How Well Do You Know Your Current Culture?

How well do we really know our cultures?

As we think about the migration of traditional companies from ones where most employees work in the office daily to the new hybrid and virtual work – where a sizable proportion of workers do not have to come to work every day, it is likely that we will experience changes in our culture.  

It would be good to catch changes early, so we can respond to the new headwinds. Remember, Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and Gustavo Grodnitsky’s book title tells us that “Culture Trumps Everything”,   Recently, Alisa Cohen wrote an article, It’s time to Identify and Reset Your Company’s Culture, and suggested asking the experts : survey your employees. 

Rather than asking everyone to answer generic questions, start with the people most affected by the changed: people experience the greatest changes personally (e.g., they’re working virtually a lot) and collectively (e.g., they collaborate with others and aren’t able to do so in live, face-to-face interactions such as onboarding, brainstorming, meeting, etc.). 

The questions could focus on several issues, including the worker’s:

  • Changed experiential expectations (e.g., for onboarding, group decision-making, being considered for new opportunities) etc.
  • Perception of how it’s affecting the others, including those most and least successful
  • Description of the company in a short phrase (e.g., three or six words phrases)
  • Predictions for how changes might develop positively or negatively in the future.

Collecting the data from a large enough sample of people with different roles and experiences, may allow you to determine where changes in culture are taking place. And if they are, you can now adapt and respond!

If you do this, share your non-confidential results with the rest of us at Presentation Excellence!

How Does Your Leadership Style Impact on Your Company?

How well do we really know our cultures?

For a CEO, it’s important that you have confidence in your vision for the company and decisions. Uncertainty weakens the willingness of some team members to follow initiatives. For this reason, smart CEOs and other leaders seek out information from a diverse group of experts and as well as peer leaders who have experiences that are relevant (e.g., Vistage Worldwide). In addition they build their Emotional Intelligence (EQ) muscles, especially self-awareness.

In the blog post 4 Ways Confident Leadership Helps Everyone, Building Champions shares four benefits leaders get when they are confident and project that confidence to their team:

  • Builds loyalty among team members who want assurance
  • Support confident communications by the team members to others within the company
  • Encourages strategic thinking by providing a foundation for more long-term thinking and planning 
  • Empowers direct reports to follow your lead.

Working with 25,000+ leaders at Vistage, who go beyond their Mastermind Group to engage others on our intranet (, I see how they build their confidence with frank and timely discussions and then report on the positive results that occurred.

Take the time to build your leadership skills and confidence, so you, too, can have a more significant impact on your leadership team and, in turn, your customers.

Are You Committed to Continuous Improvement?

Is continuous improvement a core value for your company?

Over a decade ago, I was asked by Vistage Worldwide to launch a CEO Peer Advisory group. My objective was to find successful CEOs who wanted even more success – by learning from other members of the group, other Vistage members (there are now 27,.000 In 20 countries), subject matter experts, and me. One of the goals we set for each of our companies was to turn them into CILOs- Continuous Improvement Learning Organizations. 

Over the years, many members sought a better system for holding staff accountable for their jobs and evaluating their success so they could help workers improve in whatever ways the worker and his/her supervisor thought would benefit the employee and the company. That led to the development of the Accountable 4 Success (A4S). The centerpiece is a clear and measurable Job Description with objective metrics which is used to evaluate job performance and culture commitment as needed – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually. Most important, each area of responsibility includes a section  in which the supervisor and the employee specify an area for improvement, and the ability to measure success.

Carolyn similarly takes individual continuous Improvement to a higher level by linking it to the culture. In Is Your Company’s Culture Relentless about Improvement? She notes that just as companies aren’t satisfied with complacency – they want things done better, cheaper and faster – neither are employees satisfied with the status quo in their job. They want to acquire new skills in order to grow both personally and professionally. She notes that when some employees are improving that sparks ideas for others. The goal isn’t personal achievement or out-performing co-workers; the goal is to elevate human talent so people can contribute more to the company and be rewarded for it.

Does your company already have a CILO culture? If not, what systems are you using to create a relentless culture for continuous improvement? If your system is successful, share it with Presentation Excellence members. If not, feel free to check out and learn more about how you can develop a corporate wide mindset and culture of improvement and growth for all. With all the headwinds to facing companies today, you’ll need peak performance from everyone within a CILO culture to thrive!

A New Approach to Negotiation

As we ease our way into the post-pandemic period, we’re discovering the need to brush-up and/or acquire many different presentation skills in order to succeed in adapting to the changed world.   

When we launched Presentation Excellence over two decades ago, clients asked us to not only help them design and deliver winning investor, sales, marketing, and management presentations, but also with other interactions, including negotiations, job interviews, networking, and connections, and forging strategic partnerships.

For instance, the Great Resignation – a mass exodus of 48+ million employees – has created a need for workers to be more authentic when determining the lifestyle and type of work they want for the next few years before applying for jobs. Similarly, employers need to retool how they present their companies’ culture and career opportunities for both new candidates and existing staff to increase the odds of a fit for retention and future leadership.  Both sides are busy figuring out how to 

Negotiation skills is another area that’s taken on increased importance. Whether you’re moving to a new apartment or house, your business is trying to get out of a lease because workers are now virtual or hybrid; or your company is dealing with slower supply chains, inflationary cost increases, or workers who want virtual or hybrid work, you’re going to be negotiating.

Given the importance of negotiations, and my personal interest in it (e.g., teaching it at the MBA level), we offered individual and group negotiation training to interested clients.  You may already be familiar with classic books such as Getting to Yes by Harvard’s Fisher and Ury, You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen (as well as his many other books!), and Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. My personal favorite, which I use in my courses, is Negotiation Genius by Malhotra and Bazerman.

A new approach to negotiation has been offered by Yale’s Barry Nalebuff and I thought I’d bring it to your attention. In Split the Pie: A Radical Way to Negotiate. While most negotiation approaches view the entire deal that’s to be negotiated as the “pie”, Nalebuff focuses the “pie” on what’s really at stake: the “Zone of Possible Agreement” (aka ZOPA). By doing so, he concentrates on the additional value created through an agreement to work together. The book is filled with examples in which his approach makes sense. He notes that he used the approach to negotiate the sale of Honest Tea, a company he co founded, to Coca-Cola. 

One example shows how two people (Alice and Bob) split a 12 piece pizza pie under interesting conditions set by the pizza shop owner. If they don’t reach an agreement, then they will only get half the pie (6 slices) with 4 slices going to Alice and 2 to He shares three alternative approaches that could be used. Power (Alice gets 4 vs.2 of the remaining 6, as she did with the first 6, giving her 8 vs. 4 at the end, Equality (both deserve half of the full pizza, so Bob gets 4 vs. 2 of the remaining 6 slices, so they both get 6 at the end, or his Split the Pie solution, they split the remaining 6, giving Alice a total of 7 vs. 5 for Bob.

The key to all successful preparations, regardless of which approach you use, is to be prepared. Understand what your real interests are, and what those of the other side are: what does each of you want and why. What is your BATNA – Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement?  In a fair, collaborative negotiation, focus on both sides’ interests as present and negotiate to an agreement. Don’t let the positions each side stakes out at the beginning, which often are designed to “anchor” the negotiation become the guiding star.

Good luck in your negotiations. May they all be successful.

The Key to All Communication is Listening

You’ve probably heard that since we have two ears and one mouth, our communications should follow the same proportion – spend twice as much time listening as speaking.

Presenters often ask if this applies to situations where information is delivered to an audience within a short time span, such as a 30 minute investor presentation or webinar.  The answer is yes, by using two time periods: one before and one after the presentation you actually deliver.

The first IS driven by the ADAP formula (i.e. Audience Driven, Authentic Presentations). Listening means understanding your audience’s interests before you even meet based on prior direct or indirect relationships. The more thoroughly you prepare to deliver the story with supportive facts and call to actions, the more effective you will be.

For instance: What does the audience want to know, how will they feel about it, and what resistances are there? How many other people have to be involved to make the decision? Etc.  Much of this can be gleaned from the context of the meeting and prior experiences. Today, most non-angel investors represent a group. Therefore she/he will not make a final decision based on that one presentation; instead she/he first has to present the information to others involved in the decision-process. (That means the presentation has to be one which she/he can communicate effectively on behalf of the original presenter! If there is too much jargon and not enough connections between the issues discussed, that might not be possible!)

Second, always leave time at the end for questions and comments – so you can listen to what’s really on the mind of the audience. For instance, at many investor and other conferences, speakers often are given 30 minute slots. Leave at least one-third of that time for questions and comments, with the goal of listening, learning and responding to the needs.

President Lincoln believed that we should spend more time sharpening our saw/hatchet before chopping trees; spend more time “listening” to the needs of your audience than delivering the content.

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July 2022