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How Great CEO’s Don’t Spend Their Time

The way that a CEO spends her time makes a huge difference in what gets done in a company. Few CEO’s get the chance to see into how other CEO’s are spending their time, they don’t have the chance to compare their decisions to those of others. So when I saw that Michael Porter published an extensive study called  The Leader’s Calendar  in the Harvard Business Review, I dug in.

1. They don’t get much “me” time.

The average CEO in Porter’s study slept just under 7 hours a night and worked out about 45 minutes a day on average. The most disciplined of them had about 3 hours a day of family time, but they were diligent about protecting it!

Running a business whether you are a small business owner, or a corporate CEO is all consuming. For your well-being, health and longevity you need to be diligent about treating your body well, getting good sleep and spending time on activities that nourish you.

2. They don’t hide in their office, work from home, or depend on email to get things done.

The best CEOs spend the majority of their time (61% in Porter’s study) face-to-face with their team, their clients and their partners. In order to do that they need to be very disciplined about the time they spend on email! Leaders naturally get copied on a lot of stuff that they don’t need to answer or take action on. Separating out what needs their attention (a small fraction) from that which can be ignored, archived or deleted is a major skill that CEOs need to develop.

Porter reminds us that nothing substitutes for face-to-face interaction.

3. They don’t let their agenda get set by others.

One of my best bosses used to tell me, “If you go to a meeting with Bill Gates, who’s meeting is it? It doesn’t matter who set the meeting, if Gates is in it, it’s his meeting!” He told me this story to remind me that, as a leader, we set the agenda. In Porter’s study, just shy of 50% of the CEOs time was devoted to driving forward the goals or objectives they had set for the quarter or year. They know what they want to accomplish and make sure that everyone else does too.

Porter calls out as a best practice CEOs who look back every quarter at where their time went the previous quarter so that they can eliminate those things that took them away from advancing their agenda.

4. They don’t ignore the fires.

About a third of the CEOs time was spent “dealing with unfolding developments”. There’s always something that comes up, employees that quit, customers who are disgruntled, competitors who introduce something new… Those things need to be dealt with in a timely way — but without getting distracted from their goals and agenda.

5. They don’t get distracted by the routine or ceremonial duties of the office.

A little over a half a day a week got eaten up by routine duties, or events where the CEOs presence added gravitas but didn’t advance any agenda. The best CEOs worked to minimize the time spent on these activities, substituting someone else, or eliminating the need for it altogether.

6. They don’t forget their team.

One of the most important levers for these top CEOs were their direct reports and their direct reports. The best CEOs know that nurturing and developing their team is a prime responsibility for them and allocate their time accordingly (about one-third of their time was devoted here). By staying in contact with this group they were able to develop an “early warning system” to see problems before they grew too large. It also helped to burst the bubble that sometimes surrounds the leader where all the information they get is highly filtered. Finally, it keeps them tuned in to the talent pipeline so that they can nurture the next generation of leaders.

7. They don’t skip meetings.

Meetings are highly leveraged activities for CEOs. They can see a lot of people face-to-face, they can advance their agenda, they can hear information straight from the front lines. When you are the CEO, going to meetings is your job.

I don’t think there are any of us who love meetings, but getting good at running an effective, time-efficient meeting is a core skill for a CEO.

8. They don’t skimp on alone time.

Once a CEO has been with their team and has soaked up information, they need time to think. Most CEOs do that best alone. The best CEOs spent about 25% of their time alone, yet it was often in small segments of less than an hour. Blocking off time for thinking was critical to the success of the highest performing CEOs.

Key takeaways
There is one resource that we all have in equal measure, time.  If you are going to be a great leader you need to be proactive in determining how best to use that time. Working through your team by seeing them in meetings and one-to-one, gathering your own information and spending some quiet time to think it all through will make you more able to advance your agenda and succeed as a leader. If you don’t you may experience business owner burnout.

About the Author
Brad Farris is Principal Advisor at Anchor Advisors, Ltd. Anchor Advisors helps small business owners to make the transition from the center of all things in their business to a leader with experts who report to them. To find out more visit anchoradvisors.com

How to Create an Intentional Company Culture to Support Your Growth

Whether you know exactly what kind of culture you want your company to embody or you haven’t given it much thought before, now is the time to put your company culture under the microscope. Every company can benefit from being more intentional about its culture and from examining new ways to integrate its culture into every part of the organization.

In today’s post we’ll explore five key components of an intentional, positive company culture:

  • Creating an intentional culture: define & redefine your company culture
  • Fostering joint ownership: get company mission/vision buy-in from employees
  • Leveraging people power: put the right people in the right seats
  • Creating meaningful work for employees: put culture first to drive performance and retention
  • Aligning employee benefits with your culture: develop a strategic approach to your employee benefits program

Creating an intentional culture: define & redefine your company culture

Every company has a culture, whether they know it or not. Culture is defined by how a company operates, how it treats its employees and how its employees treat the company in return. When culture aligns with the company’s mission and vision, the result is increased employee performance and retention, innovative solutions, and higher profit margins. More work gets done, and everyone from the receptionist through the CEO enjoys their work more.

But company culture needs to be tended to and directed continuously. It is not enough to hold meetings to decide what your culture will be, or even to implement policies to enforce the culture, and then forget culture altogether. Remember, company culture is a living, evolving thing which will develop over time. If you do not direct its course then it may well stray from your original vision, affecting every part of your company. If you neglect company culture, it can become toxic, encouraging harassment and infighting, stifling collaboration and causing high turnover rates.

That’s why it’s so important to intentionally shape your company culture and ingrain it into every process and policy throughout the company. Here are some actionable ways you can do this:

  • First you need to determine what kind of culture you want your company to embody, based largely on your mission/vision.
  • Next you should examine each process, policy, and promotion and make sure they align with that culture.
  • Finally, you should regularly review whether your current goals, methods, and employees reflect your culture and make sure that you are on the right track.

Fostering joint ownership: get company mission/vision buy-in from employees

The hard truth is that your company’s mission and vision are meaningless without employee buy-in. Luckily, there is an easy way to get employee buy-in: put your mission and vision back into the heart of everything that you do. And, more importantly, give employees ownership over your mission and vision. Seek feedback at every level and empower team members to define how their work contributes to the mission/vision. Provide opportunities for employees to take on new projects that they see as working towards the mission and vision and put the mission/vision at the heart of review and meeting processes.

Another important component of employee buy-in is transparency. Keep your employees up to date on company goals, how those goals contribute to the mission, and how their work ties into those goals. That way new product launches, sales targets, and marketing campaigns will start being part of a bigger picture rather than the means to raise profits. And if you hold everyone in the organization, including managers and c-suite executives, accountable to the mission/vision then you will foster an even deeper culture of shared values and efforts towards a common goal.

Leveraging people power: put the right people in the right seats

Culture is not just the result of policies and practices: it is also defined by people. Who you hire and who you put in positions of power says a lot about what you stand for as a company. Also, your managers will be the standard bearers for your culture and how it defines their team’s operations.

Make sure that your advancement policies match the culture that you are trying to promote. If you encourage your employees to take ownership over the company mission/vision and culture, but do not provide opportunities for upward mobility, then your message will come across as hollow and disingenuous. But if you reward hard work and cultural buy-in with genuine advancement opportunities, then you will be a lot closer to having an authentic and organic company culture.

It is also important to be strategic in who you hire or promote. How you treat all your employees is crucial to your culture. Keep in mind that when you bring someone on or promote them, you send a clear message to the rest of the organization that they represent what you value.

This means that you should make sure that your practices make everyone in your company feel valued and that you should hire and promote people who reflect the culture that you are trying to create. It is also important to promote people who buy into the company culture because your managers are your front line in creating and maintaining an intentional culture that permeates everything that your company does.

Creating meaningful work for employees: put culture first to drive performance and retention

Providing meaningful work is perhaps the greatest challenge facing modern employers. Millennial workers in particular prioritize meaningful work over pay. They aren’t staying at their jobs for nearly as long as employees used to. Instead they are always looking for the next, most exciting opportunity. If all your company is offering them is a paycheck, your employees won’t be motivated to excel and you can’t expect to keep talent around for long.

The good news is that putting your culture, mission, and vision at the heart your company will do wonders for your employee performance and retention because it will make the work meaningful. Research by Deloitte found that 73% of employees that believe that they work at a purpose driven organization are engaged with their work, versus 23% who do not. Employees can see how their work contributes to the goals of the company and can take ownership over the success of a shared venture, with a common culture. Managers will not have to assert that their team’s work is important, it will be clear to everyone.

Aligning employee benefits with your culture: develop a strategic approach to your employee benefits program

How you treat your employees says a lot about your company and is a major component of company culture. One of the most direct ways that you can align your employee policies with the culture that you want to create is through your benefits package.

Benefits are an opportunity to show your employees that they are more than a cog in a corporate machine and will help them buy into your culture, mission, and vision. Vacation time, in-office perks, parental leave, and insurance are all ways to give back to employees and make them feel like a valued part of a community with a shared culture and mutual goals. But, more of everything is not necessarily the right answer. Instead, the benefits package should be strategically tailored to your particular company culture. Think about what values are at the heart of your intentional culture and choose the benefits that match it.

Take, for example, stereotypical silicon valley tech companies have a culture in which work is life, but is also supposed to be fun. They provide all of the amenities employees might need, from meals and showers to pool tables and beer on tap. By and large they successfully foster a culture in which their employees lives truly do revolve around the office; never just working but never entirely off the clock, either. That approach works because it is in line with the culture that the companies espouse through every level of their organizations, but it does not work with every culture. For example, if your company is all about hard work but respect for employee time, then maybe skip the ping pong table and opt for a flexible vacation policy.

Key Takeaways:

In today’s post we examined many components of creating a healthy company culture. Some key takeaways include:

  • Bring intentionality to your company culture. Clearly define the culture you want to create and examine how that culture can be integrated into every part of the company.
  • Make sure to get employee buy-in to the company mission/vision by giving them joint ownership of them. When employees define the reality and success of the mission and vision, they become invested in the company’s well-being and the continuation of its culture.
  • Who you hire and promote defines what you value and who will be in charge of maintaining your culture.
  • A vibrant, transparent culture creates meaningful work for all of your employees, driving performance and retention.
  • Shape your benefits package to reflect your company culture. Choose the benefits that reflect your values and demonstrate to employees how much you value them.

By now it should be clear why developing an intentional culture is so important and what areas of your company you need to focus on to accomplish it. But creating a great culture is a massive task, where do you even get started? Well, luckily a fantastic group of panelists will help you chart your course to a positive company culture in our upcoming webinar.

Launchways Welcomes New Client Artisan Talent

CHICAGO, IL (October 25, 2018) Launchways, a leading provider of human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance solutions for growing businesses, today announced it has added Artisan Talent as a client.

Artisan Talent has selected Launchways as their employee benefits broker, benefits administration solution, and ongoing compliance support partner. When asked why Artisan Talent chose to work with Launchways Bejan Douraghy, Artisan Talent CEO, said “We chose to work with Launchways because they presented a comprehensive solution to the compliance and benefits challenges we were facing. Now we can focus our time and attention on growing our business knowing Launchways has the people side of things covered.”

Gary Schafer, Launchways President, noted “Artisan Talent is a fast-growing organization which values relationships and understands how important getting the people part of their business right is. They’re the exact type of business we’re excited to work with to improve their processes around employee benefits and human resources compliance.”

The Launchways team will conduct an analysis of Artisan Talent’s workforce needs, then build a strategic benefits plan designed to meet those needs. Additionally, the Launchways team will administer Artisan Talent’s benefits program, conducting open enrollments and providing ongoing support for employee benefits inquires. Additionally, Launchways compliance experts will conduct a comprehensive compliance audit and ensure all necessary human resources processes are in place.

About Launchways

Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of businesses better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.

About Artisan Talent

We are a unique digital, creative, and marketing staffing agency. Artisan has a “boutique” approach to both our talent and clients where we advocate for the best talent and we nurture relationships with the best clients, from small agencies to major corporations. We have offices across the country and place talent nationwide. Our specialty is the match, and our relationships are paramount. To learn more visit their website: www.artisantalent.com.

Launchways Partners with LifeCare to Provide a Best-in-Class Employee Discount Program

Launchways today announced a partnership with LifeCare to offer clients employee discounts through LifeMart. LifeMart is the premier employee discount platform, offering thousands of discounts on child care, care rentals, hotels, computers, cell phones, event tickets, gyms, and more.

Launchways will offer the LifeMart program to its employee benefits clients as an additional perk of being part of the Launchways benefits brokerage. “We are so excited to be offering this additional value add to our benefits clients via the LifeMart employee discount platform. We hope LifeMart discounts will allow our clients to provide their employees immense value” said Launchways President, Gary Schafer.

LifeMart helps employers:
• Offer a free high value benefit to employees
• Save administrators time by managing the discount program
• Take all the credit for helping their employees save time and money

Launchways CEO, James Taylor, noted “Innovation is what we do here at Launchways, so we’re always looking for new ways to help our clients provide more value in their employee benefits programs. We believe LifeMart is the perfect addition to our suite of benefits solutions.”

About Launchways
Launchways provides business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth. Founded in 2009, Launchways has helped thousands of companies better approach the people side of their business through strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. For more information, please visit www.launchways.com.

About LifeCare
LifeCare provides employer-sponsored work-life benefits to 61,000 clients, including Fortune 500 companies and large branches of the federal government, representing 100 million members nationwide. In addition to MilkShip, LifeCare also provides a full suite of work-life solutions that save members time with personal life needs such as Backup Care Connection, Senior Care Management, Homework Connection, BenConnect, and Mothers@Work. LifeCare also operates LifeMart, an online discount shopping website that provides real savings on everyday products and needs. LifeCare is headquartered in Shelton, CT.

Company Spotlight: Mediafly on How to Get Intentional About Culture

Company Spotlight: Mediafly on How to Get Intentional About Culture

Local fast-growing business Mediafly was recently ranked the 7th Best Place to Work in Chicago by Crain’s Chicago Business. The Launchways team sat down with Mediafly’s Founder and CEO, Carson Conant, to learn more about the strategies he’s used to build an exceptional company culture at Mediafly. Checkout the interview below.

Your core values are Caring, Fun, Intelligent, Resilient, and Fearless. Can you tell me about some of the ways these values are represented in Mediafly’s company culture?

Carson: When I first founded Mediafly the most important trait I looked for in employees was those who defend their ideas rather than their ego. We sought to only hire those who were extremely opinionated but were also willing to back down if their opinion was wrong. To this day, we continue to hire only people who are not afraid to voice their perspective, but also respect when they’re wrong.

Internally, we have a work hard play hard mentality. This is driven by our commitment to team-building and making Mediafly a fun place to work. We constantly strive to find ways to keep the entire team connected even as the company grows. My ultimate goal is to make sure that no matter how big Mediafly gets, we all know each other as people and not just as colleagues. Through activities like paintball, baseball games, and our annual “Cinco de Mediafly,” we connect our team and make Mediafly a truly great place to work.

We encourage our employees to share their hobbies and personal passions with the rest of the team. For example, some of our team members have taught yoga, dance workshops, and a flower arranging class. We’re always finding fun ways to connect our team so that when times are tough and stressful, we know we can rely on each other.

Our “Mediafly Cares” philanthropy program is a great example of how our team embodies our “caring” core value. Throughout the year some of our team members spearhead several local volunteer initiatives. Currently, the Mediafly Cares program is participating in Operation Gratitude. As part of Operation Gratitude, our team gathers together and writes letters to overseas troops. We even send kits to our remote employees so they can write a letter and send a care package too. Whenever possible we strive to incorporate our remote team into our group activities.

I think it’s important to recognize that for the first half of Mediafly’s life, our entire team was in the office. Now a sizeable chunk of our team works entirely remotely. And we believe within 18 months a majority of our team members will be remote. This is why we make a special effort to incorporate our remote employees into our activities. For example, if we’re ordering Lou Malnati’s for the office we might send Lou’s to our remote team member’s homes. We are heavily invested in maintaining our strong company culture throughout the remote team.


Mediafly has grown rapidly over the last few years, what strategies do you use to keep your company culture strong as the organization scales?

Carson: My original co-founder taught me something that’s really stuck with me. It’s better to not hire somebody than to hire the wrong person. We adopted the Netflix mentality of only hiring “stunning colleagues.” One of the key factors that drives our strong culture is a very slow, deliberate hiring process. In fact, we’ve lost candidates because our hiring timeline is so slow. The reason the process is so tedious is because we need time to identify if a potential candidate is stunning. For us, the personality and cultural fit of our hires is key.

For the most, we hire only senior people. We rarely hire junior employees and train them. By hiring mostly senior employees, you reduce the need for layers of management. Here we have a different perspective on management. We don’t see managers as someone managing our team’s day-to-day, we see them as providing the support and resources they need to succeed.

At Mediafly we have extremely low regrettable turnover. This is because of our in-depth hiring process and that fact that we’re not afraid to fire fast. When it comes to hiring, if any of our team members has any reservations about a candidate then we don’t move forward with that person.

We understand that culture is very deliberate. Culture is either something you design or something that happens to you. We’ve been very deliberate in our decision to actively shape and drive our company culture. For us, the way we hire has allowed us to maintain our strong culture as we’ve grown.


What are some unique employee benefits you offer that you believe makes Mediafly a great place to work?

Carson: We have an underlying philosophy as it relates to our employee benefits and perks. We understand that an employee’s personal life can weigh heavily on their work. In order for our employees to be the most successful, we try to do as much as we possibly can to ease the barriers and frustration that people experience in their daily life. Some of the ways we do this include:

  • The foundation of our benefits is aggressively generous health, dental, and vision plans.
  • We also offer a strong 401k matching program.
  • Many of our team members commute to work, so we added commuter benefits.
  • We offer entirely remote-working positions. Since we have so many employees working remotely, we’ve begun offering our remote workers ergonomically sound desk set-ups.
  • We strive to be very generous with time-off, remote working, and overall flexible work arrangements.
  • We recently added a tuition reimbursement program.
  • We have a dedicated philanthropy program called “Mediafly Cares” that allows our team to get involved in and make a positive impact on the Chicago community.
  • Throughout the year we offer several team-building activities like baseball games, holiday parties, Whirly Ball, and more.

No matter what initiatives we offer, we always strive to add new benefits every year. We’re always layering on more value-adds for our employees. For example, we’re currently testing sabbaticals for long-term employees with a few key team members. After that experiment, we plan to offer this benefit to the entire team.

Ultimately, we’re committed to a strong work-life balance. We want to do as much as we can to make our employees daily lives easier.


When it comes to hiring, what are some of the ways Mediafly determines cultural fit with candidates?

Carson: For us, hiring is a low, intensive process. Throughout the hiring process potential candidates go through several stages and meet many of the people on our team. Because our hiring process is so long and intensive, many candidates will weed themselves out if they’re not a good fit for us.

For us, it’s important that enough of our team meets a candidate so we can determine their cultural fit. We use references, recommendations and hiring projects to help distinguish stunning talent. The culture fit often comes down to the collective gut instincts of our Flyers and how they feel about the candidate. If anyone feels it’s not a great fit, we don’t move forward. If everyone thinks they’re great, we move forward.

We adopt a “plant the fungus” mentality when hiring. We’re constantly watering and trying to grow potential opportunities with candidates. We are always hiring, even if we don’t have budget. We put a lot of energy into candidates we believe are the right cultural fit for us. We ensure that when the right person comes around, we’re ready to move forward with them.


How does Mediafly build and maintain a strong employer brand online?

Carson: We see ourselves as a Midwest-humble type of company so we’re not too big on patting ourselves on the back and talking about how great we are online. Instead, we focus on highlighting our accomplishments. For example, when we’re mentioned in an Inc article or when we won Crain’s Best Places to Work, we highlight this online.

Over time, we’re getting better at promoting our employer brand online. We like to highlight things we’re very proud of that make Mediafly truly unique. For example, we recently published a blog post that highlights why women enjoy working for Mediafly.

For us, word of mouth always has been the best way to attract talent. Most of our hires come from some type of referral or word of mouth.

Key Take-Aways

Mediafly’s Carson Conant shared with us several of the ways Mediafly builds and maintains a great company culture. Here are some actionable key takeaways you can walk away from today’s post with:

  • Company cultural is either intentionally built or unintentionally formed over time. Be proactive about shaping your company’s culture early-on.
  • Be sure to include ways for your team members to have fun together so they can stay connected and better navigate stressful periods together.
  • Incorporate philanthropic events or volunteer opportunities into your company culture.
  • If you have remote employees, try to incorporate them into your team’s activities and daily rituals. Remote working is becoming increasingly common. Companies that address how to keep their culture strong for remote workers will be ahead of the curve.
  • Adopting Netflix’s “stunning colleague” mentality can help you avoid poor-fit hires.
  • A slow, deliberate hiring process can be indispensable in making sure you hire the right candidates.
  • Leverage employee perks and benefits to make your employees’ lives easier and jobs more enjoyable. When it comes to adding new benefits, listen to what your workforce wants and respond accordingly.
  • Use your online employer brand to showcase accomplishments and highlight the reasons that your company is a unique place to work.

About Mediafly

Mediafly is a mobile sales enablement solution that enhances how brands engage prospective buyers. By using Mediafly’s technology, marketing and sales teams at companies including PepsiCo, Disney, GE Healthcare, MillerCoors and Charles Schwab, are able to deliver custom, dynamic sales presentations quickly and efficiently, engaging customers with insights that are relevant to them. Mediafly’s Evolved Selling™ solution enables sellers to be more flexible, insightful and interactive in their sales interactions, resulting in increased sales and stronger customer relationships. Mediafly has been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies for four years consecutively in addition to being named Inc.’s Best Places to Work of 2017. Visit Mediafly.com or follow @Mediafly for more information.

Announcing Our New Brand

Announcing Our New Brand

Today, after nine years in business, Taylor Group is excited to officially rebrand to Launchways. The rebrand includes the new company name, new logo, and new website. We believe our new brand better represents our core mission: to provide business leaders with the resources and guidance they need to build scalable people processes to support long-term growth.

Since 2009, we’ve focused on providing growing businesses with strategic solutions for human resources, employee benefits, and business insurance. To-date, we’ve helped thousands of companies better approach their people processes. With our new brand, we will remain relevant to the challenges our customers are facing, and relevant to the needs of growing modern businesses. We will continue to provide the highest level of service, while also bringing new and innovative solutions to market in a thoughtful way. Most importantly, we will continue to help our customers adapt to changing business needs and leverage innovative methods to streamline their businesses.


Our New Name and Logo

When changing our name, we wanted to pick a name which captured the forward momentum our customers gain when they work with us. We felt “Launchways” embodied our commitment to growth. Our new logo aims to capture our growth-mindset through a triangle resembling an increasing bar chart. We believe our new name and look better highlights the work we do: helping businesses grow.


Our New Tagline

Our new tagline “power your people,” better captures our core mission to help businesses strategically approach their people operations.

We believe the businesses that get the people part right are the ones that succeed in the long-term. We help our clients transform their team into their greatest competitive advantage through our three lines of business:

Human Resources: build scalable HR processes that unlock the full potential of your workforce.
Employee Benefits: innovative benefits packages that thrill employees and make every dollar count.
Business Insurance: comprehensive, cost-effective business insurance policies.


Our New Website

Our new website is a resource hub, packed with great content you can leverage to stay up-to-date on modern business practices, industry updates, and ways to continuously improve your business.

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