Austin SMB CEOs & Business Owners

In less than two weeks, on April 19th Vistage Austin Chairs are hosting our CEO/Owner members for a day of learning and fellowship. We will have room for a few select guests. Please reach out to me if you would like to know more and/or would like to attend. There is no cost for this event.

What is the Vistage Membership?

Vistage CEO peer groups are specific to your business. We match you with a group tailored to your industry, challenges and goals to receive advice from seasoned CEOs who are passionate about sharing their expertise.

Vistage CEO members grew their annual revenue on average by 4.6% in 2020, while nonmembers with comparable small and midsize businesses saw revenue decrease by 4.7%.

Vistage by the Numbers

65+ years

Vistage has been driving excellence leadership since 1957.

35 countries

A global network of business leaders offers broader, more diverse perspectives.

45,00 members worldwide

Our growing membership is attributed to one factor: results.

4.6%revenue growth

In 2020, member companies grew revenue at 4.6%. Non-members saw a decrease of 4.7%.

Our mission is focused around helping high-integrity SMB leaders make great decisions that benefit their companies, families and the Austin business community.

Vistage is the world’s largest executive coaching organization for small and midsize businesses. For more than 65 years we’ve been helping CEOs, business owners and key executives solve their toughest challenges through a comprehensive approach to success. At the heart of our proven formula is confidential peer advisory groups and executive coaching sessions.

Let’s connect by phone 512-422-6232 to discuss if we’re a good fit for each other. Then we can meet so you can further explore if you’re ready to commit to excellence by joining a Vistage peer group.

Ed Stillman

Are You Managing the Monkeys?

This 50 year old article will put a smile or two on your face as you read how similar today is for managers, director and leaders. Enjoy the read and let me know what you are doing to be totally accountable.

A couple of best practices are:

1. Always ask your direct report what do you suggest? When possible get two, possibly three options. Have direct report select best one that he or she will implement. Be fully supportive.

2. MBWA – now you can “Manage By Walking Around” with your own “how’s it going”. 😉

Mike Scott, Vistage speaker with over 1,000 workshops to his credit ( has his Three Gold Metal Habits:

  • Give & get agreed-on due dates and due times for completion of all delegated work
  • Repeat or paraphrase all verbal requests
  • Insist on results with no surprises

Never ask “why” when something is not done, instead ask in the following order:

– What are your next steps to get this done?

– When are you going to do that?

– Can I count on you for that?

Total accountability means doing what you said you would do, as you said you would do it, when you said you would do it – PERIOD!

It’s Not Enough to Pay Your Employees More

John Rau’s recent Forbes article suggests we need to make our employees jobs more interesting. What do you think? How are you sustaining high performance with your employees?

John Rau I write on successful leadership cultures, patterns, and practices.

Paying your employees more in a tight labor market with rising prices is worth considering, but that’s not the only thing that employers should do to attract and retain the best talent.

The most successful leaders understand that getting these factors right is not the end of the job; it is only the beginning. Without a competitive, fair, and logical compensation structure, you’ll end up with a dissatisfied workforce. However, targeting that source of dissatisfaction and reducing negative sentiment are not the same as shaping an engaged, productive, and positive team. That’s a lot harder to do, but ultimately much more impactful.

Experienced leaders know that nailing compensation, in addition to amenities, benefits, and work-life balance, only ends up reducing current levels of employee dissatisfaction. But the value-add of that approach hits a hard upper limit. The better approach is to focus on workplace culture more holistically, knowing that doing the hard work on culture will achieve the greater goal of positive job satisfaction, motivation, and commitment on the part of employees.

Employers need to see the whole picture. This understanding first developed with clarity—backed by underlying research—in the 1960s. Yet, in the search for “magic solutions” (think: “the one-minute manager”), the fundamental recognition of workplace culture’s primary importance tends to get lost in the shuffle. It’s also relegated to secondary importance because workplace culture is so difficult to ace.

The most influential thinker on this duality—reducing dissatisfaction versus increasing satisfaction—was Frederick Herzberg, who published Work and the Nature of Man in 1966. He explained the differences between “necessary factors” like compensation and those which are truly sufficient for motivation. Herzberg argued that it is crucial to identify and differentiate between the factors “extrinsic” to the job, such as compensation, and those that are “intrinsic” to work within the context of organizational culture. As a four-time CEO, I agree with Herzberg on his assessment that only intrinsic factors are capable of moving a team beyond minimized dissatisfaction into the realm of creativity, engagement, productivity, and other truly transformative outcomes.

A summary of Herzberg’s work ultimately became one of the most influential, sought-after Harvard Business Review essays of all time: “One More Time: How Do You Motivate Employees?” And the conclusion was unambiguous: Once you’ve dealt with the dissatisfaction associated with extrinsic details, positive satisfaction only comes from:

  • Having a sense of accomplishment inherent in the job
  • Having the opportunity to achieve and advance
  • Being supported and challenged for excellence
  • Being empowered to participate and broaden your role
  • Understanding and respecting the utility that your employer’s products or services provide, warranting profit and growth

In Herzberg’s words: “Forget praise. Forget punishment. Forget cash. You need to make their jobs more interesting.”

But that begs the question: “Is this just a theory, like so many of the recipes du jour for management success? Or is it backed up by data?” The answer is a clear and resounding “yes,” and in many ways.

Included in Herzberg’s “One More Time” summary is a study of 3,500 experiences of events on the job. These were then rated by employees as either leading to extreme satisfaction or leading to extreme dissatisfaction.

All of the intrinsic factors were exponentially more likely to result in extreme satisfaction. At the top of the list (ranked by numbers of mentions) were responsibility five times, achievement four times, recognition three times, and work itself 2.5 times. Conversely, the extrinsic factors all received dissatisfaction mentions with even larger multiples of their satisfaction ratings. Company policy and administration led to 7x dissatisfaction and supervision yielded 4x dissatisfaction, while working conditions and personal life were also 4x. Salary was the least mentioned factor, with a negative ratio of 1.5x.

Over the two decades since the Herzberg summary, comprehensive studies have identified a tiny subset of companies that deliver high performance over long periods and multiple business cycles. What do you think led to their sustained high performance?

Simple: The high performers got the intrinsic factors right. Those factors are the foundational building blocks. Moreover, the leaders that build successful workplace cultures know that, and they attend to the intrinsic factors constantly—it’s a daily process. Over time, the most successful leaders produce an outcome that is successful, but only because they trust the process of producing it in the first place.

Getting compensation right is a necessary, but insufficient, part of a leader’s job. It is only the beginning of a long process. What comes after is well-understood and hard to do, but integral to success—and satisfaction to boot.