goals, but in working our way towards them, making course corrections when necessary. Fred talked about this using an example that he and the Subway team deployed while working to reach their goal of 5,000 stores by 1994, in an interview he did for Inc. Magazine some time ago. “The thought process wasn't horribly complicated. Compared with other restaurants, we had a low franchise fee and a low upfront investment. Our stores were simple and inexpensive to build. The low franchise fee came from the fact that we didn't know what we were doing. In the beginning, we charged a flat $5,000 franchise fee, and after several months of trying, we couldn't get anyone to buy. So I cut the fee to $1,000, and some people joined up. A few years later, we moved it back up to $5,000.”

5. Contribute ideas on how they can help the company move forward and contribute toward them.

If you read any of the interviews that Fred gave over his life span, you’ll quickly note that he practiced this throughout his life leading Subway. In my conversations with Fred about increasing employee engagement and effectiveness, it became very apparent that Fred was both a student of performance psychology and a tried and true business guy. I remember him telling me, “I’ll consider any new idea if there’s a good business case to go with it but I am not really interested in funding ideas where there’s no solid business case.” So many leaders these days get so oversold on employee engagement that they forget that they are running a business. Gallup may disagree, but history has proven that you can have the most engaged workforce on the planet and go bankrupt if you make bad business decisions in the name of engagement or for any other reason. Fred was truly both a brilliant entrepreneur and a very wise and savvy business guy.

Fred DeLuca, anyone whose life you touched will truly miss you. Anyone who’s ever eaten one of your great healthy subs or salads will always remember you. Godspeed.

7 Keys to Creating the Best Work Environment (Infographic)

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Featured.

Offering employees generous salaries might make you a popular boss in the short term, but research shows that what workers really want far extends beyond the usual job incentives.
Keeping employees happy and productive requires frequent and open communication, regular recognition of achievements, and constructive feedback. In short, employees are human beings and should be valued and treated such.
Our friends at Adecco created the infographic below explaining the nitty gritty of creating an optimal work environment.
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Clayton Christensen | Harvard Business School

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leading Culture Tips.


Culture is a way of working together toward common goals that have been followed so frequently and so successfully that people don't even think about trying to do things another way. If a culture has formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful.Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School

Stop Setting New Year’s Resolutions

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Goals, Leading Culture Tips, Values.

Why do we as individuals spend so much time making New Year’s resolutions only see them fade away in few short weeks? Why do our businesses spend so much effort and money developing systems and strategies only to find that many go by the wayside time after time? It could be that we’ve failed to realize that what Peter Drucker taught is fact: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”
At Excellent Cultures we spend all of our time and energy in the areas that produce the most scalable transformation and return on our investment. Life is short. Why waste time and energy on things that don’t produce the desired outcomes?
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Relax, It’s a Holiday

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Discipline, Executive Coaching, Goals, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Values.

Five Benefits to Relaxing Independence Day Excellent Cultures


As you no doubt have time off with family and friends over this Independence Day weekend, make sure to actually kick back and relax. Having a holiday is about meditating, being grateful, recouping, restoring energy, vision, and drive. Not just for your future work, but you current personal life. Your family needs a relaxed you, your business needs a relaxed you, the world needs a relaxed you.
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People are Opportunities not Interruptions

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Discipline, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Values.



The greater the leadership role, the less time there seems to be for people. The constant emails, phone calls, meetings, planning meetings about the meetings. If you haven’t already realized it, the leadership role you thought you were born for is often not what it turns out to be. You may have gotten into the business for the people, now you’re inappropriately spending too much time on administivia that you should be delegating to someone else.
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Top Down Leadership Limitations & How to Overcome Them

Posted by on in Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teamwork, Values.

Top Down Leadership 2 Excellent Cultures

The top-down approach to leadership is based on post industrial revolution and pre-Vietnam era military or Captain of Industry models of barking orders to underlings. It can go something like this: "I'm in charge here, and the sooner you figure that out the better!" While this perhaps may be an effective form of leadership in the military, today’s elite military leaders will tell you that it has it’s negative side effects. In consulting a former Senior Operations Manager from the US Army for this article I was enlightened to hear his input. Matthew Skidmore informed us that the US Military has indeed turned away from the top down style of leadership in all of their special operations teams. They empower from the bottom up simply because it is far more effective.
The most disturbing part of a top down leadership style in the marketplace is that it typically erodes to taking on a very low view of humanity. Everyone is meant to feel below the leader who’s doing the barking of orders. It often assumes that individuals cannot think for themselves.
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The Number One Leadership Hangup – Top Down Attitude

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teamwork.

Number One Leadership Hangup Top Down Attitude

Every one of us has a default mode of leadership. That default mode is top-down. We naturally fall into the trap of this form of leadership for a few reasons. The natural self prefers to dominate others and to try to amass power that can be held over other people. Leadership, by nature, seems to entail one person lording over another. Another reason is because it’s traditional. Historically, autocratic, top-down leadership has been the most commonly practiced method. It's the easiest. It is much easier to simply tell people what to do than to attempt other, much more effective leadership styles. Read more →

Steve Gandara on Rainmakers TV

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Executive Coaching, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Values.

business culture steve gandara PBS show tv rainmakers

"Culture eats strategy for breakfast" is the mantra of Excellent Cultures. Steve Gandara explains how companies that pay close attention to the culture of their operations do much better for all stakeholders. Rainmakers Tv on PBS.
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Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture – Part Four

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Goals, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teamwork, Values.

seahawks super bowl business culture corporate culture


There's no doubt we here at Excellent Cultures have been excited about the Seahawks Super Bowl win. It's been something we've waited for all of our lives! But the culture that brought the Lombardi trophy to Seattle isn't new here, in fact it began when Paul Allen bought the team in 1997, and the most noticed addition came when Pete Carroll was signed on in 2010.
We've been tracking them the entire time and this series highlights what we've learned.
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The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture – Part Three

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork.

john schneider seahawks SUPER BOWL


Part two of this Super Bowl Culture series highlighted the importance of humility and confidence, as well as the destructiveness of arrogance. Whether you've been converted as a Hawks fan and joined the cult of the 12th MAN is not our greatest concern, we will begrudgingly keep our wagon open to the bandwagon fan. But our greatest desire is to help you be a culture change agent. Pete Carroll and John Schneider as just the most prominent examples of Excellent Culture that we can point to right now.
Culture of Seattle’s 12th Man
The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture | Part One | Fun is a By-Product not a Goal
The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture | Part Two | Positive Competition & Relationships

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The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture – Part Two

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Communication, Culture, Employee Engagement, Executive Coaching, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teamwork, Values.

Pete Carroll Super Bowl Seattle Seahawks Business Culture


As you’ve read in our last two blog posts, you've undoubtedly noticed that we've seen so much in the Seattle Seahawks this year that translate to the leadership and business cultures we work with. For one, they knew they had something special in the Seattle fans, so rather then trying to control them with marketing, they released them and invited into the organization as a part of the team, The 12th MAN. Secondly, we see the team having a lot of fun, but we realize that fun is not a corporate value; it's the result of great culture. It’s a fruit, not a root.
Culture of Seattle’s 12th Man
The Seahawks Super Bowl Winning Culture | Part One | Fun is a By-product not a Goal
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The Seahawk’s Super Bowl Winning Culture – Part One

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Discipline, Featured, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork, Values.

SUPER BOWL business culture


A fter his team’s 43-8 trouncing in the recent Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Bronco head coach John Fox commented, "We ran into a buzz saw."
Conversely Seattle Seahawk’s head coach Pete Carroll’s view was, "We just played the way we always play." How can there be such a disparity of world views of the same game by two world-class coaches, coaching two world-class teams? The difference is team culture. Carroll views the game as “just playing the way we always play,” while Fox is feeling the sting of the buzz saw.
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12th Man Culture Rings LOUD & CLEAR

Posted by on in Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Featured, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork.


Seattle is known to house many world-renowned corporate hubs; Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, Microsoft, Google, Paccar, Costco, Nordstrom, etc. and now the Seattle Seahawks? Of course if you’re a resident of the Pacific Northwest you may have already included the Seahawks on your list of epic Washingtonian organizations. The rest of the world has been informed this year with their amazing success and soon to be Super Bowl win over the Denver Broncos (Ok I’m a Seahawks fan so I’m trying to prophecy a bit here).
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10 Steps to Guarantee Your Goal Success in 2014

Posted by on in Discipline, Goals, Values.


Why Don’t New Year’s Resolutions Stick?: 10 Steps to Guarantee Your Goal Success in 2014
Find your heart before you set any goals. Heart-felt goals get achieved, head goals are just an exercise in thinking.
Clarify and prioritize your top 5 or 6 values in life in the order of where you’d spend your time if you only had 1 week to live. Set 1 goal for each of your values.
Do an inventory of your 5 best gifts or talents and set specific goals to hone and improve them. (Wasted talents atrophy)
Get feedback from those who see you as more than you are and want the best for you on what goals to set.
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Gratefulness is a Core Leadership Attribute

Posted by on in Business Culture, Discipline, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Teams.


In America every November we celebrate Thanksgiving. No matter the historical premise for this American holiday it has become a time when we place our attention on who and what makes us thankful.
Research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Reflecting on what one is grateful for results in more positive emotions, greater satisfaction from good experiences, improved health, greater ability to deal with adversity, and stronger relationships.
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How to Change a Culture | The Follow Through | Part Three

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork.

In this continuing series on changing culture we’ve diagnosed, we’ve begun instilling a cure, now it’s time for one of the most critical elements to lasting culture change.
One of the biggest challenges to creating and having genuine culture change is what we will call the sustainability issue. Anyone can yank the steering wheel of a ship or plane while the autopilot is engaged. By grabbing the wheel you create a temporary course adjustment, but sooner or later the autopilot will engage again and take over your efforts to manhandle the steering wheel.
A culture is the autopilot of any organization. It will either be created by accident or by design, but there is no mistake that it is the unconscious mechanism that functions behind the scenes of your company. Culture will either be building or destroying your organization from the inside out. At the root of every issue is a cultural problem that has sprung a productive tree or despicable weed. Read more →

How to Change a Culture | The Cure | Part Two

Posted by on in Business Culture, Culture, Leading Culture Tips.

HOW TO part 2
The Cure
Y ou've read part one of this two part blog series and realized you've got culture challenges within your organization if you employ human beings. When confronted with a patient, every doctor is going to do as much testing as possible to learn about and diagnose the problem that may be going on in the patient's body so that the proper and most effective treatment is prescribed.
The most important thing to do when faced with symptoms within me as a leader or within my organization is to get help. Read more →

How To Change a Culture | The Diagnosis | Part One

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Communication, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork.


Part one of a three part series. How to recognize a culture change is needed.

The Sinking Ship
A n underperforming culture looks like anything in-between a sinking battered battleship to a shiny new Titanic. One has been through war; the other is fresh from the paint booth. Both are sinking despite how they look on the exterior. One may have a humbled heroic captain grasping onto the sinking ship as its crew has fought gallantly to keep it afloat. The other with an arrogantly blind captain grasping to the notion that his boat is the best, all the while it’s going down and taking people with it. They’re both going to hit the bottom of the ocean.
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Three Quick Tips From Jack Hollis

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork.


 These three things that Jack Hollis shared are from the Excellent Cultures radio show and podcast.  You can listen to the streaming show in it's entirety here:
listen-to-show icon

Engaging People

Engagement comes from helping one another, not helping yourself. No person can make the end-all happen. You can control your attitude and your effort, the rest of it is not in your control. All I asked our team is to give your teammates your best effort.

If you're not authentic and not transparent, it's hard for people to trust you. If you don't get trust you don't get buy-in, if you don't get buy-in, you don't go anywhere.

I want our team to understand that we not only have each other’s backs, but we want to see each other succeed. By doing so everyone succeeds beyond 1+1=2. Synergy takes over and we get multiplication rather than addition.

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Posted by on in Business, Leadership, Values.


S ervant leadership is a hot topic among leadership circles. But what is it really? What does it produce? Why be a servant?


The traditional definition: Servant leadership is both a leadership philosophy and set of leadership practices. Traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid.” By comparison, the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.

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A Sales Driven Company Doesn’t Have To Be Just About Profit

Posted by on in Business Culture, Ethics, Leadership, Sales, Teams, Values.

Joe Shine 3

A Sales Driven Company Doesn’t Have To Be Just About Profit

with Joe Shine, CFO Sheehy Auto Sales
C ulture Leaders meet Joe Shine, the CFO of the $900 million company Sheehy Auto Stores and recipient of the CFO of the Year Award by Atlanta Business Chronicle. From simple beginnings in 1965, Sheehy Ford began as a small, suburban, family-owned car dealership just off the brand-new Washington, D.C. Beltway. Because of their customers, they were immediately successful, and by 1975 had become the largest Ford dealership in the country. Today, the company is still primarily family-owned and has grown to more than 30,000 vehicle sales per year. With stores located from Baltimore, MD to Richmond, VA., Sheehy has 19 locations in the Mid-Atlantic region with 21 franchises.
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GOODWILL LEADERSHIP — Admiral James B. Stockdale

Posted by on in Business Culture, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips.



"Leadership must be based on goodwill. Goodwill does not mean posturing and, least of all, pandering to the mob. It means obvious and wholehearted commitment to helping followers. We are tired of leaders we fear, tired of leaders we love, and of tired of leaders who let us take liberties with them. What we need for leaders are men of the heart who are so helpful that they, in effect, do away with the need of their jobs. But leaders like that are never out of a job, never out of followers. Strange as it sounds, great leaders gain authority by giving it away."

— Admiral James B. Stockdale


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PILLAR VALUES with Bob Hinton of Moss Adams

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips.

Developing a Culture of Ethics, Values & Employee Engagement Series:


W e recently had the opportunity to sit down with Bob Hinton of Moss Adams.  A 20-year veteran of the 100-year-old Moss Adams a leader in assurance, tax, consulting, risk management, transaction, and wealth services.  Moss Adams has a staff of over 2,000 that includes more than 200 partners.  They focus on serving public, private, and not-for-profit enterprises and high net worth individuals across the nation through specialized industry and service teams.



Moss Adams has a strong culture focused on Passion for excellence in serving their clients, team members and the communities they practice in, by creating a team culture in the process.  One of their founding formations is the acronym PILLAR:

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Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Values.

"Control is not leadership; management is not leadership; leadership is leadership. If you seek to lead, invest at least 50% of your time in leading yourself—your own purpose, ethics, principles, motivation, conduct. Invest at least 20% leading those with authority over you and 15% leading your peers."
— Dee Hock, Founder and CEO Emeritus, Visa

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INSPIRING CEO’S: Tony Hsieh, Zappos

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Fortune 500, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips.

W e consistently like looking for inspiring CEOs of Corporate Culture and enjoy highlighting them. Clearly Tony is a master of online business strategies. Some of Excellent Cultures’ favorite things to focus on are values and employee engagement in the workplace. No matter where you go, organizational studies and human resource management are a major factor in the business world. Often they are belittled and fall behind the shadow of production and profitability. It's been proven time and again that these are two sides of the same coin and not at war with one another. Each are vital to keep organizations moving forward. Read more →

SAYING SORRY: How GoDaddy Fixed Their Mistake

Posted by on in Business, Communication, Culture, Ethics, Leadership, Values.

Developing a Culture of Ethics, Values & Employee Engagement Series:


We are not web professionals, nor do we claim to have the knowledgeable expertise of webhosting or information technologies. What we do know is how to measure and benchmark business culture, change how leaders lead, draw in your team and create greater employee engagement. We do this while sustaining new business cultures far past events and pep-rallies. We also are the world’s best at being able to recognize the difference between which companies are faking the community corporate culture and which ones are truly living it. Read more →


Posted by on in Business Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Teams, Teamwork, Values.

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say 'I.' And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say 'I.' They don't think 'I.' They think 'we'; they think 'team.' They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'we' gets the credit.... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."

- Peter Drucker

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CULTURE IS A RAILROAD SYSTEM: Interview with Russell Freeman

Posted by on in Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Ethics, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips, Values.

Developing a Culture of Ethics, Values & Employee Engagement Series:


Interview with Russell Freeman, CFC/COO for Ross Perot


With 35 years in the business we’ve had the opportunity to work with some great companies. Many relationships we’ve formed over those years of service to companies have led us to opportunities to interview some of the nations top leaders. The other day via landline, cell phone, and Skype we got to chat with Russell Freeman.

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Biz Culture Tip: Garry Willis

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Leadership, Leading Culture Tips.

"Not many of us will be leaders; and even those who are leaders must also be followers much of the time. This is the crucial role. Followers judge leaders. Only if the leaders pass that test do they have any impact. The potential followers, if their judgment is poor, have judged themselves. If the leader takes his or her followers to the goal, to great achievements, it is because the followers were capable of that kind of response."

- Garry Wills in Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership


Business Coaching Tip: Bill Gates

Posted by on in Business, Leadership.

"Virtually every company will be going out and empowering their workers with a certain set of tools, and the big difference in how much value is received from that will be how much the company steps back and really thinks through their business processes, thinking through how their business can change, how their project management, their customer feedback, their planning cycles can be quite different than they ever were before."

- Bill Gates

Business Culture Tip: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Posted by on in Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Values.

"Today many American corporations spend a great deal of money and time trying to increase the originality of their employees, hoping thereby to get a competitive edge in the marketplace. But such programs make no difference unless management also learns to recognize the valuable ideas among the many novel ones, and then finds ways of implementing them."

- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi



Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Ethics, Leadership, Teams, Values.

By: Craig O. Donaldson


The Wizard of Oz introduced us to three wonderful and flawed characters. We cheered them on in their magical journey to Oz. One lacked a brain, the other lacked a heart and the third was without courage. With Dorothy and Toto, they plodded along in a fanciful world with witches, wizards, ruby shoes and flying monkeys, searching for what they lacked. In the end, these three endearing characters realized that all along what they were seeking was always well within their grasp. They just needed a way to figure it out, live it and make it part of their DNA.

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CHAMPION SERIES | Champion Triathlete Timothy O’Donnell – Part 2

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Discipline, Leadership.

As strategic management consultants, Excellent Cultures gets to see the best of the best and the worst of the worst in corporations, leadership circles, and professional athletics. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with Timothy O'Donnell whom exemplifies what it means to be best of the best! One of the great things about Tim is that his best has shown through not just because of giftedness, but hard work, great strategies and great coaching.

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Transportation Leaders See a New Path to Improved Safety Results

Posted by on in Business Culture, Employee Engagement, Teamwork.

Transportation Safety

By Dale Hinz

The transportation industry like many is awash with data. GPS technologies and detailed reports track everything. The key to success and effective business communication is balancing the abundant historical metrics and with a firm focus on future desired outcomes. Inspiring positive behaviors from all levels – especially at the driver level, requires reinforcing the behaviors we want versus what we don’t want. Leadership styles effective in the future will fully grasp this.

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CHAMPION SERIES | Champion Triathlete Timothy O’Donnell – Part 1

Posted by on in Business Culture, Discipline, Leadership, Values, Work Ethic.

Our Champion Series will focus on leadership tips from world class athletes. Questions that have come from executives across the globe concerning discipline, self-esteem, work ethic, and more. This blog will be a two part series taken from our interview with Timothy O'Donnell:



A graduate of the United States Naval Academy (USNA) in Annapolis, Maryland.  Timothy was initially a member of the Varsity Swim Team until his brother convinced him to try out for the Triathlon Team as well.  But athletics weren't his only talents. 

O'Donnell excelled in other aspects of life at the USNA. His leadership skills were further developed when he was selected as the 6th Battalion Commander his senior year. As Battalion Commander he was responsible for over 700 members of the Brigade of Midshipman. Academically O'Donnell was part of the engineering community, studying Naval Architecture. He was selected to Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society and, his senior project, the structural design of a harbor cruise ship, won the award for superior design. In May of 2003 he graduated the USNA with Honors and was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy.

Execution = Strategy x Culture

Posted by on in Business, Business Culture, Culture.

"Most leaders don't realize that business culture is a powerful multiplier that sets the best from the rest."


Ineffective execution runs rampant in corporate America today. OnPoint Consulting conducted a survey revealing that half of those surveyed believe that there was a gap in their organization between their ability to develop a strategy and its ability to execute it. A staggering 64% said they had no confidence that the gap could be closed.

The Cream in Your Coffee: Values and Employee Engagement

Posted by on in Business Culture, Communication, Culture, Employee Engagement.

I am an avid coffee drinker. When I say avid, I mean addict. My day usually begins with it, my afternoon is excited by it, and my evenings end with it. I enjoy coffee in its many forms. Perhaps I have a caffeine addiction, but coffee is something that never gets old to me. There are so many ways to have it: drip coffee, press, pour over, Americano, latte, shot in the dark, iced coffee and more. There are many ways to make the same thing taste different, look different, even smell different, but it's still coffee.


I live in Seattle, yes the birthplace of Starbucks. I have been their biggest fan for years, until now. My wife and I just moved back into the heart of the city from the suburbs. Our neighborhood here seems to be the hub of Seattle coffee. We've been introduced to some amazing coffee, from many different little shops. These little shops have such good coffee that we could literally go to a new one everyday and have a cup of the roasted nectar of the gods and experience the same thing with new flavor daily!

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