The Three E’s of Employee Engagement:

Your company’s talent is one of its primary assets. Therefore, building and maintaining high employee engagement is an area of strategic importance. Companies with high energy, and collaborative employees tend to be more productive, and provide better service to customers. Furthermore, engaged employees seek to constantly improve themselves, and contribute to the growth of those around them.

Below are what I call the 3 E’s of Employee Engagement:

1.) Evaluation –

Companies that are successful in engaging their employees have objective and measurable goals for employee engagement.  Importantly, these companies collect both quantitative and qualitative data. For a company early in the employee engagement process, this data can help set a baseline. For companies with employee engagement initiatives in progress, this data can help track progress, and identify areas that require adjustment.

One particularly successful method for collecting feedback is to have a town-hall meeting   where employees can voice their suggestions for improvements to a member of senior management. Such meetings let employees know that they have a voice, and enable senior leaders to hear fresh ideas that they otherwise might not be able to hear.  

2.) Extracurricular Activities –

A team that bonds well together outside the office is more effective inside the office. Small activities such as happy hours, afternoon volunteer events, or monthly team breakfasts can go a long way in helping employees expand their network, and increasing the synergies between coworkers. When employees understand what motivates each other better, it’s easier to identify opportunities for cooperation.

Successful companies give employees the responsibility to plan, and organize such events. This allows employees from different departments to work with people they don’t usually get a chance to work with. It also provides individuals with the opportunity to channel their creative energy.

3.) Education –

Companies that provide team members with the opportunities to constantly improve themselves have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting talent. With the growing popularity of online courses, it has become easier for employees to fit classes into their schedules, and therefore people are eager to go farther in their education. Additionally, online learning platforms enable companies to deliver training to their employees at a lower cost, and require less time away from their jobs.

Providing employees with financial assistance to pay for classes, publication subscriptions, or professional association dues fosters a culture of continuous improvement. An additional way to encourage your talent to seek out learning opportunities is to create a lunch and learn program where employees present on a topic of their expertise. This has the dual benefit of raising the visibility of experts in your organization, while enabling knowledge sharing.   

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Three Reasons That the Holiday Season Is A Good Time to Start Planning A New Venture:

Many clients ask me when the best time of year to start a small business is, and I often tell them that the holiday season is one of the best times to start planning to launch your own venture – whether it be your own company, or becoming a freelancer. There are many reasons for this:

1.)  The end of the year is a great time for reflection. We succeed when our passions, values, and behaviors are in alignment. Many of us struggle with identifying our passions. Take this time to make a list of the times this year that you felt most energized, and that you used your skills to make an impact. Don’t limit yourself to professional experiences, think of personal ones as well, because many successful entrepreneurs harness personal interests to create thriving businesses.

2.)  December marks the close of the fiscal year for many corporations, and is the time that many organizations set the budget for the following fiscal year. Many organizations may have left over budget they are looking to spend. Talk to people, and they may have some extra funds to invest in a pilot project that you might be able to provide their organization to advertise your skill-set.

3.)  Entrepreneurs excel at observing, and the holiday season is a great time to observe. Spend some time at the mall looking at what products are selling, and which ones aren’t. See which products customers are willing to pay a premium for, and which items seem to only sell with a discount. This is also a great time to learn marketing / sales techniques from stores. Many instances the same items that will be marked 50% off one week, will be marked buy one get one free the next week. Research and think about the business rationale for these strategies. Why do different strategies resonate with different sets of customers?

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As we celebrate Thanksgiving it’s important to pause and express gratitude to people in both your personal and professional lives. The health benefits of gratitude are well documented and many health articles suggest setting aside time on a daily or weekly basis to write down things from your life that you are grateful for. These things could be people, good health, or something as simple as a sunny day.

In your professional life it could be that co-worker who went the extra mile to get you the information you needed, something interesting you learned, or that mentor who’s always available to bounce ideas off of.

One of my greatest passions in life is people. Whether it is meeting people, coaching people, or receiving advice from people, being with others energizes me and helps me grow. I always remember the loved ones, teachers, coaches, and colleagues who put so much time into helping me be my best version of me.

This Thanksgiving take a moment to say thanks to someone who has enriched your life.

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The Emotionally Intelligent Entrepreneur

Much has been written recently about the ever – growing importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. As teams become compromised of people across different time zones, and cultures, possessing strong emotional intelligence is even more critical to thrive in the workplace.

Emotional intelligence is especially important in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs need to be highly mindful of their own emotions, and the emotions of others. Starting your own business requires grit, the ability to handle set-backs, and valuing small victories.

Additionally, entrepreneurs need to create a work-place where employees can openly and healthily express emotion. Working in young and small companies requires comfort with dealing with ambiguity, healthily managing frustrations, and accepting criticisms in a constructive way. Employees will confront these challenges at large companies as well, but they tend to be more pronounced in smaller companies – where workers are more closely connected to one and other.

Confrontation is a healthy part of the creative process. However, entrepreneurs need to have a framework that enables employees to disagree, but eventually arrive at a consensus in the decision making process. Employees should be encouraged to challenge the ideas of each other, and even the ideas of leadership to a certain extent, but they must do so while maintaining a level of professional respect.

In an economy where entrepreneurs are playing a greater leadership role, it is important that they develop their own, and their employees’ emotional savvy. After all, a major part of doing business is navigating people, and personalities, and the individuals who are good at this tend to give their companies that needed competitive edge.

Know Your Customer & Stakeholder:

As entrepreneurs, our primary role is to solve problems, and meet customers’ needs. This is how we create value for our customers, and stakeholders. Successful entrepreneurs start with the customer first, and then define the product, or service that meets the customers’ needs, or solves the customers’ problems.

First, we must define our target customer. The most successful companies have a clear focus, and vision. Once we have our customer base defined, we can assess what the needs, or problems of this customer base are. This requires meeting face to face with customers, and LISTENING to them. Customers want to be heard, and entrepreneurs are often better at giving their customer a voice than large corporations. Make sure you leverage this competitive advantage.

Amazon is a prime example of a company that understands its customers’ needs. Using information on past purchases, Amazon is able to suggest future purchases for customers. For example, a new book by the same author of a book you purchased the month before, or a printer to go along with the computer you just bought. As the scope of goods Amazon sold expanded, the company was able to construct a more holistic view of customers’ preferences.

Entrepreneurs may not have the same access to customer data as Amazon, but we can still anticipate the needs of their customers, even before the customer has articulated them. The entrepreneur can identify macro – trends that will impact his or her clients, and create a plan to capitalize upon, or mitigate the impact of those changes. When challenges arise for our customers, we are presented with the opportunity to create value for them.

The most successful entrepreneurs don’t view their clients merely as customers, but as partners. These entrepreneurs don’t just serve customers, but build a relationship of trust, and serve as advisors. Sometimes this translates into business opportunities for yourself, but it could lead to business for others, including your competitors, as well. However, these short – term sacrifices will lead to long term gains. As an entrepreneur, you win when your customer wins.

The Power of Beliefs:

If bones form the skeleton of our physical being, beliefs form the scaffolding of our mental selves. Beliefs have tremendous power, and can have either a positive or negative impact on our lives.

We hold beliefs about everything. We develop these beliefs based on those around us, our experiences, and the media.

Beliefs about ourselves can have the most dramatic impact on our life. Some of the most successful people in history have overcome incredible adversity to realize their dreams. One key factor in their success has been an unwavering belief in themselves.

I have been fortunate to have many people in my life who have believed in me. My father was one of my biggest cheerleaders. I can still remember him at my soccer games saying “Run Reuben, run.” He instilled in me the importance of a positive attitude. My dad also taught me that happiness comes from within, and can’t be obtained from external sources.

It’s easy to forget that nobody can be you, and that we are all created to serve a unique purpose in this world. The how and when isn’t always visible to us, but we are all born with an innate sense of greatness, and destined to shine in our own way.

So believe in yourself, and how great you are, because not only will you feel better, but you are more likely to have a positive impact on those around you as well. Like Oprah always says, your greatest accomplishment is simply to be YOUR best SELF.


Summer weather is finally here! The weather can have such a huge effect on our mood. Especially in New York City, restaurants open their window fronts, there are people eating and drinking at sidewalk tables, and children playing in the parks.

This is a great time of year to check in with yourself, and be mindful of where you are versus where you want to be. Whether it’s by taking a walk in Central Park, enjoying an iced coffee outside, or riding a bike, the sunny weather provides the perfect opportunity to clear your head, and reflect.

Don’t just think about goals and resolutions, think about your relationships as well. How are things with your family, your friends, your co-workers? How is your relationship with yourself? Are you taking care of your health, stepping out of your comfort zone enough, and rewarding yourself, for well, just being you?

Summer flies by, and before we know it, it will be labor day, so use the sunny weather to grow yourself more towards the best you can be.