Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

October 2015

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I’ve kicked off this new exercise program. As I was bemoaning my aches and pains this morning, I was also taking inventory of what it required from my day. Ack! I admit—I was whining about the time it was taking from my life. I felt a little like Jeb Bush. I could be doing “a lot of cool things” with that time.

I pondered this for a short period of time. I reminded myself of the goal I intended to achieve. It required time—and commitment—to bring it to fruition.

Admittedly, I previously attempted to achieve my physical goals without time, commitment, or effort. Talk about epic fail! If Dr. Phil was in the room he would say, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” Ahhh, not very well.

What was I thinking? A fairy godmother would come, wave her magic wand, and poof, my goal would be realized? Of course I was!! 

A goal is a goal is a goal

While mulling over my dedication of valuable resources to the achievement of my goal, I couldn’t help but make a comparison to business goals.

I’ve worked with numerous small business owners through the years. Some achieve their objectives quickly, while others continue to slug it out in a mud pit, languishing until they are utterly exhausted or completely burned out.

What is the difference between the two business owners? Frankly, it’s their willingness to commitment resources to the achievement of their goals.

For business owners who skimp on time, putting business development on their “to do” list rather than on their calendar, they continue to struggle. Business growth comes slowly—if at all—and painfully. For those who temper their dedication to their goal until glimpses of success shine through, achievement of their goals alludes them.

Whereas, for small business owners who dedicate priority time and commitment to the pursuit of their goals, success comes more quickly.

That’s not to say that it isn’t without its challenges, failings, and setbacks. No. That’s all part of the puzzle we call “success.” However, the dedication to the pursuit of worthy goals is what makes it all worthwhile.

My Advice?

If you’re struggling with your commitment—if your time is taken up by other activities not related to your goals—maybe it’s time you find a goal worthy of your time and commitment.

According to a recent article on, HR executives indicate that their biggest challenge today is the skills gap, which seems to be widening instead of closing. A trend that is impacting the skills gap is the explosive growth in the use of technology. More and more employers see and are pained over the lack of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills in the current and future workforce. College curriculum is not aligning with needs of the job marketplace. About 70% of employers believe that learning is required for employees just to keep up with their current jobs—especially true in the technology and healthcare fields.

It is imperative then, with today’s rapid pace of change, workers must continuously educate themselves in order to avoid stagnating the economy.

So, whose responsibility is it to curtail this inclination and close these gaps in workforce skills? You might say it is the education system or the employee’s job to keep their skills up to date and you are right on one level. But, there are definitely benefits to the employer to provide some of the continuing education or training to upgrade employee skills. Small businesses especially need to become more aware of new HR solutions to this problem.

What are the benefits to the employer who provides on-going education and skills training? Let’s look at just these four:

  1. Increase in creativity, skills and income for the employees. When employees are provided with the opportunity to learn something new to make their jobs easier and more relevant to the business, they are likely to stay longer in their job. A Lifelong Education and Labor Market Needs study proposes that continuing education increases both employee income and business productivity. About 96% of employers said continuing education improves the employee’s job performance and 87% said there is a positive impact on the pay scale because employees can advance when employers factor education into promotion criteria.
  2. Increase in the bottom line of the business. As employees become more skilled, they are able to apply their education to making the company money. Continuing education means you can have employees who are familiar with the latest innovations in your industry. They can help you apply these innovations to your processes so you can stay ahead of the competition and increase your profitability. Employees who are learning spend more time actively using their minds than employees who may have done the same job for years and basically complete their tasks by rote—boredom sets in rather quickly. The continuous education students may also perform tasks more quickly because they are energized and excited by trying their new ideas and skills. The time saved in production can add up quickly to money saved in wages. This can easily offset the cost of continuous education benefits to your employees.
  3. Decrease in staff turnover. When a small business supports employee education for advancement, turnover costs are decreased because fewer outside hires are necessary—this also translates to money saved and efficiency increased. Employees value education benefits and understand that tuition reimbursement for specialized training enhances their marketability for the future and their promotability within the company. Education benefits demonstrate that the business values the employees and their future with the company. In a recent study conducted by Spherion, a staffing and employment firm, 61% of those responding who received training said they were likely to remain with their current employer at least for the next five years.
  4. Identification as an Employer of Choice. Over the last number of years, companies have downsized, restructured and pushed people to work harder than ever before…leaving workers feeling overwhelmed, under-appreciated and disengaged. Current market pressures are creating a need for businesses to become more innovative and to grow. The power is shifting as high-performing employees begin to exert greater control over their careers. Companies that can’t attract, engage and retain the right talent will lose out. By providing on-going educational opportunities and benefits such as tuition reimbursement, your small business will become identified as an “employer of choice” giving you an edge in the talent market.

Recently I came across a comment by a graphic designer who was responding to some points in an article on employee training. His parting words were, “I find I have no sense of loyalty to an employer that invests nothing in me as a professional. If I invest my own funds in the software and train myself on my own time, I don’t really care whether my current employer reaps any benefits or not.”

If that does not convince you of the importance of providing continuing education for your employees, you will probably find your business in a downward trajectory, employing people with yesterday’s skills in today’s fast-moving economy.

If your employees are asking for skills training and you are beginning to think about how to implement a program, but don’t know where to start, we may have some HR solutions that will get you thinking and moving in the right direction. Contact us to begin the conversation.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

MJ Management Solutions, Inc., is a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. any entrepreneur for the tools to business growth and you’ll likely get the usual suspects—the right strategy, the right marketing, the right client, the right service. The list is endless.

What few small business entrepreneurs stop to consider is the impact that unusual, offbeat, unsuspecting tools have on growing one’s business….like these.

Take a Nap

My parents were big nappers. A 20-minute nod found them refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. Apparently, they were on to something scientific.

Since that time, the benefits of sleep—in particular, napping—such as improved focus, greater clarity, and accuracy have been cited in numerous studies. In fact, Nap Your Way to Better Performance (You Snooze, You Win!) spells out the results of research by several well-known entities.

Dr. Peter Walters, associate professor in the applied health science department at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., says that there is conclusive evidence of a correlation between sufficient sleep and mental acuity, especially logical and critical thinking.

Can you imagine what you could achieve with greater sharpness in critical thinking and mental clarity? (You may want to think about this during your nap!)

There’s an app for that: Get the Power Nap App here.


Did I lose you? I know! It can be hard to “justify” time for exercise when we can put that time into marketing, bookkeeping, and/or networking. Physical fitness does, however, have an impact on your business.

In Improve Your Bottom Line and Waistline, we cite a study conducted with over 350+ entrepreneurs that prove that entrepreneurs who incorporate running and biking into their exercise regime demonstrate a significant improvement in growth for your business.

The news gets better!

Scientific advancements in exercise physiology how that high intensity interval training creates a significant increase in heart rate—and endorphins—during a time frame appealing to entrepreneurs (i.e., 20–30 minutes).

What entrepreneur doesn’t love to maximize results in as little time as needed.

There’s an app for that: Get the Tabata Pro app here.


Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? That’s because it’s easy to believe that stress is a normal part of growing your business…but it doesn’t have to be.

Forbes recently noted that “workplace stress may contribute up to $190 billion in health-care expenses and over 120,000 deaths each year.” Yikes! No high-performing business owner wants to be part of this statistic!

You don’t have to be a buddhist monk to cash in on the many benefits of meditation. In fact, there are well-over 76 scientific benefits of meditation including stress reduction, greater bounce-back-ability, better mood, and more optimism.

There’s an app and a program for that: Download the Buddify app here or the Relax Melodies app here. Sign up for the 10 Day Mind Cleanse program here.

Proper Nutrition

We already know that no Olympic athlete achieves greatness—or their goals—on a diet of gummy bears and fast food. Yet, we sometimes think we’re immune to the ravages of poor nutrition.

“Food has a direct impact on our cognitive performance,” says Harvard Business Review in an article entitled, What You Eat Affects Your Productivity. “A poor decision at lunch can derail an entire afternoon.”Bye, bye, business growth!”

Unless, of course, you’re as strategic about your nutrition as you are about business growth. Consuming 7–9 servings of fruits and vegetables throughout the day improves memory and mood. It also plays a singificant role in motivation and engagement.

There’s an app for that: Download Fooducate here.

Business Growth Strategy: Bizarre or Brilliant?

Self-care is not only an effective business growth strategy—one often forgotten by countless entrepreneurs—it is a powerful growth strategy. With greater clarity, improved memory, mental sharpness, lazer-like focus, inspired optimism, and sustainable energy, can you imagine what you will achieve?

Learn what you can achieve with a business coach here or click below to have a coach contact you today.

Nothing…and I mean nothing is worse than following a rigorous interview process only to disover the candidate lied! Ack!  Especially after the time and expense of bringing them on board. 

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Guess what? You’ll never be fooled again when you read Margaret Jacoby of MJ Management Solutions, Inc. list of the most common lies you’ll hear during the interview. 

The process of employee hiring can be a daunting one. Research shows that the wrong hire can actually cost companies as much as $50,000. That’s a lot of money to throw away on someone who won’t add value to your business—or worse, someone who will actually hurt things like employee morale and productivity.

But, how do you make sure you’re hiring the right candidate for the job? It’s not as easy as it may seem. In fact, many employees lie on their resumes and in interviews for the sole purpose of landing a position. Take a look at these common lies to watch for during the employee hiring process.

  1. Dates of Employment. Lying about dates of employment is an all-too-common occurrence. Fortunately, this is an easy one to spot; simply verify work history with former employers.
  2. Level of Education. Does your job ad state that a minimum four-year degree is required for consideration? If so, you can bet at least some of the resumes that come across your desk have false information regarding education. Verify through the college issuing the degree.
  3. Previous Salary. Who doesn’t want to give oneself the best chance for the highest salary? Many job candidates believe beefing up their last pay will make them seem more desirable, and lead to a better pay in their new position. Whether this is true or not, you’ll want to confirm pay with former employers.
  4. Previous Title. People want to sound important on their resumes, in hopes of securing a higher title with new employers. This is also an easy one to verify.
  5. Criminal Record. While someone with a wild past from his younger days may not miss out on a job because of it, he certainly will if he lies about being locked up. A simple background check is all you need to learn the truth about someone’s history.
  6. Future Goals. Job candidates may fudge a bit about their goals in order to sound more desirable to potential employers. There’s not much you can do to catch this lie; you’ll want to just go with your gut feeling and probe during the interview.
  7. Technical Skills. Much like fibbing about a degree, employment seekers often find it necessary to inflate their technical skill level to appear qualified for the desired position. This one may be more difficult to spot, but with a little research, you can determine the likelihood of reported skills. Or, consider skills-based testing prior to hiring.
  8. Reason for Employment Gaps. Maybe a candidate has been honest about his dates of employment, but doesn’t want you to know the real reason he was unemployed for six months was because he was partying it up in Cancun. Social media research may uncover this gap.
  9. Project/Task Results. Everyone wants to be seen as successful. It’s no surprise that some job candidates beef up their work experience with stories of unprecedented results for projects they headed up. Again, use behavior-based interviews to uncover abilities and skills.
  10. Reason for Previous Termination. Someone says they were terminated because their position was being outsourced, but what she fails to mention is that she was a lazy, unengaged employee. The good news? This lie can be uncovered with a little research.
  11. Second Language Skills. With today’s diverse society, many employers need staff members who speak more than one language. Don’t shy away from testing a candidate’s abilities during an interview.
  12. Former Working Relationships. “Oh, I loved my last coworkers! We were like a family.” Really? Then why did you leave? This should be a red flag unless there was a legitimate reason for ending the working relationship.
  13. Greatest Weakness. Employers love to ask this question; it often stumps people. But beware. If someone says her greatest weakness is being a workhorse, she’s probably buffing.

Employee hiring doesn’t have to be something to dread. With the right HR solutions, you can find the perfect candidate for your company. You want someone who is engaged, boosts productivity, and brings a good attitude to your environment.

This article first appeared at M.J. Management Solutions, Inc.

MJ Management Solutions, Inc., is a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive.

I had the pleasure of spending time with my great-nephew and niece recently. Mom and Dad attended a sales conference, and the “granny nanny” had jury duty. Not knowing what to expect beyond the twice daily Suburban drives to and from school, my mind was open to whatever the experience would bring. Little did I suspect THIS would happen…Before launching my coaching practice, I spent quite a stint in sales. Back then, it was a common practice to write one’s goals on your bathroom mirror with lipstick. It was an easy and fun reminder of commitments and goals.

My nephew and niece are avid athletes. My 10 year-old-nephew is quite an accomplished goalie, and my 13 year-old niece has a wicked overhand serve she uses in volleyball.

Once the kids were in bed, I decided to get a little creative. With lipstick in hand, I headed to their bathroom with quotes, thoughts, and words of wisdom. When their feet hit the floor, I wanted their day to start with a dose of inspiration and motivation.

Little did I suspect that messages of motivation would be left for me a few days later.

The first message crafted for me said, “Jackie, always try your hardest even if you can win.” (Truthfully, it started out as “…even if you can’t win” and was later edited by the publisher.)

Even so, I thought, been there, done that. As a more mature entrepreneur, I did my time of hard work.

Even though his gesture was thoughtful, I wasn’t interested in the advice of this pint-sized business coach.

On day two, this message appeared. “Still have fun even if you lost. Really? That’s great advice for a 10 year-old hockey goalie, but could someone with my tenure in business still have fun?

As you might well imagine, by this time my attitude was enjoying an adjustment. I was touched by the messages my nephew so carefully and thoughtfully crafted for me, I felt it was my responsibility to take them seriously. 

As you might imagine, by day three I was anxiously awaiting the words of advice from my “business coach.” I was not disappointed.

Not only was it the most poignant, it would prove to be the most challenging.

Let’s face it. The easiest thing in the world is to call it quits—give up—fold your cards—when exhaustion sets in and it appears that failure is imminent.

“Push yourself even if you can’t go anymore.” 

Each day brought me a renewed energy as I thought of all the ways I could apply the insight my 10 year-old business coach provided.

What a truly delightful and unexpected gesture of kindness—and a hardy dose of learning—I received.

Truth be told, regardless of your age, everyone needs a coach. Everyone needs someone to inspire, motivate, guide, support, mentor, and encourage them.

Have you found your business coach? Who knows? It may be lurking within a scrappy 10 year-old hockey goalie.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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