Chairman's Column: Notes from the 'John Young Coffee Tour'

Read on below for what I've learned what other COSE members want to see from the organization and how you can make your voice heard, as well.

Among the items on my to-do list after becoming Board Chair at COSE was to sit down with my fellow Board members as part of what I affectionately termed the “John Young Coffee Tour.” The purpose of these informal meetings? I wanted to get a sense from these Board Members on what their thoughts are as it relates to COSE’s priorities moving forward and what we could be doing to ensure that COSE remains a powerful tool for small businesses.

What struck me as I had these conversations is that COSE meant something different to each person. I learned from my Board Members that they all joined COSE/GCP for different reasons. Some enjoyed the networking opportunities. Another group of folks wanted to take advantage of the advocacy work the organization does on behalf of small business. For others, COSE’s health benefit option—the COSE Health and Wellness Trust—was an attractive offering that convinced them to join. And then there were some members who appreciated the robust offering of educational events COSE/GCP coordinates every year.

What I’m trying to get at here is that there was something that brought everyone to the table. But that’s not enough. Our challenge is to continue to develop a large suite of products, services, events and other offerings. The goal here is that when I meet with COSE Members in the future, they don’t just point to one thing that brings them to our organization; rather, they point to a number of reasons why they chose to become a Member.

During a recent COSE Board Meeting, we dove deeper into the program of work COSE provides our small businesses to ensure we are doing the right types of things for you. But I want to hear from you as well. Please send me an email with your thoughts and suggestions and I’d be happy to bring “John Young’s Coffee Tour” to your inbox.

In addition, we are in the process of surveying our members about what’s working, what’s not and what else we should be doing to better meet the needs of your business. This very short (we promise) 5-minute survey will help us develop our priority areas and program plan through the balance of 2018 and into 2019. Thanks in advance for your feedback and perspectives. They are integral in helping us to be sure we are helping you to be more successful!

So, click the link, send me an email, and let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you!

  • Email
  • Next up: Cheryl & Co. Founder Shares Her Entrepreneurial Story and Advice

    Cheryl & Co. Founder Shares Her Entrepreneurial Story and Advice

    Cheryl Krueger, cookie, gourmet dessert, and gift basket retailer extraordinaire, will share her entrepreneurial insights as the featured speaker at COSE’s next think spot event. We recently had the opportunity to ask Krueger a few questions about how she got her start, her advice for entrepreneurs starting out today and what to expect at her upcoming think spot appearance.  

    Cheryl Krueger, cookie, gourmet dessert, and gift basket retailer extraordinaire, will share her entrepreneurial insights as the featured speaker at COSE’s next think spot event. We recently had the opportunity to ask Krueger a few questions about how she got her start, her advice for entrepreneurs starting out today and what to expect at her upcoming think spot appearance. 

    What will you speak about at the COSE ThinkSpot event?

    My talk will cover several topics and I have some great stories to share with the COSE audience. I’ll talk about the journey of Cheryl & Co., how I got started and the obstacles I overcame. In the beginning, I was undercapitalized like most entrepreneurs. I was also a single female in the ‘80s looking for capital for a cookie business!  It was hard to get financing. 

    I’ll talk about the structure of a business. Owners often just think about taking their product to market without thinking about the structure of the business. Should it be retail only, corporate sales, wholesale, catalog sales, should I sell to QVC? Should we outsource, centralize production, etc.? It’s important to understand that opportunity often brings more challenges. You have to decide how many areas you can be an expert at.

    I will also talk about vision. My definition of vision is the ability to see the invisible and do the impossible. The invisible is the ability to see the potential of a product.  Entrepreneurs get it – they see the world a little bit differently. Often times the category already exist, they just find a way to deliver a product or service it in a different way – a way that saves the customer time, solves a problem, or offers a convenience.

    Customer service is also one of my favorite topics. I’m a great believer in customer service and I was a fanatic about looking at our customer retention rate at Cheryl & Co. Because really there is no sense of taking all the time and energy to find a new customer just to let them slip out the back door. I always say if you don’t take care of your customers someone else will.

    What the best business advice you ever got?

    I’ve been fortunate to have had several great mentors along the way who have shared their wisdom. During a particularly tough time, one gentleman who spent time in a concentration camp and had escaped Nazi Germany, simply told me to never give up. It really struck home and I needed to hear that at the time.

    Another mentor extolled the importance of cash flow; the old Cash is King adage. He told me that just because you’re profitable doesn’t mean you have cash on hand. Making sure you pay your bills and never running out of cash is critical. Both seem obvious now, but I believe you get pearls of wisdom when you need them.

    What advice do you have for entrepreneurs starting out today?

    Entrepreneurship is not for everybody. It’s a lot more than luck. It takes perseverance and a lot of sacrifice. You can get immersed in your vision and making your dream come true and that can affect your personal life and relationships. It’s important to always have great optimism and surround yourself with others that have that same optimism and a realistic awareness of what it takes to be successful.

    See Cheryl at think spot on Thursday, May 21, 2015, 5 - 8:30 pm at Windows on the River. Register now at

  • Email
  • Next up: Create a Millennial-Minded Workplace Culture

    Create a Millennial-Minded Workplace Culture

    When you walk in an organization today, have you noticed any changes in the work culture? I’m talking about things such as casual attire; pets at work; flex hours; relaxed atmosphere with space encouraging conversation; standup desks; ergonomic ball chairs; managers who coach instead of boss; and more. If you’re a millennial, this is considered status quo. But for the rest us, right before our eyes we are seeing an evolving work culture with new values, behaviors, beliefs and work spaces. With more frequency now, Gallup and many high-powered consultants are providing ideas on how organizations should adjust the work culture for millennials (ages 20-36) to produce high-impact performance.

    I agree companies need to adapt to millennials’ values. However, I also believe millennial ideas reach across generations and are truly beneficial to all employees. Gallup recently published a list of changes shown below, from what was important at work in the past to what millennials value today and in the future.

    Past Today and Future
    My Paycheck My Purpose
    My Satisfaction My Development
    My Boss My Coach
    My Annual Review My Ongoing Conversations
    My Weaknesses My Strengths
    My Job My Life

    This is a tremendous list to consider for your organization. It speaks to the future of all our workplaces. Today’s list of ideas represents the direction we are headed—toward a cultural focus on employee wellbeing. The new generation of workplace health emphasizes wellbeing of the total person—mind and body. It is not to pamper employees, it is to empower and motivate them to be their best and thrive, which is great for business. Top talent today expects to work in a healthy environment that goes beyond physical wellness and supports both physical and mental health. Examples of mental health include activities that promote career wellbeing to enhance meaning and purpose in their job; intellectual wellbeing to further their growth and development; social wellbeing to build solid relationships with their co-workers, managers and community; and emotional wellbeing to present stress reduction techniques or financial issues.

    Today’s shift in work culture is real, in large and small organizations. We are seeing award-winning organizations infusing wellbeing into the culture because it’s a proven driver of performance for millennials and employees of all ages. The description of workplace wellbeing, according to the National Wellness Institute includes a combination of five key areas: occupational, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. 

    Signs that the wellbeing movement is more than a trend is highlighted by many leaders and organizations. Tom Ciccotti, executive VP of the Chicago Wellness Research Institute spoke in 2015 about the future of the industry. He said the “total employee wellbeing” concept is taking hold in corporate America to empower and enrich the way employees work and live. Similarly, the National Wellness Institute had the theme of their 2016 corporate conference as “sustainable change … to usher in a new era of wellness—one that shines the light on true whole-person wellbeing.”

    Gallup research shows the link between wellbeing and performance, reporting wellbeing initiatives raise engagement and productivity and lower absenteeism and turnover. The lower turnover statistic is especially significant with 50 million millennials in the workforce who leave jobs faster than ever before. Organizations implementing wellbeing strategies will help increase employee engagement, retain employees and attract first-rate people.

    Take a look at your culture. Are most employees engaged and productive? Or would it help for your leadership to apply new cultural changes to strengthen your company? A great way to assess your work environment is with a brief employee engagement survey. If employee engagement is high, chances are you already foster wellbeing and a vital culture. If engagement is low, it might be time to discuss new cultural strategies to reenergize employees and help them thrive. When employees of all ages are engaged and healthy in their overall work lives, they are more committed, give more effort and are much more likely stay.

    Sunny K. Lurie, PhD. is CEO of Advanced Performance, Inc, a firm that helps organizations maximize employee engagement, motivation and performance by promoting organizational wellbeing. Questions about promoting high-impact performance and wellbeing? Email Sunny at:

  • Email
  • Next up: Define Your Business: 4 Key Resources to Know

    Define Your Business: 4 Key Resources to Know

    What spot does your business occupy in your customer’s mind? Are they thinking of you the way you think they’re thinking of you?

    What spot does your business occupy in your customer’s mind? Are they thinking of you the way you think they’re thinking of you?

    Those are important questions. Here are four resources to help you come up with the answers.


  • Email
  • Next up: Delegate Your Way to Success

    Delegate Your Way to Success

    I’ve been teaching a unit on delegation in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program for the past five years. The obvious conclusion is that entrepreneurs like you can benefit a lot from effective delegation and so can the staff picking up those delegated tasks.

    So, let’s get your hands around the art and science of delegation with the summary of answers to three of the discussion questions from that class.

    Question 1: Why don’t entrepreneurs and small business owners delegate?

    Lots of reasons and they all seem logical at the time:

    •  No one can do it better, faster, cheaper or smarter than you can, so why bother delegating?
    • It takes more time to delegate the task than to do it yourself.
    • If you want it done right or right now, then do it yourself.
    • No one to delegate to—you don’t have competent people or those you can trust enough.
    • You don’t want to give up power or authority.
    • You like doing the task—it’s fun, or at least enjoyable. It makes you feel good and compensates a little for all the things you have to do that you don’t like.
    • And a major reason most people won’t admit—you don’t know how to delegate.

    Question 2: So, why should you delegate more often?

    What are the benefits of delegating? Glad you asked! Consider:

    • If you spend too much time working in your businesses, you can’t be spending enough time working on your businesses. And that’s where real innovation, growth and improvements come from.
    • If you’re doing too much, you’re too involved in the daily operations and the business can’t survive without you. Therefore, you can’t sell it or leave it to your kids.
    • Owners can’t do everything equally well. You should spend most of your time on the most important tasks of running the business, like visioning, planning, customer relationship building and being the face of the business. The other tasks can and should be delegated in part or in whole.
    • Delegation is a great way to develop skills on your bench and give junior level staff a change of pace and focus. And some of them will likely do the task better than you could anyway.

    Question 3: What Best Practices make delegating work?

    Once you realize that providing your staff with additional responsibility is a good call, how do you put it into practice. Here are some tips:

    •  Stop using the excuses in question No. 1 and embrace the wisdom and reality of the reasons in question No. 2.
    • Commit to making task analysis, process improvements and delegation all critical strategies for your organization.
    • “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” asserted management guru Peter Drucker years ago. So, consider time a rare and valuable resource and measure how well you use it.
    • Have each key manager log his or her time use in 15-minute increments during different days in different weeks. List incoming calls, texts or emails separately and then analyze the results.
    • Embrace process mapping—identify major processes critical for the operation of the business and have each person involved in that process map it or list step by step how he or she does it.
    • Share the maps in a group meeting, merge the various steps and create a composite best practice procedure for that process. Document it, create job aids for training new people on it and evaluate performance effectiveness and efficiency against the procedure.
    • Use the “Urgent/Important” matrix where each task is evaluated according to how urgent and important it is. Low urgent/important tasks are potential for eliminating or delegating. High urgent/important tasks deserve more emphasis.
    • Another method is to assign an arbitrary value for your time—a high dollar/hour amount. Then, create three groups of tasks:
      • 1. Those for which you are paid too much—a high probability for dumping or delegating.
      • 2. Those for which you are paid fairly—keep doing them.
      • 3. And most importantly, those tasks for which you are not paid enough.These represent your best and highest use, so spend more time and effort on them, the result of delegating or dumping the lower value items.
    • You get what you ask for and model, so start small and simple by effectively delegating to your subordinate staff.
    • Teach them how to do it right. If you don’t know how, hire a specialized consultant who can help you.
    • You get what you reward, so make effective delegation part of their written performance objectives and include factors affecting their salary increases.

    As you’ve seen, effective delegation is both an art and a science. Properly done, it generates significant value for your team, your organization and yourself. And don’t tell me it won’t work—until you can tell me it didn’t work.

    Phil Stella runs Effective Training & Communication ( www.communicate-confidently.com440 449-0356) and empowers business leaders to communicate confidently. Stella is a COSE Ambassador, Resource Network  Expert, Content Committee member and frequent speaker at the Small Business Conventions. A popular trainer and executive coach on workplace communications and sales presentations, he is also on the Cleveland faculty of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative.  

  • Email
  • Next up: Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Destination Unstoppable For Small Businesses

    Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind speaker Maureen Electa Monte talks about success from her Destination Unstoppable® program.

    My two favorite client groups are small businesses and sports teams because they share so many characteristics! They are hungry. They are nimble. They are energized. They care about finding the right people and placing them in a role to succeed. Leaders and employees are eager to help the team achieve goals. My Destination Unstoppable® program and the needs of small businesses and sports teams overlap nicely, so you can imagine my excitement when I had the chance to combine the two!

    Maximizing Team Talent
    A co-owner of a services-based business had a son on the Cranbrook Hockey team that I was working with. We met to discuss my program and how it improves team chemistry. Even though this business was already extraordinarily successful, like an elite sports organization, they wanted to perform to their full potential. This company had experienced rapid growth and had added locations. People were beginning to feel a bit disconnected from one another. We agreed to tackle that common business problem by deepening the sense of connection between partners, the leadership team, and branch site managers. There were 11 people in the initial work group.

    We began by measuring the strengths of the team. This important step helps us indentify and harness talent on the team, and there is always untapped and misunderstood talent on a team. I use the Clifton StrengthsFinder® so that we gain insight into how people think (and we can’t see how you think – this is an important value proposition for clients in fields where mental horsepower drives a competitive edge), execute tasks, relate and influence others. I conducted individual coaching sessions with each participant so that they could build a performance strategy founded in self-awareness, and review what success looked as individuals and as a team.

    Aligning Talent and Success
    Shortly thereafter, we had a full day retreat to reveal the strengths of the team as a group and to strengthen the bonds of teamwork. The day was full of laughter and “aha’s!” as the partners and employees saw the strengths of their colleagues. The partner with his foot on the gas (a strength called Activator) was face to face with the partner who provides a brake (a strength called Deliberative). Often at odds in meetings, they now understood why. Let’s face it – when we buy a car, we want both a gas pedal and a brake. Both are valuable when used appropriately! Similar examples associated with differences in thinking, relating, executing, and influencing were revealed.

    As we explored the answer to the question, “What does success look like for this team?” the conversation was lively and constructive. All voices were heard. Each person spoke about alignment between their natural strengths and success for the team, and new ways to contribute were revealed.

    The feedback forms were insightful with 100% of the team agreeing that the coaching and workshop were valuable and would make the team more successful. Comments included:

    • Now I know why I can’t leave tasks halfway done.

    • Now I understand why I get so frustrated with the pace of change (or lack thereof!) in this company.

    • This really helped me to understand the things that motivate my teammates and why they excel in their respective roles.

    • I know who I can go to for help.

    • Loved this workshop! I knew I worked with an amazing team but today proved that (the company) wants the best for us and my team.

    Today, this business continues to grow and we’re moving on to a similar project with all 45 employees.

    Is Your Company Unstoppable?
    When you join us for our Destination Unstoppable Boot Camp, you and your teams will:

    a) Learn your strengths. The registration fee includes a code for the Clifton StrengthsFinder. When you take it, it will return your top 5 patterns of excellence and provide a customized report.

    b) Learn what your results mean and how you can align your strengths with success.

    c) Discover team talent that was undervalued, misunderstood or underutilized.

    d) Learn next steps to maintain momentum.

    I want to make one more important point. Destination Unstoppable is not a place; it is a shared mindset. It is a heightened energy derived from a unified group that deeply understands and believes in how good they are. It’s a team firing on all cylinders.

    Let’s work together to get your team on the path to Destination Unstoppable and stay there!

    The Business Growth Boot Camp: Destination Unstoppable - The Journey of No Teammate Left Behind will be held on Thursday, June 22nd. Click here if you'd like to register for the event.

    Gallup®, StrengthsFinder®, Clifton StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 Clifton StrengthsFinder theme names are trademarks of Gallup, Inc. Destination Unstoppable® is a trademark of Maureen Monte Consulting, llc. All rights reserved.

  • Email