Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener on Your Billboard?

More and more companies are looking for ways to get the jump on the "green" bandwagon hoping to tap into this fast-growing market. However, corporate America still struggles with how to organically incorporate "going green" into their business models. Rather than offering a green product merely to profit, why aren't more companies making a larger impact by becoming a green brand? One reason is that impacting the market by actually becoming green is a tough road to travel.

One socially conscious advertising agency is blazing a green trail. Being 'green' is a passion for Maikel van de Mortel and Bjorgvin Saevarsson, founders of Element Six Media According to van de Mortel and Saevarsson, Element Six Media "gives more to the environment than it takes out of it by providing a green alternative to traditional advertising and branding communications through the use of sustainable earth resources. Reshaping earth's resources like snow, sand, flora and water, we create a unique and engaging experience for our clients' audience."

They live their brand and have created a Company that reflects their mission in every aspect of its operations. Their first obstacle to becoming a fully green company was with their accountant, who resisted the idea of going completely paperless. "It was a long hard battle, one that we compare to the Civil War because it is a civil change. She finally gave in. If you must bill us; send it to us in an email!" Bjorgvin laughs. Another 'green' choice' is not to maintain offices. When I called them in Minneapolis, they were in a downtown coffee shop, working remotely, using smart phones and I Pads.

Every day, Maikel and Bjorgvin work to lessen their carbon footprint in the name of their brand, while offering opportunities for their clients to do the same. Element Six donates to a green charity on behalf of their clients' brands. Bjorgvin explains, "They see a Return on Investment (ROI) while simultaneously contributing to a charity and the community ... there's no waste in the environment. It's a triple ROI that doesn't cost them a dollar more."

Taking gorilla marketing to a new level, they designed a thirty-five foot tall by thirty foot wide snow mural for Green Giant in downtown Philadelphia. The ad was sensational. Yes, it eventually melted, but not before thousands of people had posted pictures of themselves in front of the mural on their Facebook profiles while others tweeted and re-tweeted about the mural. "When people are touching and feeling advertising, you know they are identifying with the brand!" Bjorgvin says.

"There are so many great inventions designed and produced by innovative companies. However, when you look at their advertising and marketing programs, you can see that they're wasteful and not very green". Maikel continues, "Ironically marketers are the first ones to point out the benefits their brands and companies offer, but not enough of these companies do it through ways and means that are green."

The vinyl used for billboards is "wasteful,'s bad for the environment, it can't be recycled, yet these billboards promote how green these companies are". Biorgvin explains. Element Six's alternative is a living billboard made of grass that will make a greater impression on the consumer and have a healthier impact on our planet.


"Each and every step you take...makes a difference." Bjorgvin explains. There are so many ways that companies can make a positive impact on our environment. Telecommuting for one; employees are looking for work-life balance and many would take lower salaries to work remotely one or more days a week. In Los Angeles, people frequently spend upwards of two hours commuting to and from work. Adopting these new models decrease the Company's carbon footprint and their spending.

"As communities and people we need to evolve. If we don't, we'll have a big problem in this beautiful country of ours. People need to get used to change and evolution. This is what keeps us excited and alive although it's not the easiest way to go, that's for sure." says Maikel.

Maikel and Bjorgvin are sure that people believe in Element Six's sustainable campaigns and obviously, they believe they are doing the right thing: healing the planet and educating Corporate America at the same time.

Changing the perspective of an entire industry can be tiring and when asked what keeps them going on those tough days, they say, "Passion! Passion in general about what we are doing. Even on tough days, I keep going back to the dream we had when we started and it stands for all things positive vs. anything negative", says Bjorgvin.

These two pioneers believe they are on the right track. This belief coupled with their fire and passion are blazing a trail for corporate America. Stay tuned for a green billboard in your town very soon!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Our Mothers, Our Leaders

Happy Mothers Day!
Today, I celebrate my Mother, Barbara Rothstein. She is a leader in my life. She has always been a seeker: seeking truth, seeking to know herself and seeking to know others. Like a beacon of light, she has often illuminated my way just by listening with an open heart.

I think we could all learn a lot about leadership by looking towards our Mothers, who many times, lead by example. Like Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see." Inspired by my Mother, I have chosen to be a leader in my own life. We can all make the choice to step into a leadership role no matter what our “titles” may be at work.

Leadership is a quality we bring to every activity in our lives. Whether we are leaders in our businesses, communities, families or other areas of our lives, leadership is a quality of integrity we step into. When we consciously take this step, we create change.

Our world is changing, literally shifting and moving with strange weather patterns, earthquakes and tsunamis. If we listen, we can all hear the call to step up and support others. Leaders answer the call.

Business is changing as well. More and more people look towards leaders to guide them on their own path of leadership.

In these amazing times, people are drawn to those who lead with their hearts. What does this mean? It means: leaders must be real, authentic, and good listeners. Listen to yourself and let your heart be your guide. Listen to those around you and let your heart be your guide. Let your heart be your guide as you step into a leadership role in your own life.

Be Congruent. With every communication, every relationship be true to yourself. Don’t hide parts of yourself. Instead, tell your truth. More and more, people are being drawn in from a more heart centered and connected space, whether they feel the change happening or not. Choose to make a committed decision and move forward. Tony Robbins knows “Your life changes the moment you make a new, congruent, and committed decision.” Leadership doesn’t come from forcing yourself into a role; it comes from connecting to your own voice.

“The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men, the conviction and the will to carry on.” Walter Lippman

Listen In. Listen to that little voice inside. Call it intuition, spirit, guidance, source, or just a hunch, but listen to it. It may seem that it's taking you far away from where you want to be, but trust that voice. You may have to stand alone for a while, but be patient. It may be a little scary at first, but soon you will find support and be joined by others.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Harold R. McAlindon

In order to motivate others you have to motivate yourself! You have to continuously connect to your passion and breathe that into your daily activities. You will inspire others with your energy, enthusiasm and motivation. Continue learning about yourself, continue refining your message as you build and reach out to your market. Leadership is a fluid process.

Be Compassionate. As you move in the world and your success rate increases your critics multiply and become louder. You have tapped a nerve, touched their fears and insecurities. Have compassion for them and come to peace with the fact that you may have a camp of people who are critical of your actions and your beliefs.

Practice compassion. Develop your skills. Continually connect inside with your truth and share that with the world. Focus on your appreciation and those who appreciate you, this will help you combat your critics and eventually, you might not even notice they are there.

“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we live our lives grounded in compassion, vision, faith and reach out with an open heart, we are leaders in our own lives! Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Leadership Summit Balances Head and Heart for Success

Attending the 2-day Leadership Success Summit in Ontario, CA at the end of January left me and everyone I met energized and exhilarated; ready to implement everything we learned immediately! To ensure our success, we were given the tools we needed to implement all we had learned. Lisa Marie Platske, CEO of Upside Thinking, created this business conference with that intention in mind. Not only did she actively balance head and heart, she appealed to different personality learning styles while teaching us all how to incorporate and implement important basic business tools immediately.

Lisa Marie and I spoke at length about how important it is to find a personal balance between head and heart in growing a successful business. We are not just heads running around creating deals and building business, we are flesh and bone and feelings. If we are to include our personal happiness in our definition of success we have to tap into our passion - our heart. Lisa Marie "wanted to offer a business event, help businesses get the help they need, but not have them burn out with too much information".

The structure of the conference was based on Lisa Marie's Seven Pillars of Success: planning, personality, partnerships, priorities, presence, progress and personal and professional development. Each pillar was explained in detail by one of the speakers or by a panel and then the audience could ask questions and get immediate coaching. In addition, Lisa Marie took time to ensure audience members left with the proper tools they needed to implement these pillars immediately.

People learn differently.

There are four primary learning styles: visual, auditory, read-write, and kinesthetic (more touch and feel centered). People learn using a variety of these methods, but one is usually predominant. Lisa Marie addressed all learning types in her conference. She even had a basket of small toys and balls to choose from for kinesthetic learners.

Each of the speakers were chosen with this in mind. She invited Faith Rivera, an Emmy award-winning singer/songwriter to sit on a planning and strategy panel and share her songs with the audience. Faith was able to offer her unique perspective on strategic planning. Later she lead us in song; she energized and inspired us all as we found ourselves up on our feet, singing and dancing. The tag line on Faith's website is "change your music, change your life". Her music added heart to Lisa Marie's conference.


In between learning segments, Lisa Malik got us all on our feet again, moving and smiling while she shared more great tools from her Maxitize Method. Not only did we learn, we learned how to retain what we learned! "Lisa Malik has a wonderful way of engaging and energizing audiences with her Maxitize Warm-Up method....She received rave reviews from the attendees and presenters alike!" , says Lisa Marie.

And for those who like Ice Cream, (who doesn't?) Smita Vasant, founder of Neemo's Exotic Ice Creams and Saffron Spot, provided us all with her signature flavor of exotic ice cream, Saffron Silk. Smita was also a presenter on the strategy and planning panel. She is a true 'foodie' and she inspired us by sharing how she turned her passion for food and spices into profits.

Each of these successful women business owners is passionate about her business. In fact, these women based their businesses on their passion. Each implemented the best business strategies that were in alignment with their personal beliefs. Although they each run very different companies, what they have in common is passion and a balance between head and heart. This particular combination has brought them to their current levels of success (and they are all growing). They are passionate about their businesses and have made the conscious decision to stay in alignment with their core missions.

Many of the attendees were 2nd and 3rd time participants at this conference and have already marked their calendars for next year's conference. In 2010, Jenee Dana of Focus Planning "Mapped out a detailed plan for the year that has created a powerful and profitable foundation for years to come!" This year she participated as a vendor and paid close attention so she could continue to build on the strong foundation she has already created.

This conference stands out among others I have been to because of its balanced approach to business, learning and action. The journey to success is personal one. Finding a strategy to build on your passions while incorporating proper structures and foundation is a clear path to create a thriving business that will add to your personal happiness.

The good news: you don't have to do it alone. It is possible to lead with your heart and build a successful business and find the support you need to succeed!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WHAT To Implement or Not to Implement---THAT is the Question!

I have always known that implementation is a huge factor in business success.
Whether it is implementing a new tool that I have learned at a conference, or buying software that supports my accounting process, I have to actually take action and implement that new tool for it to work. This could make or break a business. Not the software per say, but the implementation process! This is where I see many of my clients get stuck: at implementation. Rather than move forward they hit a wall and don’t implement anything at all!

Unfortunately, finding particular tools, processes, procedures and actions to move your business forward is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. I came to this thought today while I was in the gym working out. My workout was a dynamic mix of kicking the hanging boxing bag, walking lunges, various weightlifting exercises, balance, squats, and jumping rope. I added in a few other exercises, some I had learned many years ago, old favorites and others, were brand new that I have recently seen or been taught.

I designed my workout to suit me and my body! I created a plan consisting of different exercises and then implemented them! I did each exercise in a particular order to get the results I wanted. My goals were to create a work out that would get my heart rate up, build strength and endurance and move me toward my larger goal of overall health. I combined the new exercises I learned from my trainer Megan Butacan and exercises that are tried and true favorites to get the results I wanted. I did it my way!

The same goes for business; implementation is key! However, you have to implement what works for you and your business model. Some people run marathons, some people do yoga and some people do both. Running a successful business means discovering the strategies and models that work well for you. Not only do we have to find what we enjoy doing and combine that with the proper tools that will move us forward; I believe we should enjoy the journey as well!

Running a thriving business is about trying different strategies, tools, processes, procedures, marketing and sales strategies (I could go on forever) and then putting into practice what works for you. Are you asking yourself this question: “How long does it take to know what works?” Here is an answer that you may or may not like, but it is the truth: “It depends.”

Here are some things to think about that will help you to determine your own personal business strategies:

What product or service you offer? You have to know your client and your marketplace in order to really understand what strategies you need to implement. This takes research and part of your research will be in the form of research and trial and error. This also determines your sales cycle and that will affect the amount of time you need to see which tools work best.

What is your business model? Are you a coach? Do you manufacture a product? Do you have a restaurant? Each of these businesses will need a different approach. You will need to narrow down your choices and try things out to see what works for you.

What are your goals? How intricate or expansive are your goals. This will make a huge impact on the tools and strategies you choose to implement.

My point is that building a business is a process and a journey to be enjoyed. It is a combination of strategies, actions and energy that you pull from different sources and you put them together to create your own design for success. HAVE FUN on your journey. If you aren’t having fun, what’s the point? Don’t you want to love what you do every day? Isn’t that one of the reasons you chose the path you chose?

Define your idea of success and don’t forget to include happiness and joy in your definition. Implement the tools that work for you. You can easily accomplish this with the proper support, structure, and balanced energy! Keep implementing and moving forward and you will ‘arrive’ at your personal definition of success.

For more information on how I can support you visit

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Make Your Way the Highway to Success!

Building a successful business in these ever-changing times might be more of an innovative process than it used to be a few short years ago.
Following established business models; once the standard for building new businesses, is not always the best course of action. Today, it may take more creativity, drive, passion and endurance to build a highly profitable company than ever before. The door has swung wide open and building your business while staying true to your core beliefs can be your highway to success.

I just finished reading Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness -- A Path To Profits, Passion, And Purpose. Tony is the CEO of He helped grow the Company from almost nothing to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually. Change is one of the core values of Zappos: "Embrace and Drive Change."

Tony put all his eggs into the Zappos basket while remaining true to his core beliefs. Instead of launching a huge advertising and marketing campaign; he invested all his money and time in three areas: customer service, the 'culture' of the company, and employee training and development. He literally built the Zappos brand by offering a "WOW experience."

2010-12-07-deliveringhappiness.bmp "To live and deliver 'WOW'" was the Zappos mission. Tony's belief is that "WOW" means you have to be innovative and sometimes even unconventional. Go above and beyond what's expected. In 2009 Tony expanded the Zappos mission: "Zappos is about delivering happiness to the world." "Whatever you do, have an emotional impact on the receiver."

He knows his thinking is way outside the box. "There's a lot of buzz these days about 'social media' and 'integration marketing,'" he says in Delivering Happiness. "As unsexy and low-tech as it may sound, our belief is that the telephone is one of the best branding devices out there. You have the customer's undivided attention for five to ten minutes, and if you get the interaction right, what we've found is that the customer remembers the experience for a very long time and tells his or her friends about it".

Friendship will always lead you to something good. Tony says, "The more diverse your set of friends, the more likely you'll derive both personal and business benefits from friendships down the road". And what better way to connect with people than by being yourself and having one-on-one conversations with real people?

Reach beyond your 140 character status updates on Twitter and Facebook and pick up the phone. Make real connections with an open mind and with no agenda. You never know where or how you'll be led to an opportunity. I reached out to one of my Facebook friends, had a chat, met for coffee, and she led me here: to writing my blog on The Huffington Post.

Bart Greenhut and his wife, the founders of Bart's Bakery in Los Angeles, like Tony, are passionate about their mission and product: chocolate chip cookies. They are another example of a successful business built on a foundation of passion and integrity. According to Bart, "This venture is not about money--if a great cookie makes you smile, then in my small way, I've made the world a better place!" You don't hear that every day.

Their core belief is, "We strictly limit distribution & focus only on our quality & customers (you)... our mission is simple: to preserve a place in the world for untainted ideals, uncompromised quality, and the propagation of happiness."

2010-12-07-bartsbakerypicture.jpg Read the not so fine print on each of their cookie boxes : "Note: You will never see these cookies in any store that charges 'slotting' ... We believe that slotting fees cause the demise of many great products. We support only quality stores that respect the American virtue of fair competition!"

When a giant consumer products company offered to acquire Bart's Bakery, the Greenhuts walked away from the deal because it would have meant compromising the integrity of their product. The corporation told Bart that they would eventually put him out of business. Bart's Bakery embraced change, got creative and started private labeling.

Through their "Cookie Donation Program," Bart's Bakery sent cookies to Second Harvest Food Bank, for volunteers in the Louisiana Gulf Coast clean up. Their goal was to "help people smile during difficult times." A lot of hard working people enjoyed those delicious cookies. The unexpected bonus for Bart's was a Christmas order for 4000 boxes.

The Greenhuts and Tony Hsieh not only embrace change, they drive change. They lead by example, proof that you can build a successful company, large or small, grounded by your beliefs, your passions, and your integrity.

These are great times to make your way the highway to success!