Fresh Octane® Tour Celebrates American Business Leadership and Innovation

Alpha Board’s 2017-2018 Fresh Octane Business Leadership Tour Gives Voice to American Businesses

Fresh Octane® Energy to Grow: It’s time to plant the seeds of renewed prosperity on behalf of American Business. NeuVision Group and Alpha Board are proud to announce the 2017-2018 Fresh Octane Tour to showcase great businesses that are truly committed to leadership, innovation and progress. The tour will highlight business leaders and leading businesses across America who will be driving business growth in the months and years to come.

We’re searching for some of America’s best and brightest to feature in our Fresh Octane Business Leadership Tour. We are seeking leaders, products, services and companies that will be driving business forward, despite the conditions around them.  We’re also looking for leaders who are seeking new energy and a nice boost in the marketplace. If you fit any of these criteria, we’d love to hear from you.

The Fresh Octane mandate is to drive bold, repeatable marketplace visibility. This visibility is designed to translate into new business leads. We’re using a powerful new platform to help leaders consistently light up the market using proven, unique and highly effective systems. Our programs are designed to help innovators reach the most active market influencers with their business stories. As a result, companies will have the opportunity to expand their reach, reputations and revenue in the marketplace as their individual stories capture the attention of market influencers, new prospects and customers.

“We believe those who do achieve success must be celebrated. One of the greatest gifts we can provide to business-focused cities, companies, leaders and innovators is visibility. Staples often refers to their ‘easy’ button, providing convenience for office supply shoppers.  We have established the Alpha Board and Fresh Octane platforms as a ‘start’ button for leaders to push if they need marketplace attention to jump-start new sources of growth,” says Dave E. Anderson, President and Founder of NeuVision Group.

The Fresh Octane® process follows unique, proven market practices we’ve deployed and refined for over two decades to grow marketplace support and enhance customer adoption rates.  We’ve used this approach to launch and grow more than a billion dollars in new product sales.  We now have the added enhancements of state of the art viral market tools that were not available even five years ago.  We’re now making this system available to CEOs, business owners, and executive business advisers through Alpha® Board.

“The momentum created by Alpha Board and Fresh Octane is designed to provide a readily available source of market horsepower for participants to tap into when they need a powerful marketplace voice to jumpstart growth. Have you ever sat at your desk wondering how to quickly and easily light up the marketplace with your business story? I have.  The program is designed to “give leaders that power,” says Mark Makovec, VP of Business Development with Borns Group, a NeuVision Group market partner.

Among leading CEOs, 95 percent say that closer communication with customers and the marketplace is their number one goal over the next five years. A majority also know your methods need to be innovative to break through the market clutter with your story. Fresh Octane will drastically improve your odds of getting noticed by the people who matter.

Where are the targeted regions?  We can’t share all the good news up front.  However, this won’t be all business as usual. We will include many of the traditional coastal “hot” markets in our tour, but that is not all! Business growth dynamics are shifting. While U.S. coastal cities have historically held an advantage with respect to business growth and innovation, mid-continent cities, towns, and rural areas are catching up.  Financial, tax, political, and budgetary issues are starting to outdistance historical innovation factors. Also, quality of life, family friendliness, a pro-business climate, lack of congestion, ties to the nation’s food supply and “room to grow” are all advantages for non-coastal regions as key growth drivers in the “now world order.”

We are currently starting tour plans across the Midwest.  If you are reading this, there is a chance you may be on our radar.  For more information, you may call Dan Vasey at our Denver office at 303 255-1742 or email him at Dan@NeuVision.com.  Or you can also reach me, Dave Anderson, in Kansas City at 913 685-4850, in Minneapolis at 612 810-4000 or via email at Dave@NeuVision.com.

About NeuVision® Group

NeuVision Group helps leaders, companies and new product teams manage the risk and maximize the opportunities associated with new products, new companies, and major new growth initiatives. Clients have ranged from the most innovative new ventures to many of the world’s most respected companies and brands. NeuVision Group, its president and founder Dave E. Anderson, and NeuVision Group’s sister company, Alpha Scouts®, have worked with companies like Pfizer, 3M, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, Seagate, Iomega, Caterpillar, Monsanto, Deere, CNH, MarketWatch, and many more.   Our previous Business Drive Time® efforts, which served as a market test for Alpha Board and Fresh Octane, received national and international attention, and were recognized by major media outlets such as BusinessWeek, Forbes, CNBC, MSNBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, MarketWatch, EuroInvestor and more. For more information NeuVision® Group visit us on the web at www.NeuVision.com.

About Alpha® Board

Alpha Board is an executive initiative designed to further the cause of great business leaders and the companies they represent.  As a “National Business Leadership Roundtable,” Alpha Board is designed for the benefit of growing companies, their senior executives, their new product programs, their trusted advisors, and marketplace partners.  Alpha Board is available to “Alpha Grade” business leaders throughout industry. Alpha Board programs include keynote speakers, executive interviews, corporate profiles, leader roundtable discussions, news stories, and live open-house events for businesses. While relatively new, Alpha Board has team leaders in each of three initial high-growth regions working on an ongoing series of tours that will reach leading companies throughout the business community. Alpha Board provides the opportunity for enhanced reach, reputation, and revenue for the companies involved in the program, locally, regionally, and nationally. More information on Alpha Board and the Fresh Octane® Tour can be found on the web at www.AlphaBoard.com.

PostScript

Alpha® Board leverages unique, proven techniques to help leaders consistently achieve enhanced visibility and broader marketplace support. One of the most critical success factors is not just how many people you reach, but who you connect with. Prospects can be finicky. But, if you consistently impress key respected influencers, you ultimately convince the others.

Alpha Board and Fresh Octane are designed to make it easy to be seen in the right places. We provide an innovative market platform, distinctive stories, influencer access, and an organizational commitment to consistently gain visibility. The late David Thomson, former author, speaker and McKinsey & Co. consultant, devoted an entire chapter of his book Blueprint to a Billion to the concept of inside/outside leadership.  His point is that for the best and brightest to win in the marketplace, you must devote extensive, focused leadership internally, but also have a healthy dose of power and energy devoted to external market visibility. Alpha Board and Fresh Octane are the how, but why?

The best indication of why you need to devote resources to outside leadership and visibility is this. More than 80 percent of significant purchase decisions, business transactions, and marketplace reputations are influenced by outside references and internet research. You need a team with the expertise to influence the marketplace on your behalf. Our job is to help you gain the maximum level of market exposure while respecting your need to go about your daily responsibilities.

Through our team, our firms, and our career experience, we’ve worked with dozens of companies and senior leaders ranging from the venture company around the corner to highly respected, Fortune 50 level global leaders. Our team members have achieved coverage and/or been quoted in many of the most prestigious business and general news media outlets in the U.S., as well as receiving extensive coverage around the world. Just like investing in stocks, past performance is not an official indication of future performance. However we understand how to efficiently and effectively deliver profitable, measurable market results. Welcome to Alpha® Board and the Fresh Octane® Tour.

NeuVision, Alpha, Alpha Scouts, Fresh Octane and Business Drive Time are all registered trademarks of Dave E. Anderson.

Cities of Innovation Tour and National Business Leadership Roundtable are trademarks of Dave E. Anderson.

©Copyright 2008-2017 NeuVision Group. All Rights Reserved.

The Mojo Moment

Mojo Moment4:53 a.m. August 18, 2009

Have You Ever Been Struck By Lightning?   Have you ever experienced that “Mojo Moment” in your business?   Can you name the time and place?  Can you name the result, how it was handled, and whether you actually achieved anything based on that instant?

Most people describe this as the “aha,” but it’s much bigger than that.  It is a level of inspiration that is of biblical proportions, although others might describe it in more easily referenced sexual terms.  The “o” in mojo is a great description because once you’ve achieved it, you know it and there is no question.  And, there are those who can fake it, often fairly convincingly.  Unfortunately, I don’t think very many business leaders or even very many businesses have ever experienced that moment or the feeling and opportunity it can create.

I will tell you too, it’s like a lightning strike.  It is typically unexpected.  You often can’t plan for it.  Most people spend their lives trying to avoid it. You don’t know when or where it will strike.  And, it’s over even before you know it.  However, the “mojo” instant of power can provide a positive jolt with cosmic effects, if you are able to harness the energy.  The most fun and funny part is that some people have the knack, and the “mojo moment” exponentially more often than others.  In addition, you can easily see the smile and the confidence it creates.
Can you survive as a business without one?  Sure.  Most do.  Can you thrive?  Likely not nearly as well as you would if you had that spark of creativity, the spark of vision, the one lightning strike where everything comes together in a magical way.

Sparks-150x150I recently read an SBA report on the fastest growing businesses in the U.S.  There were a number of key takeaways.  One of the most important is the entrepreneurial culture of the cities containing the most “fast” growing businesses.  The report was NOT about culture, yet if you know some of the higher ranking cities, you’ll see that a cultural open-mindedness is a key element in growth.  It’s also a requirement in achieving the spark that could change the life of your business.

The other interesting element is that there is no particular industry where high growth companies alone reside.  This means that everyone can achieve the “Mojo Moment” if they only would.

GrabLightening-150x150Clearly, having the spark and harnessing the energy created are two very different things.  Research would also bear out the fact that in many cases, there is little practical correlation between the skills required to achieve both.  That should not discourage you.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks and months as we highlight the companies, the leaders, and the business results of those who really have the juice.  They are not only taking delight in its energy, but also taking it to the bank.  This is about honoring those who are doing well, giving those who are trying visibility and a “chance,” and also sharing the journey with others so everyone can learn.  It’s a moment that should be celebrated, shared, and repeated early and often.

For more about great business, great vision, great leadership, profits, and the “Mojo Moment,” stay tuned, and let us know if you or someone you know has a story to tell.

 

Growing up KC

We are currently a key player in a national leadership tour, market study and business leadership exchange.  The program is a showcase platform to highlight distinguished business leaders and leading businesses across a number of major metros throughout the United States.

As a part of the Alpha Board tour, we’ll be highlighting distinguished companies, business leaders and cities that are poised for major business growth over the next five years.  The tour will include more than a dozen cities across the country, as well as some hidden gems in key rural and small town regions.

kcskyline-crop

We have some special plans for Kansas City area leaders.  The Kansas City metro is our home, and we want to take this opportunity to showcase the city and it’s leaders on the tour.  While our organization is national in scope, the Kansas City area has been headquarters for the past 15 years.  We have lifelong ties to the region and a strong affinity to the people, the communities, the businesses and the lifestyle of the greater Kansas City metro.

Because of our commitment to the Kansas City region, we’re developing a special platform to promote Kansas City based businesses, industries and leaders in conjunction with our U.S. Alpha Board tour.  Our “Growing up KC” program is a special series to promote KC area leaders, companies, lifestyles and growth opportunities on a local, regional and national scale.

roundtableSo, what does that mean?  Quite simply, “leaders wanted.”  We are putting together a list of some of the standout leaders who represent not only the legacy of the region, but the future.  We are seeking business owners, CEOs, senior executives, business advisors, and also “Kansas City lifestyle” experts to helps us tell the story of Kansas City to the world.

It’s an opportunity for leaders to interact with each other, meet other leaders in other cities, highlight their businesses, and frankly get placed in the news.  We cannot promise the cover of Rolling Stone magazine but our past efforts have been well received.  Our work has been recognized by BusinessWeek, Forbes, CNBC, Reuters, Bloomberg, MSNBC, EuroInvestor, and dozens more.  One lucky chap that went through this process subsequently became the featured cover story for Fortune Small Business. Through Alpha Board, we will host speeches, CEO interviews, panel discussions, a series of leader roundtables, and also work with leaders to develop news profiles about their respective companies.  There will be some significant opportunities beyond this, but one thing at a time.  If you are an Alpha Grade leader, and spend at least a portion of your personal and professional life associated with a Kansas City area business, we’d love to have you join us.

One quick word of note.  We’ll be working with key industry leaders and innovators in other cities, states, companies and industries across the country.  A major goal of the program is a national leadership exchange, providing national visibility and opportunities to develop new relationships with business leaders throughout the U.S.  Our Alpha Board Leadership Exchange will bring national leaders and experts to Kansas City and Kansas City leaders to other markets across the nation.   We believe your reputation is like rainfall.  You need to spread it around a bit even to grow anything at home.

Growing Up KCWe are working with a group of global leaders in business leadership, innovation and new products, who will be visiting Kansas City in 2017-2018 as a part of our tour.  People who participate early in the “Growing up KC” program and/or the national Alpha Board activities will have the opportunity to meet with members of their group, hear them speak, and participate exclusively in KC area Alpha Board Leadership Exchanges.  As a result, there is some urgency and advantage to getting your name in the hat, and getting involved early in the process.

For more information on Alpha® Board, and/or to include your company in our publicity efforts, you can call me at 913 685-4850 or 612 810-4000, or reach me via email at dave@neuvision.com.  You can also speak by phone with Dan Vasey in Denver at 303 809-9058, or via email at dan@neuvision.com.

Alpha Board and NeuVision Group are founding hosts of the 2017-2018 Fresh Octane® Tour.  In addition, we’ll be including sponsors and co- hosts throughout America’s Heartland.  More market partners will be announced as the tour rolls on.

What’s Your Growth Superpower?

How are strategic planning and growth even related?  Everyone loves growth, yet “strategic planning” are two of the most dreaded words in business.  Don’t make it that way!

A strategic plan is your future.  It documents where you are, where you are going, and how you will get there.  It forces your thought processes to get organized beyond the day-to-day tasks of running your business and places you in the mindset of the future growth of your company.

PrintMany, if not most organizations that even do a strategic plan are just going through the motions.  Someone from above told them they have to put together the notebook and the slide deck.  Once it’s reviewed and blessed, it typically goes back on the shelf for next year.

And, if you are not one of the lucky ones that have a demand on you, from a banker, and investor, a board, or from someone… to do an annual plan, you may not have one.  For most persons, that can be a bureaucratic relief.

Don’t be one those people!

Let’s take a minute to see it from the other side.  There are logical reasons that you need a plan, even if it seems difficult.

  • Strategic direction is real and it is how you achieve growth! It’s not just the sum of short-term tactics.  It requires thought and documented market knowledge.
  • The data portion of a plan should be factual. That forces learning, discussions and information gathering.  It also forces a specific discipline within your business.   It is NOT easy to turn directional market opinions into verifiable facts.
  • It is a time allocation thing. Putting together a plan, and identifying a person who is the ongoing keeper of the plan, requires you to identify resources to be your strategic and/or informational eyes and ears.   Most organizations don’t have time for a plan. Which means, most organizations either don’t have time or don’t take the time to really look forward strategically.
  • A plan can serve as the impetus for you to find the “thinkers” within your organization. You may also need to reach out to outside resources to help with the process.

Find the big idea.  It’s not (just) an academic process.  Don’t stop at the numbers and format.

  • One of the best leadership skills in the world is intuition.
  • For intuition to be accurate, you must base your thoughts on a mutually accepted set of facts and market dynamics.
  • For you to have the skills and bandwidth to really create a vision for your company, you have to start with the mojo-moment-intro-photofoundation. The basic set of facts. Then you must remove yourself from the clutter and truly find a strategic direction. The two (facts and vision) are often separate tasks, but you cannot consistently rely on one without the other.

The market moves. Don’t forget!

  • The biggest danger of fact gathering is to forget that everything is moving.
  • Your big ideas need to be based on where the market is going, not just where it is.

Your goal is marketplace leverage.

  • What is the one big thing that makes you better than your competitors?
  • What is the element of your business that distinguishes you in the eyes of your customers?
  • Will that one thing be enough going forward to continue to lead you where you’d like to go, or do you need to find another leverage point?
  • The numbers and planning in the life of your company will not replace the need to prioritize, synthesize and identify the strategic leverage points for you to grow.
  • Most organizations can identify 10-12 major tasks or elements within your business.
    • Two to three of those elements can be critically important for growth.
    • Two to three of them can be buzz killers, which, if not managed properly, can kill your momentum entirely.
    • The remainder of the items on the list are qualifiers. You must have them to be in business, and you must perform at a decent level.  But they are also not strategic leverage points.

“Lead, follow or get out of the way.”life-cycle-chart

  • Pick a direction that is realistic, and fit within your financial and organizational means.
  • The plan literally should tell you where you are going, and how to get there.
  • Businesses have a natural ebb and flow. One highly effective measure of future growth potential is market maturity.
  • New, undefined and/or rapidly growing markets offer opportunities for rapid growth.
  • Mature markets and companies can be opportunities, roadblocks and/or an impetus to go in an entirely new direction. Make sure your plans are aligned with market reality.
  • Be creative, strategic, committed but also pragmatic.
  • Companies should understand where they are with their current business, what their chances are to achieve renewed growth and at what cost.

Commit Your Plan to a Financial Forecast

  • Everyone has their own terminology. My definition of a forward financial projection is a “forecast.”  Many view that as “budgeting” although it goes deeper than a budget.  Regardless of the terminology, you need tracked, verified and continuously monitored financial projections.
  • A forecast makes your plans real. There is NOTHING better to force the tough conversations and commitments than to translate your plans into financials.
  • It must start with a forecast of sales, overall, and by product or service.
  • The forecast then goes to costs of goods, overhead, investments, profits and cash flow.

Conclusions

  • Gather, organize and maintain a set of relevant facts. You need ongoing knowledge and an analytics about your company, customers, competitors, and marketplace.
  • Center your initial thinking around a traditional set of planning documents, but don’t stop there!
  • Step back from the plan and think. The numbers are not the plan. The numbers help you with the comfort, process, and facts to discover the real plan.
  • Great plans are about creativity, vision, and intuition. Step away from the spreadsheets and day to day in order to really think.
  • Allocate the necessary time and proper human resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help.  Planning is a specialized task.
  • Create strategic leverage. You must have leaders dedicated to managing all aspects of your company.  But, you must also understand where the true leverage points are that will create our opportunities to win over the less wise and the less organized.
  • Create and maintain a detailed forecast. Without financials, the plan is hollow.
  • Be realistic with your growth goals. Grow where you can, and don’t overplay your hand.  It’s a competitive world out there, and few are invincible.
  • Make your plan a living breathing document. Review regularly, not just annually.  Task a “keeper of the plan” with the ongoing responsibility to keep the document current, relevant, and fresh within the minds of your teams and company.template

Alpha® Board National Business Leadership Tour – Energy to Grow

Alpha BoardWe’re on a national press tour, and we would love to speak with you!  That is, if you are a business leader with a knack for helping businesses grow.  Since 1989, our founder has been launching new products, new companies, and major growth initiatives for organizations across the nation and around the world.

As a result, we have discovered two of the rarest occurrences in business:

  1. Outstanding leaders with great products and services
  2. And someone to provide leaders with visibility, recognition and product reviews among their customers, influencers and the general business press.

If you represent the first one, we’ll take care of the second.  We know how valuable market recognition and visibility can be, and we know how to create greatly enhanced market visibility in ways that few others have considered.  It works.  It’s efficient.  It’s effective.  And for those who participate, it’s both fun and rewarding.  The system, in short, drives not only visibility and recognition, but also new business leads.

Alpha BoardWe are a part of a National Business Leadership Tour.  The targets are the leading companies, industries, products and leaders across American industry.  Which ones are driving growth?  Who are those who should be recognized and rewarded for their efforts?  We have picked the tour cities.  The companies and leaders come next.

We are conducting interviews, hosting events, moderating leadership roundtable discussion, and compiling a news reel of business stories about the leading companies and company leaders that are driving business growth in 12 major cities across the country.

If you have an interest, or believe that you, your company, or someone you know should be featured as a part of our tour, we would like to speak with you further and answer any questions you might have.

In order to learn more, call us at 612 810-4000 in Minnesota, 913 685-4850 in Kansas City, or 303 255-1742 in Denver.  Or send Dave Anderson a note at dave@alphaboard.com.  Don’t wait.  The tour has begun, and we have a nice group of outstanding leaders already involved.  We look forward to speaking with you soon.

Examples of Alpha Board Fresh Octane Executive Programs

  • Centralized visibility system for leaders:  executives, companies, products and services
  • Leverages two decades of experience creating visibility and market adoption for new products
  • Alpha Board Portraits of Leadership Executive and corporate showcase interviews and profiles
  • Alpha Board News Reel: Video shorts and comprehensive leadership news film (local, regional and national video)
  • Alpha® Board Fresh Octane® CEO/Business Leader Roundtable discussions

Market Facing Leadership

Alpha® Board is a “National Business Leadership Exchange” designed to provide increased market visibility, recognition and connections for business leaders and leading businesses across the country.  Driving enhanced market reach, new business relationships, cultivating existing relationships, and ultimately helping to drive revenue growth for participants.  That’s Alpha Board.  That’s what we do.  If you are interested in growth, this might be for you.

Join us for an Alpha Board leadership luncheon with Midwest leader and CEO Kyle Bauer; March 27, 2014 | Danny O’Neil’s Roasterie Bean Hanger | 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. | 1204 W 27th, KCMO | for additional details contact dave@neuvision.com

Sign up Today!

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Kyle-Portrait-2The point of Kyle Bauer’s involvement with Alpha Board is simple. If anyone understands “market facing leadership,” it’s him. For those who follow Kyle around, it appears he is everywhere.  The reason it appears that way is that it’s true. He’s a busy guy on several fronts.  But he’s also an organized CEO with a well executed plan and a system that works for him, his customers, his stakeholders, and his business.

Kyle is a career-long business owner, has more than 30 years’ experience with a wide variety of organizations, both as an owner as well as a board member.  He is currently CEO, general manager, and partner in a major agricultural media company covering a highly productive and economically attractive customer base for advertisers.  Kyle’s company, KFRM (KFarm), is the agricultural voice of the Great Plains region, and covers a geographical area that is more than 400 miles wide and 250 miles deep.

Kyle’s marketplace is one of the largest, most attractive agricultural broadcast media footprints in the world.  He got there with laser focus, yet, Kyle and his firm have competition, and lots of it.  Everyone is scrambling to capture the media dollar in today’s marketing environment.

Kyle-at-Capitol-updated-2Kyle has a broad constituency, great marketplace relationships, and a consistent, systematic approach to staying well connected. We’ve asked him to share some of his thoughts, experiences and insights.

From local listeners in hundreds of rural zip codes, small town leaders, regional advertisers, national manufactures, national advertising and public relations professionals, state industry and government officials, major leaders in the agricultural industry, and the agricultural contingent of U.S. Congress; they have a few things in common.  They all have an interest in Kyle’s industry and market.  Many of them know Kyle, they know about his media company.  In addition, from what we can see, both Kyle and KFRM have a sound and stellar reputation throughout the industry.

You might think by what we’ve said, Kyle spends all his time with customers.  In addition to working and circulating in the marketplace, he is also responsible for running a 24/7/365 day per year company, sleeping at night, having a family life, as well as enjoying life in his element with himself, family, friends and of course Lt.

kyle-and-Lt-2In short, Kyle works hard.  He makes his work look easy (well sort of easy), in part because he is well organized, and because he appears to greatly enjoy his work. Suffice it to say, he travels many miles in a years’ time.  Planes, train crossings, horses and automobiles… or pickup trucks.  But he does it with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

We’d love for you to have the opportunity to hear Kyle speak, meet the guy, and form your own opinions.  In addition, through events like these, (locally regionally and nationally,) we’d like you to get to know more about Alpha Board, how it is organized, and the tools available for business owners, CEOs, senior executives and business advisors to help them gain visibility, reputation enhancement, and new connections in the marketplace.  Alpha® Board delivers “Fresh Octane®:  Energy to Grow.”

Kyle Bauer has been a lifelong resident of Clay County, KS.  Graduating from Kansas State University in l980 with a degree in Ag Economics, He returned home to farm with his parents where he farmed wheat, corn, soybeans, sorghum, cattle, and hogs on dry land and irrigated acres.  Kyle took over the family farming operation at a young age, and he just keeps going.

Through the years, non-farm business ventures have included manufacturing, banking, fast food, well as radio.  In l994, Kyle, and some local investors, purchased KCLY radio in Clay Center, and KFRM radio in l996. Since that time, Bauer has gravitated away from the other businesses, devoting more and more time to KFRM.  They have built KFRM to the largest farm station in Kansas and northern Oklahoma by being one of a few full time farm stations in the nation.  KFRM covers 120,000 square miles in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska representing over 64 million acres of agricultural land, and more than $20 billion in annual agricultural production.

Gazelle Tracks

gazelletracks__o2So what are Gazelle Tracks and what are “Gazelles.”  Before we answer that, let’s discuss a few pertinent questions.

Where to we grow from here?   Who’s growing who, and how?  Who’s touting who, and why?  Who will be driving growth over the next two to five years.  And more importantly how and while.

We’re looking into the market sectors that provide the greatest growth potential within each of more than a dozen cities.  For starters, we’ve profiled, in some level of detail, a couple major metros that we’re intimately familiar.  In most cases, there are at least six to eight market sectors that are major growth drivers.  In addition, there are cultural, governance, demographic, educational, and locational trends that help determine the rate of growth within a particular city or region.  In addition, these issues may also help to shape what industries represent the strongest growth potential.

But now for Gazelles Tracks.  Companies that grow consistently at a rate of 50 percent or greater annually are referred to by some as “cheetahs.”  Companies that grow consistently at a rate of 20 percent or better annually are considered to be “gazelles.”

So what makes a gazelle a gazelle?  The answers may surprise you.  First, since we’re also discussing “Growing up KC” in the Alpha Board discussions, and we’re also at least initially focused on Midwest based companies and markets it’s helpful to know that fast growth, new and high tech, are not always necessarily correlated.

It’s the belief of many that the new companies, the start-ups, high tech companies, and coastal companies are the ones that are driving growth.  While there is an element of truth in some of this, the realities of gazelles might surprise you.

First, a typical way to evaluate regions of the country on the occurrence of high growth companies, is based on the “percentage” of companies in the region that are in the category of high growth, or gazelles.  Three percent or greater (of all companies falling into the high growth category) is a large, and quite impressive number.  Midwest markets are NOT voids for gazelle performance.

According to a major study by the Small Business Administration, Johnson County, Kansas, Jackson County, Missouri and St. Louis County, Missouri all scored well on the measure of the percentage of companies in the region that qualified as gazelles.  The reason why is just as interesting.

  • Alpha BoardFirst, gazelles really don’t show significant correlation between the volume of growth and the industries or SIC codes that the companies represent.
  • What gazelles do typically represent are the following:
  • Gazelle companies and high growth companies tend to be scattered across essentially any and actually most industries.
  • Gazelle companies represent the most effective, most well-managed companies, not only on an overall basis, but more specifically within their industries.
  • Gazelle companies are typically smaller companies, with often less than 100 employees.
  • Gazelle companies are typically privately and/or closely held companies.
  • Gazelle companies tend to be very well established, often well within their second decade of life.
  • And clearly gazelle companies account for a significant portion of not only economic growth, but also job growth.

What are some relevant conclusions of the analysis?

  • This means that while technology companies can be high growth, SBA found little evidence that participation in technology industries was the key driver of growth.
  • A strong work ethic, commitment and focus of Midwesterners and Midwestern leadership style are strong components for achieving gazelle growth status.
  • And, for areas like the urban core of Kansas City and other cities that struggle with blight, all hope is not lost.  While KCMO has lost a significant number of jobs, in raw numbers as well as to the more suburban communities, some, if not most of this job loss is confined to the largest companies.
  • Gazelles are clearly growth and employment drivers, but when they are located, in the case of KCMO next to larger companies who suffer greater layoffs, they cannot always offset the regional job loss.
  • The SBA study indicated that because most gazelle companies are well established and typically more than 10 years old, economic development dollars funneled toward start-ups, were not always the wisest investments for long term job growth.
  • It means that leadership of the companies, and how and who runs the companies are critical element for growth.
  • And, one final note.  Because gazelle companies tend to be smaller companies, the 50 percent employment size cut-off for Obamacare, and the growth distortions being created by this government mandated cut-off could bode very poorly not only for job growth, but for economic growth in general, until that issues is addressed.

Portraits of Leadership

“Lead, follow or get out of the way.”  Thomas Paine

portraits-BennyL2While Lee Iacocca and others may claim credit for the quote above, it was first spoken by Thomas Paine, famous revolutionary and author of “Common Sense. “  It’s truer now than ever before.

It’s been fun through my career to witness many great business leaders and leading businesses from a bird’s eye vantage point.  I’ve seen a fair level of success with businesses, as well as witnessing a fair level of business failures.

So what is the point?  Understanding business from a visceral level is better than anyone’s canned work, studies, or textbooks. Authentic leadership and true innovation should be recognized and celebrated.

Leading businesses and business leaders deserve marketplace attention. That’s why Alpha Board was created.  Recognition and visibility is not only good for those companies and leaders, it’s good for business.  It’s also good for the organizations that help provide that recognition.

The art of the game:

Just because we recognize success though does not mean that we cannot learn from failures. Let’s not forget those who fail while gallantly trying.  Failure must be celebrated for a number of reasons.  Most notably because it takes a series of failures to achieve success.

The average football play results in less than five yards gained, and at any point in time, the odds are significant that the ball will either not move forward at all or a player will be sacked for lost yardage.

Yet we don’t stop watching football.  We don’t abandon our loyalties.  We always wish for the players to stand up, dust themselves off, and run another play.

Look at baseball.  A .300 batting average is something to be celebrated.  A .333 or .350 are worthy of Hall of Fame status.  And, without me going back and doing much research on the topic, that means that you can fail 70 percent of the time and still be a hero.

Now, before I go on, let me say I’ve had two personal experiences related to this. First, my experience growing up on a large family farming operation, in dry weather and rocky hills.  Second, I worked at 3M, one of the most respected “timeless” innovators in American business.  In both cases, there were systems to deal with failure, and an attitude that if you have not failed at some point, you have never done anything.

I did not mean to get too sidetracked on the failure mode, but let’s remember that first, the likely chance of failure is even more reason to celebrate success.  Second, great people learn great things from failure, and they ultimately go on to achieve great successes.

So, in the next discussion, we’ll dig deeper into the topics of business leadership and innovation.

Crisis Leadership from Former Medtronic CEO Bill George

Bill George author of 7 Lessons For Leading in Crisis While pundits and experts are churning out a plethora of books analyzing the causes of the 2008 economic crisis, it’s refreshing to find a practical book that provides some good thinking on how to manage for success in crisis situations. In his new book, “7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis,” Harvard Business School Professor and former Medtronic CEO and Chairman Bill George, provides a concise handbook for applying proven leadership lessons in tough times so that companies and individuals can emerge successful on the other side of crises. Whether it’s the current economic crisis, a product recall or the loss of a job or a spouse, George’s book offers realistic actions leaders can take to put their companies and themselves on the right track. [Read more…]

Derailed: Five Lessons Learned From Catastrophic Failures of Leadership

Tim Irwin author of DerailedThere must be a million books out there on leadership. And whether we’re aspiring leaders or analytical followers, leadership is something that we all have an opinion on.

As a result, books about the great leadership successes draw us like magnets. But Tim Irwin, Ph.D., looks at the discussion of leadership from the opposite perspective—leadership failures. That’s what makes “DERAILED: Five Lessons Learned from Catastrophic Failures of Leadership” such a compelling book. [Read more…]