This Week’s Insight Article
December 11, 2017
Maximizing marketing & sales functions will pay big dividends.
I have now worked on –- or been a consultant to -– small and family held businesses for over twenty-five years. I have learned, not surprisingly, that the most important issue that small businesses must address is… [READ MORE]
Previous Insight Articles
December 4, 2017
Learning to work hard is a lifetime advantage … often lacking today.
In days gone by, it was described as coming from “good stock.” While I am not exactly sure what that meant, as I get older I understand the concept better. It means growing up with the right values, including… [READ MORE]
November 27, 2017
To lead people effectively, you first need to learn people.
Several years ago, a business owner asked me to help him improve his leadership abilities. After discussing the issue and talking about what he was doing to be a good leader, it became clear that he spent… [READ MORE]
November 20, 2017
Pilgrims, family and friends, heart surgery and giving thanks.
Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. While I like Christmas, the demands of the holiday season make it a challenge to actually enjoy Christmas and everything that goes with it. Thanksgiving, though… [READ MORE]
November 13, 2017
Trump, Congress, pro football, the Cardinals, and the Blues.
If you don’t like politics or sports, you can stop reading and thank me for the gift of the five to ten minutes that you invest each week to read these Insight articles. The comments on sports will follow my brief comments on US politics. So, if you… [READ MORE]
November 6, 2017
Being truly productive in your work doesn’t happen by accident.
During the 1990s, I worked for a local accounting firm. The culture there was such that those who wanted to impress the partners and move up worked long hours. This included most weekends, especially Saturdays. Those who were really dedicated also worked on Sunday. One Sunday I came into… [READ MORE]
October 30, 2017
Is the Black Lives Matter movement actually hurting the cause?
On Saturday we passed demonstrators at the Clarkson and Clayton intersection. On one side of Clarkson, the “Black Lives Matter” people were demonstrating. On the opposite side of the street, demonstrators were supporting the local police departments. While everyone has the… [READ MORE]
October 23, 2017
Why is Attila the Hun not the best role model for management?
Early in my Citicorp career, I was the Controller for a large subsidiary. During that time, I was invited to participate in a week-long course offered by Citicorp. It was entitled, “Managing People.” This course was essentially… [READ MORE]
October 16, 2017
The full story behind my recent surprise: heart surgery.
By now you may be aware that since mid-August I have been dealing with heart issues. I want to share with my readers the experiences of the last two months. I feel a special bond… [READ MORE]
October 9, 2017
What is the value of a smile – both for you and for others?
There are times when I can find it depressing writing about a stuck economy or about disastrous world events. Sometimes I intentionally search for a topic that is more optimistic and positive. A while back, my wife and I encountered… [READ MORE]
October 2, 2017
Accurately knowing your strengths will make you more successful.
One of the greatest challenges that each of us will ever face is to figure out what strengths and weaknesses we have. Unfortunately, this task is made more difficult by the lack of objective feedback we receive during our early years. In large part, this is… [READ MORE]
September 25, 2017
What happens when leaders sit idly by as situations deteriorate?
Many years ago I had a significant problem with a subordinate. His job performance was well below what it should have been. I won’t go into the gory details, but let’s suffice it to say that I should have dealt with it early on. Unfortunately, like most people, I don’t… [READ MORE]
September 18, 2017
Candace, Juan & Anthony are perplexing employees. Do you know others?
Candace is a talented young woman, but can’t quite seem to meet deadlines. Juan is bright and outgoing, but has apparently little motivation to accomplish the tasks that are assigned to him. For someone who showed such promise… [READ MORE]
September 11, 2017
How will these disasters and potential disasters impact our world?
Our news has been dominated in the last few weeks by hurricanes in Texas and Florida, wildfires in the western US, and the nuclear testing and threats from North Korea. This all sort of reminds me of the title of a movie… [READ MORE]
September 5, 2017
What is – and isn’t – necessary to push the economy forward?
I nearly drove off the road last week as a result of a comment I heard on one of the financial stations on satellite radio. The economist essentially said, “To get economic growth up to the proper level, we need… [READ MORE]
August 28, 2017
Want to be successful on your job? Here are practical ideas.
The most frequent frustration I hear from business owners is the challenge they have with hiring good employees. Whatever level of struggle they have overall is magnified several times over when they are hiring younger employees. Specifically, most employers’ experience with… [READ MORE]
August 21, 2017
Is your life a journey toward personal excellence? It can be.
I have been committed to self-improvement since my teen years. Personal growth – including lifelong learning – has become a day-to-day habit for me over the last forty years. It has allowed me to be effective at a wide variety of interests during my life. It has also led… [READ MORE]
August 14, 2017
Is the economy trending upward or downward … and why?
It is hard to believe that we are at the end of summer. Schools already are – or will soon be – back in session. Pools will be closing and the tart chill of autumn will soon tease us. The summer has been both… [READ MORE]
August 7, 2017
How can you make practical improvements in your business?
Several years ago, there was a bestselling book that promoted the idea of “If it isn’t broke, break it.” I thought at the time – and still do today – that it was some of the most silly and dangerous advice that anyone could give a business… [READ MORE]
July 31, 2017
What does it take to cause employees to be fully engaged?
I was recently asked by an organization of financial executives in St. Louis to give a speech on employee engagement. Specifically, I was asked to provide insight regarding the things that managers could do to make sure that their employees were… [READ MORE]
July 24, 2017
What if … the unexpected happens to your business? Then what?
The unexpected happens. We all know that. And something unexpected that threatens your business can happen at any time. Unfortunately, some of these threats are internally generated. They can come from the most unlikely… [READ MORE]
July 17, 2017
What does it take to be an effective leader? Find out here.
Effective leadership is rare. In fact, the world is full of people in leadership positions who are unable to lead effectively. You don’t have to look hard to find bad leadership in business, politics and most unfortunately, in families. At its core, leadership is… [READ MORE]
July 10, 2017
Older workers can be great for strengthening your business.
It was two months before his sixtieth birthday. Nine months earlier he had surgery to replace one of his hips. A few months before that he was one of the commentators at the British Open, amazed by the play of… [READ MORE]
July 3, 2017
Is the Declaration of Independence still important today?
In the violent discourse of modern culture and the current toxic political environment, we are inclined to forget the blessing that we enjoy being part of the greatest country in the world. The founders of our country held certain beliefs sacred. These principles… [READ MORE]
June 26, 2017
What happens at the intersection of your talents and passion?
My wife recently showed me an article from the Ladue News about Mike Isaacson, the Executive Producer for The Muny. In the article, Mr. Isaacson shared a story from early in his career when he worked at McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) as a… [READ MORE]
June 19, 2017
Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods poses interesting possibilities.
About five years ago I began to write an Insight article tentatively entitled, “Should Walmart buy Amazon or should Amazon buy Walmart?” I never finished the article but it came back to mind on Friday when Amazon announced that it had made an offer to buy the beleaguered Whole Foods Market. Once Amazon announced the offer… [READ MORE]
June 12, 2017
What is – and isn’t – currently driving the stock market?
We are nearly through the first half of the year. We have survived the vicissitudes of five months of the Trump presidency. Except for the Watergate years, the amount of news devoted to reporting of scandals and other political incidents has been unprecedented. Meanwhile, the… [READ MORE]
June 5, 2017
How can you and I influence change like Abraham Lincoln did?
Awhile back, I was listening to the audio version of Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard. As I listened, I was struck by the tremendous courage and resolve of President Lincoln to lead… [READ MORE]
May 30, 2017
How can you keep rumors from circulating in your organization?
When the rumor mill gets going, it always seems to come up with stuff that is as negative as it possibly could be. I have been speechless at times as a business leader has shared with me the rumors that are circulating about their organization. The amazing thing is… [READ MORE]
May 22, 2017
What would it take for you to become a really good leader?
I recently had an interaction with a business owner whose way of “leading” is to bark out commands. He uses his position as owner of the business to bully those around him. Out of fear, people generally respond and much is accomplished. But it’s not without a price. Almost every communication with him… [READ MORE]
May 15, 2017
Here’s some practical advice for starting a new business.
When you launch – or rebrand – a business, there are many decisions that need to be made. One of the most important decisions is what to call your business or brand. The power of an applicable business name or brand name – to provide instant recognition about what your offering is – should not be… [READ MORE]
May 8, 2017
Well-written communication will give you a competitive edge.
Early in my career at Citicorp, I was promoted to the senior financial position for one of the consumer subsidiaries. Although my responsibilities primarily involved financial issues, one of my tasks was writing the monthly report about our business unit. This report was then sent to… [READ MORE]
May 1, 2017
Time management, stocks, United Airlines, and President Trump.
Periodically I accumulate a set of topics, none of which is enough for a full article. In addition, I have a few comments on recent articles. So, in no particular order, let’s dive in. You might just find your own thoughts stirred in the process… [READ MORE]
April 24, 2017
Strong family relationships don’t just happen accidentally.
As my children have all reached adulthood, I have been surprised over the last several years by their comments indicating how much they value their memories of family time while growing up. In particular, my three older children have expressed how happy they are that we made… [READ MORE]
April 17, 2017
How important is genuine customer-oriented service today?
Let’s suggest that Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, was having dinner at his favorite restaurant in Chicago last Saturday night. Because this restaurant is very popular, he wisely made reservations for four to accommodate his wife and their guests. Just after they were seated… [READ MORE]
April 10, 2017
The St. Louis region is stuck in a position that seems unfixable.
It is always interesting to talk to someone who has moved to St. Louis from another part of the country. They sheepishly ask if you can explain to them the difference between St. Louis City and St. Louis County. They want to understand how the city can be both a county and a city. They also want to understand… [READ MORE]
April 3, 2017
A society that encourages selfishness is unsustainable.
Our nation and the world are suffering from a lack of strong leadership. We have the same lack in the local marketplace, the business community and in many churches. Even more critically, the breakdown of the family has come about largely as a result of a lack of leadership in the home. Good leadership requires the… [READ MORE]
March 27, 2017
Trump and the Republican Party: a demonstration of failure?
The inability of the Republican-led Congress to pass the Obamacare replacement last Friday is the latest in series of incidents that raise the question, “Can the Republicans govern?” Recent data suggests that the answer is no. Unlike the Democrats who… [READ MORE]
March 20, 2017
The more we’re focused, the greater the success we can achieve.
I was recently in a meeting where we were going through the prior year’s financials for the organization. The new financial person made a point of discussing every overhead account to see where the organization could save money. After we spent over an hour discussing… [READ MORE]
March 13, 2017
How can you interact with people with whom you disagree?
I recently ran across an article from December about the passing of John Glenn. It spoke of Glenn as a true American hero. He was a fighter pilot in two wars, an astronaut, and a US Senator. Politically he was a Democrat, but he was a moderate who worked… [READ MORE]
March 6, 2017
Practical ideas for working with someone who is very driven.
One of the mysteries of the living is the fact that we live and work in a world of people all of whom have different personalities. Some people are driven, some are structured. Some are the life of the party, while others are… [READ MORE]
February 27, 2017
How do you let your employees know that you appreciate them?
Some time ago, one of my clients handed me a book. The book is entitled, 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, by Bob Nelson. I thanked him for the gift, but I mentioned that I already had a copy. I promised him I would… [READ MORE]
February 20, 2017
What’s in store for the economy – and your money – in 2017?
Last week one of my regular readers asked when I was going to share my annual economic forecast for 2017. I wanted to wait for the start of Trump’s presidency before I took the risk in trying to predict the economy and business climate for 2017. Specifically, would… [READ MORE]
February 13, 2017
Simple ideas that will make your workday more productive.
Most longtime readers are aware that I am an avid stock trader. Because I have been trading stocks for so long, I’ve learned a few things over the years. One of these is a popular phrase in trading that says… [READ MORE]
February 6, 2017
Is it possible for you to grow in entrepreneurial skills?
Entrepreneurship may be one of the most confusing and difficult skillsets to understand and measure. Quite often I am asked by a business owner how he can get his management team to become more entrepreneurial. The reason for… [READ MORE]
January 30, 2017
How do you handle the adversities that life throws at you?
My wife and I are fans of NCIS, a long running series on CBS that chronicles the exploits of a team of government agents. In addition to a plot each week where they work to catch the bad guys, the scripts include stories about… [READ MORE]
January 23, 2017
How can you help your employees improve their job performance?
A popular book written several years ago cited research done by the Gallup Company over many years. It reveals that people most often don’t quit jobs. They leave because they have a bad boss. The conclusion of the research and the book was… [READ MORE]
January 16, 2017
Influencing others takes more effort today than it did 20 years ago.
I am writing this from cloudy Scottsdale, Arizona. I’ve been attending a conference on the usage of assessments that measure people’s behavior and values. These tools help people understand themselves better and be able to connect and relate better with others. The opening speaker for… [READ MORE]
January 9, 2017
What can we learn from syndicated-columnist Thomas Sowell?
For many years, I have read the editorials in the West Newsmagazine by syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell. Sowell announced in December that he will no longer write his articles. As a columnist, he found it necessary to constantly… [READ MORE]
January 3, 2017
What’s ahead for the economy in 2017? Read Bill’s predictions.
The election of Donald Trump in November was so unexpected that those of us who try to predict what the markets will do from year to year had to reassess our forecasts. Despite overnight negative reactions to Trump’s victory, world markets… [READ MORE]
December 19, 2016
Could Trump be the next Lincoln, Roosevelt or Reagan?
Approximately every thirty to forty years, the US has elected a president who has had a more significant than normal impact on the country. Most of these presidents were elected with doubts from most voters due to either lack of experience in government or other concerns. They each started their first term with… [READ MORE]
December 12, 2016
With both political parties at fault, how can we fix this mess?
There may be no more controversial topic in the US right now than the issue of immigration. President-elect Trump made this a key issue in the 2016 election campaign when he proposed that a wall be built at the Mexican border. His rhetoric suggested… [READ MORE]
December 5, 2016
Who we are as people is more important than our achievements.
A recent article by Paul Brown in the Ladue News inspired me to write about Jackie Smith. Jackie Smith was one of the greatest tight ends ever to play the position. In fact, some would say that he invented the position. During his career, he was one of the most… [READ MORE]
November 28, 2016
What did Bill Gates tell graduating college students, and why?
Several years ago, I wrote an Insight article that was based on a list that came from a commencement address delivered by Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft. The events since the election of Trump have reminded me of the wisdom of his list and how sad it is that… [READ MORE]
November 21, 2016
Could the US really soon be selling a 100-year bond?
Thirty-year bond prices started dropping in early September and then dropped sharply on November 9th, the day after Donald Trump was elected President. Since the election, long-term bond prices have continued to fall and long-term interest rates have… [READ MORE]
November 14, 2016
What does the Trump presidential victory mean for the country?
I was both fascinated and surprised by the presidential election outcome last week. Watching the results come in made for captivating television. Being able to see the story unfold from the technology of the TV news organizations allowed… [READ MORE]
November 7, 2016
How important is it to maintain a win-win attitude in life?
One of my clients is an organization that has eight board members. The board is made up of talented and hardworking people. They are a diverse group, and they don’t agree on everything. In fact, at times, the board meetings have long and vigorous discussions until… [READ MORE]
October 31, 2016
How about some practical advice for making cautious decisions?
It’s possible that you may share the same disdain for yellow lights that I have. When approaching one, I immediately (and often subconsciously) decide whether to proceed through the intersection or apply the brakes harshly to stop for the impending red light. It is easy to forget the… [READ MORE]
October 24, 2016
What do Coca Cola and Bill Clinton have in common?
About two years ago, I leased – and fortunately did not buy – a Volkswagen Passat. When deciding to get a Passat, I was impressed by the roominess inside and the excellent performance of the engine. Two weeks ago, I decided to investigate taking advantage of… [READ MORE]
October 17, 2016
Become more effective in your business and your personal life.
One of the best personal development books and business books ever written is Stephen Covey’s, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Originally published in 1989, this book has… [READ MORE]
October 10, 2016
Pushing aside the seemingly endless stream of daily urgencies.
As I was doing a bit of fall cleaning on a recent Saturday, I found a copy of an article entitled, “Tyranny of the Urgent,” by Charles Hummel. The article is taken from his book of the same title written in 1967. The points that Hummel makes… [READ MORE]
October 3, 2016
What can each of us learn from the life of Arnold Palmer?
I am new to country clubs, but not to golf. In my early years, I often enjoyed the tranquility and fellowship of a golf match with friends. In the same way, even during the recent FedEx final and the Ryder cup telecasts, watching golf has been a peaceful… [READ MORE]
September 26, 2016
Dr. Ben Carson offers some practical ideas for true success.
Dr. Ben Carson, who served as Surgeon General of the US as well as running for President in the 2016 Republican primaries, came from a challenging background. He was raised by a single mother in a poor neighborhood. While working multiple jobs… [READ MORE]
September 19, 2016
Is it feasible for you to handle change better than you do now?
I believe that the most important skill anyone can have in the world we live in today is the ability to handle change effectively. The frenetic pace of innovation, communication, and cultural change in the world of today makes successfully responding to change an… [READ MORE]
September 12, 2016
Is it actually possible to overcome worry in your life?
Many years ago, when our three oldest children were in grade school, we regularly watched a mildly entertaining and unremarkable TV show about a doctors’ office. In one episode, the manager of the office decided to… [READ MORE]
September 6, 2016
What’s going on in the stock market and where is it headed?
Except for a few brief interruptions triggered by terrorist events, nationalism incidents, and minor possibilities of a recession, the stock market indexes have moved up steadily over the last seven years. Since April, 2009, the SP 500 index has risen from 797.97 to 2179.98 at the end of August. During this timeframe, the index has only… [READ MORE]
August 29, 2016
When considering cutting company costs, what’s the best plan?
Most businesses face a time when they have to cut costs to restore or increase profitability. This is particularly true in the fast-changing marketplace of today. To be successful over the long haul, businesses must be adept at quickly making the changes necessary to respond to new challenges. Most of the time… [READ MORE]
August 22, 2016
Individual responsibility is directly tied to a nation’s greatness.
There may be no more important action linked to living a successful life than the ability to accept responsibility. In fact, the ability of an organization – or even a country – to be successful is directly linked to the acceptance of responsibility by its members or citizens. History shows that… [READ MORE]
August 15, 2016
Despite success, talent or hard work, there are times when you’re in a rut.
No matter how successful, talented, or hardworking you are, there are times when you find yourself in a rut. This usually happens after a period of success and hard work. Suddenly, you realize the joy of doing something you are good at has faded… [READ MORE]
August 8, 2016
What makes a true champion? Perhaps it’s not a gold medal.
I am not a supporter, in any way, of giving children or participants at any level, a trophy for participation. Having said that, the idea that the only people who are champions are the few who win a gold medal, or finish first, is shortsighted and foolish. This was illustrated in two separate ways in… [READ MORE]
August 1, 2016
Do small businesses really affect the overall US economy?
The recent political conventions have included a plethora of rhetoric about how each political party is going to make the economy stronger. Unfortunately, neither party adequately discussed the most important engine of economic growth. That engine is small businesses… [READ MORE]
July 25, 2016
How can you truly become all you were meant to be?
Long time readers of these Insight articles know that I believe that one of the great secrets of the modern world is the power of the mind. Most great athletes and many other successful people have learned from coaches who stress the… [READ MORE]
July 18, 2016
What is true success and how can we actually achieve it?
One of the most sought-after goals for all human beings is to be successful. Unfortunately, if you ask most people what being successful means, they find it difficult to tell you what their definition of success actually is. Based on many years of reading… [READ MORE]
July 11, 2016
Colonel Sanders died a billionaire, but his life was far from ideal.
Off the top I want to come clean. I am not a big fan of fried chicken. In fact, I have not eaten fried chicken in probably ten to fifteen years. And when I ate it then, it is likely because there were no alternatives. In that vein, when members of my family get… [READ MORE]
July 5, 2016
What does Brexit mean for your future? Find out here.
During the last ten days, people who know that I follow the world markets have frequently asked me about Brexit. The questions ranged from confusion about exactly what Brexit is, to asking if this means the stock market is going to crash… [READ MORE]
June 27, 2016
Is your excuse-making holding you back? Here’s help!
In his excellent book, The Magic of Thinking Big, David Schwartz coined the word “excusitis.” He defined excusitis as, “The disease of the failures.” My observation is that all of us have… [READ MORE]
June 20, 2016
Can your mood really affect others? Absolutely!
This is an updated version of an Insight article I wrote almost three years ago. Last week I was reminded of it as I passed by the same McDonalds restaurant where the incident occurred. The original event happened in late summer 2013, when I stopped for very quick lunch at, of all places… [READ MORE]
June 13, 2016
How can the world’s tallest man help you overcome adversity?
I was reminded of the importance of overcoming adversity in our lives by an article I recently read about the world’s tallest man. Robert Wadlow was known to the world as the Alton Giant. He was the tallest man that ever lived. At the time of his death, he measured… [READ MORE]
June 6, 2016
Are you using peak-to-peak experiences to propel you forward?
Several weeks ago I was fortunate to be invited, through a client relationship, to a one-day excursion to one of the testing days for the Indianapolis 500. There were several memorable moments to the day, but perhaps the most memorable was… [READ MORE]
May 31, 2016
What’s on the horizon for the economy? Find out here.
Memorial Day marks the beginning of Summer and the end of the first third of the year. At this time each year, I update my annual economic outlook for the year. I also take a quick look back at what I predicted early in the year to see… [READ MORE]
May 23, 2016
When you face a problem, how do you react? Here’s help!
One of my favorite scenes from the Raiders of the Lost Ark movies is the scene where Indiana Jones and his attractive accomplice are caught in a cave-like area hovering over a bunch of scary-looking snakes that are below them. The girl says… [READ MORE]
May 16, 2016
A lesson on greatness from our nation’s 26th president.
One of my favorite historical figures is Theodore Roosevelt. He was born into a wealthy family in New York City in 1858. As a child, he struggled with various illnesses including asthma. The challenges of his early life prepared him to serve his country in assorted political and governmental roles until… [READ MORE]
May 9, 2016
Do you want to learn? Learning will make you a better leader.
I am in the middle of reading a wonderful biography about Abraham Lincoln. As I have read, many things have struck me about Lincoln’s life. In particular, I have learned that the numerous failures, setbacks, and personal losses in his life before the Presidency were critical steps that prepared him to… [READ MORE]
May 2, 2016
How can you realistically make changes in your organization?
This famous saying – “Rome wasn’t built in a day” – emphasizes the point that you cannot expect to do anything that is significant or great in a short period of time. Unfortunately, most people, especially in our society, don’t like waiting for that final outcome… [READ MORE]
April 25, 2016
Practical and accessible leadership skills you need to know.
I was talking about leadership recently with a friend who has a strong theatre background. She spoke with warm recollection about one of her professors from her college theatre program. During our discussion, she commented, “Each of us would have done anything to… [READ MORE]
April 18, 2016
What’s far more important than a college degree?
A client of mine runs a very successful business. He graduated from high school and then got involved in the family business shortly after that. The demands of the company prevented him from finishing college. At a relatively young age, he was put in charge of… [READ MORE]