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.

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.

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).

I’m thankful for Iqbal.

He and his family arrived in America with only the clothes on their backs. A group of us visited him in Seattle this weekend.

Iqbal worked his way from being a day-laborer on our outpost in Afghanistan to a cultural advisor and then an interpreter because he taught himself English (Iqbal speaks 5 languages). He helped Nate Springer (below, right) and I build bridges to local communities by letting us know about decades-long blood feuds, ways people tried to manipulate us, and behind-the-scenes issues that helped us understand why people were doing what they were doing. His support saved American lives. Iqbal never used his position for illicit gain.

He applied for a Special Immigrant Visa in 2014. A bureaucratic error from a human resources officer at a government contractor resulted in the State Department denying the application. I threw up in my mouth when I read the letter. Several of us, spearheaded by Dan Wilson (2nd from right), helped him re-apply.

He tried to start a business, but the corruption costs were too high. He enlisted to serve in a special operations force. Despite having no formal schooling, Iqbal rose in the ranks quickly to become an officer. By 2021, he was a lieutenant colonel in charge of 1000 soldiers.

His bosses expected him to use his position to move money into their pockets. Iqbal refused. His integrity earned him spite from those officials and dangerous assignments. The last of those was defending the Kandahar airfield in August as the Afghan state was disintegrating. Nearly out of food, water, and ammunition, Iqbal’s unit fended off Taliban attacks as hundreds of Afghans evacuated to Kabul. Iqbal made certain that two American reporters made their way out safely.

When he discovered that not all his soldiers had gotten out, Iqbal flew back to Kandahar to get them. The plane returned to Kabul, stranding Iqbal and about 100 others. He delayed the Taliban through skillful negotiations. Miraculously, a final aircraft returned to Kandahar to pick up Iqbal and his men.

Iqbal and his family made their way to America during the chaotic evacuation and just arrived in Seattle. Josh Rodriguez (seated between me and Iqbal), who Iqbal advised in 2008, started a fundraiser. Thanks to boosts from people like CNN’s Jake Tapper, the fundraiser amassed over $104,000. Iqbal had no idea.

As we gathered around the carpet in his new apartment, Iqbal (in the corner to my left) told us how thankful he was. “I’ve never had formal schooling,” he said, “but you taught me how to lead, to live a life of integrity, to do what’s right, and to take care of the people on my team.”

“When you came to my country, I was very grateful. You left behind your families to help us. When I arrived in America, I became even more thankful.”

What do you mean by that, one of us asked?

“Being here has allowed me to see what you left behind to come to Afghanistan.”

Tears welled in his eyes when Josh told him about the fundraiser. He could not believe that Americans could be so generous.

He plans to build a business and employ as many of his former soldiers as possible. They stood their ground in Kandahar because Iqbal was their exemplar of courage, integrity, and caring.

I’m dedicating this Thanksgiving to the exemplars in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Think about one of your most amusing, real, and charismatic friends. I conjure up Sarah with her red curly hair, her robust laugher, her ability to find joy and wit in every interaction, and her unflappable ability to be her true self regardless of audience and pressure. I used to envy her ability to step outside of the quintessential stereotype and into the world of uniqueness. Is this authenticity in its purest form? I used to think so until I recently read “The Modern Trusted Advisor” by Alan Weiss and Dr. Nancy MacKay. Their definition stopped me in my tracks. They describe authenticity as “Owning our own feelings and being accountable, understanding the impact of our actions on others, and being honest about what we need versus what we want.” Merriam-Webster describes authentic as “real or genuine,” and “true and accurate.” It’s as though Weiss and MacKay took the bones of Merriam-Webster’s definition and put some meat on it.

Our instincts draw us towards authentic individuals. It’s as though we have this gravitational pull toward their realness. The spurious individuals put up immediate red flags with their “commission breath” and “sleazy sales.” We can almost see them compromising their true self to make a deal or create a connection, albeit, a fake one. Realness breeds trusting relationships and fakeness breeds ill-suited relationships that often end badly. What team do you want to be on?

Action steps to practicing and reaping authenticity:

  1. Stop the mini-me syndrome – Diversity and uniqueness build strong, high-functioning teams. Hire people with different skills and abilities. Be aware of whether or not you’re trying to change the individuals to be like you. Honor all varieties of voices and perspectives. Conflict is ok. The key is making sure it’s a productive conflict.
  1. Reflect on your interactions to assess if you were compromising your true self – Did you uphold your core values and your organization’s mission? Did you try to fit into the other person’s mold or stick with your own?
  1. Eliminate imposter syndrome – You―yes, you―deserve all the good that this world has to offer. You are not a fraud. Get rid of self-doubt. Never put yourself down for succeeding. In the words of Stewart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.”
  1. Choose real, not games – You’ll attract more of the right-fit people when you are yourself. The faker you are, the shallower your pond.
  1. Do your best, be yourself, and be satisfied – Sticking to who you are, your core values, and upholding them as best as you can, will give you more peace of mind. Peace of mind leads to better sleep, less guilt, and more integrity

Are you asking yourself, “How do I do this?” I can help!
The Trusted Advisor 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, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Find like-minded leaders and join this monthly mastermind lunch group.

Looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to bring people together and inspire individuals to do their best.

[email protected]
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Yup, that’s me in the photo—the one with hair. I’m not sharing the picture to boast or brag, but rather to extend a heartfelt THANK YOU! I’m bursting with gratitude as I write this. Gratitude to be surrounded by so many other wonderful veterans, so many civilians that care, and for a country that honors its heroes. I have had the utmost privilege of meeting many outstanding service members since my return home, and especially since I’ve changed careers in July.

My life is deeply impacted by these brothers and sisters in arms. The kindred spirit flows through our interwoven relationships and the unspoken bond strengthens with every interaction. The veteran community is robust, passionate, gritty, funny, caring, empathetic, resourceful, and tough as nails. Our go-to answer is, “yes” and then we figure out how to do it. Work ethic and gumption ooze out of every pore. These are my people.
Please know that every thank you and Veterans Day acknowledgment means the world to me/us and it fills my heart with joy and gratitude.

I had to share this outstanding drawing that a 6th grader gave me this morning. Her talent is out of this world and it almost brought me to tears.
Originally, this article was meant to create awareness about Veterans. However, as the day unfolds, and the love continues to grow, I simply want to say, “Thank you!” And if you haven’t reached out to a veteran today, perhaps think about the positive impact of that interaction.
Blessings to you all and thanks to all the Veterans in my life.

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Quit

In August, over 4 million Americans quit their jobs — the so-called Great Resignation — despite COVID unemployment supplements expiring. Last Tuesday’s election delivered shockers such as a Republican winning Virginia’s gubernatorial election and Minneapolis, Seattle, and other cities rejecting Defund the Police advocates.

Common to these seemingly disparate events are a backlash against the finger-wagging classes who tell people to shut up and do as their self-appointed betters tell them to do. People are challenging the mandate-centric approach to leading and governing.

People don’t leave their jobs; they leave their bosses. Seventy-five percent of those who quit their jobs did so to get away from their managers (Gallup, 2019). The 2021 numbers could be even higher.

COVID has lowered people’s tolerance for bad bosses and self-appointed betters. Leaders — public and private — should be exemplars, not overlords.

Persuasion gains buy-in, which motivates people to provide their discretionary effort. Coercion may gain compliance, but it also creates resistance. People vote with their feet.

There are times when mandates are necessary. When you establish a reputation for using persuasion to gain buy-in, you will get the benefit of the doubt when a crisis emerges.    

You wake up, go through the morning routine, and off to work you go; habits abound. When do you exercise and focus on your health? Do you read in the morning? You arrive at the office, log on, get your coffee, and do you. In your first meeting or phone call, you repeat the familiar opening words. Same place, same people. Do you always run the meeting?
 
Do you engage others, say good morning or hello? Is your door open or closed? Are your curtains open? Is your camera on? Can others see you, and is that what you prefer? Habits.
 
Are you happy with the Team’s productivity, or could it use a boost? Are your habits improving productivity, or could they use a boost?
 
Some habits help us. Other habits may be dragging us down, restricting our motivation, thinking, leading, and fun. Here is a word reminder to help you check on your habits:
 
𝗟isten, learn, laugh every day; listen to understand first, learn something new about yourself or your Team, and have some fun, laugh
𝗘xperience something new and help your Team do the same
𝗔ccountability of yourself and others, acknowledge others for their efforts
𝗗evelop or help someone every day; it may very well be the most important and satisfying thing you do 
𝗘mpathize to broaden your understanding of other perspectives
𝗥ead every day; whether it is a book, devotional, or Stoic, to help you grow
 
Take five minutes and jot down your LEADER habits for the day and reflect on your growth. The experts say it takes anywhere from 21-60 days to form a new habit. You should see a boost in productivity in about that same time. That is the power of habits. 

Core Values

As the “Facebook Papers” continue to unfold showing us the fundamental gaps in Facebook’s values one can wonder if they uphold their values or, rather, if their values revolve around making more money and connections regardless of political turmoil or damage to the users. Are the teams functioning at top capacity with the whistleblowing? Is the company reassessing what they stand for?
When leading teams, empathy, integrity, and trust are vital. A shared set of values will create a strong and productive team. When someone compromises the values, the team struggles to trust and produce ethical results.
One of the leadership teams that I belonged to as a junior leader had two senior leaders with large personalities who leaned toward the negative side. I dubbed the meetings the “Tammy and Tim Show” because the meetings were no longer about the agenda, about the organization’s vision or mission, or even about developing solutions to the problems. We wasted hours throughout the years listening to Tammy and Tim grieve about their problems. Do you have a Tammy and/or Tim? Do you struggle to get the meetings back on track? If we had upheld our team’s core values and meeting norms of “start on time/end on time, collaboration, and sticking to the agenda” this wouldn’t have happened and the meetings would have been more productive and less dysfunctional.

Action steps to getting to the core of your values:

Stick to your values. The people in your life will have a better understanding of who you are, what you stand for, and why you do the things you do.

“Our values should be so crystallized in our minds, so infallible, so precious and clear and unassailable, that they don’t feel like a choice—they are simply a definition of who we are in our lives.” ~ Brene Brown.

  • Don’t have “crystallized” values? Get some. Use this simple formula: What + Definition + So That. Identify the value, define it, and the results/outcomes from it. For example: Respect + Treat everyone with dignity + so that each person feels that they can contribute their best and most authentic selves. Then share your values with your employees, friends, and family. This will help hold you accountable.
  • Uphold your organization’s values. If the values are archaic, change them. If you don’t agree with them and can’t change them then you need to ask yourself if the company is a right fit for you.

“Daring leaders who live into their values are never silent about hard things.” ~ Brene Brown.

  • Lean into your values every day to obtain a sense of accomplishment. If you don’t accomplish anything else throughout the day, at least you can say that you upheld your values.
  • Get to know and foster your employee’s values. If family is important to them, honor that. If open communication is one of their values, then communicate with them. This is yet another way to empathize with your employees and create a sense of belonging within your organization.

Are you asking yourself, “How do I do this?” I can help!
[email protected]
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