One Brick at a Time

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 14, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

I don‘t know what my calling is,
but I want to be here for a bigger reason.
I strive to be like the greatest people who have ever lived.
Will Smith.

We are surrounded by limiting factors. Not enough money, costs are on the rise – health costs, fuel costs, life and work costs. It may almost seem better to cut back and limit. I would like to suggest that we change that mental paradigm and see each challenge, whether real or imagined, as an opportunity to find our own greatness

One of my favorite videos on You Tube is Will Smith’s Wisdom – this is a much watched video - . One story that Will shares is a story about his father and building a wall. Smith’s father instructs Will and his younger brother to build a wall. At first this seems like a daunting task, and then these two children – Will was 12 and his brother younger laid one brick at a time and in 18 months built a wall.

What a gift, Mr. Smith gave to his young sons. This wall stands today because two mere children were given a job and decided to lay one brick at a time. It didn’t occur to them that the wall couldn’t be built and so they built it.

Now, it only takes one kind word or expression of gratitude to change a relationship for the better. It only takes one dollar at a time to create an investment program. It only one word at a time to write a book. It one brush stroke at a time to paint a masterpiece.

If two small children can build a brick wall in eighteen months,than I certainly can improve my work, my life, my community “one brick at a time.” How about you?

Build a Culture for Success

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 29, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

One of the most common complaints that I hear from business leaders is about the attitudes of their employees. Backstabbing, backbiting and backbreaking behaviors are tearing companies apart. As a result, business and service suffer.

Interestingly enough, when asked how these same leaders deal with such attitudes, the answers become punish them, avoid them or seek to understand and work with them. I would love to say that understanding and working with them is the most common choice, however experience tells me otherwise.


Although in the minority, successful leaders  do find ways to  build a culture for success.

Here are five tips  that successful leaders use to build a culture for success:

  1. Lead rather than manage people. To paraphrase Peter Drucker, “we manage things and lead people.” People are not objects. Trying to move people around like pieces on a chess board will only lead to frustration and disappointment.  Leadership is about expanding positive actions and change. Not controlling or limiting.
  2. Capitalize on talents. People are hired for their ability to do the job.  At least, one who hope that we are not hiring a warm body out of desperation.  Given guidance and direction, complainers become communicators, hiders become researchers and reviewers, saboteurs become innovators.
  3. Provide a focus.  Share and discuss the basic fundamentals of the business: the vision, mission and values. This does not mean emails or memo’s as a reminder. This means investing time to meet face-to-face, to ensure that people can internalize, interpret and digest the fundamentals of the business.
  4. Demand accountability.  Serving as framework,  job descriptions are used to build individual accountability.  First, successful leaders share the business objectives to assist employees to establish goals and action plans. Secondly, timely feedback helps to determine if the employee is on track.  This is not an annual event, but rather, an ongoing commitment to rewarding success and catching problems or failures.
  5. Listen and take action.  Many companies fail because employees don’t feel involved. The industrial age is long gone. The knowledge age is passing. This is the age of applying knowledge and employee engagement.  Learn to listen for what is not said as well as what is said. Ask for what might be left on said. Follow up on complaints. And, take action on suggestions.

A true  story about listening and taking action:

A consultant once solved a problem by leaving a board room and venturing into the basement. Absenteeism was up, productivity down, customer complaints were up and profitability was off by millions of dollars.

He sought out and interviewed some  maintenance staff and learned that air quality in the building was being affected by a faulty piece of equipment.    

“How long has this been going on?” the consultant asked.

The response, “More then a year.”

Whom did you talk with?”  he asked.


Lastly, he asked, “How much to fix?”

The reply, “Forty thousand dollars.” 

The consultant returned to the board room and shared the information.  The president was astonishedHe immediately completed a repair request.

The consultant followed up a few months later to follow up.   Absenteeism was down, productivity was up and profitability was ahead of schedule. The president rather sheepishly thanked the consultant for his assistance.  He also admitted that he now knew that value of listening to little complaints. He realized that often they were symptoms of an easy fix, rather than letting it lead to a costly impacts on the business.

In summary, lead people, rather than manage, capitalize on talent, provide a focus, demand accountability, listen and take action can and often will lead you to building a culture for success.




Trust Your Intuition

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 22, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Trust Your Intuition

Intuition is powerful. We all have it. The problem is we often overlook it, second guess it, or just plain  ignore it.  Only to discover, that if we would have listened to that voice in the head, heart and gut that nudged, then shoved  and even shouted, that the voice was oh so right.

The word intuition comes from the Latin intueri, meaning to consider, “to look on. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary sums up intuition asthe immediate knowing or learning of something without the conscious use of reasoning; instantaneous apperception.”  This intuitive “look on” implies something deeper than simple perception. It is the ability of “apperception“ ; “to take hold of” knowledge in one glance.

Simply, intuition is direct knowledge.

I am not saying that facts are not important. Facts are, often times, essential in moving forward in making critical decisions.  However, intuition helps set the vision, expand the strategy and lead to extraordinary success.

I recently watch the movie, Captain America, the First Avenger, on DVD.  Dr. Abraham Erskine, a scientist who comes to America during the World War II era to help overcome the Germans. He needs to find the ideal candidate for a very special scientific experiment. In this experiment, he will create a super hero that will help win the war.  He finds in Steve Rodgers, a 90 pound weakling.

All the facts showed, that Steve was the smallest, lacked endurance, and stamina. Intuition showed, Rodgers possessed traits of honor, heart, willingness to take a beating and never, ever quit.  The obvious facts showed stronger, brawnier men. The knowing showed heart, integrity and courage.

Dr. Erskine just KNEW that Rodgers had what it would take to become the perfect candidate.  If you can’t watch the movie, watch the clip: Facts don’t show what intuition leads you to know.

In my experience, often times the facts would have closed many a business. The intuition kept it and keeps it going. It’s great to have facts, as I mentioned earlier, facts are always important. However, intuition, your knowing, will help you to overcome tremendous obstacles, find amazing new opportunities and will lead you to fabulous results. Learn to trust your intuition!


Unlock Unlimited Potential

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 15, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Unlock Unlimited Potential

Getting caught up in what everyone else is thinking and doing is a death wish for unlocking unlimited potential.

This powerful thought is attributed to Socrates, “Let him that would move the world, first move himself.” 

How do we move ourselves with time is racing by and we feel short on options?

Stop the clock and focus on what is important to you. Pull back from all the demands of business and life. Step back from all those naysayers that have caused you to doubt your vision and your passion.

Dig into the depths of your talents and strengths. Honor your commitment to your dreams. Consider what moved you in the past and what is stalling you in the present. Challenge your very core with your level of energy to see your goals to completion.

You can never move the world, if YOU are not moved to dream extraordinary dreams and are not willing to take courageous action. Dream big and be Courageous. Then and only then will you unlock unlimited potential.


Making Strategy an Accelerator, Not an Anchor

Laura Novakowski  -  Feb 08, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Making Strategy an Accelerator, Not an Anchor

How does the success business use strategy as an accelerator, not an anchor?

Businesses today have an opportunity to use strategy to their advantage. Whether we take an advantage of using our strategy to move our businesses towards growth and success. Or, use that strategy to hold us back – now those becomes interesting options.

Let’s investigate some accelerators and anchors…


  • Change the business perspective – Just because last year had marginal results doesn’t mean the strategy for the next year is “fixing” all the old problems.  Get out of the office, the building. Got on a retreat, go to a play ground, or go kayaking.  Make it fun. Make it positive. Dream big!
  • Create a mastermind group – Reach into your vast network, or expand it, and find 4 to 7 successful, positive and energized individuals that would like to share ideas, help solve problems and serve as sounding boards for crazy and sometimes desperate ideas.  Masterminding can be done face to face or via telephone of Skype. Whatever the venue chosen be faithful, be committed and be collaborative.
  • Share your strategy. Communicate your strategy with each and every partner, investor, employee or interested party. Write it speak it. Sing it if you can. The more your strategy is shared the more likely you will succeed.
  • Strategy is a foundation not a prison. Last, but not least, be focused and yet flexible. The strategy may be a good one and yet something may come along that can galvanize you and your business to another level. Be open to suggestions and ideas.


  • Myopia – trying to solve the problem with the same mind that created it, to paraphrase Albert Einstein.
  • Isolationism – failing to reach out for help, feedback and/or objective assistance
  • Insulate – detaching and hiding in a cocoon. Holding the strategy so close that no one has any idea what you and your business are trying to achieve.
  • Rigid – the strategy cannot and will not be deviated from. Clients are leaving. It’s their problem – the strategy is just fine. Employees offering new ideas. Shut the door and shut out success.

Interesting dilemma, wouldn’t you agree. Comments on how to make strategy an accelerator, not an anchor, would be greatly appreciated.

How Purpose + Energy Overcomes Resistance

Laura Novakowski  -  Jan 25, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on How Purpose + Energy Overcomes Resistance

Mark Twain once wrote, “Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

It’s amazing to me how  resistance affects success.  Time and talent are spend on detracting and diverting our energy towards situations, issues and problems that might show up. These de-railers are so consuming that how purpose for life, work, our passions, dreams and goals might be supported is totally lost.

Consider two senarios…

One employee believes in the organization’s vision and values. Is clear on how they can support the purpose and the objectives. Offers suggestions, volunteers, is willing to put in extra time and is supportive of the team.  Their  energy will always, and I do mean always, overcome any resistance that shows up on their path because they are focused on how to achieve the goals rather than the obstacles that are thrown in their path.

Another employee has given the organization’s vision and values lip service.  Is clear on how they must ensure that their own needs are met first.  Continuously holds to the exact hours for work and ensures that their personal time is not infringed up.  Their energy will be focused on helping them get what they want.  Forget what the organization wants and needs.

Does either situation sound familiar?

If so, as leaders and managers of talent, resources and businesses here are some tips to ensure how purpose and energy will overcome resistance.

  1. Share the purpose. In any and all media, clearly communicate the purpose of the organization. When people know their why, their how will show up.
  2. Clarify expectations.  Utilize competency based job descriptions and performance reviews.  How people are expected to meet the requirements of the position and how those requirements are to be met must be shared on hire and reviewed at least quarterly.
  3. Hold people accountable.  Notice and reward people for doing their job and more.  Conversely, be rock solid on the consequences when expectations are not met.

People will actively exert little energy towards success if the target is not clear and the challenges are too numerous to mention. However, when all the members of the team know how their performance and efforts are “meaningful” to the success of the organization, resistance will be overcome.





Business Success -Winners Never Cheat

Laura Novakowski  -  Jan 18, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Business Success -Winners Never Cheat

Jon Huntsman, chairman and founder of Huntsman Corporation, built a $12 billion dollar chemical corporation on the premise that “Winners  Never Cheat – Even in Difficult Times.”    

Here’s some of Mr. Huntsman’s business and life philosophies that are practical and powerful:

“Circumstances may change but your values shouldn’t.” 

“There are many temptations but reminders help.”

“Treat competitors, colleagues, employees and customers with respect.”

If the common practices become about posturing and positioning, then  business are using smoke and mirrors and their guiding principles. Diversions away from the quality, service, abilities, and integrity become the rule of thumb.

Let’s get back to authentic business success.  Build business success on character, honesty, integrity and respect.  As a result, customer, employee and stakeholder confidence and satisfaction will escalate dramatically. Because – “Winners NEVER Cheat!”



Thoughts and Choices – According to 12 Sage Minds

Laura Novakowski  -  Jan 11, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Thoughts and Choices – According to 12 Sage Minds

Think of choices as a basic rule of physic – the rule of cause and effect. A choice causes us to take or not take action which effects a change.  This change can be positive or negative. Only through careful thought and consideration can we truly determine what and how those choices affected our successes and failures in business and in life.

Here is some sage advice…

 Buddha“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” 

William Shakespeare: “The choices we make dictate the life that we lead.”

William Jennings Bryant:  “Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: it is not to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

James Allen“Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.”

Eleanor Roosevelt: “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes…and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

Albert Einstein:  “Out of Clutter, find Simplicity.  From discord, find Harmony. In the midst of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

Carlos Castaneda:  “We choose only once. We choose either to be warriors or to be ordinary… A second choice does not exist. Not on this earth.”

Denis Waitley:  “There are two primary choices in life;
to accept conditions as they exist,
or accept the responsibility for changing them.”

Dalai Lama:  “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. We always have the choice.”

Zig Ziglar:  “Every choice you make has an end  result.”   

Professor Dumbledore, from ‘Harry Potter’It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities.”

From the song “I Hope You Dance”: “I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, whenever one door closes I hope one more opens, promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
and when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…

I hope you dance…”





Laura Novakowski  -  Dec 21, 2011  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on TURNING CIRCUMSTANCES INTO OPPORTUNITY

“…the people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw

Have you ever been frustrated because the course of you life seems off track.?  Do you feel as if you are “locked” into a bad situation or you are on a endless treadmill that is taking you nowhere? Well, then it’s time to take those circumstances and turn them into opportunities.

If you think that you don’t have enough education or knowledge surrounding a topic – take time to learn it!  Whether it be acquiring a degree or certification or taking your current skills and education and applying that to your area of interest – find the opportunity to apply your talents and skills.

If you wonder why something that is obvious to you is not being done –  find out why!  Ask questions,  network with people who are already in the industry and benefit from their expertise.

If you  find that your suggestions or ideas are falling on deaf ears, that you know there is a market for a new idea, concept or service  – pitch it!  Do it first in brief written form, this will help you organize your ideas,  connect with a person, face-to-face and ask them if they would take some time with you to review the idea or concept.  Ask them what they think about the idea and then ask for  recommendations.

We all too often become “victims” of circumstances, allowing ourselves not to be listened to or believed in.  Don’t treat life like toss of the dice. Take take your talents and  techniques, your skills and strategies, your courage and commitment and get out there to make  circumstances stepping stones and opportunities a reality!



Inside Out Leadership

Laura Novakowski  -  Dec 14, 2011  -  , , , , , , ,  -  Comments Off on Inside Out Leadership

The most lasting and sustaining type of leadership comes from the inside and grows outward.

You aren’t the leader because you’re the President, CEO or Captain of the Team.  You may hold a title because you inherited it or one day you are promoted into it but the true leader, the one that people will follow no matter what happens, is the leader who earns it.

The leader is the one who, from their very core of their existence, believes that it is more important to act because it is the right thing to do not the most “politically” correct thing to do.  To be able to put your own self interest and agendas aside and to engage others’  power to make decisions and mistakes, to take the risks and achieve the successes or failures, that is a true sign of leadership.

As the leader, you must be genuine,   honorable,   respectful and   truthful;  know that lifting people up is more important than tearing them down and that with courage and conviction, you put yourself out there so that others may have the opportunity to achieve spectacular results. The leader that takes the blame, but not the credit will be the person who employees or team mates believe in and follow.

Using  influence and support, rather than authority, the company or team will make the profits, win the  games, create the new market because the leader is the heart on the inside.


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