Posts by: kevinb

Becoming a Success-Minded Leader

If anything has challenged us as leaders more than what has occurred over the last seven months, I can’t think of it! Talk about having to use your leadership skills to the max—trying to keep morale up, productivity high, and goals on track. It’s certainly a year we will never forget (even though we might like to!) Through it all—and you know this to be true—utilizing the Success Factor Mindsets remains essential for your success. The Success Factor mindsets of vision, passion, perseverance are what we call the BIG THREE. The Success Factor mindsets of creativity, compassion, risk-taking, self-motivation, seizing opportunities and positive thinking round out the nine. These mindsets define you as a Success-Minded Leader.
We’ve discovered that sometimes it comes down to just one of these mindsets to get us through, and that’s the ability to persevere, to maintain ourselves in the face of adversity, hardship and outright disaster.
In this newsletter, I want to share some inspiring quotes about noted individuals (and as you’ll see below “noted” is a huge understatement!) whose skill sets were originally assessed to be lacking. Needless to say, these people rose above what others thought or what circumstances dictated to achieve greatness. None of this is would have been possible without them having the courage to stand your their ground and move forward in the face of all the naysayers, all those people who said they could never succeed.

Clint Eastwood and Burt Reynolds
In 1959, a Universal Pictures executive dismissed them at the same meeting with the following statements: To Burt Reynolds: “You have no talent.” To Clint Eastwood: “You have a chip on your tooth, your Adam’s apple sticks out too far, and you talk too slow.”

Abraham Lincoln
He entered the Blackhawk War (1831-32) as a captain. By the end of the war, he had been demoted to the rank of private.
Lucille Ball
She began studying to become an actress in 1927 and was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, “Try any other profession. Any other profession.”
These people reached a pinnacle few of us ever achieve. And they did it by persevering

Live Online Learning

We have our complete program: Becoming a Success-Minded Leader available via Live Webinars. Contact us for more information.

Coping During a Crisis

During this time of crisis, with so much out of our control, how can Success-Minded leaders cope?

In my interviews with hundreds of leaders at the top of their field, it was clear that they shared a common perspective. The key they repeatedly shared with me was the importance of managing their mindset during a crisis.

Today, with the world facing the same crisis together: the coronavirus (COVID-19), we are witnessing fear and panic spreading faster than the virus.

Researchers have found that fear in the workplace is contagious. We pick up other people’s reactions and take them on as our own – all without consciously realizing we are doing it.

Mindsets, both positive and negative, can spread among employees like viruses. And this has a real potential impact to your organization.

Sigal Barsade, PhD, Management Professor at The Wharton School, has conducted research into positive and negative mindsets becoming contagious at work. She shares that leaders can unconsciously spread their negative or positive reactions to their team. And the impact on your team can be significant. For example,
Dr. Barsade’s research found that the impact of the spread of negative emotions impairs employees’ judgement and business decisions.

The good news is that a positive contagion can spread as rapidly as a negative one and the impact is very beneficial. Research demonstrates when a positive, compassionate mindset is adopted, teams display more cooperation, less interpersonal conflict, and perform better on their tasks than groups in which negative emotions were spread by the leader.

As leaders we can impact the spread of psychological contagions. Self-leadership is more crucial than ever. Accessing our innate Success Factors Mindsets of Positive Thinking and Compassion comes down to the decisions we make. This is beautifully illustrated by the following story.

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is negative–he is fear and worry.”

He continued, “The other is positive – compassion and hope.”

The same fight is going on inside you–and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

As leaders, we are reminded to regularly ask ourselves, which wolf am I feeding?



Passion for Success

As we begin this new year of 2020, it’s a great time to reflect on our past successes and failures. What worked last year? What didn’t work? What do you want to do more of? What might you want to let go of doing?
As you make your plans for the next 12 months, we encourage you to get clear on what you are passionate about making happen.
The following story is a good example of the importance of the Success Factor Mindset of Passion.
You’ve likely heard of the company called Instacart, a business that revolutionized grocery shopping and is now valued at over $8 Billion. The founder, Apoorva Mehta, is passionate about this business. He created the business to solve a problem he was having finding the time to grocery shop. As he grew the business from just a few stores to service in all 50 states, passion fueled his tireless efforts.
However, things weren’t always this way for Apoorva. Prior to founding Instacart, he had poured his time and talent (plus significant sums of money from investors) into another startup venture. This business was entirely different than Instacart. It wasn’t about solving a problem that Apoorva had or anything he cared about, it was simply an idea that he thought would be profitable – a social network for attorneys.
When that business went belly up, Apoorva was confused. He had done all the ‘right’ things – he had the right people on board, he conducted careful planning—he had the investors. In other words, he took all the actions he needed to take to make that company a go – and yet the company still failed.
That unexpected result caused him to take time off and reassess. A postmortem revealed the answer. There was a missing ingredient – Passion. He admitted to himself that he had begun the business without any personal interest in it, he didn’t care about networking attorneys. The lesson was clear to him that without passion, success is elusive.​​​​​​​
With Instacart, the Success Factor Mindset of Passion gave him the fuel to realize his dreams.
Passion is not just critical for entrepreneurs. It is important for teams and leaders in organizations. Quite possibly, passion may be more important in impacting worker productivity than engagement. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte suggests that the focus on employee engagement may be missing the mark – it is cultivating worker passion that is key to developing leaders and teams. Additionally, Harvard Business Review states that the focus on employee engagement doesn’t always produce the intended results. Passion therefore is a key to success in organizations.
As you embark on a new year of possibilities, what are you passionate about making happen?

Success-Minded Leadership True Story: Making the Impossible Happen

Have you ever had an idea that you were passionate about pursuing that others told you wasn’t possible?

Kemper Freeman Jr., who built and operates Bellevue Square, one of the most financially successful malls in the country, was originally told that his dream for the space was not possible.

“You can’t build a multi-level mall and make a profit. Shoppers will only visit stores on the first floor and the rest of the stores will go under.”  Kemper was repeatedly told by the experts in the early days when Bellevue Square was still an idea on paper.

Kemper was 25 years old at the time. He had no previous experience in commercial development, most especially with such an ambitious undertaking as Bellevue Square.

He could have given up at that point. Most people wouldn’t have blamed him – the experts didn’t think what he was proposing was doable.

However, this is a story of one of the Success-Minded Leaders who inspired the creation of our leadership development curriculum.

Kemper demonstrates each of the nine Success Mindsets (vision, passion, perseverance, self-motivation, seizing opportunities, risk taking, positive thinking, compassion and creativity), as did the other 148 leaders we studied.

Using a combination of sheer passion, perseverance and vision, Kemper was relentless in finding a solution to his impossible dream.

And his thinking paid off.  He proved the naysayers wrong. After many attempts to find a solution to his dilemma, he discovered one expert with an innovative perspective – someone who was a risk-taker, like Kemper, who thought creatively, who was willing to do the unorthodox.

By building free parking that connected directly to the upper levels of the mall, they solved the problem.  Now, all shoppers had to pass by the upper level shops on their way to the rest of the mall. The second-story retail stores flourished.

This model has been replicated many times over throughout the country, spawning other thriving shopping centers.

Had Kemper not stayed with his original vision and let his passion and perseverance guide him, this project would not have been realized.

What have you told yourself is too difficult to accomplish? Or what have others told you that is not going to work?

You have the choice to believe the naysayers or to move ahead and make your dreams come true.

Will You Disrupt for Success or Fall Behind?

You might have a negative reaction when you hear the words “disrupt” or “disruption.” We’re all taught to conform, and certainly to avoid interruptions or “upsetting the apple cart.”

Market disruption occurs when one individual or organization introduces an innovation that indeed upsets the apple cart. But that kind of upset is what drives innovation – new apple cart designs, new ways of keeping apples from spilling out onto the ground. In other words, disruption driven by innovation also drives success, but only for the disruptor and others willing to innovate!

A recent article in eCampus News argued that changes in higher education are not temporary or to be ignored. If anything, changes in education delivery driven by technology (and innovation!), along with customized learning, are leading the education industry into a state of broad disruption. Ignoring and bemoaning these kinds of changes could lead some institutions into declining enrollment and value. Those who acknowledge disruption – like it or not – are more likely to survive or thrive when disruption occurs.

In fact, disruption is so important in markets that CNBC publishes a list each spring of companies that stand out, the ones investors see promise in. Consider a few examples from the 2018 list:

  • Airbnb, which has completely altered how we book travel lodging.
  • 23andMe, the path to a genetics road-map for individuals to learn ore about their personal genomes and researchers to gather treatment-changing data.
  • Rent the Runway, a way to expand your wardrobe by mail. Users can rent clothing for special occasions and then return it.
  • Pinterest for sharing ideas online, which is now 200 million active monthly members strong.

All these companies disrupted their markets with new ideas or new approaches to adding value to their customers. Why buy a $4,000 gown for your daughter’s wedding when you can rent the same gown for $200 and return it in a prepaid mailer?

Are you taking steps in your organization to innovate? Do you ask for and encourage the kind of thinking and approaches that disrupt the status quo and maybe an entire market? If not, it’s time to look forward and see the vision and possibilities of a future designed by you. That’s a lot better than looking at the backs of your competitors speeding away.

SuccessFactorInc.Net’s nine success factor mindsets include two that lead to the sort of market disruption that propels you above the crowd: Risk-taking and Creativity. They work hand in hand to bring forth innovation. That’s because you can have great ideas but be afraid to try them, or you can take risks without a creative plan to add value people need. Combine them for innovation and you’re golden.

The program is a model in how to turn theoretical ideas into disruptors. We get you and your team there through a sequential, proven program. Get results and lead the way. Give us a call at 425-485-3221 or email

Creativity: A Success Factor

Does your organization foster creativity or stifle innovative ideas? If you don’t encourage creativity, you’re missing the boat. Creativity is one of’s 9 success factors. Creativity helps transform knowledge into valuable ideas and successful implementation of ideas and strategies. Our Fast Track to Success program, emphasizing creativity and eight other success factors, is backed by research – and results we see in the clients we work with.

To examine creativity and innovation, here’s an important distinction: innovation and invention are not the same. An invention might be clever, but it won’t lead to success if it has no value to customers or other stakeholders. On the other hand, innovation is a sustained approach to projects or a business that delivers value to customers. But all too often, companies stay the course – and stay busy – therefore never addressing new, creative ideas and approaches.

Why Does Innovation Matter?

Innovation can do more than give you a few more products or services to sell; it can disrupt a market. These are the kinds of moves that spawn success and even put competitors out of business. Innovation leads to more rapid change – and change that is ahead of the curve instead of reactive to the market. The only way to grow is to provide value, and those innovative moves that deliver new value lead to the best results.

With a continuous emphasis on innovation and creativity, people at all levels of the organization come up with new solutions for old problems, too. When your people and your culture are curious and willing to take risks, you delve beneath the surface of problems, solutions and new approaches and eventually become known for your innovation. In turn, employees feel a part of something bigger and feel their opinions and work are valued.

How to Encourage Innovation

Organizational rules and hierarchies serve their purpose, but companies wanting to encourage innovation and leadership in their respective markets must have the flexibility and culture to not only allow innovation, but expect it!

You can begin by promoting innovation and innovators. Instead of having a few key people come up with marketing or product development plans, encourage creativity throughout the organization. Most of all, don’t punish frontline employees who think outside the box or offer new solutions to old problems. Give people the opportunity to take some risks and the right to be wrong.

Finally, be sure to put your money where your creativity is. New products and approaches deserve the resources needed to make them work. In turn, they will bring in new revenue. We can help you promote a culture of innovation and creativity in your organization. Give a call at 425-485-3221 or email

Truths About Leadership

Leadership experts James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner released a book in 2010 outlining decades of research about the “10 laws of leadership.” The book, titled The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know (Jossey-Bass). The authors’ extensive research found deeply ingrained attitudes, belief in self and other truths common to true leaders.

SuccessFactorsInc.Net has nine success factors based on interviews and case studies conducted over the years with successful self-starters. We found a solid similarity between our success factors and the 10 truths uncovered by the research of Kouzes and Posner. Our development program focuses on mindsets around nine key competencies, or success factors. We found that the Big Three Success Factors, Vision, Passion and Perseverance, align closely with the Kouzes and Posner laws of leadership.


Kouzes and Posner say that visionary leaders are set apart by their focus on the future. At Success FactorsInc.Net, we’ve learned that vision gives you direction and intention. Or as Kouzes and Posner say, vision offers energy toward completing a roadmap. Our experience following, interviewing and mentoring successful leaders has found the same: We know that people with Vision have a clear image of what they want to achieve in life and who they want to become. Kouzes and Posner say leaders should provide their followers with a future-focused vision and help understand and connect others’ visions for team success. We help spot people who have vision, help leaders and potential leaders refine and commit to their vision, and tie personal vision to the mission of your team and organization.


Passion arises from the kind of clarity that emerges when an individual time to focus on a vision for the future. According to Kouzes and Posner, leadership is an affair with the heart. Successful self-starters have passion and heart behind their vision that drives them toward making vision a reality. We’ve found people who are passionate about their vision and what they do are more self-motivated, driven and focused. And when you enjoy what you’re doing or the process of reaching a vision you feel passionate about, you have fewer setbacks and more steps forward. Individual employees consistently demonstrate passion for their work, largely by engaging in the organization’s values and vision. Managers with passion help spread enthusiasm to those who report to them. Executives with passion create the kind of powerful sense of purpose that generates excitement in the organization’s culture and individuals.


Passion can help leaders stay on track toward their vision, but occasional setbacks are inevitable. In our studies of successful self-starters, we’ve found consistently high levels of perseverance and focus through minor setbacks and major adversity. Those who persevere stay the course in working toward their vision. Kouzes and Posner recommend a “learning” mentality, so that leaders know it’s OK to learn from mistakes or challenges rather than feel defeated by them. The authors say the best leaders are inherently resilient. We find that individuals who have high levels of perseverance take the kinds of steps needed to deal with setbacks. Persevering managers model self-discipline when times get tough and guide others to help them cope with demanding situations. Executives with perseverance hold firm to the company’s missions during setbacks and lead others by maintaining a culture of resiliency.

Focus on Long-term Development

We encourage HR managers and organizational leaders to start thinking more about development and how to solidify the commitment, employee engagement and other benefits of professional development.

Our Fast Track to Success program requires commitment from those who participate, and commitment to developing and working toward a vision of personal and organizational success. It includes assessing success factors and completing activities that lead to action. Your organization can tailor the program to a format that works best for you: an intensive few days, onsite or online sessions, or a combination. We follow that with 12 weeks of coaching to solidify learning and ensure accountability.

Let us know how we can help your organization improve the professional development of key individuals for the benefit of the team, and especially the future. Learn more at or call us at 425-485-3221.



Start a Success Initiative 

Success seldom comes to those who do things the same way they always have, then sit back and relax. Over decades of discussions with self-starters, I’ve found that those who throw their Passion, Vision and Perseverance into an initiative usually succeed.

You can use these Big Three Success Factors to jump-start your own professional initiative and encourage the same behavior in those who work with and for you. In our Fast Track to Success! program, we help participants craft and manage an initiative that ignites passion and makes a powerful and positive difference.

Organizational and Individual Initiative

We’ve helped plenty of companies craft new visions for success and we’ve also helped identify and guide self-starters within their organization. A successful initiative needs both! Let’s say you want to improve customer or client satisfaction in your company. As an initiative, that’s pretty broad. But you can begin with small initiatives, such as reassessing your customers’ needs. Your approach can be formal, such as extensive market research, or informal research, such as reviewing complaints and positive reviews, talking with key employees and managers.

Vision and Passion

No matter the approach, a few key steps help your initiative succeed. The first step, of course, is to consider ideas and the focus of your initiative. For a company-wide initiative to succeed, the idea needs to match or support your company Vision and strategies. At the individual level, your vision and initiative should be based on what you’re most passionate about. You might be surprised by asking yourself key questions about what fulfills you most, or what you’ve dreamed about since childhood to help target your true Passion. And we can help individuals in an organization tie their passion and values to the company vision.

Commitment and Perseverance

Successful initiatives require commitment to making a breakthrough in success. Here’s where Perseverance enters. Commit to your initiative, and success in general, on a daily basis. When setbacks occur, you’ll continue with your initiative, clear in your vision and commitment.

As you go on throughout the year with business as usual, you’ll need to continue committing to your initiative and looking for star employees who display initiative at work every day. These are the people who try things a little differently, but within the rules or guidelines, and who are among the first to volunteer to take on a new project. Set these employees on track as you broaden your initiative and improve overall company performance.

Of course, the root of the word initiative is initiate. So, the only way to really create positive change in your company or as a professional is to initiate, or start. Now.

Learn more about how SuccessFactorsInc.Net can help your and your employees develop success initiatives through our coaching, webinars and Fast Track to Success program. Call us at 425-485-3221.

Breakthroughs Make, not Break, Your Business 

Think about the business successes and self-starters foremost in your mind. How many successes resulted from just plugging along and even getting lucky, and how many occurred following a breakthrough?

Let’s look at an example or two: Microsoft could have continued selling packaged Office software, along with the associated manufacturing, design and packaging costs involved. But instead, the company had (another) breakthrough: Office 365, a Cloud-based subscription for the company’s popular Office programs and tools. The company reported a 10 percent spike in revenue at the end of January, and Office 365 is a big chunk of the consumer and commercial earnings pie.

Microsoft might have “shaved off” costs and improved their product, but Dollar Shave Club used a subscription service to revolutionize a segment of the personal care business. Founder Michael Dubin is more than an innovator; his breakthrough idea solved a problem for men frustrated by making it easier, and affordable, to buy razor cartridges. He started the business from his home and by year three, had $65 million in revenue. A simple problem with a simple, but breakthrough solution.

Is your business, or some aspect of it, in need of a breakthrough? Are you out of ideas? But wait, do you have a team of managers and staff? Hmmm… maybe one of them has the sort of breakthrough idea or solution you need to reach the next level.

Here’s what you most likely need for that big breakthrough:

  • A willingness to take a risk. Individuals and companies that stand out do so because they risk going beyond the norm or relying on soft data (because hard data might not be there for a truly innovative idea). This also means taking a measured risk on the intellectual capital in your company – your people.
  • Expert help from innovative people who know your company, customers or industry. Sure, you have experts in product development or sales. But have you ever asked a salesperson to help drive product redesign? Have your product development people ever talked to a customer? Think outside the norms of departments, protocols and pecking orders.
  • A desire to change “business as usual.” Unless you’re willing to let go of some tradition or structure, you might not reach the breakthrough you’re looking for.
  • A culture that rewards innovation and breakthrough thinking. The only way intrapreneurs and truly creative employees can come up with the next breakthrough solution is if they are empowered to do so, whether formally or informally.

If you need help getting to a breakthrough, we can help. Learn more about our services, including our Fast Track to Success program that can help you and your team be more engaged and innovative. Or check out our turn-key Success Factors Program for coaches, facilitators and consultants who can guide you long term. This exciting program with powerful outcomes can be yours! Call us today (425-485-3221).

What does Thanksgiving have to do with increasing your bottom line?

Occasionally I like to draw my readers’ attention to noteworthy articles that they may not have had the time to read. This is a precis of an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal on gratitude: Gratitude is Good for Business (11.24.18).

According to the author, Sam Walker, leaders who instill an ethos of gratitude within their companies tend to do better in terms of bottom line results. Walker used the first Thanksgiving as a “case study in how extraordinary leaders build happy, productive teams.”

As stated by Walker, much research on the happiness factor shows that cheerier workers score “higher on engagement, creativity, loyalty, and retention.” What more could you ask for?!

This conclusion goes hand-in-hand with studies around positive work environments that create in turn high performing teams which outperform others in revenue growth, “sometimes by a factor of two to one.”

Add to that my current research on positive thinking (one of our 9 Success Factors), which shows that positivity allows people to flourish rather than languish in negativity. Positive people create a positive environment which creates a great place to work which in turn creates an amazing culture which in turn creates bottom line profits.

Another interesting study that makes this point was done by KPMG. It found that leaders who shared the company’s vision and mission were viewed by 94% of their workforce as a great place to work. What struck me about this is that vision (another one of our 9 Success Factors) is really the key to so much in life in regards to upward motion, satisfaction, focus, accomplishment, and most importantly, success.

Want to learn more about our 9 Success Factors and how we use them to create high-performing employees and grow leaders? Contact us, we would love to talk to you about our exciting work!