3 Ways to Catapult Your Business Success

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Something that has always deeply fascinated me is learning about the journey that has helped in the development of a majorly successful company get to where they are now. I absolutely love hearing about all of the strategies and tactics that have drastically helped in their growth as an organization, but also all of the obstacles that they had to overcome along the way.

The one thing that I have learned over the years having the great fortune of sitting down with executives from major organizations as well as successful startup founders is that there is a learning opportunity within their success for all of us to benefit from regardless of what industry one is in.

Recently, I had the great opportunity to sit down with the founders and Managing Directors Dick King and Mark Timmerman, along with Vice President David Modiano of City Capital Advisors (“City Capital”) based in Chicago, IL.  City Capital is a uniquely positioned investment bank whose sole mission is to provide senior level expert advice and execution services to leading middle market companies and their owners.

In its relatively short 10 year history since Dick and Mark left 20 year careers at William Blair & Company, City Capital has successfully completed over 50 transactions aggregating over $4.0 billion in value. They advise owners and management of private and publicly held middle market companies, typically valued between $25 million and $500 million with merger and acquisition advisory, capital formation for executing leveraged buyouts and ownership recapitalizations, as well as executing corporate financial restructurings.

City Capital’s biggest and most notable merger assignment to date concluded just two weeks ago when they advised Indiana’s family-owned Jayco Corporation in a successful merger with publicly-traded Thor Industries Inc. for $576 million.

When sitting down with Dick, Mark, and David, we discussed how City Capital went from a small two-man show to becoming a leading deal broker and investment banking firm in the middle market space. Here are three things that City Capital credits to their success as well as help you to implement into your own business.

1. Find your niche market and grow there.

Whatever industry you are in, it’s absolutely vital that you find your niche market and then develop a laser like focus to direct all of your time and energy in servicing that space. When Dick and Mark started City Capital, they admit that they didn’t have a concise business plan, but the one thing that they did know was their niche market of middle-market companies and how they were going to bring extreme value there. You may be tempted to explore different, more potentially lucrative markets such as larger companies in City Capital’s case, but don’t give in. The leading companies that are dominating their markets make it a major priority to find their niche and then operate solely within the confines of that space.

2. Relationships matter most.

Co-founder and Managing Director, Dick King said, “We knew from the beginning that the one way we were going to differentiate ourselves was to build thriving business referral relationships. Everything in our business revolves around people and relationships, and that is one key area that we take very serious.” I personally talk a lot about the importance of relationships, and when analyzing and digging beneath the surface to see what truly makes City Capital stand out from the rest of the competition, it’s clear to see the strength of their professional relationships is at the top of the list.

One of the best things that you can do right now whether you are a startup or an established company is to place an enormous value on your relationships and always striving to give more than you take. This type of mentality will always serve your future success more than you can ever begin to imagine.

3. Create a culture where everyone feels important.

Culture is and will forever always be a critical component in determining the health and success of any organization. The best organizations all the way from Fortune 500 companies down to small family-owned businesses with five employees create a culture where everyone feels important and wants to do everything possible to carry out the organization’s overall mission. When discussing culture, Mark Timmerman said, “We wanted to create a culture where not only everyone feels important, but is also part of a tangible contributing factor to the future of our success.” One of the ways that City Capital has created this culture is to not appoint a CEO. Even though Dick King and Mark Timmerman founded City Capital, they pride themselves in having developed a culture where other senior team members don’t view them as bosses.

As a leader, it’s your job to instill and demand a culture that makes everyone feel accountable mainly to themselves and of course to their customers. By creating a collaborative atmosphere and attracting highly-productive and talented senior investment bankers, it’s truly amazing what can happen. City Capital is another example of just how important culture truly is, regardless of how big an organization is.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

Leadership Lessons We Can All Learn From Pat Summitt

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Pat Summitt, the leader who helped bring the University of Tennessee’s Lady Volunteers to becoming a powerful force on the basketball court — and who became the winningest coach in college basketball history — died on June 28 of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Coach Summitt was not only a phenomenal basketball coach who dominated on the basketball court, she was also an incredible human being who made a profound difference in the lives of those she coached.

Unfortunately, I never personally met with the legendary coach. However, after watching some of the interviews with former players and all of the other people who were so fortunate to personally know Coach Summitt, it’s very easy to see what a monumental impact she had on so many who crossed paths with her over the years.

You don’t have to be a basketball coach, player or even fan of the game to take away important lessons from Pat Summitt that could drastically change your impact and significance as a leader. When you dig a little deeper and find out more about the type of leader and person that Pat Summit was, it’s very easy to see why her teams dominated on the basketball court for such a long time. It’s very easy to see why all of the 161 players that she coached during her time at the University of Tennessee graduated from college. It’s very easy to see why her legacy will live on forever.

Coach Summitt exemplified what it means to be a real leader. A real leader isn’t someone who just has the head job and collects the biggest paycheck. A real leader serves those that they lead. A real leader works for their players or employees, not the other way around. A real leader invests the time, energy and effort into developing their people to not only become better at their job, but also better as people. A real leader makes an impact in the world. In her 38 total years at Tennessee, Coach Summitt won eight national titles and 1,098 games — the most by any Division 1 Basketball Coach, male or female.

Not only this, but Summitt made a profound impact on women’s college athletics. When she first took over as head coach at The University of Tennessee in 1974 when she was just 22 years old, the NCAA didn’t even really pay attention to women’s basketball. None of that mattered to Summitt. She couldn’t be ignored as the wins and championships continued to grow. She helped bring to light women’s basketball throughout the nation. And the rest is history. This is what true leadership is all about.

Pat Summitt was not just a basketball coach. She was humane, caring and empathetic. She was all “about the people.” She kept in touch with all of her former players, visited them when they were going through difficulties, and continued to help develop them as a friend even after their time on the basketball court was up.

That should be a reminder for all of us. One of the most important things that you can do as a leader right this moment is start investing in your team, which means directing every ounce of your energy into caring more, serving more and loving more. As a leader, it’s very easy to bask in the limelight or get sidetracked by all of the obligations that you have in front of you every morning as you step into the office.

When you truly start to find ways to invest back into your people and leave your office door open to provide a listening ear for someone who may be battling a disease or who has just lost a loved one, or some other personal issue, does more for your organization’s future success than actually handling work-related tasks. It’s always about the people.

Your organizations long-term success is dependent on all of the people within your organization. Sure, great systems, phenomenal products and awesome customer service are critical for success, but never underestimate what truly makes great organizations thrive and separate themselves from the rest of the pack. They have a leader who passionately cares about the people they lead. In return, these people will go above and beyond to get the job done and carry out their leader’s vision.

There are so many leadership qualities that are required in order to become a great leader, but in my opinion, caring and loving more each day is the starting point to greatness.

 

Instead of thinking that others work for you, develop the mindset and perception that you work for others. By adopting this mindset as a leader, you will revolutionize the culture of your organization and inspire your people to do whatever it takes to create something special.

Just look at, and remember Coach Pat Summitt. That’s what a real leader looks like.

Originally Posted on Entrepreneur.com

7 Secrets to a Killer Morning Routine

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Time is a precious commodity, particularly in those pre-work morning hours. How you spend those moments can either make or break the rest of your day.

Unfortunately, an average morning for many people involves hitting snooze until the very last minute, skipping breakfast, throwing on clothes, sitting in traffic and sidling into the office a few minutes late.What we don’t often realize is that rushed, uninspired behavior can contribute to a negative, unproductive attitude for the rest of the day.

It’s challenging to perform at a high level and make a significant contribution in the marketplace if the above perfectly describes how you generally start your day. Creating a powerful morning routine can very well be one of the most important things that you do to ensure success, happiness, and high energy throughout the workday.

Here are seven things that you must do in order to create a killer morning routine.

1. Stop telling yourself you aren’t a morning person.

Just because you’re not a morning person now doesn’t mean you can’t become one. You can change your mindset and make your killer morning routine a daily habit. Instead of telling yourself you aren’t a morning person, try saying this instead, “With proper lifestyle changes and some persistence, I can absolutely become a morning person and become more productive throughout the day.” Changing your mindset is the first step to creating a killer morning routine. Believe it and you can achieve it.

2. Wake up two hours early.

I’m not going to tell you that you need to wake up at 4 a.m. everyday, but I am going to propose that you get up at least two hours before you have to be anywhere. If you need to be at work at 8 a.m., get up at 6 a.m. This gives you enough time to feed your mind, body, and spirit before you head out the door. You have daily obligations and adequately preparing for them first thing will help set the tone and mood of the day. It’s nearly impossible to have a great killer morning routine and productive day if you are rushed and in a hurry.

3. Drink water as soon as you get up.

Drinking water first thing needs to be a staple when designing your own morning routine. We tend to be dehydrated when we wake up, so it’s critical that we reach for water before we reach for coffee. I start every morning with a glass of warm lemon water to jumpstart the detoxification process. Heat some water in your teapot, and then squeeze the juice of one lemon into the water. This helps me to feel more alert right away. After that, I drink four glasses of water. It’s a win-win because it rehydrates your body and kick-starts your metabolism.

4. Read something inspiring.

I make sure to read something positive and uplifting for a half hour every morning. If that seems like too much time, start with just 10 minutes. You can read from a book or a blog that you find inspiring, or listen to an audiobook or podcast while you’re commuting. While it’s important to read the news and know what’s going on in the world, it’s equally important to feed your mind with positive messages that fuel your thoughts and mindset for the day ahead.

5. Feed your soul with solitude.

Once your day is underway, you’ll be moving in a million different directions with a million different distractions. Finding time in the morning for solitude to meditate or journal, even if it is for just five minutes, has been a complete game-changer for me. You can start by simply taking five minutes each morning to say thank you for your life. Tuning in to this solitude will calm your mind and help focus your energies for the rest of the day.

6. Do some type of physical activity.

When you get up, get moving! If you aren’t a gym goer, walk around the block. Do a workout in front of your TV. Exercise increases endorphins and helps start your day in a positive way.

7. Eat a healthy breakfast.

Your mom was right: breakfast is important. I generally drink a green smoothie, but if I’m still hungry after that, I’ll have a few almonds or an omega-3 rich omelet.

After this killer morning routine, you’re ready to tackle just about anything.

Originally Posted on Fortune.com