Chris Kolenda, founder of SLA, helps principled business owners who want to drive their growth at the right time, with the right team, in the right way.

Insanity

What insanity, wishful thinking, and complacency have in common is the belief that doing the same things over and over will create success.



Einstein famously remarked that a definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Presumably, he meant better rather than worse results. We won’t get healthier, for instance, by practicing the same habits that created our current condition.

Einstein’s definition is closely related to wishful thinking — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting BETTER results. Americans saw that problem play out in places like Afghanistan. With minor variations, the U.S. government did the same things repeatedly and expected things to improve rather than continue their downward spiral.

On the other hand, complacency is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting the SAME results. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is fine for mechanical devices and rote tasks but shortens your path to ruin on almost everything else.
Sears expected their catalog-based shopping and mall-centered stores would continue delivering profits. They made only minor adjustments when the digital age arrived. Today, Sears is out of business while Amazon thrives. Blockbuster expected people to keep on coming to stores for movie rentals. Netflix crushed them. Toys R US face-planted. IBM saved a few bucks by renting instead of buying MS-DOS and went from the undisputed leader in the PC business to a humiliating exit from it.

Innovation is your complacency-vaccine. New practices and habits are the best ways to leap plateaus, shatter artificial barriers, and remove arbitrary finish lines. The best athletes vary their workouts. Military units alter the conditions under which they perform battle drills. The most agile thinkers read a variety of disciplines and views. Innovation keeps you out of comforting ruts.

The comfort zone for owners, consultants, and experts is a powerful intoxicant.

You’ve been successful, and there’s no reason, you believe, for future success to look much different than present success. This common condition is called presentism. Business failure begins with a lack of imagination.

What are you doing to boost innovation? Who are the mentors and advisers who will bring in the fresh air? What events will you attend that expand your perspective and help you see your future from new points of view?  

Accelerating your Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.


Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

Biden
Biden

When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room.


I’ve admired President Biden since he visited our remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2008 and praised our paratroopers in a National VFW speech. I found his sincerity and open-mindedness refreshing, and he quickly got the importance of our relationship-building efforts to Afghans. Biden agreed that accumulating allies was more helpful than aggregating your enemies. He talks about that visit when he mentions the Kunar River Valley in his Afghanistan speeches.

I’m having difficulty reconciling his words in 2008 with his recent speech that branded half or more of his citizens as treasonous racists (here’s a favorable view of the speech). He deserves credit for building the most physically diverse cabinet in history and could benefit from boosting cognitive diversity among his advisers.

Just because people look different does not mean they think differently. Cognitive uniformity puts you in an echo chamber that leads to poor decisions. Confirmation bias is like freebasing your own gunpowder. When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room. [Stressed Pioneers, like Biden’s predecessor, often surround themselves with sycophants and become louder and more outrageous.]

Civil War General William Rosecrans, also a Reconciler, won a string of victories in Tennessee as his army captured Chattanooga. Battlelines drew together at Chickamauga. The Union generals nagged Rosecrans for particular places and reinforcements. The Confederates attacked when Rosecrans shifted forces to please a subordinate. The mass confusion led to a defeat that sent Union forces back to Chattanooga, and Rosecrans lost his job.

Lincoln and Eisenhower were Reconcilers, too, and valued cognitive diversity. They surrounded themselves with people committed to the common good who presented different points of view, respected each other, and challenged the leader’s thinking. This practice helped them to avoid super empowering the loudest and most pious. Their decisions weren’t always perfect, but they tended to avoid self-inflicted disasters.

Lincoln held the Union together, gained buy-in for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment, and won the war. Eisenhower amassed consensus to end the Korean War and build the interstate system, a large standing military, and a robust nuclear deterrent.

Cognitive diversity was also vital in the success of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I highly recommend The Sword and the Shield (which is on my 2022 reading list) in which Peniel E. Joseph discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Maverick) and Malcolm X (a Pioneer).\

Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks — our PROM archetypes — have distinct superpowers and different reactions when under significant stress (you tend to be your most extreme version). When you know this about yourself, you can sense the warning signs and avoid surrounding yourself with subordinates who egg you on to extremes. When you know your subordinates’ archetypes, you can recognize their stress reactions and take steps that bring them back to their best selves.

The value of history is not in teaching you what to think but in how it heightens your critical thinking skills, aids self-examination, and highlights the importance of gaining diverse perspectives from trusted sources. Freebasing gunpowder tends to create bad outcomes. Whose bringing in the fresh air for you?

Are you interested in using history to take your critical thinking skills to new heights and develop practical action steps that accelerate your success? Join me and seven others on March 15-18 for the Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive. When you have meaningful discussions with other extraordinary people at powerful venues, you gain perspective that pays dividends for life. There are three places still open.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Fake
Fake it Till You Make it - Not Anymore!
Fake

Fake it till you make it seems innocent enough: if you show competence, confidence, and optimism, then your power of positive thinking will deliver the results you want.

Bulls–t said with conviction is still bulls–t. The fraud trial of disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes tears the mask off of Silicon Valley’s “Fake it till you make it” mantra. A jury convicted Holmes of fraud over her bogus claims that Theranos’ blood-testing could detect a wide variety of illnesses.

It was a story everyone wanted to believe. A 19-year old Stanford dropout with a breakthrough idea ready to shatter Silicon Valley’s douchebaggerous bro culture. Her charisma fooled even the likes of former U.S. Defense Secretary General James Mattis into coughing up investment money until “I didn’t know what to believe about Theranos anymore.” Even the most seasoned decision-makers believe what they want to until disaster tears the veil from the eyes.

Fake it till you make it seems innocent enough: if you show competence, confidence, and optimism, then your power of positive thinking will deliver the results you want. Law of Attraction enthusiast Rhonda Byrne counsels’ people to make-believe. As you make-believe, she tells us, you will begin to believe that you have received.

It’s total claptrap.

I’m all about the importance of positive self-talk, along the lines that Dan Gilbert suggests in Stumbling on Happiness. You’ve got to believe in your ability to succeed and encourage yourself to take action. You get good results when you take wise steps, which reinforce your positive beliefs. It’s a virtuous cycle.

Authenticity is the difference between positive self-talk and fake-it-till-you-make-it charlatanism. Charlatans have conviction — charisma taken to an unhealthy extreme. Authentic people are humble: they recognize that others have value and that you can learn from them. They have a healthy degree of imposter syndrome.

Be for real, get the deal, is the antidote to charlatanism. Look for humility in business leaders, politicians, pundits, and others who want your support. Always get the other side of the story.

Attune your b.s. meter to those who speak with absolute conviction; run, don’t walk away.  

Here’s my 2022 reading list for leaders and consultants.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.

Consulting Masterclass. In this interactive, 90-minute masterclass on January 13, you will gain the action steps you need to take your expert business to new heights.

1. How to carve your compelling niche: the three core ingredients to a successful expert business.

2. How to move your clients along the value chain that increases their results and your fees.

3. Setting solid foundations on the three most essential elements in taking your business to new heights.

4. Ways to innovate so that your business stays relevant to your clients and avoids complacency.

5. Action steps to maintain a positive trajectory and avoid the drift of most expert businesses.

I’ll take your questions during the event and remain available for an additional 30 minutes afterward. You’ll get a recording of the session.

By the end of this masterclass, you will have the actions you need to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable expert business.

Register by clicking on the session you want.
11 am – 1 pm US Central.
2:30 – 4:30 pm US Central.

The fee is $379.

2022: New Year’s Resolutions Fails – Remember, Determination is the Shortest Path to Success

I was putting in the miles on my bicycle, preparing for the 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride in September 2022. Three months into my training, I had made progress, but to reach my full potential and maximize my chances of success I needed professional support.

Cycling guru Chuck Kyle had me get my bike custom-fitted for my body, and he created a training regimen that worked for me. His advice, program, and accountability have been game-changers. I’ve leaped forward, and I’m getting stronger and faster.

I learned the hard way long ago that creating resolutions and trying to will yourself to success rarely works. You make your ritual New Year’s resolutions, gut them out in January, and fall off the wagon in February.  Just look at the gyms, yoga studios, or any other self-improvement venue. Attendance in January skyrockets; good luck finding an available machine or mat. By mid-February, everything’s back to normal. The regulars are still there; the New Year’s resolution newcomers are gone.

What’s happening?

It’s not a lack of dedication or willpower. It’s the simple human tendency to drift, to settle into comfortable routines, to return to familiar habits.

Napoleon Hill wrote about this phenomenon in Outwitting the Devil, which is one of the books on my 2022 reading list for leaders and consultants.

You tend to know your situation and what success and failure look like. You find that the habits that keep you drifting become hard to break. Willpower may create temporary success but will fail if you haven’t set up the steps to make new practices habitual.

Poor application creates further drag. No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book or watching a TikTok video. You gain some knowledge but lack the customized skill transfer. Staying on track becomes harder.

Lone wolfing dooms your New Year’s resolution because you have no accountability to do the right things, the right ways, customized to you. You return to the old habits, drifting hypnotically toward the place you do not want to go.

2022

Determination is the shortest path to success. P3A is the secret to making it happen: set a clear purpose, establish the priorities and organize your time and activities to meet them, surround yourself with the right people to create customized implementation and accountability.

A trusted adviser will help you clarify your purpose, and provide you with the skills transfer, tailored-to-you application, and accountability so that you stay focused and meet your goals. As your confidence builds, you take more action and get better results. The cycle becomes self-reinforcing and creates new habits that propel you to new heights.

Imagine a bisecting line: mediocrity, and a timeline along the bottom. Your comfort zone pulls you toward mediocrity. Habits become hypnotic and act like compounding interest over time. The longer you drift, the harder it is to reach the determination line.

The determination process gets results. Chuck Kyle, David Newman, and Alan Weiss are trusted advisers who have encouraged me, kicked my butt, helped me build new habits, and enriched my life. I’ve learned not to waste time and emotional energy on New Year’s resolutions. Invest, instead, in your determination curve and the payoff will take your life and business to new heights.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

2022

Shortening your Path to Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Consulting Masterclass. In this interactive, 90-minute masterclass on January 13, you will gain the action steps you need to establish your expert business or take your existing business to new heights.

1. How to carve your compelling niche: the three core ingredients to a successful expert business.

2. How to move your clients along the value chain that increases their results and your fees.

3. Setting solid foundations on the three most essential elements in taking your business to new heights.

4. Ways to innovate so that your business stays relevant to your clients and avoids complacency.

5. Action steps to maintain a positive trajectory and avoid the drift of most expert businesses.

I’ll take your questions during the event and remain available for an additional 30 minutes afterward. You’ll get a recording of the session.

By the end of this masterclass, you will have the actions you need to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable expert business.

I will run two sessions of this program on January 13. Register by clicking on the session you want.
11 am – 1 pm US Central.
2:30 – 4:30 pm US Central. The fee is $279.

Predictable unpredictability is the new reality. 

How will you help your clients thrive?

The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

I put together this 2022 influential book list to shorten your path to success and avoid wasting time on faddish nonsense or hyped-up drivel. 

book

Here is a QR code to the booklist for leaders and consultants.

No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book. You’ve got to get behind the wheel and practice.

Reading and learning from mentors make practice more successful. You learn the signs and rules of the road, ways to increase fuel efficiency, proper maintenance practices, and how to lower risk.

Imagine the opposite — learning to drive solely by practice. Traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities would skyrocket, impaired driving would be endemic, people would waste more fuel, and burn out more engines and transmissions. If you’ve ever driven in places like Afghanistan, you know what I mean.

Experience is the most influential teacher of leadership. You have to be in the arena. Relying on experience alone, though, puts you in the school of hard knocks, where the tuition is painful for you and the people you are supposed to lead.

The rules of the road are relatively fixed. Once you learn good driving practices, you are good to go. Leadership is different because your marketplace is constantly evolving, so your application of sound leadership habits needs to grow, too.

People look to leaders to anticipate the future and figure out how to succeed in the face of new and unexpected situations. These challenges are where leaders tend to make the biggest mistakes, which happen even faster when growing or facing competition.

Having trusted advisors that guide you, and reading about the experiences of others who faced analogous situations during other times or contexts, improves your practice and builds your imagination to lead your team successfully.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Here’s a link to one of the books I have on my list:

Alan Weiss, Your Legacy is Now

Create meaning that delivers worth and impact.

 

Humility

The holiday season has a lot of meaning. Humility is one of its most enduring themes.

Humility is the conviction that others have value. It’s not self-abnegation. When you have humility, you listen to learn from others — their experiences, insights, points of view, and beliefs. You observe and look at the facts. When you have humility, you are willing to change your opinions and conclusions in the face of new evidence.

Hubris is the belief that only your views matter and that others are evidence of ignorance or evil. When you have hubris, you seek only information that confirms your pre-existing beliefs, and you reject everything else. Totalitarian ideologies, historical and present, seek to impose their views by force — berating, coercing, canceling. Negligence is hubris without conviction. You go along to get along.

The holiday season has a lot of meaning. Humility is one of its most enduring themes.

I’m grateful for 2021 — the people I’ve met and served, all of you in this community, my failures and successes, and the opportunities to learn, get better, pay it forward, and help people be their best selves and realize their dreams.

I’m grateful as 2022 approaches. At the end of that year, too, I’ll look back and realize how ignorant I was at the start of it.

Humility is the foundation of all virtues. Confucius.

What action steps will you take to make 2022 your best year?

https://strategicleadersacademy.com/

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Joe bragged about berating a hotel desk agent for a problem with his room. “He was worthless to me. I yelled at him. He yelled back at me and then walked out — quit on the spot.” He won’t be worthless to any more customers, joked Joe.

“I don’t care about employee turnover,” Lisa, a restaurant owner, told me, “There’s always another body waiting to fill the job. I’m a tough employer with high standards. If they can’t hack it, I’m happy to show them the door.”

Joe and Lisa are otherwise decent people whose sense of entitlement and inability to handle chronic stress have made them into monsters. It’s no wonder that roughly 46 million Americans left their jobs in 2021 — the so-called Great Resignation.

The Great Resignation

Some Americans are resigning to find new careers. For the most part, people are moving within industries or roles. The Great Resignation is The Great Reshuffling.

Employee turnover plus high inflation are going to eviscerate small businesses in 2022. Turnover can cost up to 2X an employee’s annual salary. Replacing one $50k employee is likely to cost you at least that much due to factors such as recruiting, time costs, lost momentum, and rebuilding relationships, among others.

If you lost ten such employees per year, you’ve just thrown $500k or more down the drain.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their managers. COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and crappy work environments. They vote with their feet more quickly to find a better place. Hence, The Great Reshuffle.

The Great Resignation

Add in the inflation costs, and you can see why low-margin businesses with high employee turnover rates are at high-risk next year.

Employers are turning to workplace gimmicks to attract and keep employees. No one ever stayed with a rotten boss for a bag of trail mix or a free yoga mat.

What can you do to keep your top talent engaged and on the job?

1. Custom-fit roles to people’s natural strengths (a.k.a. affinities or superpowers). The skill-fixation has perverted the hiring process and locked people into high-skill, low-superpower roles. Their energy drains faster, leading to frustration, burnout, and the need to find more challenging work. For a great starting point to identifying your superpowers, take our PROM (TM) Leader Archetype quiz. You may be surprised at your results.

2. Train your first-line leaders and middle managers. Most companies have programs for senior leaders but neglect their junior leaders, creating a trust gap at the employee-management interface. Very few junior and mid-level leaders have had good exemplars. Too many companies are on quicksand. Jeff Marquez and Laura Colbert help you strengthen these vital foundations. Junior and mid-level leader training rank among the best low-cost, high-payoff actions you can take in 2022.

3. Increase front-line agency. Give people the latitude and resources to solve problems at the lowest possible levels. This practice lowers the probability of unhappy, stressed-out customers like Joe taking it out on your employees and damaging their emotional well-being. The serotonin boost they get from solving problems will put them on an emotional high. Joe might even become less of a jerk.

In the musical chairs game of the Great Reshuffle, the best employees will find the best-led teams. You will get the virtuous cycle of the top talent coming to and staying with your company.

Are you leading at your very best?

What action steps will you take to make 2022 your best year?

https://strategicleadersacademy.com/

Consultants

I Focused my Forecasts for 2022 and Beyond on Trends most Relevant for Small Businesses, Consultants, and Experts.

I’ll host an 8-week mastermind group in January to discuss the implications of these forecasts and others so that you can provide vital thought leadership to your clients and anticipate the future for your business.

1. The Inflation bubble bursts. Due to employee turnover and inflation, small businesses will fail at a historic rate. COVID has decreased tolerance of bad bosses and poor work environments. Inflation rises to 4% if BBB fails and 6% if BBB passes, forcing many poorly-led, low-margin small businesses to close. High-margin solo and expert businesses will thrive.

Consultant

2. Landgrabs. Russia and China seek to time moves against Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, on signals that President Biden’s health fails. Iran and North Korea will do the same with their nuclear weapons and missile programs. A gulf state reveals its atomic weapons program in response to Iran’s.

3. Change for a BitCoin? Countries will begin to adopt crypto as alternate reserve currencies in response to America’s increasing weaponization of the dollar; investors will add crypto to their portfolios to hedge against inflation.

4. Trades strike back. Companies will lose confidence in supply chains that include overseas vendors. Local manufacturing and storage will rebound. Elite snobbery that the only road to a dignified professional life is an expensive 4-year degree will reduce. More people will enter trades and find substantial prosperity, independence, and joy.

5. Waking up to Woke. Businesses stop hiring consultants who pedal revenge racism and begin hiring people who improve teamwork. The best companies will hold CEOs and line managers responsible for diversity and inclusion; women and non-whites will gain a more significant share of P&L roles.

6. 280 characters fewer. Trust in conventional news outlets, experts, and punditry will continue declining, forcing at least one primary news channel, newspaper, and social media platform to close. People will turn increasingly to trusted advisers for perspective.

7. Revenge of the Nerds. Zillow Offers is the tip of an iceberg. Businesses that rely on AI platforms for customer relations and marketing will face significant setbacks because they act as a blunt instrument when customers expect concierge service. Hackers will learn to spoof AI decision-making tools by acting more like humans and luring machine decisions into unproductive corners.
  
8. AC Anyone? Climate change debates will shift towards alleviating the effects of rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Wisconsin’s climate by 2040 will be like Tennessee’s in 2010.

9. Rolling Green-outs. Fossil fuels and nuclear power will make a comeback as a reliable base for energy supply. During extreme weather events, cities that rely on renewables will face significant power outages. Global predators will intensify cyberattacks against vulnerable power grids.

10. The open office is dead. Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. The most innovative companies will create in-office requirements based on need rather than arbitrary percentages. The most talented will seek jobs with those companies.

11. COVID theater closes. Companies will reduce wasteful activities that do little or nothing to stop the spread of COVID. The major media will reduce COVID-hype. The vaccinated will begin to revolt against COVID-control mandates because the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are tired of feeling punished. More businesses will require proof of vaccination or infection within the past six months for entry and employment. Vaccine boosters will be annual as COVID becomes endemic.

12. Big Red Resurgence. The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will go to the BIG 10 championship game in 2022.

The Innovation Mindset Group is an 8-week mastermind that examines these trends and others for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. We’ll meet for 90-minutes each week and develop unique thought leadership that will help you anticipate the needs of your businesses and clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8. $4500 if you enroll by December 31, then the fee goes to $5500. Click here  https://bit.ly/3DTcL6C and scroll to the bottom to register to learn more about this limited time offer.

Small Business Failure

The Pressures of Low or Negative Margins and Employee Turnover will Create a Downward Spiral for Many Small Businesses

Small Business Failure

The combination of inflation, poor first-line leadership, and expensive mistakes spell trouble for low-margin small businesses. I think we will see small businesses fail at historically high rates in 2022.

Inflation of 4 percent or higher will persist due to supply chain challenges and demands for higher wages. The Biden administration’s Build Back Better initiative, if it passes, will heighten inflation even as it invests in (hopefully) high-payoff programs. Inflationary pressures are going to reduce margins. In some cases, small businesses could find themselves completing projects and selling products at a loss.

The so-called great resignation will continue because COVID has reduced people’s tolerance for poor leadership, toxic work environments, and poor work conditions. Some people are leaving their jobs to upgrade their skills and enter new lines of work. Most seem to be switching jobs within their current industries.

The best talent will find their way to companies that have good leadership, healthy cultures, and quality work environments. Provided that these companies can innovate successfully to outpace inflation and higher costs, they will thrive in an upward spiral of better talent, higher quality products and services, and greater continuity.

Business Failure
Small Business Failure

The pressures of low or negative margins and employee turnover will create a downward spiral for many small businesses. CEOs will work longer hours and get consumed in problem-solving, which heightens the risks of expensive mistakes. They’ll lack the bandwidth to innovate, so the margins will continue shrinking until the business is no longer sustainable.

You cannot do much about inflation (except raise their prices), but you can take these steps:
1. Fire managers who are driving employees away,
2. Invest in leader development so that you attract and retain great talent,
3. Reduce the likelihood of expensive mistakes by having trusted advisers who will help you avoid falling in love with your own plans and getting high from your own fumes, and
4. Innovate to create higher-margin products and services.

Programs that Accelerate Success

CEO Mastermind group is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me. I’m limiting the group to 8. Six places are remaining.

FOCUSED is my 8-week mastery program for small business leaders and consultants to put the action plans in place to make 2022 their best year ever. The next program begins in late January; there are only eight spaces available. Click here for more information and to apply.

Innovation Mindset is a new 8-week program for consultants and small business leaders that I intend to launch in January, based on interest. This program gives you the tools to address (and help your clients address) the challenges facing small businesses in 2022 so that you can create an upward spiral that propels your business to new heights. Please reply to this email if you are interested.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results. Get the details here.

Exclusive Events

The next Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive event takes place March 15-18. This program is for seven leaders and consultants who want to turbocharge 2022 with innovations. We use critical points on the battlefield to discuss decision-making, gaining buy-in, improving agency and initiative, and how to avoid getting high off the smell of your own gunpowder. We finish with an innovation workshop where you will develop action steps to gain decisive competitive advantages. There are four spaces left.

Books

LEADERSHIP: THE WARRIOR’S ART, second edition, is on the streets. We expect leaders to anticipate and shape the future so that your team can succeed. To do so, you need imagination grounded in a  practical perspective. That’s what you get with this book, which is why it’s been in print for over 20 years.

Zero-Sum Victory: What We’re Getting Wrong About War is my latest book about strategic decision-making. I use the disasters in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq to give you the tools and mental models to avoid the traps and own goals that have created quagmires for the United States. You’ll gain ways to improve agency, bridge silos, pivot smartly, avoid breathing your own exhaust, and many other outcomes.

Fallen Hero Honor Ride

6 paratroopers from my unit in Afghanistan were killed in action. They served and sacrificed so that Americans could pursue their dreams in peace and safety. Each one died executing the orders that I gave them.

The Fallen Hero Honor Ride is a 1700-mile bicycle ride to visit their graves and raise funds for scholarship endowments in their names so that their legacies continue to help Americans achieve their dreams.

Six paratroopers from my unit in Afghanistan were killed in action. They served and sacrificed so that Americans could pursue their dreams in peace and safety. Each one died executing the orders that I gave them.

Their stories are frozen in time. Their legacies, however, live.

The Fallen Hero Honor Ride is a 1700-mile bicycle ride to visit their graves and raise funds for scholarship endowments in their names so that their legacies continue to help Americans achieve their dreams.I’ll begin the ride in Spalding, Nebraska, where Chris Pfeifer is buried, and proceed through Carroll, Iowa, to visit Adrian Hike’s final resting place and Elwood, Illinois, to see Jacob Lowell’s grave. The route turns south to Hall, Indiana, to see Ryan Fritsche’s site and Minersville, Pennsylvania, where Dave Boris is buried. The ride concludes at gravesite 8755, section 60, Arlington National Cemetery, where Tom Bostick rests in peace.

You can learn more about their stories here.

My goal is to raise $400,000 so that the endowments last in perpetuity.

There are many ways you can support the Fallen Hero Honor Ride. The Saber Six Foundation is a 501c3 tax-exempt public charity, so your donations are tax-deductible.
1. Donate online.
2. Donate by check to The Saber Six Foundation c/o Chris Kolenda, 2245 N Lake Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
3. As a 501c3, we are eligible for employer matching donations. Check with your company for their procedures.
4. Share this email with your friends.
5. Join me for part (or all) of the ride.
6. Donate $1 per mile ($1700), and you’ll get a cycling jersey and a personalized thank you video from me during the ride. If you sponsor me by July 4, 2022, I’ll add your name to the jersey (and the name of your company if you use matching donations).

https://www.gofundme.com/f/fallen-hero-honor-ride