Looking around the corner – Ed Stillman, Austin Texas

looking around the corner

2016 is less than 2 weeks away. When was the last time you did a “reset” of your core leadership fundamentals. Here are 5 that have caught my attention over the past month that you might think about as you set yourself up for success in 2016.


  1. Reflect on your “purpose” or as Mike Engels, Chief Revenue Officer for CWS Capital shared recently, “What am I trying to accomplish?”. Are you being your word when is comes to the greater good. Is your culture well defined, can you share your “core values”. How are you changing the world? Believe me when I say … less is more. You want everyone in your company to walk the talk starting with you, the Owner, CEO or President.


  1. A recent read, Danny Meyer’s book – “Setting the Table” is focused on the hospitality industry yet B2B enterprises can gain a lot of insight as we continue to focus on the customer experience.


Meyers wrote about hiring the 51%’ers. After 10 years chairing Vistage CE Groups, I encourage my members to focus on culture and hire for the things you can’t teach people. The things that are innate are, well innate. It’s an emotional skill vs. technical skill thing. As you review your key directs or L1’s, is there a “will” or “skill” area deficiency or a need for improvement? So as you start your 2016 employee onboarding efforts or your personal improvement plans to those underperforming in 2015, here the core characteristics of the 51%’ers:
1 – Optimistic Warmth
2 – Intelligence
3 – Work Ethic
4 – Empathy
5 – Self awareness and Integrity


  1. Jack Welch said some 20 plus years ago, “By not aligning measurements and rewards, you often get what you are NOT looking for”. Eric Stumberg, CEO of Tengo Internet an Austin based wifi provider to the RV traveler shared with me this week he is setting a clear vision to his team and they now know where they are headed. His directors own their deliverables and it is Eric’s position to hold them accountable to a higher standard with monthly one-to-ones. He knows the value of communication, repeatedly, and every chance he can plans on sharing the company’s set of cultural priorities and non-negotiable core values. Have you, are you or should you spend more time on creating a performance based compensation plan for your enterprise.

  1. Looking at my leadership books in my office, somewhere I read a cohesive leadership team trumps strategic planning. If you want to scale you business, Setting the Table author Danny Meyers shared these critical attributes for your L1’s:

Infectious attitude – quite simply, are this person’s way of doing things and attitude something you would want to spread?
Self-awareness – the best managers know themselves, admit weaknesses openly, and work daily on their areas of weakness
Charitable assumption – A charitable mindset assumes the best intentions of others (read speed of trust for this concept). Mindsets often become self-fulfilling prophecies, so what you think of someone is likely to happen. Those who are skeptical as their nature don’t typically strive in organizations built on charitable assumptions.
Long term view of success – The best way to grow a business is with repeat customers, who have great experiences, how are we pushing to that end to grow, what great experiences are your managers creating?
Sense of abundance – this part is a bit long, but the point to me at least is about being charitable, even in tough times caring about your community
Trust – Having people work from a place of fear brings a totally different player to the field. I think CEOs are scary people, and no matter how much we say we want people to feel they can experiment, fail, etc. – it’s critical we work to communicate that daily, as it’s inherent to believe that a mess up will get you fired.
Approving patience & Tough Love – Tough love means being willing to tell someone the truth, even if it is tough for them to hear. Managers must have the ability to do that, they must operate from a place of trying to catch people, in the act of doing things right vs. only when they make mistakes.

Last yet not least and my 5th is “…are you celebrating enough”, is you work environment a warm, fun, place to show up each morning. After you have established your monthly or quarterly revenue, profit, or activity targets for your sales, field and/or back office operations teams head for Top Golf, Dave & Buster’s or the Punch Bowl in the Domain and have fun celebrating your success.

Ed Stillman is a 10 year Vistage Chair living in Austin Texas. Chairing has become the most meaningful chapter in my BOOK OF LIFE. If you want to get to know me better, let’s have a cup of coffee.



Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?

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