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  • Aspire » Inspire

    22 Dec

    Christmas Tree Branches Border. Vector Illustration

    This past week “The Voice” crowned its latest winner, 22 year old Jordan Smith. His final performance was the powerful Christmas song “Mary Did You Know” and he nailed it. The recording became the number #1 download on I-Tunes overnight. It held that spot for several days and continues to be near the top as we head into this week of Christmas.

    It got me thinking about popular and timeless Christmas songs. I thought it might be fun to put a little twist on them….and ask “If your business could sing a Christmas (or Holiday) song what would it sing?”

    These are a few to choose from….

    Carol of the Bells

    This song has a lot going on, sometimes the tempo is fast and sometimes it is slow, but when all the harmonies come together it delivers magic.
    If your business has a lot of moving parts and a normal day consists of several different functions being executed simultaneously in the delivery of your product or service, this may be the song your business should sing. There is a good chance Amazon and the delivery companies are singing this right now!

    You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

    No one dislikes the whole Holiday season more than the Grinch. His heart is an empty hole and of course those three words that best describe him… Stink! Stank! Stunk!  Hopefully this isn’t your song or your business’ song. However, if you think it might be, or maybe your employees or customers think this is your song, don’t despair. Jan. 1st is just around the corner, a perfect time for some New Year’s Resolutions! 

    Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

    Rudolph was an original; he didn’t fit in with the rest of the crowd. That is, until that one foggy night, his Red Nose solved a problem no other Reindeer could.
    If your business has a niche product or service, this may be the song of your business. This may also be the song for an entrepreneurial business that is constantly thinking outside the box and doesn’t accept the status quo. They are open to new ideas and aren’t afraid to try something different.

    And then there is Mary Did You Know

    This Christmas song is a conversation with Mary about her newborn son. Mary is being asked if she realizes who her baby is and the impact her baby would have on the rest of the world. (Here’s the link if you want to see Jordan’s Smith’s Performance – Mary Did You Know). The intended comparison here is just thinking about everything that can be impacted by a business; the employees, the vendors, the customers, the environment. How are you helping people? Adding value? Think about some of the inventions that have changed the world, did their inventors have any idea of their impact initially? Did they know?

    It is hard to believe another year is coming to a close. We want to wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and the best in the New Year! As always, please leave any thoughts in the space below. And of course, if you have a favorite Christmas song you want to add to this list please do so.

    Chris Steinlage   Kansas City Business Coach

    24 Nov


    How thankful is your business?   With it being the week of Thanksgiving, there may be no better time to ask that question.   Maybe the more important question is how thankful would your customers say your business is?

    Most businesses are in some mode of growth.  Unless someone is intentionally trying to sabotage or methodically wind down their business, they are typically looking for stronger numbers on their bottom line year over year.   That growth mindset naturally drives them to marketing and looking for additional business.   But that mindset can also expose their current customers to be left feeling unappreciated. Those current customers are the ones who are already making an investment in your business.

    Businesses, like people, tend to think more about what they don’t have than what they already have.  We dwell on the deals lost more than the deals we have won.  The reality is you should feel a whole lot better being thankful for the business you have, than fretting over the business you don’t.   So let your customers know; do something simple and sincere and let them know you appreciate their business.    When is the last time you simply reached out to your customers and said, “I am thankful for your business?”

    “Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action.”
    – W.J. Cameron

    There is also the significance of looking inward at your business and being thankful.   Don’t underestimate how it impacts your employees, co-workers, or other team members.    A business may have a strong team of employees where 95% of their efforts are benefiting the business, but it is the 5% of missteps that gets all the attention. That can leave the entire team feeling demoralized and unappreciated, when they could instead be acknowledging the 95% to be thankful for.   Which focus would produce the most positive results?   Continuous improvement should be part of every businesses mantra, but remember high tides do raise all ships.

    What would your customers say about your business?  What would your employees say?   What would your vendors or other business associates say?   Let your customers know you are thankful for their business.  Maybe you can’t talk to each of them personally, but today there have never been more avenues to reach out and say thank you.

    In that spirit, during this week of Thanksgiving, we would like to say thank you to all of our clients past and present.   We truly value your business and hope our efforts in working with you and your business is impacting it in positive way.  That is our goal.   Thank you to our business partners who think of us when you see a successful business facing some type of challenge and trust our model to be the means to help them through it.   And finally, thank you to our friends and families who support us.  We truly are thankful.

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

    02 Nov


    Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals on a great season and a great win in the World Series last night!

    Arguably the Royals didn’t play anywhere near their best baseball in the playoffs (uncharacteristic errors, big lack of power hitting compared to last year’s playoffs or even the regular season) and yet they were still able to win against a very good NY Mets team in 5 games…unbelievable and well deserved championship for a truly different kind of team.   Keep the line moving!

    And also congratulations to Kansas City and all of the fans!  This is more than a World Series Championship…this is an acknowledgement that Kansas City truly is a world class city. That goes beyond baseball – the energy, excitement and well deserved optimism in Kansas City extends through all aspects of what it means to live here.

    This championship may not have been 30 years in the making…but it’s been at least 9 years (Dayton Moore came to KC in 2006).  And through that period of time (and a good decade or two before that) the fans and the city in general endured a lot of really bad baseball. And maybe we all took it personally during those down years. Maybe that’s why the city had developed a reputation (internally and externally) of being a nice little place with not much going on. But all of that’s changed…and this World Series victory is the icing on a cake that’s been building (baking?) for at least the last 5 years.

    Between Google selecting Kansas City for the roll out of their new network and numerous publications touting Kansas City as the new great place to visit or great place to start a business, the Kansas City of today is much brighter than even just a few years ago.

    And that civic pride is showing. You’re seeing a lot of Royals shirts around town…and a fair number of Sporting and Chiefs gear as well, but what you’re seeing even more of are shirts that support KC in general. Local company Charlie Hustle has built a booming business primarily on that local draw and it all started with their iconic KC Heart shirts that you’re seeing everywhere these days.

    There’s a well deserved pride (and maybe a little swagger) showing in Kansas City these days and the current Royals team is a great reflection of what makes this city great – here are just a few things they have in common:

    • Built on character and integrity – Dayton Moore built a team we could be proud of, and it reflects the kind of people that live here. There was no looting or rioting after the win last night – why would there be?  But that’s not true in a lot of cities.
    • Work hard and never give up – this sentiment definitely describes the team, but it also describes the culture of the city in general…who else would be willing to put up with the awful stretch of bad teams that KC has dealt with over the years?
    • Don’t take things too seriously – The Royals players love the game…and the MVP of the series is Salvador Perez – a great player, but he’s best known for his after game Gatorade showers of other players and his infectious smile.  What a great ambassador for the game and for Kansas City.

    Enjoy the celebrations Kansas City – but keep in mind this isn’t a flash in the pan achievement by a sports team. The Royals are going to be good next year as well…but more importantly Kansas City…the city…has let the world know what a great place this is (and has been) and we’re not going anywhere but up either!

    Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach

    05 Oct


    My daughter shared an infographic of great quotes with me created by Cornerstone OnDemand.   It is 42 fictional quotes from the big and little screen that were not only powerful in the scene, but often inspire us on a more personal level.    The infographic grouped the quotes into 5 different categories.  All of them are great quotes, but these were my favorites under each category and why.


    “Your title gives you claim to the throne of our country, but men don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”  – William Wallace, Braveheart

    Why?  Leadership is much more than a title.  Many business owners are finding that out as they seek to develop their next generation of leadership for their companies.  True leadership is earned and it is much more than just knowledge of the business and a title.


    “No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”  – John Keating, Dead Poets Society.

    Why?  Entrepreneurship by definition is coming up with a new idea and turning it into a profitable business.   When those ideas become profitable businesses they truly can change the world.  When you have a new idea write it down, share it with someone.  Don’t waste it, put it into motion.      


    “Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.”  – Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

    Why?   We talk a lot about the power of well-defined Mission-Vision-Values in a company.   Your company will never achieve its full potential until everyone is clear on what you’re trying to achieve, where you want to go and what the values are that everyone in the company embraces.


    “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.  That’s how winning is done”  – Rocky Balboa, Rocky

    Why? Life is going to have setbacks. Your business is going to have setbacks.  But when you face adversity with a mindset of learning and a focus on how to keep moving forward, progress happens.  The degree of success may vary, but ultimately improvement is inevitable.  Rocky! Rocky! Rocky!

    Innovation and Marketing

    “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”  Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

    Why? Most overnight successes take a number of years.   One of our clients is celebrating his 20th anniversary this month, the company is successful on many levels, but what is inspiring about the business is they are always working to get better.  They are lifelong learners; willing to try new ideas and be innovative in their industry.

    The “2% butterscotch ripple” and the percentage adding up to over 100 made it effective for marketing because it is quirky and memorable, two attributes that work for marketing.   Does your marketing stick out from the crowd?

    Giving Back and Living Life

    “Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.”  Aragorn, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

    Why? This past week my daughter’s school had a community service day.  The junior high students spent a day volunteering their time at various locations around the city.   It was everything from gardening, to sorting clothing, to preparing food, and more.    It was a powerful experience for the students (and parents) to step away from a normal school day and give back by helping those who are in need.

    As a business owner or leader, if you want to do something to build comradery among your team, seek out an opportunity to do something that allows your team to give back and step away from their daily routine in the process.  I trust you will find it provides a reward that no amount of direct praise can duplicate.

    Here is the Infographic of the 42 Fictional Quotes.  Check it out.


    What do you think?  Are any of these favorites of yours?   What great quotes are missing from these categories?   As always, we appreciate any feedback.

    *Picture of Gandalf courtesy of Walldevil and The Lord of the Rings

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach


    24 Aug

    Picture from Pine Tar Press

    Picture from Pine Tar Press

    On Saturday Aug. 15th, 2015 Mike Sweeney became only the 29th Royal to be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame.     In an era where we often are challenged to find professional athletes who qualify as role models, Sweeney has always left no hesitation (well, there was that “one time in 2001”….but more on that later☺).   In retrospect of this special honor, there are many business (and life) lessons one could take from Sweeney’s career, here are some that came to mind during his recent induction ceremony.

    Be ready when opportunity presents itself

    Mike was recruited as a catcher in 1991.   In 1995 he made his debut in the majors and spent the next few years playing sparely, never over 100 games in a season.   By 1999, just prior to spring training he was actually told by a coach that he had zero percent chance of making the team, essentially his career as a Royal was over.  Through a series of unlikely events he was basically forced to play 1st base after a rare open tryout (it was him and one other player).  Mike seized the opportunity and chose to do whatever he could to help the team.  He was all in.  His desire to embrace that position on the field in addition to his strong bat made him become one of the most respected players (and feared batters) in the sport.  How different may his career have played out, if he only viewed the need to play 1st base as a temporary role?  

    Don’t run your business with blinders on, remember to look up and be open to trying something different if the opportunity presents itself.


    Have some heroes & mentors

    Mike speaks of his father often and how he has always been his hero.   His dad was a excellent baseball player too, but he played in a time when league contracts didn’t always put food on the table, so he left the game early to provide a living for his young family.   Mike has never forgot that sacrifice and he is quick to share his accolades with his father and let him know how much he means to him, how much he appreciates all that he taught him both on and off the field.  Today as his father battles cancer that hero is standing taller than ever.  Mike is also quick to acknowledge the many peers, mentors, and coaches he has had along the way, many of them were there to share in his induction ceremony.  

    Surround yourself with peers and mentors who make you better. If you have peers, mentors, or heroes (past or present) make sure you let them know you appreciate their advice and guidance.


    Don’t be afraid to expose a weakness in your competitor

    In 2002 Mike Sweeney did something that hadn’t been successfully executed by a Royal in 24 yrs.  He stole home base, not because he was fast, but because he saw a weakness in his competitor and decided to capitalize on it.   Sweeney noticed that Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte was taking a deep breath and then appeared to be closing his eyes for a moment before each pitch.   Mike sent a sign to his coach and the next pitch he took off for home just as Pettitte went into his routine, by the time Pettitte could respond it was too late Sweeney would score.  Sweeney had identified a weakness and it turned into a score for the Royals.  

    If you have a product or service that is superior to your competition don’t be afraid to leverage it. It is competition that makes us all better.


    There may be a time you have to stand up for yourself

    About that “one time in 2001” …the Royals were in the middle of another trying season and by now Mike Sweeney had earned the reputation of being a nice guy in baseball.  Some thought almost too nice, maybe even soft.   Jeff Weaver was pitching for the Detroit Tigers and things were already heated due to a previous exchange a couple days earlier.   As the story goes, Sweeney requested the umpire to have Weaver move his rosin bag away from the mound as it was distracting him.  Weaver responded with some expletives that are not printed in Webster and Mike charged the mound.  Some compared it to Bruce Banner becoming the Incredible Hulk.   It netted Mike a 10 game suspension, but his point was made he would not be walked on by his peers.   This is not suggesting you go out and pummel someone who has wronged you but it is OK to stand up for yourself when the situation calls for it.   

    As a side note….years later Mike called Jeff Weaver just before Christmas and apologized for the incident.  Mike said it was his 2 year old son that gave him the courage and motivation to do it.  He realized his young son would one day see the video and hear the story and he wanted to make sure he also knew he’d corrected his mistake.

    Know what you and company stand for and don’t be afraid to let others know.


    Have a value system and live by it

    You can’t talk about Mike Sweeney without referencing is strong Christian faith. He is a devout Catholic and has referenced it throughout his career as the glue that has bound together his family, his baseball career, his work off the field, and now working in the Royals operations.   

    Mike leads by example in all that he does; his work ethic both on and off the baseball field, his positive attitude and his eternal optimism are all part of who he is.  You repeatedly hear his former teammates and coaches say that if you think Mike was great on the field, he is even a better person off the field.  There are no smoke screens for the public.  Think about it this way; what would your peers say about you if you were being recognized as a Business Owner or Business Leader “Hall of Fame” member?  What would your employees say?  What about your friends and family?  Would they all say the same thing?       

    Though he readily admits he has made his share of mistakes, Mike’s value system is rooted deeply in his Christian faith and he has lived it both on and off the baseball field.

    If you want your business to succeed long term you and your company need to consistently operate under a value system.


    If you didn’t happen to be one of the 39,251 who attended the Royals 9-4 victory on Aug. 15, 2015; the night 5 Time All-Star, Mike Sweeney was inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame, you can watch the ceremony in its entirety at this link Mike Sweeney Hall of Fame Induction.  Congratulations to Mike Sweeney.  It truly was a great day to be a Royal!

    What do you think?  If you were following the events leading up to Sweeney’s induction, did you have any thoughts or memories that stood out to you?  Any business or life lessons that spoke to you?   As always we value any comments you have; please feel free to leave them in the space below.    

    Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach